Some events of interest to our community:
- the North Texas Presbytery’s overture to form a study committee on the subject of the Sabbath was not adopted by the Assembly on the recommendation of the Overtures Committee
- the other two overtures submitted by our presbytery were referred to the Mission to North America (MNA) Committee for review and refinement. We will hear of their assessment and recommendation at next year’s Assembly in Houston
- The Assembly heard an amended version of the personal resolution concerning the protection of children in our churches. Some were dismayed the amended version had been stripped of some of its more stringent language. The Assembly agreed that the amended version needed more refinement still and so they sent it back to committee to improve what was begun. While it may be a disappointment to some that something wasn’t adopted at this Assembly, I’m pleased the sentiment prevailed to put forth a robust and binding mandate before our denomination. And while we’ll have to wait for adoption of a formal resolution that does not mean churches can’t begin to enact the spirit and substance of this first draft even now. Our Church is doing just that with the help of many in our community who are familiar with the subject.
- The Assembly heard a report from the study committee on Insider Movements (which I referenced on day one). Insider Movement is a technical term for a kind of mission strategy in Muslim contexts which wrestles with how much to allow converts to Christianity to retain their cultural identifications that sometimes overlap with spiritual (i.e. Islamic) identifications. The topic is complex, but here’s a link to an interview with the chairman of the study committee who gives a summary of what Insider Movements are about. At the assembly the chairman submitted the report for acceptance into our minutes. A substitute motion was offered asking, in addition to inclusion of the main report, inclusion of what’s called a minority report (no, Tom Cruise was not present). A minority report represents a reasoned difference from the official report which may share much in common with the main report but which parts company in some substantive ways. This minority report was written by a member of the study committee and an Egyptian convert to Christianity who decades ago had been exiled from Egypt for his faith. At first the Assembly agreed to consider that substitute motion. However when all was said and done (and this took more than an hour) the Assembly recommitted both reports back to the committee for, in particular, refinement of some of the language in the minority report that was perceived to be too misleading about the commonalities between Islam and Christianity.
Plenty more happened at this year’s assembly which I hope to brief you on, if you’re interested, in the weeks and months to come. While much of what we consider may seem so very distant from our life at CtK, I assure you most of what transpired here has significance to how we think, pray, and act.
As with all assemblies there was both tedium and tumult, the mundane and the memorable. We’re like any family–sometimes full of sound and fury (hopefully signifying something), sometimes gracious and genteel. For all it takes to gather from the four winds of the country, to pull off the massive administrative task of convening and coordinating an assembly, to ensure we complete the business at hand as best we can in the time allotted–these are necessary times, and not just because our Book of Church Order mandates them.
We need to take stock of ourselves–our hearts, our efforts, our vision.
We need to remind ourselves of fundamental things we may have forgotten.
We need to hear from one another’s pilgrimages to know we’re not alone.
We need to learn to manage our myriad differences by focusing on what’s common to us. One thing Tim Keller and Ligon Duncan shared last night (more on that rich time later) was that for all the differences in vision, ministry philosophy, and cultural sensibilities they represent, the more each (and their respective admirers) consider the massive challenges before them and the common hope they share, the less those differences will inhibit common cause. Keller said the PCA’s diversity is a strength in that, like a venture capitalist who invests in a broad spectrum of potentially fruitful endeavors, so our denomination’s varied versions of vision will cast a wider net of possibility in bringing the gospel to a world increasingly hostile to it. Some efforts will prove remarkably and surprisingly prescient. Others will disappoint, their initial potential notwithstanding. But even the unfruitful endeavors will teach. And that’s a good thing.
Thank you for sending me to this Assembly. Thank you for letting me take part in denominational business which was as much an education for me as I hope these few and frenetic posts were for you. Thank you for praying my family and me as we traveled.
I’ll see you Sunday. Mark 11:12-25 is my text. The cursing of the fig tree.