I’m going to attempt to briefly sketch out a thought I had in the aftermath of the Strange Fire conference, which frankly I’m quite tired of hearing about. And just when you think the fire has died down, up pops little brush fires here and there. Anyways, bear with me for a minute while I sketch this out and explain where I’m going with the title. And to be clear, I’m merely using Strange Fire as an example to leverage a broader thought on this issue. I personally don’t think there’s anything further that can be said about the conference itself. Let sleeping dogs…you know the rest.
I came across this document the other day, which was a statement issued by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in 1975 titled A Pastoral Letter Concerning the Experience of the Holy Spirit in the Church Today. Not only did it affirm my position on cessationism, but I also appreciated the leniency that was provided to those who hold a differing position. It also busts those persistent caricatures of cessationist that keep getting regurgitated no matter how many attempts to correct are made.
But even more compelling to me was the fact that it was issued by the governing body of this denomination. Now, I’ve been in the PCA for only a year and have tried to read up as much as I can on its history and particulars, which gives some more details from the church history courses I’ve taken in seminary. The transition into the PCA was a few years in the making, though I didn’t really realize it until last year. And I say “in the making” because of increasing disconnects that I was having with independent, non-denominational and Bible churches I’ve been apart of and also some theological wrestling. The disconnect had to do with on one hand, seriously examining the nature and purpose of the church, and on the other seeing incompatibilities with and her actions towards the very people she was designed to serve. As I wrote about here, the pragmatic and experience driven nature of independent churches in general (I’m sure there are exceptions) seemed to turn these microcosms into their own little machine, navigating through a maze of strategic planning and latest thoughts on how this church thing is supposed to work with little accountability. Continue reading