The Rev. Dr. Jon D. Payne, pastor of Grace PCA in Douglasville, GA (just west of Atlanta) and author of John Owen on the Lord’s Supper and In the Splendor of Holiness: Rediscovering the Beauty of Reformed Worship, and who is deeply committed to the Reformation2Germany project, has offered an alternative proposal for the PCA that reflects my own thoughts and commitments and those of the congregation I serve. He states,
What we need more than anything in the PCA is a warm, winsome, consistent, serious, joyful, positive expression of Reformed and confessional Presbyterianism that unashamedly and courageously applies the theology of our Confession to the way we worship, preach, teach, write, shepherd, discipline, serve, evangelize and plant-churches (Domestic and International).The need in the PCA is not new "safe places," the creation of gospel eco-systems, withdrawing from those with whom we share doctrine in order to learn from and participate with those with whom we do not share doctrine, or partnering with "groups" that aren't churches. How can a "group" accomplish the Great Commission of Matthew 28.18-20 if they can't administer the sacraments and church discipline?
No, the new alternative that the PCA needs is not new at all, but a return to biblical faithfulness. Remember it is God who is on the mission, and he is building his church through the Christ. And remember, this is all rooted in his plan that he and the other members of the trinity agreed upon before the foundation of the world. He covenanted, he decreed, he accomplished and is now applying what he accomplished--and he does this according to his prescribed means--what he thinks is best. He has not done all this to then leave it up to us to fulfill what he promised to do--what he has left up to us is to do what he has promised to bless and then leave the results up to him--results he predetermined before the foundation of the world. Trust me--none of the elect will be lost!
So what are the 17 points of his (and mine! ha!) alternative proposal that is not new since it is what God has prescribed?
1. A renewed commitment to exegetical, God-centered, Christ-exalting, Holy Spirit-filled, lectio-continua preaching.
2. A renewed commitment to the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper for the spiritual nourishment, health and comfort of the elect.
3. A renewed commitment to private, family and corporate prayer.
4. A renewed commitment to – and delight in – the Lord’s Day.
5. A renewed commitment to worship God according to Scripture.
6. A renewed commitment to sing the Psalms in private, family, and public worship.
7. A renewed commitment to wed our missiology to our Reformed ecclesiology.
8. A renewed commitment to Spirit-dependent, prayerful, loving, courageous evangelism.
9. A renewed commitment to biblical church discipline.
10. A renewed commitment to family worship.
11. A renewed commitment to biblical hospitality.
12. A renewed commitment to catechize our covenant children.
13. A renewed commitment to biblical masculinity and femininity.
14. A renewed commitment to shepherd the flock of God.
15. A renewed commitment to promote and defend the Reformed Confession.
16.A renewed commitment to the mortification of sin and worldliness.
17. A renewed commitment to rest by faith in Christ ALONE for salvation, without minimizing Gospel obedience.
I heartily agree with Payne's conclusion,"This vision, I believe, would unify our beloved denomination in what God Himself has clearly promised to bless," [emphasis mine].