Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dr. Will Barker on subscription in the PCA:

The methodology made clear in the Synod's response to the Hemphill case [Samuel Hemphill, the subject of the first Presbyterian heresy trial in North America in the early 1730s] is the historic method of subscription in American Presbyterianism. It also is the method that we should employ today. The  candidate professing to adopt the Westminster Standards should declare any exceptions that he may have, and then the Presbytery should decide whether his exceptions are such that he cannot be deemed as sincerely taking his ordination vow (e.g., the second ordination vow). If that is the case, then the Presbytery should not approve him for ordination. On the other hand, if the Presbytery determines that his exceptions do not represent a violation of his ordination vow, he  should be ordained and should also be able to teach such exceptions, since he is conscience-bound to  teach the whole counsel of God, as revealed in Scripture, whose authority he also has affirmed  elsewhere in his ordination vows. But he should teach such exceptions with utmost sensitivity to the peace and purity of the church.
-- William Barker, "System Subscription," Westminster Theological Journal, 63 (2001), 6, accessed 11/11/15

While this may sound like a historical theologian nerding out (Abby thinks so), how pastors discus their convictions and hold each other accountable to those convictions is an important part of being biblical.