I should pay to be browbeaten?
(David) ByFaith Online, the Presbyterian Church in America's (PCA) virtual broadsheet, has been putting out a steady drumbeat of email and articles in support of the PCA's "2010 Strategic Plan."
In theory, I'm for better supporting the PCA's Administrative Committee's work as the Strategic Plan seeks. It's the various accretions to that committee I find myself questioning--and none moreso than ByFaith itself. In both print form and its more expansive online edition, ByFaith is a tedious exercise in the peculiar form of missional, artistic, citified pietism beloved of the PCA elite.
The appropriateness of turning a denominationally-supported organ into a shill for one particular party in that denomination seems never to occur to ByFaith's editors.
Of course, those editors think they take pains to represent both sides of issues...
But they don't. They only ever represent the view of denominational elites. ByFaith can reliably be trusted to say only what is being thought by safe, established, connected PCA ministers and ruling elders. Both sides are what is reliably absent from ByFaith.
Take ByFaith's 2008 "debate" between Tim Keller and Ligon Duncan on women deacons... Two sides? Of course it had two sides, you say if you're from the ranks of those who take ByFaith seriously: Lig championed the big-hearted conservative view, Keller the enlightened view of those who want to "hear the voice" of women, "enfranchise" the young and "give a place at the table" to new leaders.
But, of course, the one disenfranchised voice in that debate was the voice that takes certain things seriously enough to be upset about them. I am tempted to say that the one disenfranchised voice is the voice that takes the Word of God, the fear of God, the timeless character of God as Father seriously enough to be angry at those who would trifle with these things. But that would be unkind. So I'll leave it that the ever-disenfranchised voice within ByFaith and the PCA's elite is the voice of manly rebuke.
That this was often the voice of Christ, of Moses, of Isaiah, of John the Baptist, of Paul, of Augustine, of Luther, of Calvin, of Spurgeon matters not one whit to these men. Indeed, the fact that this was their voice is further reason not to employ this voice today. After all, these were great men, men of significance. We are lesser beings, less certain, more self-aware.
So, we have Pastor Joe Novenson in ByFaith's most recent puff piece for the Strategic Plan, suggesting that the value of the plan is its capacity to force the PCA to take evangelism seriously:
Novenson views the Strategic Plan as a reminder to PCA leaders of the call to evangelism and discipleship. “I definitely found myself convicted that I have broken the Master’s law. We need to repent and be faithful to His call.”
Notice the way Pastor Novenson begins confessing in the first person singular and ends in the first person plural. This is as vigorous as rebuke gets within the pages of ByFaith. Which is it Pastor Novenson? You or the rest of us? If just you, why the change of voice? If you're really calling all of us out, to repentance, why not say it directly, clearly, with manly vigor?
Such manipulation is ByFaith's stock-in-trade. Why not get rid of the magazine and give its money to the Administrative Committee? By my thinking it's a twofer: we get rid of a problem and support a good at one and the same time.