A Queer-Positive PCA Congregation
Back in 2016, I blogged critically of a speech young black pastor Michelle Higgins, a #BlackLivesMatter movement activist, gave to the annual InterVarsity Christian Fellowship meeting. She criticized the pro-life movement, and went heavy on identity politics. IVCF official Greg Jao responded with some objections to claims I made in my post, and Carl Eric Scott, a former IVCF member, questioned the organization’s leftward drift. Another reader pointed out that in that same speech, Higgins said Christians should embrace transgenderism.
Criticizing Higgins unintentionally burned an important bridge for me. I didn’t see it coming, but I learned from a couple of folks inside the Evangelical movement that one should not criticize #BlackLivesMatter if one wants to stay on good terms with woke young white Evangelicals. I wonder if that’s still true. I wonder what those same Higgins defends have to say about this latest news about her, via Denny Burk:
Over the weekend, I was gobsmacked by something that I read on social media. A PCA church in St. Louis is hosting an event that includes an openly lesbian speaker named Jay-Marie Hill who is coming to the church to “teach us how to not only mourn the tragic deaths of trans folx, but learn to celebrate their lives and humanity.” It is important to note that the teaching is not only about mourning the deaths of precious image-bearers (something we would all agree with). It’s also about affirming transgenderism (something every orthodox Christian must oppose).
When I first read this, I thought, “Surely this is an inaccurate report. Surely there is some mitigating piece of information that will make this not what it appears to be.” Then I followed the links and did a little poking around. No, the report is accurate as far as I can tell—at least that is what the organization hosting the event says.
The event is to be hosted by a group called “Faith for Justice,” which has as one of its founders a woman named Michelle Higgins. Higgins serves as Director of Worship at South City Church (PCA) which is hosting the event and where her father Mike Higgins is pastor.
I really did think that the Presbyterian Church in America was Biblically orthodox. What’s going on? Would readers who are Millennial Evangelicals please tell me where the lines are now being drawn? Serious, non-trolling question. Is it becoming heretical to oppose transgenderism within conservative churches?
UPDATE: South City Church has now pulled out of this particular event. Statement here. That’s good news, but come on, it cannot be the case that the church’s leadership had no idea how radical Michelle Higgins is. Did they not speak out because she’s the daughter of the pastor?
UPDATE.2: Reader Edward Hamilton lets it all hang out:
Intervarsity is already in the position of a zombie-movie victim waiting for the virus to spread to the brain. It’s already deeply infected by the SJW contagion and short of some major amputation-tier surgeries, it’s not going to be able to recover. And that would require cutting off a substantial portion of IVCF staff devoted to it’s racial-reconciliation agenda, so you can imagine what kind of public-relations disaster that would entail.
Here, for example, is Brandi Miller, one of their justice program directors. A quick look at her (“she/her”!) Twitter feed indicates that she’s a totally woke member of the Resistance, she’s committed to fighting the gender-binary tyranny at Urbana, and she shows courageous hostility to non-inclusive language like “brothers and sisters”. (I’m old enough to remember when that phrase was the cutting edge of wokeness, and grated on conservatives!) Of course there are standard-form denunciations of capitalism and how it contributes to indigenous-peoples genocide. She occasionally mentions missionaries, mostly to denounce them for trying to convert anyone instead of working for political goals. A representative quote (from October 26): “It should not be surprising that many are abandoning the Christian project when it’s primary function in many spaces is to embolden white supremacy, sexual assault, homophobia, ableism, & climate degradation with no awareness that its doing so or little remorse if they are aware.”
Intervarsity Press has been strongly pushing work from their social justice program. This month it’s a major roll-out for Jonathan Walton’s new SJW-themed book about dismantling white privilege. As you might expect, Miller and Walton engage in constant social-media cross-promotion. None of the above stuff is outside the evangelical mainstream. IVCF defines the mainstream. When evangelical parents send their church youth and college/career groups to the triennial Urbana missions conference (15,000+ kids in 2018), they’re being educated by queer-affirming speakers.
It’s hard to exaggerate how dramatic of a coup this is. IVP has been a mainstay of evangelical intellectualism for 70 years — in a Christian tradition with very few other lay-centered intellectual communities! It’s been a publisher for Schaefer and Stott. There’s nothing closer to the center of college experience for many young evangelicals today. And now it’s becoming indistinguishable from mainline social justice organizations. Within another couple decades, the power consolidation will be sufficiently complete that the remaining orthodox hold-outs can be ejected for all the usual reasons. Here’s Brandi Miller on Nov 10: “In theological conversations the quick turn to arguing “orthodoxy” typically warns me that the conversation is about to shift to White centered virtue signaling.” It requires little imagination to anticipate the endgame.
It’s all enormously sad, and part of the reason I keep forcing myself (not always successfully) to read all the stuff about the Catholic crisis as a shared tragedy instead of a vindication of Protestant ecclesiology. There’s no time left for triumphalism on any side. The waves are coming in high and fast enough to drown all of us at once.
UPDATE.3:Judging from this poll, it looks like the PCA’s future is pro-LGBT. Maybe those within the denomination who adhere to Biblical orthodoxy will hold the line, I dunno. But it sure seems that as the middle class in America embraces LGBT, so too will the Middle Class At Prayer.