Despite a dwindling membership, a $2.2 million deficit, a proposed new confession, and the annual discussion on Presbyterian union, last month’s 115th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. (Southern), held in Charlotte, North Carolina, was characterized by long-time observers as a “caretaker” assembly.
The 411 commissioners (delegates) of the 900,000-member denomination heard progress reports about the proposed new confession. Because of a flood of suggestions from individuals and congregations the committee did not finish writing the confession in time for this year’s assembly. It will be ready this fall and should come up for a vote at next June’s General Assembly, scheduled to be held at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The committee told delegates that some changes of wording were being made in an early draft. For example, the section dealing with the Virgin Birth, which some conservatives thought denied that doctrine, will include the traditional words “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of Mary the Virgin.” But other language that disturbed conservatives—“He came as a child born of woman as is every child”—remains. Some also complained that Christ is nowhere spoken of as Saviour, and a statement describing him as the “Saviour who died in our place” will be inserted. However, the committee refused to change the assertion “His knowledge was limited by his time and place in history.” To deny that, the committee argued, is to deny Christ’s humanity.
Final decision on the proposed plan of union with the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. (UPCUSA) has been postponed until 1977. The PCUS first wants to decide the confessional issue. Resolutions to pull out of union discussions were soundly ...1
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