Answer to Doug Wilson on PCA Polity

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 catch its full glory. I normally don’t go to this kind of trouble to answer folks outside the PCA, but Doug instisted. It would also be helpful to read my comment that explained a bit more about the BCO process and where we are in that process with Louisiana Presbytery.

Reviewing the Bidding
I will start by making a general observation about polity and accountability, using myself as an example. As a ruling elder, I was trained, examined, ordained, and installed over 20 years ago in accordance with the Book of Church Order, taking the appropriate oath of office. When I transferred to the PCA, I was again examined and installed in my new denomination, and again took the appropriate oath. That process is spelled out clearly in the BCO, and requires knowledge and acceptance of the Scriptures, the Westminster Standards, and the system of government and discipline in the PCA. I am accountable to my brothers on my Session, in my Presbytery, and of course at the General Assembly. This is what I expect. In my professional life, I’ve had accountability to a chain of command no matter how high I’ve risen in that chain.

Doug Wilson, on the other hand, in supporting his role as a pastor never earned an M.Div, is self-ordained, self-installed, self-published, and accountable only to himself (humanly speaking). He created his own independent church, then eventually created his own denomination over which he continues to have complete sway. All these are facts. If you don’t believe me, check out Doug’s bio (if you can find one). [UPDATE: Several reference links were edited out here to keep within the posting guidelines. This edit was not done as a result of the laughable attempts at intimidation from Mike Lawyer (Doug Wilson’s personal assistant) or Doug Wilson himself, as those have all been weathered nicely, thank you. This edit is solely to keep within the established guidelines for posting on GreenBagginses.]

Now for my opinion: It seems to me that accountability is a foreign concept to Doug Wilson, so it is not surprising to me that the published and orderly processes such as the PCA’s are completely foreign to him. He can defend his errant friends in other denominations without fear of coming under discipline. What does surprise me is that Doug finds it necessary to trash the PCA and its orderly processes on a frequent and regular basis. In doing so, Doug sets himself above thousands of duly trained, examined, ordained, and installed church elders submissive to and led by the Spirit. I find that shameful.

Now to be clear, I am NOT saying that Doug Wilson is a heretic or worse. I do not believe that and never have. He is, as far as I can tell, the most orthodox of the Federal Visionists, theologically speaking. He has written things, especially on infant baptism, which have helped and favorably influenced many in their Reformed faith. But he has also written things which I consider unfortunate embarrassments to orthodox Christianity and hurtful to the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He has never retracted those unfortunate writings, but rather continues to defend them.

The Discussion
In his comment linked above, Doug said:

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.

I wish that I had a nickel for every time a Federal Visionist used that argument. In Wilkins’ particular case, he has only survived in the PCA because Louisiana Presbytery has failed to do its job correctly. That’s not just Bob’s opinion, but the official position of the PCA as found by our Standing Judicial Commission. Here are their words in Case 2007-8:

2) Does the record support 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 some of the views of TE Steve Wilkins were out of conformity with the Constitutional standards?

2) Yes

Now, I don’t know how Doug reads that, but the plain words say that there is “a strong presumption of guilt that some of the views of TE Steve Wilkins were out of conformity with the Constitutional standards”. [Updated the following sentence upon receipt of more information.] Although technically TE Wilkins remains in good standing for now, nothing prevents his errant theology (upon which he has written extensively) from being used to hold LAP to account and this was the basis for my comment that:

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.

That’s what the SJC said and what I summarized. It’s that simple. Does the BCO cover such a situation? You bet. From BCO 13-9f says that Presbyteries have the obligation:

To condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of the Church; to visit churches for the purpose of inquiring into and redressing the evils that may have arisen in them;

There is a strong presumption that Louisiana Presbytery has failed to do that in Wilkins’ case, and they now must answer for it. This wasn’t the decision of a pope or any one individual, but the finding of body of properly trained, examined, ordained, and installed church officers elected by the General Assembly and governed by the BCO.

Doug comments further regarding Louisiana Presbytery:

So what are they really on trial for? What is really going on? You gave it away in the next sentence — Wilkins’ errant theology.

Uh, no. Like I have been recommending, read the case summaries. In the summary for Case 2006-2:

 

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 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).

So LAP will be on trial (if they don’t plead guilty) because there is a strong presumption that they violated BCO 13-9f, 40-4, and 40-5. To be sure, Wilkins’ errant views lurk behind all this, but it is the Presbytery’s own actions that will be on trial. This answers that entire paragraph of Wilson’s comment, making the rest of it look pretty silly in my opinion.

Doug then comments:

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.

My, my. I sincerely hope that the rest of the Reformed world does know. If they don’t know what “play is running”, they can just read the BCO and SJC case summaries. No secrets, no star chambers, but a very well recorded accountability process available for anyone to read. I also sincerely hope that other PCA Presbyteries are reading it as well. This IS due process. The only thing “clearly not being honored” here is the peace and purity of the PCA by Doug and his devotees.

The Threat
Here’s Doug’s “scary” conclusion:

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.

Well, anyone who has followed Doug, his blog, or his self-published materials are well acquainted with his “peculiar talents.” By all means, check out Mark T.’s blog for some gory details. Sean also has some related material. Doug’s biting sarcasm and ability to spin stories to ridicule his opponents is well documented. Doug has a number of devotees that eat that stuff up, but the almost unanimous 35th General Assembly vote and the votes of six other orthodox Reformed denominations showed how much influence Doug’s self-published acerbic pen has outside his little circle.

As for me, I and my fellow orthodox elders all swore affirmatively and without reservation to the following at installation:

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?

That included the outrageous slings and arrows fired from Wilson’s pen. There was a time when Doug’s stuff went virtually unchallenged, perhaps because some feared his acerbic pen and manner. Those days are gone when it comes to attacks on the PCA.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Posted by Bob Mattes

83 Comments

  1. Ken Christian said,

    November 18, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Bob – Since when is a legally unproven presumption of guilt been enough to remove one’s good standing as a minister in the PCA? Yet is that you’re implying here:

    “Now, I don’t know how Doug reads that, but the plain words say that there is “a strong presumption of guilt that some of the views of TE Steve Wilkins were out of conformity with the Constitutional standards”. That’s not the description of a TE in good standing…” ?

  2. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Bob,

    Don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the great Billy Bragg, but one of his scathing lyrics says it all, “If you’ve got a black list, I want to be on it.”

  3. November 18, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Jeff,

    Nope, I’m not familiar with Billy Bragg, but I may have to look him up.

  4. November 18, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Ken,

    So, can you show me a definition in the BCO of “good standing”? I just text searched the 2007 updated BCO and I cannot find such a definition. Maybe I missed it. I stand by my statement as a personal assessment. If a TE has been ruled as having “a strong presumption of guilt that some of the views of TE XXX were out of conformity with the Constitutional standards” by the SJC, we wouldn’t have him in our church or Presbytery. How, then, would I consider him in good standing?

    I think that if you do an objective read of both case summaries, you’ll see my point. If not, then we can agree to disagree.

    [UPDATE: I clarify the official meaning of “good standing” in comment #23 below.]

  5. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Ken,

    Greetings, brother. Good to hear from a fellow Virginia Beachian. I came under care of the New Covenant Session, and then the James River Presbytery, back when I was finishing up my tour in the Navy.

    Bob is free to reply as he’d like [UPDATE: I see that he has], but your lack of proportion here is worth noting (in keeping with what I thought to be your unfortunate and intemperate remarks on the floor of GA this past summer–not picking on you; I am somewhat infamous for careless remarks in the heat of the moment–trivial aside: Do any of the fourteen of you reading this remember my unfortunate and goofy reference to “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” at the Charlotte GA? I dare anyone to top that).

    I don’t think Bob was implying that Steve Wilkin’s good standing as a minister in the PCA has already been removed judicially, but even if he were erroneously implying that, would you rather be in a denomination where no one made any mistakes of decorum, while the gospel itself was left unguarded, or a denomination where the gospel was guarded, even though occasionally men violate established traditions of decorum? Both the guarding of the gospel, and decorum matter, but one is surely of “the weightier matters of the law,” while the other is the (still important) matter of the tithing of mint and cummin.

    Bob and I have tried and will continue to try to maintain proper decorum, but woe to us if we fail to do our duty in helping the PCA to guard the gospel from the disastrous errors of the FV (and NPP) distinctives.

    Grace and Peace to you.

  6. November 18, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    Chris,

    So we should pray down fellow believers? Where is that in the Bible? Gotta verse for me?

    I’ll tell you from my heart, I have not prayed down anyone in this whole FV controversy at any time. I pray that they’ll repent and return to the fold, but I do not pray against them as adversaries. Though we are on opposite sides of the issue and we argue strenuously for our points, the opposition are still believers in my opinion. I’d probably gladly have a beer with most of them. Perhaps that some see it as permissible to pray against fellow believers as adversaries says more about their hearts than any blog post.

  7. November 18, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Jeff,

    Hope my #4 didn’t spoil your #5. :-)

  8. Ken Christian said,

    November 18, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Jeff – My objections throughout this process may seem to you like complaints about violations of decorum. Yet to me, for what that’s worth, we are coming dangerously close to violating God’s commandments concerning proper justice (surely a weightier matter, Mat. 23:23). And if we’re doing that, then we’re not guarding the gospel at all, no matter what we might tell ourselves in the morning.

  9. its.reed said,

    November 18, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Ref. #8:

    Ken, to reiterate my question to you on another topic at this blog, and to specifically reply to your observation here: in these matters how is the PCA coming dangerously close to violating God’s commandments concerning proper justice?

    Surely when brothers vigorously disagree over a matter that at least some see as touching on the vitals of our religion, is it not right and true, a matter of a personal commitment to justice, to argue it out using the agreed upon process? I assume you agree.

    Assuming this, what do you see as either travesties, or even threats to justice in all this?

    The SJC has argued that the LAP did not do their duty in their examination of Rev. Wilkins. This is not because Rev. Wilkins has been found to be out of accord with our standards, but rather because there appears to the SJC a strong presumption of guilt in this matter on his part. All fully understand that there is no justice to simply conclude that the presumption is the same as the proof.

    We’re not even talking about a trial for Rev. Wilkins at this point. We’re only talking about a next step in behaving with integrity – a trial will now ensue which has the goal of answering the question did the LAP err in their examination of Rev. Wilkins or not?

    No pronouncement of guilt against Rev. Wilkins will ensue from this process. Nor is it fair to say that such a conclusion is a necessary conclusion of this process. That’s like arguing that the only reason to hold the trial re.; the LAP, is to try Rev. Wilkins under a different venue, in a manner that does not allow Rev. Wilkins his right and due to defend his views. One can only argue this if one has already concluded that the motives and goals of the SCJ are unjust.

    So again, your cautions do not go past me without my serious consideration. I still remain confused as I see no reason to reach such a conclusion, or even to warn against it. Bring it up as a hypothetical to warn us all to remain humble and trusting in Christ? Absolutely! But surely we can do so without using language that questions the integrity of our brethren – on either side.

    Do you have evidence that the SJC or any other PCA “powers” are acting in a manner to ignore justice?

  10. Mrs. T. said,

    November 18, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    Mr. Mattes, you have a gift for succinctly and humbly laying out the facts without resorting to name-calling or bullying, and for that I am thankful. I feel relief knowing there are plenty others like you behind the scenes working to keep the order in the PCA. I wish our crankiest brothers and sisters on the “other side” could be as charitable.

    I’m no elder or pastor – in fact, I’m just a mere girl, and a SAHM at that! – and I know I fall into the “y’all are stupid and don’t understand us at all” category most of us anti-FV folks are thrown into, but even I’m smart enough to discern the facts here and have no doubt that the utmost care is being taken to uphold Scripture first, and then the BCO on which our government is based. Thank God!

  11. Mrs. T. said,

    November 18, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Christopher, yes, I read your reply. But I’m used to the years of back-pedaling and “I didn’t mean that; you don’t understand me” rhetoric from your camp, so your orignal quote is the one that carries the most weight. It was no little typo that called for a “my bad” retraction. You made yourself pretty clear. I’m not going to argue with you, and I see no reason to discuss it further.

    Now, please refrain from bringing up that post in this post. The Green Baggins guys have rules, and I don’t want to break them right along with you. Thanks.

  12. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    I have finally gotten around to deleting the posts I had said I would (and one other now made unnecessary). A few comments on this thread now require a bit of reading between the lines to make sense, but I think they still do.

  13. Mark T. said,

    November 18, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    These two fully documented websites should help anyone who’s interested in learning more about Douglas Wilson’s respect for presbyterian polity:

    CREC—Papists
    CREC Renegade

  14. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 18, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    The PCA process is different from blog comments.

    The PCA process itself is proceeding, near as I can tell, decently and in order. I can’t imagine what else should happen in order for the denomination to have a say in whether or not Steve Wilkins’ doctrine is in-bounds.

    That is, there has to be a review by the Presbytery (which has happened), which goes according to process (which partly did not happen). And then, if there is a valid complaint (which there was), there has to be oversight by the GA, which has tasked the SJC with that job (which has taken it up).

    So procedurally, there’s no beef.

    We all know, however, that courts can be used for vindictive purposes. This is why I hope and pray that the SJC will use a transparently fair process to judge the facts of the case, so that we might be above reproach as a denomination.

    But AFAICT, Doug is confused when he claims “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.” He’s right, but also irrelevant.

    It’s not Wilkins’ standing that will be used against LAP; it will be his published teachings that will be on trial.

    LAP will be accused of allowing these to be taught; the SJC will be deciding whether or not they are actually out of conformity with the Standards.

    That is, the SJC will be in the position of deciding whether or not certain FV formulations are or are not in conformity with the Standards. To successfully defend themselves, LAP will have to argue that they are. Wilkins’ standing will never come up, except with regard to LAP’s procedure at his hearings.

    The question of Wilkins’ standing will be decided by a subsequent trial, if things go against LAP.

    New topic:

    Jeff asked (#7):

    …would you rather be in a denomination where no one made any mistakes of decorum, while the gospel itself was left unguarded, or a denomination where the gospel was guarded, even though occasionally men violate established traditions of decorum? Both the guarding of the gospel, and decorum matter, but one is surely of “the weightier matters of the law,” while the other is the (still important) matter of the tithing of mint and cummin.

    I disagree, brother Jeff. What you call “decorum” is what I call “justice.” It is a matter of *love* that we not slander one another and take care of one another’s reputations. And on love for God and neighbor hang the entire law and prophets, a great weight indeed.

    In Bob’s case, I don’t have reason to believe that he spoke apart from love. However, the claim “…he has only survived in the PCA because Louisiana Presbytery has failed to do its job correctly” is not supported by his quote. It may likely be true, but it’s not certainly true. There are other possibilities; it may also be the case that Wilkins has failed to repent, or to properly qualify his theology, BECAUSE he was supported by LAP.

    I mean, suppose you were accused of teaching X. Then you went to the Presbytery and said, “Examine me. Am I teaching X?” And then the Presbytery came back and reported, “Nope, not teaching X.” And similar verdicts were rendered by other Presbyteries around the country who actually examined the elders in question (I mean here Northwest and Missouri).

    Would not that give you strong encouragement to ignore the voices outside of your Presbytery until actual charges were filed by the denomination?

    I’m not arguing that Wilkins is orthodox, or that SJC is doing wrong (see above). I’m just arguing that probable cause != guilt. And we need to guard our language to accord with the facts.

    And we need to give FV advocates their due. They *have* submitted to their Presbyteries. They *have* made statements concerning their views and any problems they may have had with the “Nine declarations.”

    Some here (Robert K) have accused me of appeasement, or going down the road to Rome, by speaking like this. That is far from the case. I’m simply arguing that we can guard the truth like men, speaking the truth in love.

    Jeff Cagle

  15. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 18, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Now, see, I fail my own test. *blush*

    Bob, I apologize for (inadvertently) suggesting that you aren’t acting like a man.

    The last sentence was meant as a generality. My only concern with your comment was its factual basis.

    (sheepishly)
    Jeff Cagle

  16. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Re #14

    Jeff Cagle,

    Well put. Point(s) taken. I still think what Ken was accusing Bob of having done was only a decorum violation, and not a true sin, but I may be wrong about that. Anyway, my understanding or misunderstanding what Ken was getting at doesn’t detract from your larger point, and all your points for that matter.

    Again, very well put. Thanks, brother.

  17. November 18, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    Mrs. T.

    Thank you for your kind post. I am humbled by your graciousness. But I must protest one point. I believe that a SAHM is one of the highest calling in God’s Kingdom. The next generation is taught and nurtured towards understanding their standing before God and the magnitude of His grace by such as you. A SAHM requires great wisdom in her role. If folks like Dr. Ligon Duncan, Dr. R. C. Sproul, and a host of other orthodox Reformed leaders are declared as not understanding the FV, then you and I are in fine company. Of course, that claim is bunk anyway.

    I hope that you will continue to visit here and post as you see fit.

  18. November 18, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    Jeff C., RE #14,

    In Bob’s case, I don’t have reason to believe that he spoke apart from love. However, the claim “…he has only survived in the PCA because Louisiana Presbytery has failed to do its job correctly” is not supported by his quote. It may likely be true, but it’s not certainly true. There are other possibilities; it may also be the case that Wilkins has failed to repent, or to properly qualify his theology, BECAUSE he was supported by LAP.

    Point well taken, brother. There are indeed other possibilities. I made a personal judgment largely based on the recording of Wikins’ last “examination” and the LAP’s arguments before the SJC. I can certainly be incorrect though, and appreciate your graciously pointing out other alternatives.

  19. Mark T. said,

    November 18, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    It is striking to me that on the one hand, Wilson admits he does not understand the PCA’s BCO, but on the other he acts as an authority on the subject ready to give his play-by-play comment.

    It is equally striking to consider the remarkable lack of confidence Wilson has shown in the LAP’s ability to acquit itself in court vis-à-vis its exoneration of Wilkins, should they plead “not guilty.” In other words, if Wilkins’ doctrine truly conforms to the WS but LAP was simply too lax in its examination of him, or if they arrived at the correct conclusion via the incorrect process, then they should be eager to establish the doctrinal integrity of their fellow presbyter in broad daylight, that they may remove all doubt. Moreover, one would expect Wilson to share their confidence by affirming that they will vindicate all parties in question when they have their day in court. But he doesn’t, and I suspect for good reason, which probably explains his threatening rants.

    Regardless, I want to remind Pastor Wilson of his words that he wrote elsewhere, and that threatening other Christians from other denominations that you intend to throw the mother of all temper tantrums is unbecoming to anyone, let alone a so-called minister of the gospel:

    Paul tells us that we are to be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). This means that hard work is frequently involved, and I believe that we should be eager to undertake that work with anyone who is willing for it. I have no intention of just slapping a happy face sticker on all this — the MARS testimony and my response to it reveal that we have an awful lot of work to do. But still, my thanks to these three gentlemen for a God-honoring conversation. (“More on MARS”)

    Mr. Wilson, please consider your words and make an honest effort at this “hard work.” None of these men in the PCA have picked a fight with you, and they certainly have not treated you as you have treated them. The sons of God are called to be peacemakers, not hell raisers. Perhaps you can lay down your spear and listen for the harp. I am confident this will do the catholic Church much good, and you may even find peace for your own soul.

    Thank you.

    PS: I am not related to Mrs. T., though I share her sentiments.

  20. November 18, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Jeff C., RE #15,

    Thank you for your clarification. I did not take your previous statement as a personal slight. I am painfully aware of the limitations of this media. Such a slight would have been out of character for you, so I just went directly to your general meaning from it. I appreciate and value your part in these discussions.

  21. November 18, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Mark T.

    PS: I am not related to Mrs. T., though I share her sentiments.

    Thank you. FWIW, it certainly seems as if Doug Wilson doesn’t like you very much.

  22. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 18, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    Re #19

    A good word, aptly spoken. Thank you, brother.

  23. November 19, 2007 at 6:21 am

    Ken, RE #1, #4,

    Bob – Since when is a legally unproven presumption of guilt been enough to remove one’s good standing as a minister in the PCA? Yet is that you’re implying here:

    I have received clarification on the term “good standing.” Although not defined in the BCO, under judicial precedent it has been taken to mean not plead guilty or been convicted of an offense, and not under censure. If under censure, one returns to “good standing” upon ending of the censure. This corrects my post #4 in that regard on the official side.

    However, upon reviewing my original post yet again, I do not see that I implied that Wilkins is not in good standing. I merely talked explicitly about the current standing of the case against LAP and Wilkins’ relationship to it. Therefore, I stand behind that post.

    Also, there’s nothing to prevent charges from being made against a TE in “good standing.” That seems to be Wilson’s and others’ contention. If that were true, no one could ever be charged and we could throw out that part of the BCO.

  24. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 19, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Bob,

    I think the problem underlying the question about “good standing” is this:

    You (and others) have said that Steve Wilkins’s views are errant. 3 questions:

    1) has Steve’s errancy been established in a legal sense such that it could be referenced as authoritative in a PCA trial?

    2) if so, where, when, how?

    3) if not, why do you say that LAP (technicalities aside) is being put on trial for exonerating Steve despite his errant views? (or is that not an accurate representation of what you’ve said?)

    Thanks,
    Keith

  25. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Ref its.reed #9 – Sorry it’s taken me so long to answer your very good question about how we are coming dangerously close to violating God’s commandments concerning justice.

    Simply and briefly, my fear is that a minister in good standing, specifically Steve Wilkins, will be effectively removed from office w/o the benefit of a trial and for views he does not even hold. I know you don’t think this is possible, and I hope you’re right. Again, this is my fear.

    My fear might sound outlandish, but consider what has already occured: Wilkins’ reputation has already been publically maligned in the PCA through many official and unofficial ways. Heck, Bob stated above that Wilkins would not be allowed in his church or presbytery. How can that be true for a man that’s never even tried, never had the chance to face his accusers in person, answer their questions, etc? Even the FV Study Committee found it needless to pick up the phone and call him before publishing a report that stated what he supposedly believed. Does this not bother anyone else? And if this is what we’ve been willing to tolerate so far, what’s keeping us from going farther? My dear brothers, let’s please give this some thought, for justice’s sake, for the gospel’s sake.

  26. anneivy said,

    November 19, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Pr. Wilkins’ views are published for all to read on the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church website, for pity’s sake. What’s the point of his kindly making his views so readily accessible if people aren’t permitted to assume the man meant what he said?

    It’s a fascinating facet of the FV kerfluffle that charity presumably demands everyone assume neither Pr. Wilkins nor any other FV adherent can write comprehensibly, so that what they wrote cannot be relied upon as an accurate rendering of their views, requiring everyone to check with them to ask “Did you really mean [fill in the blank]?.”

    Personally, I do them the honor of assuming they in fact said what they intended to say.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  27. November 19, 2007 at 10:08 am

    Keith, RE #24,

    1 & 2) I think that any future trial of Wilkins could use parts of the two current SJC decisions as part of their case against him. For that matter, Wilkins’ own answers to the CCP questions would be more than sufficient. As I point out in my new post, simply quoting the SJC case summary, LAP has already stated that some of Wilkins’ views differ from the Standards.

    3) The SJC covered that explicitly in Cases 2006-2 and 2007-8. I cannot say it any better than they did. If you haven’t read those summaries, I highly recommend that you do.

    I hope these answers help.

  28. November 19, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Ken,

    Heck, Bob stated above that Wilkins would not be allowed in his church or presbytery. How can that be true for a man that’s never even tried, never had the chance to face his accusers in person, answer their questions, etc?

    I said that and stand by it. To serve as an officer in a Presbytery (has to happen before serving in a particular church in the Presbytery), the BCO requires an examination. I’ve already read and heard Wilkins examination before LAP and find his views out of conformity with the Standards. Just because he’s legally in good standing doesn’t mean that anyone has to accept or tolerate his aberrant views. I don’t need the SJC to tell me what Wilkins or the Standards say, or the difference between the two.

    This is not theoretical. I know of at least one FV TE (and believe there have been several) who tried to transfer from an FV-tolerant Presbytery to an orthodox one and was refused. If they cannot pass the examination, they are not accepted. We turned down one active TE who applied for the TE position in our church because he couldn’t even explain sanctification correctly even when offered the opportunity to clarify his statements–with hints included. No church is required to accept any particular TE, and neither is any Presbytery.

  29. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 19, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Bob,

    Thanks for the response.

    From your point of view, what would a trial of Wilkins himself accomplish that hasn’t already been established? You speak as if he’s guilty, the SJC speaks as if he’s guilty, etc. The only thing remaining, it seems, is for him to be *found* guilty by a court.

    Would a trial, in your view, be much more than taking Steve’s published theology and some of the 9 declarations of the GA-passed Study report, and banging them together to make an appropriately shocking clashing noise so that the verdict can be pronounced?

    I’m asking because it seems like the guilt has already been established, it just needs to be made official. And one last question: if this were the case, is there a problem with that?

    Keith

  30. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Keith asks good questions that really cut to the heart of the matter, imho. I’m interested to hear Bob’s answers.

    And Bob (ref. #28), I am, of course, in perfect agreement concerning any presbytery’s right to accept/deny someone seeking an ordination transfer. But that situation requires a face-to-face examination before a conclusion can be reached. In my opinion, to speak so confidently beforehand about what one believes that conclusion would/should be is to go too far. The fact that one can do so reveals the damage that has already occured during this whole unwise process.

  31. November 19, 2007 at 10:46 am

    Keith and Ken,

    I said that those documents could be part of the trail package, not that they wre the trial. Every trial is face-to-fact IAW the BCO. What I wrote about LAP in my lastest post would also be true of Wilkins. The process is the same, the chance for a vigorous defense is the same, confronting witnesses, etc., etc. No one is EVER tried by any other process.

    Wilkins’ guilt isn’t established at all, just a strong presumption. That “strong presumption” is what is needed to indict and so precedes the trial.

    Ken – serious question here: What process would you prefer? The BCO is being followed to the jot and tittle. What is unwise about that?

  32. November 19, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Ken,

    BTW, if there is any damage, it was caused by a group of men boldly spreading an aberrant theology across the Internet and in print while thinking themselves unaccountable for their actions.

  33. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 10:59 am

    To answer your very fail question, Bob: If I had any control over the process here, I’d take us back in time 2 years ago and appoint an FV Study Committee made up of balanced perspectives on this matter.

    And concerning # 32, Bob: It guess it’s no shock that I would say I have a completely different perspective. To me, the damage was done by certain PCA elders labelling the teaching of other PCA elders as “aberrant” without even the loving courtesy of a conversation with them. Where’s the accoutability in that?

  34. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Typo in first line #33: “Fail” should be “fair”. Sorry all.

  35. Byron said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:00 am

    I enjoy reading many things on your blog.

    However, your 3rd paragraph above is below your standards (or I hope it is) and is at best unfortunate. To attack the person (Wilson) and not the argument is, I hope, not going to be your standard going forward. If it is, you may want to move to the political arena. In that space, your strategy for “winning” the argument will be better received.

  36. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Bob,

    By the way, I had already read your summaries of the SJC rulings, thanks for posting them.

    I don’t think I understand the technical meaning of “strong presumption of guilt”. You say it is a precondition for indictment, which makes it sound not so bad (“well, the prosecution isn’t hallucinating, this here Wilkins fellow sure uses the term ‘election’ in a strange fashion”), but when I hear “strong presumption of guilt” I hear “Wilkins is presumed guilty until proven innocent”.

    Is this just me applying the questionable hermeneutic of “what it would mean if I said it in everyday conversation”?

  37. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Bob,

    On the issue of who’s responsible for the damage, are you factoring in the earlier business of Morecraft’s heresy charges, John Robbins’s efforts in the matter, etc.

    To put it more bluntly: would you defend John Robbins’s published material concerning the FV (and Wilson in particular)?

    I apologize if this is off-topic, but I’ve wondered for a long time what the anti-FV folk think of some of the earlier (and, if I may say so, less orderly) attackers of the FV position.

    Keith

  38. its.reed said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Ref. #25:

    Ken thanks for your answer. No need to apologize for taking a while to get back. Blogging is somewhat of a luxury in my mind. I’ll participate when and how I can and pray that I not rob my other responsibilities. I try to give the same grace to others that I wish for myself.

    Contrary to one statement you made above, not to be argumentative but agreeable, I do think the thing you fear is possible. This is not merely an academic possibility, but one I readily acknowledge can and does happen even in the best of circumstances.

    I do not think, as you surmise, it likely in this case. More to the point, I think your concerns and cautions are actually being very effectively addressed by the current process. It is because of this process that I am hopeful that justice will be achieved.

    Consider that BCO expressly makes it difficult to bring unwarranted and/or frivolous charges against an elder in the PCA. Contrary to Rev. Wilson’s fear that the procedures here are mere techniques for achieving an unjust end, they are actually designed to provide due process for an elder. The process is slow, even cumbersome, on purpose. It provides for multiple levels of check and balances to ensure that a man who is a blessing to the church is not inappropriately squelched – and a grave injustice ensues.
    I appreciate your concerns. I even appreciate Rev. Wilson’s concerns for his friend Rev. Wilkins. Yet, Rev. Wilson’s assumption that the process is intended to achieve an unjust end is not warranted. Your fear is warranted, and your caution is already being heeded.

    There are some who have been frustrated by what they see as an unnecessarily cumbersome process. With Rev. Wilson, they wish direct charges could have been brought against Rev. Wilkins sometime ago (as in the last few years). My caution to them is actually an echo of your’s here – real justice will ensue as we maintain the integrity of the procedures we’ve agreed to use.

    At this point Rev. Wilkins faces a presumption that some of his published and well documented views (see Anne’s comment Ref. #26) are out of accord with our standards (I think in fairness, the point Bob is making, see comment Ref. #27). The step before the PCA is whether or not the LAP was in error in their application of the procedures they’ve agreed to use in the question of whether or not this presumption is in fact true.

    Rev. Wilkins’ views are not on trial via the process now before the LAP – the issue at hand is merely the LAP’s process. We can either assume that those prosecuting this trial, RE Duncan and TE Keister, and those sitting in judgment are: a) men without integrity whose intent is to twist the process to the nefarious end of convicting Rev. Wilkins without his opportunity to defend himself, or b) men with integrity but not the wisdom to limit themselves to the specific question before them, or c) men with Christ-granted integrity and wisdom to stick to the one question at hand, and leave the conviction or exoneration of Rev. Wilkins to another day and another proceeding.

    I am with you in your concern. It may be because of watching for the last so many years that I am confident in the process. In fact, I have more confidence in the process than either I or my fellow elders humanly deserve – I’ve seen time and time again God use the humble and above board (open for all to see) process used by the SJC to effect a just resolution.

    Rev. Wilkins could if he wished seek to take some action to put himself front and center in this matter. There is nothing stopping him from finding a valid means of taking the focus off the LAP and specifically directing it toward himself at this point. Let us assume for the sake of argument that his brethren (small majority) in the LAP had what they believed were valid reasons for exonerating him. Let Rev. Wilkins take some gracious and merciful steps to alleviate the concerns of the rest of us who still have questions. By all means, give him a fair and open opportunity to clear his teaching of the concerns we have. I’m not sure what BCO process this might be, but it would be welcomed if he so chose.

    Or, he can abide by his vows to BCO and let the process take the next step; that of the LAP matter before us. I for one do not question his integrity if he chooses either route (the direct one or the indirect one). If for some reason, the process stops with the LAP matter, I will still be concerned about the FV being taught in our churches, but I will not jump up and down and shout about justice denied by wicked men who had the “fix in.”

    For me, I hear and understand most (if not all) of what the FV is saying and why they are saying it. I have sympathy for quite a few of their secondary formulations (e.g., the real nature the covenant membership of a non-elect member). If they were to spend the time necessary to work through the various cautionary concerns that many of us critics have, I think they very well could wend their way to a solution that was in keeping with our standards, and more importantly the Bible itself.

    Yet so far they’ve shown little willingness to truly engage with such concerns. From the beginning of the expressing of questions and concerns, acrimonious debate, deflecting sarcasm and character assassination have far to often been the ordinary response of FV proponents to their opponents. I know some ant-FV have likewise behaved acrimoniously. Yet it seems far too prevalent from the other side. (To Rev. Wilkins’ credit and my gratefulness; I cannot recall any such behavior on his part.) This is of far greater concern to me than whether or not Rev. Wilson’s presumption of guilt on the part of the SJC deserves 5 minutes or 5 hours of attention.

    Ken, the bottom line is that many of us have given serious time to studying, discussing and interacting with the FV and its proponents. Our opposition has not come quickly, or with any degree of celebration. My conviction is that the FV is at best a confusing way of teaching significant parts of our religion. I’m committed to pursuing my conviction in a humble and gracious manner, not assuming the worst of my FV brothers while I strive to seriously engage them.

    Your caution is commendable. I am persuaded that it is being heeded. Would that the FV proponents present themselves as graciously and judiciously as you do here. I recognize some do. May God give them the mercy to serve as a voice of caution and grace in their own circles.

  39. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Ref. #38:

    its.reed — Thanks so very much for your kind and well thought out reply. I do honestly hope you are right.

    Just food for thought: I too have read very extensively on the FV and related matters. And honestly, I don’t really find it confusing. For that matter, I know many lay people who have been confused about various aspects of Reformed theology until encountering some FV-esque teachings. But really that’s neither here nor there. Let’s say the FV is confusing, and let’s say the confusion is the result of poor communication by its proponents. My hope is that the bretheren in the PCA will recognize the difference between confusion (which can be cleared up) and heresy.

    Thanks again for your comments its.reed.

  40. Dave Glasebrook said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:57 am

    The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts. Proverbs 18:8

    I applaud those who search for truth and strike steel upon steel to find that truth.

    I do not get involved in most of the FV discussions because it will take years to forge it. However when reference to Mark T’s blog is used as fact, I must post a protest. Mark T’s blog is not fact. Most of what is written about Wilson is not fact but rather disinformation. Moscow has many who will say and do anything they can do to discredit Wilson. Mark T is one of those individuals.

    To list that blog as fact and urge others to read it or to read other gossip online for the honest to goodness truth is wrong and is not helpful to either side of the FV discussion. Please stick to Godly truth and not to gossip.

  41. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 19, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    Ken Christian wrote, (#39):

    Just food for thought: I too have read very extensively on the FV and related matters. And honestly, I don’t really find it confusing. For that matter, I know many lay people who have been confused about various aspects of Reformed theology until encountering some FV-esque teachings. But really that’s neither here nor there. Let’s say the FV is confusing, and let’s say the confusion is the result of poor communication by its proponents. My hope is that the bretheren in the PCA will recognize the difference between confusion (which can be cleared up) and heresy.

    I’m seminary-trained and reasonably bright, and I find the FV confusing. That’s possibly my fault, which is why I’ve asked Jeff Meyers a number of questions (that he has graciously answered).

    I would love for the outcome that you describe. OR, I would love for the outcome to be that Wilkins repents of any truly unBiblical opinions he might hold.

    What NEEDS to happen, though, is that the SJC needs to (as it will) state that certain formulations are, or are not, appropriate understandings of the Scriptures; that is, that they are, or are not, within Confessional boundaries.

    That’s it. It’s not about Wilkins’ views; it’s about Wilkins writings and how those writings intersect with the Scriptures.

    Jeff Cagle

  42. its.reed said,

    November 19, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Ref. #39 and #41:

    Brothers, your expression of your desires demonstrate that God has given us all the same heart. May He bless His Church yet again.

  43. tim prussic said,

    November 19, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I’m coming late to this party and have not taken time to read all the comments, so forgive me if this has been covered above. I’ll take time today to read the comments.

    Mr. Mattes, I’m flatly AMAZED at you ad hominem toward Pastor Wilson. It seems quite unnecessary, that is, gratuitous. It doesn’t advance any substantive thing you had to say, but only made you look bad. Further, when one examines the footnotes: Mark T., Sean, G. and Google searches, one’s left wagging one’s head. The two former, how shall we say, are not viewed as paragons of unadulterated truth and information, even on this site (friendly to their views). This is especially true of the anonymous Mark T. I’ve called him on slander numerous times, but that never seems to shake his tree. The simple recommendation to “Google” someone as controversial and popular as Pastor Wilson is simply foolishness, that is, if one’s interested in truth. All in all, I think *that* aspect of your post is undignified and unfortunate at best.

  44. Jesse P. said,

    November 19, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    Well Sean G. is a reliable source,

    THIS JUST IN…not only is Wilkins bad, Van Til is a heretic too. Sean G said…

    Bob, is that reliable information as well? ANd if so this site is in trouble they just recommended a Van Til book!

  45. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 19, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Jesse,

    Your comment #44 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.” (I also deleted another of your comments that was basically a repeat of this one.) Thanks for your patience, brother.

  46. November 19, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    tim, #43,

    You don’t seem shocked by Wilson’s continuous use of much worse. Wilson has attacked the PCA officers on the SJC as a star-chamber and worse, the core processes of the PCA justice system as injust and of railroading Wilkins, attacked specific officers in several denominations (Dr. R. Scott Clark comes immediately to mind), and assumed a bully pulpit with an air of moral superiority through it all. This kind of behavior has been going on for decades, not months. I used to hear him at conferences ridicule those with whom he disagreed. Do I hear any condemnation of all this? The silence is not deafening, though, because his devotees are laughing so loudly while they applaud his cleverness and wit.

    My point in the post was simply that Wilson lacks the credentials to pass any kind of judgment on the PCA and its officers. I know that’s hard to hear for those who hang on his every sarcastic word and biting witticisms. So, I collected up a number of his bios from conferences in years past and went through his credentials as he himself stated them. Only then did I post what I did.

    Was the my finest hour? Certainly not, and I won’t pretend that it was. But I’m tired of bully hit men trashing whole denominations and their officers whilst hiding behind calls for others’ civility. When Doug posts on PCA officers, courts, and process, the first question asked should be “what are his qualifications to make such statements?” Few ever do, though.

    Even today, Wilson’s post on Bill Lyle’s comment shows woeful ignorance of the PCA BCO. Others on this blog ask some great questions about terminology and process. That’s the preferred model.

  47. November 19, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Byron, RE #35,

    It is not my normal mode of operation and it makes me very uncomfortable. I’m not here or on my blog to win arguments. I started blogging to provide some real information and orthodox exegesis on the Federal Vision issues in the PCA. The Spirit decides the arguments in the hearts of men.

    As for the reason for my excursion from my normal mode, please see comment #46.

  48. November 19, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Keith, RE #37,

    I know who those gentlemen are, but I’m not familiar with their materials on this issue. Therefore, I cannot offer an opinion on any role they may have had.

  49. November 19, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Keith, RE #36,

    Can you tell I’m trying to catch up?

    The language comes straight from the BCO:

    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.

    That level of requirement before an indictment protects members from spurious charges.

  50. November 19, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Let me make a few remarks about Mark T.’s and Sean’s blog sites. My citing of their blogs was not a blanket endorsement of everything on them, nor will I issue any blanket condemnation. If I cite the NY Times, LA Times, or WAPO as references, it doesn’t mean that I agree with everything they print. However, both Mark’s and Sean’s sites do have some original source documentation to offer. I’m assuming a certain level of adulthood on this blog, and therefore the ability to cull original source material from other material and opinions. If you don’t like their opinions or their style, then don’t go there. If you are willing to sort through to find original source information not widely available, then do so with discernment. Both Mark and Sean post helpful comments in these discussions, and I think that it is very unfair and inappropriate to write them off.

  51. tim prussic said,

    November 19, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Mr. Mattes, thanks for the response. In my readings of Pr. Wilson’s blog, I’ve not noticed him saying inappropriate things about the PCA or specific ministers in it. If I had (or if I do in the future), I would have been sure to Pr. Wilson in the same fashion I have you. That said, I’ve gone round and round with Sean and Mark. Mark, in particular, has slandered the CREC numerous times on this blog. I’ve called him on it and he’s quite happy to continue in it. Thus, referring folks to Mark and Sean’s sites, even if there is some good information there, is like referring someone to the Trinity Foundation to get some “good hard facts” about Van Til. It’s not that anyone thought you “endorsed” everything those sites have to say. It’s that you referred folks to gather information about Pr. Wilson from two men known to be off kilter in their opposition to Pr. Wilson.
    That said, I certainly appreciate your response and look forward to more correspondence. Also, I’m a big fan of W&G – especially the Curse of the Were-Rabbit!

  52. November 19, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    tim,

    Thanks for your note, and please feel free to call me Bob.

    WARNING: OFF-TOPIC: I almost hurt myself laughing during Curse of the Were-Rabbit. I’m getting too old to watch stuff that funny. I’ve seen on their fan site that they moved to a new studio and rumor is that there is a new production in the works.

  53. Kyle said,

    November 19, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    Tim, re: 51,

    Things Pr. Wilson has said since Lane was asking to serve as prosecutor:

    “As you love the Lord Jesus, as you love the PCA, and as you love your own soul, recognize that what is right and what the PCA is positioned to get away with in this prosecution are two different things” (here).

    “A trial, for those just joining us, is a quaint practice that Presbyterians used to employ, back before they learned the squeeze play” (here).

    “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 since we are talking about the kind of Presbyterians who don’t mind fudging process, let us not quarrel about the double e. It is the result that matters!” (here, which was a response to Jeff Hutchinson, and which Pr. Wilson published on his blog here).

    “I have an objection to unjust processes. And an unjust process can be moved, seconded, and entered in the minutes, with everyone present speaking in calm tones, and thousands at the General Assembly wondering if they are going to get to the ball game in time. I do not hate order, and I do not hate accountability. I hate a lie” (here).

    Now, Tim, are you going to follow through? Or does Pr. Wilson get a pass to make accusations of injustice and collusion against the PCA and her elders without a trial?

  54. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 19, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Tim,

    You write, “In my readings of Pr. Wilson’s blog, I’ve not noticed him saying inappropriate things about the PCA or specific ministers in it.” I am dumbfounded that you could write this. Maybe you have been reading a different blog than the rest of us have. Or maybe I am dumbfounded because I am just dumb (stop laughing).

    I do want to say this, though. It is plain that the moderators of this blog find what Doug Wilson writes about the PCA to be disrespectful. We cannot make that any plainer. And it is plain that you disagree. So please leave it there. Do not beat the dead horse by standing up for the appropriateness of Doug Wilson’s words about the PCA. That paper airplane doesn’t fly on this blog. (This is a pre-emptive warning, not yet a strike one.)

  55. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 19, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    Thanks, Kyle! I hadn’t even called for back-up!

  56. Dave Glasebrook said,

    November 19, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    #50
    I’m at a loss to find any not widely available original source material on Mark T’s blog. Would you kindly point that out to me?

    Either online or offline is A-OK.

  57. Mark T. said,

    November 19, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    Dave,

    I do not presume to speak for Bob Mattes, but it is possible by “not widely available” he may mean “not easily available.” In other words, it may be out there, but many people do not have the resources to look. For example, the P&R News site does not have an index or a search engine to assist its readers. It is available, but it’s tough to sort through. Other things, such as the Daily News piece on you, are not available on the web unless you have a subscription. Patrick Poole’s essays are gone as well. No one has access to them anymore.

    So I consolidate and categorize this information in a way that some find helpful. Perhaps you do not. This is your right. Nevertheless, this is one of my objectives — to disseminate truthful information in a helpful way. And I welcome your assistance if you share this goal.

    Thank you.

  58. Mark T. said,

    November 19, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    My mistake. Apologies to Bob. He never said, “not widely available”; he simply said, “original source documentation.”

    Given the current climate of misrepresentation, I am truly sorry for this mistake.

  59. tim prussic said,

    November 19, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Bob et al, Pr. Wilson thinks there is a great political undertow going on in this whole pursuit of Pr. Wilkins and the LAP. Maybe there is maybe there’s not. If I were to look at it in the history of the Christian church (as I understand it), I would have to guess that somewhere amidst all the motives of the pursuit, politics IS involved. That’s not to say that any particular individual is politically motivated at any particular point. In fact, I’ve DEEPLY appreciated Pr. Lane’s discussion of the FV as it is obvious that he spurns such motivation. I’d suppose that nearly all the men in the PCA spurn similarly. However, for Pr. Wilson to think that there are political end in view is not inappropriate and for him to express it is not necessarily so, either.
    The statements offered by Kyle seem fairly inane and innocuous statements and that folk around here are a bit sensitive. Then again, maybe I’m wrong and the statements are slanderous. I’m more an outsider than most ’round the parts (or so it would seem).

    As to the Were-Rabbit – that’s fine family viewing. My 2.5-year-old loves it and quotes it a great deal… as do I! I’m pleased as a pup to hear they’re working on more.

  60. November 19, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    tim,

    Maybe I’m just dense, but don’t get what you’re saying in #59. What kind of politics? National? Local? Party? I just don’t get it, but then I don’t read Wilson’s blog except when we’re exchanging posts which I’m done with for now. In the military, we’re supposed to be generally apolitical other than voting. Honest question: would you elaborate on the politics thing a bit?

  61. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    [This was a short comment in which I had issued a dreaded “strike one,” but I think now that I was overly hasty. Sorry about that. Please continue.]

  62. Dave Glasebrook said,

    November 20, 2007 at 12:33 am

    #50, 57, 58

    There is a difference between gossip, disinformation and truthful original source documentation. To discern the truth from disinformation and gossip on Mark T’s blog requires knowledge that is not available on that blog. To list that blog as a source of truth and ask for reader discernment is unreasonable. It is not unreasonable to ask readers to use extreme caution and discretion when viewing that blog.

    Mark T, you know who I am. I am more than willing to help you disseminate the truth if you are willing to remove the gossip and disinformation from your site.

    For those of you who are not familiar with all of the disinformation about Wilson, please look at the posts on 57 and 58. Most people will read and remember post 57 but not post 58. Mark T was absolutely correct about the current climate of misrepresentation. Internet misinformation is the way it has been for several years about life here in Moscow. Internet misinformation is a major reason for this friction between Christian brothers when there should be no friction. The choice morsels are quickly eaten and go to the soul while the hard, factual bones are ignored or quickly forgotten.

    Caution and slowness of action is required especially if truth and Christian discourse are really desired rather than just gossiping about this subject. Please hammer out FV and leave the rest out. Never mind being pruned from this blog; all of us will stand before Christ and have to answer for our blogging indiscretions.

  63. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 20, 2007 at 1:13 am

    Hey there, Dave.

    Fair enough. And I agree with you that “all of us will stand before Christ and have to answer for our blogging indiscretions.”

    A serious (very serious) question: Do you believe that we will have to answer for our blogging indiscretions BEFORE we have been resurrected and glorified, or after? The gospel answer is AFTER!

    Meanwhile some proponents of the FV (and many proponents of the NPP) teach that we will have to answer for our indiscretions on Judgment Day before we have been resurrected and glorified.

    Not saying you were doing this, but I can’t count the number of times I have heard FV/NPP folks pull out the “you’ll answer for that on Judgment Day” card as some sort of threat.

    Either Christ has hushed the Law’s loud thunder, or He hasn’t.

  64. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 20, 2007 at 9:16 am

    Re: 53, 54

    Pr. Wilson certainly has made accusations of transgression of the 9th commandment (in various manifestations). I do not think he’s contending that accusations cannot be brought without a trial (that would seem a bit cart-before-the-horse; if there aren’t any accusations, what’s the trial for?) but rather that there must be accountability both for the accuser and the accused. If those accused by Pr. Wilson wish to dispute the charge and bring it to some sort of church court (I have no idea how that would be handled, intra-denominational judicial polity is hard enough to fathom), do you think he would try to duck the process?

  65. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 20, 2007 at 9:21 am

    Jeff (#63):

    Good question. While I try to keep my temper down, there was one fellow who was pronouncing all-out anathemas against the FV teachers, and while I don’t remember my exact response my thought was (and is) that he will have to answer for that.

    When? I confess that I don’t remember the passages well enough. But if the question boils down to “will it change whether or not they are finally justified?”, then of course that sin is on the pile with all the others and makes no more difference to the grace of God than a live coal in the ocean.

    On the other hand, in that case I had to wonder if the guy was really regenerate, but it’s certainly not my place to judge (and over the internet, for crying out loud).

    Keith

  66. tim prussic said,

    November 20, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Bob, thanks for the interaction. As to the political nature of ecclesiastical doings, I’m going to have a hard time pin pointing specifics in this case. Further, I’m going to have difficulty articulating what Pr. Wilson thinks is going on politically – I’d say ask him, on that score. I’d be quite interested in his response.

    In general, political motives can creep in at numerous levels. I don’t mean politics in the usual sense of state politics (although that can apply, too), I mean politics in a generalized sense: considerations beyond those strictly having to do with topic. These extra considerations could be personal, social, herd mentality, etc. Churchmen must always guard against these extra considerations in church doings. That seems the basic import of the following excellent guidelines:

    1. I will act as before God, my Judge and the Searcher of hearts;
    2. I will judge without respect to persons, and if so tempted, will recuse myself from judgment;
    3. I will judge not according to appearances, but judge righteous judgment;

    Since we’re all prone to sway our judgments based upon outside considerations, we must needs guard against it.
    I don’t know if that helps you understand my thinking, but I’m certainly willing to discuss it further, if you’d like.

  67. Kyle said,

    November 20, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Tim, re: 59,

    The statements offered by Kyle seem fairly inane and innocuous statements and that folk around here are a bit sensitive. Then again, maybe I’m wrong and the statements are slanderous.

    He’s accusing the PCA/SJC of “having it in” for Pr. Wilkins and going to any lengths to achieve that end, justice be damned. Innocuous? You’ve bristled at lesser accusations, Tim.

    Keith, re: 64,

    Pr. Wilson certainly has made accusations of transgression of the 9th commandment (in various manifestations). I do not think he’s contending that accusations cannot be brought without a trial (that would seem a bit cart-before-the-horse; if there aren’t any accusations, what’s the trial for?) but rather that there must be accountability both for the accuser and the accused.

    Which must be why Pr. Wilson thinks Bob Mattes shouldn’t accuse Pr. Wilkins of having errant theology without it first having been judged so by a court of the church. It’s this kind of blatant hypocrisy by Pr. Wilson that makes me trust him less and less every time I read something from him, beyond his obvious ignorance of PCA polity. He’s upset that even the Louisiana Presbytery is accountable to the greater body of the church. If he had it his way, their previous examinations would stand and no one would question them. But now there’s a competing “good old boys network” threatening the Tsar of Moscow’s ecclesiatical empire.

    Okay, that’s enough from me.

  68. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 20, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    Kyle,

    If you sincerely believe what you are saying (and I don’t doubt that at all), I ask that you file charges against Pastor Wilson, starting with the application for filing charges found here and go up the chain from there if you remain unsatisfied.

    To respond to a few things:

    “Which must be why Pr. Wilson thinks Bob Mattes shouldn’t accuse Pr. Wilkins of having errant theology without it first having been judged so by a court of the church.”

    I may well have missed it, but did Doug object specifically to Bob’s thinking/saying that Wilkins has errant theology, and base that objection on the lack of a trial? My impression (always imperfect) is that Doug instead objects to the idea that the SJC will start the trial with the assumption that Wilkins has errant theology, on the grounds that such an assumption violates Biblical requirements of justice.

    “He’s upset that even the Louisiana Presbytery is accountable to the greater body of the church.”

    Has he said that, precisely? Is he objecting to the fact that a PCA Presbytery is accountable to the entire denomination? He has objected the SJC being the final court of appeals, and my impression is that he would prefer the GA be the final court of appeals. But I don’t think he’s ever said he wanted the LAP to be the *final* court of appeals (he may have wanted to stop there, but I don’t think he’s objected to the escalation *itself* on the grounds of justice).

    Grace, and peace,
    Keith

  69. anneivy said,

    November 20, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    Can charges be filed against someone in a different denomination?

    I don’t know, BTW….that’s why I’m asking.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  70. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 20, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Anne,

    I don’t want to get off-topic and invoke the wrath of the Hutchinson ;) but I suppose in practice it’s up to the accused’s denomination whether to honor a charge from outside. In this case, the form provided by Christ Church for this purpose one of the questions is “Is the applicant a member of Christ Church? (Y/N) Or a member of another Christian congregation that would hold the applicant accountable? (Heb. 13:17; Dt. 9:15ff) (Y/N)”. Given that, I don’t think there’s any restriction on the accuser’s denominational affiliation as long there was a basic agreement on the accountability appropriate for accusers.

  71. anneivy said,

    November 20, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Ack! You’re right. That was off-topic, wasn’t it?

    I’m a bad one and no mistake. =8^o

    Thanks for the response. Most interesting.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  72. November 20, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    tim, RE #66,

    Thanks for explaining your thinking on the political thing. I must have been tired last night because I was thinking in the civic sense. The BCO processes pretty much preclude that problem as long as men are led by the Spirit. There are lots of safeguards in the BCO. Wilson obviously cannot or will not understand simple, published processes for accountability in the PCA. I and others have gone to great pains to explain them, but seemingly to no avail.

  73. Kyle said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    Keith, re: 68,

    Pr. Wilson said, “How can Wilkins’ errant theology figure prominently in the case when Wilkins’ ‘errant’ theology has never been established in a trial?” This was in response to Bob who wrote, “That said, Wilkins’ errant theology does figure prominently in the case.” I suppose specifically he thinks the SJC (as opposed to Bob) shouldn’t be factoring Pr. Wilkins’ errant theology into this case without Pr. Wilkins’ having been declared errant by trial. But of course that is to completely misunderstand the process, as has been amply demonstrated here.

    As for filing charges against Pr. Wilson: he isn’t my pastor, he isn’t an elder in my presbytery, he isn’t in my church, he has done nothing to me personally, he has been rebuked publically on innumerable occasions, and he has had charges filed against him in several cases and they have been dismissed on various dubious grounds. Aside from the difficulties of filing charges against a man on the other side of the country who has no personal connection to me, he has shown not a lick of a repentant attitude, and so far as I have seen there is no one to whom Pr. Wilson is really accountable, apart from God who will certainly have His say. So, I have no desire to engage in what clearly at this point would be a quite futile pursuit.

  74. Kyle said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Keith,

    I do want to respond a little more directly to some of what you’ve said.

    My impression (always imperfect) is that Doug instead objects to the idea that the SJC will start the trial with the assumption that Wilkins has errant theology, on the grounds that such an assumption violates Biblical requirements of justice.

    Any trial against the LA Presbytery would proceed on the notion that Pr. Wilkins’ theology appears errant and therefore Pr. Wilkins ought to have been examined in a thorough and orderly manner, in accord with the BCO, which the SJC has said it does not appear LA Presbytery has done. Pr. Wilson objects to this because the LA Presbytery, the only court which has examined Pr. Wilkins, did not establish Pr. Wilkins’ errancy after two examinations. But the whole question before the SJC is precisely on whether the LA Presbytery properly examined Pr. Wilkins! But according to Pr. Wilson, the SJC cannot consider Pr. Wilkins’ apparently errant theology in determining whether the LA Presbytery properly examined him. And beyond that, his argument is that the SJC, and the PCA thereby, is willfully ignoring justice in a round-about attempt to oust Pr. Wilkins. But this is, I think, related to a pattern of objecting to anyone (not just the SJC) who accuses one of his various confederates of some errancy-“Watch it, he’s never been found errant by any church court! He’s a-minister-in-good-standing!”

    Has he said that, precisely? Is he objecting to the fact that a PCA Presbytery is accountable to the entire denomination?

    Nope, but I didn’t claim that was his precise objection, either.

  75. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 21, 2007 at 8:49 am

    Kyle,

    I suppose specifically he thinks the SJC (as opposed to Bob) shouldn’t be factoring Pr. Wilkins’ errant theology into this case without Pr. Wilkins’ having been declared errant by trial

    That’s what I was trying to point out, yes.

    Any trial against the LA Presbytery would proceed on the notion that Pr. Wilkins’ theology appears errant and therefore Pr. Wilkins ought to have been examined in a thorough and orderly manner, in accord with the BCO, which the SJC has said it does not appear LA Presbytery has done.

    As you and others here have pointed out, the real “issue” at trial is whether the LAP conducted a sufficiently thorough examination and followed proper procedure in doing so. I buy that, and from what I can tell the thoroughness did leave something to be desired. I listened to the whole second examination, and it certainly seemed long enough, but I don’t recall any particular ruling on the particular apparent discrepancies between Pastor Wilkins’ answers and the Standards (whether thumbs up, down, or sideways). So, as Jeff Cagle pointed out, I think Pastor Wilson is a bit confused as to why the SJC is bringing LAP to task.

    However, I think that Bob and others have contributed to this confusion by speaking in a way which sure sounds like Wilkins’ guilt is already assumed by the court. This is kind of ironic because much of the complaint against Wilkins’ theology is that some of it sure sounds heretical if we apply the “what-would-this-mean-if-I-said-it-normally” hermeneutic.

    Has he said that, precisely? Is he objecting to the fact that a PCA Presbytery is accountable to the entire denomination?

    (in response to my question about Wilson’s precise objection to something-or-rather) Nope, but I didn’t claim that was his precise objection, either.

    Ah, fair enough, my apologies for misrepresenting your statement.

    Regarding my request that your accusations be made formal in the filing of charges, I think I was singling you out too much. You are not even among the most strident in denouncing Pastor Wilson. My general frustration is that several people are accusing Doug of extremely high sin and (from appearances) are not pursuing the matter to bring him to accountability for these sins, nor accepting accountability for their accusations. Perhaps my perception is in error because I haven’t checked to see if they’ve actually tried filing charges. In the case that Christ Church is in general complicit with such sin, the matter should be taken to the Presbytery (as provided by the CREC BOP) and then, if still unresolved, to the CREC Church Council. If the *entire denomination* is complicit (or, rather, a sufficient majority of power is complicit), then I honestly don’t know what to tell you except that God is just.

    That may look like a double standard (“Why doesn’t Wilson file charges against those he’s accused, etc, etc…?”), but I would ask the same consideration of the FV side as well. If you’re willing to make an accusation of grievous sin publicly, you should be willing to make it formally, with accountability for both sides. There are obviously timing issues and *many* other considerations, but this whole “yea, that person/church/presbytery/denomination is break-dancing on the Ten Commandments but I’m never going to pursue the matter” idea is consternating to me.

    Grace, and peace,
    Keith

  76. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 21, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Keith,

    You write, “That may look like a double standard (”Why doesn’t Wilson file charges against those he’s accused, etc, etc…?”), but I would ask the same consideration of the FV side as well. If you’re willing to make an accusation of grievous sin publicly, you should be willing to make it formally, with accountability for both sides.”

    I feel your pain.

    Not speaking specifically to any particular person, church, denomination, or situation, but answering generally: I would imagine both Doug Wilson and Kyle believe, as I do, that the Bible teaches that “What God forbids is at no time to be done; what He commands is always our duty; and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times” (Westminster Larger Catechism 99.5).

    So, in other words, and assuming godly motives on Doug’s and Kyle’s parts (neither one of whom have brought formal charges against every sinning Christian they have ever encountered), we must all make judgment calls as to the best use of the finite portions of time our infinite God has kindly given to us.

    Grace and Peace to you.

  77. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 21, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Jeff,

    Thanks for the comment.

    As I mentioned, there are obviously timing issues and *many* other considerations. Entering a formal accusation is not a light matter. But neither is publicly making those accusations a light matter. I’m probably over sensitive, but it looks like a lot of serious accusations have been made with *little thought* to the gravity of the situation. Woe unto us if we become like the Accuser of the Brethren.

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to start up a whole new discussion, it was just one of those “ok, that’s enough, I’ve got to say it” moments.

    And on “I feel your pain”, I’m pretty sure imitating Bill Clinton is strike-worthy ;)

  78. Kyle said,

    November 26, 2007 at 3:55 am

    Keith,

    I hope you had a restful Thanksgiving.

    I do, in part, understand your consternation regarding public accusations made against Pr. Wilson. But, aside from my reticence to attempt to file charges in another ecclesiatical body in which I have no standing, and which has no fraternal relations with my own; and aside from the fact that I have no personal involvement with Pr. Wilson or in the affairs of his church; I am far from convinced that it would be a wise use of time (as Jeff has above mentioned) to attempt to file charges against Pr. Wilson for his very public railings against the PCA and her judicial process and the elders involved in said judicial process when 94 charges relating to a very public scandal regarding paying off illegal gambling debts with Christ Church benevolence funds several years ago were summarily dismissed by the session of Christ Church, which summary dismissal was upheld by the CREC. This is all well-documented on the Internet, and was documented extensively by the Presbyterian & Reformed News (no fans of the SJC, I might add).

    I will freely admit my characterization of the dismissal of said charges as “summary” is my characterization. But this, in addition to he and his church’s utterly presumptuous involvement in prior judicial cases in the PCA, OPC, and RPCGA, do not provide any encouragement to me that there would be any fruitful result to filing formal charges against Pr. Wilson for his public denunciations of “ministers in good standing.” In short, I do not believe that Pr. Wilson abides by his own standard.

    I have also been accused privately of slander and effeminacy by a member of Christ Church’s daughter church in Spokane, with whom I had no prior contact, for stating (in another thread on Green Bagginses) the fact that the more I read from Pr. Wilson, the less I trust him. If those accusations weren’t so petty and thoughtless to begin with, I might actually consider filing charges against my accuser. But ultimately it only confirms to my mind what a number of witnesses have already testified regarding Christ Church and the disciples of Pr. Wilson.

    This whole sad saga concerning the Federal Vision and Pr. Wilson and his confederates utterly dismays me. I, too, desire greater conformity to Scripture and the Reformed heritage on the part of the Reformed Church. But all I have really seen come of this “non-movement” is questionable if not outright heretical teaching, a strongly animated personality(ies) cult, and disruptive and divisive behavior. That does not encourage me in the least.

  79. Xon said,

    November 26, 2007 at 10:05 am

    Actually, Kyle, I don’t think anyone has a problem with you or anyone else looking into public trials and accusations that have happened in the CREC, such as the casino thing at Wilson’s church. Frankly Wilson has never shied away from the facts on this, and his account of it all is reasonable. (And I’d like to hear from critics what they believe the obviously ‘correct’ pastoral approach to that situation is.) His point is that so far the anti-FV forces in the PCA are not giving a very reasonable account of the way things are working against LA Presbytery. That point can be debated, certainly; but you’re missing the point (methinks) when you try to make this about ‘inconsistent’ Wilson butting in to other denoms business while complaining if others do the same to him. That’s simply not what is happening here at all.

    If you honestly think that the charges against Wilson are valid, then by all means you have a right as a brother in Christ to comment on them. It’s all public anyway. But if you are just ‘throwing them out there’ as a way to show that Wilson isn’t perfect and so why should we listen to him when he comments on the SJC process, then that’s less impressive.

    The other major difference in the two cases is that Wilson is arguing based on principles of justice when he comments on the SJC case. He could be wrong about those principles, or he could be misapplying them in the SJC case. But he’s not just making personal accusations about folks he knows nothing about. He is commenting on a public judicial process by trying to examine how it matches up to biblical principles of justice. You guys here are simply citing the fact that accusations have been made against Wilson in the past as though that proves something.

    And I don’t want to ‘hijack’ the thread for the purpose of discussing this in more detail, since it’s off-topic properly speaking. Here I am just responding to things that have already been said. If there is another blog somewhere where these things can be discussed in more detail, then I’m open to that.

  80. Reed DePace said,

    November 26, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Ref. #79:

    Xon, Kyle, Keith, et.al.: thanks for the gracious manner in which you have been addressing each other on this subject. It is helpful in terms of maintaining the kind of tone Lane wishes for his blog.

    However, as Xon notes at the end of his post, the subject you have been discussing is off the topic of this thread. The original poost was directed to providing information to assuage Rev. Wilson’s concerns for justice, re: the LAP trial matter in the PCA.

    Let’s drop the secondary subject you’ve been discussing at this point. I’m not suggesting anyone has done anything wrong. Rather, any further development of this conversation may provide opportunity to go afoul of Lane’s rules.

    Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.

    reed

  81. kjsulli said,

    November 26, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Xon,

    I think you have misunderstood me to some extent. But per the above, I do agree further discussion would probably run afoul of Lane’s rules. So I’m afraid I’ll need to end it here.

  82. Xon said,

    November 26, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Feel free to e-mail me, Kyle, and we can talk privately or arrange for a discussion on another blog perhaps.

    xonhostetter @ gmail dot com

  83. November 26, 2016 at 11:04 am

    […] I also recommend this post by Rev. Lane Keister. […]


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