In his book “For a Continuing Church,” PCA pastor and historian Sean Michael Lucas notes that in the middle of the 20th century, liberals in the church believed in social and ethics reform and wanted to address these matters in the culture. But this good desire, Lucas said,  “came at the expense of the gospel.” Progressives neglected the truth that people are lost and going to hell apart from Jesus Christ and replaced it with a false gospel that claimed people were ignorant and needing salvation through education and “training in the proper ethical response to the world,” Lucas said. Conservatives in the South rightly rejected this false gospel, but in reacting against the theological compromises of progressives, the conservatives also discarded some important social applications of the Bible.

For 45 years the PCA has stood for the gospel, and in the past decade the denomination has begun thinking seriously about applying the gospel to social issues. In doing so, Lucas is concerned that we might follow the path of progressives in the previous generation and lose the gospel.

Lucas is the senior pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church in Memphis. His remarks were recorded at the 44th General Assembly in 2016.