By The Editors | January 19, 2023
In our first full calendar year, Presbyterian Polity received over 35,200 visitors who logged a total of more than 61,100 views across the site. Thank you for spending some time with us. We hope that what you have read helped you as you have prayed for, served, and supported your local, regional, and national Church.
Contributors to this site produce both static and dynamic resources, including videos, case studies, templates, recommended guides, and a running blog. The data is in and analyzed, and we are pleased to announce our blog’s Top 10 Polity Posts of 2022 (in ascending order for dramatic effect).
10. Where Are They Now? by TE Zachary Groff (2/24/22) – As the first of what became a two-part investigation into recent departures from the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), this article broached the question, “As we review the Minutes of the 48th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, what information can we glean about recent losses from the denomination? As the title of this blog post suggests, we can research the Minutes for information about recent departures by asking, where are they now?” One finding (investigated further in the follow-up article here) was that “Far more than any other denomination, the EPC was the destination of choice for PCA ministers simultaneously transferring out of the PCA and confessionally like-minded NAPARC.”
9. Reading the Domestic & Sexual Abuse Study Committee Report by TE George Sayour (6/7/22) – In the lead-up to the 49th General Assembly of the PCA, the denomination received the final Report of the Ad Interim Committee on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Abuse. To help readers digest the thorough and well-researched Report, TE Sayour outlines five takeaways: what the Report is not, what the Report is, what the Report does well, a pressing concern about one feature of the Report, and next steps now that the non-binding informational Report is available to us.
8. Why the PCA Needs Overture 15 by TE Zachary Garris (9/17/22) – This post is one of several published on the blog examining and defending the Book of Church Order (BCO) amendment proposed by Overture 15 to the 49th General Assembly of the PCA. With earnest focus, TE Garris applauds Overture 15 for its clarity and brevity, points out its usefulness for addressing present difficulties in the PCA over the language of human sexuality and personal identity, articulates how the proposal reflects the PCA’s Report on Human Sexuality, and argues that the proposals contained in the complementary Overtures 29 and 31 are insufficient without the changes proposed in Overture 15.
7. Dissent, Response, & Concurrences in Speck v. Missouri Presbytery by TE Scott Edburg (2/5/22) – This brief post takes a deep dive into the array of formal publications relating to one of the most significant cases handled by the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) in 2021. By highlighting the several follow-up publications to the majority ruling, TE Edburg builds on previous posts by TE Zachary Groff (here) and TE Jacob Gerber (here) to fill a gap left by official reporting from the PCA’s byFaith article publicizing the determination. This post links to the published dissent, the majority’s response to that dissent, and a concurring opinion that explores the nuance behind ruling in favor of Missouri Presbytery.
6. The Biblical Genius of PCAGA49’s Overture 15 by TE Zachary Groff (8/6/22) – It is perhaps a bit unconventional to evaluate a proposed amendment to the BCO in terms of Biblical Theological considerations, but that is precisely what TE Groff sets out to do in this piece. Drawing from Scripture, the PCA’s Preliminary Principles, the Westminster Standards as adopted by the PCA, and scholarly writings on the Kingdom of God, TE Groff argues in favor of Overture 15 and the biblical mandate “to exclude those who would describe themselves as homosexuals (or in terms of any kind of sexual perversion) from worship leadership.”
5. Watching the Amendment Process in 2022 by TE Zachary Groff (1/19/22) – One of the earliest posts of the year concerned then-current debates coming out of the 48th General Assembly of the PCA as the 88 presbyteries of the denomination deliberated over proposed amendments to the BCO. That cycle has since passed, but it is interesting to note the sheer volume of commentary relating to Overtures 23 and 37 passed at the PCAGA48. In this post, TE Groff gives a complete (or near-complete) annotated bibliography of blog posts and other media relating to the debate over these two Overtures (both of which failed to pass the presbyteries). Also of note is TE Groff’s commendation of TE Scott Edburg’s BCO Amendment Tracker Spreadsheet, then in its inaugural year of service to the denomination.
4. Homosexuality and the True Division in the PCA by TE George Sayour (8/31/22) – This post is a respectful response to comments made by Stated Clerk TE Bryan Chapell that recent debates over sexual identity and desire in the PCA concern the issue of whether or not homosexual desire itself is a disqualification for consideration for ordained office in the Church. On the contrary, TE Sayour argues, this is not at all what we are debating. He writes, “I do not know anyone that believes that ‘the desire itself is disqualifying,’ and yet there is a very real and sharp disagreement in the PCA over Side B.” He further elaborates that whereas the organizers of the Revoice Conference promote the celebration of homosexual sexual identity and celibacy among Christians, proponents of the proposed BCO amendment expressed in PCAGA49’s Overture 15 (Item 1 before the presbyteries this year) are seeking to codify the view expressed in the PCA’s Report on Human Sexuality that the Side B view promoted by the Revoice Conference is definitively “out of bounds for ordained office.”
3. Secret Caucuses & the PCA by TE Jared Nelson (1/28/22) – In the history of American Presbyterianism, there have been no shortage of groups and networks advancing one vision or another for the future of particular denominations. In the PCA and its predecessor, the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS), some of those groups have operated in relative secrecy. This post presents “a brief history of secret political caucuses in the PCA with only what can be sourced and deduced from information that is openly accessible.” TE Nelson gives five “relevant criteria for evaluating whether or not an organization is a secret political causes,” considers three case studies (the Fellowship of St. James, the Vision Caucus, and the more recent National Partnership), and draws nine conclusions. This write-up is a must-read for any presbyter wanting to guard the flock against those who would operate in the shadows to influence Presbyterian expressions of Christ’s church.
2. New Overtures for a Pressing Concern by TE Scott Edburg (4/26/22) – This post served as something of a one-stop shop for gathering information on overtures which were about to be presented to the 49th General Assembly of the PCA. TE Edburg noted that the failures of PCAGA48’s Overtures 23 and 37 inspired the drafting of a raft of new – but related – overtures to address particular concerns expressed about the two from PCAGA48 that had failed to pass the presbyteries. This timely post captured a moment in the development of proposals that the denomination is considering right now, and insofar as it tells the story of these proposals, it continues to be of service to presbyters in their ongoing deliberations.
1. The Elder’s Attire by TE Zachary Garris (2/7/22) – Holding a commanding first-place position for the most viewed blog post in 2022 is this post on the propriety of elders dressing formally for official church business. TE Garris opens this thought-provoking (and controversial) post with the following observations and questions: “Men used to dress more formally than they do today. This can be seen by looking at older photos of men on airplanes and in the classroom. Yet it is often assumed today that how we dress is of no moral concern and is purely a matter of aesthetic tastes. But is this the case? Or do cultural expectations of attire have roots in something deeper?” Remarkably, this post was not only our most viewed post of the year, but also our most discussed, shared, and commented-upon post on our social media channels. In fact, nothing else we published came close!
There are many other blog posts available for your perusal and consideration on pcapolity.com/blog. We commend them to you. For the sake of honorable mention, we especially encourage you to read the following:
Deliberating by the Book by RE Matt Fender (7/19/22)
General Assembly Schedule Changes by RE Brad Isbell (2/11/22)
Researching the Rationales of PCAGA49’s Proposed BCO Amendments by TE Jacob Gerber (10/7/22)
Of Doctrinal Standards & Good Faith Subscription by TE Geoff Gleason (10/24/22)
10 Questions Every Candidate Should Ask a PCA Search Committee by TE Jared Nelson (9/29/22)
Three Reasons to Adopt PCAGA49’s Overture 15 by TE James Norris (9/8/22)
10 Reasons for the Dearth of Church-Planting in the PCA by TE Jason Dorsey (9/8/22)
Minority Reports, CCB, & the SJC – Part 1 & Part 2 by TE Jacob Gerber (8/11/22, 8/16/22)
What Is A Deacon? by TE Ryan Biese (7/26/22)