Quick! What is the first word that comes to mind when you look at this picture of Rosaria Butterfield? If you are not familiar with Rosaria maybe the word is motherly or kind or even dignified. If you are familiar with Rosaria and count her an enemy, maybe it’s traitor or worse. But if like me, you are deeply thankful for the way God is using Rosaria in our day, you might say bold or courageous. I have read Rosaria’s books, spent time with her over dinner (along with our church staff), listened to her speak in person and through the media. The more I read and the more I hear the more I understand that this motherly, kind, dignified sister in Christ is indeed full of boldness and courage. She speaks with clarity in the face of opposition. This recent address surrounding the devastation of the Revoice Conference is case in point… https://youtu.be/xVjj_dDAxLA .
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The lack of swift and clear opposition to the Revoice Tragedy is evidence of a void of the boldness and courage that Rosaria embodies. Thankfully, there are PCA ministers here and there who are opposing Revoice and I’m sure there are many more who are doing the same in their local churches (as my pastor has done). That said, the truth remains that no matter how one wants to chop it up this was essentially a PCA conference. I know, I know. It was not technically a PCA conference, just as Covenant Seminary did not technically sponsor it. But it was hosted in a PCA church and Covenant did send one if its own to speak (Jay Sklar). If there is any understanding of covenant responsibility before God, then the PCA and its flagship seminary must own the fact that this was theirs, and repent.
For a slice of the muddled confusion of Greg Johnson (Lead Pastor of Memorial Pres, PCA, who hosted Revoice), start the following interview at 21:00 and run it to 24:00… https://crosspolitic.com/family-meeting-with-greg-johnson-pastor-of-memorial-presbyterian-church-and-host-church-of-revoice-us/. I don’t yet fully understand how PCA government works, but isn’t this enough to discipline Greg Johnson? And I don’t mean punish, I mean discipline… lovingly rebuke and correct and admonish according to the word of God, and if he is unwilling or unable to repent of his lack of understanding in regard to original sin, the sinfulness of sin and the nature of repentance (of course, along with his embrace of gay identity and effeminacy), then for the love and care of the church of God, remove him from his shepherding post. I’m sure there are a number of hoops to jump through along the way, but it should be pretty straightforward. Hopefully, surely, these wheels are already in motion behind closed doors in his Missouri Presbytery and across the denomination as a whole. That said, these efforts should not remain behind closed doors.
I am reminded of Spurgeon’s quote of John Angell James… “When a preacher of righteousness has stood in the way of sinners, he should never again open his lips in the great congregation until his repentance is as notorious as his sin” (Lectures to My Students pp13-14). Greg Johnson (and by covenant association, the PCA) is not only standing in the way of at least 400 sinners (those who attended this conference), but is leading them into the outer darkness. He is proclaiming peace where there is no peace to be found. And this conference is getting a lot of airtime, meaning that it has now reached thousands upon thousands more than those 400 who bought tickets. This needs to be covenantally owned, repented of, and disciplined by the PCA out in the open. Let the repentance be more notorious than the sin. To renounce this in 50 years is going to be too little too late.
I do not write this as one who is out to get the PCA, just the opposite. For many years I have been involved with the PCA am thankful for her influence in my life. I was raised in a non-denominational church (and now serve in that same church) that has been pastored by a PCA minister for almost 30 years. When I was converted in college, it was the RUF minister at my school, along with my former youth pastor (himself a PCA minister) that I contacted first. The latter married my wife and I. After we got married, I worked in a PCA church plant on the MS Gulf Coast that was started in response to Hurricane Katrina. While there I was trained through RYM Youth Leader Training, a ministry of the PCA. Currently, I am an online student at RTS and am “under care” of Covenant Presbytery, PCA.
Neither do I write this as one who hates homosexuals. Though I may not understand their specific temptations and sins, I do indeed understand that the internal bent toward sexual sin can be deep and lasting. But I also know that the only true and lasting freedom is in Christ, by the power of his Spirit, according to his commands. It is precisely for the love of Jesus and for the love of homosexuals that the church has to get this right. In fact, if we give permission (to professing Christians who are tempted homosexually) to keep any of the “old man” lying around, we are hating them not loving them.
Back to Rosaria. After listening to Greg Johnson’s confusion, go back and listen to Rosaria’s clarity… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVjj_dDAxLA&feature=youtu.be (from 17:00 until 20:30). In fact, it would be helpful to listen to the whole thing. May God raise up shepherds in his church, in every denomination, that speak with this kind of boldness and courage… clarity in the face of opposition. As for the death of the PCA, it will come in one of two ways: either in the form of death and resurrection through repentance and faith, leading to future generations of fruitful life, or in the form of death alone, somewhere along the path of cultural accommodation where she now finds herself.