Dr. Pipa Proposed a Resolution
Designed to Bring Healing to the Church
Louisville, Kentucky (June 17, 1999)-The 27th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) today adopted a statement on the doctrine of creation. The ten-point document does not directly address the length of the "days" of Genesis 1, but does take a firm stance on other matters, such as evolution.
As adopted by the court, the statement says that "Genesis 1 and 2 are a historic, self-consistent, and true account of God's creation of the universe and of mankind in six days"; that "Genesis 1 and 2 do not represent a mythical account of creation without reality in space and time"; that "Genesis 1 and 2 represent one unified account of creation and not two accounts that are inconsistent with each other"; that "God made all things directly by His command . . ."; that "the eight fiat acts of creation in Genesis 1 were discrete, supernatural acts, and describe the creation of all kinds"; that "those things created by these acts were brought into existence instantaneously and perfectly"; that "God made Adam immediately from the dust of the ground and not from a lower animal form and that God's in-breathing constituted man a living soul, in the image of God"; that "God made Eve directly from Adam"; that "the entire human race, with the exception of our Lord Jesus Christ, descended from Adam and Eve by ordinary generation"; and that "each of the kinds resulted from separate creative acts, and that any genetic development is only within these kinds, thus denying macroevolution."
The action came in response to a personal resolution introduced the first night of the Assembly by the Rev. Dr. Joseph Pipa, President of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (GPTS). Located in Taylors, S. C., GPTS hosted a Creation Conference in March, 1999, which featured speakers from a variety of viewpoints. Out of that conference came a book, Did God Create in Six Days?, just released by the Seminary.
Dr. Pipa stated that he introduced his resolution in order to try to bring healing to the denomination. Over the last few years, PCA presbyteries and General Assemblies have been wrestling with the meaning of Genesis 1-3, and where and how to draw lines in order to prevent liberal views from infecting the church. The 1998 Assembly appointed an Advisory Committee on Creation, charged with studying "the exegetical, hermeneutical, and theological interpretations of Genesis 1-3 and the original intent of the Westminster standards' phrase 'in the space of six days.'" That ad interim committee did not complete its work, and was granted another year to present its report.
In arguing for his resolution to be accepted and sent to the Bills & Overtures (B&O) Committee, Dr. Pipa said that the issues he had raised needed to be addressed this year. The Assembly agreed to send the resolution to the B&O Committee, rather than the Creation Study Committee (CSC). President Pipa also stated that he did not view his resolution as being in competition with the work of the CSC.
In point of fact, the B&O Committee heard from both Dr. Pipa and members of the CSC, who affirmed that they did not view the resolution as being a threat to their work. Indeed, the Rev. Mr. Mark Rowden, chairman of the B&O Committee, said that two CSC members who appeared before his Committee, assured the men that adoption of some such statement would assist the CSC in its labors. The B&O Committee urged adoption of the statement.
However, there was not nearly the same unanimity on the floor of the Assembly. The Rev. Mr. Frank Van Landigham of Montrose, Colo., objected to the language of "instantaneous" to describe the creation acts of Genesis. And the Rev. Mr. Bill Smith, pastor of First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, Pa., and a member of the CSC, also objected strongly to certain points in the document. Efforts to remove that terminology failed, but not overwhelmingly-probably about one-third of the Assembly voted against the language.