Yesterday, the Overtures Committee reviewed four motions from the Southeast Alabama Presbytery, all dealing with requirements for church membership. One of the overtures recommended that assent to the Apostles’ Creed be required for church membership.

Teaching Elder (TE) Patrick Curles, who defended the motion, said that under the PCA’s present membership vows someone could become a member who didn’t believe in the doctrine of the Trinity or the virgin birth, for example. “Right now Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, and many other Christian denominations all over the world use the Apostles’ Creed in their baptism and membership liturgy,” Curles said. “I believe it is time for the PCA to do the same.”

The overwhelming majority of committee members disagreed on the grounds that the overture did not improve or clarify the Book of Church Order (BCO). In opposing the overture, Steve Dowling, TE at Covenant Presbyterian in Auburn, Ala., said, “My concern is that we are erecting a barrier to membership so substantially higher than was established by our Lord that it would be excessive.”

Other overtures recommended that a transfer of letter from another church be considered as acceptable grounds for membership, that a transfer of letter be sent with an officer moving to a church outside of the PCA, and that Confession of Faith be used to catechize congregations while creeds be used to publicly confess the faith.

All overtures were answered in the negative based on their failure to clarify the BCO. That recommendation now goes to the General Assembly.

For more information, see Overtures 32-35.

3 Responses to Creed Not Required for Membership

  1. John Hendrickson says:

    A better argument against it might be that in the session’s review of someone for membership these truths ought to be brought up and made clear. Those who might be confused could be delayed for reception until they understood and accepted that truth; or they would be rejected and then not accepted into membership if they will not accept this doctrine.

  2. Paul Meiners says:

    Our position has always been that they needed a “credible profession of faith”, i.e. that their understanding and trust in the gospel, and their life flowing from this, showed that they were genuine believers. If the elders have reason to believe that God would welcome them into heaven they should not find that our church holds a higher entry standard than God. “Child-like-ness” should not be a barrier to membership, whether it is due to age, capacity or limited training. If Jesus would say “let this little one come to me” I don’t want to say, “not yet, Lord”.

  3. Bill Burns says:

    It seems to me that WCF 25, particularly 25.5, & Matthew 13:24-30, & 47 sufficiently address this matter.