Latest Reply to Doug Wilson

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SEAGOON

Puritan Board Freshman
This is my latest reply to Wilson on the Wilkins/Louisiana/SJC topic, if someone with post access to Blog and Mablog could post a link to it, I'd appreciate it...


The Case of the Missing Kamikaze Presbyters


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Failing anything really new coming up, this will probably be my last reply to Doug Wilson concerning the procedure being followed by the SJC regarding Louisiana Presbytery’s failure to indict Steve Wilkins. The only reason I’m making these replies in the first place is in an attempt to clarify some of the more serious misconceptions being generated by FV advocates regarding the process. To whatever degree I can do that, I’ll be happy.

I should note though that most of these misconceptions could be addressed simply by reading the SJC decisions themselves at: PCA SJC Decision - Complaint Against Louisiana Presbytery « Reformed Musings and PCA SJC Decision - Central Carolina Memorial « Reformed Musings . Some of the statements in the comments on Wilson’s Blog and Mablog website for instance, make it abundantly clear that some people are criticizing decisions that they haven’t even read. I don’t know whether this is being done on the presumption that because Wilkins and LA Presbyterian are right, anything the SJC wrote cannot possibly be true or whether its because the decisions are so lengthy.

Anyway speaking of length, I apologize in advance for the length of this in advance, but I want to try to do three things:

1 - Answer Doug Wilson’s Latest Complaint “The Case of the Missing Charges”

2 - Show that Doug’s Complaint also fails in that the procedure he is attacking is essentially THE SAME PROCEDURE LA PRESBYTERY AND AUBURN AVENUE PCA HAVE USED IN THE PAST (specifically regarding the John Woods case).

I wish there was some way to put a stop to the serious impugning of the motives and character assassination of the entire SJC, but there’s no way to do that.

[If you don’t have much time and want to read the real pot calling the kettle black stuff, you may skip to point 2 below]


1) I have already indicated that there were two formal attempts made from within LA Presbytery, as far back as October 19,2002 to begin an investigation into the beliefs of Steve Wilkins. Both of these requests were met with considerable hostility on the floor of Presbytery by Steve Wilkins and his supporters, who form the majority in that tiny Presbytery. Additionally, not only were requests received from people within the Presbytery to begin an investigation, but one year prior to sending their memorial to the SJC in 2006 Central Carolina sent a communication to LA Presbytery listing their concerns with the published theological statements of Steve Wilkins and Auburn Avenue PCA and making the following formal request:

“Therefore be it resolved that the Central Carolina Presbytery requests that Louisiana Presbytery begin an official investigation into the teachings of AAPC in order to determine whether charges ought to be brought against her senior pastor (BCO 31-2) and whether any advice ought to be given to the session.”

This was in addition to a letter sent by former friends of Wilkins in the PCA explaining their concerns with his current theology at length and asking that he withdraw from the PCA for the sake of the purity and peace of the church. This is in addition to the times when Wilkins was publicly confronted by men like Joey Pipa in 2003 and told he was in error. The idea circulated by men like Mark Horne, that Wilkins has never been “told to his face” that he was teaching erroneous doctrines is not true, I was at the Auburn Avenue conference in 2003 when that was done. It’s been done both personally and in print many, many, times at this point.

In any event it was only after LA Presbytery issued a report in 2005 exonerating Steve Wilkins, which most felt was a failure to uphold the constitution of the PCA given both the evidence in print and his own answers that CCP unanimously voted to follow up by sending a memorial to the SJC pointing out the serious delinquency on the part of LA Presbytery in this matter.

Now as to why no charges were pressed from within the Presbytery by the men who later complained or dissented against Wilkins exoneration, I cannot answer for them, but I can well understand their decision. The ordinary means of bringing charges against someone for serious doctrinal error is not to draw up specifications and submit charges oneself but per 31-1 and 31-2 for the presbytery, upon receiving a report or a request, to begin an investigation. The majority in the presbytery had already shown its hostility to such requests, and indicated its substantial agreement with TE Wilkins. For someone in the minority to move forward to make a case as a voluntary prosecutor themselves, when their almost assured failure to win the case would have caused them to be censured (note not charged – but censured) as a slanderer of the brethren (per BCO 31-9) would have been extremely foolish. What would have been the point of such a trial in LA Presbytery, when the majority there had already repeatedly indicated they approved of Steve Wilkins theology? This is why I titled the post The Case of the Missing Kamikaze Presbyters; while theoretically possible, any attempt to personally bring charges in would have been irregular and doomed from the start to crash and burn.

This situation is precisely what the review and control safeguards and things like appeals, dissents, complaints, protests, memorials were created for. It is these measures that allow a concerned minority to essentially call for help from the rest of the denomination, or for another Presbytery to call the attention of the higher court to a serious delinquency outside of their jurisdiction. This is exactly what happened.

Ultimately we must remember that Presbyterian polity is not a suicide pact, it is neither right nor safe nor just that 13 men in one presbytery should have the power to protect the teaching and promotion of doctrines that 90% of the denomination deem to be erroneous. This is not a “taking away of anyone’s FREEDOM” as J. Gresham Machen pointed out: “The fact often seems to be forgotten that the Presbyterian Church is a purely voluntary organization; no one is required to enter into its service. If a man cannot accept the belief of the Church, there are other ecclesiastical bodies in which he can find a place. The belief of the Presbyterian Church is plainly set forth in the Confession of Faith, and the Church will never afford any warmth of communion or engage with any real vigor in her work until her ministers are in whole-hearted agreement with that belief." The proper solution to the current situation can never be that the church must tolerate the teaching of what the overwhelming majority deem to be unscriptural and unconfessional merely because they can produce a bare majority of support in a tiny Presbytery. What indeed is the point of staying in a denomination where on any given Sunday, many men in that same denomination are teaching the polar opposite of your beliefs and warning their flocks that what you believe regarding the sacraments and soteriology is heretical. Is that communion?

Look even if you think the error is theirs and not yours, why not follow the advice of given by Steve Wilkins regarding the PCA that since “there is little prospect, humanly speaking, of this troublesome drift away from our standards reversing itself” that it is time for “peaceably withdrawing from the PCA as a presbytery in order that we might continue to serve the Lord in fidelity to His Word” One wonders why he wants to stay in a denomination he dismissed 7 years ago with the following statement: “the denomination is unreformable. There seems to be no concern to interact on the biblical issues by those who oppose the more traditional, reformed positions. We have been working to bring about reform for 23 years and things have only gotten worse.”


2) Speaking of calling a higher court’s attention to a serious delinquency, when TVP failed to investigate and indict John Wood for allowing a woman to preach in the evening service of his church, Louisiana Presbytery, AAPC, and Steve Wilkins did not merely shrug and say “Ah well, that’s their right, we are after all a grass roots denomination, and if TVP doesn’t think its an error, it mustn’t be.”

Instead they went ballistic at what they viewed to be a serious delinquency on the part of that presbytery, speaking on the record regarding this and other “departures” Wilkins himself said that the PCA “has begun tolerating serious doctrinal departures from the truth of Scripture as contained in its constitutional Reformed standards; specifically on the issues of creation, the Apostolic gifts and the role of women in the church, which errors will inevitably lead to others.” Accordingly, LA Presbytery sent a communication to TVP (which is the virtual duplicate of CCPs communication incidently) asking:

“Therefore Be It Resolved that the Louisiana Presbytery urge the Tennessee Valley Presbytery to consider it their duty to uphold BCO 40-4, and NOT "to neglect to perform their duty, by which neglect heretical opinions or corrupt practices may be allowed to gain ground;" we therefore encourage the TVP to act upon this with Biblical and Confessional integrity.”

Later the LA Presbytery made an overture for, you guessed it, the ASSEMBLY TO ASSUME ORIGINAL JURISDICTION AND DIRECT THE SJC TO PROCEED WITH A CASE AGAINST TE WOOD!

Where was the call for only proceeding on the basis of charges from TVP back then? Where the outrage at calls for discipline from outside the presbytery, where the declarations that calls to the SJC to assume original jurisdiction where part of “judicial bum’s rush.” Then it was ok, because “That was them. This is us we’re talking about.”


Finally, I would close by simply pleading with people to actually read the SJC decisions. Any objective reading would indicate that LA Presbytery had sufficient evidence and reason to at least indict Steve Wilkins, let me cite just a few passages showing the sound reasoning behind this:

“In case 2007-8, the Standing Judicial Commission found that the record supported a probable finding that Louisiana Presbytery erred, and thereby violated BCO 13-9.f, 40-4, and 40-5, when it failed to find a strong presumption of guilt that the views of TE Steve TE Wilkins were out of conformity with the Constitutional standards. As such, the SJC continues to conclude that there is a strong presumption that Presbytery has not met its Constitutional responsibilities, and thus has not adequately protected the peace and purity of the Church (see Part I of this opinion). For these reasons the concerns raised by the Memorial from Central Carolina Presbytery continue to be before us.

it must be stressed that what is before the SJC is not allegations against TE Wilkins per se. Rather, what is before the SJC is whether Louisiana Presbytery has dealt adequately and constitutionally with those views. The conclusion of case 2007-8 is that there is a reasonable presumption that Presbytery has not so done

The deep division in LAP over TE Wilkins examination (13 to sustain; 8 to not sustain) reflected the need to refer the matter to the General Assembly.

b. In the examination, TE Wilkins redefined biblical and Confessional terms before giving his assent to the teachings of Scripture and The Westminster Standards. TE Wilkins maintains that the Bible and The Westminster Standards teach differing doctrines.

c. In his examination, TE Wilkins displayed serious variances with The Westminster Standards in the areas of election, perseverance and apostasy, the doctrine of the visible/invisible church, assurance and baptism (ROC 2007-8; p.16).”
 

lwadkins

Puritan Board Junior
I have been following with interest the current case by the SJC of the PCA concerning the Louisiana Presbytery.
Particularly I have been following Pastor Wilson blog (Blog and Mablog). In the post titled " Dead Rat Behind the Fridge" Pastor Wilson makes these comments:

So, where do I get off, intruding myself into this PCA story? There are two layers to my involvement, and hence two answers to the question. One, I was a player already so it is not a matter of intruding. This is not a case of me picking up a passing dog by the ears. I was at the 2002 Auburn Avenue conference as a speaker, and so this is not a case of me butting in.

Further, a number of leaders among the FV critics have now picked up the accusations of some of our local Moscow critics, and have begun using these accusations as weapons in the broader FV conflict. And if I am being being used as an argument, I reserve the right to act as a robust counterargument as well.

Further still, those citing anonymous attack blogs as credible sources are demonstrating that they believe them sufficiently authoritative -- which needs to be pointed out. They are demonstrating for us what they believe justice looks like -- and I want the whole world to know what they believe justice looks like. The leading cheerleaders of this prosecution of Steve Wilkins via Louisiana continue to demonstrate in public that they are prepared to accept, and have accepted, anonymous testimony.


Now while at this point I am not interested in addressing the main points of the controversy, others can do that far better than I can, I would however like to address the comments above. I don't believe that having spoken at (or attended) an AAPC conference on the FV gives you license to attempt to influence another denominations judicial proceedings simply because the case touches on the distinctives put forward at said conference.

In the second paragraph above, Pastor Wilson talks about the "prosecutors" of Pastor Wilkins. In the current case the F/V and Pastor Wilkins are actually subtexts as the case focuses on whether the LA Presbytery faithfully discharged their responsibilities. Therefore, this would not seem to rise to the level of being "already involved." Involved in the defense of his friend perhaps, but it would not seem necessary to impugn the judicial proceedings of the PCA in order to defend his friend.

Whatever Pastor Wilson's reason for trying to involve himself in the proceedings of the case against the LA Presbytery by the Standing Judicial Committee representing the PCA as a whole, the above given reasons don't seem to wash.

The following disclaimer is necessary: I am not accusing Pastor Wilson of nefarious motives here. I cannot know his mind and he may believe that the above are his actual reasons for his actions. I would humbly suggest that he examine his motives and determine whether he has deceived himself into believing his declared purposes, or whether his motives are truly to protect a point of view in which he has invested much personal capital. This would be a very human behavior, and many times we need to look to our brothers and sisters to pull us back from the brink. In the case of a man like Pastor Wilson the search for Godly counsel will be more difficult due to the fact, that as a leader, he exerts a lot of influence and fewer will be willing to call into question where he is leading.

It may be fitting that we show loyalty to our leaders, but how may that loyalty affect our ability to call them back from the brink if it becomes necessary?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
This was posted by Jeff Hutchinson on the GB blog regarding this of Wilson's
--------------
I Am Doug Wilson’s Dead Rat Behind the Fridge

December 1, 2007 at 10:48 am (Federal Vision)

Posted by Jeff Hutchinson
Doug Wilson’s recent post is something I felt should be answered for the record. I do not intend for the tone of this blog post to be inflammatory. I do ask for your patience and forbearance.

In his post, “Dead Rat Behind the Fridge,” Doug Wilson charges certain men in the PCA with having done certain ugly things. Who is Wilson talking about; who is he charging? In his post he charges:

* the “PCA men who have misrepresented my doctrinal views in their books, articles, reports, and blogs;”
* the “bureaucratic insiders” and “gatekeepers” in the PCA;
* the “leaders among the FV critics;
* the “many established leaders with names among our critics;”
* the “men in charge of the crusade against the FV.”

With what does he charge this collection of persons? He charges them with:
* “citing anonymous attack blogs as credible sources;”
* “demonstrating that they believe (anonymous attack blogs) sufficiently
authoritative;”
* “demonstrat(ing) in public that they are prepared to accept, and have accepted,
anonymous testimony;”
* “sneeveling around with slanderous accusations circulated by anonymous and lying
cowards;”
* producing “crap.”

For the record, let me review what happened last week (see also last week’s post,
“P2: A Peacemaker Speaks, Part Two”).

1. Doug Wilson had been making (and continues to make) comments on the internet about the PCA, her officers, and her Standing Judicial Commission, that some of us believe to be injudicious.

2. Ruling Elder Bob Mattes spoke out publicly against those comments.

3. Bob Mattes and his Session then received a series of communications from an elder of Doug Wilson’s church, Mike Lawyer, which Bob believed represented an inappropriate attack, perhaps intended to silence his speaking out against Doug Wilson’s injudicious comments about the PCA.

4. I decided to write a post here at Greenbagginses exposing this inappropriate attack upon Bob (the post entitled, “And So It Begins,” which has since been removed from the website). I did this without being asked by anyone, in fact, without getting even one other person’s advice ahead of time as to whether I should write my post.
In retrospect, it would have been wise for me to have run my proposed post by a few trusted folks first. They would have most likely helped me with the “temperature” of my post. I do apologize for having unnecessarily inflamed an already tense situation, having gone ahead with a post unedited by anyone else, and I do ask everyone’s forgiveness. Please forgive me.

5. I wrote the “And So It Begins” post because I thought Mr. Lawyer’s communications with Bob to be vile lies and threats, and because I thought Mr. Lawyer’s action represented an example of a pattern of such attacks experienced by others who have voiced opposition to Rev. Wilson, a pattern that I believe to have been long established by the investigative reporting of journalists from WORLD Magazine, Presbyterian and Reformed News, and even the New York Times, among others, not to mention Doug Wilson’s own words on his own blog about those who have opposed him.

6. In addition, I indicated that other, more questionable, and less easily verifiable reports exist as well, that may also indicate the presence of a pattern. I then allowed comments (some of which included links to articles and primary documents) to be posted on Greenbagginses, with appropriate warnings, for those who might choose to read the articles and documents, as to reading with godly discernment.

This is the series of events to which Doug Wilson was referring when he wrote his blog post, “Dead Rat Behind the Fridge.” This and this alone. This website and my post.

In other words, I am Doug Wilson’s #1 dead rat behind the fridge.

Except for Bob Mattes, who perhaps was following my lead, no one else among the large group of men that Doug Wilson charges, allowed links to be posted to the internet articles and primary documents that various commenters forwarded to us, on this blog or anywhere else that I am aware of. No one else. I and Bob were the only ones who did that. Not Lane. Not Reed. Not David. No one else. Certainly not anyone in the PCA who has written “books, articles, or reports” about the FV. And certainly not anyone on the SJC!

There are not scores of dead rats behind the fridge. There is one dead rat, two if you count Bob (Bob, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you don’t count!).

To conclude, three final things, for the record:

First, I do think it is helpful for Doug Wilson’s charges to be directed, less like a shotgun at scores of men, and more like a rifle at me. And so, for the record, I think it is important to remind the honest reader that I did not do the sorts of things Doug charges me with. To him, I am the dead rat behind the fridge, but the facts are not as he represents them. I did not “cite anonymous attack blogs as credible sources;” I did not “demonstrate that I believe (anonymous attack blogs) sufficiently authoritative” (nor do I believe that, whether or not I “demonstrated” it); I did not “demonstrate in public that I am prepared to accept, and have accepted, anonymous testimony” (nor have I or would I, whether or not I “demonstrated” that); I have not been “sneeveling around with slanderous accusations circulated by anonymous and lying cowards;” nor was my post ”crap.”

Second, what I did had nothing to do with some sort of “strategy” against the FV; it had to do with the much simpler matter of defending a friend against a malicious attack.

Third–and I would be glad to be corrected about this one–neither Mike Lawyer nor Doug Wilson have apologized to Bob for their attacks upon him, though I believe they have removed the letter Mike Lawyer wrote from the internet, which is certainly a good first step.

Finally, I feel this provides an adequate conclusion to my dealings with Doug Wilson. As such, I have turned comments off on this post. Thank you for your patience and forbearance and prayers.
 

SEAGOON

Puritan Board Freshman
In a sane debate, this smoking gun would spell the end of further objections from Doug and FV camp. But as with Roman Catholicism, the doctrine of FV infallibility means once the FV is committed to a position, they cannot change. Expect increasingly absurd explanations on why this is not the same at all to follow...

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Sorry, one quick follow-up document that proves the farcical nature of FV objections to the SJC actions in regard to Louisiana Presbytery is worth sending... My apologies to those of you who have no interest whatsoever in PCA judicial procedure.

As I noted in "The Case of the Missing Kamikaze Presbyters", the prior actions of LA Presbytery in 2000 essentially blow the current arguments by Wilson and the FV cabal that the methodology being followed against LA Presbytery and Wilkins is unfair completely out of the water, but its actually mind-boggling how similar the two cases are and how obvious the righteous indignation of Wilkins and LAP at TVPs attempt to screen John Wood was. They insisted that this screening by TVP not be allowed to continue by sending overtures essentially TELLING the SJC to override both itself and the presbytery and proceed to a trial post haste. By comparison, LAP is being treated gently. This old P&R News Article is worth quoting (for the record in 2000, when this article appeared AAPC were contributors to that publication and on good terms with the editor) to illustrate those points:

For those of you wondering TVP is Tennessee Valley Presbytery, the former presbytery of TE John Wood, whose church allowed women to preach (they called this teaching or sharing) in worship services. TVP carried out an extremely cursory investigation of Wood's positions and determined that there was no need for a trial and then continued to maintain that position despite pressure. It's interesting to note that while (in my opinion) Wood and his session were wrong to allow women to preach in the services, Wood was not promoting his position on women preaching via conferences, books, interviews, CDs., etc. while obviously Steve Wilkins has been promoting FV theology that way. Also, eventually Wood did the honorable thing - he left for the EPC, a denomination that had no problem with his beliefs regarding women, which effectively put an end to the controversy if not the baggage it generated.

From P&R News, volume 6, number 2, March–April 2000:

LOUISIANA PRESBYTERY SEEKS DISCIPLINE OF TVP
Cajun Court Also Asks for Condemning of Judgment in John Wood Case
At its April 15, 2000, stated meeting, Louisiana Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) adopted two overtures, both of them dealing with Tennessee Valley Presbytery (TVP) and the John Wood case. The court overtured the General Assembly to discipline Tennessee Valley Presbytery and to condemn the judgment rendered by the Standing Judicial Commission in the John Wood case.

The first overture which passed asks the 28th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America to condemn and to bear testimony against the judgment of the 27th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America in re the judicial case with respect to the Rev. Mr. John Wood. Included among the rationale offered were the following:

“Presbyterianism historically has allowed for one General Assembly to condemn the opinion of another General Assembly”; “the decisions of the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) are those of the previous General Assembly”; “the General Assembly is bound “to bear testimony against error in doctrine . . . , injuriously affecting the Church. (BCO 14- 6.a.)”; “the decision of the SJC in re Presbyterian Church in America vs. John Wood is evidently flawed”; “because of the peculiar nature of current PCA judicial process, the General Assembly as such never was able directly to review this decision of the SJC”; “the decision is flawed in numerous ways, especially in its interpretation of the Constitution”; “this situation of having a seriously-flawed decision in this judicial case is troubling to the church and is potentially divisive”; “the God who has called us to peace is not the author of confusion”; and “the Ninth Commandment requires ‘from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice. (WLC, Q/A 144).”

The overture lists various errors in Constitutional interpretation:
The SJC assumes that a corporate responsibility by a session means that individual members cannot also be held responsible for the action of the session;
the SJC assumes that there were no doctrinal issues involved, but merely the action of inviting a woman to fill the pulpit, when there is evidence that Mr. Wood advocates female preaching;
the SJC assumes that action by Tennessee Valley Presbytery to vindicate the Session of Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, Tennessee, automatically clears Mr. Wood;
the SJC forcibly recused members of the SJC from Ascension, Calvary, and Western Carolina Presbyteries, based on the allegation that these presbyteries were parties to the case, whereas in point of fact, in a case of original jurisdiction, the “original and only parties in a case of process are the accuser and the accused. The accuser is always the Presbyterian Church in America. . . .” (BCO 31- 3).
A second successful overture directly takes aim at Tennessee Valley Presbytery, seeking its discipline. The overture argued that “several presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) have formally brought to the attention of Tennessee Valley Presbytery (TVP) the fact that one of its churches has allowed women to preach”; that “TVP, to date, has refused to deal adequately with the situation”; that “our Constitution tells us that it is “incumbent” upon a higher court that has been “well advised” of serious neglect or irregularity, to “take cognizance of the same, and to examine, deliberate and judge in the whole matter” (BCO 40-4)”; that “the 14th General Assembly, in approving the report of the blue-ribbon Ad Interim Committee on the General Assembly, approved the following principle: “In the event the lower court does nothing [with regard to discipline], by virtue of its ecclesiastical authority the higher court may (a) ignore the failure to act, or (b) counsel, advise, exhort, and urge the lower court to comply, or (c) reprimand or rebuke the lower court, or (d) suspend one or all of the ecclesiastical privileges of the lower court with respect to the higher courts * e.g., to overture or reference a matter to the higher courts, to vote upon amendments to the Standards, to vote at the higher courts, or even to have commissioners at the higher courts, or (e) as a last resort “act against” the lower court by dismissing it from the fellowship. (M14GA, pp. 103, 436)”; that “given the great turmoil which TVP’s failure to act has engendered throughout the PCA, it does not seem prudent for the General Assembly to ignore this willful failure”; that “since sister presbyteries have already counseled and urged TVP to act in a satisfactory manner and it has refused to heed this advice, it seems that the second option has already, in essence, been exercised”; and that “we do not want to proceed immediately to the drastic measure of exscinding TVP from our fellowship without giving it at least one more opportunity to repent.”

Louisiana Presbytery thereupon overtured the 28th General Assembly “to take appropriate disciplinary measures against Tennessee Valley Presbytery for its failure to uphold the Standards of our church, said disciplinary measures being that of a reprimand or rebuke, along with the pronouncement that if TVP does not act in a satisfactory fashion by the time of the 29th General Assembly, its ecclesiastical privileges of having commissioners seated at the General Assembly and of having representatives from the Presbytery to be nominated to any General Assembly committee, commission, board or agency, will be revoked.” Louisiana Presbytery further resolved that the 28th General Assembly should “enact these measures by any lawful means possible, including, if deemed necessary, the conduct of a trial on the floor of the Assembly (BCO 40-5 and 40-6).” Also passed was a resolution consisting of a series of questions to be posed to the Committee on Constitutional Business (CCB).

The overture begins by stating that “many in the Presbyterian Church in America have serious doubts about the ability of the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) effectively to represent the denomination as a whole”; that “the decision of the Standing Judicial Commission in re the judicial case of Presbyterian Church in America vs. John Wood is, in the minds of many in our denomination, seriously flawed”; that “we desire to proceed in these matters in such a way as to address our concerns in a proper and, so far as possible, a peaceful manner, with full submission to the wisdom of the General Assembly”; and that “the toleration of a situation in which a woman is allowed to fill a PCA pulpit is divisive, and will, if not satisfactorily redressed, lead to division of our beloved church. Based on those premises, Louisiana Presbytery directed the following questions to the CCB:
Suppose that a presbytery declined to proceed judicially against a session with regard to an apparent violation of our Standards (for example, allowing a woman to preach), and suppose further that no one in the presbytery filed a complaint against that willful failure by the presbytery. What are the possible recourses for others in the Presbyterian Church in America in order to deal with the situation? For example, would it be appropriate or legitimate for charges to be brought against the presbytery, seeking its discipline since it had failed to uphold our Cajun Court Also Asks for Condemning of Judgment in John Wood Case church’s Standards?
Suppose that the Standing Judicial Commission was derelict in its duty, whether deliberately or because of incompetence. What possible recourses are there?
a. For example, would it be appropriate or legitimate for judicial charges to be brought against the individual members of the SJC?

b. Would it be appropriate or legitimate for administrative charges to be brought against the individual members of the SJC? (Presumably, this would require a rescinding of the vote to elect them to their post.) How would an administrative trial be conducted? If prior notice were given, would a vote to remove require a simple majority?


If a court is responsible for a particular matter, may charges be brought not only against the court corporately but also against the individual members thereof who approved of that action? For example, our Book of Church Order says that the session is responsible for the conduct of public worship in the congregation. Suppose that a session authorized a known homosexual to preach; could charges be brought against the individual members of the session who voted for that action? What would be the effect of an Assembly declining to approve the motion, that it declares the SJC to be its commission (BCO 15-4)? Historically, Presbyterianism has allowed one General Assembly to condemn the opinion of a prior Assembly (see M12GA, p. 140: “Properly speaking no action of previous General Assemblies may be amended, rescinded, or annulled. A subsequent General Assembly may take a contrary position and condemn the action of a previous Assembly. . . .”). Since an SJC decision is the position of the previous General Assembly (BCO 15-4 “. . . and each subsequent Assembly should declare the Standing Judicial Commission as a whole to be its commission”), may the current General Assembly condemn the opinion of the SJC which is reported in the current year? These proposals did not meet with unanimous approval. The series of Constitutional inquiries was approved, 14-4.

The overture asking for the condemnation of the John Wood case was approved, 10-4. The third overture, asking for disciplinary measures to be brought against Tennessee Valley Presbytery, carried, 10-6. The Rev. Dana Casey asked that his negative vote be recorded on these motions.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
I was in the TVP when the entire Cedar Springs issue blew up. And before that I had a ringside seat at the First PCA (Ft Ogelthorpe) Vs First PCA (Cattanooga) fight. That one went all the way to GA & the SJC.

I have to say that in neither case did the SJC "cover itself in glory". In fact I would go so far as to say that my main reservation about the entire FV issue (as it plays out in the courts of the PCA) is that it is the SJC that will decide the issue.

I have a serious philosophical problem with the entire concept of a commission acting in loco for a GA. That aside, my personal observation does not give me much hope for a just outcome. In both cases that I observed "big steeple" politics seemed to overule the the BCO and the evidence.

I am now removed both denominationaly & geographicly from this debate, but if past is prologue, things will not end well.

My prediction is that whatever the outcome of the SJC action (trial?) there will be ample room to critique the outcome based on the record and the rules.:2cents:

:soapbox:
 

Reformed Musings

Puritan Board Freshman
Kevin,

On the other hand, this is a landmark case. I believe that all the 'i's will be dotted and the 't's crossed.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I was in the TVP when the entire Cedar Springs issue blew up. And before that I had a ringside seat at the First PCA (Ft Ogelthorpe) Vs First PCA (Cattanooga) fight. That one went all the way to GA & the SJC.

I have to say that in neither case did the SJC "cover itself in glory". In fact I would go so far as to say that my main reservation about the entire FV issue (as it plays out in the courts of the PCA) is that it is the SJC that will decide the issue.

I have a serious philosophical problem with the entire concept of a commission acting in loco for a GA. That aside, my personal observation does not give me much hope for a just outcome. In both cases that I observed "big steeple" politics seemed to overrule the the BCO and the evidence.

I am now removed both denominationally & geographical from this debate, but if past is prologue, things will not end well.

My prediction is that whatever the outcome of the SJC action (trial?) there will be ample room to critique the outcome based on the record and the rules.:2cents:

:soapbox:

Kevin,

On the other hand, this is a landmark case. I believe that all the 'i's will be dotted and the 't's crossed.
As someone who prefers to extend charity to my Christian brothers I prefer to be confident of that fact.

Either way, I don't think it is very charitable to wish ill toward a denomination by predicting that there will be ample room to critique. A drive-by, casual critique of the TVP handling based on a "personal observation" only adds to the spectacle of subterfuge and conspiracy that detracts from on the ground facts. The main reason I'm convinced there will be ample complaining is the nature of those vocal surrounding the case and the fact they aren't even honest about what the WCF clearly confesses.

We need to be very careful before we malign a Church Body that has vested its authority in a Commission keeping in mind that we are commanded to give honor to those in authority. Whether we like it or not, it is in the nature of authority to commission even as it's in the nature of authority to be ultimately responsible for the actions of those it has commissioned to do its work.

Thus, I think it's unwise detached from the any actual facts regarding the ongoing labor of ministers of the Gospel and predict their sure failure and scandalous behavior.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
"This is my latest reply to Wilson on the Wilkins/Louisiana/SJC topic, if someone with post access to Blog and Mablog could post a link to it, I'd appreciate it..."

Done. Thank you for the response; it's been encouraging to hear how everything is happening in accordance with the BCO.
 

Reformed Musings

Puritan Board Freshman
I have been remiss in not making it clear that I am proud to be named in a rat pack behind the fridge with Dr. Jeff Hutchinson and Dr. GLW Johnson. Of for that matter to be an attack target along with Dr. R. Scott Clark, Dr. R. C. Sproul, Dr. Ligon Duncan, etc. If a man is known by the company he keeps, then I am a blessed man indeed. My thanks to all these men and more for their fellowship in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
 

Stephen

Puritan Board Junior
I was in the TVP when the entire Cedar Springs issue blew up. And before that I had a ringside seat at the First PCA (Ft Ogelthorpe) Vs First PCA (Cattanooga) fight. That one went all the way to GA & the SJC.

I have to say that in neither case did the SJC "cover itself in glory". In fact I would go so far as to say that my main reservation about the entire FV issue (as it plays out in the courts of the PCA) is that it is the SJC that will decide the issue.

I have a serious philosophical problem with the entire concept of a commission acting in loco for a GA. That aside, my personal observation does not give me much hope for a just outcome. In both cases that I observed "big steeple" politics seemed to overrule the the BCO and the evidence.

I am now removed both denominationally & geographical from this debate, but if past is prologue, things will not end well.

My prediction is that whatever the outcome of the SJC action (trial?) there will be ample room to critique the outcome based on the record and the rules.:2cents:

:soapbox:

Kevin,

On the other hand, this is a landmark case. I believe that all the 'i's will be dotted and the 't's crossed.
As someone who prefers to extend charity to my Christian brothers I prefer to be confident of that fact.

Either way, I don't think it is very charitable to wish ill toward a denomination by predicting that there will be ample room to critique. A drive-by, casual critique of the TVP handling based on a "personal observation" only adds to the spectacle of subterfuge and conspiracy that detracts from on the ground facts. The main reason I'm convinced there will be ample complaining is the nature of those vocal surrounding the case and the fact they aren't even honest about what the WCF clearly confesses.

We need to be very careful before we malign a Church Body that has vested its authority in a Commission keeping in mind that we are commanded to give honor to those in authority. Whether we like it or not, it is in the nature of authority to commission even as it's in the nature of authority to be ultimately responsible for the actions of those it has commissioned to do its work.

Thus, I think it's unwise detached from the any actual facts regarding the ongoing labor of ministers of the Gospel and predict their sure failure and scandalous behavior.

I do not think Kevin is malining the body of Christ or wishing failure on the PCA. I seems to me he was stating his opinion based on what he has perhaps seen in the past. He is raising concerns that others in the PCA have raised. If you are not in the PCA or familar with how the system works, it will not be clear to some. The PCA is a Presbyterian form of government, which means it is ruled by a plurality of elders in a graded court system. Some believe that the SJC is acting as a court in and of itself. These are matters that should be decided by the entire assembly and not a commission. I have heard discussion and read material regarding whether this is consistent with historic Presbyterian Polity. This is an inhouse debate. Kevin was not questioning authority but raising a concern about the manner in which the current issue before the SJC is handled.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Stephen,

I would agree with your assessment about the PCA and the SJC as a commission. Unfortunately considering the size of the PCA's GA attendance (usually over 1,000 TE's and RE's), I believe that it made sense at the time. I know the OPC does not have an SJC and that all judicial cases go before the full GA for deliberation. But the OPC GA is limited to about 150 commissioners.
 

Reformed Musings

Puritan Board Freshman
As the PCA grows, so does its General Assembly. The SJC was just one early attempt to come to grips with how the GA should work with a growing number of commissioners and limited time.

The Strategic Planning committee recommended and the Presbyteries and GA voted to significantly revamp the way GA works again in the 34th GA. One of the most visible changes was the way the Overtures Committee works now. The changes limit debate options on overtures (only) on the floor, but every Presbytery has two reps--one TE and one RE--on the committee to debate overtures without limit. I convened and vice chaired the first meeting of that committee last year (35th GA) and it worked magnificently. One overture was debated for over 2 hours until everyone who wanted to say something was heard. That approach would gridlock the GA as a whole.

These actions and more help keep an open General Assembly. An alternative that I would not like to see is a delegated assembly that limits churches' participation in their highest court. We could discuss the ins and outs of the SJC, Overture Committee, and other approaches in relation to historic Presbyterianism, but in my opinion, if you go to a delegated assembly you've lost something important from the collective voice of the brothers. Just my humble opinion.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I do not think Kevin is malining the body of Christ or wishing failure on the PCA. I seems to me he was stating his opinion based on what he has perhaps seen in the past. He is raising concerns that others in the PCA have raised. If you are not in the PCA or familar with how the system works, it will not be clear to some. The PCA is a Presbyterian form of government, which means it is ruled by a plurality of elders in a graded court system. Some believe that the SJC is acting as a court in and of itself. These are matters that should be decided by the entire assembly and not a commission. I have heard discussion and read material regarding whether this is consistent with historic Presbyterian Polity. This is an inhouse debate. Kevin was not questioning authority but raising a concern about the manner in which the current issue before the SJC is handled.

Yes, I'm aware of Presbyterian polity. The point I made was that, as long as the GA's commission is in effect, that the GA is acting and has decided. They can decide later that it is imprudent to leave the commission in effect but they cannot escape the fact that the Commission, in effect, decides for the GA and the GA is responsible for the outcome and cannot "blame" the SJC if things don't come out the way everyone wants. Further, commissions are not some recent invention of the PCA. I cannot speak for all denominations but know that the OPC forms them in certain cases and my home Church in CA is ruled by a commission because the session overseeing the mission work determined it would be better than the entire session trying to govern both Churches separated by 40 miles and set up a commission over our mission work.

My specific concern was predicting ample room for complaint and a not so subtle hint that it would be the sinful actions/attitudes of men the would be reminiscent of something vaguely referred to in the author's experience. There is ongoing work by a commission of elders whose integrity we have been given no warrant to call into question and it is uncharitable to predict the failure of their duty.
 

Stephen

Puritan Board Junior
Stephen,

I would agree with your assessment about the PCA and the SJC as a commission. Unfortunately considering the size of the PCA's GA attendance (usually over 1,000 TE's and RE's), I believe that it made sense at the time. I know the OPC does not have an SJC and that all judicial cases go before the full GA for deliberation. But the OPC GA is limited to about 150 commissioners.

Yes, I agree that this is the reason for the formation of the SJC. I voted last summer for the SJC's report. I was not stating my opinion but raising the point that some see the SJC as not in line with historic polity. It will be interesting to see what happens. This is a side note but with a number of FV's like Jeff Meyers speaking against the SJC report where were these men when the discussion came to the floor of the PCA General Assembly? Jeff, Peter Leithert, and Wilkins were silent at the GA. The vote for the SJC report was over 95%, so the FV's were not there to challenge the report, but their blogs were busy. :scratch:
 

Reformed Musings

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, I agree that this is the reason for the formation of the SJC. I voted last summer for the SJC's report. I was not stating my opinion but raising the point that some see the SJC as not in line with historic polity. It will be interesting to see what happens. This is a side note but with a number of FV's like Jeff Meyers speaking against the SJC report where were these men when the discussion came to the floor of the PCA General Assembly? Jeff, Peter Leithert, and Wilkins were silent at the GA. The vote for the SJC report was over 95%, so the FV's were not there to challenge the report, but their blogs were busy. :scratch:

The FVers were there in as significant a number as they could muster. They certainly knew the stakes and Meyers even mailed his "30 Reasons" to every Session in the PCA as far as I can tell. According to the 35th GA minutes, Jeff Meyer, Mark Horne, Steve Wilkins, Duane Garner, Mark Duncan, and others were at the GA. The heavy hitters were just silent. Couldn't say how they voted, though. :D
 
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