Scripture and the Church

The PCA Refuses to Give Biblical Marriage Constitutional Status

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
At its just-concluded 45th General Assembly, the Presbyterian Church in America continued down its long-ago chosen path of spiritual ruin.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

At its just-concluded 45th General Assembly, the Presbyterian Church in America continued down its long-ago chosen path of spiritual ruin.

June 2017 - I once preached at a church that had signs over its exits that read, "You Are Now Entering the Mission Field." Today, such signs belong over the entrances of the Presbyterian Church in America, as a warning to anyone who might come to a PCA church with the mistaken impression that the denomination still believes that the Bible says what it means, and means what it says.

The General Assembly's Actions

The PCA's 45th General Assembly, meeting June 12-16, 2017 in Greensboro, North Carolina, voted down an overture that would have given constitutional (i.e., mandatory) status to Biblical marriage between one man and one woman as the standard of the denomination. It also adopted several recommendations from its Study Committee on Women in Ministry that will further un-Biblically expand the role of women in the government and ministry of the church. The committee, which exercised what can only be called teaching authority, included two women as voting members and a third woman as an advisory member. [1]

The Liberal Agenda

One of the voting members, Kathy Keller, is the wife of Dr. Timothy Keller, the liberal founder of the Redeemer Network of churches in the PCA. Timothy Keller is openly idolized by many within the denomination even though he is a theistic evolutionist, teaches a severely watered-down "gospel", and believes that there may be other ways to Heaven besides Christ. [2]  In her book Jesus, Justice, and Gender Roles: A Case for Gender Roles in Ministry (Zondervan, 2014), Kathy Keller is described as the "co-founder" of the original Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City along with her husband. She is often referred to in PCA circles (and not critically) as "Ms. Keller."

Another voting member, Mary Beth McGreevy, has contributed teaching notes to two study Bibles. She is the wife of Bill McGreevy, former CEO of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from the PCA's Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. (The M.Div. is the pastoral teaching degree that truly Biblical seminaries have always reserved for men only.) McGreevy is an adjunct professor of practical theology at Covenant - in other words, she is a woman already exercising teaching authority over future male pastors. [3]

The liberals who pushed the 2017 General Assembly actions clearly have a long-term agenda to undermine Biblical marriage, feminize the ministry, and open the way to homosexuals as communicant members, leaders, and eventually pastors. They deny such an agenda just as their liberal counterparts in the PCUSA and other apostate denominations did in decades past, but those denials crumble in the face of reality.

Year by year the liberalizers are moving the PCA down the broad path of spiritual ruin at a speed that seemed unimaginable even a few years ago. They openly and proudly organize their efforts by borrowing many "community organizing" tactics from the playbooks of Occupy Wall Street, the Human Rights Campaign (a major homosexual advocacy group), and other groups promoting ungodly agendas in the secular realm. [4]

Complementarianism: Undermining Biblical Authority

It is also noteworthy that the PCA's liberalizing position on the role of women in ministry has its roots in a so-called "complementarian" agenda which undermines Biblical male authority while un-Biblically elevating female spiritual authority. Complementarianism finds its so-called theological support in Dr. Wayne Grudem's heretical, blasphemous teachings on the Trinity.

Dr. Grudem was formerly a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and more recently at Phoenix Seminary. He was also one of the founders of the ironically-named Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Dr. Grudem has strong charismatic leanings. Like many others in charismatic circles, he teaches serious error about the Trinity:

Just as the Father has authority over the Son in the Trinity, so the husband has authority over the wife in marriage. The husband's role is parallel to God the Father and the wife's role is parallel to that of God the Son. Moreover, just as Father and Son are equal in deity and importance and personhood, so the husband and wife are equal in humanity and importance and personhood.

And, although it is not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, the gift of children within marriage, coming from both the father and the mother, and subject to the authority of both father and mother is analogous to the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Father and Son in the Trinity. [5]

This is heresy. This is Scripture-twisting. Grudem says that within the Trinity the role of God the Father is that of a husband, the role of God the Son is that of a wife, and the role of God the Holy Spirit is that of a child of the two. I almost hesitate to write the words because they are so blasphemous.

We find the Biblical model for marriage and the family not in the relationships of the Trinity, but in the relationship of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Church that is set forth for us in Ephesians 5:22-33 -

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Contrary to this clear statement of Scripture, the foundational falsehood of complementarianism portrays God the Father as the father-figure, God the Son as the mother-figure, and God the Holy Spirit as the child-figure. It feminizes at least one Person of the Godhead. But this heresy is now openly advocated within the PCA, and its Study Committee on Women in Ministry claims complementarianism as a core principle of the PCA as a denomination, and of the thinking underlying the committee's work.

Within this framework of our common and principled commitment to complementarianism as defined by our confessional standards and polity, the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America approved the formation of a study committee on the issue of women serving in the church's ministry in ways that are consistent with those standards. The General Assembly directed the moderator to appoint a committee of competent men and women who represent the diversity of opinions within the PCA. [6]

More Apostasy, More Lines in the Sand

Five years ago we published an article titled The PCA's Apostasy: No More Lines in the Sand. It recounted the PCA's spiritual decline up to that point and predicted what has now happened. It took no gift of prophecy to see the PCA's sad spiritual trajectory. Its position in 2017 is the natural outworking of the denomination's previous abandonments of Biblical truth over the past fifteen years. In all of these things, the PCA is simply repeating the patterns of apostasy that we find both in Scripture and in subsequent church history; the PCA's denominational sins are producing the same evil fruits. Those who refuse to learn from the visible church's past sins against Christ and His Word are doomed to repeat them.

Sadly, there was no effective opposition to the liberalizers at the 45th General Assembly. A few so-called conservatives stepped back yet again from the latest liberal advances, drew yet another line in the sand, and declared that they will remain within this apostate body until some further but undefined apostasy takes place. There were no voices publicly calling upon those who still claim to stand upon Scripture alone to come out and be separate, recognizing the life-and-death distinctions that are set before God's people in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 beginning at verse 14 -

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.

As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people."

Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you."

"I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

May the Lord by His grace preserve His remnant in standing separate from these evils, wherever they manifest themselves. We must be willing to stand with our Lord - where He stands:

Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. (Hebrews 13:13)


1. Report of the Ad Interim Committee on Women Serving in the Ministry of the Church to the Forty-Fifth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America,, page 2401, lines 23-25.

2. See our series of articles beginning with Tim Keller: Dangerously Influential at

3. See and

4. National Partnership Prepares for PCA General Assembly, 4/17/2017,

5. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994), page 257.

6. Report of the Ad Interim Committee, page 2401, lines 23-28.


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