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Some PCA General Assembly Thoughts

June 16, 2007

My main interest in watching the video of the PCA General Assembly (since I am not a PCA member) was whether or not they would accept the report and recommendations of the study committee on the New Perspective on Paul and Federal Vision/Auburn Avenue Theology and how most teaching elders (pastors) would respond to it. I am not a PCA member, so my thoughts are from an outsider’s perspective who cares about the PCA’s future and perseverence in evangelical and reformed commitments. Being a Baptist, I agree with about 99.5% of Westminster Confession and think that it is an excellent confession to judge different perspectives and movements by. And that was the role of the study committee: to see if New Perspective and Federal Vision theology was in agreement with the Westminster Confession, and of course the study committee found that it was not in several areas (9 to be exact).

It was interesting to watch the different reactions from individual elders for and against the study report. The most surprising motion was that they should reject the study report, conduct a new study with (1) exegetical findings included, (2) cite how helpful or unhelpful the New Perspective and Federal Vision authors are, and (3) put 2 new members on the new study committee who are sympathetic to these movements. I am sympathetic to the idea of including exegetical findings into the report and placing Scripture as the primary judge of the movements, yet not enough to warrant a whole new report with the two other suggestions. I do believe the Westminster confession is exegetically supported enough to be a good “standard”. One elder stood up in opposition to the motion of a new study report saying that there is enough literature giving exegetical responses towards New Perspective and Federal Vision by PCA and other evangelical scholars to not warrant another study, which would have to include 5-600 pages to be exhaustive enough. Also, there is enough literature available by New Perspective and Federal Vision scholars to show how helpful or unhelpful they are and display their thoughts and views. I think he was probably right. R. C. Sproul’s comments were passionate, reminding the elders that this has to do with the doctrine of justification and the gospel and that they should vote in favor of the report now and not conduct a new study.

I was personally happy that they accepted the recommendations of the study committee. I thought it was a good, practical step in preserving their faithfulness to the confession in each presbytery. I do think the problem is also simply an integrity issue with each ordained elder, that they should be able to show and confess that they agree fully with the standards and if they don’t they should report it. Yet, the issues get more and more slippery as we go.

So there are my thoughts. Some of you may have differing thoughts and I would love to hear them. I hope we do not see another split in the Presbyterian church, though it seems to me it may turn out that way. Does it to you? I don’t know. We should be in prayer for them for wisdom and courage in whatever direction they go.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2007 10:13 pm

    Very good comments! I was there, and you have made a good report, and have the right perspective.

    Here’s my pictorial report, if anyone is interested:

    http://www.waysidechurch.org/ga2007/gareport.htm

  2. John permalink
    June 30, 2007 4:15 am

    While I certainly agree with the conclusion, I am disappointed that the GA took, what seems to me, to be a short cut to reach this conclusion.

    While there is certainly much exegetical reasoning against the New Perspective and certainly the Westminster Standards have scriptural support, I worry that this is ultimately half-baked.

    To not include (among the 6 authors) anyone sympathetic to the New Perspective certainly isn’t great in terms of promoting dialog or fostering change, it seems to merely brush them aside before the conversation even began.

    But again, I think this is, ultimately the prudent and faithful response. I hope that this fosters instead of stifles dialog…

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