photo: Jim Southard

BENYOLA: So, not that there is a concern but in principle, who’s making sure the para-church, that the materials being put out by Third Mill are in line?

PRATT: It’s a very interesting thing. There are a variety of ways. If a para-church organization is aware of this problem, that apostasy is possible for them, then the para-church organizations acknowledge their accountability to the people who support them. So when an organization becomes too far afield, then they will tend to lose their support, which brings things to a grinding halt. So if they’re aware of it, then they make themselves dependent on that kind of populist witness for Christ and they are submissive to that. They listen to their constituency when their constituency says, “Stop it.” That is a big protection from drifting here at Third Mill. At Third Mill, we know who we are theologically, and we also know who our constituency, our support group is.

BENYOLA: Mostly the PCA [Presbyterian Church in America], right?

PRATT: I’m glad you asked that question because I never thought of it before. In terms of quantities of money, we are supported more by non-PCA but in terms of local churches we’re certainly supported more by PCA.

So accountability to the supporting people is one thing. The other factor that’s important for us at Third Mill is that I and several of our staff are ordained ministers in the PCA and we are called to serve Third Mill under the authorization of our presbytery. The theological reliability of our curriculum is always subject to presbytery approval. And anytime I violate any of the standards of my church, either in my personal life or my personal ministry or here at Third Mill, then I’ll be called to account. And frankly, I love that. I used to say — jokingly, but nevertheless truthfully – “I’m glad that I can’t pay my own mortgage! I’m glad somebody else has to help me pay my mortgage because that keeps me in line.” It’s just practical reality that if I deviate from Evangelical teaching, then I’m going to be in trouble on a basic human level and that is a wonderful thing.

previous | next

Covenant theology, interviews, missiology