Further discussion on General Assembly

The last couple of weeks there have been a number of articles written on various aspects of the events at General Assembly. For a basic overview of events, please see this article at the Aquila Report or this one by Stated Clerk Roy Taylor.

No Court of Appeals for the PCA?
The PCA GA has no mechanism in place for dealing with SJC decisions after they have been announced

These overtures were doomed from the beginning, although they do draw attention to the presence of major dissatisfaction within the PCA with how the case was handled. Many would like for this case to be retried for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that the prosecutor, by his own admission, was persuaded of the truth claims of the Roman Catholic Church while trying this case.

Post-Mortem on the 41st General Assembly of the PCA

I was also heartened by the fact that the Committee of Commissioners for the Interchurch Relations Committee (ICR) pressed the issue regarding membership in the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The NAE is a seriously flawed organization. The ICR Permanent Committee will have to be more diligent in the coming year in reporting on what the NAE does. Perhaps when all those actions are put together in list form, it will become apparent to the PCA that we as a denomination have no business being part of that association.

The Insider Movement and the Word-Concept Fallacy
The love of God in Christ is a far more effective evangelism tool.

Why tell a Muslim something that we are just going to have to retract later on? … I do not believe it is helpful to start out by saying something that is grossly misleading at best, and heretical at worst. It is far better to tell them of the love of Jesus Christ, and to keep on directing them there. The love of God and the grace that Christianity offers in the Gospel is a far more effective evangelism tool.

Action on the PCA Insider Movement Report: Mutually Assured Destruction
An assessment of the PCA General Assembly’s consideration of the Insider Movement report

It is hard to see how the minority report can change unless it becomes even more indistinct and misleading. Perhaps it can apply more camouflage to hide the fact that it thinks that Muslims can remain Muslims and not leave the mosque. No amount of assurance that syncretism is avoided or that doctrinal standards required by the Bible are maintained can alter the fact that, at the end of the day, Islam remains but Christianity is not needed.

Debate Squashing at General Assembly– a PCUS Déjà Vu?
It looks more and more like our polity has devolved into nothing more than crass politics.

Wasn’t one of the reasons for leaving the PCUS (UPC, PCUSA for some of us) because the other side had secured all the political (committee) power – and then used that to squash the ability of “our” side to even debate matters!? I can’t help but wonder, how was the behavior at this GA from the one side any different than that which drove our fathers all out to form the PCA in the first place? One side, rather clumsily, tried to follow the procedures to at least be heard. The other side, much more effectively (think pro-football team playing against a beer-belly team), used the same procedures to squash any reasonable discussion whatsoever.

“What’s Happening to the PCA?”
Is the PCA on a similar path as the PCUSA?

And consider also the continuing discussion over women deacons. And what after that? The example of so many churches that have “gone liberal” charts a clear path. Women elders, then women teaching elders, then non-practicing homosexuals, then practicing homosexuals, then John Shelby Spong.

The PCA General Assembly, Cul De Sacs, and False Dilemmas
Certain facets of the PCA’s polity can create procedural cul de sacs that are making issues impossible to resolve

I also came away convinced we need to make some allowances at GA for our family system of suspicion. We can regret that all we want but it seems pointless to ignore it. One way is to consider a policy the Southern Baptist Convention has adopted. At their annual meetings the SBC use a trained, certified parliamentarian from outside their denomination to ensure full confidence in rulings from the chair.

My Thoughts on the 2013 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America
What struck me as unique about this GA was the party spirit of those in control of things

There was little mood for unity evidenced by anybody at this GA. The mood was set by the opening sermon by the outgoing moderator, Mike Ross. It was a provocative sermon on the sin of conservatism. Rev. Ross has always been one of those whose style from the pulpit is confrontational; in any other context the sermon theme might be considered a healthy challenge to self examination. But sermons are not preached in a vacuum. Considering the obvious anxiety many conservatives had over the direction of the PCA coming into this year’s GA and the strained relationship the theme had to the text, it could not help but be heard as a direct attack. And it was.

Unjust Weights and the 41st PCA General Assembly
The principle of the use of unjust weights destroys trust in the church as it does in an economic system

Taking away PCA commissioners’ ability to debate and vote on issues in accordance with our RAO procedures destroys their trust in the underlying ecclesiastical system. Attempting to fix a vote’s outcome by changing voting order on the fly similarly erodes that same trust. Like unjust weights and balances, unjust political maneuvering should not be named amongst God’s people. Supporting and voting within established rules must be accepted and supported by all officers of God’s church.

The PCA Insider Movement Report: Times Are Changing, and Staying Exactly the Same
What most of them didn’t know at that small, somewhat shocking moment, is that this is just the beginning of a much larger seismic event that will shape the character and course of the PCA for a generation.

The recent General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America featured a brief, but heated argument about the seemingly inconsequential … issue of foreign missions. Particularly, whether to receive and approve the Majority Report of the Committee on Insider Movements or whether to receive, as well, the Minority Report, written by a single committee member. Having just been subjected to incredibly dull debates over coin-flips for committee appointments, I understand why the commissioners would have been asleep.

When Denominations Disappoint: Setting Priorities
The answer to denominational disappointment is to begin setting one’s house in order

There are other priorities that must be set too. Confession trumps church order. The latter is nothing but a tool to allow the church to do its proper work before the Lord. If a church order becomes so cumbersome and complex as to require canon lawyers, then we have lost a major Reformation battle. Remember, the Reformation inherited a highly complex canon law (the medieval Book of Church Order, if you will). Calvin addressed the problem of the authority of these documents in Institutes 4.10 in several sections (e.g., 1–5). He argued for the priority of the Word over church order.

2 thoughts on “Further discussion on General Assembly

  1. Ron says:

    Rachael, thanks for an insightful overview of the GA. I have not attended, as a TE commissioner for quite a few years, although I’ve attended the last 7 or 8. I’ve seen the decline and it saddens me. I was a TE at the First GA at Briarwood, and attended the first 10 or so GAs. Due to other circumstances, I missed a number of years. When I again attended in 2000 and saw the way one of our Founding Fathers was treated by the moderator (dismissive at best, disrespectful at worst) I was appalled. My wife actually shed tears as we left that assembly, saying, “That’s not the PCA as it was intended!” I agreed – then and now. I AM a Presbyterian and understand submission to my brethren, but I don’t have to like or agree with how things are being done now. I expect to be in the PCA until God takes me home, I just don’t see any need to waste my time or money attending more GAs like the last one, but I probably will.

    Ron

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