“In life and in death we belong to God. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Sprit, we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel, whom alone we worship and serve.”
– Opening of A Brief Statement of Faith, PC(USA) Book of Confessions
Explicitly or implicitly, all of the creeds and confessions in the PC(USA) Book of Confessions confess the doctrine of the Trinity. Yet concerns exist that in practice the PC(USA) does not hold firm to this doctrine.
One of the places this allegation stems is a from a paper titled “The Trinity: God’s Love Overflowing” that was received by the 217th General Assembly in 2006. The General Assembly declined to approve it. Even though the definition of the Trinity is scrupulously orthodox there was unease with some of the paper’s discussion of language. The paper is not the policy of the denomination.
Jack Haberer, past editor of The Presbyterian Outlook, addresses this paper in the brief video below.
The controversial Re-Imagining conference held in 1993 is often cited as a second example of PC(USA) theology that is dismissive of traditional Trinitarian language and conceptions of God.
There is no question the conference went beyond the boundaries of Reformed theology, however, the conference did not represent the theology of the PC(USA), officially, or even in practice, by any significant number of members in the denomination. Less than 1/10 of 1% of the denomination was in attendance. Furthermore, it would not be fair to assume everyone who attended supported all of the theology presented.
One of the co-planners of the conference was the director of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Women’s Ministry Unit, and the PC(USA) did contribute $66,000, but this was not a PC(USA) conference. This was an interfaith, Christian feminist conference sponsored by three Minnesota councils of churches and the Twin Cities Metropolitan Church Commission. A reported 2,200 people were in attendance, many of them from the PC(USA), but there were 40 Christian denominations, 49 states, and 27 countries represented.
The conference was repudiated by the denomination. The director of the Women’s Ministry Unit of the PC(USA) was forced from her job, and the following General Assembly in 2004 officially said, in a ten-page statement, that the controversial event went “beyond the boundaries” of Reformed theology.
Today there is still a small minority in the denomination who continue to re-imagine and advocate for a theology which the denomination as a whole would consider outside the boundaries but this gives us no reason to believe the PC(USA) is in any way, shape, or form changing its doctrine of the Trinity.
Unfortunately there are people for whom the traditional male gender language for God has become a roadblock to hearing the Gospel. Certainly there are boundaries we should not cross, but faithfully re-imagining traditional language for God, to reach these unreached, is a missional task we should not be afraid to embrace.
The PC(USA) stands strong in the Reformed Tradition’s understanding of the Trinity.
Let’s #StayPCUSA together.