133. ORDER OF DAY (Appeal 2, cf. §85). The order of having
arrived the Moderator called for the hearing of Appeal 2.
134. APPEALS AND COMPLAINTS (Appeal 2). Mr. Strange reported for the Committee on Appeals and Complaints that the Committee defers to the Procedural Recommendation of Advisory Committee 10.
135. PROCEDURAL ACTION (Appeal 2, See §138). Mr. O'Leary presented the Report of Advisory Committee 10 regarding the procedure for dealing with Appeal 2. The procedural recommendation of Advisory Committee 10 was adopted.
136. APPEALS AND COMPLAINTS (Appeal 2). Mr. Strange reported for the Committee on Appeals and Complaints (p. ) regarding Appeal 2.
137. JUDICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT. The Moderator read BD IV.l.a reminding the Assembly of their solemn duty as the Assembly hears Appeal 2. The Moderator led in prayer.
138. ADVISORY COMMITTEE 10 (Appeal 2, Procedural). Mr. Jones reported for Advisory Committee 10 regarding Appeal 2 as follows:
A. Advisory Committee 10 met with the appellant, Dr. Gray; his counsel, Mr. Felch- two members of the committee of five of the Presbytery of the Midwest (Messrs. Clawson and Stazen); and Dr. Knight.
B. Without dissent, Advisory Committee 10 thanks the appellant for the careful precision with which this appeal has been presented to the Assembly, speaking directly to the issue, and refusing to entangle the case with possible technical judicial issues.
C. Without dissent, Advisory y Committee 10 concurs with, and emphatically emphasizes the following paragraph culled from the report of the committee of five by the Committee on Appeals and Complaints III.B.X):
In the committee report...the following important observations are made: "The purpose of the committee was narrowly defined by the motion of presbytery. Furthermore, in carrying out the presbytery's mandate and in studying Dr. Gray's writings, the committee has drawn up charges that are very specific and narrowly focused. Broader issues such as the age of the earth, evolution of animals in general, the 'days' of Genesis, etc., are not in view. Members of presbytery [the Assembly should resist the temptation to make the recommendations of this report an occasion to argue issues that are not in view." The report also states that "Dr. Gray's character and life are not in question" and that he "has been very cooperative in presenting his views." The report further states that Dr. Gray affirms certain key doctrines, viz. "the historicity of Adam and his special creation by God in his image. He affirms the covenant structure of the two Adams, the inspiration, authority, infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture."
D. Advisory Committee 10 concurs with the recommendation of the Committee on Appeals and Complaints regarding Appeal #2.
II. PROCEDURAL RECOMMENDATION
That the appeal be considered as follows:
1. Presentation of the report of the Standing Committee on Appeals and Complaints (for up to IS minutes).
2. Presentation of the report of Advisory Committee 10 (for up to 10 minutes).
3. Presentation of the report of the minority of Advisory Committee 10 (for up to 10 minutes).
4. Questions about and discussion on all reports only on portions not related to a recommendation (for up to 15 minutes).
5. Debate and action on the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Appeals and Complaints that the appeal be found in order and properly before the Assembly.
6. Placing before the Assembly the single question "Shall the Specifications of Error be sustained?"
7. Presentations by the appellant and then the representative(s) of the Presbytery of the Midwest (for up to 45 minutes each side).
8. Questions of clarification concerning the presentations of the appellant and the Presbytery and their printed material, and concerning the position material of Advisory Committee 10 and its minority (for up to 45 minutes).
9. Focused debate on the single question "Shall the Specifications of Error be sustained?"
10. When the Assembly is ready to vote, the representative(s) of the Presbytery of the Midwest and then the appellant shall be given up to ten minutes for summation.
11. Voting immediately following the summations, and without debate.
That specifications of error number one and number two be denied, thereby upholding the verdict and censure against Dr. Gray.
A. Regarding ground "a" of Dr. Gray's appealDr. Gray's view of what constitutes a chargeable offense is open to the following objections:
1. In 1978, the GA rejected a proposed amendment to the Book of Discipline that would have limited jurisdiction over officers in doctrinal offenses to those that are derived from the Westminster Standards. The proposed amendment stated:
"In doctrine, judicial accountability for an ordained officer of the church is limited to the Confession of Faith and Catechisms as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures, which confessional standards are the legal standards of orthodoxy...."
The Assembly determined on amended motion that it:
"...expressed its dissatisfaction with the 'Proposed Chapter I:2' [partially quoted above] in the report of the New Committee on Revisions to the Book of Discipline and Directory for Public Worship and urged the committee to retain the definition of offense in the present Book of Discipline, I...what is 'in the doctrine or practice of a member of the church which is contrary to the Word of God'] and further urged the committee to develop a formulation that will better express the place of our secondary standards in discipline." (page 133)
The subsequent formula which came to be part of the BD does not explicitly address or limit jurisdiction or chargeable offenses to doctrines of the Westminster Standards. To state that the current formula limits judicial accountability as BD III.7.b (as the formula is now being interpreted) is to revert to a view rejected in 1978.
2. The appellant's interpretation of BD III.7.b contradicts WCF I: 10: "the supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined...can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture."
3. BD IV. l.c allows Scripture (or the standards) to be used as a defense. To disqualify Scripture as a sufficient basis for a charge is to make the subordinate standards a bill of rights for false teachings that seem to fall outside their scope. Confessions have historically had the function of excluding error rather than setting rules of toleration.
4. WLC 17 explicitly refers to the "body" of Adam and the "dust of the ground."
5. Regarding observation 2, appendix 1: The wording of the Larger Catechism concerning Adam's creation from dust mixes biblical terms with technical terms in a way suggesting that the term "dust" was deemed self-evident in meaning. Dr. Gray contends that he affirms WLC 17:
I take dust to be a non-technical term to refer to the physical-chemical constituency of the human body i.e. man's body is made of the same sorts of chemicals and molecules that the earth is made. (appendix 1)
The question which must be asked is whether one is free to take the dust of Genesis 2:7 and the WLC in this indirect and chemically restricted manner. It is clear that Dr. Gray does not believe or teach that God made Adam's body directly from lifeless dust, which is the ordinary common sense meaning of the WLC and Genesis 2:7. Significant theologians of the period when the WLC was drafted held lo an ordinary meaning of dust (Ussher, "very dust"; Ames, "elemental"; Wolleb, "unsuitable material"). No evidence has been shown to suggest that there was purposeful ambiguity in the formulation of the WLC. If chemistry is the only concern in the term "dust," then the curse of death--as a return to dust--is nonsensical. Dr. Gray equivocates by treating the dust of Genesis 2:7 as living (a distinct living organism). He then treats the dust of Genesis 3: 19 as dead (i.e. a distinct organism which once lived). If Dr. Gray does not equivocate at this point, he must deny the curse of death because of sin--a manifest violation of the Westminster standards.
B. Regarding ground "b"--It is not clear that there are no theological implications in Dr. Gray's view. Note A.5 above. Also there are serious concerns raised by Dr. Gray's view as to the hermeneutical influence of his scientific views, despite his sincere conviction that he is merely revisiting the text. The WCF makes clear that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.
Dr. Gray acknowledges that Genesis 2:7 may be plausibly interpreted as teaching that God created Adam from lifeless dust rather than a pre-existent life. Indeed, the exegesis of Murray, which Dr. Gray draws attention to, is more plausible than the view of Dr. Gray. Treating the dust of Genesis 2:7 in a manner that allows for it to be pre-existent life entails special pleading which lacks demonstrable justification. Other texts suggest that the material of Adam's body was lifeless and distinct from the animals.
C. Regarding ground "c"--Several texts have been considered as militating against Dr. Gray's view. The AC draws special attention to the following:
1. God formed Adam's body by taking the dust from the ground. This was the same stuff that he was to till (3:23) and to return to after death (3: 19).
2. The resurrection passage of I Corinthians 15:39 makes the contrast between animals and man by explicitly stating, "All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, another of fish" (see parallel in Gen. 1:25). Each "species" is made its own kind", i.e. is a "different flesh."
D. Regarding ground "d."--That the view of the accused is nearly identical to those discussed by Warfield and Machen is irrelevant. These theologians may have tolerated such a view, but their limits of toleration are not binding on the church.
E. Regarding ground "e."--From the above considerations, it cannot be said that Scripture and the subordinate standards leave the matter of Dr. Gray's view as a matter of liberty.
The AC draws special attention to the two appendices (1) chargeable offenses (see Appendix 1, p. ), and (2) the catechism and dust (in regard to ground "a"; see Appendix 2, p. ). We further draw attention to the five page paper of Dr. Greg Bahnsen in the "Friends of the Presbytery" documents.
139. RECESS. The Assembly recessed at 10:01 a.m. and reconvened at 10:21 a.m. with the singing of Thy God Reigneth! and with prayer led by the Moderator.
140. ADVISORY COMMITTEE 10 (Appeal 2, Cont.). Mr. Jones continued the report of Advisory Committee 10 regarding Appeal 2.
141. MINORITY OF ADVISORY COMMITTEE 10 (Appeal 2). Mr. Gibbons reported for Advisory Committee 10 regarding Appeal 2 as follows:
Esteemed fathers and brothers:
Dr. Terry Gray stands before us as a brother who confesses with us that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. And by His sovereign and almighty power and according to his infinite wisdom gave the earth form and brought forth from it every living creature, plants and animals, everything that lives in the sea, flies in the air and crawls on the ground. Terry Gray believes and affirms that:
. . . God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
He believes what God said:
"Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (Genesis 1:26)
When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens--and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground-- the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:4-7
Terry Gray believes that:
. . . the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep- and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:21-22)
Dr. Terry Gray when ordained and installed as a ruling elder and to this day enthusiastically confesses and affirms that He sincerely receives and adopts the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures. [Form of Government XXV, 6, b, (2) ]
Nevertheless, despite his affirmations, he has been charged, tried, found guilty and a censure of indefinite suspension [from the office of elder] has been proposed. The charge reads as follows:
We charge that Dr. Terry Gray has committed the public offense of stating that Adam had primate ancestors, contrary to the Word of God (Genesis 2:7, 1:26, 27) and the doctrinal standards of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (WCF IV.2, WLC 17).
This charge with its specifications has been appealed by Dr. Terry Gray. That appeal is before you.
This charge hangs on Dr. Gray's interpretation of Genesis 2:7 and the particular phrase, ". . . the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground . . ." Dr. Gray does not deny but rather affirms that Adam's body was formed from the dust of the ground by the special creative act of God. The question is not whether the "dust of the ground" was the material from which the body of Adam was formed but which process was used to form the body of man.; Dr. Gray does not believe that the process by which the "dust of the ground" became the body of Adam is set forth by this text or any other.
That both specifications of error be sustained and Dr. Gray's appeal be granted. Grounds:
1. (Book of Discipline III,7,b) The judicatory, or the committee, shall consider (1) the form of the charge; (2) the form and relevancy of the specifications; (3) the competency of the witnesses named in the specifications; (4) the apparent authenticity, admissibility, and relevancy of any
documents, records, and recordings adduced in support of the charge and specifications; (5) whether the specifications, if true, would support the charge; and (6) also, whether the charge, if proved true, would constitute an offense serious enough to warrant a trial. (7) It shall also prepare a statement of the facts of the case, arranged by date in the form of a chronology.
Does the charge against Dr. Terry Gray warrant a trial? It certainly does warrant discussion and debate. But does it warrant a trial? The BD defines that which warrants a trial. It clearly says that to warrant a trial, in his case as an officer in the church two things need to be true. (1) a clear and proven violation of the doctrinal standards of the OPC, and (2) an offense serious enough to warrant a trial.
Ultimately the Scripture sets the boundary for our liberty. But with regard to the narrow question of what warrants a trial in the OPC; it is the doctrinal standards that set the boundaries (the legal standards of orthodoxy) for what warrants a trial.
The doctrinal standards are not perfect but they do set boundaries. We must not forget that they can be changed if found to be necessary. The boundary can be narrowed or broadened by the church in a regulated way but the church may not arbitrarily change the boundaries as it sees fit by a simple vote. To forget the rules in order to avoid the slippery slope to modern relativism and to prevent the spread of a perceived error to other issues and other individuals is not a reason given by the BD to warrant a trial. The end may seem to be a noble one, but it is still true that the ends never justify the means. The fundamental question before the church in this appeal is one of liberty and freedom; maybe even the freedom in some things to be wrong.
2. The Duff, Gaffin and Peterson letter, dated July 16, 1994, sent to the Session of Harvest Orthodox Presbyterian Church. (See copy)
3. None of the possible or projected theological implications of the view of the accused are held by Dr. Gray. He can be held accountable only for the views he actually holds and no other.
4. The Warfield citation (Agenda, pp. 80-82) at the very least shows that Dr. Gray's view of Genesis 2:7 was not held to be contrary to the doctrinal standards of the church.
Roger L. Gibbons, David J. O'Leary, Stephen L. Phillips
142. APPEAL 2 IN ORDER. On motion Appeal 2 was found in order and properly before the Assembly.
143. APPELLANT PRESENTATION (Appeal 2). Mr. Felch, counsel for Dr. Gray, presented the defense for Appeal 2. Dr. Gray addressed the Assembly.
144. PRESBYTERY PRESENTATION (Appeal 2). Mr. Stazen, on behalf of the Presbytery of the Midwest, represented the Presbytery on Appeal 2.
145. DEVOTIONAL. The order of the day having arrived at 11:55 a.m., Mr. Keller led the devotional service with the singing of You Jesus Are My Resting Place. He led in prayer, read Acts 5:17-33, and delivered a message entitled, "We Must Obey God." The Assembly sang The Son of God Goes Forth to War. The Assembly recessed at 12:20 p.m. following prayer led by Mr. Keller.
Wednesday Afternoon, June 12, 1996
146. RECONVENE. The Assembly reconvened at 1:15 p.m. with the singing of We Come, O Christ to You and with prayer led by Mr. Ayres.
147. PRESBYTERY PRESENTATION (Appeal 2). Mr. Clawson, on behalf of the Presbytery of the Midwest, continued the representation of the Presbytery on Appeal 2.
148. QUESTIONS OF CLARIFICATION (Appeal 2). The Assembly had a time of questions for clarification concerning the presentations of the appellant and the Presbytery and their printed materials.
149. RECESS. The Assembly recessed at 3:15 p.m. and reconvened at 3:40 p.m. with the singing of Now Blessed Be the Lord Our God.
150. RECOMMENDATION ACTION (Appeal 2). The Moderator placed before the Assembly the following question: "Shall the Specifications of Error be sustained?"
151. RECESS. The Assembly recessed at 5:59 p.m. and Mr. LaBriola led in prayer.
Wednesday Evening, June 12, 1996
152. RECONVENE. The Assembly reconvened at 1:16 p.m. with the singing of Who Is on the Lord's Side? and Mr. House led in prayer.
153. DATE, PLACE, AND TRAVEL. Mr. Watson reported for the Committee on Date, Place, and Travel as follows:
13. That Messrs. Vroegindewey and Julien be excused without loss of travel compensation from the morning session of Thursday, June 13, in order to enable them to maintain previously arranged flight reservations.
154. RECOMMENDATION ACTION (Date, Place, and Travel). The recommendation of the Committee on Date, Place, and Travel was adopted.
155. RECOMMENDATION ACTION (Appeal 2, Cont.). The Assembly continued consideration of the following question: "Shall the Specifications of Error be sustained?"
156. THREE MINUTE SPEECHES. On motion speeches were limited to three minutes for the remainder of the debate on Appeal 2.
157. PRESBYTERY SUMMATION (Appeal 2). Messrs. Clawson, on behalf of the Presbytery of the Midwest, presented the summation for Presbytery on Appeal 2.
158. APPELLANT SUMMATION (Appeal 2). Mr. Felch, counsel for Dr.. Gray, presented the summation for the defense for Appeal 2. Dr. Gray addressed the Assembly.
159. RECOMMENDATION ACTION (Appeal 2). Mr. Strange offered prayer. The Moderator put the following question to the Assembly: "Shall the Specifications of Error be sustained?" The Specifications of Error in Appeal 2 were not sustained.
At their requests the following affirmative votes were recorded: Cottenden, Duff, Georgian, Gibbons, Knudsen, Laurie, Peterson.
188. PROTEST #1 (Appeal 2, Cf. §159). Mr. Duff prcsented a protest which was as
The undersigned respectfully protest the action of the Assembly in failing to sustain the specifications of error in the appeal of the trial of Dr. Terry Gray and thereby failing to sustain his appeal.
The arguments used by the majority of the Advisory Comminee to make the Scripture "a sufficient basis for a charge" fails to take into account how the subordinate doctrinal standards (the legal standard of orthodoxy) are to operate in BD III.7.b in setting the boundaries for what warrants a trial. Those standards do not set the boundaries for all that is true (only the Bible does that) but they do set the boundaries of what the church will find sufficient to make a fuss about, in this case a trial. At the same time those standards protect those who may hold different, even to some erroneous views, as long as they fall within the boundaries. One of the things forgotten by most is that the standards can be changed should they be found to be defective and lack that which should be included in the legal standard. On the other hand we may not require more than the standards do by a majority vote of any assembly. In some 45 speeches given in the debate a few speakers, to their credit, made an effort to show how the subordinate standards might be understood to rule out Dr. Gray's view. To the extent to which the assembly failed to show this to be the case (which I believe it did) and to the extent it followed the methods set forth by the majority of the Advisory Committee, the Assembly failed to grant to Dr. Gray the protection from prosecution he should expect and set a very dangerous even frightening course for the future.
(Signers) Donald J. Duff, Roger L. Gibbons, Jack J. Peterson, A. M. Laurie, Theodore J. Georgian, William I. Crawford, Jr., Stephen L. Phillips, Douglas A. Felch