A Clarifying Response to the SJC Decision in Case 2016-11

A response to a part of “Full Homosexual Inclusion in the PCA?”

Here are some clarifications: The SJC denied the Frazier Complaint, by a vote of 20-0. The SJC did not “note” something in a concurring opinion.  The SJC does not write concurring opinions. (Such opinions are only the words of the signing SJC members and have no authority in themselves.  They reflect the thinking of the signers, not the SJC.)

 

The Aquila Report published Full Homosexual Inclusion in the PCA? by Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) minister Chuck Williams.  In that article, he unfortunately, and I’ll assume unintentionally, mischaracterized a recent unanimous decision of the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission (SJC), on which I serve as a member.  My concern is with two paragraphs from that article, shown later below.  I offer no comment on any other part of the article.

The March 1, 2018 SJC decision, along with three Concurring Opinions, is contained in the SJC’s Report to the 46th General Assembly, meeting next week in Atlanta.  (Case 2016-11: Complaint of Rev. Michael Frazier v. Nashville Presbytery.  The decision is on pages 2003-2006 in the Commissioners Handbook, with Concurring Opinions on pages 2006-2021.)  Below is an excerpt from the Decision showing the entirety of the Issue, Judgment and Reasoning as adopted by the SJC.

Statement of the Issue: Did [Nashville Presbytery] err at its 87th Stated Meeting on April 12, 2016, in its determination that there was insufficient evidence to raise a strong presumption of guilt with respect to the reports brought before it against the teachings of [the accused minister]?

Judgment:  No.  The Complaint is denied.

Reasoning and Opinion:  The record of the case provides sufficient evidence that NP fulfilled its investigatory duties under BCO 31-2 in the particular circumstances presented in this case.  Further, the 147-page record did not demonstrate that NP erred in its exercise of judgment when it declined to proceed to charges against the Teaching Elder.

Below is the excerpt from Rev. Williams’ article, which misconstrues the SJC decision, and the role of concurring opinions (all emphasis added):

       “The case was then filed with the General Assembly’s Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) through a complaint from a pastor in Nashville Presbytery. Three years later the SJC concurred that the senior Pastor and [Presbytery’s Committee on Judicial Business] did in fact engage in unbiblical exegesis in the matter and did acknowledge that the Nashville Presbytery failed to perform a sufficient investigation of the pastor.  The SJC also noted in its concurring opinion two procedural failures of the Presbytery, especially with the CJB noting: “These procedural and exegetical concerns are not minor ones.” Yet, the SJC ironically voted to deny the complaint.

       As a result, the failure of Nashville Presbytery, its CJB, and the SJC have now given a green light for other pro-homosexual pastors in the PCA to hold further conferences which are sure to promote the acceptance of even practicing homosexuality in the PCA.”

Here are some clarifications:

  1. The SJC denied the Frazier Complaint, by a vote of 20-0.
  2. The SJC did not “note” something in a concurring opinion. The SJC does not write concurring opinions. (Such opinions are only the words of the signing SJC members and have no authority in themselves.  They reflect the thinking of the signers, not the SJC.)
  3. The SJC never “concurred” that the accused minister “engaged in unbiblical exegesis.”
  4. The SJC did not rule “Presbytery failed to perform a sufficient investigation.”
  5. If read fairly, the SJC decision has not “given a green light” for anything.

Howard Donahoe has been a ruling elder in the PCA for 32 years, in four Presbyteries, and currently lives near Seattle. He has served on the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission for the past 19 years.