Two members of Christ the Word who recently returned from a trip to Africa tell me that while there they heard a visiting PCA pastor speak of 85 "Federal Vision" churches he and a group of like-minded friends hope to excise from the PCA.
I'm intrigued to learn there are 85 discernibly "Federal Vision" churches in the PCA and I'm curious to know how the number was arrived at. Does admiring the ministry of Doug Wilson make one a "Federal Vision" proponent? If so, Christ the Word is probably goners in the PCA if I continue to enjoy the privilege of being her pastor when these men achieve their goal.
I'm also intrigued that an ad hoc group of PCA pastors has identified 85 "Federal Vision" churches requiring removal without publicly identifying themselves or publicly acknowledging the breadth of their goals. It's possible the pastor was exaggerating--blowing ecclesiastical smoke. Yet my friends think not. He repeated his statements several times, never with any lack of conviction.
On the whole, Tim and I tend to honor those who take God's truth seriously enough to work to purify Christ's Church of dangerously false teaching. Whether "Federal Vision" theology is cohesive enough or sufficiently heterodox to require such opposition we're uncertain. What is certain is that God's truth prospers in the light, not in smoke-filled rooms and alleyways.
Which brings me to a recurringly troubling aspect of life in the Presbyterian Church in America.
On every side there appear to be clandestine groups of like-minded friends bound together by secret communications. The existence of such groups becomes especially clear when looking through blog referral lists. At times it's quite obvious that PCA-based discussion boards are steering readers to blog entries, but access to the referring site is limited to members and accessible only through password-protected accounts.
Friends who have participated in such groups tell me that not only is membership often by invitation only, but a commitment to confidentiality about discussion items is sometimes required as well.
It's hard to conceive of such secrecy as a good thing. There are times for confidentiality within pastoral circles, but the existence of whole cliques whose agendas and members are closely-guarded secrets runs contrary to the ministry of Christ Who reproached His captors by asking if He had operated in secrecy that they came to take Him at the dead of night....