Posted on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517


I have been challenged politely by some and excoriated by others for writing an open letter to Andrew White, the staunch defender of Roe V Wade, PCA Ruling Elder, and candidate for governor of Texas.

I have been called divisive and even unchristian by some fellow Teaching Elders for posting the letter. The basic point of the complaints is “Have you contacted him personally? Why don’t you just let the session of his church handle this? That’s how Presbyterianism works.”

But how does my open letter in anyway hinder or stop the session of his church from doing the right thing? How does my open letter stop the Presbytery from doing what is right?

I was alerted to the story about RE/candidate White by a number of PCA laypersons who were genuinely confused and vexed. I was being asked, “Is the PCA pro-choice?” “Is it time to leave the PCA?” The fact is, Mr. White’s public advocacy of wicked and violent policies has caused division within the church and vexation among brothers and sisters in Christ. A quick and public response was necessary.

Let’s frame the issue like this:
Suppose an open white supremacist was running for governor of Texas. Suppose also that he was a Ruling Elder of a PCA church. Let’s also suppose that his position on the legislation of his views was less ambitious than Mr. White’s commitment to actively defend abortion.

For example, what if our racist RE simply stated that he believed in white supremacy but did not favor changing any laws in the US? What if he stated that he believed that racial intermarriage should be illegal but that he would not seek to introduce legislation toward that end? What if he stated that while he believed whites to be superior to blacks he would nevertheless uphold current laws?

Would that be enough for a public rebuke? I certainly believe it is enough. I would not wait for months to see if his session would act. I would want to be out in front assuring PCA laity and the public in general that his views were absolutely out of accord with the PCA and biblical Christianity.


Posted on Monday, January 29, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517


Andrew White is a Ruling Elder in a PCA church in Houston, Texas. He is also running for Governor of Texas. He has recently stated his full support for Roe V. Wade the 1973 Supreme Court ruling which made laws prohibiting abortion unconstitutional. In an interview aired on Texas Public Radio Mr. White stated, "I support Roe v. Wade 100%, and it's the law of the land, we just celebrated the 45 year anniversary of that." He also said that as governor “I'll veto any of this legislation that's coming out that limits a woman's right to choose.” You may hear those comments beginning at the 8:20 mark in the audio.



Dear Mr. White,


Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


You and I have several things in common. We both love the state of Texas. I was born and raised in Houston. You are a ruling elder in a PCA church. I am a Teaching Elder in the same denomination. We both profess faith in Jesus Christ. For this I rejoice. In fact it is on the basis of our brotherhood in Christ that I write to you.


I understand that you are running for Governor of the state of Texas. What a tremendous responsibility that would be should you be elected. While Christians will certainly continue to be marginalized because of our belief in the authority of God’s Word and our love for Christ and his gospel I trust that Christians will continue to seek ways to exercise influence in public life including running for elected office.


Unfortunately, based upon your public statements it is clear that your Christian convictions will have no bearing on your role as Governor of Texas should you win. I gather this from your own words in a recent interview: "My personal faith is personal to me, but I will not let it interfere with how I govern."


How is it desirable for a Christian to believe that his or her faith convictions have no place in the public square? And how is it even possible? If you are indeed a Christian, how is it possible for you to govern a state as though you were not?


I was deeply troubled to hear of your position on abortion. You have pledged to give full support to abortion. Indeed your position on abortion seems to be one of celebration. In an interview on Texas Public radio you stated:

"I support Roe v. Wade 100%, and it's the law of the land, we just celebrated the 45 year anniversary of that." And “I'll veto any of this legislation that's coming out that limits a woman's right to choose.”


You state that you hold to the Joe Biden position of being personally opposed to abortion while favoring its continued practice.


My question is on what basis do you personally oppose abortion? The only reason to oppose abortion is if it is indeed the taking of an innocent human life. And since abortion is indeed the taking of an innocent human life (the only reason for your personal opposition) then how can you support its continued legality? That sort of position collapses under the weight of its own moral contradictions.


Since you are a Christian and ruling elder in a PCA church I will proceed with the assumption that Scripture shapes your thinking. I assume as well that our denominational standards are also of great importance to you. God’s Word has no notion of life in the womb being anything other than fully human; the creation of God. The following is a small sampling from the Scriptures and Christian history:


The Psalms

The Psalmist refers to children in the womb as “treasure”:

“You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants.” (Ps. 17:14)


The Psalmist reflects on God’s creative and wonderful work in the womb: 

For you formed my inward parts;

            you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

   I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

           Wonderful are your works;

            my soul knows it very well.

   My frame was not hidden from you,

           when I was being made in secret,

            intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

   Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

            in your book were written, every one of them,

            the days that were formed for me,

            when as yet there was none of them. (Ps. 139:13-16)


The Prophets

“Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen.”  (Isaiah 44:2)


“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)


Mary and Elizabeth

In the first chapter of his gospel, Luke describes an encounter between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth when they were both pregnant. Mary was carrying in her womb the miraculously conceived Messiah and Elizabeth was carrying the one who would come to be known as John the Baptist. The encounter highlights the fact that God’s Word assumes the full humanity of children in the womb:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Lk. 1:41-45)


Christian History

Perhaps you have read about the Christian practice in the first few centuries of the church of rescuing babies left abandoned to die under the cruelty of the elements. So common were these rescues that they captured the attention of the upper echelons of Roman government. This practice of rescuing the weak and vulnerable was based on those Christian’s biblical convictions. They learned from God’s word that they must try to rescue those who were being led away to destruction.


The Presbyterian Church In America

The Westminster Larger Catechism (part of the doctrinal standards you and I have taken sacred vows to uphold) states the following:


Q. 136. What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.


There is also the report from an ad interim committee on abortion from our denomination which clearly states opposition to the practice of destroying life in the womb.


I trust that you are aware of the staggering number of abortions performed in the United States since the passage of Roe V. Wade. We have crossed the 60 million mark. Compare that to the number of US military killed in action in all combined wars: about 2.8 million. There is no human slaughter in history that can compare to that which was made possible through Roe V. Wade. It most certainly is not something to celebrate.


I wonder also if you are aware of the genocidal feature of Roe v Wade among African Americans. Since, by your own words we “celebrate” the anniversary Roe V Wade I assume you are informed enough to know that almost 2,000 black babies are aborted every day in the United States. Since the passage of Roe V. Wade some 16 million black babies have been aborted in our nation. The numbers are appalling.  


In 1935 the Nuremburg Laws essentially excluded Jews from German society. They were dehumanized; called lesser persons. This dehumanization made possible the Nazi program of genocide. Abortion is justified on the same grounds. The most vulnerable members of the human family – the unborn – have been dehumanized. Since the claim that unborn children are not human is no longer supportable on scientific grounds, abortion proponents now label the pre-born “lesser humans.” Surely you do not want to add your voice of approval to such a moral catastrophe.


In light of all this, how do you justify your current position on the slaughter of the unborn? How is it that you join in celebrating the anniversary of Roe V. Wade? How can you promise to use all your powers as Governor to uphold and defend the practice of abortion?


I am praying for you Mr. White. I am praying that the Lord will open your eyes and grant you repentance from you current views. I am praying that, should you harden your heart and maintain your current position, your church and presbytery will do the right thing and exercise proper discipline in your life. It is not too late. So long as you have breath there is time to repudiate your current views. I pray you do.


Yours in Christ,


Todd Pruitt

Lead Pastor

Covenant Presbyterian Church

Harrisonburg, VA


Posted on Friday, January 26, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517


The Best thing I have ever found on understanding Covenant Theology is Ligon Duncan's lectures from Reformed Theological Seminary. You can listen to them free on ITunes.


If you would like to actually understand Covenant Theology you won't find a better explanation.


Posted on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517


I will not rehearse the grotesque acts of Larry Nasser.

As you probably know by now, Nassar is the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor whose crimes led to his disgraceful end. Today (January 24) he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. It is estimated that Nassar sexually assaulted over 150 women and girls.

During the sentencing, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina gave some of those assaulted by Nassar an opportunity to address the court and the man who victimized them.

Rachel Denhollander is the woman who first shone the light on Nassar's deeds by recounting the abuse she suffered at his hands. Mrs. Denhollander’s statement in court was powerful. But it was much more than that. She gave a better presentation of law and gospel than you will hear in many evangelical churches.

Mrs. Denhollander spoke boldly about the depth of Nassar’s guilt. Her words exposing his actions and the impact of those actions gave him no place to deflect his sin or in anyway minimize its impact. Extraordinarily, after methodically naming his evil she held forth the radical promise of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. I say “radical” because that is exactly how it sounds in light of Nassar’s wicked deeds.

In all of this we are reminded that the gospel demands repentance. It is not a self-help program meant to make good people better. The gospel is not a nice word for nice people. It is a word of pardon for those devestated by their sin. It is a promise made to sin's slaves that purchase has been won through the death of God’s Son. So great is the sinner’s guilt that nothing else would satisfy the demands of perfect justice.

Speaking directly to Nassar, Mrs. Denhollander said:

In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.

If the Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you throw into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.

The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God's wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.

Read Rachel Denhollander's entire statement HERE


Posted on Saturday, January 20, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517


In a continuing effort to bring to you the voices of those you will likely not hear in the current race "discussion" I pass along an excellent article on the propriety of so-called "Racial Reconciliation" services by Reverend Sam Murrell.


Sam Murrell is an Anglican priest living in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is a graduate of Covenant College and Covenant Theological Seminary.


Reverend Murrell writes:

Years ago, I participated in my first”racial reconciliation” worship service. It was a well-integrated gathering of black and white folk. The service, while very moving, left me feeling very awkward as white strangers approached me to confess their racism toward me and “my kind”. It wasn’t that I had never experienced unfairness or injustices because of the tone of my skin. On the contrary, the issue was that the confessions came from people who had never done any wrong towards me in particular. So, I was left not knowing what I should do for them in response to their confessions; I was young and so chalked my discomfort up to my inexperience. Since that gathering, I recall participating in at least two other instances of worship services that were focused primarily on racial reconciliation. And I have actually worked for a church where “intentional racial reconciliation” was part of the mission statement. Over the years, I have come to a greater sense of clarity regarding my uneasiness with such event. Here, in no particular order, are the few reasons that I no longer take part in “racial reconciliation” services:

Too often, the premise of the worship service is that Whites are guilty because they are White. This is evident in the fact that the white people present at such events are expected, even pressured, to confess the sin of racism even if they cannot recall any specific instances of racist action that they have perpetrated. The assumption is that because you are white then you must have knowingly, or unknowingly, caused offense towards Blacks (and maybe other ethnic minorities too). An example of this guilt-by-association is that, although you may be unable to find any instance of slave ownership in your genealogy, you are held accountable for the history of slavery in the United States of America. The black person stands as representative of the innocent victim of so-called racism and thus serves a priestly role for the white confessor who is guilty because of a lack of melanin in the epidermis. The white person’s pigmentation carries with it a privilege, and that is enough to require repentance.

Continue Reading...


Posted on Friday, January 19, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517


Given the profusion of regrettable things being said about race by those who are members of reformed churches like “repent of your whiteness” it is necessary to actively support those whose voices are aggressively marginalized. It does not take much to be marginalized in the current climate. Simply suggest that being a white male does not necessarily mean you are a vile racist and you will be told that you just don’t get it (as I was recently by a fellow PCA pastor). Suggest that there may be a problem with a ministry leader in a PCA church publicly praising the terrorist Angela Davis and you will be called a racist. And then watch all the great people of influence in the PCA remain silent lest they risk their influence. Such is the current condition of the race “discussion” in the PCA.

So, in a continuing effort to promote helpful voices on race and reconciliation I give you the following links…

Lisa Robinson (someone always worth reading) has posted a helpful article entitled “When They Don’t Want to March.”

Darrell Harrison was the guest on this week’s Mortification of Spin. We talk with Darrell about race, the gospel, and being called an Uncle Tom.

And here is a heads up for an upcoming Mortification of Spin. We are scheduled to interview Ismael Hernandez on his essential book Not Tragically Colored: Freedom, Personhood, and the Renewal of Black America. You really ought to read this book.


Posted on Friday, January 12, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517


On Friday February 16 our friend Carl Trueman will be lecturing at the Washington DC campus of Reformed Theological Seminary. He will deliver two lectures on the subject of "The Road to Nowhere: How Our Understanding of Human Identity Has Changed and Why It Matters."


If you are anywhere near the D.C. area you will want to check it out.


I might even drive out for that and I've heard everything Carl has to say.

Posted on Wednesday, January 03, 2018 by Todd Pruitt on 1517


Imagine a man named A. Davis. Mr. Davis is a white nationalist and a former leader in the Nazi Party in the United States. He has had membership or at least close affiliation and sympathy with various domestic terrorist groups. The groups which he defends have been responsible for an array of crimes including drug dealing, money laundering, bank robbery, stockpiling weapons, and the murder of black police officers. But A. Davis is no backwater red neck. In fact he is a scholar with multiple degrees. As such he has been honored by various fascist and white nationalist groups in the United States and Europe. A. Davis also served time in federal prison. His crime? He purchased and supplied weapons used to murder a black federal court judge in 1970.

Davis remains unrepentant for his views and crimes. But with his age and the adoration of white supremacists, he continues to speak and deliver lectures as something of an elder statesmen in the white nationalist movement. He continues to decry what he calls “the mongrelization of the white race.”

Continuing with our thought experiment…

Imagine that an influential voice in the PCA routinely praises Mr. A. Davis. Imagine that this man is not only a member of a PCA church but a graduate of the denomination’s college and seminary. Imagine also that he is a ministry leader on staff in a PCA church. Imagine that he is an active presence in the life of our seminary, even speaking in classes and mentoring students. Imagine that, though he praises A. Davis on social media, celebrates his birthday, and refers to him as “King” and “Teacher” he is still asked to speak at the PCA’s college and Seminary. Imagine that he is asked to speak at gatherings of the more conservative ministers of the PCA who praise him and actively defend him against any and all criticism. Imagine that the session of his church support him. Imagine that the presbytery to which his church belongs remained silent. Imagine that the TE’s and RE’s of the PCA were collectively frightened to speak out.

Can’t imagine it? Neither can I.


Posted on Friday, December 22, 2017 by Todd Pruitt on 1517


My pick for book of the year…
Sanctification by Michael Allen
Michael Allen has contributed the third volume in the New Studies in Dogmatics series. It is a feast and my pick for book of the year. I won’t try to describe the book other than to say that Dr. Allen grounds holiness in the doctrine of God, Christology, and the covenant relationship between God and his people. Jesus saves his people not only from the condemnation of sin but from its power as well. This is a must read. You can listen to the Mortification of Spin interview with Dr. Allen HERE.

Between Wittenberg and Geneva: Lutheran and Reformed Theology in Conversation by Robert Kolb and Carl Trueman
What an appropriate subject for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. These two scholars help the reader understand the distinctives of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions. This book was a pure pleasure to read. Drs. Kolb and Trueman are at the top of their game. It is an irenic dialogue between two men who understand and are committed to their respective traditions.

Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet by Lyndal Roper
It was certainly appropriate to read at least one biography of Luther this year. When some of the world’s notable Luther scholars recommend a biography it’s a good idea to read it. Though described as a feminist historian by some, Roper is a first-rate scholar and her biography on Luther was a delight to read. This is both one of the most enjoyable biographies on Luther I have read and one of the best examinations of 16th century Europe.

Not Tragically Colored by Ismael Hernandez
Though published in 2016 I could not help but include it in this list. Hernandez gives us one of the most insightful, compassionate, and courageous books I have read in some time. A native of Puerto Rico and former Communist, Hernandez’ pilgrimage to the United States and rejection of Communism is deeply moving. But that is only the introductory material. The book is subtitled “Freedom, Personhood, and the Renewal of Black America.” I would suggest that if anyone desires to contribute something helpful to the current discussion of race and racial reconciliation they would be wise to read Mr. Hernandez’ outstanding book.

All That is in God by James Dolezal
The doctrine of God has received renewed attention in the last couple of years. Specifically, there seems to be renewed interest in those classic categories that many contemporary theologians have rejected, redefined, or not understood. This is an important book. You can listen to the Mortification of Spin interview with Dr. Dolezal HERE.

On Human Nature by Roger Scruton
For those not familiar with Scruton’s work, his latest book is a good introduction to the British philosopher. Here, Scruton argues for the uniqueness of humanity. He argues against philosophical and Darwinian materialists like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett.

Retrieving Eternal Generation edited by Fred Sanders & Scott Swain
The debate over the Trinity which began in the summer of 2016 involved a discussion about the propriety of the translation of John 3:16 and the doctrine of eternal generation. This book removes all reasonable doubt that eternal generation is thoroughly biblical and ought therefore to be retained by the church. These series of essays establish the hermeneutical, historical, and dogmatic foundations of this vital doctrine.

How To Think by Alan Jacobs
Jacobs is a wonderful writer who I enjoy reading even when I don’t necessarily agree with him. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his latest which is subtitled “A survival guide for a world at odds.” If you get a chance listen to the interview with Dr. Jacobs on Mortification of Spin HERE.

Descriptions and Prescriptions by Michael Emlet
Every pastor and elder ought to read this wonderfully helpful book by Dr. Emlet. It is concise and yet highly informative. Emlet gives the reader a much needed tour through the challenges complexities of psychiatric diagnosis. Throughout the author tethers his counsel and conclusions to God’s Word. Watch for the upcoming Mortification of Spin interview with Dr. Emlet.

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids by David Murray
The last several years have seen the production of many excellent books for children. David Murray has added a worthy volume to the list. Described as “52 expeditions through God’s Word” Exploring the Bible provides children ages 8-12 with daily Bible readings and brief meditations to guide them through the whole Bible. Parents, this is one you want.

Worth Mentioning…
These are books that are high on my “must read” list. Unfortunately I have not had time to get to them. But judging by the reviews and what I have read by these men previously I am looking forward to digging in…

Walking Through Twilight by Douglas Groothuis
As I write this list I am in the middle of reading Dr. Goothuis’ moving account of his beloved wife’s descent into dementia. If the second half of the book is like the first then it belongs on a best of 2017 list.

Christianity at the Crossroads by Michael Kruger

The Last Adam by Brandon Crowe


Posted on Friday, December 15, 2017 by Todd Pruitt on 1517


The first book I read from a Reformed scholar was The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. It was 1987 and I was a student at a Southern Baptist University. I had no idea what Reformed theology was or what Presbyterians believed. I picked up the book because the title struck me. Also, it was relatively brief. The other reason I decided to read The Holiness of God was because I had heard the name of the author on the radio (Christian radio was a constant presence in my home).

It was about 10 years later that I listened to a series of lectures by Dr. Sproul entitled “Chosen by God.” By that time I was wrestling with Reformed theology because as a youth pastor I studied and taught the Bible weekly. I was increasingly haunted by the doctrines of grace and the biblical vision of a God who works all things according to the counsel of his will. Here was a God who did not bow to my will but rather decreed all things which come to pass.

I did not consider myself “Reformed” or “Calvinistic” until I was the pastor of a church in the Midwest in the early 2000’s. I no longer had to explain away massive portions of Scripture. I was free to read it all and thrill in a God who sits above the heavens and does all that he pleases. You may not understand how revolutionary that was unless you were raised in the sort of tradition that makes the will of man the power to which God must adjust his purposes.

Like so many around the world I was caused to be quiet and reflective by the news of Dr. Sproul’s death yesterday, December 14, 2017. There are men whose lives and works have an impact which is hard to quantify. I can say without hesitation that it was The Holiness of God, purchased on a whim, which planted the seeds of my current vocation as a Presbyterian pastor. It is unlikely that there is anyone in the 20th century more responsible than R.C. Sproul for so many embracing the beauties of the Reformed faith.

How grateful I am for the life and labors of R.C. Sproul. In every vital matter of evangelical conviction from defending the inerrancy of Scripture, life in the womb, substitutionary atonement, and justification by faith alone, Dr. Sproul was on the leading edge. In these days of fading conviction may God give us many more who will do the same.


I would encourage you to watch or listen to the message from Dr. Sproul at the 2008 Together for the Gospel conference. It is entitled The Curse Motif of the Atonement and is the most powerful message I ever heard from Dr. Sproul. More than that, it is one the best proclamations of the atonement I have ever heard from any preacher in any venue. At a time when so many in my denomination are throwing overboard the unfathomable riches of the gospel for horrendous errors like the New Perspective on Paul, this message is medicine strong and sweet.