In light of the determination of the 41st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) to refer back to the Ad Interim Study Committee the matter of the Insider Movement without action to adopt the excellent, well thought out study report, and while many decisions of PCA churches have been placed on hold pending this report and action of the General Assembly, looking to the General Assembly and Mission to the World to lead us in this issue; and
Having received requests for assistance for understanding and guidance from a number of congregations in the (PCA) and from others outside of the PCA concerning the Insider Movement in general and its theology and philosophy of ministry in particular as it relates to discipleship and evangelism among the people of the religions of the world; and
Realizing that certain aspects of the Insider Movement have fostered an apostate Christology by presenting Jesus Christ as something less than the eternal Son of God and have encouraged Muslims who have professed conversion to Christ to retain their religious identity thereby becoming “secret believers or followers of Jesus” which results in producing professing converts framed more by their existing cultural/religious surroundings than the inerrant Word of God; and
Because Islam as well as all other religions of this world are inventions of man to save himself by his religious endeavors and realizing the absolute necessity to reject and repent of these delusional religions which not only are inadequate to save men and women from their sins and be made right with God but are also blasphemous and deceptive in their false promises and assurances; therefore
the Session of the Briarwood Presbyterian Church does accept the majority study report of the Ad Interim Study Committee as a well thought-out theological, exegetical, and practical resource of use by PCA churches and members; and furthermore to respond with assistance to those who have requested are would desire assistance in the future both within and without the PCA; the Briarwood Session summarizes the analysis, teaching and recommendations found in the Report with the following statements:
All religious spiritual belief systems other than Christianity are ultimately and definitively false as well as deceptive and therefore of no value as it relates to forgiveness of sin and salvation from the lost-fallen estate of mankind. While recognizing that in God’s common grace there may be technically accurate statements within any religion there is no ultimate redeeming value within the religion. Therefore these systems do not need to be reformed, but forsaken; and all followers within these religions must repent and forsake them and must put their faith in the substitutionary redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Son of Man ALONE to be saved from both the guilt and power of sin; and
People who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, second member of the Trinitarian Godhead, should continue to live among the people of their former religious belief system as a faithful witness to the truth of the Gospel and the saving-cleansing power of the Lord Jesus Christ, resolved in humble reliance upon God’s grace not to be conformed to the world in which they live but to be transformed by the renewing of their mind and;
People who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, second member of the Trinitarian Godhead, should not continue to live out non-biblical religious practices, rituals and practices that are a part of their family, community and former religious belief system, such as praying for the dead, animal sacrifice, or pilgrimages for holiness, etc; and
People who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, second member of the Trinitarian Godhead, are permitted to utilize biblical forms and practices even though those forms and practices are a part of their former religious community, such as prayer, alms giving, and assembling with other believers, etc; and
People who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, second member of the Trinitarian Godhead, are expected by men and required by God to live by God’s standards for His people, such as ethics, morality, witness, love, compassion as revealed in His inerrant Word and enabled by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit; and
Bible translations that remove from the text references to God as “Father” or Jesus as “Son”, thereby compromising the Biblically revealed economy and relationships within the Trinity and therefore the divinity of Jesus, the doctrines concerning the person and work of Christ, and the doctrine of Scripture, are unfaithful to God’s revealed Word.
Based upon the work that the Global Ministry Team at Briarwood has done, Briarwood would offer these practical suggestions as well as cautions to local PCA Church Mission Committees as they evaluate their present ministry involvements and as they move forward we would share the following observations:
- We found it necessary to make a clear distinction between the philosophical, methodological, and theological position of field personnel who are doing the work of ministry and the philosophical, methodological, and theological policies of the organization under which they serve.
- It was discovered that in some circumstances it was either the official position of the organization which was incompatible with our position and at other times it was the actions of the field personnel that was unacceptable.
- We came to the position that supporting the ministry being done by personnel who had no Insider tendencies, if they serve under an organization that encourages or permits such tendencies, still put us in the position of supporting “Insider” philosophy, methodology and theology, or being identified with and endorsing such unacceptable philosophy and theology.
- We asked to see the organization’s official statement on the contextualization of the Gospel. If there was not a written statement, we urged them to put in write the principles by which ministry were being done.
- Then we evaluated the official position statement of each organization against the statement / position of Briarwood.
- We asked the heads of all the organizations, under which we supported ministry, if any of their field personnel functioned in ministry among peoples of other religions at a C-5 level on the contextualization scale or beyond.
- We asked how personnel was handled who functioned in ministry outside the official position statement of the organization.
- The hard decision was made to suspend all financial support to all ministry personnel serving under any organization with an unacceptable position statement, a statement incompatible with the Briarwood position.
- We gave a full explanation to each organization involved, seeking to be very clear as to what issues within their official statements was unacceptable; and we offered alternative wording to improve the statements and to make their statements theological biblical.
- In some instances official changes were made, Praise the Lord, and we were able to re-engage in ministry partnership with the reinstatement of support; however, in some instances no changes were made and we disassociated ourselves and discontinued support completely and in some cases wording was changed but practice remained in violation of the Briarwood position statement.
This has been a health, ministry-strengthening, painful process. But we have a better understanding of the Word of God as well as God’s purposes and plans for world evangelization.
The Session of the Briarwood would gladly make available the work of our Global Ministry Team and provide any assistance to whoever might request it.