Difficulties for a quasi-confessional Church

Those who opposed the so-called good faith subscription model that was officially adopted by the PCA General Assembly several years ago warned of this. A TE from Eastern Carolina Presbytery was denied a transfer to Mississippi Valley Presbytery. The Aquila Report provides the following details from the article Report of Actions at Mississippi Valley Presbytery (PCA) on May 4th, 2010.

The Credentials Committee then gave its report and brought before it two men. One for transfer from Eastern Carolina Presbytery and one for licensure (a minister in good standing from the SBC). Rev. Perry McCall (from the SBC) was examined and preached from Joshua 1:1-9. His licensure was approved. The man who was seeking transfer had a difficult exam. He took exception to WCF 4.1 on creation days. However, by his examination it showed he also held views holding to women deaconesses and women reading Scripture in Public Worship. The Presbytery saw these two were exceptions as well. Following this, the Presbytery voted whether or not to approve his transfer and he was denied despite his willingness to submit to the brethren on these issues.

At the close of the article is the following note.

Editor’s Note: The Aquila Report has requested comment from a large number of members of the Presbytery concerning denying transfer to a TE from another PCA Presbytery based on MVP’S not granting exceptions that are frequently granted in other Presbyteries and had previously been granted within Mississippi Valley Presbytery itself. We will print those comments in a few days, after we have had time to gather then.

The difficulty described here in relation to the transfer of credentials is merely a symptom of the larger problem — that the PCA has no objective standard for unity in doctrine and practice. The PCA’s de facto confessional standard is an unspecified set of ‘vitals of religion’ presumably found somewhere within the commemorative documents we call the Westminster Standards. According to the PCA’s ‘good faith subscription’ model, every court of original jurisdiction defines these vitals, or non-negotiable doctrines, as it sees fit.

While the constitution of a confessional Church is supposed to establish an objective standard of unity in doctrine and practise, the PCA’s model effectively removes that objective standard. As a result, the courts of the PCA will find it increasingly difficulty to function as a single denomination. This is to be expected precisely because the PCA has transformed itself into a loosely connected set of regional mini-denominations called presbyteries, each with its own version of the PCA’s unwritten constitution.