Responding To Controversy
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Jemar, Tyler, and Beau discuss the response to the Gender Apartheid episode of Truth’s Table/Pass The Mic, whether we can use secular terms/frameworks as Christians, and a few other topics related to last week’s feedback.
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Beau York is the Founder and Executive Producer of Podastery Studios, which offers marketing, consulting, and new media production services. Through Podastery, he currently produces several weekly shows, many of which have been featured by iTunes. His shows “Country Squire Radio” and “Flash TV Talk” boast top reviewed podcasts in their subject matter.
3 thoughts on “Responding To Controversy”
Hi, Ben. I did actually contact all the people directly involved with this controversy directly and dialoged with them, both over email and phone. I presented my case and asked them to retract the article and apologize to the people they defamed.
As far as an authority show on my piece, that’s not what happened. I simply wrote an article and people wished to agree with it by signing. There are some prominent PCA people on that list, but there are also plenty of lay people and seminary students. It was an example of people wanting to let their voices be heard, not a lining up of authorities as you say.
As to your email that you sent me, I do not recall that email, though I did receive a good many of them during that time. I apologize for ignoring you. If you wish to dialog on this further, please contact me again.
Hi, Ben. I actually did talk to Todd, and others over at the ACE.
Brothers, this episode delivered insult to injury. I want to discuss this with y’all either individually or as a group. With this comment, you have my email address and I would greatly desire to have a call with any of you on the phone, Skype, or through messenger. My intent is to be as fair, unsarcastic, careful, and open as possible. Whether you choose to believe me or not is up to you, but my conscience before God is clean.
For now, here are some quotes that I want to discuss.
>It is interesting for those of us on the outside to see the things that have been going around sessions and presbyteries, things of that nature, as the initial call to controversial statements. (Tyler Burns)
As far as I know, the only person who responded that way was Todd Pruitt of the Alliance for Confessing Evangelicals, which is not formally associated with any denomination. Pruitt himself is a Teaching Elder in the PCA but he was not acting with any PCA business. It is no different from when you act as a member of the RAAN without doing anything of an official capacity for your church. Despite his dismissive tone, his message was to contact the churches and presbyteries directly, which is an appropriate way to handle a problem at a distance with someone you do not know personally. If a lay Christian, address the church directly. For an officer, to address the session or the presbytery.
In the wake of this episode I did reach out to both Jemar Tisby and Ekemini Uwan directly with my concerns. Jemar received them graciously, Ekemini accused my clarifying question of confirmation bias and blocked me on all social media platforms.
Pruitt’s message seemed hastily written and his allegations were serious enough that they should have been supported by unpacking them in detail, but his call to action was at least in line with what was appropriate: contact the relevant people in charge of overseeing these things. On the other hand, the counter-controversy lead by Tim LeCroy was not a matter of contacting people directly to work out the issues, but to make a show of PCA authority figures endorsing the content of the episode. This is the kind of factional behavior that makes me far more nervous for the PCA than the mistake that Pruitt made. If Pruitt’s actions were followed, the most we would see is a session or presbytery-level trial where the issues were unpacked in parliamentary procedure following Roberts Rules of Order with a full record taken with minutes, no “reading between the lines,” and a right of appeal. That is the wisdom of Presbyterianism. It keeps hotheads, slanderers, and false accusers from gaining traction. The actions of LeCroy create an “us-vs-them” battle among people who are supposed to be co-laborers.
During this controversy, I discovered that there is a mailing list of PCA affiliated leaders with “progressive” leanings to coordinate actions to be taken at the General Assembly especially concerning “key votes”. Lining up on teams to march to the General Assembly is exactly the kind of thing that brings back nightmares from the 1970s when the PCA was formed. I sent Tim LeCroy an email directly with my explanation of why I thought his basis for PCA support of the office was incorrect and I have yet to receive a response, yet the list grows longer. There are people in the PCA who truly believe their ministerial brothers are enemies to defeat, not brothers to entreat.
>While there was a lot of people piling on saying “this doesn’t feel right,” we don’t necessarily have any biblical things to say but this doesn’t make me feel good. (Beau York)
You don’t think anyone brought any biblical criticisms, just their feelings? Concerns about women’s ordination are biblical concerns. These points have been raised by many people including myself. I have unpacked with citations the actual words that Michelle Higgins spoke and how their meaning is clear, but no one has engaged the content of those words and the truth of the matter. We have been told that we are just seeing what we want to see. We are told, “if you have a problem, why don’t you ask us directly?” but then when we do ask we are blocked or denounced. Michelle said of women’s ordination “it is not a Heaven or Hell issue.” Sure. But it is an issue when it comes to schism. Ordain one woman in the PCA with no action from the church courts and I can promise you that there will be a PCA schism. The PCA, the denomination of Higgin’s employment, does not have “heaven or hell issue” as a standard for whether an action is approvable within the PCA. We have a constitution, a confession of faith, and two catechisms.
Further, let’s just look at the Gender Apartheid episode in light of Galatians 6.
 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.  For each will have to bear his own load. (ESV)
Let’s suppose the girls were 100% right in their analysis of gender in the church. Can you say that they were restoring their brothers with a spirit of gentleness? You can be sinfully right. It has happened to me before. No amount of being right can free you from obligation to the commandment of God in Galatians 6.
> [Receiving the brunt of the controversy] is not for naught. There is benefit in that a lot of the systems that have existed without biblical basis and the historical denomination in which we operate when those get pressed upon people get upset and when people get upset they get loud, and when they get loud more people look. (Beau York)
This is such a cynical and low view to have of your denominational brothers. You are acting as though the people who found fault with what was said in that episode were not upset about what they *said* they were upset about, but just feel threatened by strong black female voices.
We have a General Assembly to address oppressive systems in the PCA. Last year, there were roughly half of the overtures on racial reconciliation. What oppressive system exists in the PCA? Why do you not bring this up to your session to resolve in your Presbytery to be submitted for the 2017 General Assembly? The sheer quantity of resolutions demonstrate the motivation to tear down any true systemic injustice should it be shown to exist. Do you know particular churches you believe to be sinfully enforcing unbiblical position concerning race or gender? If they are out of accord with our church’s constitution, bring this to their session and if they do not listen, bring it to the presbytery! Or propose this as an item of business at your own presbytery for an overture to the general assembly.
My experience is that the default case (with some exceptions like Jemar) when I disagree with someone speaking on a race or sexuality issue is to be accused of either racism, sexism, ignorance, bias, needing to stop talking and just listen, or silencing black or women voices. Are white males not allowed to disagree with the content of any of these arguments after they have fully listened to them and tried their best to understand them? When I disagree, will I get a list of PCA pastors expressing their support in denouncing me without addressing the content of my argument and my sincere questions? There are many people who desire diverse churches where people are respected but don’t agree with many of these views who are afraid they will be dogpiled, harassed, or slandered if they speak up. Is it possible to have a disagreement that is addressed not by psychoanalyzing the person disagreeing, but by politely and respectfully discussing the contention point by point?
I will leave it there for now. I really, really desire to speak privately with any of you who are willing. This is a sincere request because I want us to reach an understanding.