Friday, June 25, 2010

Reformed Presbyterian Church's Response to "PCA Strategic Plan"

On Tuesday, June 15, 2010, the Session of Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lookout Mountain met to discuss the "PCA Strategic Plan," which will be presented at General Assembly later this month.  If you don't want to wade through all the written materials, a helpful one page summary of the details to be approved can be read here.  A helpful summary of the funding plan can be viewed here. You can also find a series of videos presenting the CMC's plan here.

It was the determination of the Session that the PCA Strategic Plan, though well-intentioned, correct in much of what it perceives as challenges facing the PCA, and is being set forth as an honest attempt at answering these challenges in order to make the PCA a stronger, healthier denomination, nonetheless,we believe that it is misguided, will not actually improve things, and is out of step with RP's stated understanding of what the scriptures and our confessional standards teach concerning the identity, worship and mission of the Church.

Because of these concerns,  the Session passed the following motion as its position on the PCA Strategic Plan:
The Session is in agreement with the overture of Northwest Georgia Presbytery, "A Call for PCA Renewal," as its response to the PCA Strategic Plan, as that overture reflects our understanding of what the Bible teaches about the identity, worship and mission of the Church.

RP's identity, worship and mission have been summed up by the following:
The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Lookout Mountain is a Reformed, confessional, and covenantal family of believers seeking to trust and obey our Triune God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
And we seek to live out this identity by:

1. Continuously seeking the truth of God's Word, our only guide for faith and practice by:
  • Seeking to experience daily the Kingdom that our Savior won and secured through His humiliation and exaltation, even as we await the fullness of His Eternal Reign
  • Emphasizing the importance and primacy of corporate worship on the Lord's Day
  • Feeding upon God's Word through various regular Bible study groups and meetings for the spiritual nourishment of all the congregation
  • Calling confidently upon God in regular corporate, family and private prayer on behalf of the Kingdom of God
  • Continuing in historic orthodoxy, adhering to the Westminster and other Reformed Standards
2. Calling the Sabbath a delight by:
  • Answering God's call for His people to gather with all His beloved before His Throne for worship morning and evening on the Lord's Day
  • Rejoicing in a worship dialogue with our Triune God in Word and sacrament
  • Celebrating the Lord's Supper weekly
3. Embracing our lives as the Covenant People of God by:
  • Submitting to our God-ordained Church authorities and the proper administration of Church discipline
  • Devoting ourselves to one another in sweet and costly fellowship
  • Helping each other fulfill their sacred convenantal obligations in all family relationships
  • Enjoying and submitting ourselves to the sovereign rule and will of our Triune God
4. Spreading the Gospel in word and deed locally and globally by:
  • Providing financial, prayer and personal support and opportunities for involvement in foreign missions
  • Loving our neighbors through active support in local ministry organizations
  • Living lives that proclaim the Gospel of Christ Jesus
5. Equipping the Saints for a life of service to God and His people by:
  • Encouraging a lifetime of learning so that we might grasp the wonder of who God is and how much He has given us
  • Calling the Church to remember her heritage as God's Covenant people
  • Assisting parents as they seek to train up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord
  • Supporting parents in the surrounding community through the ministry of the Classical Studies Center, a classical tutorial school
  • Training and seasoning young men who are preparing to enter seminary in pursuit of full time Gospel work
  • Providing a church home away from home for visiting college students
We believe that not only our theology, but also our piety and practice should be self-consciously and confessionally Reformed.  Therefore, the Session determined to support Overture 24 from the Northwest Georgia Presbytery, "A Call for PCA Renewal" since it is a better alternative to the PCA Strategic Plan.  We would particularly highlight the following section of the overture:
Therefore, the Northwest Georgia Presbytery, meeting on May 22, 2010, overtures the 38th General Assembly to call all its congregations and presbyteries to this simple, straightforward, unambiguously biblical call for renewal as an alternative to the complex and potentially divisive “PCA Strategic Plan,” except for the funding proposal already presented by the Administrative Committee, which this overture wishes neither to condemn nor support. And let us trust that in the coming years God will enable us, by His Spirit, to faithfully employ the spiritual means that He Himself has already provided us.

17 Points for PCA Renewal

A renewed commitment to the centrality of the God-ordained, efficacious means of exegetical, Christ-centered, application-filled, expository preaching (Is. 55:10-11; Ez. 37:1-10; Jn. 21:15-17 Mk. 1:38; Acts 2:42; 20:26-27; I Cor. 1:22-25; 2 Tim. 4:2-4; WLC 67, 154-5).
A renewed commitment to the centrality of the God-ordained, efficacious means of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Gen. 17:9-11; Ex. 12; Mt. 26:26-29; 28:19; I Cor. 10:16-17; 11:17-34; Col. 2:11-15; I Pet. 3:21; Rev. 19:6-9; WLC 154; 161-177).
A renewed commitment to the centrality of the God-ordained means of private, family and corporate prayer (Ps. 63; Mt. 6:5-15; Mk. 1:35; Acts 6:4; Eph. 1:15-23; Phil. 1:9-11; I Thess. 5:17; I Tim. 2:1; WLC 154; 178-196).
A renewed commitment to - and delight in - the Lord’s Day (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Is. 58:13-14; Mk. 2:23-28; Jn. 20:1;19; Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10; WCF 21).
A renewed commitment to worship on God’s terms, according to Scripture (Ex. 20:4-6; Lev. 10:1-3; Deut. 12:32; Jn. 4:23-24; Acts 2:42; Col. 2:18-23; Heb. 10:24-25; 12:28-29; WCF 21.1).
A renewed commitment to private, family, and public worship (Ps. 63; Mt. 6:6, 16-18; Neh. 1:4-11; Dan. 9:3-4; Deut. 6:4-6; Eph. 6:1-4; Ps. 100:4; Acts 2:42; Heb. 10: 24-25; WCF 21.5-6). 
 A renewed commitment to wed our missiology to Reformed ecclesiology (Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 14:19-23; 15:1-41; 20:17, 28; I Cor. 11:17-34; The Pastoral Epistles; Titus 1:5; WCF 25; 30-31).
A renewed commitment to loving, Word-and-Spirit-dependent, prayerful, and courageous evangelism (Mt. 5:13-16; 28:18-20; Acts 4:1-13; I Peter 3:15-16; WLC 154-7).
A renewed commitment to biblical church discipline (Mt. 18:15-20; I Cor. 5:1-13; 11:27-29; II Thess. 3:6, 14-15; I Tim. 5:20; WLC 45; WCF 30).
A renewed commitment to biblical diaconal ministry (Acts 6:1-7; Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 3:8-13).
A renewed commitment to catechize our covenant children in our homes and churches (Deut. 6:4-6; Prov. 22:6; Mk. 10:13-16; Eph. 4:12-13; 6:1-4; WSC).
A renewed commitment to biblical masculinity and femininity (Gen. 2:18-25; Deut. 31:6-7; Prov. 31:1031; I Cor. 16:13; I Peter 3:1-7; Eph. 5:22-33; I Tim. 2:11-15; WLC 17).
A renewed commitment to entrust the leadership of the Church into the hands of the ordained leadership (Jn. 21:15-17; I Tim. 5:17; Heb.13:17; I Pet. 5:1-3; WLC 45).
A renewed commitment to the Reformed Confession which we have avowed, before God and men, to promote and defend as our system of doctrine (I Tim. 6:12; Heb. 4:14; 10:23; Jude 3; Westminster Standards).
A renewed commitment to the mortification of sin and worldliness (Rom. 6:11-14; 8:13; 12:1-2; I Cor. 6:12; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:20-24; I John 2:15-17; Gal. 6:14; WLC 76-7).
A renewed commitment to the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from works of the law (Gen. 15:6; Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:16-17; 3:21-26; 4:1-5; 5:1; Gal. 2:15-16; 3:10-14; Phil. 3:1-11; WCF 11).
A renewed commitment to rest, by faith, in Christ alone for salvation, without minimizing Gospel obedience (i.e. the third use of the law) / (Rom. 1:5; 6:1-2; 8:5-8; II Cor. 7:1; Col. 1:28; Eph. 4:1; 5:1-21; Phil. 3:12; I Thess. 5:23; Heb. 12:14; I John 5:3; WCF 19.5-7).
Furthermore, rather than having the Cooperative Ministries Committee propose additional structural changes, let us adopt this plan for renewal (reflected in the seventeen points above) asking our presbyteries and sessions, who are the best originators of denominational change, to study, discuss and implement it. Accordingly, this overture asks our appropriate elected leaders to represent and publicize this to our churches in writing or in counsel as the action of the 38th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. By taking this action, we, as elders, intend to send a clear and simple message to our churches, presbyteries, General Assembly, and the world, that the PCA will seek spiritual renewal on God’s terms, trusting solely in His sovereign wisdom and grace.
As we believe this overture closely resembles our own beliefs and commitments, we believe it to be a superior option for the PCA to adopt at General Assembly instead of the Strategic Plan.

May God grant his Church the wisdom, grace and resolve to trust what he has promised to bless.

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