I hear you. Though by taking out the rule how does this establish what one is allowed to do.
There may be something a church chooses not (or possibly discontinue) to confess--to say together--by which they do not mean to say that the non-confessed item is "unbiblical." Frankly, if they so thought, it is probably something they ought to counter with an opposite (or at least a new) confession, especially if they did previously confess what they now deem an unbiblical statement.
Let's not oversimplify the issues. Just because the church decides not to specify a commitment on a point doesn't mean they believed they were wrong to do so previously. The criticality of the issue may look very different at another time. None of this is an argument FOR changing the Sabbath doctrine.
If by "apostasy" you mean "leaving Westminster Presbyterianism", I'd prefer the more wordy term to the use of a term usually used to denote being lost from an eternal standpoint.
I may be missing something. How is a revision by taking out the work and recreation clause making a rule? In other words, by changing this they are not saying one is not allowed to follow what scripture says we ought to do.
My (perhaps faulty) understanding of exceptions was that exceptions are to remain "private" if they are to be valid. In other words, ministers who take them ought not to preach or practice them as it would undermine the standards of the church even if they are not against the "system of doctrine". This clearly isn't the case with this issue but I thought it had been with, for instance, the paedocommunion issue a few years back. Am I wrong here? It seems like some in the PCA openly flout the Standards' teaching on the Sabbath rather than using their Christian liberty to avoid scandal on the issue. I've ran into PCA pastors who have, for instance, said without shame that they were attending an NFL game after preaching in the morning. Even if you don't believe in a WCF approach to the Sabbath it would seem that this violates liberty of conscience.
One thing is for certain: if denominations like the PCA, OPC, and others do not take official biblical positions now, I'll give them 50 years to start going the PCUSA route.
The OPC does have an official opinion: it's found in the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the OPC. How many ministers in the OPC do you know who hold a paedo-communionist view? How many churches permit it?
I don't know of any OPC church in which paedo-communion is permitted, not one. Yes, a man with the stature of G.I. Williamson expressed his minority opinion on the matter many years ago, and I personally know one other minister who at one time in the past expressed sympathy for P-C. But both of these men adopted the identical promise NOT to teach their opinion; since they acknowledged it was expressly contradicted by our subordinate standards. I would like to think any church that attempted to permit the practice would face censure from its Presbytery.
I think it is true that both men were already ministers in this church when they adopted the P-C view. I know one presbyter who was thankful the second man told the Presbytery of his new view; it was right to make the brethren aware, and he did not hold any ill-will toward the man. And he also said that he would with some difficulty vote to admit a man (by ordination or transfer) who owned such a deviant view--including the esteemed GIW. I suspect his sentiment would be common.
The test for the OPC is not in having study committees, or what G.A. "does" officially with these reports (which is "receive" them). The Standards are what they are; and we only add to the law of the church with supreme reluctance. Only if absolutely necessary. The Standards have spoken. If they are TESTED by a judicial matter, the strength of the denomination will be revealed. No further or preemptive "positions" will materially help the church maintain its clear stand.
Would an OPC minister get in any sort of trouble for preaching in the morning Lord's Day service and then taking off to see the NFL game at the local stadium for the afternoon?