04 June 2007

PCA report on NPP/FV: some concerns 1

I have already summarized the PCA report on NPP/FV issues and suggested some areas where the report might be seen in a positive light, including my willingness to affirm what I understand the nine "Declarations" at the end of the report to be saying.

I promised to give some further reflections. Given that it's only a bit more than a week until General Assembly, I guess I need to say something if I'm going to say anything at all. I will move on, then, to areas where the report, to my mind, is not entirely satisfactory and where there remains room for further examination and clarification.

Rather than moving through the report section by section or topic by topic, I will outline some very general areas of concern, propose a thesis encapsulating those concerns, and then (in subsequent posts) attempt to substantiate my assertions.

The FV/NPP report presents several areas of concern to me:
[1] Inadequate generosity at times in presenting others’ views.

[2] Using isolated statements as lenses through which to portray wider perspectives, thereby tending to distort them.

[3] Citing statements that have been either retracted or significantly qualified by their authors.

[4] Reading our confessional documents in ways that either seem to misconstrue or unnecessarily restrict their meaning and original intent.

[5] Narrowing the manner in which the Standards function in defining doctrinal boundaries, especially in relation to Scripture.
These contentions, of course, need support and argumentation and, without such support, perhaps sound overblown or overly critical. I do believe, however, that they can be substantiated.

The "Recommendations" at the close of the report suggest that the report be "commended" to presbyters in the PCA for "careful consideration and study." Moreover, they wish the PCA to endorse "the declarations in this report as a faithful exposition of the Westminster Standards."

In light of these "Recommendations," allow me to propose a two-fold thesis to sum up the ultimate effect of the five areas of concern listed above.

My thesis is this:
Even if it were the case that proponents of the NPP and FV sometimes hold to errors that are sufficient to conflict with the fundamentals of the system of doctrine contained in the Westminster Standards, the PCA report on NPP/FV does not adequately demonstrate this to be the case and, therefore, is not worthy of commendation to our presbyters.

Moreover, given the significant shortcomings of the report and how the report serves as a context for its "Declarations," if embraced by the PCA, the report could prove injurious to the spiritual health and culture of the denomination.
This two-fold thesis is strong assertion and requires support. Even with support, the latter part of the thesis will remain a judgment call and such discernments require reasoning and argumentation in order to have validity.

I hope to provide such support and reasoning in subsequent posts. In those posts, I will move through the five areas of concern outlined above and attempt to demonstrate that there are reasonable grounds for concern. In relation to each of those areas, I will also suggest some ways in which aspects of the report could prove spiritually injurious to the health and culture of the PCA.