No Court of Appeals for the PCA?

The PCA GA has no mechanism in place for dealing with SJC decisions after they have been announced

These overtures were doomed from the beginning, although they do draw attention to the presence of major dissatisfaction within the PCA with how the case was handled. Many would like for this case to be retried for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that the prosecutor, by his own admission, was persuaded of the truth claims of the Roman Catholic Church while trying this case.

 

This past week [June 18-20, 2013] the PCA held its 41st General Assembly in Greenville, South Carolina. Many substantive issues were discussed, to be sure. But one issue that many were awaiting with bated breath was to see how the GA would deal with the Peter Leithart case. While the merits of this case were never discussed, we did discover, to the chagrin of many, that the GA has no mechanism in place for dealing with SJC decisions after they have been announced.

Two examples demonstrate this. First, TE Andrew Barnes attempted to object to a decision made by the SJC, but his objection was ruled out of order on the basis that he was not a member of the SJC. He was then told that only members of the SJC can object to SJC rulings. TE Barnes then responded that he is a member of the General Assembly and pointed out that the SJC is a commission of the General Assembly, and as such he should have standing to be able to object. He was again told that this is not the case by the Stated Clerk, Roy Taylor.

A second example of this is that Overtures 19 and 23 were ruled out of order by the moderator, and evidently for good reason: The PCA has no way for what is supposed to be the final court (the General Assembly) to question the ruling of the SJC. These overtures were doomed from the beginning, although they do draw attention to the presence of major dissatisfaction within the PCA with how the case was handled. Many would like for this case to be retried for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that the prosecutor, by his own admission, was persuaded of the truth claims of the Roman Catholic Church while trying this case. Unfortunately, this meant that the merits of the Leithart case were not even heard by the General Assembly.

The actions of the 41st GA did, however, resulted in some misplaced celebrations as exhibited by this Tweet: “Leithart and Meyers exonerated by the #pcaga Alleluia!”

Of course, this is nothing close to an exoneration in any meaningful sense. This would be a curious form of exoneration; to have the case never brought before the GA on a few technicalities is hardly what most people would consider exonerated. The General Assembly, to our imperfect memories, never even mentioned the name “Leithart.” Nobody at GA heard the complaints or even had an opportunity to publicly discuss the merits of the case. And as it stands, it looks like that may never happen.

Josh Walker graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS with an MDiv. He is currently a PhD student at McMaster Divinity School in Hamilton, ON.

Adam Parker is currently an MDiv student at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS.

They both received their undergraduate degrees from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ and blog regularly at Bring the Books, where this article originally appeared and is used with permission.