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Some Thoughts on the PCA’s 47th General Assembly

Many at my own church have asked me what was notable about our recent meeting (called “General Assembly”). I figured I’d share my quick thoughts with more than just those who asked, in case others are interested. I’m on vacation this week so I’ll keep these brief.

Texas is hot.

I feel like our denomination has one rule: we must meet in the most humid climates imaginable. It was hot outside. And freezing inside. Why do we willfully do this when there are better climates available?

Like San Diego, for example.

Just saying.

The Nashville Statement discussion and decision was completely unnecessary.

This year, the Assembly accepted the recommendation to answer Overture 4, “Declare the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’s ‘Nashville Statement’ on Biblical Sexuality as a Biblically Faithful Declaration,” in the affirmative. The vote was 803-541.

I was one of the 541 who voiced a “no” to this. Why?

We already have stated our views on marriage and sexuality in both our confessional and constitutional documents (WCF 24.1-6; BCO 59-3). To affirm a document written by a parachurch council still doesn’t make sense to me, especially if we have the means to create our own church document. (Btw, one TE said on the floor that the Westminster Assembly was a parachurch organization, and it got some laughter. But that’s not true. It was a council of divines tasked with restructuring the church, not with stating a biblical position on ethics. The Nashville Statement is a parachurch Christian statement, and as such it’s categorically different from the Westminster Standards in both nature and substance. Okay, done with my nerd rant. That really bothered me.)

Thankfully, we will be creating our own statement in the years to come since this GA has elected to “Establish [a] Study Committee on Sexuality.” That’s a very good thing and I trust we will produce something of great biblical fidelity and compassionate beauty.

So my position on this is that we didn’t need to say it all over again with affirmations and denials. We have our views clearly stated in the Westminster Standards and Book of Church Order. To restate them by declaring something like the Nashville Statement as “biblically true” only proves to ourselves that we’re awesome. It doesn’t persuade others that we’re awesome. And what I’ve found lacking in the Nashville Statement isn’t truth, it’s beauty. Where is the compelling language that clearly leads others—especially outsiders—into the truth, goodness, and beauty of the gospel? Where is the pastoral language that might lead someone who is struggling with their sexuality toward the biblical position? We simply don’t find it in the Nashville Statement. So I grieve our declaration of this statement for that reason. We can and must do better.

We have a study committee on sexual assault and domestic abuse!!!

The 47th General Assembly will form an "Ad Interim Committee to Address Matters Related to Domestic Abuse, Domestic Oppression, and Sexual Assault.” I am very excited about this. Our church co-hosted the Valued Conference this past March of 2019, so it goes without saying that I’d be a big fan of this one. We need to be as proactive and preventive as we can and this takes a necessary step forward in the right direction, BEFORE any sort of crisis emerges within our denomination.

I’m thankful that we saw the need and are responding sooner rather than later. We can never be too careful and have much work to do on responding better to sexual abuse. There are far too many survivors who need us. I hope this study committee will prove useful for the PCA and for the church catholic.

Did I say Texas is hot?

Seriously, how do people live in that?

 

 

Every year is pretty much the same.

We build up the hype, get all hot and bothered over the next General Assembly meeting—thinking that the sky is falling. Two years ago it was racial reconciliation, this year it was Revoice. Blogs sound the alarm the month leading up to our annual meeting. And then we meet to find out everything is pretty okay, and we don’t hate each other as much as we thought we did.

Of course, tensions remain. There was applauding on “both sides” of the aisle during the great debates this assembly, and I’m sure that tension will be there next year just as it was last year. But our denomination isn’t sliding into liberal oblivion, you can bet your britches on that. The Presbyterian Church in America is a confessionally Reformed denomination. That much hasn’t changed.