The General Assembly is the yearly gathering of our denomination’s ministers and ruling elders. It’s at this meeting that the denomination business is carried out. This year it was in Louisville, Kentucky and I attended along with Pastor Rochester. Among the necessary and benign items there were four controversial matters at hand.
1. Theistic Evolution. In the last year a couple of men in our denomination, including Tim Keller, have gotten some attention because of the way they were saying things about creation and evolution. As a result, some presbyteries wanted the denomination to affirm a declaration that we are opposed to theistic evolution. I was opposed to this. Not because I believe in theistic evolution. Of course not. Rather, I was opposed to this because I believe our confessional standards are clear on this subject and that any adoption of further documents actually undermines our standards and their clarity. The overture failed and no such document was adopted.
2. National Association of Evangelicals. There was an overture to leave the NAE but the denomination decided to remain and keep a close eye on the ongoing developments in the NAE. I was indifferent about this but in the end would have preferred that we leave the NAE.
3. Intinction. I know you know what it is, but I’ll define it for the others who are not as smart as you. Intinction is the practice of observing by dipping the bread into the wine and then eating the bread. It was a medieval practice that has become pretty hip recently. The GA voted to begin taking the steps to ban the practice. Now it will get handed down to each presbytery for a vote. I was for a ban on this for this reason: I think our standards are clearly against the practice. If we would like to change our practice we should change our standards first. There is a process for that.
4. Padeocommunion. It’s the practice of giving infant children the elements of the Lord’s Supper when they are able to eat solid food without being interviewed by the elders. Our denomination is on record against this practice. However, we have ordained men who hold this position, though they have been limited on how they may teach the subject or practice it. The debate this year was about whether or not we should continue to allow men who hold this position in. And, by extension, what we are to do with those who are already in. The GA punted this and took no action by sending it back the committee who reported on this. The committee will offer another report next year.
Of course, General Assembly is always a fun time to run into old friends. It is a strategic time to meet with denominational employees and representatives. But for me, the highlight of my trip was the time I was able to spend with Pastor Rochester. We dreamed and prayed and talked about the church, our church, life, and church planting. We dreamed and talked and prayed of the day when there will be 10 ministers going to GA from New Life and her church plants.
Our denomination is not perfect. There are some trends that are concerning. But there are also some encouraging signs of life as well. I suppose it’s a little like life itself.