THE OVERTURE from Lowcountry Presbytery
“Amend BCO 17 by Adding a Clause Which Prohibits Ordination for Men Who Self-Identify as ‘Gay Christians,’ ‘Same-sex Attracted Christians,’ and/or ‘Homosexual Christians’.”
…Whereas the application of the 7th Commandment forbids the sins of homosexuality, unnatural lusts, and unclean affections, affirming that homosexual acts and the desires to commit those acts are both sinful (Matt. 5:27–28; WLC 139); and
…Whereas identification as “gay,” “same-sex attracted,” and/or “homosexual” is sinful, against nature itself, is something God detests, and is not fitting for an officer of the Church of Christ (Lev. 18:22; I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:5–6); and
…Whereas the 47th General Assembly of the PCA voted to create an ad interim study committee on the topic of human sexuality with particular attention to the issues of homosexuality, same-sex attraction, and transgenderism, study committee reports are non-binding in nature and do not change the Constitution of the PCA, including requirements for the ordination of elders;
Therefore be it resolved that Lowcountry Presbytery overture the 48th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America to amend The Book of Church Order chapter 17 such that a new clause, BCO 17-4, be added which reads as follows (New words underlined):
17-4. Men who self-identify as a “gay Christian,” “same sex attracted Christian,” and/or “homosexual Christian” shall be deemed unfit for ordination in the Presbyterian Church in America.
Lowcountry Presbytery Overtures the 48th PCA GA to Amend BCO 17 to Prohibit PCA Ordination for Men Self-Identifying as “Gay-Christians” (Jan 27, 2020)
Then men who self-identify as attracted to ANY particular sin must be deemed unfit for ordination – but what person with any sense self-identifies towards any particular sin? There is a difference between confessing our faults and self-identifying with them.
This still has not appeared on the PCA overture site. But I fear it’s passage will just drive sodomites underground, with the aid of false TEs and other misguided churchmen.
What a commentary that would be on the sin of sodomy, if to hide it they would be willing to add lying and deception to protect those who are unrepentant in their sin. Unconscionable wickedness that defies God’s Word, but of course, that is just what is behind the push to have the sin of same sex attraction accepted anyway.
This appears to be the current state of affairs. No one was surprised when Rev. Johnson ‘came out’. He’s been (unconvincingly) ‘struggling’ for a long time, . For years some in the PCA, Pastor Sauls being the most open, have been trying to weave a theological justification for Side B Sodomy. He preached this as early as 2008 without apparent protest. His sermon was on youtube, but I’ve not checked recently. So it is no surprise that there is a strong foundation of men literally applauding Side B sodomy in the PCA. They have been waiting for the right time to actively support this kind of thing. I don’t believe they think of themselves as doing evil, rather they think they are extending mercy and grace to those ‘struggling’. However, as most of you know, this is really a damning mercy because it denies these men and women of the convicting power of God’s Word. So my word ‘false’ in the previous comment is really my own interpretation of their, honestly held, but scriptural views. So hopefully I won’t be brought up on 9th Commandment charges.
What of the “gays” and their defenders who adamantly state that God made them that way, hence God must love them as they are? Below is a link to an article that addresses this:
Here is the HB resource page:
Resources On LGBTQ And Revoice
God made gays that way in exactly the same way and to exactly the same extent as he made others inclined to adultery or fornication.
Frankly, if someone is “struggling” most of the time with a particular sin, they should avoid situations that will expose them to temptation in that direction. Many such situations occur in the pastorate, so maybe some people may need to conclude that they are not called in that direction. They might, however, be called to roving evangelism or Christian writing, for instance.
I meant to say “unscriptural view”
Exactly, unscriptural views of what is right. They make up their own views of what is right. So they feel vindicated in promoting and protecting same sex attraction as the loving thing to do, no matter how they defy God’s law. The tragic consequence is that they cannot be forgiven as long as they suppress their conscience. As you point out, it is a “damning mercy.” Excellent point.
For this amendment to the Book of Church Order to take effect it will have to be approved by a majority at this year’s GA. Then the amendment will have to be approved by 2/3 of the presbyteries. Then it will have to get a majority vote at next year’s GA also to take effect. It is not easy to amend the BCO and as worthy as this amendment would be, I am not optimistic that it will gain final approval.
I say do what you can. Go to an elder meeting and tell them that both the TE and RE need to attend GA this year to approve this amendment. If the RE can’t attend due to work, you can vote in his place. If money’s a problem, tell them you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is.
We all know where this ends with 100% probability: side ‘A.’
Only God knows where this will end. The fact that presbyteries are speaking up is encouraging. You may be right but there are examples of denominations changing course for the good.
I do agree that confessional REs do need to get involved, to go to presbytery and GA as delegates. My friends at the Presbycast have been calling for this. There is an organization within the PCA (More) which is working toward funding REs so they can attend GA.
My post had a type-o. I meant to say, “We all know where this ends with 100% probability: side ‘A’ if nothing is done and the PCA is allowed to remain a de facto Side ‘B’ denomination.
No matter what happens, laity and REs getting involved and taking more ownership of their denomination is a good thing. Let’s say they fail to save the PCA – they’ll still need to be involved in moving their congregation to a new denomination or starting a new one. It’s better to do this with some experience in church government
I listened to the latest Presbycast with Andy Webb. From an outsider’s perspective, he heard that the ARP ministers actually have good relations with one-another. It’s relatively free from controversy. He was looking forward to that since there might be persecution in the future.
It seems to me that if you have to pass another BCO amendment to enforce something that’s plain from Scripture, then “orthodoxy” is determined by a mere majority. This is not good or stable, even if you can pass the amendment. Everyone should just know what they ought to do without it getting to this level of contention. Hopefully an amendment will encourage the heterodox to leave, but we know at least Johnson is playing a long game as he indicated in his tweet after the adoption of the Nashville Statement. If the heterodox stay, as many FVers have done, there will still not be peace.
It gets really discouraging that on issue after issue it feels like the laity needs to drag their leaders kicking and screaming into orthodoxy. After a while you just want to shake the dust off your sandals and move on and leave them to their devices.
We’re in an era of disintegration. We’ve let things run on autopilot much longer than we should have. It’s definitely discouraging, but I don’t see another option but to get involved and fight the good fight. Those who won’t fight need to step aside for those who will. Andy Webb nailed it:
His other points were great too, but you simply can’t fix things unless you’re willing to engage in conflict. Too many elders hope this will blow over when all the evidence is to the contrary. Many don’t even acknowledge there is a problem. Pray, then prod.
When the church goes its own way instead of obeying the Word of God, God will chastise it with Babylonian confusion. Luther referred to the false teaching of the Roman church as Babylonian captivity. Babylon means confusion. Jezebel, the Babylonian the is the figure of the theological adultery of the church and her final end is in Revelation 17. The wilful confusion, even taught by ministers in the church, will come to a bad end if it is not dealt with.
It has been my experience that within the Reformed communities (perhaps not the reformed Baptist), PCA in particular, there is never a discussion of separation. Yet there are plenty of admonishments in the NT to separate either as discipline, or if wolves are about. It is a curious thing, but I am also unaware of any notable puritan work on this. Other than the big separation from Rome, it seems that the goal is to maintain unity at all costs. I have been growingly convicted that the time to separate is upon us in the PCA, but this seems to be a taboo topic. But I am unclear as to when is this a pragmatic urge and when is it prudent move and when is it absolutely mandated cf Ro16:17 among many. But I would hate to be caught up in Angela’s ‘bad end’ 😉
2 Cor. 6:17 🤔
Unity is always based on obedience to the Word of God. Those who teach another doctrine are the schismatics. Always, we are to obey God and not man. When false teaching has taken over the church, and the false teachers will not listen to the Word of God, we are obeying man and not God when we go along with a them.
Was Bucer’s model ever intended for non-magisterial churches, which perforce churches in USA have to be?
Sadly, in the UK, rather than magisterial the Church of England may be somewhat erastian when it come to the appointments at the highest level – I’d like to think that the Synod, retrograde as they may be, would never have appointed Stephen Cottrell as Archbishop of York!
There are admonishments to separate and to be one (John 17:21). Separation is certainly an option. It’s a matter of conscience (WCF XX).
The problem is that we’re running out of denominations and even if we create a new one, the same things will happen unless we learn to defend what we have. No matter what we do, we can’t let leaders operate “open loop” anymore
“running out of denominations”?
The URCNA is right here.
The OPC too.
He’s right, I checked and there are NO denominations left on on Amazon. I hope there will be fresh supplies from China after the virus is finished. But seriously, there are no URCNA churches in Texas. From your perspective, Dr. Clark, how is the URCNA positioned to prevent the declensions we have been seeing in the other ‘solidly reformed’ denominations? Have you pastors addressed these issues amongst yourselves and built a resolve to prevent/discipline them? Or has Providence just not brought them in the door for consideration?
Randall, there is one Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland congregation at Santa Fe, and nineteen OPC congregations in Texas as a whole.
Yes. Santa Fe is a long ways away – not practical. I have visited the OPCs in the area, as well as a CPC. The problem I am concerned with is that the OPC’s history on dealing with ‘doctrinal’ problems does not seem to be all that much better, if at all better, than the PCA. Since we like our local church a lot, I don’t want to leave until it is necessary. And when we leave (NB: my pessimism showing through) I don’t want to go somewhere and be faced with the same problem of shepherds and wolves getting along too well. As a sheep I feel we need to grow teeth, but I can’t find that verse anywhere.
Yeah, you’re right. No one has ever said there aren’t enough denominations in the United States. For each split, you get two more! That said, the PCA is 3/5ths of NAPARC in raw numbers, right?
This just in. At first, I thought this was about the PCA.
Andy Webb, is that you???
The purpose of real miracles is to authenticate the Word of God. The canon of Scripture is complete and the curse is pronounced in Revelations on every apostate church that adds or subtracts from the Word of God. We only need obedience to the Word, not another miracle.
The author is using the word “miracles” in the sense of WCF 5.3
Surely God can do an extraordinary, supernatural work to save the RCA. I’m sure they’ll take all the help they can get.
Walt, my point was that since all the miracles in the Bible are there to authenticate the Word of God. Since the Bible is complete and we know what God says on this issue, we don’t need God to give us a miracle to show us what God says on this issue, and to authenticate it with a miracle.
God is not confined to using the natural means. God uses supernatural means to confirm His Word, that it is from Him alone who can use supernatural means. I was trying to say that the problem is that the will to do what God tells us in his Word is lacking. We don’t need to tempt God by asking for a miracle, only the will to obey what He has already said.
Thanks for the information.
Yes, ironically it would virtually take supernatural intervention, in the form of a miracle, for some to have the will to do the right thing on this issue, that is what the writer is intending to say, I think.
Seems to me that this overture will be found out of order on the grounds that it is overly selective and/or redundant. If the BCO is to be amended to exclude
“17-4. Men who self-identify as a “gay Christian,” “same sex attracted Christian,” and/or “homosexual Christian” shall be deemed unfit for ordination in the Presbyterian Church in America.”
then why not add other sins to this proposed new paragraph? Why not add gambling, addiction to pornography, alcohol abuse, etc.? I think the selective nature of this proposed amendment will cause many to vote against it on the grounds that it is too narrow and “mean-spirited.”
Seems to me that the issue has to do with Session and Presbytery examinations. BCO 18-2 concerns a man who comes under care of his Session. Issues like this are why there is a six-month membership rule in a local church before a man can come under care (i.e. how can a Session endorse a man that it does not know?). Inquiries about experiential religion ought to include discussions about matters like this. Same goes for examinations before presbytery (18-3). Candidates for ministry are examined again at the time of licensure (19-2) and ordination (21-4c). In my former presbytery we used a Personal Character Examination to explore such things. The same thing can be used for deacons and ruling elders.
Nothing is fool-proof. What is required is vigilance and people who do more than vote up or down at Session, Presbytery or General Assembly. One of my great sorrows in ministry is to go to meetings and find out that most in attendance do not read the reports ahead of time, and are thus ill-equipped to speak to any matters that might arise.
The Westminster Standards, particularly WLC 151, already discuss aggravations of sins such as those against nature and those done publicly.
TE Johnson has aggravated his sins in all 4 categories in numerous ways so there is plenty of ground for removing him from office. This is the danger of straying from confessional subscription – you need to make new laws when old ones suffice.
Walt: In addressing TE Johnson the more expedient course would be for the GA to approve the two overtures which ask the GA through the Standing Judicial Committee to assume original jurisdiction in the case of TE Johnson. This would not require any further approval. There is the possibility that the SJC could order the Missouri Presbytery to conduct a trial of TE Johnson. Unfortunately that would result in a verdict which would be a foregone conclusion. I’m not sure if the SJC can conduct its own trial. If you’ve got a rogue presbytery which will not exercise discipline you’ve got real problems in terms of polity which will result in justice.
Unfortunately it appears the SJC has nixed the main overture. See https://byfaithonline.com/sjc-committee-to-review-applicability-of-bco-34-1-to-johnson-case/. Although the article is largely unintelligible, the gist seems to be there. I understand from a podcasting RE that there is still a look into Johnson directly by the SJC. Listen here for a bit of ‘inside baseball’ on the issues. https://presbycast.libsyn.com/riding-wcw-pcarevoice-issues-update.
Any way you slice it, this is what Apostasy looks like in the early stages (in my opinion Dr. Management) – in case you were wondering. Despite all the whispering, hand wringing, studies, missional talk etc., this is a form of blasphemy against the clear teaching of God’s Word. Blasphemy in the sense of trying to make God’s word say something that is conformable to the World’s word, while still claiming it to be God’s word. And it may be all because Amazon doesn’t sell millstones.
Walt: I did some research into the Standing Judicial Commission of the General Assembly of the PCA. If a case like that of TE Johnson is referred to the SJC for original jurisdiction it acts as the court of the GA. If it were to try TE Johnson and find him guilty, the verdict would be sent to the GA for confirmation. If the GA confirmed a guilty verdict, its judgment is final. There can be no further appeal.
Since ByFaith article seems to sort of indicate they have ruled against the overture, that direction seems closed. However I have heard on the podcast (in my earlier comments) that the SJC may look into TE Johnson as a separate matter and then they could bring charges against him and I assume try him. I am not sure if they would have to charge him directly, or charge his presbytery. Its all so unnecessarily confusing, and we know who the author of confusion is. Why can’t TEs and REs join together on the floor of GA and say ‘get out, all of you, get out’? Treating this lightly as though its just another matter to be considered is a grave threat to the flock of the Lord. A very dangerous place to be as an Elder.
From the vantage point of an old lady, sitting in the pew, it is bewildering to me that all the learned ministers cannot understand what the Word of God clearly states, and act on it. Years of wrangling over Norman Shepherd’s attack on the doctrine of justification have not resolved the justification controversy. The question of two stage justification has not been not been settled. All the fighting over whether the attraction to sexual sin is acceptable and does not require repentance and struggle against it, like any other sin does, when it is clearly condemned in the Word of God. It is as if God has allowed a confusion, in the order of the His anger at the Tower of Babel, against those who wanted to rely on their own way of getting to heaven by their own devices rather than relying on the clear Word of God. I think there is a pattern in Scripture, that when they will not obey Him, God allows them to go into a confused, spiritual, Babylonian captivity. I fear this is what is happening in the Reformed churches, so they no longer understand what the Word of God says.
Well, Angela, get your three legged stool and throw it at the minister! You have precedence on your side. And not a few of us to stand with you.
This is a good explanation of the strategies used by liberals to make clear texts seem unclear or say the opposite of what they actually say. The same strategies have been followed for centuries.
Randall, Angela describes herself as an old lady. Jenny Geddes was, apparently, under 40 when she threw that stool. Are you sure Angela couldn’t do with your help in launching said stool into an appropriate trajectory?
Possibly. But bear in mind back in Jenny’s time 40 years old for a woman was very very old. I am not sure I remember it right, but the average life expectancy was around 50. So I think Angela meets the qualifications. But I don’t mind assisting a Sister in the Lord, and since I am over 60 they can’t hit me back either. A couple of grey-haired sheep baring their teeth might get their attention.
I don’t think a Jenny Geddes approach is in keeping with the Biblical order that women should keep silent in the church, but they don’t need to support wrong teaching either.
Well maybe exceptions need to be made, maybe after the Benediction. And what to keep you from throwing your stool in a silent and winsome manner?
I have had a long standing, quiet battle with proponents of the FV that have descended on the Reformed church I have attended. First with John Barach, and lately Theo Hoekstra. You can read about him in #37 of the Heidelblog FV resource page under essays, and also in the discussion under the resource page. An elder has accused me of being divisive for opposing the acceptance of an unrepentant Theo Hoekstra into membership, and informed me that they are working on doing just that. This elder suggested that if I could not accept their decision, I should leave. I thought the nine points would protect against this and that Synod had ruled that Hoekstra must change his teaching to come back into the denomination after joining the Douglas Wilson network and preaching in it for many years. Apparently they have found a way around the injunction of Synod, and the nine points against the FV are only a study committee recommendation. Theo Hoekstra, with his theological training, is a real asset to the church while I am just a trouble maker.
Synod directly and explicitly rebuked both classis & consistory for tolerating Hoekstra’s sermon.
Here is the synodical ruling:
In the FV report and accompanying declarations, synod was not giving mere pious advice. The report isn’t binding and neither are the Nine Points but synod plainly rejected the FV. Any consistory who asserts the contrary is liable to complaint to the broader assembly.
Thanks for this. I am unclear what it means, that “any consistory that asserts the contrary is liable to complaint to the broader assembly.” Does this mean that Synod is kept aware of what is going on in this consistory and will block Theo Hoekstra from coming back into the denomination unless he changes his theology? How does Synod enforce its ruling?
Since Synod addressed his doctrine specifically and consistory’s resistance to suppressing or correcting that doctrine, it would seem as if consistory is liable to a complaint to classis (the first broader assembly) of ignoring a synodical decision that speaks directly to this case. In other words, there is a direct precedent speaking to Hoekstra’s doctrine and synod’s view of it. If consistory pretends that decision does not exist then a member should complaint to classis for relief. If that fails, as happened in the original case, then the complainant should appeal to synods, which was unequivocal in its rejection of Hoekstra’s doctrine and which instructed classis and consistory to correct and suppress the doctrine of final salvation through works.
You used a phrase I have not seen before that seems remarkably important: “…to correct and suppress…” for the parallel discussion here concerning sodomy and the PCA. What does it mean ‘to suppress’ when used this way? I am assuming it does not involve physical force, pie throwing, etc.
If a lay member holds views at variance with the Word of God as confessed by the churches a consistory should seek to correct that member. If the member persists, that view should be suppressed within the congregation. The member is not allowed to teach, advocate, or propagate that view within the church.
No, there’s no violence involved. It’s an instruction from the consistory that the member must not spread that view.
But how is ‘suppression’ exercised when its an Elder, TE or RE, doing the false teaching (a far more relevant problem)? Is the license for that Elder suspended so they are not allowed to preach? Or just a ‘please don’t preach’ memo sent to the consistory? This seems like it could be a powerful tool for church discipline in an age where Elders seem reluctant to actually stop false teachers from false teaching. Long protracted trials and appeals seem to be the undoing of reformed churches.
This person was a minister in the URCs but is no longer. He left the URCs for a sect and now seeks to return as a layman.
In the case of an officer, a consistory would discipline him by calling him to repentance. Failing that or should he be impenitent, then the process would go from there. He has already been disciplined once for this error. Should it be the case that he was preaching again (without ordination), that would be disorderly and subject to discipline by the classis or synod. Should he be preaching that error again, he and the consistory would be subject to discipline by classis or synod.
Thanks again. I can write to the consistory citing synod’s ruling, and indicate I will take it to classis if they do not conform to the ruling of synod, and to synod itself if necessary? Do I need to personally go to the meetings and present the ruling of Synod?
So if a consistory ignores the ruling of synod, and nobody from that church makes a complaint, that consistory can just ignore the ruling?
The 1st step would be to confirm unequivocally that Mr H is impenitent over his sermon, “The Lion Won’t Bite The Innocent” and to document that. Ideally, that would be done in the presence of a witness, e.g., the minister or a ruling elder.
The second step would be to ask the consistory if they believe that receiving a member who holds such a view is consistent with the membership vow, “as taught in this Christian church,” (i.e., as confessed in the Belgic, the Canons, and the Catechism).
How you respond depends upon consistory’s response. If they say, yes, we believe that one can hold the view espoused in the “Lion” sermon and take the vow, then, one has grounds for a complaint to the consistory. Yes, the ground of the complaint would be that the view espoused in the “Lion” sermon has been explicitly rejected by synod as inconsistent with the Word as we confess it.
If they reject the complaint, then one would appeal to classis to overturn consistory’s decision. The ground of the appeal remains the same as the ground of the complaint. If they reject the appeal, then one appeals to synod on the same ground, in effect, asking synod to re-affirm their earlier ruling.
Of course, the hope and prayer is that this is a misunderstanding and that all involved are in happy submission to the decision of synod, wherein the doctrine in question was clearly rejected.
Thank you so much for your great advice. Now I have a plan, and I will prayerfully follow it as the Lord gives me strength.
Randall: Other presbyteries can’t appeal a matter to the SJC directly according to the BCO. The overtures of these two presbyteries had nothing to do with their direct appeal to the SJC. The purpose of the overtures of these two presbyteries is that if the overtures are approved at this year’s GA the the matter will be referred to the SJC to assume original jurisdiction. This is the only way presbyteries may insert themselves in another presbytery’s business. It takes overtures from two presbyteries which must be approved by the GA of the PCA.
The overture referenced here has now been posted. Its number 7 for those of you keeping score at home. As many noted, it is too specific, and easily ignored by those having Low I disorder (low integrity).
Thank you Randall. I changed the link in the post to go directly to the PCA Admin Committee page for the overture.
Randall, is it called that because the moment you start exposing something that’s wrong they try to hide it by putting their L.I.D. on it?