An Overview of the PCA Report

By James C. Rakestraw, PE, CFM

The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) Report  on creation is an outstanding document.   The PCA Report is a great place for a student to begin a serious study of the doctrine of creation. Four significant elements of the PCA Report are: process, scholarship, format and vision.

Process – The process of producing the PCA Report demonstrates a model Christians to utilize when discussing creation. A creation study committee worked over a period of two years to produce the PCA Report. The committee represented all accepted views of creation found in the PCA. These views included the Calendar-Day Interpretation, Day-Age Interpretation, Framework Interpretation, and the Analogical Days Interpretation. The committee was able to work together to establish a timeline of the creation discussion, document the views of past Christian leaders, and develop definitions.

There were significant differences on the committee as to the nature and duration of the creation days. Proponents of each view were permitted to present their view with its perceived strengths and weaknesses. Another significant area of difference was as to intent of the wording “…in the space of six days…” This wording is found in Chapter 4, “Of Creation” in the Westminster Confession of Faith.”

A testimony to the commitment to the values of respect, order, temperance, and process is contained in the introduction of the PCA Report as follows:

“The Committee has been unable to come to unanimity over the nature and duration of the creation days.  Nevertheless, our goal has been to enhance the unity, integrity, faithfulness and proclamation of the Church.  Therefore we are presenting a unanimous report with the understanding that the members hold to different exegetical viewpoints.  As to the rest we are at one.”

Some who hold to the Calendar-Day Interpretation of creation may be discouraged by the fact that other views of creation are presented in the PCA Report. However, this diversity of views reflects the reality of the PCA and the reality of the evangelical church in general. Those on the committee who hold the Calendar-Day Interpretation did an outstanding job in presenting this interpretation on the “level playing field” provided by the PCA Report.

Scholarship – The scholarship of the PCA Report demonstrates a model for researching the creation discussion. The PCA Report has contributed to a reliable historical time line of the creation discussion. Timelines are a basic yet critical element of the self-directed study of any subject. From the time line, the contributors to the discussion are identified, and definitions are established. The section on definitions is useful for developing a vocabulary of creation related terms. The timeline, history, and definitions contained in the PCA Report are reliable due to the fact that they were developed by consensus.

Format – The format of the PCA Report is very helpful to students; it demonstrates how to teach a controversy.  Points of view were presented by their proponents. The diversity of accepted views within the PCA allows students to consider different views of creation. It also helps students realize that Christians can have differing opinions on significant issues. The PCA Report format may be described as “teach the controversy” rather than an advocacy of any one particular view. The students of the PCA Report are encouraged to form their own convictions.

Vision – The vision of the PCA Report is for all to study creation. Creation is an important element of our common faith and from creation narrative come many important doctrines. The invitation of the PCA Report is invitation is expressed as follows:

“That the Creation Study Committee’s report, in its entirety, be distributed to all sessions and presbyteries of the PCA and made available for others who wish to study it. “

In Conclusion – The PCA Report deserves to be distributed and utilized to widest extent possible. The PCA Report is will be useful for homeschoolers, Christian schools, Sunday school classes, church officer training. The PCA Report should be used in seminaries and in Christian colleges.  The PCA Report should be a foundation stone for a self-directed study of creation.