The Missional Creep of the PCA

Sadly, in my current denomination of the Presbyterian Church in America, the term “missional” is being used more and more. I first heard the phrase back in the 1990s while at seminary. The term is put forth as some new thing that we must be in order to reach the lost for Christ.

It really bothers me whenever I hear new terms like this because it implies that the language of the faith that has come down to us over the past 2,000 years was not good enough. Yes, I realize that really important terms like the “trinity” were new at one point. This is because we did not have an accurate term for the concept that God is three persons but one God; the term was necessary for helping our feeble minds understand such a great truth.

The problem with the term “missional” is that it is really quite unnecessary, unless of course, it means something very different than the normal language that we have used in reaching the lost, like the terms “evangelism” and “missions.” The problem is, that those who use the term, do mean something different when it comes to reaching the lost. A fellow pastor wrote about the term in 2009, and this is how he defined it:

As more popularly stated (as much as it can be discerned given the fluidity of its use), missional is a combination of classical liberalism, which promotes a social gospel; Neo-Orthodoxy, with its existential interpretations of Scripture; and the hermeneutics popularized in the New Perspective on Paul. These influences are so deeply rooted in the term “missional” that it makes it counterproductive to use it in churches that do not affirm these views; it has the effect of creating cognitive and theological dissonance…

…I am convinced that missional thinking, with the roots I have mentioned, is a philosophy and model of ministry that will in time have a deteriorating effect on the historic definition and application of the gospel. That is, the gospel will be stripped of its power, leaving the church, the people of God, impotent to be effective in a lost world with the gospel of grace (I Cor. 1:18-2:16).

I believe these are prophetic words because they do seem to indicate the current drift of the PCA. As you know, an organization like the PCA is either moving toward God and His holiness via His word, or away from God and His precepts. Just the fact that there was a vote at the last General Assembly to study the issue of women in ministry, which passed by an overwhelming majority, shows that there is a drift away from the clear teaching of scripture. The proponents of this new study committee to look into the issue of ordaining women try to make the claim that the issue needs to be studied, as if the elders of the PCA had never done so, or are completely ignorant of the issues.

The PCA is adrift and being “missional” is a part of that drift. Being progressive and ordaining women is a part of the slide into liberalism. Just the fact that many consider themselves as “progressives” show that there truly is a drift in the PCA. This should not surprise us.

Every denomination, every seminary, every organization eventually drifts into liberalism. The same thing has happened to the people of God throughout redemptive history. There is a revival and the first generation of those saved have a strong commitment to God’s word and are even willing to die for the privilege of standing on that word. Then comes the next generation. They did not have to fight for the faith. It was graciously handed to them. In the transfer of power, they become less committed to the very thing that brought about the revival in the first place, the preaching of God’s word, and they start looking for “new” methods in reaching the lost because they feel a need to be more sophisticated than their fathers were. And the missional creep begins.

Many love to bandy these terms around, because they think it gives impression that they are more relevant than the average Christian. This term strokes the pride and ego because it deludes the ones using it into thinking they are somehow on the cutting edge of the gospel. One thing I learned early on in my ministry is that when people start using the words “new” and “cutting edge” in conjunction with the gospel you can be certain that heresy is not far behind. I’m not saying that those who use the term “missional” are into heresy. But give it another 10 years and let us see where they are.

Sadly, there are many men in my current denomination who love using such terms and think of themselves as “progressives” when it comes to the church. Again, this is a problem because it assumes that we needed to progress from the gospel as it was given to us in Scripture. Their premise in using the term is flawed because there is nothing wrong with the gospel we have been given.  What hubris these men have.

So to understand what a progressive is, my pastor friend also gave a sound definition for a progressive:

A progressive is one who believes that the church needs to have its pulse on current cultural issues and seeks to accommodate to these current cultural norms. If we don’t accommodate to culture the church will lose its credibility with culture and the message of the gospel will not be heard or received by the culture.

Progressives, missional-types and all, love going on about changing culture, reaching the culture, saving the culture. And since they have been marching, we have seen the culture adopt gay marriage, affirm cross dressers using women’s bathrooms, and we have seen our military allow women to take on combat roles. The culture has not improved one wit since progressives started their march some 20 years ago.

The reason for this deteriorating effect is because the gospel was not given to convert the culture. It was given to save sinners. Yet, evangelical progressives, who love the idea that they are change agents for the Kingdom, are busy focusing on culture, instead of sinners. This is why the gospel has been made of no effect.

It is disturbing that the progressive-missional message of changing the world, redeeming the culture, being agents of change, is the same cockamamie message I hear in the public schools all the time. It’s the same man-centered, pull-yourself-up-by-your-Spandex message that the humanists put forth for our children in the public schools. The missional church demonstrates very little dependence upon Christ, the Spirit, His word, and the reality that it is God that causes the growth, not progressives and their deep desires to be important.

The way we get back to being the church, focused on worshiping a holy God, is not be embracing a fallen culture, but by being the redeemed body of Christ that we are. He saved us to make a bride for His Son, so that we could worship Him in Spirit and truth. This does not remove our responsibility in reaching the lost, but it puts that responsibility in its proper place. When we, as the church, are faithful in the little things, then He will bless us with the greater.

There is really only one way to address the culture. Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. Any other attempt at reaching the culture is foolishness, especially when we look to the culture for our cues as to how to reach the culture. So let us put off this ridiculous notion of being missional and/or progressive, and quit trying to reach the culture. That was never our mission. Our mission is, as always, to make disciples in the midst of the culture. If we do that, God might bless us in our endeavors, and the rest will take care of itself. But even if He doesn’t, our calling is to be faithful in the small things, and trust Him with everything else.

ALERT: Scripture Abuse

This is floating around the internet.


The command is actually: you shall not murder. There is a big difference between a government lawfully killing a criminal, which the Bible permits, and murdering someone. Murder is the taking of a innocent life. Killing someone via the death penalty is fully justified because the person being killed has killed another, destroying an image bearer of God. This is why the LORD gave us the command in the first place. It is to deal with those who have sinned against God by destroying His image in another person.

Please do not be duped by those who misquote the passage from the Ten Commandments.

UPDATE: Another thought that occurred to me is that those who love to misquote the Sixth Commandment when it comes to the death penalty, are usually quite silent when it comes to using the same verse concerning abortion. In fact, the correct version of the Sixth Commandment applies directly to the issue of abortion, in that the killing of a child in the womb, does fit the definition of murder.


The Social Justice Jesus is Not the Christ of Scripture

I know that often times it is a fool’s errand to take on the utterly foolish. That is kind of what I’m doing when I critique the article Social Justice is a Christian Tradition — Not a Liberal Agenda written by Stephen Mattson over at Sojourners website. Just the fact that the article is published at Sojourners should be alarm enough for the discerning Christian, given that behind the site is the heretic Jim Wallis. You can read Neil’s posts about Jim Wallis here. Neil has lots of posts about this heretic and has been battling Wallis and his followers for years. It will not take you very long to see what a false teacher Wallis is when you see some of the evidence put forth by Neil.

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You Can Keep Your Krispy Kreme! I Will Take Shipley Do-nuts Every Time!

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I can remember all the hubbub over Krispy Kreme donuts when they first came to Texas back in the late 1990s. Everyone was all excited about the prospect because we had heard for years about how good they were. And they are great donuts. But never did I ever waiver from my love for Shipley Do-nuts because that was the donut that a grew up with back in Houston.

We never looked forward to going to Duncan Donuts, or any other donut shop Saturday or Sunday morning. For my family, the treat was always Shipley’s. In fact, at one point when my brothers and I were all under the same roof, we had to buy two dozen donuts when we went. Most of them never got cold. We were in donut heaven.

All this became relevant again when Heidi and I had to move from our previous home to our current location, where we bought a house. To my delight, we were driving through town on one of first excursions into the area, and I spotted the Shipley Do-nuts store on the main drag. I think I tried to imply that it was some sort of sign from our LORD above, but Heidi was having nothing to do with since we are on a carb-free meal. Yet, I could still take my boys there.

Shipley 002There is no reason the boys could not grow up with the same tradition that was started in my family when I was young. This morning, we made it to Shipley’s, along with the rest of our small town! The place was hopping and I promised the boys that we would get out of the house a bit earlier the next time we made the adventure.

As Andy tried to tell me about the “best donut” in the world, I very simply let him know that we would have no such blathering in my house since there was a Shipley’s in town. Yes, you can scream about your Krispy Kreme donuts. Eat ’em all up. I would rather have a Shipley’s.

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R.C. Sproul Jr. On the Real Battles We Face

I think this sums up the real difference we make as believers:

The real battles are these: Will I speak graciously to my children today? Will I have a grateful and cheerful heart about my neighbors, my fellow employees, those with whom I worship? Will I go to war against gossip, not by pointing out the gossip of others but by tending my own garden? Whether some evangelical superstar embraces some mystical prayer form is less important to the kingdom’s future than whether I will pray faithfully for that little girl with the brain tumor.

Read the rest of Sproul’s post, Someone Is Wrong on the Internet.

Obedience or Compromise (Which is Disobedience)?

In the book of Judges, God allows the wicked nations to remain in the land for a very specific reason. If you will recall, the book of Judges comes after Joshua’s leadership comes to an end. The people go through cycles of deep faith, falling away, coming under bondage, crying out for deliverance, and God faithfully raising up a judge to deliver them from bondage.

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Franklin Graham Has It Wrong on Trump


The false premise of our current political debate is that we have to vote for a less evil man in order to save the country.

Once again, after the latest debauch-fest by Trump is revealed, another evangelical leader came forth telling fellow believers we must vote for this Cretan. One of the reoccurring themes we have seen in this election cycle has been evangelical leaders, who absolutely chastised Bill Clinton while he was in office for his moral turpitude, now turning and supporting one who is just as morally depraved. These leaders are doing so have some inkling of hope in the Supreme Court, as if our hope is ever to be in the Supreme Court. In the process, they are losing legitimacy in their witness by selling out their values. I know they mean well. They are doing what they can to “save the nation.” And therein lies the problem. We are not called, anywhere in Scripture, to save the nation. We cannot save the nation.

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Tuininga on Abortion

From Matthew J. Tuininga’s blog post, Donald Trump and Sexual Assault: What Else Are Evangelicals Willing to Accept.

Abortion is a horrific, deeply rooted moral problem. Terrorism and violence seem to claim more lives every day. But every two minutes in this country another woman – or a child – is sexually assaulted. These are our wives. These are our children. These are our neighbors. What else do we have to say? Who else are we going to throw under the bus while claiming that all of this somehow helps us save the lives of the unborn? And can we really say with a straight face that hitching our wagon to Donald Trump is good for the cause and credibility of religious liberty?

Overturning Roe v. Wade is Not Our Primary Goal


When it comes to the battle for the right to life, one assumption that we make in the evangelical world is thinking that we must elect one degree of despot over and against another despot in order to get the Supreme Court we need to overturn Roe v. Wade. For those of you who are just waking up to social issues, Roe v. Wade is the Supreme Court ruling that legalized the murder of children in the womb of their mothers.

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Trump’s October Surprise

We should not have been surprised this would happen with Donald Trump. In case you have not heard, there are some tapes of him bragging about his sexual exploits, to the point that it sounds like he approves of rape. Some would say they don’t see him recovering from this.

I would say that this is what we should have expected. The Republicans wanted a rock star, and they got a rock star. Please don’t be surprised by the analogy. Stardom brings unrestrained behavior by its very nature. So we should not be surprised at the level of depravity we are discovering in Trump.

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