We were required to read John Frame’s “Machen’s Warrior Children” in seminary. It was intended to be a warning against denominational quarrelsomeness, but had the effect of puffing us up: We’re charitable, winsome Presbyterians, not like these other petty “Truly” Reformed types who make everything a battle. Rereading the article, it is pretty clear that the most common denominator and antagonist in these debates is not Machen’s Warrior Children, but John Frame. Doctor, heal thyself.
My book review of Duke Kwon and Greg Thompson’s Reparations: A Call for Repentance and Repair is up at Mere Orthodoxy. Kwon and Thompson make the case that White churches owe African Americans reparations. I expect that their work will be a starting point for a lot of reparation discussions in Presbyterian circles in the near future. The book was compelling, but overreached. Here’s an excerpt of my reivew,
I was persuaded of the biblical arguments for reparations before reading Kwon and Thompson, and their work only strengthened that conviction. But the application of that biblical principle into the life of the church? My church, where I pastor? The duty of Christian love and sacrifice in working towards repair does not go away if fault is cleared, but the bedrock of Kwon and Thompson’s argument is that reparations is the complicit returning what was stolen. It is not ethical bean counting or an evasion of loving obligation to take that aspect of their argument seriously and then to assess its claims of historical moral responsibility for my congregation.
This newer chart of American Presbyterian denominations is more visually pleasing than the one I had made, though it is not as thorough. It’s still a great chart.
I was frustrated with the lack of good, simple family trees explaining the American Reformed landscape, so I made my own. Better, more interactive versions are to come (high quality link here).
The Reformed Church in America (RCA) released its Vision 2020 Report this week, and some of its diagnoses are things to be taken into account for my own EPC. The report recommends that the RCA shift to affinity-based classes rather than being geography-based, allow each classis to determine their position on LGBT marriage and ordination, creating an independent missions board to maintain the RCA’s mission work if the denomination collapses, and mandating a gracious dismissal process for all RCA congregations. The recommendation on the missions board elicited a minority report from the committee that believes “Its structure is voluntary and pragmatic. By design, the agency would be extra-ecclesial, existing outside of the connection and accountability of a covenant community.” This criticism summarizes the warning lights that the RCA’s report contains.
This report and its recommendations are necessary because the RCA has been divided for decades on questions of what its unifying standards and structures should actually be…