General Assembly

General Assembly

Here are a few post-General Assembly comments (saving the last bullet for the weightier issue). Since others have summarized the events of this GA better than I can, I’m including an attachment and a link below. Overall, my impression of the denomination is that it is healthy. Of course, just as with the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, health doesn’t mean perfect agreement. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized” (1 Cor 11:19). But all things considered, I came away encouraged and I think you ought to be encouraged also.

Summaries. Here’s my caveat: you will see some motions and overtures that by their titles seem positive, but were voted down. Often this happens because of some technical or procedural issue. Don’t fret. An overall summary by the venerable Rev. David Coffin is attached, and day-by-day summaries can be found here (

A comment on blogs as a denominational or theological news source. With the exception of people like Tim Challies, bloggers tend to fail on three counts: 1. Prov. 18:17 “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” Most bloggers dwell in the space made possible by the first half of Prov. 18:17, rarely subjecting themselves to the second half. 2. Bloggers usually do not have real commitments to and relationships with those they are criticizing. Just the opposite of Mt. 18:15, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” 3. Bloggers feed on the anger and anxiety of their readers. So different a course than Ps 37, where David teaches us to “trust in the Lord and do good” rather than “fretting yourself because of evildoers.”

The crux issue at this assembly (and perhaps for a few more to come) was human sexuality. So here’s an important point: the debate was not over the ancient, orthodox understanding of human sexuality, but over how the denomination ought to be representing its stand on ancient biblical orthodoxy to a watching world. We are ambassadors not monks. What we do speaks, and ought to speak, to those outside the city of God. On this issue, the Assembly voted to affirm the Nashville Statement, which you can read here. During the Assembly I did a little reading and listening. One of the best messages I came across on same-sex attraction was delivered by Sam Allberry engaging some of the key questions being asked at the moment. (Fair warning, it’s about an hour long.)

Finally, I’m asked from time to time why there must be any discussion at all of an issue such as homosexuality when the Bible identifies it clearly as sin. There’s no avoiding the fact that the church faces certain issues at certain times. This is the meaning of Esther 4:14 and the famous phrase “such a time as this.” Luther was compelled to write against indulgences because he was surrounded by people being misled by the practice. Indulgences are still sold by the Catholic Church, but Evangelicals do not speak against them because they are, for all intents and purposes, a non-issue. Like it or not, this is not the case with homosexuality. In the same way that Paul spent so much time dealing with food sacrificed to idols (another non-issue for us), it is incumbent upon us to speak to homosexuality.

Our time has become a time of significant and swift change. Nothing that has happened up to now has taken God by surprise. His plans are not thwarted, his kingdom is not shaken. As for us, “The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will remain forever; they are not put to shame in evil times; in the days of famine they have abundance.” We are in his hands and will always have his care.