On the Brouhaha at the OPC GA

Status
Not open for further replies.

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
This assumes it is above all man's job, in the persons of the commissioners to GA and its agents, by any and all means to defend the church's reputation, and that for the sake of third-party voyeurs.
Q. 144. What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
A. The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth; and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever; a charitable esteem of our neighbors; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging talebearers, flatterers, and slanderers; love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requireth; keeping of lawful promises; studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Q. 144. What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
A. The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth; and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever; a charitable esteem of our neighbors; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging talebearers, flatterers, and slanderers; love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requireth; keeping of lawful promises; studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.
The good name of "EU" would be the first name the OPC was required to defend, before its own.

As matters progressed, facts respecting innocency, carelessness, overprotection, and misunderstanding (to name a few)--whether these were on the part of the aggrieved or the accused--were investigated and discovered. I think the actions taken end up serving the design of "discouraging talebearers, flatterers, and slanderers." The requirement to defend oneself is variable, and most demanded in a formal situation when truth is adjured. Moses did not defend himself.

In the end, the OPC's good institutional name is much as it was two weeks ago. It is hardly known to outsiders at all, and where it is known: those who love her and those who despise her have little changed places.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
The good name of "EU" would be the first name the OPC was required to defend, before its own.
I'm sorry, brother, but the school wasn't being accused of anything; the OPC and its ministers were. And even if it is right to forego defending their own name in this situation, they certainly were not required to apologize to their accusers under duress before the truth of the matter could be looked into.
 
Last edited:

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
@Contra_Mundum

Thanks, Bruce, I am glad that someone has understood our basic approach here.

I should also note that it's been implied or said explicitly herein that we were pressured, or even required, by EU to "make a statement, apologize," or do something of that sort. We were not.

Rather, we were, effectively, put on notice that several things had happened and that the university would not permit further infractions. There were several witnesses to incidents 1-2, but the witnesses were unable to identify the particular perpetrator. So we announced this to the GA with a call for the party to come forward and make it known so that we could get to the bottom of the matter and bring resolution. Our goal was always to discover what we could and to bring resolution where we could. In the meantime, we wished to make it clear to our hosts that such sins had no place in our or Christ's church anywhere.

While our three-fold enemy is the devil, the flesh, and the world, the latter is our enemy not because we make it such but because it makes itself such to us. This is why, though we are never to love the devil nor the flesh, there is a sense in which we are to love our enemy, the world (and another sense in which we are not to love the world). We sought to deal in all this with honor and integrity, taking seriously what concerned our hosts, while committed to due process and to seeking the godly resolution of all these matters, so that our hosts could see that we did what we could in a difficult situation, going the extra mile and doing all possible to live peaceably with all (as much as lies within us). All of this was something involving the highest judicatory of our church and we sought to act justly and mercifully in all these matters.

If opprobrium is to be heaped on us from our friends for so doing, we can take that as well and leave our case to him who always judges righteously.

Peace,
Alan
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I'm sorry, brother, but the school wasn't being accused of anything, the OPC and its ministers were. And even if it is right not to forego defending your own name in this situation, you are certainly not required to apologize to your accusers under duress before the truth of the matter can be looked into.
Why did an institution like EU, take offense at the alleged words of certain representatives of the OPC institution? It was because they did not want any association or construal by others outside their institution to the effect that EU was OK with expressions like those alleged to have been uttered. EU leased space to the OPC, and there was some condition in the agreement to loan that space out that the renter would observe decorum that would reflect well on EU.

Complaints were received by EU administration that threatened their reputation, as they perceived the situation. What has been reported to us as observers is that EU conveyed the (multiple) notices they received, and their concerns over the reported offenses, to the appropriate authorities in the OPC, giving notice that 1) should the facts prove true, the rental arrangement was de facto breached; and in which case 2) it then became the OPC's duty to offer some amends, and the EU would evaluate the response.

Whose "job" was it to make further investigations? Should EU have responded with less formality than they did to the witnesses and charges? If so, on what basis? Should they have withheld a formal reference to legal contract? They did reference it, and thereby gave notice to the OPC that they were serious about protecting their reputation.

The OPC, through its officials, did not in the first place stand on its right to be clear of shame in advance of a thorough, impartial verdict, complete with evidentiary exhibits and sworn testimony. Because it is a human institution, and may be found in error, or its components found in error and so taint the whole, it was reasonable and salutary that everyone concerned was informed of the accusation. If true, the more of them immediately or soon-to-be affected who could be so informed, the better.

Accusations are shameful in themselves. Because they may prove true! This is why a false accusation should redound to the double-shame of one who willfully and maliciously presents it. The clearing of the accused's reputation should come with some placing of blame, the more according to the baselessness of the charge. If we are charged with error, only the most self-righteous person refuses even to consider if he inadvertently offended. Such is the stance of aristocracy, who believe (like gods) they cannot offend their inferiors.

The OPC reacted with shame to the accusation. This is to the OPC's credit, showing it is humble enough to be capable of it. An institution filled with pride would take the EU's letter (if the accusation was written out) and without any emotion convey it was taking the matter into its private counsels. "My lawyer will talk to your lawyer." There was no disdain for the accusation, nor even a formal indifference. It seems to this observer that just the latter would have been acceptable to many.

We have no idea how the gracious and humble reaction of the OPC, followed by the diligent inquiry into the matter, was received by EU. Perhaps, we will discover at some future time that EU was in some way embarrassed by its own forward and prejudiced handling of the case (if it was). In any case, they were a party who arose on behalf of a complaint that came up to its authority, and so sought to clear the business with its peer, the OPC, operating in a situation of debt.

This is what governments do. In moments of wisdom they act diplomatically. They act in the interest of those whom they represent. The world too often sees governments that are either all obsequious on one hand, or all assertive on the other. The kings of the Gentiles love to lord it over their own people, and as far as possible over other kings. It shall not be so among you, said the Lord Jesus. In this situation, the OPC chose (wisely in my opinion) not to insist on its rank and privilege, to tell EU, "Mind yourself when raising a potential libel."
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
It was reported in terms of being "a member of the Assembly," which would, of course, be a commissioner, whether a minister or ruling elder. That's why I answered as I did. I am unaware that it was ever alleged to be a generic "elder."
Thanks. I didn't think you were playing word games with me, but since we had used different terminology, and you've corrected me on several points, I wanted to make sure I was working toward a proper understanding of the situation.

And I do want to thank you for engaging with me on this. I am still at the point that I think that the college has something for which they need to repent and apologize.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
I should also note that it's been implied or said explicitly herein that we were pressured, or even required, by EU to "make a statement, apologize," or do something of that sort. We were not.
Of course, I take your word for it. But CT's report at least implies the statement was required by EU and that if the apology did not meet their standards, they might expel the GA from the campus...
Commissioners were told that if Eastern did not accept the statement, the school was within its rights to force the General Assembly off the campus for violation of its contract. If that happened, the OPC would have to suspend the meeting three days before it was finished. The commissioners approved the statement apologizing for “egregiously offensive behavior” “without dissent,” and it was released on Facebook and Twitter.
So, I assume you would dispute CT's reporting here?
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
@C. M. Sheffield

Christopher, we were told, as I said earlier, that no further infractions should occur. The Assembly was not told that if a statement acceptable to EU was not approved that it would be asked to leave.

CT, as is often the case with outside agencies, did not capture the proper sense of several things, e.g., there was no resolution adopted with respect to Dr. Gaffin. The resolution that the Committee on Foreign Missions had adopted was read and then there was a tribute to Dr. Gaffin. Such errors are common, calling commissioners "delegates," for instance, when there is in church polity a significant distinction between the two.

I've not had the CT article in mind in the comments I've made herein; it is not my intent, or interest, to respond to that article per se.

@Edward

While I think that we acquitted ourselves properly, I appreciate your closing remark, without making further comments (I do not believe that this is all necessarily concluded).

I should also conclude, without going back to look, that a party or two to this conversation has expressed regret about expressions made. Such are always appreciated, as we all want to be properly tenderhearted, but I can assure all that I've taken no offense at anything anyone has said herein. These are issues the specific handling of which might divide good persons of the same (or similar) confessions. My plea is always that we are charitable in our judgments, especially when those of us making the judgments on the ground at the time had to act both with due attentiveness and judiciousness and to do so, as representatives of Christ's church, humbly and self-sacrificingly.

Peace,
Alan
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
I've not had the CT article in mind in the comments I've made herein; it is not my intent, or interest, to respond to that article per se.
I understand. But you can see how some reading that report got the impression that the statement was made so that EU didn't eject the GA from the campus.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
@C. M. Sheffield

Not necessarily. I could see how some thought that EU had that requirement. To think that the OPC GA would buckle to such merely for the sake of convenience and not conviction--we wanted to express our abhorrence of racism and repudiate any connection of it to us--is to jump to a conclusion that, given our whole history, I find unwarranted.

I am concerned, Christopher, by what seems like a too-ready propensity among us (confessionally Reformed Christians) to import everything we may think about matters in general into every specific situation and thus to disenable ourselves from dealing with the particulars on the ground. The OPC did not respond to this as if it were a situation that we had "all figured out" going into it and thus failed to deal with what was before us. This is not naivete. One can be so "sure" of "what's really going on here" that we fail to deal with the actual situation in front of us. Critics of us on both sides (and I refer here to the progressives on the other side) have failed to account for this and given us very little credit for a careful working through of the situation.

We no longer, particularly as individuals, seem careful and measured in our assessments of difficult situations anymore. I find it rather remarkable that many individuals have assayed quickly to criticize what a large body acting as the highest judicatory of a biblical and confessional church has done in concert, without the kinds of reflections that Bruce Buchanan and some others have offered here and elsewhere.

I am taking the occasion of this post to address more than you asked, C.M., so please don't think that this is aimed at you. Rather, all of us need to do better in dealing with each other and not let the world and its ways set the pace for the way in which we do that. Whatever political and other motives may have actuated EU, we have sought to act as representatives of that kingdom that, while in this world, and speaking a word to the whole of this world, is not of this world.

Peace,
Alan
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
There seems to me to be much value in discussions of these kinds, and I have already learned a lot, not only about what happened, but about proper responses to things. Lots of angles I hadn't thought about before, so I appreciate the interaction very much.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top