Why We Left the PCA and Joined the Bible Presbyterian Church

The Session of Grace Reformed Church gives it reasons for withdrawing from the PCA.

It was only after much prayer, study, and consideration that GRPC left the PCA. The Session started serious discussions about leaving the PCA more than 2 years ago. We kept our congregation informed of our concerns and our discussions within the Session and with others within the Presbytery. Altogether, we spoke with eight other pastors within our Presbytery about our concerns regarding the PCA General Assembly and about the idea of leaving the PCA. We invited these churches and their Sessions to meet with us informally to discuss what we should do about our concerns and where we would go if we were to leave the PCA.

 

On March 22, 2018, an article appeared in The Aquila Report with the title of “Exit Theology – When to Leave the PCA?” by Larry Ball.  Pastor Ball lamented that two churches had left the Westminster Presbytery and the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) to join the Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC). Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church (GRPC) in Greeneville, Tennessee is one of the churches. We, the members of the Session of GRPC, want to respond to that letter.

First, we agree with Larry Ball, that churches leaving a denomination should consult with other Sessions, especially those in the Presbytery, and seek the counsel of other wise men before making such a serious move.  We do not agree, however, that it is necessary to consult with the Presbytery as it meets as a judicial body, i.e., a court of the church.  Doing so might be construed and could become divisive disturbing the peace of the church.

Secondly, there is nothing in the Book of Church Order that requires a church to do so when considering such a move.

It was only after much prayer, study, and consideration that GRPC left the PCA. The Session started serious discussions about leaving the PCA more than 2 years ago. We kept our congregation informed of our concerns and our discussions within the Session and with others within the Presbytery. Altogether, we spoke with eight other pastors within our Presbytery about our concerns regarding the PCA General Assembly and about the idea of leaving the PCA. We invited these churches and their Sessions to meet with us informally to discuss what we should do about our concerns and where we would go if we were to leave the PCA.

One of the individuals we invited to meet with us was the Clerk of Presbytery. This meeting took place in September 2017, nearly 3 months prior to the congregation voting to withdraw from the PCA in December 2017.

When the Session voted unanimously to leave the PCA, it was with the understanding that if the congregation was not in a substantial agreement, then the Session would not make the move. When the congregation voted by ballot in mid-December 77% of the communicate members were present at the congregational meeting. The vote was unanimous to withdraw from the PCA; likewise, the congregation voted unanimously to join the Bible Presbyterian Church.

As a Session, we appreciate the closeness that GRPC had, and still has, with most of the churches and Sessions in Westminster Presbytery. It was not because of any animus with the Presbytery that we voted to withdraw. Over several years the Session had become increasingly concerned over some actions and positions adopted by the PCA General Assembly (GA) that were very troubling and alarming to the GRPC Session. The Session of GRPC took solace that Westminster Presbytery was all we needed to maintain our sense of being “connectional.” Westminster Presbytery had become our “safe harbor” in the storm of conflict that we saw raging at GA level. We sensed that our closest brothers are right here in Westminster Presbytery. It was our sense that we didn’t have to attend or participate in GA; we could just ignore what was going on there and maintain our healthy relationship in the Presbytery.

However, this kind of reasoning had become a problem for our Session. First, by ignoring and intentionally not participating in GA we realized that we had already left the PCA. Secondly, our church was still identified as being in the PCA. Although we were not obligated to put into practice everything that the GA adopted, nevertheless, we realized that the actions and practices of the GA were also the actions of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church. So we began to participate again in the GA over the last two years, but decided that it was time to leave the PCA.

The following are some reasons for leaving the PCA and joining the Bible Presbyterian Church.

  1. The PCA in recent years has become more focused on becoming a social justice denomination, rather than being a biblically based denomination. The PCA seems to be more focused on being politically correct than being biblically correct. An example is the Racial Reconciliation Committee that had been erected by the PCA. At the 2016 GA, the PCA repented of past and present sins of racial discrimination within the denomination and started a study committee to stop racial discrimination. In our many years of service in the PCA we have never seen or heard of racial discrimination in the PCA, and no specific examples were provided directly related to the PCA. GRPC seeks to bring all nations and peoples to Christ as Matthew 28:19-20 declares. We also seek to have fellowship with all, but the means by which this is done is through the proclamation and teaching of the Word of Christ (Romans 10: 12-17).
  2. There is an unbiblical view of women in ministry in the PCA. The 2016 GA erected a study committee on women in ministry in the PCA. This study committee had no ruling elders on it while several un-ordained females served on the committee – remember this was to study what the Biblical truth is about women in ministry. It seems the goal was to give the appearance of fairness rather than to seek the true teaching of Scripture.
  3. The PCA adopted the report at the past GA with several alarming effects. Let us just mention a few:
  • Sessions, presbyteries, and the GA should be using qualified women in all sorts of roles, and sending overtures that would allow women to serve on committees and agencies (previously only open to elders, and in some cases, deacons);
  • That Sessions consider how to include non-ordained men and women in the worship of the church;
  • That the PCA begin the process of creating an office that everyone agrees is not to be found anywhere in Scripture, namely that of “commissioned church worker.” When we do, we will no longer be able to say that our polity is derived solely from the principles found in Scripture;
  • That Sessions, Presbyteries and the GA consider how they can affirm and include underprivileged and underrepresented women in the PCA.
  1. The GA holds to a low view of the Bible and the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). This can be demonstrated by the following examples:
  • In the year 2000 the PCA approved four different views of interpretation on the creation account found in Genesis 1 and 2 as acceptable: the Calendar Day interpretation, the Day-Age interpretation, the Framework interpretation, and the Analogical Days interpretation. This is against the clear teaching of Genesis 1 which refers to the days as “And there was evening and there was morning, one day,” etc.  This is also against the clear teaching of the WCF 4.1 which states: “It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.”
  • In 2002 the PCA had adopted a “good faith subscription” to the WCF versus a “strict subscription” to the WCF. This means that the PCA allows officers a broad range of exceptions to our standards. Whereas, a “strict subscription” would have only allowed minor exceptions. Before this adoption of good faith subscription the Presbytery could allow a minor exception and instruct the person not to teach such views, while this is not the case anymore.
  • At this past GA, the Committee on Review of Presbytery Records reported about a Presbytery that used a supposed image of Christ in worship. The majority of this committee concluded that the use of such an image in worship is not problematic. In response a minority report was composed. Such a use of an image of Christ is a clear violation of Scripture and our Confessional Standards – specifically Westminster Larger Catechism 109. This was argued back and forth for a lengthy time. Clearly this would be a violation against the 2nd commandment as well as the WCF, but many argued that this is not a violation. With a very small margin the minority report was approved.
  1. In 2015 the Supreme Court of the USA created a civil right and made something the Bible calls an abomination, the law of the land. It is now 2017 and the PCA has yet to address the subject of “same sex marriage”. The GA had an overture before them to give chapter 59 of the Book of Church Order constitutional status. That would have made it part of the PCA constitution to say that marriage is between one man and one woman. After much deliberation, this was deferred to 2018 GA. The inaction of the PCA on this issue has become very disturbing to us.
  2. In our opinion the PCA has become a safe haven for those who hold to the Federal Vision. In 2007, after considering the report on the Federal Vision and after a lengthy discussion, the GA adopted nine points considering the heresy of the Federal Vision. After this several men who openly and clearly adhered to Federal Vision appeared in cases before their respective courts. As far as we know, every one of them have been acquitted. Several of them are still in good standing in the PCA poisoning congregations with their heresies.
  3. There is an organization that holds secret meetings that functions within the PCA called the “National Partnership” (see The Aquila Report March 20, 2013 and April 17. 2017). This organization acts as an unauthorized steering committee in the PCA that causes and promotes their liberal agenda. The NP urges its members to vote in a certain way before meetings of the GA and before meetings of the committees of the GA. Given that the NP has also controlled the nominating process for the permanent committees the past few years, their control over the functioning of the PCA is fairly impressive. If you are not in their favor, you will not be elected to any position on GA level. Very concerning is that the NP agenda passed overwhelmingly. Allowing the NP to function in the PCA removes the purpose of having court meetings in the church; it is anti-biblical and anti-Christian.

We decided to join the Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC). We found the BPC to be Biblical and Confessional. We found the men serious about Scripture and serious about establishing Reformed church plants. They are also well organized with their Mission Board and put Reformed missionaries in the field at a fraction of the cost of the PCA bureaucracy. When we started to explore the BPC denomination, we learned about rumors that they are against the consumption of alcohol in moderation and are dispensationalists. Both of these allegations were found to be false. Although this may have been true to some extent in the years past, this has not been true for many years now. Like the PCA they welcome men of all historical eschatological persuasions (Post-mil, A-mil, and Historic Pre-mil) to enter the denomination, and like the PCA, they allow them to teach their various eschatological positions. We have found that the BPC is the denomination closest to our view of worship, convictions and practice.

The Session of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church, Greeneville, Tenn.

Share358
Tweet
+1
Share
358 Shares