Note For PCA Members on BCO Process

Given the false and misleading information being posted elsewhere on the Net, I will clarify the situation with Louisiana Presbytery and TE Steve Wilkins for those who have ears to hear. I have done further study since my last post and offer you the benefit of my additional research.

The PCA Standing Judicial Commission has determined that there is a strong presumption of guilt against Louisiana Presbytery. The Presbytery now has the opportunity to defend itself in a trial setting. The Amends in the Case 2006-2 summary spells out the next steps and the Presbytery’s options. And while this strong presumption of guilt is based on how LAP handled Wilkins’s views, Wilkins himself has not yet been found guilty of any error. The judicial precedent interpretation of “good standing” is tied to an actual finding or pleading of guilt. Under this definition, Wilkins is still in good standing. This does not mean that his theology or teachings are sound, however. Indeed, the SJC pointed out that “presbytery’s own description of TE Wilkins’ statements established that TE Wilkins did state differences with The Confession.” [italics in the original] The SJC went on to list a number of those explicit differences. As a result, the SJC found:

…that the record supported a probable finding that Louisiana Presbytery erred, and thereby violated BCO 13-9.f, 40-4, and 40-5, when it failed to find a strong presumption of guilt that the views of TE Steve TE Wilkins were out of conformity with the Constitutional Standards.

In case you missed it, that’s not a ringing endorsement of Wilkins’ views. No one is required to accept or tolerate his views just because he hasn’t been indicted yet.

Given all this plus the BCO process details about which I’ve previously posted, Doug Wilson’s comments about Wilkins being a minister in good standing and therefore that he is somehow being railroaded through a star-chamber court are pointedly false. Obviously, any PCA member who is charged with an offense is in good standing at the time of the filing of the indictment. Good standing has nothing to do with whether a charge can be made against a member as if the good standing somehow is a preventive against a charge. Wilson appears to arguing this: TE Wilkins is a minister in good standing in the PCA and therefore it is improper for any court to inquire, pursue or raise any allegations against his views. If this were true, then no member could ever have any type of inquiry raised against him for any cause since all members start out in good standing.

Wilson is also placing himself in a position to make the final and absolute judgment as to what constitutes proper judicial process in the PCA. His threat that he will be watching, making assessments and drawing “x”s and “o”s to highlight the so-called “plays” of the players is really laughable. Wilson is a non-PCA member claiming that he will be able to judge whether the PCA is treating his buddy Wilkins justly. Actually, he has already declared what has been done unjust because Wilkins is in good standing and therefore nothing should have been done against Louisiana Presbytery or Wilkins. I guess that’s the Federal Vision doctrine of perpetual immunity.

It should go without saying that neither the PCA nor the SJC will march to Wilson’s tune nor be intimidated by what he or his loyal followers think or write. As I continually point out by presenting hard facts, the SJC has been meticulous in following both the letter and spirit of PCA law enshrined in the Book of Church Order. Obviously, the objects of the PCA system are not pleased that it is holding accountable people and views that strike at the vitals of their perspectives (i.e., the Federal Vision), so they cry from the rooftops and the blogosphere that the process is false and unjust.

If Louisiana Presbytery pleads “not guilty” it will receive a fair trial. It will have all the time it needs to cross-examine prosecution witnesses and to mount a forceful defense. It will not be prevented by the system from anything less, and in fact, it will be urged to mount the best defense it can. That’s the nature and guarantee of an orderly and open system. And the trial, if held, will be open to the public; it will not be held behind close doors. Justice and equity will rule supreme.

PCA members may be proud that, regardless of the outcome, their officers and processes proceeded justly in strict accordance with the BCO to preserve the peace and purity of the church. Rule of law is the foundation of freedom, not threats and bullying from the blogosphere.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Posted by Bob Mattes

90 Comments

  1. November 19, 2007 at 9:53 am

    […] Green Bagginses added an interesting post today on Note For PCA Members on BCO Process […]

  2. November 19, 2007 at 9:53 am

    […] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptNote For PCA Members on BCO Process November 19, 2007 at 9:42 am (Church, Federal Vision) Given the false and misleading information being posted elsewhere on the Net, I will clarify the situation with Louisiana Presbytery and TE Steve Wilkins for those who have ears to hear. I have done further study since my last post and offer you the benefit of my additional research. The PCA Standing Judicial Commission has determined that there is a strong presumption of guilt against Louisiana Pre […]

  3. November 19, 2007 at 10:00 am

    […] For PCA Members on BCO Process I posted the fruits of additional research over at Green Bagginses. I pray that this is the last one required until there are more factual developments in the […]

  4. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 19, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Bob,

    Thanks for continuing to try and explain what is going on. I think you and Wilson may have stopped trying to talk to each other, and are rather content to talk past one another (to the audience you are trying to persuade). Given your respective viewpoints, I don’t see any moral problem with this, but it does result in a reader like myself feeling like I’m reading two entirely different discussions rather than a debate between two people. Here’s one example:

    You just said:
    “Wilson appears to arguing this: TE Wilkins is a minister in good standing in the PCA and therefore it is improper for any court to inquire, pursue or raise any allegations against his views. If this were true, then no member could ever have any type of inquiry raised against him for any cause since all members start out in good standing.”

    Whereas Wilson said here:
    “But when you condemn an erroneous opinion, and a particular individual claims that he does not in fact hold to that erroneous opinion, the biblical way of getting at the truth is to hold a trial. You guys want to be honest to goodness Presbyterians? Then why doesn’t someone in Louisiana Presbytery file charges, and have a regular, orderly trial, with true accountability?”

    Now, you may very much disagree with what he said (or the way he put it), but surely Wilson is not saying not to have a trial. On the contrary, he is very much in favor of the allegations against TE Wilkins being handled by a trial. This includes quite a bit of the court inquiring and pursuing the matter.

    Have I misunderstood you?

    Thanks,
    Keith

  5. November 19, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Keith,

    No, you are just missing Wilson’s morphing with the situation. He’s not saying it today, probably because of the result of the two recent SJC cases. He’s written more than just that one post on this topic. Quite a while back he was going on about how Wilkins was exonerated twice by LAP and should be left alone.

  6. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 10:40 am

    Bob – Do you plan on interacting with Wilson’s replies concerning your comments about his ministry credentials? You brought up those topics. The gentlemenly thing to do would be to respond to his replys…or to at least acknowledge them. And if you have been proven wrong in your assesments about his past, it seems an apology would be in order.

  7. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 19, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Bob,

    Thanks, I thought you might’ve been referring to earlier material. I’ve followed Wilson’s commentary on this matter since pretty close to the beginning, and I think I might know what you’re talking about, but a quotation from him or a reference to the post in which he said so would help me understand what you’re referring to.

    Thanks,
    Keith

  8. Bill Lyle - SJC member said,

    November 19, 2007 at 10:58 am

    First of all, fully understanding the vow(s) I took RAO 17-1 and SJCM 7-1 and 7-2 and also noting that I have not read the blog Mr. Mattes is referring to. I do want to comment on what is public and that which I am able to comment on in this form.

    From case 2006-02

    “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.”

    “. . . 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”

    “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).”

    From case 2007-08

    “Therefore the complaint is sustained; Presbytery’s action of April 21, 2007, to deny the complaint of TE Jones is annulled (BCO 43-10); and the Memorial from Central Carolina Presbytery remains before the Standing Judicial Commission. [See the judgment in 2006-2 for additional amends.]”

    Begin comment:

    TE Steve Wilkins is not on trial. LAP is on trial. The indictment has not been served on LAP, however when it is, TE Wilkins can (if LAP desires) be one of the representatives to defend the actions of LAP before the SJC. In fact any member in the PCA, at the request of LAP can be their representative, if LAP pleads not guilty [to the indictment that has not been served].

    Again from the case 2007-08

    It is the opinion of the Standing Judicial Commission that Louisiana Presbytery (LAP) erred in two crucial and related ways. First, it failed to apply the proper Constitutional standard for dealing with TE Wilkins’ differences. Second, it apparently failed adequately to guard the Church from “erroneous opinions that injure the peace or purity of the Church.” (BCO 13-9(f))

    Begin comment:

    This case, in the judgment of the SJC is about two items: 1. LAP failed to constitutionally deal with stated differences and 2. LAP failed to fulfill BCO 13-9(f). So in my humble opinion, to state anything else [other than the case is PCA v. LAP] is just factually inaccurate, giving the two rulings 2006-02 and 2007-08.

    It will be the role of the prosecutor to prove LAP is in error. It will be the role of LAP to prove the indictment is in error and LAP can use anyone in good standing in the PCA (including TE Wilkins) to make their case before the SJC.

    It will be the role of the SJC (and me included) to fulfill the following:
    (From RAO 17-1)
    I do solemnly vow, by the assistance of the grace of God, in my service as a judge in this branch of the church of our lord Jesus Christ, that
    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;
    4. I will judge according to the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America, through my best efforts applied to nothing other than the record of the case and other documents properly before me; and
    5. If in a given case I find my view on a particular issue to be in conflict with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America, I will recuse myself from such case, if I cannot conscientiously apply the Constitution.”

    I hope this brings a little clarity.

    Humbly,

    Bill Lyle SJC member

  9. November 19, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Ken,

    If you read carefully, Wilson didn’t directly answer my primary assertions on his credentials. He cleverly sidestepped them. As for accountability, the EFC is a congregationalist group. They have no denominational accountability across churches. From their own website:

    The Evangelical Free Church of America is an association of some 1,300 autonomous churches united by a mutual commitment to serve our Lord Jesus Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and obedience to the Word of God.

    Note the word “autonomous”. It is sort of the opposite of “accountable”.

    FWIW and contrary to Doug’s assertion, I didn’t get my information from anonymous websites or Google, but from copies of his own bios presented at conferences. Doug is a master of spin.

  10. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Just because a denomination allows its congregations to ordain and install it’s own ministers does not mean there’s no accoutability. They have a statement of faith for Pete’s sake (http://www.efca.org/about/distinctives/index.html). My hunch is that if an EV Free church started denying the bodily resurrection, that church would be asked to leave the association. That may not be the level of accountability we in the PCA are comfortable with, but it is accoutability. It certainly does not call the ministry credentials of its pastors into question.

  11. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Typo alert, third line: “it’s” should be “its” – Sorry all.

  12. greenbaggins said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:33 am

    Bill Lyle’s comment (number eight) got held up in the moderator’s queue, but I would like to direct people’s attention to it.

  13. its.reed said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Ref. #11:

    Ken, my lengthy post on another topic (re.f # 38 on Answer to Doug Wilson on PCA Polity) is helpfully explained by Bill Lyle’s post here (ref. # 8). It is for these reasons that I am hopeful that Rev. Wilkins will not be railroaded.

    I urge you to consider the wisdom of this process to protect the integrity of all involved. I would urge Rev. Wilson to do the same. Do not knee jerk react without understanding the process. It is directly addressed to satisfying your and his concerns for justice.

    Peace, patience, confidence in our brethren (prosecutors, defendents and judges), and plea for God’s mercy and grace to attend – all these are our rights as children of the King presenting before our God nothing of our own that qualifies us to ask confidently, but only what Christ has already acheived.

    Would that all of us who take these things seriously, pro or anti FV included, keep these in mind and speak graciously of and to one another even as we disagree.

  14. Tony S said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:55 am

    As a FV sympathetic PCA member I have to say that the process as outlined seems fair enough. Doug Wilson’s criticism does come off to me as more hype than substance.

    However, arguing that he shouldn’t be giving his opinion on the whole process simply because he’s a pastor in a different denomination doesn’t hold. It’s a public process and if he wants to criticize he can. The test of them needs to be if they’re accurate or not, the post you’re responding too isn’t accurate in my judgement, but he might find something in the future.

  15. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Its.reed – I replied to you at the other post. Again, I really do appreciate your tone and heart in regards to these matters. Thanks for your words of exhortation. I am not taking them lightly.

    Maybe some of my concerns (and perhaps those of many others) could be eased if someone could try and answer the following question(s):

    Assuming the LAP pleads guilty, what will they be required to do?

    Or say the LAP pleads not-guilty and loses, what will they be required to do next?

  16. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    One last question: Has any other PCA presbytery ever been charged by the SJC (or GA in previous years) for anything remotely similar to this situation? I would love to see some precedent if there is any to be seen. Thanks.

  17. Al said,

    November 19, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    I know I said I would take a break…

    If there is a strong indication that Steve Wilkins is guilty of endangering the peace and purity of the Church then would it even be possible for the LAP to protect said peace and purity outside of a ruling against him? Looking at this from the outside; it appears that the trial of the LAP is more about Steve Wilkins than the LAP.

    The potential damage to other elders and churches within the LAP seems to be dust on the scales of these proceedings. While this may keep the ‘purity’ level right up there, I am not so sure about the peace of the church.

    Lunch break is over :-)

    Al sends

  18. anneivy said,

    November 19, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Re: #14

    Fair IS fair! I’m not a member of the PCA either, yet it’s just barely possible I might occasionally weigh in with an opinion on the proceedings. ;^)

    And let’s face it, my opinion is likely to be anti-FV.

    Well, if a non-PCA member such as myself may opine negatively regarding the FV during the process, it’s only fair that other non-PCA members may opine in the FV’s favor during the same.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  19. its.reed said,

    November 19, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Ref. #17:

    Al, your misapprehension of appearance from the outside is understandable. At a less experienced point I had similar responses. Not to sound argumentative, but hopefully to assure you, as I said in another post to Ken (ref. # 38, Answer to Doug Wilson on PCA polity) the process is deliberately cumbersome to protect men from unwarranted and/or frivolous charges.

    The process is intended to minimize inappropriate arguing. That it is not without it’s own weaknesses is a factor of man’s ongoing struggle with the results of the Fall, not any intention on the part of men to thwart the due pursuit of justice.

    Also, as Bob said elsewhere, I think above, a strong presumption of guilt explicitly does not assume guilt. Rather, the process requires this degree of concern before the process can go forward. This, again, is intended as a protection for a man against unwarranted/frivolous charges.

    Will some misunderstand, even misuse the results of these events? If recent history is any evidence, that is pretty much a sure thing. Does this mean that the pursuit of justice is vain? To be sure not, as we put our faith not in the process but in God Who has promised to use the faith-rooted actions of His elders to bless His Church.

    Thank you for the gracious nature of your question. Hopefully my answer satisfies your concern. If not, please ask other questions and myself or others will endeavor to answer you.

  20. reformedmusings said,

    November 19, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Tony S.,

    Welcome! I’m not objecting to opinions. We interact with a wide variety here. Many who come here aren’t PCA, and all are welcome. What I object to is bully pulpit threats and trashing of the PCA, its SJC, and other faithful brothers carrying out their sworn duties. Disagreeing with outcomes or theologies is way different than accusing denominations of star-chamber courts and injustice for merely following their public processes and oaths. Perhaps I’m being too picky, but I don’t think so.

  21. its.reed said,

    November 19, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Ref. #20:

    Bob, on the contrary, your point is right on target. I strive continually to keep this in mind in my reading and interaction with brothers and sisters on the FV. I also strive for the humility necessary to hear my brother’s complaint when I’ve crossed the line.

    It would be wise for all who comment on this to strive to heed the wisdom Bob has offered here – regardless of how well you believe he, me, or anyone else you are interacting wth has abided by this advice.

  22. tim prussic said,

    November 19, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Good discussion. Thanks to Bill Lyle for the most helpful post.

    To my reading, it looks like Pastor Wilson is reacting to and dealing with Mr. Mattes’s language, not that of the BCO or the SJC. That is, he’s responding to phrases like “strong presumption of guilt” and the like. Comment #19 addresses this, but I don’t think helpfully. Post #19 says, “strong presumption of guilt” does not equal assumption of guilt. Maybe what’s meant is this: There are compelling reasons for the LAP to be indicted on charges X & Y. That kind of language is WAY better than a “strong presumption of guilt” of parties that are to be (as I understand) presumed innocent. An indictment could never occur without cause, indeed! Cause, however, is not the same as a “strong presumption of guilt.”

    As to Mr. Mattes’s understanding of Pr. Wilson’s point about being in good standing: “Wilson appears to arguing this: TE Wilkins is a minister in good standing in the PCA and therefore it is improper for any court to inquire, pursue or raise any allegations against his views.” This is really an impressive misunderstanding of what Pr. Wilson’s written.

  23. Jesse P. said,

    November 19, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Brothers,

    Hypothetical -If this debate is about language and “not” substance (as Wilson and others claim), how much responsibility should Wilkins/Wilson take for disrupting the “peace” of the church by use of said language?

    Phrases like “baptismal regeneration in a sense” and baptism gives the child “vital union” surely disrupted the church. It caused disruption because of what “we” as the current community of Reformed folks normally mean by these terms. So, even if the terms were meant in an orthodox way (not my argument right now), should there not have been some earlier repentance for causing disruption, even if unintentional, by Wilkins/Wilson etc.?

    I wish there had been, I think the conversation would have gone forward with more profit as opposed to what seems to be happening now between dueling blogs.

    That is why I would still like to know from any of the FV men if there is anything, in their eyes, that they did wrong in this whole process that has brought us to where we are today? Or are they wholly without blame in this matter?

    Blessings,

    Jesse Pirschel

  24. its.reed said,

    November 19, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Ref. #22:

    Tim, I may be incorrect, but I believe the language “strong presumption of guilt” is right out of our PCA BCO. It has a procedural specific connotation and is not intended to be read in a pejorative manner. Like other technical terms within our religion, it may be subject to misunderstanding based both on its inherent weakness and the weakness of those misunderstanding and not taking the time to clear up their misunderstanding.

    While you may be right broadly speaking (re: to what Rev. Wilson is responding), I think this is an example of the need for more considered and careful reaction on Rev. Wilson’s part and all our parts.

  25. November 19, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    The terminology is indeed straight out of 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.

    As has been said above, it sets a high standard for bringing indictments and thus protects members from spurious charges..

  26. November 19, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    tim, RE #22,

    I posted those excerpts directly from the official documents. The language is official out of the BCO. I didn’t make up the terms.

    I’ve already answered your second point elsewhere. Wilson has been posting for a long time, and at one time stood on the point that Wilkins had been exonerated twice by LAP so lay off.

  27. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 19, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Thank you, Jesse. Strong point and excellent question. I do know (and this is public knowledge) that many folks have appealed directly, personally, and first privately (and in some cases, then publicly) to each of the published FV men in the PCA with respect to the EXACT point you raise (their clarity).

  28. its.reed said,

    November 19, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Ref. #23:

    Jesse, a very fair question. Indeed, a worthwhile approach even at this late date.

    Without eliminating the possibilty, I don’t hold out much ordinary hope for such at this point. The Knox Colloquim was possibly the best effort at this so far. Hosted by Calvin Beisner, a self-professed friend and supporter of many pro-Fv’ers, this was the most significant moment of gracious and judicious interaction between pro and anti FV. The aftermath of that discussion seems to be the following:

    Anti: we still have the following concerns, …

    Pro: you’re not hearing us correctly. Let us repeat ourselves and offer nothing new.

    I’m truly not trying to be pejorative. That seems to be the common theme of any effort to frankly and honestly engage with the FV’ers. Just look at the recent debate over at De Regno Christi and you’ll see this on display in spades.

    Are six reformed denominations made up of either complete theologically ignorant men, or have disingenuous “put the fix in” men controlling these denominations and taking the rest of us along for a ride to more unnecessary dissension and division?

    Still, with you I will hold out the possibility of repentance and reconciliation as long as Christ gives me breath – and will be committed to offering my own where needed.

    Will the pro FV’ers at least offer a similar committment? If so, maybe we at least can find a way to agree to disagree and get on with the work of reaching the lost and shepherding the sheep.

  29. tim prussic said,

    November 19, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    Thanks for the input (the many of ya) on the BCO language. I appreciate the education. Not being PCA myself, I can use help like that from time to time.

  30. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Jessie and Its.reed –

    Here’s my take, fwiw: Confusing and unhelpful terminology was used at the initial conference that started the whole thing. No doubt.

    Still, such terminology was mildly qualified at the time; and I don’t think the conference speakers were intending their remarks to be heard as publically as they ended up being. We must remember that we were all new to this mass media thing just a few years ago. All of us have been shocked by how quickly our words (even careless speech) can spread. Some were more careful about this than others. Today I think everyone is more careful.

    Now since that original conference, statements have been abudantly cleared up and qualified (right Its.reed?). I mean does anyone actually still think Wilkins meant “baptismal regeneration” in the Roman Catholic way? Or “vital union” in the WCF way for that matter?

    All of this being said, I think Jessie P. has a point about the lack of candid self criticism from the FV camp. This would have been most helpful. (It still could be) However it must also be remembered that it was they who were first put on the defensive by the RPCUS.

  31. November 19, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Ken, RE #16,

    One last question: Has any other PCA presbytery ever been charged by the SJC (or GA in previous years) for anything remotely similar to this situation?

    I do not believe so. I think that I saw an article somewhere that said this was the first time in PCA history that this has happened. And of course, we all pray that it will be the last time.

  32. Ken Christian said,

    November 19, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Ok. And Amen. Thanks, Bob.

  33. November 19, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    […] Note For PCA Members on BCO Process Given the false and misleading information being posted elsewhere on the Net, I will clarify the situation with […] […]

  34. Xon said,

    November 20, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Phrases like “baptismal regeneration in a sense” and baptism gives the child “vital union” surely disrupted the church. It caused disruption because of what “we” as the current community of Reformed folks normally mean by these terms. So, even if the terms were meant in an orthodox way (not my argument right now), should there not have been some earlier repentance for causing disruption, even if unintentional, by Wilkins/Wilson etc.?

    Short answer: No, or at least “not necessarily.”

    Longer answer: “We” as the current community of Reformed folks normally are capable of understanding phrases such as “in a sense”, and so when that phrase is attached to “baptismal regeneration”, and we are directed to particular things that the WS says happen in baptism (so it’s not that it’s left unexplained what the ‘sense’ of baptismal regeneration is), then we the current community of Reformed folks can be expected to listen to that argument and either agree or disagree without claiming blatantly false things like “this is sacerdotalism” or “this is the road to Rome”. If we as the current community of Reformed folks prove unable to do this, then we ought to be embarrassed. But shifting the blame onto the person who dared utter ‘in a sense’ originally is unbecoming. And did I mention that we as the current community of Reformed folks often like to claim to be an intellectually rigorous tradition of Protestantism, not like those happy-clappy feeling-centered woman-ordaining spirit-slaying wackos. Yet we freak out over a qualified position that dares to use words in a way we aren’t used to. This. looks. bad.

    Similar explanation can be executed regarding a phrase like ‘vital union.’

  35. Xon said,

    November 20, 2007 at 1:24 am

    Reed,

    Will the pro FV’ers at least offer a similar committment? If so, maybe we at least can find a way to agree to disagree and get on with the work of reaching the lost and shepherding the sheep.

    What is the commitment, precisely? This is unclear, and discussions about it on this blog and elsewhere often produce vastly different prescriptions from anti-Fv folks. Some say “go in peace into your own denomination like the CREC, but just stop bothering the PCA.” Othere say “resign your teaching office, stay in the PCA and become a humble student of the truth.” Others say other things. What exactly constitutes a ‘similar commitment’ to repentance and reconciliation to you, reed? A sincere question.

    The aftermath of that discussion seems to be the following:

    Anti: we still have the following concerns, …

    Pro: you’re not hearing us correctly. Let us repeat ourselves and offer nothing new.

    I’m truly not trying to be pejorative. That seems to be the common theme of any effort to frankly and honestly engage with the FV’ers. Just look at the recent debate over at De Regno Christi and you’ll see this on display in spades.

    Looking at that debate at DRC I’d say it demonstrated several lines of comment from anti-FVers that were pretty ‘new’ or at least the conversation was not what we typically hear. Darryl Hart and Caleb Stegall didn’t exactly sound like Guy Waters or RS Clark in their criticisms. This is an often glossed-over element of the last few years, which is that both sides have qualified and at times outright abandoned certain lines of argument. This is particularly true of the anti-FV side, which is (often) the side least willing to acknowledge that any change has taken place. Every time we start another round, anti-FVers tell us what the problem has been ‘all along.’ But they almost never say the same thing. Then when they offer historical reviews of the controversy, they will claim that nothing has changed since 2003 and FVers are simply intransigent. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…

    Are six reformed denominations made up of either complete theologically ignorant men, or have disingenuous “put the fix in” men controlling these denominations and taking the rest of us along for a ride to more unnecessary dissension and division?

    This is a false dilemma, as there are clearly other options. Perhaps generally theologically knowledgable men with a sincere desire for justice simply misperceived the facts of the case. People make mistakes, and mistakes often breed. Memes, mob mentalities, and all that.

  36. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 20, 2007 at 1:33 am

    Re #33

    Xon,

    Jesse’s good point still stands. Your answer doesn’t fly. Not sure if you’re intending to sound condescending, but you seem to be saying that this whole tiresome controversy has really been about our (ordained officers in the PCA who are critical of the FV distinctives) inability to recognize a nuanced “in a sense” manner of speaking. That’s just ridiculous.

    Please don’t try to make that argument again here. In the words of Melvin Scott (UNC National Champion basketball player), don’t make us “step up and bust in your eye” (not quite sure what that means, but it sounds tough).

    Remember Lane’s standards for posting here. Thanks, brother.

  37. Xon said,

    November 20, 2007 at 4:13 am

    Pastor Hutchinson, I’m not tracking your criticism. Jesse’s question was whether FV proponents, even if they are orthodox, are nonetheless guilty (in need of repentance) simply for the words they used. He puts the blame (inquisitively) for misunderstanding squarely on the shoulders of the speakers. But in reality there are other perfectly reasonable interpretations of the source of a misunderstanding. The speaker could be to blame, sure. Or the hearer could be to blame. Or both could be to blame. But the very existence of a misunderstanding does not entail that the speaker is to blame.

    If someone tries to impute repentance-worthy misdirection to FV advocates simply because they used words in a way that is not customary for contemporary Reformed people (which was the substance of Jesse’s question), then I will continue to respond by pointing out that Reformed people should be capable of not getting all bent out of shape about such things. It’s not condescension; it’s a counterargument. And it’s a decent one so far as I can tell or I wouldn’t use it.

    The FV discussion is about a lot more than just this silly rabbit trail. I am not saying that this “whole controversy” is about this question of who is to blame for misunderstanding the words of another. I merely offer a response when that question is breached by others.

    And while I did not intend any condescension (and I don’t think any came across in my comment, though I do thank you for your sincere exhortation and will redouble my efforts to be gracious in these discussions), I will freely confess that I am a bit tired of this line of argument. Especially when the very example brought up as evidence of FV misdirection includes the phrase “in a sense”.

  38. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 20, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Xon,

    Fair enough. Let me be a bit clearer. The ordained officers in the PCA (including, but not limited to the members of Study Committee, the participants in the Knox Colloquium. and the 92-96% of the Commissioners to this past Summer’s General Assembly) who have publicly criticized the doctrinal distinctives of the FV men, have not (your words) “freak(ed) out over a qualified position that dares to use words in a way we aren’t used to.” You seemed to be implying as much, which is not in keeping with Lane’s hopes for the tenor of discussion on this blog in at least two ways: Lane doesn’t want that sort of intemperate accusatory language with regards to your elders, and Lane doesn’t want folks to beat dead horses.

    So, you were not given one of my much-feared “strike ones” (people are curled up into fetal positions all throughout the land now), but you will be the next time you “bring that stuff up in here.”

    Thanks, brother.

  39. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 20, 2007 at 8:57 am

    So “strong presumption of guilt” does not equal “presumed guilty”? It makes sense that this is a technical BCO term that doesn’t carry the plain-meaning-of-the-words connotation, but I hope it doesn’t appear totally unreasonable that a bystander wouldn’t quite understand the massive difference between “We’ve found a strong presumption of guilt against LAP” and “LAP is presumed guilty”.

    Again, I understand it’s a technical term and that it would be incorrect to equate those two statements.

    On the other hand, there seems to be a very ironic parallel with, for instance “baptism saves, in a sense”. For many bystanders, the phrase “baptism saves, in a sense” seems quite equivalent with “all who are baptized are elect”.

    So, am I comparing apples and oranges or is this another reminder for both sides to cut the other some slack on terminology?

    Or in other words, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  40. Ken Christian said,

    November 20, 2007 at 9:14 am

    Addressing the last six posts or so (and the current legal drama): It really seems that a whole host of our past and current squabbles would move toward resolution if we’d all take the time to call/email a fellow minister with questions like, “When you said (wrote) ‘y’, I heard you to mean ‘x’. Did you mean to say ‘x’ or were you trying to get at something else?”

  41. Xon said,

    November 20, 2007 at 9:25 am

    The ordained officers in the PCA (including, but not limited to the members of Study Committee, the participants in the Knox Colloquium. and the 92-96% of the Commissioners to this past Summer’s General Assembly) who have publicly criticized the doctrinal distinctives of the FV men, have not (your words) “freak(ed) out over a qualified position that dares to use words in a way we aren’t used to.”

    I’ll buy that. But that means that no anti-FV person should make any arguments about FVers being inherently to blame for using words in ways that Reformed folks are not accustomed to. Again, Pastor Hutchinson, I did not initiate that line of argument. I simply offered a logical retort to it. If (hypothetical, conditional, horseshoe) someone tries to say that (A) FVers must repent for the words they used in non-normal Reformed ways, then (B) the upshot of what they are saying is “I’m freaking out over words and I’m not capable of reading someone carefully with understanding when they use those words in weird ways.” If, and only if, someone tries to pin an accusation like (A) onto FVers, then I respond by pointing out the implication (B). If you think (B) does not apply to the sober and level-headed men in the PCA who have written the reports and voted at the GAs, then by all means continue to believe that. Just don’t try to use arguments like (A) against FV thinkers.

  42. anneivy said,

    November 20, 2007 at 9:53 am

    Maybe it’s just because I’m a female without theological training, but ISTM using “words in weird ways” is a hindrance to communication and basically an inconsiderate, not-too-bright thing to do.

    If I suddenly begin to use the word “apple” when I mean “tomato” because tomatoes were once known as “wolf apples”, confusion is going to result.

  43. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 20, 2007 at 10:03 am

    Anne,

    (tongue-in-cheek)

    What about saying “strong presumption of guilt” when you mean “presumed innocent”? ;)

  44. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 20, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Thank you, Anne. Xon, I do hope you take her very practical words to heart.

    You wrote, “If (hypothetical, conditional, horseshoe) someone tries to say that (A) FVers must repent for the words they used in non-normal Reformed ways, then (B) the upshot of what they are saying is ‘I’m freaking out over words and I’m not capable of reading someone carefully with understanding when they use those words in weird ways.'”

    If A then B does not compute. A could lead to B, but does not and has not in our context. You’re not (and aren’t going to be able to) convince me that it is somehow really my fault that certain folks are confusing Christ’s sheep.

    You do need to listen to Anne on this. If you want one last comment on this (your words) “silly rabbit trail,” you may do so, but probably doing just about anything else will be a better use of your gifts and the precious time your Heavenly Father has given you. Thanks, brother.

  45. anneivy said,

    November 20, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Since the PCA’s BCO isn’t required to use the American criminal judicial system as its model, it doesn’t worry me.

    AAMOF, that’s been a puzzler, this tacit assumption that the same rules necessarily apply. Piffle. The key factor in the American criminal judicial system is that the accused’s freedom is endangered. That’s why someone charged with a crime is entitled to an attorney while someone charged with a civil offense is not.

    Plus it mustn’t be overlooked that a “strong presumption of guilt” is a necessary precondition for a charge to be filed in the first place. Why would charges be filed against a person or organization if there was NOT a “strong presumption of guilt”? Now THAT would be unnerving!

    The “presumed innocent” part is the reason trials exist at all. In some areas of the world, to be charged is tantamount to being found guilty. Admittedly it’s a little mixing, as a person or other entity must be deemed by the authorities to have a “strong presumption of guilt” for a charge to be filed, but once the charge is filed the “presumption of innocence” takes pride of place, requiring a trial to determine whether the prosecutors’ reasons for presuming the guilt of those charged are valid.

    So I’m not of the number attempting to apply nuance to the “strong presumption of guilt.” It means precisely what it sounds like, for crying out loud, and there’s not a darn thing wrong with that.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  46. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 20, 2007 at 10:24 am

    I want to both defend and criticize your argument, Xon.

    On the one hand, you are absolutely right that misunderstanding is a two-way street. One need look no further than Luther to see how his views were misrepresented by Catholic apologists (with, unfortunately, the assistance of his own heated rhetoric) to see this in action.

    And @ Jeff H re #35: you’re the boss, but if the primary FV argument is that they are actually orthodox, but being misunderstood, it seems like a heavy burden to censure them for making that argument in public. Just my opinion, and I’ll shut up now on that topic.

    On the other hand, Xon, I don’t think it’s reasonable to present a substantial rethinking of the “standard” exegesis of scores of passages and the “standard” terminology used throughout churches, without raising significant hackles.

    (The scare quotes around “standard” are intended to convey that our understanding is not necessarily the Holy Spirit’s intent; nonetheless, they are the best community understanding of the HS’s intent at this point in history)

    Case in point: I’ve remarked to Rich Lusk that his articles on justification asked me to simultaneously re-think James 2, Romans 2, and about ten or so other passages. We’ve begun discussion on that topic, but it’s really slow going; I can’t just read his article and immediately say, “Oh, that’s what you mean!” As I said earlier, I’m seminary-trained and reasonably bright, and I find the FV confusing.

    Which leads to my second case in point:

    The other night…let’s see; it would have been October 28 or 31 … I had to take out the trash. So I gave my wife “The Federal Vision” and asked her to read part of Wilkins’ article, the pages concerning the Corinthian church.

    At that point, all she knew about the FV was that I had read “The Case For Covenant Communion” and had been modestly impressed with some, but not all, of the arguments. So as far as she knew, I was cautiously open to The Federal Vision. (What she didn’t know was that Wilkins’ chapter was changing that openness).

    When I returned, my wife says to me, “I know that I should ask you [i.e., out of courtesy] what you think about this, but I think it’s scary. It’s a ‘pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps’, ‘you can lose your salvation’ kind of theology.”

    Now, I *knew* (and explained to her) that FV advocates would deny both of those charges. But I also knew (and acknowledged to her) that I was reading him the same way.

    This is what I mean by confusing, Xon. I can read the words, “we’re affirming monergism” and say, OK. But then I can read the words, “Paul is writing to all of the members of the Ephesian church” and as I attempt to think through what that *means*, I can’t come up with a clear picture that’s still monergistic except in the limited sense that God decrees all things in his providence.

    SO what needs to happen is that either I need to see the clear picture (which I haven’t been able to do), OR the FV advocates need to say, OK, clearly these words aren’t conveying the right picture. Let’s try some other words.

    Think of it like this: certain formulations are like certain proteins; they trigger an allergic reaction. And if the FV wishes for us to rethink our immune system, they can’t do it by a cold-turkey system shock.

    That’s where I’m at.

    Thanks for listening,
    Jeff Cagle

  47. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 20, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Jeff Cagle,

    Your wife is an idiot.

    May we all become idiots like her, that we would become wise (1 Cor 3:18).

    Grace and Peace to you from (I hope) a fellow idiot.

    (P.S. I welcome fresh arguments that the FV men have simply been misrepresented, even poor and unconvincing arguments to that effect; what I don’t welcome are re-tread arguments that malign all critics of the FV. But I do take your point! Thanks!)

  48. Xon said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:06 am

    If I suddenly begin to use the word “apple” when I mean “tomato” because tomatoes were once known as “wolf apples”, confusion is going to result.

    We can all come up with new uses of words that sound crazy and are so idiosyncratic that they would undoubtedly cause confusion. Like I said previously, sometimes misunderstanding is the fault of the speaker, the one who uses the words in new ways. But not necessarily. And FVers have done nothing akin to calling a tomato by the name ‘apple.’ There are more options than ‘tomato’=’apple’ on the one hand and “never use words in unconventional ways so as not to cuase confusion” on the other. I’m saying FVers find a space somewhere in the middle there.

    If A then B does not compute. A could lead to B, but does not and has not in our context. You’re not (and aren’t going to be able to) convince me that it is somehow really my fault that certain folks are confusing Christ’s sheep.

    Aside from the fact that you frame things in a way that FV is already guilty. (They “are confusing Christ’s sheep”, which is precisely the point in dispute), if you think that my claim doesn’t apply then we can talk about that. But no more nuh uh, yeah huh, okay? I’ll start by offering further elucidation of my claim. If Smith says that Tom is wrong merely for using words in unconventional ways–in other words, if Smith makes a charge against Tom on that basis alone, whatever other charges Smith might also raise on other bases–then Smith is objecting to words and is claiming that using words unconventionally necessarily causes confusion. This is crazy, and it implies (strongly) that Smith doesn’t know how to read.

    Again, to be clear. I am not saying “You anti-FVers don’t know how to read.” I am saying that you make yourselves look that way when you say things like “FVers should repent simply for using words in unconventional ways. Even if they are orthodox in their theology in the final analysis, the very fact that they used words in unconventional ways has caused confusion for which they are responsible.” If you want to say something like that, then I think it is a reasonable inference that your fear of words has gotten out of all proportion and that you have very little confidence in your own ability to read new things carefully with understanding. Again, I’m using a ‘reductio ad abusrdum’–sort of. I’m not telling you that you don’t know how to read carefully with understanding, I am telling you that you are saying things which, if you really believed them and took them to their reasonable implication, would mean that you don’t know how to read carefully with understanding. But I don’t really think you believe those things; I think that anti-FVers who talk this way (i.e., blaming FVers for being confusing simply b/c they used words unconventionally) have allowed their dislike of FV theology (however well founded it might be) to skew their perception and have resorted to throwing up an argument that doesn’t really ‘work’ logically but which serves their purpose in the moment of adding another smear to a group of people who they already think are heretics anyway. At least, that’s my best interpretation that I can come up with when I see people use such a transparently bad argument.

    Now, if you want to drop the general argument that blames FVers simply for using words in unconventional ways, you could perhaps argue that some particular usage of FVers is inherently confusing. But here too argumentation is usually lacking from anti-FVers. Anne brought up the analogy of “tomatos” and “apples”, which simply doesn’t fit anything FVers have said that I can see. But perhaps we should move beyond analogies and go with words that FVers have actually used. Jesse’s original query used the phrase “baptismal regeneration in a sense.” That phrase has nuance built into it, and yet anti-FVers feign an inability to see anything but Romanism. Again, provide an actual example of words that are inherently confusing and which no reasonable person could use without expecting to cause confusion. I for one would much prefer to discuss individual examples than general arguments that confusion always points blame to the speaker.

    Jeff Cagle, I think your approach to your confusion is appropriate. You are seeking out the source to get clarification, trying to remain as charitable as possible, and you are leaving open possibilities such as that you might still come to see the FV perspectivce more clearly (some things just take time to become more clear; we Reformeds claim to be a learned community of theological thought and so this should not be intimidating per se) or that FVers might choose different words to clarify their meaning. You are not saying that FVers are obviously in the wrong and in need of repentance simply because there is confusion about their views. You are not making the argument I am rebutting.

    As to how to provide a clearer picture of what the FVers are saying, perhaps you and I could make some progress there b/w the two of us. Shoot me an e-mail at xonhostetter @ gmail dot com if you like, and I’d love to talk with you more about the Wilkins article and whatever else!

  49. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Xon,

    Your post #48 is strike one. It does, I think, violate Lane’s expressed guidelines for posting to this blog (posts must be placid in tone, free of wild accusations, not beat dead horses, etc.). Thanks.

  50. anneivy said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Look, Xon, this isn’t rocket science.

    Take the example of Mrs. Cagle. She read an FV writing and came away with the understanding that one has to work for one’s salvation.

    There are precisely four possible scenarios:

    1. The FV’er meant to say “A” but instead communicated “B”. This is poor writing.
    2. The FV’er meant to say “A”, in fact DID say “A”, but Mrs. Cagle’s reading comprehension skills are sub-par so she misunderstood what was written, sincerely believing the FV’er said “B”.
    3. The FV’er meant to say “A”, in fact DID say “A”, but Mrs. Cagle, though actually grasping that “A” is what was communicated, uncharitably and dishonestly claimed that the FV’er said “B’. Bad, bad Mrs. Cagle.
    4. The FV’er meant to say “A”, in fact DID say “A”, and Mrs. Cagle understood it just fine.

    That’s it. Those are the four available options.

    Now, either a truly astonishing number of people who have read the writings of the FV are deficient in reading comprehension, or they’re dishonest and uncharitable; if neither of those is true, then either the FV’ers are lousy communicators or they are competent writers and what it sounds like they’re saying is what they intended to say.

    If something is properly, lucidly, and cogently written, a reader need not seek explanation as to what the writer meant. If such additional explanation is required, that is proof of mangled writing on the part of the author.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  51. anneivy said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Oops. I daresay my post also falls under the category of whupping up on deceased horses, Jeff. Sorry!

  52. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:37 am

    I had meant to let Xon have the final word with his post #48, but if he genuinely wants to interact with YOUR argument (and only your argument) in post #50, I will be oh-so-merciful and allow it.

  53. Xon said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:39 am

    Apparently I haven’t been around here for too long now. I don’t even understand what “strike one” means. I thought you were being cryptically humorous, like referencing a pop culture thing I just wasn’t getting or something.

    I now gather that, a. Lane isn’t around for a while, and b. Pastor Hutchinson has comment-suspending priveledges in his stead. Oops.

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Your wife is an idiot.

    *turns green and shirt stretches*

    May we all become idiots like her, that we would become wise (1 Cor 3:18).

    Back to normal…

    :)

    Jeff

  55. Xon said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Anne, those are not the only 4 options.

    2.5 The FV’er meant to say “A”, in fact DID say “A”, but Mrs. Cagle misunderstood what was written, for any variety of reasons.

    There is no need to impute ‘subpar reading skills’ to Mrs. Cagle or to anyone else. Good readers have bad days, bad readers have good days. Good readers give pretty good readings but simply aren’t aware of some of the underlying background or terminology. Some things just take time to really come together, even for a good reader.

    Since this is a false dilemma (or quadrilemma, in this case), the other inferences you draw do not follow.

  56. Jonathan said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:47 am

    I’m still rather confused that the SJC can find fault in the LAP when no official fault has been found with Wilkins.

    Jeff Cagle whats the difference between “loosing” and “never having” salvation really? Both positions lead to the same place. FV says you loose something (not saying that FV says you loose your decretal salvation or anything) and the non-FV says you never had anything to loose in the first place but both really lead to the same destination (wanna run I20 or Hwy. 80 to get to Monroe?)

    Back on topic though. Shouldn’t Wilkins be found to be a criminal before LAP is charged with harboring a criminal? Yup that’s how it seems to me. Basically its assumed guilt on Wilkins thus forcing LAP to defend its defense of a guilty man as opposed to giving Wilkins the chance to defend HIMSELF as HIMSELF. Cart before Horse? Let’s give an analogy. My brother is shown on the news to be a bank robber. There is no charges being pressed against my brother as a bank robber and no warrants are issued but the news thinks he robbed the bank so they say hes a bank robber. I then get arrested and put on trial for harboring/aiding and abetting a criminal and my brother is told he can come to my defense… Yeah sounds silly doesn’t it.

    P.S. Anywhere you see “guild” I mean to say guilt. Also I apologize for any typos but I’ve been awake too long as is. If my post is incomprehensible I’ll try and clarify what I’m trying to say when I’m more coherent.

  57. Ken Christian said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Jeff – for future reference, what specifically in comment #48 violates Lane’s policy that “posts must be placid in tone, free of wild accusations, not beat dead horses, etc.”? It’s hard for me to see any violations of said policy in Xon’s post. Some clarification on the rules of engagement would be very helpful.

  58. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 20, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Xon,

    I’ve been working overtime making things clear for the last few days (see my post on “Pruning Unnecessary Branches”) ever since Lane’s “Major Announcement” (see his posts to that effect), but I certainly understand that in the blog world where we jump in and out all the time that folks might miss the broader “meta-narrative.” I had assumed you had been tracking with those changes. Sorry about that.

    But don’t worry, it’s not one strike and you’re out, it’s three strikes. You are very welcome here and I am glad for your flexible spirit.

    (P.S. I serve at Lane’s bidding; if he asks me to change my ruling, that your post was actually a fair ball and not a foul ball, I will do so immediately–if I have access to a computer that is!)

  59. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 20, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Hey there, Ken.

    I’m not sure if I can help you out. It is a very fair question, but I don’t have the time to bore you by bringing you into the intricate inner workings of my combobulated thought processes. Basically, though, I just try to read and re-read Lane’s expressed guidelines, and then “call em as I see em.”

  60. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 20, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Jeff Cagle,

    Gotcha! (I don’t know how to do those smiley faces)

  61. anneivy said,

    November 20, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Xon, that is simply a derivative of #2, as you tacitly acknowledged by numbering it 2.5.

    The odds that hundreds if not thousands of people have read the precise same FV writings yet managed to misunderstand those writings in the precise same way strains the bounds of credulity.

    Well, it strains my credulity boundaries, in any case. Apparently it doesn’t strain yours. ;^)

  62. anneivy said,

    November 20, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    BTW, I deeply appreciate the “Recent Comments” section being moved to the top. That’s a big help!

  63. Mark T. said,

    November 20, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Jonathan,

    You have framed a false analogy. Try this: the FBI has a surveillance tape of your brother pointing a gun at a bank teller as he stuffs hard cash in a bag. Furthermore, the FBI has called this federal offense to the attention of the local police who, after two investigations, have confirmed that your brother did in fact point a gun at the teller in order to steal money and they even documented this fact for the record. However, for reasons that no one can understand, they decided that your brother’s actions conformed to the law of the land.

    Therefore, the FBI took its case to a federal judge, who ordered an indictment against the local police for failing to enforce the law. Please note: the judge did not find anyone guilty, he only ordered an indictment because they ignored compelling evidence. In other words, the local police have acted in dereliction of their sworn duty. Now they must answer to higher authority for their actions.

    And it may be that they have a perfectly reasonable explanation for why they did not arrest your brother after he stuck a 44 magnum in the little old lady’s face, which is why they will have their day in court. But the point is that they must give account for their actions.

    Does this make sense?

  64. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 20, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Mark,

    That does make sense, actually, though we would obviously differ on the nefariousness (or lack thereof) of what Wilkins did/said “on tape”.

    The other issue is that it still seems the guilt of the brother should be established by trial (or guilty plea) first before the local police could be brought to task. The brother’s trial might be pretty short, but it seems like the point would have to be proven anyway so may as well get it in stone.

    I’m curious what the actual procedure would be in that case, but as someone mentioned the PCA is in no way bound to imitate the American system anyway (except where the American system is in turn imitating the Biblical system, of course).

  65. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 20, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Jeff Cagle whats the difference between “loosing” and “never having” salvation really? Both positions lead to the same place.

    Excellent question. Suppose we’re Catholic: what’s the difference between having your marriage divorced and annulled?

    Both end up at the same place, but in the first, something real was broken — and there’s culpability as a result of infidelity. In the second, something that appeared real turned out not to be — and the outcome is tragic, but not to be helped.

    (I’m assuming here that annulling is possible just for the sake of analogy)

    Or what’s the difference between the bank giving me $100 to start my account, then later taking it back, VERSUS the bank making an error of $100 in their favor? In the first case, they have done a wrong to me; in the second, it was simply an error.

    Neither of these analogies can be pressed too hard, but here’s the central point: If being given the seal of the Holy Spirit guaranteeing my inheritance (Eph. 1.14) can possibly mean that later in the future that I might not have my inheritance guaranteed … then I really can’t understand the Scriptures anymore concerning assurance.

    If on the other hand, it is possible to appear saved without actually possessing the reality of salvation, then it makes sense that God *does* guarantee salvation to those that receive it — but that not all within the church can presume to have received it.

    Does that help?

    Jeff C

  66. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 20, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Keith,

    I really do think Doug is confused on this point. The statement of the judgement is this:

    II. Statement of the Issues

    1) Did Louisiana Presbytery fail to apply the correct Constitutional standard when it sought to determine whether TE Wilkins “may differ with The Confession of Faith and Catechisms in any of their statements and/or propositions?” (BCO 21-4, RAO 16-3(e)(5))

    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?

    III. Judgment

    1) Yes.

    2) Yes.

    There’s not a presumption of guilt here. There’s a asserting of probable finding.

    Here’s a typical paragraph from the reasoning:

    TE Wilkins, in his written questions for Presbytery, maintains that the Confession uses the term election decretively, whereas the Bible uses the term covenantally. He notes that “Paul and Peter do not appear to use the terms `elect’ and `chosen’ to apply exclusively to those who were chosen to eternal salvation (i.e., in The Westminster Confession sense). He then references certain Scripture passages to support this view, the same Scripture passages used by the WCF to support `decretal’ election. In doing this, he is asserting a difference between The Standards‘ view of election and that of Scripture. This may rise to a level that strikes at the fundamentals of the system of doctrine. (ROC 37-38) (Cf. WCF 3.5-6)

    Note here that there is not a presumption of guilt (“may rise to a level”), but a presumption that such statements ought to have been more carefully investigated by LAP. LAP is being accused of not having done its job thoroughly.

    I fully, 100% heartily agree. And I’m probably the biggest whiner about process around here.

    Jeff Cagle

  67. Xon said,

    November 20, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Anne,

    Xon, that is simply a derivative of #2, as you tacitly acknowledged by numbering it 2.5.

    Actually, I meant it to be an in between of both 2 and 3, which is why I put it as 2.5.

    I can understand your reading, and I’m sure you can understand my intention now that I have clarified. Now, am I somehow to ‘blame’ for being unclear (even though 2.5 is a perfectly reasonable number to use if you are making a point that is between 2 and 3), or do we have to conclude that you have bad reading skills? I don’t think we have to do any of those things.

    But in any case, if you want to say that my 2.5 is derivative of 2 then that’s fine with me, so long as we also acknowledge that it is a derivative which carries a vastly different set of connotations and circumstantial implications. In 2 we are actually making negative judgments of the reading skills of a person. In 2.5 we are simply pointing out that even good readers make mistakes. Seems pretty different to me, especially given the way in which your argument is trying to use the choices to force this conclusion that we FVers are claiming some sort of widespread stupidity or viciousness on the part of the Reformed world.

    The odds that hundreds if not thousands of people have read the precise same FV writings yet managed to misunderstand those writings in the precise same way strains the bounds of credulity.

    But this is another of these common anti-FV rhetorical flourishes that don’t really stand up to the facts. The FV writers have not been misunderstood in “precisely the same way” by all of their critics. Quite the contrary; critics have levied lots of different charges against the perceived theology of the FV. The same critics have sometimes tried one argument then abandoned it and moved on to another. Different critics disagree among themselves as to what the ‘real’ problem with FV theology is.

    Finally, do you think that anyone has ever been misunderstood by a large number of people through no (or little) fault of their own? Does this very possibility strain the limits of your credulity? There are so many ways this can happen. Perhaps a few people, in the initial eruption of controversy, give some badly mistaken readings of someone’s writings or speakings. Then perhaps word of their mistaken analysis spreads to others and is acccepted largely uncritically by folks who simply do not have the time or inclination to “redo” all the research done by the original analysts. Perhaps factions of loyalty start to form, and the whole thing becomes politicized. Mob mentality is a real thing, and it’s not insulting to say that even the Reformed world can be subject to its whims. I certainly don’t think of myself as being beyond its influence.

  68. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 20, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Then perhaps word of their mistaken analysis spreads to others and is acccepted largely uncritically by folks who simply do not have the time or inclination to “redo” all the research done by the original analysts. Perhaps factions of loyalty start to form, and the whole thing becomes politicized.

    This is certainly true, which is why I did NOT like the 2007 GA process but do like the SJC process going on now.

    Though not being the son of a prophet, I anticipate that the SJC will likely either require LAP to try Wilkins or else require LAP to re-examine Wilkins pursuant to a trial. It seems unlikely to me that the SJC would try Wilkins directly as an outcome of this case.

    In either event, if Wilkins is in fact found orthodox (in his views) at trial, the likely outcome is that he will be required to modify his formulations.

    And if not … well, Xon, would you accept the verdict? Is it *possible* that Wilkins believes himself to be orthodox but is not actually so?

    The shoe fits the other foot, too. If LAP is acquitted, are the critics willing to accept the verdict?

    Jeff Cagle

  69. greenbaggins said,

    November 20, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Anne, (#62), I can’t believe I didn’t think of it earlier. The recent comments section is far more valuable than the categories section.

  70. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 20, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Jeff Cagle wrote, “The shoe fits the other foot, too. If LAP is acquitted, are the critics willing to accept the verdict?”

    As one somewhat insignificant critic (once insignificant but now made POWERFUL by Lane’s glorious bestowal of infinite blog power upon me!), and speaking only for myself, and reserving the right to change my mind, here is my answer to your on-point question:

    If the LAP pleads “not guilty; we believe we were correct to rule that the FV distinctives of Steve Wilkins are within Confessional bounds;” and the SJC is persuaded by their arguments, I would hope that I would:

    1. Give serious, serious consideration to the LAP’s arguments that proved persuasive to the duly elected and commissioned and godly elders on the SJC.

    2. Pray and think and study and talk with my fellow elders and friends here in my tiny corner of God’s great big world.

    3. And then decide whether:

    (a) I have been persuaded as well; or

    (b) I have not been persuaded, but I can live with the “big tent” of the PCA having thus grown bigger so as to now explicitely allow for the FV distinctives; or

    (c) I have not been persuaded, and I cannot live in a denomination that allows for the FV distinctives to be taught; but I believe it is my duty to stay within the PCA and use every Constitutional means at my disposal for as long as God gives me breath to overturn what I believe to have been a disastrous decision; or

    (d) I have not been persuaded, and I cannot live in denomination that allows for the FV distinctives to be taught; and I believe it would be wise for me and my family to transfer out of the PCA into another branch of Christ’s Church.

    Given your hypothetical, and assuming I had to decide today, there is no question that I would choose either option (c) or option (d). And whether I choose (c) or (d) depends on what the PCA does with my retirement benefits.

    (That last sentence was a stupid joke; the rest of it was perfectly serious. Okay not the stuff about infinite blog power. But the rest of it.)

  71. jared said,

    November 20, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    There’s something wrong here…

    Statement of the Issues

    1) Did Louisiana Presbytery comply with the directive of the Standing Judicial Commission that it, “with due diligence and great discretion” (BCO 31-2) deal with the allegations that TE Steven TE Wilkins’ views are out of accord at key points with the system of doctrine as summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms, which are “standard expositions of the teachings of Scripture in relation to both faith and practice” (BCO 29-1, 39-3) by carrying out the amends specified by the Standing Judicial Commission in Section II of the “Reasoning, Opinion, and Amends” portion of Part I of this report?

    Judgment

    1) Yes.

    Ok, so LP did it’s job. Thumbs up, yay! Then we find:

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

    So, the SJC concludes that LP “erred… when it failed to find strong presumption of guilt…” Okay, LP didn’t really do it’s job. Thumbs down, hiss! Am I missing the part where the SJC asked/told LP that it was supposed to find a strong presumption of guilt?

  72. Xon said,

    November 20, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Jeff,

    And if not … well, Xon, would you accept the verdict? Is it *possible* that Wilkins believes himself to be orthodox but is not actually so?

    Yes, it is definitely possible. But it isn’t established simply because the SJC says so. Just as I am not required to accept every verdict in our civil courts as accurate (OJ?), so I am not logically or morally required to accept an ecclesiastical verdict as accurate. If Wilkins is in fact unorthodox, despite his protestations to the contrary, then it will have to be objectively established that each of the following obtain:

    1. Wilkins substantively contradicts the WS in some way.
    2. The contradiction denoted by (1) is vitally important to ‘true religion’.

    I have done a good bit of work at my own blog looking at attempts to prove (1) against Wilkins and others. So far I don’t see how it’s been established anywhere, other than explicit exceptions to the WS that guys like Wilkins take (paedocommunion, for instance). But these allowable exceptions have already been ruled not to satisfy (2). So we need something new. Some contradiction with WS that Wilkins teaches even though he says he doesn’t. This must be shown, but it never is.

  73. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 20, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Jared (#71), I’m confused about where you’re quoting from. I read:

    1) Did Louisiana Presbytery fail to apply the correct Constitutional standard when it sought to determine whether TE Wilkins “may differ with The Confession of Faith and Catechisms in any of their statements and/or propositions?” (BCO 21-4, RAO 16-3(e)(5))


    1. Yes.

    Are we looking at a different document?

    Jeff

  74. Jonathan said,

    November 20, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    Jeff H.

    So what you are basically saying is that if ruled against; all of us supporting Wilkins should shut up and accept that Wilkins is Unorthodox; However if he is exonerated then you don’t feel the need to accept it? How does this double standard apply? Now I’m not just trying to be confrontational here but it just doesn’t sit well with me. Imagine the prosecutor bringing a bat to a trial and if the judge rules Not Guilty the prosecutor then proceeds to beat the tar out of the accused-now found innocent-man.

    Jeff Cagle.
    “but that not all within the church can presume to have received it.” (If I knew how to do a quote here I would but I’m not sure so this format will have to do)

    So basically the Minister and God’s people are left without any form of assurance? It seems that such a statement provides for an even rockier faith then the Arminian’s complete loss of Salvation does. What comfort do you give your congregation/friends and family? Upon what do we presume to know we have actually received it?

  75. Jesse P. said,

    November 20, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    Xon,

    In short, I could summarize your answer to the question I asked as, “No, the FV has done nothing worthy of repentance.”

    Now you tried to shorten my argument into the following (which it was not)
    “We didnt understand you the first time so now you need to repent.” Rather my question was, when it becomes clear the peace of the church is being disrupted is their any responsibility on the part of the one causing offense (even if unintended) to work to restore peace (even repenting for offense unintended)?

    Example, you walk into Grandma’s house and start using language in a way that you know she doesn’t use. You say people are “nice” when you mean they are “stupid”. She objects. You explain the words have different senses and the “old” use of nice means stupid. So she shouldn’t be upset because you are using it the “old” way. You then tell her she suffers from “orthodusty” and needs to get over herself and stop being so “nice”. Because hey, you didn’t mean to cause offense and clearly it’s her problem for not being able to deal with language and all. Is this how you treat family?

    Now if your view of “community” and “church” is of such a nature that you dont think it your problem at all if you disrupt the purity of the living flesh and blood community as long as what you believe “down in your heart” is orthodox, then we are at an impasse (and it really seems to go against what FV claims of itself on paper).

    I have been very sympathetic to the FV dilemma. I appreciate the questions they ask, and being a fan of Schilder on the covenant, have seen overlap between the two views. I have yet to be on the “attack” but I am having a hard time feeling bad for them with how some of the interaction has gone down and then jwatching it be justified with, “well you started it” and “Jesus would make fun of you too”, and “we are the inevitable victim of the mob mentality, poor us”.

    With the measure you use, it will be measured back to you, and both sides seem to be doing their measuring with a stiff left jab so they can size up the distance for a big right cross. And wouldnt you know it, black eyes abound.

  76. November 20, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    Xon, RE #72,

    The SJC pointed out specifics regarding Wilkins’ theology in Case 2006-2. The process was executed exactly according to the PCA Constitution.

  77. David H. said,

    November 20, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    Howdy. I’m new to this blog and after reading this rather lengthy string of comments, I had a few questions for whoever can answer them.

    1) Anne talked about the wording “strong presumption of guilt”. She said “a person or other entity must be deemed by the authorities to have a “strong presumption of guilt” for a charge to be filed, but once the charge is filed the “presumption of innocence” takes pride of place, requiring a trial to determine whether the prosecutors’ reasons for presuming the guilt of those charged are valid”. Is this an accurate summation of the situation? Once they have a stong presumption of LAP guilt, then the LAP will undergo a trial which presumes it’s innocence until proven guilty?

    If I understand the situation correctly, the LAP is being presumed guilty (enough to necessitate a trial) for not finding Wilkins guilty when they should have. Are they saying they have new evidence that he is guilty, or that given the evidence within the presbytery’s initial trail (or whatever it was called), they failed to reach the correct verdict based on the facts presented?

    Reading this, ““In case 2007-8, the Standing Judicial Commission found that the record supported a probable finding that Louisiana Presbytery erred, and thereby violated BCO 13-9.f, 40-4, and 40-5, when it failed to find a strong presumption of guilt that the views of TE Steve TE Wilkins were out of conformity with the Constitutional tandards.”, it sounds like LAP is having charges brought against it because it failed to hold a trial. I was under the impression that the LAP did examine Wilkins. Does that not count as “presumption of guilt”?

    Regarding Xon & Anne’s discussion of fault in regards to misunderstanding, I had this thought. Why can’t it just be brought down to a matter of who has context or not? If person A walks in on me while I’m in a conversation with person B who I have been talking with for a while and who understands the nuance and gist of the conversation and person A hears a phrase that seems to sound inaccurate, does that really mean that person A is guilty of not reading into the phrase like they should? Couldn’t it simply mean that given the context they had, they came to a rational conclusion.

    And if this is the case, what if this is what has happened with Wilkins? If he was speaking to a familiar audience who was aware of the context and understood the history and nuance he was assuming in the discussion, wouldn’t it be natural for him to leave out nuances or “in a sense”?

    I guess this begs some other questions. Does the PCA actually have problems with the nuances or with the sound-bites? If it’s the nuances, then it seems to be a purely a theological issue. If it’s the sound-bites, then shouldn’t Wilkins be entitled to provide the additional context before a judgement is made?

    I guess this is a handful of questions, but to any folks who are up to the task, I would be very appreciative.

  78. its.reed said,

    November 21, 2007 at 6:47 am

    Ref. #75:

    Xon, Jesse is being eminently fair in his description. I too wuld hold myself as one who has never once attacked a FV proponent either specifically or with a broad bursh.

    Yet I’ve found myself painted time and time maligned and belittled, broad brushed, by Fv proponents. Rev. Wilson comments here on another post, to which I strongly objected (which maybe he missed), maligned me and every other office holder in the PCA as either a dupe or a malicious person. A review of his own blog will find almost any week such disparaging, assuming the worst, belittling, denigrating, and generally show no Christ-like behavior towards their supposed brothers – almost routine in response to our efforts at reasoned comments.

    I’ve seen your comments on Rev. Wilson’s blog. I’ve observed your willingness on that blog and this one to engage reasonably. Surely you don’t want to continue to defend such behavior.

    Tit for tat arguments do not work, for you very rarely see the same kind of, I’ll be kind and describe it as childish behavior. At most FV proponents can hold up a handful of names of anti FV who need to be called to repent.

  79. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 21, 2007 at 8:11 am

    Jonathan (#74) asked,


    “but that not all within the church can presume to have received it.”

    So basically the Minister and God’s people are left without any form of assurance? It seems that such a statement provides for an even rockier faith then the Arminian’s complete loss of Salvation does. What comfort do you give your congregation/friends and family? Upon what do we presume to know we have actually received it?

    That’s an excellent question, and it’s one that I’ve personally had to deal with for over twenty years. I think there’s a satisfactory answer, and it doesn’t appear to me (at this point) to be the FV answer.

    First, the FV answer appears to me to be, “Rest on your baptism. Be confident in the objectivity of the covenant, that by coming into the church (or being born into it) and remaining faithful, you have assurance that God loves you.” It may be that I’ve misunderstood that answer, and Xon has graciously agreed to try to set me straight on that score.

    But if my understanding is correct, then it’s clear that such teaching is utterly false; it is simply an updated version of the error of the Pharisees, who believed that their circumcision and parentage brought them into Abraham’s covenant, and that as long as they remained faithful in their law-keeping, they were assured of salvation.

    Ironically, the New Perspective on Paul helps us see the error more clearly: the Pharisees believed that law-keeping would help them “stay in.”

    My (mis?)reading of Wilkins, to date, sees the same impulse in the FV.

    By contrast, there are other ways to think about assurance. The best to my mind is found in John 6: “All whom the Father gives to me will come to me”, and again “Anyone who comes to me, I will in no way cast out.” In short, my assurance is that Jesus died on the cross and was raised, and if I come to him, he will not reject me.

    The error of revivalism is to replace faith in Christ with faith in Faith. In the revivalist model, we are encouraged to look within and seek an experience to confirm our salvation.

    In John 6, we are encouraged to look to the Son. No experiences; no false confidence in the flesh; Look to the Son and believe.

    I have had occasion this year to counsel two students who doubt their salvation. (One of them began to doubt after conversations with his peers that led him to wonder about his “experiences”). On both occasions, I said the same thing: If we look to the cross, we cannot help but believe that God loves us. So what if you don’t know whether you’ve been a Christian up to this point? Believe now.

    I find this to be a satisfactory solution because it turns out that faith in Christ is the answer not only for initial justification, but sanctification also. So we may very well be mushy about whether we were saved ten years ago, or last year, or yesterday. That doesn’t matter, in God’s providence. What matters is that Christ is for me.

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff Cagle

    P.S. You can use the tags “i” for italics, “b” for bold, and “blockquote” for quoting. Google for HTML tags to get an idea of how to use them.

  80. its.reed said,

    November 21, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Ref. #78:

    Jeff, a well stated and gracious difference with the FV. You’ve captured well one of my disappointments with the practical outworkings of the FV – it offers a man-centered basis for my trust in this regard. I appreciate the FV proponents will qualify this kind of statement, yet the qualifications go over heads and past the hearts of most simple hearers.

    The simple and sufficient answer of Scripture is always to look Christ, immediately and directly.

    FV brothers, this is one of the real problems we have with your arguments. If we are hearing you incorrectly, let us both committ to love – you listen graciously to our concerns and respond with clarity; we’ll listen to you humbly and respond with grace.

  81. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 21, 2007 at 9:02 am

    The assurance question, honestly, baffles me. How the FV is supposed to help with it also baffles me.

    Can we have 100% assurance of salvation? No, unless we have some special revelation (I think Paul had a good reason to think himself saved). We can’t know if we’re elect.

    Can we have some kind of assurance such that we have confidence in our salvation even if we fall to the very lowest pit of high-handed sin and don’t want to get out? No. That wouldn’t be a 100% sign of not being saved either, but one would certainly have no ground of assurance of salvation.

    Can our baptism give us *any* assurance of our final salvation? I don’t see how. It gives us assurance that we’re in the covenant and will be that much worse off if we aren’t elect (partial tongue-in-cheek).

    Can we have 100% assurance that Christ will save those for whom He died? Absolutely.

    Some of the FV teachers have helped me understand this issue better by pointing out that seeking an assurance of salvation on par with “I think therefore I am” is barking up the wrong tree, but I don’t think that’s an FV distinctive.

  82. jared said,

    November 21, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Jeff,

    Ref. #73

    Yep. I was reading here from Part II.

  83. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 21, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Jared (#81):

    Ah. I think the key is found in the “Reasoning” section:

    In view of the above, we find that Louisiana Presbytery met the procedural requirements established by the Standing Judicial Commission in Part I of this decision.

    The phrase “met the procedural requirements” explains, I think, the part that you cited. The SJC found that LAP did *the job we tasked them with*. Issue #2 appears to be saying that LAP did *a bad job.*

    That’s how I read it, at least.

    The final para says it all:

    Since this case did not arise under BCO 34-1, and given that Louisiana Presbytery has declined to request by Reference (BCO 41-3) that General Assembly assume jurisdiction in this matter, it must be stressed that what is before the SJC is not allegations against TE Wilkins per se. Rather, what is before the SJC is whether Louisiana Presbytery has dealt adequately and constitutionally with those views. The conclusion of case 2007-8 is that there is a reasonable presumption that Presbytery has not so done. We conclude that the best way to address this presumption, to preserve the peace and purity of the Church, to bring closure to this issue within a reasonable time frame, and to give Presbytery the fairest opportunity to vindicate itself by explaining and defending its actions is to follow the procedure of BCO 40-5 and BCO 40-6. It is for this reason that we mandate the amends noted above.

    Jeff Cagle

  84. Bill Lyle - SJC member said,

    November 21, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Please post #8

    This is about two cases together
    2006-02
    2007-08

    Post #8 reposted here

    Begin

    First of all, fully understanding the vow(s) I took RAO 17-1 and SJCM 7-1 and 7-2 and also noting that I have not read the blog Mr. Mattes is referring to. I do want to comment on what is public and that which I am able to comment on in this form.

    From case 2006-02

    “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.”

    “. . . 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”

    “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).”

    From case 2007-08

    “Therefore the complaint is sustained; Presbytery’s action of April 21, 2007, to deny the complaint of TE Jones is annulled (BCO 43-10); and the Memorial from Central Carolina Presbytery remains before the Standing Judicial Commission. [See the judgment in 2006-2 for additional amends.]”

    Begin comment:

    TE Steve Wilkins is not on trial. LAP is on trial. The indictment has not been served on LAP, however when it is, TE Wilkins can (if LAP desires) be one of the representatives to defend the actions of LAP before the SJC. In fact any member in the PCA, at the request of LAP can be their representative, if LAP pleads not guilty [to the indictment that has not been served].

    Again from the case 2007-08

    It is the opinion of the Standing Judicial Commission that Louisiana Presbytery (LAP) erred in two crucial and related ways. First, it failed to apply the proper Constitutional standard for dealing with TE Wilkins’ differences. Second, it apparently failed adequately to guard the Church from “erroneous opinions that injure the peace or purity of the Church.” (BCO 13-9(f))

    Begin comment:

    This case, in the judgment of the SJC is about two items:
    1. LAP failed to constitutionally deal with stated differences and
    2. LAP failed to fulfill BCO 13-9(f).

    So in my humble opinion, to state anything else [other than the case is PCA v. LAP] is just factually inaccurate, giving the two rulings 2006-02 and 2007-08.

    It will be the role of the prosecutor to prove LAP is in error ***added the two statments above***.

    It will be the role of LAP to prove the indictment is in error and LAP can use anyone in good standing in the PCA (including TE Wilkins) to make their case before the SJC. ***ADDED all centered on the two statements above – the indictment has not be drawn up as of yet, nor has it been served on LAP., so what are we really talking about here? ***

    It will be the role of the SJC (me included) to fulfill the following:
    (From RAO 17-1)
    I do solemnly vow, by the assistance of the grace of God, in my service as a judge in this branch of the church of our lord Jesus Christ, that
    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;
    4. I will judge according to the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America, through my best efforts applied to nothing other than the record of the case and other documents properly before me; and
    5. If in a given case I find my view on a particular issue to be in conflict with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America, I will recuse myself from such case, if I cannot conscientiously apply the Constitution.”

    ***added Please note vow #4 and #5* for every member of the SJC, these vows were approved by the Church at large and the whole SJC takes these vows very seriously**

    I hope this brings a little clarity.

    Humbly,

    Bill Lyle SJC member

  85. November 21, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Bill,

    Thanks for taking the time to bring additional clarity to the issue. Do you want me to delete post #8 for you and replace it with a pointer to your new post?

  86. its.reed said,

    November 21, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Ref. #85, or better yet, how about making it its own post?

  87. November 21, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Good suggestion. I can do that if that’s Bill’s desire. I want to honor his wishes.

  88. Bill Lyle SJC member said,

    November 22, 2007 at 8:38 am

    Please feel free to make post #84 its own post.

  89. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 22, 2007 at 9:04 am

    Re #88

    Bob, I’ll leave that to you when you get a chance. Please ignore your wife and children to attend to this. Kidding! But I do believe it will be helpful to pull it out, tidy it up a bit, and post it as a new thread at some point. Thanks, brother! (And thanks, Bill! Now, back to the Cone of Silence for you.)

  90. Tim Harris said,

    November 22, 2007 at 10:42 am

    This post makes it clear that TE Wilkins is still a minister in good standing going into the LAP trial. And it is clear that Wilson’s objection about “presumed guilt” is a semantic rabbit trial. What is not clear to me (I thought someone already asked this but I can’t find it now) is what the range of possible penalties would be if LAP is found guilty. I trust it’s not a matter of kicking the whole presbytery out of the PCA. Is it basically to instruct them to institute a trial against Wilkins? Could Wilkins be immediately defrocked on the basis of that trial alone? It would clear the air a great deal if the following two assertions are true:

    1. No minister can be removed from office without a trial in which he can defend himself.

    2. Therefore, it is not possible that an immediate outcome of the trial against LAP is that TE Wilkins would be defrocked.

    Could someone that “knows” put an imprimatur on those two statements?


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