Sunday, July 06, 2008

From PCA to SBC: Part 2

OK, so where was I...when we last left the story I had come to some conclusions about the Sabbath. To be honest I was not too concerned about these convictions though they certainly veered from the Westminster Confession of Faith. As a matter of fact I knew that I would be taking an exception to the teaching of the WCF but I had no idea of the controversial stand I was taking in my Presbytery. You see, every PCA church is part of a Presbytery. A Presbytery is a regional group of churches. Every Presbytery has things that make them a little different from the others. Some are little more lenient on issues such as the Sabbath, creation, etc. For instance I am told on good authority a Presbytery one state away from where I was actually expects and encourages my convictions regarding the Sabbath. However, the Presbytery I was a part of actually wants no pastor to take any exceptions whatsoever.

I did not know this when I took to the floor of my oral examinations with my convictions in hand to defend. The following is what I remember happening...

1. A continuous hot flash running down the back of my neck.

2. A finger being pointed at me and an elderly gentleman telling me I was an Antinomian.

3. A few people standing up to defend me.

4. Lots of angry looks.

5. A recommendation to read the worst book on the Sabbath ever.

6. My embarrassment and confusion when I was on the losing end of a vote to indefinitely postpone the vote for my ordination so I could study the matter more fully.

7. My own anger and frustration.

I applaud the men who stood by their convictions on this matter. I really do. I never lost one night of sleep over that vote. It was a bitter pill to swallow. But I was not mad at these men for what had happened.

What frustrated me was their attitude of condescension towards me during while being grilled and afterward in emails and phone calls.

I was bringing up arguments that had biblical and historical precedence within the Reformed community and no one was willing to do any dialogue with those arguments. What I found instead was many had done little study on the matter at all and they were willing to simply sign off on a debatable theological point. And what surprised me the most was how many men were willing to concede my point and admit they agreed with me but were not willing to go public with such a conviction. In other words, the inconvenience of going public with an unpopular position outweighed any other consideration of honesty and integrity. Granted, almost to a man who confronted me I could find no one who without equivocation would say they lived out the WCF's teaching on the Sabbath...they would all defer to a belief of individual conviction on the matter.

What frustrated me the most and certainly had the most long term effect on me was the fact that no one really cared how I lived on the Presbytery only wanted me to sign off and say the WCF was right on the matter. In other words, I must sign off on the theological argument with no concern to the way I actually live. No violence was to be done to the theological system. This was my greatest sin...I challenged the theological system. My convictions on the Sabbath did not fit into the system of the WCF. And so that is what got me thinking over a year later about baptism...


McKay Caston said...

Hey Matt,
As one of the guys who stood up to support you, I thought you might like to know that this past January I claimed the sabbath exception (and not just the "recreation" exception) and was welcomed into my new presbytery with open arms. Thought you'd like the (hopefully) encouraging update.

So glad you are enjoying MEBC and it's radical Gospel-centrality. That is so awesome!

Sola gratia,

m b redmond said...

And because of are truly the man!!! Thanks, my friend for the encouraging words.