The PCA Presbytery of the Siouxlands (PS) has been “officially” dealing with a Federal Vision (FV) controversy since early in 2007. In view of the considerable lapse of time between then and now, and given the current state of affairs in this matter, it seems that a review of a few basic facts might be beneficial. And they are presented from the perspective of a lay member in a PS congregation.
In January of 2007, several PS ministers (teaching elders [TE]) registered their dissent from a report adopted by the Presbytery condemning the manifold, and substantial errors that the majority believed were inherent in FV theology. Since then numerous actions stemming from this event have transpired. These included an investigation into one PS minister, who had indicated his agreement with some key tenants of FV theology. This in turn triggered a countercharge that the original complainants (to use official PCA nomenclature) were breaking the ninth commandment. One TE was investigated at his own request concerning this charge and exonerated by the Presbytery at its 84th Stated Meeting in September 2008.
One significant event which subsequently transpired was that a complaint was filed with the General Assembly that PS erred in not erecting a committee to investigate the views of a FV leaning pastor. The denomination’s Standing Judicial Commission (think Supreme Court) sustained the complaint, in October 2009. This investigation still remains open in the PS for all intents and purposes.
While numerous interim events could certainly be recited, one of the latest actions concerns a second minister who has also allegedly implicated himself with respect to FV views, via his vigorous defense of the first minister under scrutiny. This second minister was absolved in October 2009 through an investigation that took place at that meeting. This action was officially complained against three months later, whereupon more counter-charges that the 9th Commandment had again been broken were leveled. This kind of tug-of-war has been going on for more than three years now. As one TE involved tellingly described the at times frustrating situation, “We have been chasing our tails.”
Now it is reported that another action to move things along has been initiated. Three teaching elders have filed another complaint with the General Assembly that PS erred in not finding a strong presumption of guilt with regard to the views of the second TE. Specifically, there is concern, that in spite of his affirmation of fidelity to the Westminster Standards and the General Assembly’s “Nine Affirmations” relating to the Federal Vision, he still spoke of the “revocation” of the forgiveness of sins and that “we see forgiveness granted to those who perish in unbelief” (quoted from a letter sent to the Presbytery this January).
Regardless of what one’s personal feelings or inclinations in these issues may be, all members of the churches in the Presbytery of the Siouxlands will surely welcome any effort that will help bring this whole troublesome affair to a speedy, truly just, and decisive resolution. I, for one, earnestly and respectfully plead for my Presbytery to undertake all appropriate actions to finally bring about such a conclusion.
Phil Derksen, Black Hills Community PCA, Rapid City, SD, Presbytery of the Siouxlands