Bryan Chapell warned that increasingly "it will be difficult to say in this culture that 'Jesus is the only way.'"
"That will be interpreted as hate speech," Chapell, senior pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Illinois, said Wednesday at the 42nd PCA General Assembly in Houston.
Members of the PCA tout the motto: faithful to the Scriptures, true to the Reformed faith, obedient to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. The denomination was formed in 1973 by those who left the PCUS (Presbyterian Church in the U.S.) over the growing influence of liberalism.
Chapell joined a panel discussion on the past, present and future of the PCA on Wednesday in which participants recalled the beginnings of the church body, touched on the cultural and generational divide, and predicted future battles.
Gender and sexuality are major issues for the church, he recognized. The PCA, like other denominations, will likely continue to discuss and debate those topics. But they're not the most pressing.
"If you continue to stand for 'Christ alone' in a culture that calls that bigotry, that will be the issue that presses us in the future," Chapell, former chancellor of Covenant Theological Seminary, said.
Pluralism is the major enemy, he added, and Presbyterians must unite despite differences on smaller issues to fight that enemy.
He encouraged those in the PCA "not to listen to the gossip that parades as news that tries to make us enemies of one another" when debating theological positions but to remember who the real enemy is.
"We will disagree sometimes strenuously but the reality is we have learned to trust one another," Chapell stated.
Roy Taylor, stated clerk of the PCA GA, agreed and gave out a similar warning.
"Our enemies are not those with whom we have some intramural disagreements in the PCA. Our enemies are not other Christians from other denominations," Taylor said. "As our culture continues to degenerate, we would be well served to understand that our friends are our brothers and sisters in Christ and we will begin to move forward against the true enemies of the Gospel."
The true enemies, he said, are the world, the flesh and the devil.