In 2015, now Clerk of the PCA, Dr. Bryan Chapell wrote “The State of the PCA” which ran in ByFaithOnline.org our denominational magazine. In that piece, Dr. Chapell astutely remarked, “The denomination, as a whole, is clearly divided between traditionalists, progressives, and neutrals.” While he didn’t define the terms, probably because we all knew what he was talking about, he did say this about progressives:
The progressives are frustrated by the perceived cultural isolation of the denomination and the lack of Gospel impact upon the larger culture.
Theological zeal and institutional loyalty keep the traditionalists engaged despite their concern about the church. The progressives are increasingly concerned that the church cannot move forward without controversy, and segments of this wing occasionally talk about whether it’s worth staying — even though most votes go their way at the General Assembly level. The neutrals always hold the swing votes at the General Assembly level — they can be frightened into action by the traditionalists but generally are more inspired by, and aligned with, the progressives.
Eight years later, thankfully, General Assembly votes are no longer in the bag for the “progressive” side of the PCA. To be sure, nothing in the PCA resembles the theology reflected on ProgressiveChristianity.org, however recent debates in the PCA do reveal some concerning sympathies and trends among some in the progressive wing (in the Bryan Chapell sense of the word).
I was invited to discuss this topic with Dr. David Strain on The Westminster Standard Podcast by host TE Ryan Biese. You can watch the video here.