Monday, June 9, 2014

Conservatives Organize Prayer Forum Concerning "Trends" Facing PCA General Assembly

A group of Southern conservative churchmen with long histories in the Presbyterian Church in America are inviting fellow PCA leaders to a time of prayer and "confessional concern" over four issues confronting the PCA. The invitation is to a special prayer forum at the outset of the upcoming PCA General Assembly in Houston, Tex.

The four conveners are expressing concern over recent trends in the denomination, namely:
  • The role and direction of the denomination's judicial commission which conservatives claim has failed recently to ferret out theological positions contrary to PCA confessional standards.
  • The role of women in church offices. The General Assembly this year is being asked to clarify the church's official documents on this subject.
  • Erroneous views of Creation. Of particular concern are views being advanced by an organization called BioLogos, which includes PCA leaders.
  • A movement in missions which tolerates continued Muslim identities for Christians who convert from Islam — the so-called Insider Movement.
The conveners are Dr. Richard Phillips, pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C.; Ruling Elder Melton Duncan, Sr., also of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville; Geoff Gleason, pastor of Cliffwood Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Ga.; and Ken Pierce, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Miss. The group has created a Facebook page called An Evening of Confessional Concern and Prayer to explain their objectives.

"Our objectives are simple," the organizers say. "First, we want to gather PCA elders who are concerned about trends that may threaten our confessional unity as a denomination. Second, we want to highlight and provide information about matters of significant concern to this year’s assembly in the form of overtures and study committee reports. Third, we want to pray to our sovereign, gracious God for the faithfulness, unity, and well-being of our denomination. By expressing concern, providing information, and praying to our Lord, we seek to promote the unity, soundness, and vitality of the PCA. Of these three actions, prayer is undoubtedly the most important and valuable, since, as Psalm 124:8 tells us, 'Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.' With these aims in mind, we will be discussing four important issues that will come before the 42nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America."

Dr. Sean Lucas, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Miss., will lead a discussion on the Standing Judicial Commission. Dr. Guy Waters, professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Miss. and an instructor with Ligonier Ministries, Sanford, Fla., will deal with the women-in-office issue. Dr. Phillips will summarize matters on the creation issue. And Rev. David Strain, senior pastor-elect of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Miss. will consider a report dealing with the Insider Movement.

The meeting will be held on Monday, June 16, 7-9 p.m., in Grand Ballroom J, at the Hilton Americas Houston Hotel in Houston, Tex. (More information)

Greenville Seminary officials have expressed concern over trends in these four areas also. Although seminary is not an institution of the PCA and affiliated with this event, many GPTS students, faculty, staff and supporters are PCA members, and a number of PCA churches regularly support the seminary. Dr. Phillips was granted an honorary doctorate from GPTS in 2012. Dr. Waters was a speaker at a recent GPTS conference.

The forum was discussed recently on the GPTS podcast Confessing our Hope. Click here to listen.

For information on issues to be considered by the PCA General Assembly, go here.