The Study Committee is recommending the following: 1. That “A Call to Faithful Witness, Part Two: Theology, Gospel Missions, and Insider Movements” serve as a Partial Report (Part Two of Two Parts). And 2. That the 42nd General Assembly make available and recommend for study “A Call to Faithful Witness, Part Two: Theology, Gospel Missions, and Insider Movements” to its presbyteries, sessions, and missions committees.
The Study Committee’s History, Approach, and Product
The 39th General Assembly (June 2011) instructed its moderator, Ruling Elder Dan Carrell, to appoint members to an ad interim study committee, the Study Committee on Insider Movements (SCIM). The 2011 General Assembly instructed the SCIM, among other things, to undertake “an examination of the theological impact of removing familial language for the Trinity from Bible translations” and to provide a biblical assessment of “Insider Movements’ histories, philosophies, and practices.” The SCIM met in December 2011 and recognizing the scope of its task, divided the mandate of Overture 9, “A Call to Faithful Witness,” between matters of biblical translation and issues related to Insider Movements.
It should be noted that the 2011 General Assembly also authorized the SCIM to make “an assessment of PCA missions partners regarding the influence of Insider Movements within them” in a variety of theological categories. The SCIM understands the value of such assessments and presents this Report as its principal contribution to understanding and evaluating Insider Movement (IM) thinking and methodology. Individual evaluation of every PCA mission partner and/or reported Insider Movement around the world exceeds the capacity of this Committee to perform. As a step towards the fulfillment of that assessment, we advise individual churches to use this report as a resource in evaluating relationships with mission partners, for the greater advance of the gospel.
The SCIM has now presented materials at three General Assemblies: the 40th (2012), the 41st (2013), and the 42nd (2014).
1. 40th General Assembly (2012)
Following the appointment of the committee in 2011, the SCIM produced Part One of the SCIM report, “A Call to Faithful Witness: Like Father, Like Son.” Its recommendations were adopted by the 40th General Assembly (June 2012). This report critiqued a group of recent Bible translations that avoided applying the titles “Son of God” and “Father” to persons of the Godhead, and put forth the doctrinal rationale for preserving the historic divine familial terms.
As part of the approved recommendations, the 40th General Assembly granted a year’s extension to the ad interim committee for it to work on Part Two of its Report on Insider Movements.
2. 41st General Assembly (2013)
Part Two of the SCIM report provided a biblical, theological, and confessional analysis of the IM paradigm, including a series of affirmations and denials to apply in contexts around the world. The report included recommendations, including “2. that the42nd General Assembly make available and recommend for study ‘A Call to Faithful Witness, Part Two: Theology, Gospel Missions, and Insider Movements’ to its presbyteries, sessions, and missions committees.” At the same assembly, TE Nabeel Jabbour presented Minority Report 2013, which he claimed was “supplemental” to the Committee Report 2013. Since the committee did not and does not share this opinion of the Minority Report’s compatibility, a lengthy debated ensued over a Minority Report motion to recommend both the Committee Report 2013 and the Minority Report 2013 to churches and presbyteries in the PCA. The debate concluded by a vote to recommit both 12 reports to the SCIM without instruction for delivery of its report(s) at the 42nd General Assembly (2014).
Having studied carefully the floor debate at the 41st General Assembly, having witnessed the confusion about the alleged compatibility of the Minority Report with the Committee Report 2013, and having interacted with numbers of assembly commissioners, the Committee received the clarion call to provide greater accessibility to the key problems within the IM-paradigm and to explain why the paradigms at work within the Committee Reports and the Minority Reports are irreconcilable.
Accordingly, the SCIM determined to provide a selection of resources to the 42nd General Assembly – including an Abridged Committee Report and careful Analyses of Minority Report 2013 and Minority Report 2014, in which we elucidate the Minority Reports’ incompatibility with the Committee Report.
3. 42nd General Assembly 2014
Each component of this 2014 committee report, “Part 2: Theology, Gospel Missions, and Insider Movements,” seeks to foster faithful biblical, theological, and methodological reflection on the issues IM poses. For efficiency reasons, this report also centers on Insider Movement Paradigms (IMPs) in the Muslim world, though IM extends into other people groups as well, including those who are Hindu or Buddhist. Focused in its analysis, this report does not say everything that could be said. Neither is it intended to provide the final word in addressing and analyzing these issues. It does, however, expose critical problems shared by IM-paradigms, none of which should be taken lightly.