21 June 2005

PCA GA resolution

Most observers of the PCA's recent General Assembly might have missed it, but early in the Assembly a personal resolution concerning justification was presented by an RE named Fred Greco, who, I believe, is from the Great Lakes Presbytery.

GA denied resolution, presumably on the grounds that GA is not in the practice of adopting personal resolutions of significant theological substance apart from proper study of the issues by GA itself and unless such study is prompted by a resolution sent up from a Presbytery.

Nevertheless, here is the text of the resolution:

Whereas, recent theological debates have raised questions regarding the doctrine of justification by faith alone; and

Whereas, Teaching Elders in the PCA have been denied transfer between presbyteries due to controversies regarding these teachings; and

Whereas, the PCA’s fidelity to the gospel has been publicly questioned; and

Whereas, no greater tragedy could befall the PCA today than to compromise the lucidity of her preaching of the glorious Gospel of grace;

Whereas, theological statements that are not amendments to our Constitution can be beneficial to the Church, though they lack Constitutional or judicial force;

Be it therefore resolved, that the 33rd General Assembly of the PCA declare for the good of the Church the following statements, affirmations and denials:

1) Justification is through faith in Christ alone. We affirm that justifying faith will necessarily produce good works. We deny that good works are a constituent element of justifying faith.

2) Believers are justified through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. We affirm that Christ’s righteousness, resulting from His perfect obedience and full satisfaction for sin, is imputed or reckoned to believers. We deny that justification relies on any righteousness of our own, including membership in the covenant community.

3) Justification through faith in Christ is final. We affirm that genuine believers, having been irrevocably justified, will persevere in faith until death or the return of Christ. We deny that genuine believers can fail to persevere or lose their justification.

4) Scripture presents two covenants pertaining to salvation: the covenant of works (also known as the covenant of life) which Adam transgressed, thereby bringing condemnation and death to all, and the covenant of grace, by which God offers salvation to all through faith in Jesus Christ.

5) Baptism is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace. We affirm that the grace of baptism confirms our salvation and strengthens our faith. We deny that the ritual act of baptism accomplishes salvation or creates faith.

6) The visible church contains both true and false professors of Christ. We affirm that all members of the visible church receive temporal benefits through Christ – the teaching of God’s Word, the receipt of the sacraments, the prayers of the saints, and the shepherding care of church officers. We deny that any but genuine believers – members of the invisible church – receive eternal blessings of salvation.

In terms of polity, I'm not entirely sure what I think of these kinds of affirmations being adopted by church courts. I'm generally wary of producing extra-confessional documents that might be seen as binding.

Nonetheless, I must say that I have no substantive disagreements with the affirmations made in this resolution. I might quibble with the wording and grammar here and there, but as far as I can see the theological content is wholly unobjectionable.