The Big Tent of the PCA
The following is an excerpt from the report from the outgoing moderator, Aiken Taylor, at the 7th General Assembly of the PCA. It was reprinted in The Presbyterian Journal on July 11, 1979.
The Presbyterian Church in America reflects the widest conceivable spectrum of differences within a basic commitment to the Reformed faith which is common to all—ministers and elders alike.
As I have traveled around the Church during the past year, I have noticed that we seem to be struggling to perfect our “image” before the watching world. But I have also become convinced that when the image has been perfected, it will be quite unique among denominations of Reformed, conservative and evangelical persuasion.
We now have congregations operating in all four corners of this nation and in many places in between. We don’t all speak “Southern” by any means. Our congregations include some that speak Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. And that brings me to the most important thing I want to report.
We are Reformed in theology in the best sense of John Calvin’s passion to offer his heart to God “promptly and sincerely.” Everyone one of us has declared that we believe the Westminster standards best contain and summarize the doctrine of holy Scripture.
But within the framework of that commitment there is the potential for wide diversities of application and some of those are developing in the PCA. This is perhaps the most striking thing I have observed this past year. We are still struggling to perfect our “image,” perhaps, because that image is not going to be that of any particular geographical region, or mood, or size. The body is not one member, but many members. The PCA is Manhattan and Fort Lauderdale and Kosciuko. It is robed choirs and color TV and hand-clapping exuberance.
It is churches with ten commissioners to this General Assembly and churches with one. And hand cannot say to the foot, “I have no need of thee.” This I have seen in the past year.
A couple of years ago when a group of commissioners far, far removed from the deep South attended a General Assembly for the first time, one of them was heard to say, after a particularly spirited debated, “I don’t know whether we belong to this crowd or not!” But there no such thing as “this crowd” as the representation of the PCA, and that is my point.
The heart of the PCA beats in the inner city in Newark, and over the radio in Chattanooga, and in a converted Butler build in Olathe, and in a dormitory bull session at Reformed Theological Seminary.
This I have seen this year. The PCA is here to stay. And I am privileged to be part of it. As are you. So let us give thanks to Almighty God and take courage and go forward.