An Open Letter to Jason Stellman, whom I’ve never met. Jason posted his “adios, PCA” letter on his blog last week.
Welcome to the other side of your PCA sojourn.
The step of leaving a denomination, especially when your seminary training, pastoral preparation, and ordination have all taken place within the same orbit of friends, is tremendously difficult.
You will never have the same kind of community again.
You will have other communities, and perhaps some that are even as rich, but you have bonded with folks through some of the most formative times of your theological education and career, and you can’t replace that.
You probably are losing some friends right now. Take courage–you’ll get some of them back after the wounds heal. But know this, too–many are gone forever. Hold them with open hands. Let them go. You’ll make new ones.
Many of our denominations create quite a strong identity for themselves, and many of us were part of tight-knit sub-groups within such worlds as well. This makes leaving all the more difficult.
But you’ll learn a new narrative. As many good things as are going on in that world, there is plenty of spiritual vitality to be found beyond its pale. Take courage, you’ll find yourself nourished in your new communities. It may take time, but you will find like-minded people who will help you grow in your walk with Christ and be fellow contenders with you for the Kingdom.
You’re leaving the PCA, in part, because you are seeing that the NT won’t let us separate our faith from our action. I hope you’ll learn quickly that this also means that our standard of judging our communities has much more to do with embodying the cross of Christ than the many other markers that have become popular (especially in Protestantism).
Make sure to embody this way of the cross in your responses to your detractors. I know they are many, from your blog’s comments.
Finally, as you experience the wounds of those you thought were friends, you might realize that you were a wounder of those who are friends and brothers. I’d encourage you to take this time to think about folks whom you may have wounded in your Reformed zeal–I can think of at least one by name.
I pray that as you go from the PCA, you will go in peace, as a man of peace, and find those who will receive you with the same.