The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) has elected a social justice academic to moderate its annual General Assembly meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina. Unlike the larger, liberal branch of the denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), PCA churches are made up of largely conservative evangelicals, making the selection of a progressive professor a departure from the norm.
Getting the green light is Alexander Jun, a teacher at a Christian school in California, Asuza Pacific University, and a co-author of the book, White Out: Understanding White Privilege and Dominance in the Modern Age.
According to The Tennessee Star:
Jun, who is Korean-American and an elder at a Korean Presbyterian church in California, is the first ethnic minority to be moderator at a PCA annual meeting. While conservatives on social media are expressing concerns over his teachings, others are celebrating his presiding role and the diversity he brings to the denomination.
Scott Sauls, pastor of Christ Presbyterian in Nashville, called Jun “a solid soul” in a Facebook post and said he was “so pleased by this.” David Cassidy, pastor of Christ Community in Franklin, also celebrated on Facebook, calling Jun “an excellent scholar” and “brilliant.”
Of himself, Jun states, “Higher ed is a microcosm for what is going on in the world. I infuse a Christian perspective into matters of social justice.”
Others consider Jun the latest example of a changing tide in the traditionally conservative denomination.
“We are in a time of transition as a denomination, certainly not in our core theology and beliefs, but in terms of changing generations,” said Dr. Lloyd Kim of Mission to the World. “He represents relatively younger leadership who is able to articulate well the heart and spirit of our denomination to an emerging generation.”
At last year’s PCA assembly, notes the report, a majority of members voted to repent for past racist sins during the civil rights era, despite the fact that the denomination was formed nine years after the fact. But leaders said the call to repentance was for other reasons: “[D]uring the civil rights period, there were founding denominational leaders and churches who not only failed to pursue racial reconciliation but also actively worked against it.”
A former PCA pastor and conservative blogger, William H. Smith, thinks the denomination is overly embracing the progressive pull to social justice.
“What conservative evangelical churches have coming at them is a train pulled by two powerful locomotives,” he wrote. “One locomotive is race. The other locomotive is gender (or what used to be called sex).”
“Those familiar with conservative Presbyterian history will know that one of the reasons the Presbyterian Church in America was founded in 1973 was the conviction by ministers, elders, and members that the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. was exchanging the Biblical Gospel for the Social Gospel,” Smith added.
Smith said the PCA is slowly embracing “political progressivism, liberation theology, and social gospel,” the very things it stood against four decades ago when it broke away.
“Historic theological orthodoxy cannot long cohabit with this liberal version of orthopraxis. One or the other will have to move out,” Smith wrote. “This does not end well for the PCA.”