PCA day fray
10 July 2000
Tension is rife within the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) over the issue of the days of creation. Many PCA churches and presbyteries have long insisted on belief in a literal six twenty-four hour day creation as a necessary precondition to ordination, whilst PCA seminaries have been teaching a range of creation interpretations for more than a generation.
It’s important to note that the historical foundation of the PCA, the Westminster Confession of Faith, following the phrasing of John Calvin who clearly affirmed a literal interpretation of Genesis (see this article), unambiguously stated in Section 4:1 (with emphasis added):
It pleased God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make out of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good.
On the 21st of June, the 28th General Assembly of the PCA considered a report from their Creation Study Committee, formed two years ago to investigate the meaning of the word ‘day’ in Genesis chapter one. The assembly rejected the committee’s recommendation to refer the report to individual churches for a two year consideration period, and instead passed a motion affirming immediate acceptance of diversity of views on the days of creation. Creation beliefs held by PCA ministers include the ‘day-age’, ‘framework’, and ‘analogical days’ interpretations, as well as the straightforward 24-hour day view. [For refutations of denials of the plain meaning of Genesis 1, see Q&A: Genesis.]
New Assembly Moderator Dr Morton Smith said that he had heard that there were churches, and even whole presbyteries, which might leave the PCA if certain votes didn’t go their way.
TE Charles H. Morrison III of Potomac Presbytery, in an open letter to the elders of the PCA, emphasised the need for love, reconciliation, and acceptance.
‘we did not reject the Calendar-Day view of creation. Rather we accepted diversity on that issue. … Those in the minority of a non-fundamental issue have a responsibility to be consistent Presbyterians and to act in subjection to their brothers in accordance with their ordination vows. Those in the majority of an issue also have a responsibility to treat their brothers with grace and charity when their opinions are not sustained.’