This afternoon, the PCA General Assembly affirmed the Overture Committee’s recommendation to answer questions of theistic evolution by appealing to Scripture and the Westminster Standards.

Prior to the vote, a minority report /substitute motion urged commissioners to vote in favor of releasing an in thesi declaration rejecting all evolutionary views of Adam’s origin.

The minority report stated: “By making this affirmation, the General Assembly will declare to its members that the PCA believes what its Confessional Standards teach. This affirmation would also be a declaration to the wider Church that as the debate on the creation of man ensues within the Church, the PCA remains committed to its Standards.”

The substitute was rejected by a decisive margin.

The committee report issued on Tuesday stated: “While not wishing to diminish the importance of engaging the current controversies regarding the historicity of Adam and Eve, we believe that what is most called for is not a new deliverance from this Assembly, but rather a clear and uncompromising appeal to Scriptures (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-22) and the Westminster Standards (Westminster Confession of Faith 4:2; Westminster Shorter Catechism 16; Westminster Larger Catechism 17), which are already sufficiently clear that Adam and Eve are real, historical human beings directly created by God.


11 Responses to Scripture, Standards Explain Creation

  1. Greg Cook (TE) says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but what does this actually mean? I am assuming the GA is leaving this to presbyteries to determine whether or not this exception strikes at the fundamentals. Is this a correct interpretation?

    • Roland S. Barnes says:

      As one who served on the Overtures Committee and who presented the Minority Report, my understanding of the Majority Report is that it viewed the “in thesi” statement of the overture unnecessary. The Majority Report argued that the Constitution already, as it stands, rules out “theistic evolution.” I have been in the PCA since June of 1978 and that has been my understanding all along. Only recently has the idea been promoted that “theistic evolution” might be compatible with our Standards.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I think they are saying that this GA is not willing to go beyond what is revealed in Scripture and declared in the WCF. Meaning, Scripture is clear as to the historicity of Adam, his role as representative and first of mankind and sin entering the world through him. They are saying here that nothing more needs to be said than what is already clearly stated.

  3. John Hendrickson says:

    If the Confessions and Catechisms were as perspicuous as claimed then no one would feel the need to clarify further by clearly stating that all evolutionary views of Adam and Eve are rejected. But only those who already “see” that in the Standards will agree. Those who are looking for loopholes “see” something different, else they would not posit what they do as if it were acceptable.

    • Jeremy says:

      I think you hit the nail on the head with “those who are looking for loopholes”. There’s not much room in WSC #7-19, the teachings of Paul and the teachings of Christ wheretofor the historicity of Adam and entrance of sin. I think this motion was to ask the GA to form an opinion that can neither be expressly drawn from Scripture or overtly denied by Scripture, and that is why they rejected it.

  4. RE Albert S. Anderson (from Second Presbyterian Church, Greenville, SC) says:

    To me, it looks like TE Greg Cook’s interpretation is correct. Can someone please assure us that taking exception to the Westminster Standards’ strong declarations affirming the actual, historical creation of Adam and Eve at the beginning of the creation, as clearly described in Genesis 1:26-27, 2:20-25, Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:6, will not be permitted in any presbytery of the PCA? Otherwise, we like the Church of Laodicea, will continue to slide down the tepid, slippery slope of apostasy!

  5. Robert Berman says:

    Albert asked, “Can someone please assure us that taking exception to the Westminster Standards’ strong declarations affirming the actual, historical creation of Adam and Eve at the beginning of the creation, as clearly described in Genesis 1:26-27, 2:20-25, Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:6, will not be permitted in any presbytery of the PCA?”

    In thesi statements passed by a single GA have no effect one way or the other on this question. If a Presbytery grants an inappropriate exception on this or any manner, the courts of the church have a process to remedy the error. Those who believe the Standards contain a loophole can seek to amend the Standards to close the loophole.

  6. Arthur L. Moser says:

    I am concerned about the Church taking absolutist stands on issues which overlap scientific information. In the 16th century, the Church, both Catholic and Protestant, refused to accept the Copernican Theory that the earth revolved about the sun, not vice-versa. By taking this stand, the Church lost its influence in many areas and had to itself recant in later centuries.
    Isn’t the larger question “Must the first chapters of Genesis be read literally? If they are not, how does that affect our theology?” Augustine and other early church fathers did not think a literal reading was necessary–1500 years before Darwin. In the 19th century B. B. Warfield and others did not think so. Must we? These are questions I ask myself.

    • Rob Nace says:

      If Genesis is not to be taken literally, then why should James or even the Gospels be taken literally? Are evolutionary biologist to be taken literally instead, even though they change their stories evey few years? I respect the church fathers who are but flesh. Still, “1Pe 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
      1Pe 1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. “

    • Albert S. Anderson says:

      To Arthur L. Moser’s question, “Must the first chapters of Genesis be read literally?”, the answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” The reason why is found in the following answer to his second question, “If they are not, how does that affect our theology?” There is a great difference between the Copernican challenge to the Church’s understanding of Scripture and the old-earth, evolutionistic challenge to the plain reading of Scripture as upheld by the Westminster Standards. The Copernican challenge did not destroy the Gospel of Jesus Christ; whereas old-earth evolutionism definitely does. It claims that death existed before the creation of Adam whose sin, the Bible clearly states, is the cause of death. (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:17-19) If death had been present before the existence of of Adam, as both theistic and atheistic evolutionism teach, why did the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, come to deliver us, as He did, from sin and death? (1 Corinthians 15:21-22) The utter destruction of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by evolutionism becomes obvious! B.B. Warfield, great theologian though he was, missed this point as did others in and since the 19th century. They believed in Christ, but they did not discern what was contrary to their faith. Also, I understand Augustine did not postulate an old earth. I have been told that his speculation was that God could have completed the entire creation in an instant; instead, He chose to write that it took 6 days to create, followed by a 7th day of rest, in order to establish our work week. (Exodus 20:11) Furthermore, contrary to the scoffers of these last days (2 Peter 3:3-7), the actual facts of science support the design and creation of a young universe, followed by a global flood, rather than an earth and universe millions and billions of years old. Which does wisdom dictate that we believe: the ever changing speculations of men, based on the false assumptions of secular scientists, or the unchanging, inerrant, infallible Word of God, written and incarnate?

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