That’s all Presbyterian code for the Standing Judicial Committee of the Pacific Northwest Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. The news comes from Jason Stellman. The SJC had two reports before them concerning the doctrine taught by Peter Leithart, a minister who labors, with permission, outside the bounds of the PCA but who is under their oversight. The Presbytery accepted the majority report and has, through the SJC, denied an appeal. One imagines that the next court to hear this case will be the General Assembly.
Of course it is disappointing that the Presbytery’s SJC did not uphold the appeal. It is near impossible to how one can square the public statements by Leithart with the action of the 2007 General Assembly. Either the PCA supports and requires its ministers and elders (in PCA speak that’s teaching elders and ruling elders) to support and teach the biblical, Protestant, evangelical faith confessed in the Westminster Standards or it does not.
I understand that some believe that there were some procedural and technical problems with the minority report. Fine. Where were those concerns during the process? Why isn’t the failure of the majority of the Presbytery and the majority report, and the SJC simply a failure of nerve to face up to the challenge presented to it by the Leithart’s plain contradiction of the Reformed faith? I admit that, when it comes to the gospel, when it comes to the basics of the Reformed and historic Protestant faith, I’m a little impatient. I admit that I think that the process should serve the truth, that the BCO (Book of Church Order) is a servant of the gospel and the Confession of Faith. I don’t think these are radical views.
I understand that, in our age, few men want to be perceived as “bad guys” for either publicly criticizing a fellow minister of the gospel or for deciding judicially that his views are out of accord with the standards, but this is a fairly open and shut case. Speaking as a minister to fellow ministers: our support for and defense of the faith cannot be merely theological and theoretical, it cannot be confined to our own pulpits and session meetings. We must be willing to do the work in the broader/higher (in presbyterian terms) assemblies and to stand up on the floor of those assemblies/courts and to say, “Brothers and fathers, with all due reverence, humility, and affection, this far and no farther.” The souls of Christ’s sheep are in peril. The future of our confessional Reformed and Presbyterian churches remains uncertain. This is not the work for “other men who have the time.” This is your work and now is the time.