Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thoughts on the 2012 PCA GA (3)

Now we move to the hard stuff. But first a little background as to how GA functions. Monday and Tuesday are given over to the work of the Committees of Commissioners. These review the reports of the Permanent Committees of the General Assembly (such things as Mission to North America and Mission to the World) and make recommendations that the Assembly will vote on. These Committees of Commissioners also includes the Committee on Overtures, about which more later. 

Tuesday evening the Assembly officially begins, with the opening worship and the election of the new moderator. Wednesday morning begins the information reports of the permanent committees (with all due respect to these committees, most of the commissioners [attendees] consider these to be nothing more than glorified infomercials) telling about what the committee has done during the past year. Thursday is the day on which the bulk of Assembly business is transacted. This, year, though the report of the Committee on Review of Presbytery Records was docketed for Wednesday afternoon at 1:30, it was postponed until Thursday morning at 9:30, so that commissioners would have time to review the report.

Review of Presbytery Records (RPR)

The primary issue this year coming out of RPR had to do with paedocommunion. For those who don't know, paedocommunion is the view that any baptized member of the church ought also to be given the Lord's Supper. There are variations among those who hold to this view, with some eschewing infant communion, but arguing that children as young as two or three could make a credible profession of faith, and hence should be allowed to the Lord's Table. This view is an exception to the doctrinal standards of the PCA. Three presbyteries had approved candidates for ordination who held to paedocommunion. One had been cited last year for the action, and had responded to the RPR. The majority of the members of RPR determined that the response from this presbytery was satisfactory, in that while the ordinand would be allowed to teach his view, he would not practice it. A minority considered that response unsatisfactory, and brought a minority report to the GA. After some debate, the GA decided to kick the issue back to RPR, to bring back a new report next year.

Frankly, I'm not sure what the commissioners to GA thought they were accomplishing by the action. RPR next year will be made up largely of the same members (it takes a special breed of elder to serve on RPR, and the same men tend to get reelected after the end of their three-year term), who will still be holding the same views. There will be a majority report and a minority report, and it will come back to GA next year. All in all, an unsatisfactory action on the part of GA. Perhaps some were thinking that the issue will somehow go away in the next year. If so, they were dreaming.


Andrew B. said...


Are you on RPR next year?

JOB said...

Ben, have you seen the book on paedo-communion edited by Guy Waters and Lig Duncan or the book by Cornelis Venema? If so, what is your take on them? Are they sufficient answers to this issue?

James Hakim said...

I think that the confusing thing to the commissioners was that the answer of the RPR committee to two of the presbyteries seemed to contradict its answer to the third. This was where the word 'harmonious' was misunderstood in Fred's motion. I took it as Fred saying, "could we at least get three recommendations that don't contradict each other?" -- and not necessarily that they would all say the same things, or that there wouldn't be a minority report.

As to your stating that it takes a special kind of elder, I have been trying to get on RPR for two years, but it always gets assigned to someone else, who is always then providentially hindered. As you understand it, may a presbytery designate an 'alternate' so that if such providential hindrance does in fact occur, I could go?

Benjamin Shaw said...

JOB: I have seen them, but have not read either one. I have heard good things about the Venema book, but I think the Waters-Duncan book is brand new.
James Hakim: I think presbytery could do that. In Calvary Presbytery, this is always a slot that they had a hard time filling. Three years ago, I volunteered. You might try volunteering.

Benjamin Shaw said...

Andrew, 2012 was the last year of my three-year term, but I may well end up getting re-appointed if no one else will do it.

James Hakim, I guess the commissioners were smarter than we on RPR were. I don;t think we thought the three recommendations to be contradictory. I'll have to go back and look at them again.