Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chapell on Good-Faith Subscription

When a candidate for gospel ministry is examined on the floor of presbytery, Bryan Chapell argues,
"... he should in good faith declare his lack of accord with any proposition in our Confessional standards.... A presbytery should exercise its right to determine its membership by judging whether any declared difference with our standards is an exception, and whether the presbytery will allow or in any way limit the teaching of that exception" (Perspective on the Subscription Standards of the Presbyterian Church in America).
"In my heart," he continues later, "this protection of the sacred status of Scripture alone is the core issue, not whether we have a strict- or full-, good-faith- or system-subscription standard."

While I think Chapell makes some good points (especially given the highly-detailed nature of the Westminster Standards), he does seem rather idealistic at the end of his paper where he appeals to the expectation that, as long as we are "entranced with the message of grace" and "enchained to the Spirit's vision," we will love one another enough that our doctrinal difference will increasingly fade away.

First: Is enchained a word? And second: Really?

Is it a realistic expectation that all of the presbyteries in our denomination will suddenly see eye-to-eye once they begin loving one another more? Was that the fault of the many Protestant mainline bodies that are currently ordaining homosexuals to the ministry? Sheesh, if you ask me, maybe they're loving each a little too much.

If strict subscription betrays an over-realized eschatology as was recently alleged, what does that say of Chapell's view?