The PCA SJC Process in Brief

Since Jeff did such a nice job summarizing the qualifications for prosecutors in the PCA, I thought that I’d tackle the larger process picture. The operations of the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission are governed by the SJC Manual, which is approved by the General Assembly as a whole. The manual only comes into play in accordance with the strict procedures of the Book of Church Order.

The amends from Case 2006-2 reads:

Amends – Pursuant to BCO 40-5 the Standing Judicial Commission hereby cites Louisiana Presbytery to appear “to show what it has done or failed to do in the case in question.” To implement this process, RE Samuel J. Duncan is hereby appointed to: a) serve as prosecutor in this matter and conduct the case, which is designated as Case 2007-14; b) select Assistant Prosecutors from members of the General Assembly to assist him with this matter; c) draw an indictment to be served upon Louisiana Presbytery, with the circumstances and specifications therein not being limited to those raised in 2006-02 and 2007-8; d) prepare a citation instructing Louisiana Presbytery to respond, in writing or at a called meeting of the Standing Judicial Commission, to the indictment and to enter its plea to the matters contained therein not later than February 1, 2008. (BCO 40-6, 31-2, 32-3) If Louisiana Presbytery enters a plea of “not guilty,” then Louisiana Presbytery is directed to appear, through its representatives, for trial in this matter before the Standing Judicial Commission on March 5, 2008 (BCO 40-5, 40-6, 31-2, 32-3).

BCO 40-5 and 40-6 read in full:

40-5. When any court having appellate jurisdiction shall receive a credible report with respect to the court next below of any important delinquency or grossly unconstitutional proceedings of such court, the first step shall be to cite the court alleged to have offended to appear before the court having appellate jurisdiction, or its commission, by representative or in writing, at a specified time and place, and to show what the lower court has done or failed to do in the case in question.

The court thus issuing the citation may reverse or redress the proceedings of the court below in other than judicial cases; or it may censure the delinquent court; or it may remit the whole matter to the delinquent court with an injunction to take it up and dispose of it in a constitutional manner; or it may stay all further proceedings in the case; as circumstances may require.

40-6. In process against a lower court, the trial shall be conducted according to the rules provided for process against individuals, so far as they may be applicable.

The is exactly the situation decided in Cases 2006-2 and 2007-8. Now BCO 31-2:

31-2. It is the duty of all church Sessions and Presbyteries to exercise care over those subject to their authority. They shall with due diligence and great discretion demand from such persons satisfactory explanations concerning reports affecting their Christian character. This duty is more imperative when those who deem themselves aggrieved by injurious reports shall ask an investigation.

If such investigation, however originating, should result in raising a strong presumption of the guilt of the party involved, the court shall institute process, and shall appoint a prosecutor to prepare the indictment and to conduct the case. This prosecutor shall be a member of the court, except that in a case before the Session, he may be any communing member of the same congregation with the accused.

Notice how closely the wording of Cases 2006-2 and 2007-8 follow that of the BCO. This is as it should be.

BCO 32-3 is a bit longer and talks about appointing a prosecutor, drawing up the indictment, citing appearances, and pleading. If Louisiana Presbytery pleads “not guilty”, then the last part of the amends comes into play and a trial will be held.

Case 2007-14 will be conducted strictly in accordance with the BCO and the SJC Manual. As this case arose through BCO 40-5 and 40-6, SJC Manual Chapter 16 governs the procedure (I’m way open to correction if I messed that up, though). The manual’s processes are exacting as to order of arguments, the time alloted for all parties, and how the panel shall consider them and report the results. According to SJC Manual 16-9, the case could have the following outcomes for Louisiana Presbytery:

(a) to reverse or redress the proceedings of the court below in other than judicial cases; or

(b) censure the delinquent court; or

(c) to remit the whole matter to the delinquent court with an injunction to take it up and dispose of it in a manner consistent with the BCO; or

(d) to stay all further proceedings and declare that all matters relating to the Memorial, no or previously pending before the General Assembly, are ended, concluded and terminated.

Note that hearings and trials are held either before a judicial panel of not less than 3, including at least one teaching elder and one ruling elder, or the entire Commission (SJC Manual 10.3, 11.1). Larger judicial panels must have an approximately equal balance between teaching and ruling elders (SJC Manual 11-1). There is no provision for a jury as was speculated by at least one Federal Visionist. Perhaps they should read their BCO.

So what happens if Louisiana Presbytery either pleads or is found guilty? Here’s my opinion, which is only my personal opinion: The SJC already tried (c) in a previous round, and Louisiana Presbytery was found in Cases 2006-2 and 2007-8 not to have carried out the required examination of TE Wilkins in accordance with the BCO, so I don’t see that happening again. The copious facts in evidence would seem to me to rule out (d). In my opinion, that leaves only (a) or (b). Neither of these bode well for Louisiana Presbytery.

I close by noting the fairness of the process guaranteed by how tightly it is governed by rules decided by the General Assembly. Not only are the SJC rules approved by the General Assembly, but all SJC members are elected by the same. This process represents a real and substantial accountability to the brothers-nothing more and nothing less.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Posted by Bob Mattes

91 Comments

  1. Scott said,

    November 16, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Bob,

    Thanks for the explantion of process.

    I am grateful for the process we do have in our denomination.

    A few questions if you are in a position to answer them:

    1) Option a) above says reverse or redress in cases “other than judicial cases.” Wasn’t Reverend Wilkins’ re-examination a “judicial case”?

    2) Is it possible the SJC would re-try Reverend Wilkins, on the grounds an adequate constitutional inquiry was not performed by the Presbytery?

    3) If the Louisiana Presbytery is found delinquent in there duties, what is the affect on those members of the Presbytery who dissented, such as those who joined Mr Davis’ dissent or Mr Jones’ complaint?

    4) Is it possible the Louisiana Presbytery majority who did not do their constitutional duty, did not act to protect the church from error, etc. would be deposed from office?

    5) I understand our constitution does not allow a higher court (the SJC) to “act” for a lower court. What does that mean in practical effect?

    Thanks again for your efforts to inform us and preserve and protect the church, and God’s Word.

  2. barlow said,

    November 16, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Wilkins was never on trial, was he? I thought the LA Presbytery was conducting an inquiry to see if there was any good reason to put him on trial. A trial would consist of evidences, charges, prosecution, witnesses, etc. Correct me if I’m wrong on that. I thought, in essence, that someone asked LA Presbytery to look into Wilkins. They conducted a friendly inquiry and said he was okay. Someone objected, the SJC said that the presbytery was lax procedurally, so they redid it with the proper procedure but came to a conclusion that was unacceptable both to the SJC and to a few LA Presbytery people. If Wilkins was on trial, can someone point me to the charges and the transcript of the witnesses, etc.?

  3. November 16, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Scott,

    I’m not a lawyer, don’t play one on TV, and didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. But, I’ll do my best:

    1) No, it was a Memorial, which has different procedures.

    2) Wilkins wasn’t and isn’t on trial. Now LAP is technically on trial for violating the BCO. That said, Wilkins’ errant theology does figure prominently in the case. You can read that clearly in the SJC’s decisions.

    3) Nothing from the SJC. How they are treated by others in LAP is another story.

    4) That’s a good question. I don’t know, but I can try to find out. I do know that isn’t one of the possible outcomes listed in BCO 40-5, though. I don’t know what a censure of an entire Presbytery would look like in practical terms.

    5) We’re past that point in this case. For the record, though, BCO 39-1 says that:

    39-1. The acts and decisions of a lower court are brought under the
    supervision of a higher court in one or another of the following modes:
    1. Review and Control;
    2. Reference;
    3. Appeal; and
    4. Complaint.

    In this case, TE James Jones filed a complaint which was upheld by the SJC.

    Again, I’m open to correction on any of these points from anyone more knowledgeable. I’m far from an expert in all this, but wanted to quickly post the procedures directly out of the BCO to counter the outrageous FV blog posts about inquisitions, etc. Ignorance makes great press.

    Thank you for your kind words.

  4. November 16, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    barlow,

    Chill, dude. Wilkins isn’t on trial…yet. But his aberrant theology figures prominently and could drag his entire Presbytery down with him.

    Someone objected

    Actually, a court member formally complained and was joined by other court members. There’s a formal process for that which was scrupulously followed.

    so they redid it with the proper procedure but came to a conclusion that was unacceptable both to the SJC and to a few LA Presbytery people.

    This is what “Reformed News” calls facts? Try the real facts: Their conclusion was irrelevant. LAP violated the PCA BCO on several key points in their examination of TE Wilkins, including using an improper (i.e., non-BCO) criteria for the evaluation. Violations of the BCO’s clear procedures isn’t trivial, Mr. Barlow. Those procedures are what guarantee our rights as church members. Try this on: The rule of law is what makes freedom possible. If you don’t like the outcome, you are free to opine and post to your heart’s content. But please don’t misrepresent the plain, recorded facts-even in passing.

  5. November 16, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    […] PCA SJC Process I’ve published my first post over at Green Bagginses. In it, I outlined the PCA process in our Book of Church Order as I see it applying in the […]

  6. barlow said,

    November 17, 2007 at 1:17 am

    By the way:

    1. I’m not unchilled, I think you’re projecting – I’m asking a question to clarify what has happened.

    2. I’m not “Reformed News” – I’m a human that goes by the name “Jon Barlow.” I don’t call anything “facts” – I’m asking.

    3. I didn’t state or imply anything was trivial, but I do think that if we are to consider one of LA Presbytery’s sins to be the standard of evaluation it applied to a member, then we are getting fairly technical there.

  7. November 17, 2007 at 1:43 am

    Jon, RE #6,

    but I do think that if we are to consider one of LA Presbytery’s sins to be the standard of evaluation it applied to a member, then we are getting fairly technical there.

    So, exactly what parts of the BCO do you consider non-optional? The SJC case summaries are quite clear on the infraction you center upon and it isn’t “fairly technical”. If one doesn’t conduct an examination using the correct evaluation criteria, then one did not conduct a valid examination at all. I believe that would be the point here. Presbyteries don’t get to pick their own standard because they like someone. Equal justice requires the same standards to be applied to all in the same circumstances. Something about the 14th Amendment…

    If an individual in a criminal case were convicted based on “reasonable suspicion” rather than the much stricter “reasonable doubt”, they wouldn’t be too happy. On the flip side, justice would be hamstrung if the police had to get search warrants based on “reasonable doubt” rather than the less stringent “probably cause” because the judge played poker with the search targets. Common evaluation criteria exist for a reason and they do matter a great deal.

  8. anneivy said,

    November 17, 2007 at 9:35 am

    I was impressed that the PCA had taken pains to limn the method by which an investigation by a Presbytery is to be carried out. If Theodore Thicklehymer’s Theological Theory began in Presbytery G, then spread to Presbyteries K and S, it is to be hoped that if all three Presbyteries are given the task of investigating Theodore Thicklehymer’s Theological Theory, the findings of the Presbyteries would be uniform. After all, either T4 squares with the system of theology as found in the WS or it doesn’t. The only way it’s at all possible for multiple investigations to arrive at the same conclusion is for the mode of investigation to be the same.

    It appears to be inarguable that the Louisiana Presbytery did not conduct its much-heralded investigation using the method provided by the denomination, which has had the twofold effect of, one, getting the LA Presbytery in hot water with the SJC, and two, invalidating Pr. Wilkins’ exoneration.

    Reformedmusings is absolutely right, Jon. The appropriate, official mode of investigation being ignored by the LA Presbytery in favor of its own method is scarcely a picayune “technicality.” Unless all Presbyteries employ the same method, there’s no hope of doctrinal unity in the PCA (and doctrinal unity is pretty much the primary reason for a denomination’s existence, ISTM).

    Anne in Fort Worth

  9. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 17, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Thanks for this summary, Bob. Very helpful.

    I think this is the first time BCO 40-6 (“In process against a lower court, the trial shall be conducted according to the rules provided for process against individuals, so far as they may be applicable”) has ever had to be deployed against a Presbytery in the 34-year history of the PCA.

    Presbyteries are “warned” all the time via the General Assembly’s annual review of their records–“exceptions of substance” are found that must then be corrected–but, again, I think this is the very first time it has ever gotten to this point of judicial indictments against a Presbytery.

  10. Al said,

    November 17, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Is there a presumption of innocence within PCA when it comes to charges of this nature? Is a trial a mere formality, since the ‘sin’ is so well known? Would this be why, Mr. Mattes, you consider this whole thing “good news?”

    al sends

  11. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 17, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Al,

    The trial is not a mere formality, though it is certainly formal. In the PCA no trial is undertaken until there has already been an investigation that has ALREADY raised a “strong presumption of the guilt of the party involved” (see BCO 31-2; http://www.pcaac.org/BCO%202007%20Combined%20for%20Web.pdf).

    I think a fair reading of everything Bob has written and said is that, given the presence of erroneous doctrine already within the PCA, he (along with at least 96% of the rest of us in the PCA) certainly does think it is good news that we are now keeping in step with the Spirit of God to correct it (see BCO chapter 27).

  12. Al said,

    November 17, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks Jeff,

    My own conversations with elders in the PCA may be coloring my perception here (much like Pauline Kael viz Nixon: “Nixon can’t have won; no one I know voted for him” ) but, there seems to be much confusion over the issue. So, when you say 96% agree that there is this “erroneous doctrine” within the PCA I don’t see it.

    When a member of our session was having conversations about FV, in preparation for a worldview conference we were holding, one PCA elder told him that while he did not have a firm grasp on the whole FV issue Ligon Duncan was against it and that was good enough for him. If that sentiment is widespread (and those who visit these blogs are probably not among the holders) then a 96% agreement may be a bit much.

    Even some who believe that FV bears further study don’t believe it is “good news” that the PCA is moving to force out a pastor like Steve Wilkins.

    al sends

  13. Michael Saville said,

    November 17, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Good thoughts, Al. And the GA did not vote “against the FV.” It only voted to say that certain views were out of accord with the Westminster Standards.

    Also with ‘Sonship theology’ being taught far and wide, unbiblical worship practices, and confusion over gender roles, I’d have to say that the FV should be near the bottom of the PCA’s concerns.

  14. November 17, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Hey Michael,

    Regardless of whether they’re right or wrong, it appears to the opponents of the FV that their brothers across the aisle are denying some pretty key Reformed doctrines such as the imputation of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ and justification by faith alone through the gift of an alien righteousness.

    So I don’t like contemporary worship or women reading Scripture in our services either, but I can also see why people are more concerned over the FV than these other matters.

  15. Al said,

    November 17, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Michael,

    I had another separate paragraph on those issues that I deleted. I am an elder in a CRE church so I don’t know first hand how the PCA is dealing with women in the pulpit, creation and worship issues. I know that some of my PCA friends are more than a bit frustrated. The really terrible thing about this is that if/when Mr. Mattes gets his wish, you will lose many men who are standing firm when it comes to a biblical understanding of all these issues.

    Jason,
    IAO was a doctrine the Westminster Divines decided not to split over and the other two doctrines are affirmed by every FV proponent I know. Some may not like the way they formulate their position (or that that also affirm Christus Victor) but their position is biblically sound. The appeal to the standards is an appeal to a lesser standard than what the standards themselves require.

    al sends

  16. November 17, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Al,

    You mentioned IAO, I simply quoted Westminster’s language of “the imputation of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ.”

    Just because justification by the imputation of an alien righteousness is “affirmed by every FV man you know” doesn’t answer anything in the PCA. We have vowed submission to our brethren in the Lord, and so we must let our respective church courts decide if our beliefs are consistent with our ordination vows. Sure, it’d be great if we could just take every man’s word for it that he is Reformed, that’s just not possible, nor Presbyterian. So your judgment that “the views of these men are biblically sound” is irrelevant, as is another’s who thinks they’re nuts. It doesn’t matter what you or I think, it matters what the church thinks.

    You write, “The appeal to the standards is an appeal to a lesser standard than what the standards themselves require.” Does not the WCF say that it belongs to synods and councils to determine controversies of religion and polity? Sure, the Bible is our only inspired source of authority, but it doesn’t preach or interpret itself.

    For my own part, it is precisely at this point that we see the achilles’ heel of the Federal Vision.

  17. its.reed said,

    November 17, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    ref. #12:

    Al, I don’t think it helpful to say that those of us who believe the FV is at least heterodox want to “force out a pastor like Steve Wilkins.”

    I believe it more in keeping with assuming the best of our brethren to say that we wish for the teaching of the FV to cease in our churches. Other things that accompany that result are secondary, and most not to be rejoiced in.

    It is not a glorious thing that we are in this debate. if it happens in ensuing matters (not at this point wit LAP), it will not be a reason to celebrate that a man ordained to the ministry be judged by his fellow elders to ascribe to an error he does not see, no matter which side is right.

    I for one do not think such an attitude of rejoicing at the loss of others, such as Rev. Wilkins, is the common attitude among those of us who oppose the FV. To read that into our opposition is to judge us with less than the charity owed, and I believe, the charity with which the LAP including Rev. Wilkins have received so far, and as God is merciful, will continue to receive.

    I for one am tired of inferences, implications, or outright accusations that opposition to the FV marks one as one who is not living up to the standard of Christ’s love. This may not have been your intention, but your words lend themselves to this end.

  18. Joshua said,

    November 17, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Mr. Barlow REF #6

    I’m not “Reformed News” – I’m a human that goes by the name “Jon Barlow.”

    Yes, but isn’t Reformednews.com and barlowfarms.com both your blogs?

  19. November 17, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Al,

    I and every officer in the PCA takes an oath, swearing in the affirmative to: “Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?” All that I and my orthodox brothers have done and are doing is carrying out our vow, which we take very seriously. Don’t paint the FVers in the PCA as victims. They chose and continue to choose to freely hold errant theological positions that the 35th General Assembly of the PCA has declared “contrary to the Westminster Standards.” There’s no ambiguity in that ruling no matter how many street surveys that you take.

    Every PCA officer also answers this oath in the affirmative: “Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?” PCA Federal Visionists have refused to submit to their brothers and repent of their errors after the 35th GA.. That’s not victimhood, that’s defiance of their oath of ordination and their brothers.

    BCO 11-4 says “Every court has the right to resolve questions of doctrine and discipline seriously and reasonably proposed, and in general to maintain truth and righteousness, condemning erroneous opinions and practices which tend to the injury of the peace, purity, or progress of the Church.” Thus the PCA is merely doing its duty before God and the world to fulfill one of its purposes as a church. The Memorial and current SJC case follow directly from this right.

    As to the process, another part of the ordination oath is: “Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of Biblical polity?” That process has been running in the form of the Memorial for about two years. Since FV officers answered this question in the affirmative, they have no room for complaint when the processes of discipline are followed.

    So contrary to your statement, it is not “what Mr. Mattes wants” but what the polity of the PCA demands and what to which these FV officers in the PCA swore when they were ordained. Nobody does or should care what I want, but everybody in the PCA should care what the BCO requires and that to which their officers swear on ordination. Then they should care enough to uphold the rule of law as defined in the BCO. If the people in your street survey or other officers in the PCA don’t understand this, then our seminaries are failing. I personally don’t think that’s the case, not by a long stretch.

  20. Michael Saville said,

    November 17, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Bob.
    Since when as any FV person refused to submit to a court of the church. The GA vote represented advise, not a change to the constitution of the church. It was not something to which our ministers and elders are now bound to submit. Wilkins has submitted to every review and examination that his presbytery has requested–as has Peter Leithart in my own presbytery. Furthermore, many associated with the FV do not recognize their personal views in those condemned by the GA (just as you do not).

  21. Michael Saville said,

    November 17, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Jason,
    I know that they feel that they’re protecting the church from error. However, I doubt that anyone sincerely believes that Wilkins is the least confessionally orthodox minister or elder in the PCA so as to warrant this unprecedented action of the SJC.

  22. Michael Saville said,

    November 17, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Al,
    I’m a minister in the PCA, but my wife’s from the CREC (Wilson’s church). The current state of affairs on worship and gender roles concerns me far more than the FV, and to lose these men would be a loss to the PCA on these issues.

  23. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 17, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    Re #12

    Al,

    Thanks for the Pauline Kael reference! I make use of that quote often, but never knew to whom to attribute it. Was she a reporter for the NYT? That is how I heard it.

    So, you are an elder in a CREC church; will you humor me for just a moment? I have never had the opportunity to ask a CREC elder this directly, but do you defend the practice of imprecatory prayers against fellow evangelical Christians, which the CREC engaged in (according to its official minutes) at one of its national meetings? Is that something that all CREC elders defend, or are there some that oppose the practice?

    Anyway, to your point. Yes, everybody’s own circle of aquaintances is different. And the third-hand anecdote you relate may or may not be representative. If it is, then we have our work cut out for us in the PCA. If it is not, we still have our work cut out for us in the PCA.

    Grace and Peace.

    P.S. I am going to assume your reference to Ligon Duncan as “Legion” Duncan was a typo, and not a Doug Wilsonesque smarty pants mouthing off, comparing him to a demon. If it was the latter, you will be banned from this blog.

  24. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 17, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Re #13

    Greetings, Michael.

    You write, “With ‘Sonship theology’ being taught far and wide, unbiblical worship practices, and confusion over gender roles, I’d have to say that the FV should be near the bottom of the PCA’s concerns.”

    Don’t quite know what you’re getting at here, especially with your reference to “Sonship theology.” But if you honestly believe that the damage that “Sonship theology,” “unbiblical worship practices” (I assume you mean by that things like dance and drama), and “confusion over gender roles” (I assume you mean by that churches that have women deaconnesses and women reading Scripture in worship) is doing to the PCA is worse in its implications than the FV distinctives, you need to rethink that. Jason Stellman was exactly right in his reply to you.

  25. November 17, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Michael,

    You wrote:

    “I doubt that anyone sincerely believes that Wilkins is the least confessionally orthodox minister or elder in the PCA so as to warrant this unprecedented action of the SJC.”

    Help me understand your point. Are you saying that, since there are Sonship and Redeemer type guys in the PCA who let women read the Bible in the worship service, that therefore Wilkins should be allowed to hold views remarkably similar to those condemned by 95% of our last GA?

    Or, are you saying that the PCA should go after Wilkins, as long as they go after Keller, all the Sonship guys, not to mention at least five guys in your presbytery who live within 20 minutes of you?

    Is it all or nothing?

  26. November 17, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Sorry about not turning the italics off when I shoulda.

  27. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 17, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    Full disclosure. I was a featured Sonship cover boy back in the day (their monthly newsletter). Jack Miller was a profound influence in my life, one of my chief mentors. We make good use of the Sonship curriculum here at Trinity in Asheville (though not sure if we are a “Sonship” church as the word on the street is that one World Harvest staffmember once recommended to one of our members that they leave our church for a “church that taught grace.”) Sonship simply shines the light on the bridge chapter in our Confession between justification and sanctification, for those with eyes to see.

    So, again, not sure exactly what Michael is getting at, but the biographical detail that his wife is from Doug Wilson’s church is helpful information.

    Back in the day (way before my Sonship cover boy day) Jack Miller was one of the main professors at WTS that brought charges against Norm Shepherd in their OPC Presbytery. It only makes sense that folks like Doug Wilson and James Jordan, who think Shepherd was right and Miller persecuted him, would be irritated by Sonship theology, with its heavy emphasis on assurance of salvation et al.

    Sociological analysis gets confusing, and is so higly speculative as it is, that I’ll leave it there.

  28. November 17, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    Michael,

    I’m a minister in the PCA, but my wife’s from the CREC (Wilson’s church). The current state of affairs on worship and gender roles concerns me far more than the FV, and to lose these men would be a loss to the PCA on these issues.

    Really? Let’s review the bidding. Gender roles are indeed important, but Federal Vision cuts at the heart of the gospel and sola fide. Now, which is the greater threat? What does it matter if men hold the appropriate view of women’s role in the church, share your taste in worship music, but teach a mythical objective covenant in which God routinely violates Rom 8:28-30 and Phil 1:6 by granting the reprobate justification, adoption, sanctification, and forgiveness of sins but then condemns them to hell by withholding perseverance?

    Now, please explain again which is the greater threat to the purity of the church?

  29. Dave H said,

    November 17, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Take a gander over at Pastor Wilson’s blog site at a rather delightful post entitled “As Presbyterian As Britney Spears”. It is most insightful and helpful.

  30. November 17, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    Dave H.,

    Thanks for the point out. That’s a hoot! Now Wilson is an expert in PCA polity? Perhaps Wilson should read Jeff’s post in #11. Reading the SJC case summaries wouldn’t hurt either.

    It always amazes me how those accountable to no one want to hold everyone else accountable to their own opinions, no matter how uninformed. I praise God that the PCA has an orderly process agreeable with Scripture and recorded in the BCO where everyone is held accountable to all, and all can know the rules simply by reading them.

    I’ll say it again, the rule of law is the foundation of freedom.

  31. Kyle said,

    November 17, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    Insightful?

    Doug Wilson is as insightful as the CREC is Presbyterian.

    I swear, the more I read from the Tsar of Moscow, the less I trust him.

  32. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 17, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    I know this is predictable that I would say this, but I’ll say it anyway:

    No, Dave H., that post is neither helpful, insightful, nor delightful. But at least whatever time it took him to compose it was time not spent praying imprecatory prayers against evangelical Christians.

  33. November 18, 2007 at 12:23 am

    Jeff, I am really confused about your references to imprecations against fellow evangelical Christians. What are you referring to?

    And I claim no special knowledge of things BCO. What I do claim to know is that Steve Wilkins is a minister in good standing in the PCA, and hence his bad standing in the PCA cannot justly be used against Louisiana Presbytery. That doesn’t mean the deal won’t still go down — looks like all the gears are in motion to me, and I bet you two dollars that there will be an official looking reference to point to in order to keep people bumfuzzled, and to keep them from looking at what is actually happening.

    “Now LAP is technically on trial for violating the BCO. That said, Wilkins’ errant theology does figure prominently in the case.” Your own words make my point for me. Technically on trial? I see. So what are they really on trial for? What is really going on? You gave it away in the next sentence — Wilkins’ errant theology. Okay. So when will that errant theology be legally established so that it can be legally used against Louisiana Presbytery? “Oh, we don’t have to do that because Louisiana is technically on trial for putting up with Wilkins, who hasn’t technically been found guilty, but that, of course, is a mere technicality. We all know in our hearts that he is.” Wilkins is guilty! Where? Down in our hearts!

    One of the things that you all will have to come to grips with is that many in the Reformed world know exactly what play you are running, and have every intention of watching you do it. The fix is in. Biblical justice and due process are clearly not being honored, and it looks to me like the charade will simply be brazened out.

    But I can assure you that it will not occur without a running color commentary from me. After you run your play, we are all going to watch the replay a hundred times, including the tape of the referee who hath eyes to see, and seest not, and I am going to be John Madden, drawing x’s and o’s all over that thing. And I will have some particularly ripe comments to go with it. It is a subject worthy of my peculiar talents.

  34. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 12:46 am

    Doug,

    Thank you for your comment; it is a keeper. I am happy to answer direct questions asked directly of me, but at this late hour I’ll have to leave off responding to your questions and comments until another day.

    In the mean time your comment at least demonstrates one of my ongoing assumptions about you (sorry about that; public figures and published authors tend to have opinions formed about them by folks that have never met them). I have always wondered how you could come to such quick and settled positions about so many things, and then write at length about your positions. Well, one way to do that is to not take the time to actually read carefully the things to which you are responding. Your comment takes me to task for comments Bob Mattes made, not me. I am not trying to be snippy, just stating an observation directly. I think the one other time you interacted publicly with a comment of mine, you demonstrated that you hadn’t read my comments very carefully then either.

    As our friends in Australia say, no worries!

  35. Al said,

    November 18, 2007 at 12:48 am

    Jeff,

    I would never call Rev Duncan (I am afraid to type his first name now) a demon. It was a typo. My apologies.

    Also, I am not sure to what you are referring, concerning imprecatory psalms prayed against Christians. I would not consider that a right use of the word of God nor of prayer.

    al sends

  36. Jason Farley said,

    November 18, 2007 at 2:17 am

    Is Kyle’s comment legit? I am just wondering because I noticed that a typo about rev. duncan was noted but this comment was ignored?

  37. Michael Saville said,

    November 18, 2007 at 2:59 am

    Jeff,
    Sorry about my statement earlier. I should have been a bit more careful in the way I worded it, and not simply referred to Sonship in passing. And as for Jack Miller, I’ve read and benefited from some of his books and teaching in Practical Theology and have read and referred to Outgrowing the Ingrown Church with much appreciation.

    My difficulties with Sonship are less in what is expressly said, but in the things that are left unsaid or underemphasized. My impressions have been that the materials lack an adequate and balanced perspective on sanctification and the the third use of the law. I also think it tends to assume that all people are going through the same kinds of struggles with legalism and self righteousness. (I good go on, but I’m guessing that you’re familiar with the critiques of Terry Johnson and Richard Pratt among others)

    My main concern though is with the effects on pastors and churches. I’ve attended churches influenced by Sonship, and sat under preaching that sounds the same from week to week and where the imperatives of scripture (eg. passages like Hebrews 12:14) are routinely blunted of their edge.

    Jeff, you may have able to use the materials prudently (and I’m sure there are pastors who do), but this has definitely been my impression of churches where Sonship is prominent.

    BTW, I’ve seen your posts for some time, and though I disagree with you on these matters at hand, I’ve really appreciated both your comments and your tone on most matters. I am grateful for your heart for Christ and his people. Blessings this Sabbath.

  38. Michael Saville said,

    November 18, 2007 at 3:13 am

    Hey again Jason,
    My comments to Jeff, should clear up things a bit on Sonship.

  39. Michael Saville said,

    November 18, 2007 at 3:22 am

    Bob,
    If the FV is endangering Sola Fide than I’d agree that it’s more important than those other issues. However, in the years that I’ve studied the FV issue (as well as the theology of Schilder and the Liberated Reformed who have emphasized the objectivity of the covenant as much as anybody), I’ve not at all been convinced that this is the case. Don’t get me wrong. There are areas where I do disagree with FV proponents (doctrine of the covenant, hermeneutical principles and so on), however, I don’t see in their views anything (save paedocommunion) that is fundamentally novel or unprecedented in the Reformed tradition.

  40. Christopher Witmer said,

    November 18, 2007 at 5:51 am

    Al, that may have been a typo but it happened in the providence of God.

    And speaking of demons, just as you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy, this whole stinking mess reminds me that you can take the PCA out of the PCUSA, but you can’t take the PCUSA out of the PCA.

    I guess BCO is short for “BCOze we can.”

  41. GLW Johnson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 7:49 am

    Say, where is ‘Ray’? He was complaining about how my comments were not becoming a pastor because of my remarks were too acerbic in reference to the kind hearted , soft-spoken and persecuted FV. But Wilson, who is also a pastor, is given a free pass by Ray even after he lampooned and castigates and maligns the PCA (not to mention the equally unkind things he said about the OPC). Come on, Ray, where is your indignation now? Oh, I see, its only directed at the critics of the FV. I kinda though so.

  42. Ken Christian said,

    November 18, 2007 at 7:52 am

    In ref. to #34 – Jeff, it appears to me that you’re only addressed in Wilson’s first paragraph. It seems that the rest contains more arguments directed against Bob.

  43. Mark T. said,

    November 18, 2007 at 8:48 am

    Imprecatory Prayer Meetings
    According to a church official, Christ Church engaged in praying prayers of imprecation last summer against its enemies. At a Heads of Households meeting, Douglas Jones introduced the notion of imprecatory prayers, describing them as seeking God to bring down temporal judgment into a particular situation. Mr. Jones announced at that meeting that an imprecatory prayer time would be held every weekday at 2:00 P.M. at Anselm House throughout at least the months of June and July.

    According to Douglas Wilson, one of the purposes of the prayer meetings was to bring low the men who had brought the charges against him and the Christ Church Session.

    P & R News, January–December 2004

    Wilson and his disciples directed these prayers at three very close friends of mine, as well as the elders of the Evangelical Free Church of Pullman, WA.

  44. Mark T. said,

    November 18, 2007 at 8:53 am

    BTW: All three men are faithful brothers in Christ, as Wilson knows.

  45. GLW Johnson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 9:12 am

    Mark T
    I come more and more to appreciate your unique perspective regarding the very disturbing things surrounding Doug Wilson and co. It has been an eye-opener to sat the least.

  46. November 18, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Gary, before coming to appreciate someone’s “unique perspective,” it would probably be good if you knew who they were. And Jeff, Ken was right. I was only responding to you in the first paragraph, asking about the imprecations. I should have made my shift clearer. My apologies.

    But I would still appreciate hearing from Bob on this. How can Wilkins be used against Louisiana when Wilkins is still in good standing?

  47. Christopher Witmer said,

    November 18, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Here’s a classic imprecatory prayer: “May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.” You guys got any complaints with that? I think we need a lot more such prayer, not less.

  48. GLW Johnson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Gee, Doug, should that piece of advice be approps for someone like yourself from commenting so authoritatively about the SJC and the PCA in general?

  49. Dave H said,

    November 18, 2007 at 10:39 am

    GLWJ

    On behalf of Ray and others surprised by your oft posted comments, your attacks tend to be far more personal and likely indicative of what happens when too much authority is granted too soon to young men not yet seasoned or tempered. Nothing wrong with debating and disagreeing strongly in public on issues with which you may disagree; but, Internet users (especially pastors) should be cautious of the words used against other men and especially fellow pastors. Your example as pastor should not just be in what you believe, but in how you live your life. Obviously, by nature, you might have a rather strong personality; but just try counting to ten, and then read your post a few times prior to hitting “enter”. You may find that you eventually have as many friends in the FV camp (even FV pastors) as Pastor Wilson and other FV pastors have within the PCA and OPC camps. Remember: issues, not men. And try avoiding words like “cult”.

  50. GLW Johnson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Dave H
    Why am I not surprised that you pop up with this kind of remark. For your information DH, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. I am a combat vet of Vietnam, I am 57 years and have been a pastor for over 30 years, and I hold three seminary degrees. Finally, you can no more seperate the men from the issues surrounding the FV than you can Peter from the rebute the Apostle Paul gave him as recorded in Gal. 2:11-14. I have yet to see a single one of you ‘indignant’ types express any concerns about Wilson’s slanderous conduct. Go Figure.

  51. Mrs. T. said,

    November 18, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    In reference to Christopher Witmer’s #40 comment, I’m wondering if the fine folks at Green Baggins are going to do anything about the fact that he’s not-very-subtly just called Ligon Duncan a demon.

    Mr. Witmer, shame on you. I don’t believe you’ve heard anything quite so nefarious from anyone in the anti-FV camp being hurled at any of this new theology’s proponents. Obviously you don’t know the man, but if you knew Dr. Duncan as I do (he’s my pastor) you would realize your error and beg his forgiveness for your crass remark. Because someone disagrees with you does not give you the right to refer to a brother as a demon. Come on, now. Honestly, sir.

  52. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Once I figure out how to make use of the powers Lane has bestowed upon me, I will definitely be banning Christopher Witmer from this blog. So, Christopher, in the window of time it will take me to attend to some other things, and then aquire the “blogging for dummies” competency required to ban you, you can either choose to hold your tongue, or give us your mighty wind.

  53. Kyle said,

    November 18, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Jason, re: 36,

    Is there something particularly heinous about my comment? If it’s about “Tsar,” what else does one call a king in Moscow?

  54. its.reed said,

    November 18, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Ref. #33:

    Rev. Wilson, you presume too much, you assume you know too much when you judge the PCA in general and officer holders in particular with such statements as these:

    “One of the things that you all will have to come to grips with is that many in the Reformed world know exactly what play you are running, and have every intention of watching you do it. The fix is in. Biblical justice and due process are clearly not being honored, and it looks to me like the charade will simply be brazened out.”

    The only conclusion you leave us with is that either we are all in cahoots to subvert Christ’s justice, or some of us are and the rest of us are mere dupes (willing fools) at best.

    Meawhile the PCA’s process continues a pace, in exact conformity with the published standards of our BOC – nothin hidden, and no fix, just mere humble integrity. Rev. Wilkins is not on trial in the matter re.; LAP. If and when he is, the same above board process, with complete consistency, if God continues to be merciful, will be followed. There will be no fix. Merely an honorable usage of the means we;ve agreed to use when such serious matters come before us. Proceeding with proper decorum to seek the truth is an expression of faith in Christ to give us justice.

    For you to continue to state that some in the PCA are putting the fix on, and that the rest of us (by implication) either applaud it or don’t get it – is dishonorable at best. Shame on you for maligning the character and reputations of 100’s (1,000’s) of elders you’ve never met.

    Shame on you. May God grant you the mercy to repent and hold your tongue.

    Rev. Reed DePace
    Elkton, MD

  55. Ken Christian said,

    November 18, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Shame on us if we don’t each take about 5 minutes to ask ourselves in the PCA, “What if Wilson’s at least even partially correct? When then?”

  56. its.reed said,

    November 18, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Ref. # 55:

    Ken, you and I owe our brothers the judgment of charity until evidence suggests otherwise. Then we are to proceed in humility and grace, seeking clarification.

    Such has been the general trend of those of us who believe the FV is in error. I admit that some opponents have not followed the rule of Christian charity. The vast majority however, such as Dr. Duncan, here labeled a demon by FV supporter Christopher Witmer (ref. #40), have proceed with grace and charity to their opponents. No name calling, no impugning the integrity of their opponents, just simple dealing with the matters themselves.

    Yet by and large the kind of comment made here by Rev. Wilson is par for the course. Documenting it is a pointless exercise and if one does not want to see it; no amount of evidence will suffice.

    Meanwhile, where is the evidence that the “fix is in” within the PCA with regards to unjustly finding Rev. Wilkins or any other FV supporter guilty? Where is the evidence that anything has been pursued in a manner that even begins to suggest that officers of the PCA are winking their eyer at their vows and doing what they want regardless of the truth?

    Where is the evidene – even five minutes worth – that the SJC “fixed” the outcome? Where is the evidence that LAP did do their duty as they swore to do when they took their vows, and then where is the evidence that the SJC has ignored that in order to unjustly go after Wilkins or anyone else?

    Your hypothetical either assumes we ignore the “when then” because we are hell bent on injustice, or it hasn’t occurred to us that we who oppose the FV need to proceed with humility, seeking Gods’ grace and mercy lest we too fall into the kind of hyperbolic diatribe represented by Rev. Wilson’s statement.

    I have not engaged in any judicious or injudicious attacks on anyone who supports the FV. Most of the men and women I’ve read who have made their opposition have likewise behaved civily and with charity towards those who support the FV. Yet they and I are labeled by Rev. Wilson’s statement. He dishonors us and 100’s like us.

    Have you given 5 minutes to consider the egregiousness of that? I have. I’ve spent the last few years prayerfully seeking to listen and understand. Meanwhile, I find that myself and those who disagree with the FV – who’ve done nothing to deserve such dishonor – keep getting it piled on.

    Rev. Wilson’s statement is a use of a worldly weapon. It is wrong for a Christian to so engage himself with anyone, especially his professed brothers.

    Where is your worry that we don’t take 5 minutes to be concerned about that?

    I for one am grateful for the slowness of the PCA process. Here we are years after some of us reached the conclusions that the 35th GA reached this past summer, and we’re still only dealing with a secondary technical issue – and doing so with integrity. This has taken us much longer than five minutes.

    Am I wrong to wonder why you do not see that your question is already answered by the history of the matter? Am I wrong to worry why you don’t see this?

  57. November 18, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    […] 18, 2007 at 3:59 pm (Church, Federal Vision) Before you read this post, you really need to read this comment by Doug Wilson. I will be excerpting it here, but you need to read the entire comment in context to […]

  58. November 18, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    Doug,

    I couldn’t do justice to an answer to your comment in the form of a comment, so I wrote an entire post addressing your comment in #33. You can find it on the front page.

  59. November 18, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    […] away at the public, published, meticulous processes in the Presbyterian Church of America. He wrote this comment apparently in complete ignorance of both PCA polity and the Standing Judicial’s […]

  60. Ken Christian said,

    November 18, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Judgements of charity are one thing; blind allegience is another. Take 5 minutes and practice some discernment, brothers.

    Was anyone really all that comfortable with the make up of the Ad Interim FV Study Committee? Don’t many of us find it weird that Steve Wilkins has never had the opportunity to face his accusers in a court? Think this through, men.

  61. Robert K. said,

    November 18, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Re #52: Jeff Hutchinson, remember GreenBaggins has a two strike rule. Not one! Don’t shorten the process, I could be history in no time…!

  62. Robert K. said,

    November 18, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Christopher, all your drama when you very well know FVists such as Wilkins are talking with a grin on their mouth, saying to their fellow FVists: “Let’s see how far I can get with this before they really start freaking out, ha ha ha…”

    You’re trying to redefine Westminsterian Reformed Theology, and you’re not being allowed to do it. You won’t just start your own group because you know you’ll just be one of a score of thousand such groups that nobody pays any attention to. You only get attention and have leverage because you are in the tent where truth still resides pretending to be something you are not.

    Havn’t you sort of noticed it’s not working? And it won’t work? Shelve this attempt. It’s not like you can’t regroup, change clothing, and make another attempt from some other angle. Watchman will be keeping an eye on you, though. That’s just the way it is…

    ps- Ralph Smith is no Witsius. Read Witsius.

  63. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Re #8

    Excellent thoughts, as usual, Anne. If I’m remembering correctly, you are not even a member of the PCA, and yet you demonstrate more love and concern for us than some members I can think of. Thanks so much, dear sister! Our little corner of God’s harvest field is sustained by the prayers of God’s sons and daughters like yourself.

  64. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Re #35

    Al, thanks for humoring me! And better than humoring me, “heartening” me.

    It is particularly encouraging to hear that your reference to Lig Duncan was indeed a typo (I had hoped and assumed so), and that you “would not consider (imprecatory prayers) a right use of the word of God nor of prayer.” That is really, really, heartening to hear. I am glad for more evidence that it would not be good to form impressions of all CREC elders based on the attested behavior of a few.

    I was referring to one of the CREC’s annual meetings (don’t have time to do the search of minutes) at which it prayed imprecations against an Evangelical Free Church and an OPC Presbytery and I think a PCA Presbytery (I might be wrong about that). Mark T’s blog (linked from his name on his comments here) has some other deeply troubling information with regard to the practice.

    Anyway, thanks so much for your response, both its tone and content.

    Grace and Peace to you, your family, and church.

  65. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    Re #37

    Thanks so much, Michael.

    Thanks for your spirit, but also for your carefully expressed critiques of Sonship (Johnsonian and Prattian, if you will, and not Jay Adamsonian). I do share those sorts of concerns, generally speaking. Sorry if I was making a mountain out of a molehill!

    Not to ruin this “Kodak moment,” but even Sonship at its worst (as you wrote and I agree to some degree: an inadequate and unbalanced perspective on sanctification and the the third use of the law; assuming that all people are going through the same kinds of struggles with legalism and self righteousness; a routine blunting of the imperatives of scripture) is still healthier than the FV distinctives being taught and believed. I know you may still disagree with me on this point, but that is where I am coming from, anyway.

    Thanks for the interaction, brother. And thanks for your prayers for our worship service today! The Lord heard and answered your prayers. A South Korean student gave testimony that she had come to saving faith in Christ since coming to our church, among other marvelous testimonies of God’s faithfulness. All blessings to you and your church.

  66. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    I know I am a “homer,” but comment #50 was awesome!

  67. November 18, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Al,

    I fixed your typo in #12. Hopefully that’s a dead issue now. Jeff, David, and I can fix typos in comments, so please don’t hesitate to ask us to fix particularly unfortunate ones like that.

  68. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    Continuing my housekeeping, comment #54 was even better. The Lord has much good for Doug Wilson in Reed’s wise and loving counsel, if he would be willing to receive it.

    Thanks, Reed. You–unworthy sinner now made acceptable by Christ and filled with His wisdom–are a great asset to His Kingdom.

  69. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Re #60

    Ken, I know your comment #60 was a response to Reed’s reasoned and sound counsel in #56, but I encourage you to read it through again, cut and paste it, print it out, and make good use of it before the Lord. He really does have good wisdom for you there. Reed is a good brother and godly elder who has your best in mind.

    As for your particular comments, “Was anyone really all that comfortable with the make up of the Ad Interim FV Study Committee?” Yes. I sure was. Plainly the majority of this past summer’s GA was as well, though certainly a significant minority were not.

    “Don’t many of us find it weird that Steve Wilkins has never had the opportunity to face his accusers in a court?” I reject the premise of your question. His accusers, judicially, were the fathers and brothers of Central Carolina Presbytery (a Presbytery many times the size of the Louisiana Presbytery–I’m not saying might makes right, I am pointing out that thirteen men voted to exonerate Steve Wilkins, whereas there are well over a hundred elders at any given meeting of the CCP). ALL SIDES agree that the proper next step is for those charges to be investigated by Steve Wilkins’ own Presbytery. You are not proposing some other step should have been taken are you? ALL SIDES agree that, by a vote of 13-8, LA Presbytery chose to side with Steve Wilkins, against his accusers. They knew that that could open them up to the possibility of themselves now being the accused, which in fact has transpired.

    So please do not bring up your charges of injustice again. You have made your point. Good brothers can disagree about such things. But your point is not a good one, and does not advance the discussion here.

    “Think this through, men.” Many of us have been, at length, and continue to. Thanks for the admonition, it is always appropriate, though not if you were meaning to imply that folks haven’t been “thinking this through.” In that case the admonition comes across as self-righteous and tiresome. Not sure how you meant it, just letting you know how it could be perceived.

  70. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Re #33

    Doug,

    In blogtime a lot has transpired since your comment #33, including excellent responses from Reed (comment #54), Mark (#43 and 44), and Bob (his follow up post), so I’m not sure what I need to add. But I am happy to answer direct questions asked directly of me, as I have the time.

  71. Al said,

    November 18, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Bob,

    Thanks for clearing up my comments. I do not wish to be needlessly provocative let alone rude.

    Jeff,

    Perhaps you read too much into my comment (or it was late and I did not explain myself properly). I do not think imprecatory Psalms are to be directed against faithful covenant members of the Church, if that means you wish God to destroy them or that they be cut off. Now, I do not think that praying for God to come in and mediate justice between two parties is forbidden. Not by a long shot. And if I am in the right, biblically speaking, justice would mean my vindication.
    Does your abhorrence for imprecatory psalms prayed against fellow ministers of the Gospel square with your support of Mr. Mattes’ apparent glee over the SJC movements? Would the difference between the two be that you do not consider Pastor Wilkins to be a faithful covenant member within the PCA (in principle if not in fact)?

    Hope your Lord’s Day went well,

    Al sends

  72. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 10:09 pm

    Greetings, Al,

    There is too much in your post with regard to definitions of “faithful,” “covenant member,” “faithful covenant member,”
    “the Church,” that would need to be sorted out before explaining what now appear to be our differing views of the practice of imprecatory prayers, so I’ll leave off in that regard.

    Please don’t misread Bob Matte’s (and my) gratitude to the Lord for an orderly process being carried out in accordance with our avowed polity in the PCA, as if he is full of “glee.” He has already spoken to that, as has Reed DePace. We are saddened things have come to this, we wish and pray for nothing but the best for everyone involved, and we are thankful for good men keeping to their ordination vows.

  73. November 18, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Al,

    Does your abhorrence for imprecatory psalms prayed against fellow ministers of the Gospel square with your support of Mr. Mattes’ apparent glee over the SJC movements?

    Good news that the orderly process of justice in the PCA is proceeding forward to preserve the peace and purity of the denomination does not equal glee. As I’ve said many times, I pray that Wilkins and his followers will repent of his erroneous theology. There’s a huge gap between being grateful that positive actions are being taken to preserve the peace and purity of the PCA against the Federal Vision, and any kind of glee.

    [Update: Jeff already expressed this same sentiment while I was writing mine. All agree that overall, this situation is a great tragedy. Better that all this would not be necessary.]

  74. Al said,

    November 18, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    First, let me say that it is good to be able to question Mr. Mattes about these things and I appreciate his willingness to interact here. I also appreciate y’all’s graciousness to me in our little back and forth. I guess I have not ticked anyone off yet :-)

    I will check my talk of ‘glee’ and chock it up to reading into some of the posts with preconceptions.

    I may take a break for awhile. This is wearing me out. May I make a suggestion before I go? I would not allow anonymous blogs to be referenced here. Even if what they say is true it does not exactly hold up to a biblical pattern of how to exhort or rebuke an elder in the Church.

    Mt. T, an anonymous blogger, sounds a bit bitter (you may know him personally, I don’t – or at least I don’t think I do) and appears to have as his goal the harm of Pastor Wilson. Again, even if he posses some truth his motive may skew his reasoning. Just a suggestion – you may ask Lane.

    al sends

  75. anneivy said,

    November 18, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Re: #71

    Maybe I’m confused – wouldn’t be the first time, heaven knows – but I rather thought what makes a psalm/prayer qualify as “imprecatory” is the fact that it calls upon the LORD to destroy or cut off or otherwise curse the person/group being prayed against.

    This bit from Psalm 5 is a classic example:

    “Punish them, God;
    let them fall by their own schemes.
    Drive them out because of their many crimes,
    for they rebel against You.”

    IOW, “praying for God to come in and mediate justice between two parties” simply does not qualify as “imprecatory.”

    If actual imprecatory prayers were said against fellow believers by Pr. Wilson (or anyone else, for that matter), it was a wrong and wholly indefensible use of the genre.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  76. November 18, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Al,

    I may take a break for awhile. This is wearing me out.

    That goes for me and probably others. I’m usually too busy during the week to post much anyway. I do appreciate our interaction.

    Just a suggestion – you may ask Lane.
    Lane knows the situation.

  77. November 18, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    Jeff H., RE #70,

    Doug is spinning like a top over on his blog.

  78. Al said,

    November 18, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Well, Anne, we do not know what the prayer was nor who even uttered it. The accusation resides on an anonymous blog written by a third party. If the prayer is simply, “come in and minister justice” then I do not have a problem with it. If we are asking God to cut a member out of the covenant then I do have a problem with it. Do you know the person that was at the meeting? Or have you heard a CREC elder pray in this manner?

    That being said, it looks like some are willing to believe the most worstest about Doug Wilson, even when it originates from a bitter root.

    al sends

  79. anneivy said,

    November 18, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    No, no, Al…I was just meaning to point out that “imprecatory” carries a specific meaning, which is not “calling on the LORD to mediate justice between two parties.” It had seemed to me you were suggesting that if all the “imprecatory” prayers amounted to was that, such prayer would not have been a bad thing.

    Which would be true. OTOH, it’d also be true those wouldn’t have been, by definition, imprecatory prayers. If actual, honest-to-goodness imprecatory prayers were directed against other believers, that’d be wrong.

    And you’re right, there do seem to be some who would eschew forever chocolate chip cookies were they to discover Pr. Wilson likes them.

    I’m not of their number, though. ;-)

    My apologies for having been unclear.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  80. its.reed said,

    November 19, 2007 at 7:01 am

    Ref. #68 & 69:

    Ken, yes Jeff has captured my heart’s desire well. If in any way my words did not express this well, please chalk it up to the weaknesses of blogging and (more likely) my own weakenesses.

    Jeff, thanks for the compliment. How good it is to appreciate being called an unworthy sinner. No sarcasm, just gratefulness.

  81. Dave H said,

    November 19, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Forgive me GLWJ

    I didn’t know you were of such advanced age. But now your questionable remarks surprise me even more, as you have even less excuse for your statements. So my sentiments remain: “Nothing wrong with debating and disagreeing strongly in public on issues with which you may disagree; but, Internet users (especially pastors) should be cautious of the words used against other men and especially fellow pastors. Your example as pastor should not just be in what you believe, but in how you live your life. Obviously, by nature, you might have a rather strong personality; but just try counting to ten, and then read your post a few times prior to hitting “enter”.”

    Finally, I’m sure you agree that if you have a wife and I wrongly called her a “so-and-so” and a “you-know-what”, then you would have a right (actually an obligation) to take me to task personally, mano-a-mano. Likewise, when a pastor is slandered because of supposed views of the Gospel (a thing more dear than any of our wives), then that pastor has a right to respond to your slanderous attacks. It’s not necessarily a two-way street. I trust you can see the difference between an attack and a defense. But perhaps I assume too much.

  82. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 19, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Dave H,

    Your comment #81 does, I think, violate the spirit of Lane’s expressed guidelines for this blog (see my recent post, “Pruning Unnecessary Branches”). I don’t think it is either on topic, or advances this discussion. So this is “strike one.” Thanks.

  83. Dave H said,

    November 19, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    Better yet, I’ll take an intentional walk as there are far too many wild pitches here these days… Thank you. (I’m kinda missing my Baptist days from long past.)

  84. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Re #33

    Doug,

    Your comment #33 does, I think, violate the spirit of Lane’s expressed guidelines for this blog, expressed back at the beginning of this month (see my recent post, “Pruning Unnecessary Branches”). According to Lane’s November 2 post,

    “The criteria for approval….it’s placid in tone (this is not a church court), calls no one names; is not simple posturing….I know that I will probably lose some commenters because of this policy. However, those commenters will probably not be much of a loss. So the new policy is this: you get two “strikes,” and after that, you are permanently banned. What will get you a strike? Attack comments, asinine remarks…name-calling, and comments that repeat one’s position but don’t add to the specific discussion. This goes for *both* sides. No one is immune, not even good friends of mine.”

    So this is “strike one.” Thanks.

  85. Jonathan said,

    November 20, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Jeff H.
    According to your own rules should not Mark T. reveive a Strike One? His comment #43 is a pure attack on D. Wilson that does not really fit with the original post. Its a slightly random bit of fluff that is designed to make Wilson look bad.

    “Attack comments, asinine remarks…name-calling, and comments that repeat one’s position but don’t add to the specific discussion. This goes for *both* sides. No one is immune, not even good friends of mine”

    Consistency in moderating such a topic is an absolute must! Yet you say that Mark T. has an excellent comment in #43 when it is in fact in violation of the very rules you claim to be upholding-Double Standards FTW!

    Oh and this post does violate the rules however I think that needed to be pointed out.

  86. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 21, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Jonathan, your post #85 doesn’t violate the rules, and is a fair question. We’ll just have to disagree on our assessments, however.

  87. Jonathan said,

    November 21, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Ok I deleted what I was about to type here because it was not in Christian love. I think instead I will go to bed.

    Jeff H. in my opinion your moderation is lacking and biased. However as this is a personal blog and you have no need to be objective in moderating it I don’t really have a leg to stand on to complain about that :) So I will attempt to refrain from posting any more mod type issues I have.

  88. GLW Johnson said,

    November 21, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Dave H finds any disagreement on my part with Wilson unacceptable thus he makes these kind of accusations. Since he has decided to fly the coup so to speak and as such cannot respond, perhaps another of DW’s supporters can locate in my remarks the kind of thing DH accuses me of doing, i.e. slandering DW.

  89. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 21, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Gary,

    If desired I can search through the many threads for comments of yours, but I think your #45 in this thread (expressing some degree of agreement with Mark T.’s material) is about as close to slander of DW that you’ve gotten. I could be forgetting something.

    On the other hand, when the NYT article caused a brief dust-up about Doug’s relationship with his brother Evan, you decried the use of such questionable material against a pastor.

    If Mark T. is in fact accusing Doug anonymously, I would suggest that such accusations fall in the same category as the aforementioned dust-up. But I’m a bystander from enough of a distance that I might just have no idea what I’m talking about.

    Keith

  90. November 28, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    […] to our Lord Jesus Christ with our words and wit, or are we adding our pride and acerbic “peculiar talents” to the offense of the cross? Do we seek to justify ourselves, or to offer the justification […]

  91. November 29, 2007 at 10:23 am

    […] to our Lord Jesus Christ with our words and wit, or are we adding our pride and acerbic “peculiar talents” to the offense of the cross? Do we seek to justify ourselves, or to humbly offer the […]


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