On a vote with a majority of about 60%, the General Assembly on Thursday approved an overture from Potomac Presbytery that asked that no ‘in thesi’ statement be made concerning evolution and Adam.
When Ruling Elder Jay Neikirk of Ascension Presbytery, chairman of this year’s Committee on Overtures came to the floor Thursday afternoon, he started on a roll. He got overwhelming approval of sending four overtures back to Pacific Northwest Presbytery on changing rules of judicial process back for a rework. Too many modifications were needed to try to accomplish that in a few days of General Assembly.
Next he received overwhelming support to answer four overtures from Southeast Alabama Presbytery in the negative that the Constitution Business Committee had found would be out of accord with the Book of Church Order. They dealt with changes to how one becomes a member of a PCA church, including adding the taking of vows to support the Apostle’s Creed.
But his third try was not the charm he said he hoped for.
Three Presbyteries had submitted overtures concerned with the topic of Theistic Evolution and the historicity of Adam and Eve.
Overture 10 from Rocky Mountain Presbytery asked that the General Assembly go on record (known as making an ‘in thesi’ statement that would reject all evolutionary views of Adam’s origins. Overture 29 from Savannah River Presbytery asked for a similar statement.
But Overture 26 from Potomac Presbytery asked for something different. They felt that the PCA had clearly stated their position on these topics, most especially in Larger Catechism Question 17, and anyone who wanted to know what the PCA’s position was could simply read the following statement from that answer:
“After God had made all other creatures, he created man male and female; formed the body of the man of the dust of the ground, and the woman of the rib of the man, endued them with living, reasonable, and immortal soul; made them after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it, and dominion over the creatures; yet subject to fall”
A minority of the committee brought to the floor their position defending the adopting of an ‘in thesi’ statement, staying that is was needed since there were a number of people and/or institutions that were claiming to uphold the Westminster Standards (i.e. LCQ 17) yet, at the same time, were claiming that Theistic Evolution or views that Adam and Eve were not truly newly created was within the bounds of understanding of the Standards.
When the votes were taken, the assembly voted by a 60-40% margin to approve the Potomac Overture and not make a statement.
The report of the OC continued, and the assembly approved recommendations:
– to affirm Overtures 1 and 2 which asked that licentiates be required to state their differences with the standards, as do ordinands and transferring Teaching Elders.
– to affirm Overture 11 which asked that Ruling Elders from other congregations were allowed to moderator congregational meetings when invited by that congregation.
– to affirm Overture 12 that lengthened the time from 30 days to 60 days for a party to file a complaint against a court of original jurisdiction.
The report was interrupted by the call to the evening meal, followed by the call to worship at 7:30PM. The Assembly plans to return to work after worship on Thursday evening with hopes of concluding business and not having to come back on Friday.
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