A formal overture from the Mississippi Valley Presbytery, made to the General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church in America in their June meeting, created considerable interest among those of us who are interested in the present debates surrounding justification and the thought of N. T. Wright. This overture was "Answered in the negative without prejudice to its content." The overture was actually motion to distribute to all Presbyteries the MVP’s "Report on the New Perspective on Paul, the Theology of N. T. Wright, the Theology of Norman Shepherd, and the Theology of the so-called ‘Federal Vision’ in the PCA."
There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that the purpose of this overture was to silence this type of discussion in the PCA by treating adherents to various parts of this theology as false teachers. A group of teaching elders, within a particular presbytery, wanted to make a test case out of a particular church, namely Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Louisiana. Since I know the pastor of this church well, and since I spoke at the annual pastor’s conference at Auburn Avenue (2004), I am pleased to hear of this decision by the GA. Hopefully it will put to rest the attempts of a small coalition of the theologically disturbed to make of Pastor Steve Wilkens, and several others, a denomination wide test-case.
It would be a wonderful day for modern reformation, and for the true principle of semper reformanda, if this issue were put to rest once for all, at least as it is perceived as some kind of serious threat to the gospel. I have my doubts that this will happen so long as the PCA is influenced by "strict confessionalist" (TR) types. I continue to cheer for the many moderate, evangelistic, and mission-minded leaders who serve in the PCA. I also wonder if this fine denomination, with only thirty-three years of history and a little over 1,500 churches, will pursue an open posture toward the world in general, and the work of fresh and serious biblical theology in particular, so long as it’s DNA is linked with this type of schismatic spirit. For now I am pleased. I am pleased for both my many friends in ordained ministry of the PCA, as well as pleased for the work of the gospel in America and beyond, that this unnecessary and unjust overture was soundly rejected. So long as the PCA keeps resisting these types of overtures better days may yet be ahead. I pray so.