A Peacemaker Speaks

Posted by Dr. Jeff Hutchinson

(I have taken Rev. Reed DePace’s words out of one of our threads below, made some minor editorial [not content] corrections, and WITHOUT EVEN ASKING HIM, now post them here as something of a “final word” to some of our lines of inquiry here at Green Bagginses.  Now, if Reed objects to my having done so, that will bring him one of my dreaded “strike ones” :) .  Also, please note that Reed did not title this post, I did!) 

Rev. Wilson, I have strong sympathies for your concerns for justice. I think you continue to err by beginning with the assumption that there is some essential bent towards injustice on the part of those in the PCA who oppose FV teaching. Beginning with this assumption, you see boogey men everywhere you look.

You are a well seasoned churchman. You are also well seasoned at receiving and having to handle in a Christlike manner accusations you believe are spurios and/or frivolous. Finally, you are well seasoned at responding to and/or adjudicating such accusations in according to a pre-agreed upon set of procedures designed to ensure that justice is not simply the result but even the effect of the process every step along the way.

Take a step back from your concerns for a second and consider this. The PCA’s BCO is the direct historical descendent of the original Book of Church Order in Presbyterianism, going all the way back to the first Presbyterians in Scotland. That BCO itself was based on other church order documents, having a heritage that arguably goes back to the beginning of the Church. (If it is still available, David Hall has done an excellent job of tracing the history and the meaning of the BCO in Presbyterianism. I think it may still be available at CAPO). Finally, this BCO root is the same root for all the BCO’s used by the vast majority of Presbyterians still today.

The point is not that this heritage should automatically remove your concerns. Rather, if the PCA’s BCO can accurately be described as consistent with this original source (I believe this is true), then your concern for justice (at least in the process) applies to virtually all Presbyterian denominations.

Unless – you make the case that the PCA specific components of our BCO are the source of injustice. Even here however, such PCA specific components have been added in specific response to the ongoing effort to ensure that the whole process and the result itself really does achieve justice.  Knowing the origins of the PCA, it is clear that we have been especially alert (far more so than the PCUSA) to providing every reasonable degree of protection for innocent parties.

The strong presumption of guilt that the LAP faces is that it APPEARS (emphasis, not shouting), on the basis of Rev. Wilkins’ own published statements (where he himself states that some of his views differ from the Westminster Standards), that the LAP did not perform the appropriate examination of these views.

This is the QUESTION that must be proved. Please, do you not recognize the justice of this? Is not this similar to the grand jury process, or even the process of an appeal to an appellate court? A judge has to determine that the APPEARANCE, not the FACTof guilt, is present. Accordingly a trial is ordered for the prosecution to proves the appearance is fact, while the defense seeks to prove that the appearance is merely that and nothing more.

This is the essence of the SJC’s action. It is eminently just and reasonable. It neither goes too far nor ignores a valid complaint.

Note that Rev. Wilkins is not presumed guilty (contrary to many wild misunderstandings by many here and elsewhere). Note carefully that his views APPEAR TO DIFFER with the standards. There is expressly no conclusion that not only do they truly differ, but that they do in a substantial and serious manner.

To read anymore into these things, either by hyperbolic assumptive questions or outright maligning the motives of Christian brothers – is just sinful.

Please sir, are you an expert of PCA BCO and its procedures? If not, would it not have been a more circumspect course of action to either spend the time to examine them yourself or question numerous PCA men who have a reasonable understanding of these procedures? Would it not be in keeping with the peace and purity of the Church you are committed to consider carefully such answers as Bill Lyle’s, and maybe even engage him with your serious questions and concerns?

It is a fair observation, Rev. Wilson, to note that you have not done this, but have spoken rashly and unjustly about things you yourself admit you do not have the knowledge to know for sure. As well, you are a leader followed by others. The comments to your exasperations on your blog show that your disciples are following your example and engaging in even greater rashness and unjust observations of their brothers.

I want to be at peace with you and work for the glory of our Lord where and when we can, regardless of any disagreements we may have. How can there be such unity when you rashly and repeatedly insist that men whom you’ve never met are rigorously determined to engage in injustice, and you will do your duty to expose their nefariousness? How can we have any unity when you begin with assuming that the fix is in, and pursue such uninformed opinions.

A blog is not the format to engage in such studies and discussions. Once again many expose not simply their ignorance but even their immaturity. Having done thing similar myself (may God keep me from further) I have sympathy. That does not mean we should continue to behave rashly.

The SJC is a body of godly men, humbly seeking justice through a process rooted in faith that God continues to use His Church as the house of grace. Let not ignorance of procedure lead you to presume wickedness on the part of these men, and foolishness on the part of the rest of us who trust Christ to work through them.

Instead, seek understanding and pray for grace and mercy for all involved. And above all, cease from rash judgements. Surely you can see this is not just.

Rev. Reed DePace, PCA Teaching Elder, Elkton, MD

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53 Comments

  1. its.reed said,

    November 21, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Jeff:

    Permission post-granted, with gratefulness for making my comments clearer. My prayers that we will stop speculations that lead us all into sinful responses. Let’s ask Christ to help us heed James’ advice and watch, each of us, our little FLAMING fires.

  2. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 21, 2007 at 9:42 am

    What do you MEAN, “each of us”??? ME??? ME using MY tongue as a flaming fire??? How dare you, Reed! I am a minister in good standing! I’ll have you know…..uh…okay…i take your point….

    (And thanks for letting me post your comment. Sincerely.)

  3. Mrs. T. said,

    November 21, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Amen and amen. Bless you for your humility and gentlemanly words, Rev. DePace!

  4. November 21, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Rev. De Pace, thank you for the exhortation and the reassuring words, and I actually find your demeanor in this genuinely reassuring. But reassurance is not the same thing as objective answers. Bob Mattes, a veteran of the study committee, has in this place cited an anonymous attack blog as evidence of his views on my character. Is this the kind of judiciousness you mean? Evangel Presbytery has just recently adopted the original report of the study committee, the one that quoted me exactly backwards. It is one thing when people go over the top in internet polemics — and I acknowledge that folks on both sides have done so — but surelyyou see that those who are sitting in judgment on an entire presbytery must be clearly seen to be above the fray. Thus far nothing indicates to me that they are — I am not reassured that they are.

  5. Mark T. said,

    November 21, 2007 at 11:55 am

    If I may add to Pastor DeReed’s kind words, I would encourage Mr. Wilson to heed his own advice, which he posted on his blog last year when he involved himself in the refrocking(?) of RC Jr. When it served Mr. Wilson’s interests, he wrote a post titled “Trial by Internet.”

    And I hope that Mr. Wilson does not see this as an “anonymous attack,” but I wonder why he does not believe that his conduct should “clearly seen to be above the fray.” Furthermore, I wonder why he believes others have the obligation of reassuring him.

  6. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 21, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Re #5

    Doug,

    It is unreasonable for you to ask Reed to answer for Bob’s citing information referred to on another blog. Please. And Bob has already answered your question to him about his use of that blog, so do not bring that up again here (Lane’s dead horse rule).

    It is unreasonable for you to ask Reed to answer for Evangel Presbytery’s actions. Please stop. And I would imagine that Evangel Presbytery will be happy to correct their adoption of a report that contained an error the Study Committee has already corrected. Feel free to ask them to do so directly. And do not use this blog–in direct and immediate violation of the spirit of Reed’s request of you–to seek to discredit a Presbytery that outnumbers the size of your whole denomination and which God has used to bless the whole world with the gospel of grace.

    There are many substantive points in Reed’s actual post, and many direct requests made directly of you, that you must speak to if you desire to speak at all on this thread. Your avoidance of those substantive points and direct requests, choosing instead to attempt to divert our attention away from them by bringing up other things about which Reed has no responsibility or special knowledge, is a method you have used before, and one of the reasons why the jury (the little jury inside my discombobulated mind) is still out with regards to whether I trust you or not.

    I know you appreciate direct communication, and so I have attempted to be direct and respectful. Thank you for considering what I have to say.

    Finally, and speaking personally here, I have as much desire for the process of the PCA to be reassuring to you as I do for it to be reassuring to the pastor of the Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, and PCUSA churches that I pass each day on my drive to and from my own church. Which is to say, I do desire for it to be reassuring, but I will certainly understand if and when they do not find it reassuring, in large part because they do not share the PCA’s historic Presbyterian doctrine or government.

  7. Ken Christian said,

    November 21, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Jeff H. – How can you honestly expect Wilson to consider Bob’s answer to be satisfying, the “master of spin” answer I mean (btw, how is calling someone a “master of spin” in keeping with Lane’s rules?)? If the shoe were on the other foot, would you consider that matter cleared up? And why isn’t it fair for Wilson to ask Pastor Reed about that issue and Evangel Presbytery’s decision. Pastor Reed basically (and judiciously) called upon Wilson to settle down and stop worrying. As I read him (and I could be wrong) Wilson fairly replied with a-“how can I stop worrying in light of these things>”-type response. Now Pastor Reed could rightly reply back by with something to the effect of, “Those are questions I can’t answer for you”. But that doesn’t mean its unfair for Wilson to ask them in the first place. It would be unfair if Wilson then kept demanding answers from Pastor Reed, something I don’t foresee happening anyway.

  8. its.reed said,

    November 21, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Rev. Wilson, I am grateful for your gracious tone. To try to answer what I think is the point you are trying to make:

    1. Bob Mattes’ comments are his and his alone, as are your’s and your’s alone. It would be just as wrong for me to cite you, to brush you the same, for the injudicious comments of some FV proponents, as it is for you to use what you believe are Bob’s injudicious comments to brush the whole PCA, and the SJC in particular as intending to effect an injustice against Rev. Wilkins, in your words, to put the fix in.

    2. Dittos for any errors on the part of Envangel Presbytery.

    You are still drawing inferential conclusions, albeit asking them instead of simply declaring them (a step I appreciate), and assuming the proof and thereby requiring me to prove against a negative.

    Assume Bob Matters is guilty. Assume Evangel Presbytery is guilty. What evidence is there that their guilt is shared by the PCA/SJC (as a whole or particular)? What evidence is there, assuming Mattes’ and Evangels’ guilt, that even procedurally (i.e., without intent) the PCA/SJC is doing the same?

    Humbly I hope I can stress (its hard to do that), there just isn’t any evidence of this. You use these as examples of why you still distrust the process and the men using it. You use these as examples, to echo Jeff H. here, to deflect from what I believe are valid criticisms that you have rashly over-spoken in this issue and therefore have unjustly tarnished the reputation of brothers to whom you owe better love than that.

    To broaden the conversation, Ken, it is for these reasons here that I think Jeff’s post in #7 is right on target. Whether Rev. Wilson intends it or not, he is deflecting from what I believe are at least valid concerns. If my concerns are right, then the whole issue is raised to a more serious level. God only uses our actions to the degree they are consistent with truth. With Rev. Wilson and you I strongly want to see justice, a justice that is transparent enough to withstand the attacks of the real Slanderer Satan. If we fail to operate on truth, we stand without our Savior before us, before Whom, and only before Whom Satan flees.

    Let me offer this as further grounds for peace and unity Rev. Wilson. You believe, in essence, that the FV is a biblically valid and a helpful development in the life of the Church at this point in history. I know I could summarize even further how valuable and right you may think the FV is; I’m trying to strike a minimal statement that captures the substance without miss- or over-speaking on your behalf.

    Regardless of how fair my summary is, it will serve for the point I’m trying to make here.

    I, contrary to your conviction, believe the FV is at best a heterdox error and is dangerous to the Church. Again, I could expand this explanation, but I think this summarizes where things stand at present. I offer that without any rancor, or further speculation on the motives, goals, character, or spiritual standing of you or any other FV proponent.

    So where does that put us? It puts us in the question that generally speaking the LAP matter is dealing with; to wit, how are men of such opposing convictions to maintain the integrity of their convictions before God while working together in the service of God? The LAp matter is not itself intended, nor can it fully answer this question. It is merely a very, very small step of faith toward the answer.

    I do not propose to be an expert at how to answer this question. Further, no disrespect intended to the strength of your intellect which I do respect, I do not think you are such an expert. Instead, I think God in His infinite mercy and wisdom has once again placed us (and all our fellow elders) in a 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 place of weakness; a place where if we recognize our mutual weakness and rejoice in the strength of Christ to give these answers, we will see Him bless beyond anything we can imagine.

    I do not speak in particular for the whole PCA, the SJC, or even a substantial minority. I do have confidence however, that I can speak in spirit for virtually all (all?) elders in the PCA when I say we do not want to inflict an injustice either way, pro or anti FV. Instead, being faithful to the process we trust Christ to use as a means of the 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 grace, we are attempting to answer the question, given our convictions that leave us diagreeing, how are we now to turn once again to working for the King in the Kingdom?

    I understand and truly sympathize with your concerns for your friend Rev. Wilkins, and in general your concerns that FV proponents not be unfairly tarnished and brushed with unkind labels. I will join with you in bemoaning at least the appearance of ungraciousness and intemperance in even some official statements.

    Respectfully, father-brother, I still find the need to call you to task for your own rash statements. I’m not looking for a line by line retraction. Rather, a general (in truth) recognition, appropriate faith-rooted expressions of repentance, and a committment to be more prudent in the future is all I ask because of confidence in our mutual Lord.

    We PCA elders, in particular those of us who at least generally disagree with the FV, do not want to treat our brothers with injustice. We want to treat them with the same love and kindness we ask from them. Do these issues and our on-going struggle with the flesh make this hard? You agree with my affirmative I’m sure.

    This is all the more reason to rejoice in our weaknesses together. Shall we?

  9. its.reed said,

    November 21, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Ref. #2:

    Please, let all of us laugh at Jeff’s appropriate use of sarcasm. It does indeed cut both ways. We’re I more humble and wise I’d try my hand it. Instead, I’ll just commend you to Jeff’s use as a trusted iron rasp across your soul and little FLAME. He-he.

  10. November 21, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    I posted this question over at blog and mablog, but I’ll do it here as well since I am coming in a little late in the game. Is the comment regarding strong presumption of guilt something which was said in the SJC report or simply by an individual on the SJC? If it is the latter, the comment of an individual of the SJC should not be construed as the position of the SJC. Thanks for filling me in.

  11. Mark T. said,

    November 21, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    “Self-appointed arbiters of justice do not contribute to a godly resolution of anything and we hereby call upon them to recuse themselves from such public discourse, to immediately remove any material related to these matters from the web, and to pray for all those affected by these matters.” — Randy Booth, CREC Moderator

  12. November 21, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Jeff H, Ken captured the structure of my argument perfectly. I don’t believe I was sidestepping anything. Rev. DePace thought I was being rash, pounding on the PCA’s door and yelling fire. So I pointed to a couple of flames coming out of some of the windows. I might be charged in this with not knowing flame when I see it, but I can’t be charged with changing the subject.

    And speaking of structure, I posted something on my blog this morning that walks through why I believe this whole process is terribly flawed — quite apart from whether FV is orthodox or not. There are two issues here, the substance and the process. Everyone appears to agree (at least now) that it is crucial for the SJC to be seen as a judicial and objective source of justice. The run-up to the trial has not been encouraging in this regard at all.

    Rev. De Pace says “suppose that Bob Mattes is wrong,” what does that have to do with the SJC? Just like that old song about Ezekiel and skeletal structure, the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone. Bob Mattes was on the stacked study committee, which was connected to the GA adoption of the report, which is connected to the environment in which the SJC indicts Louisiana, without talking to Steve Wilkins about anything. My argument is simple: I am having trouble trusting the process for the immediate future based on what “the process” has been doing in the immediate past. This may be an erroneous argument, but not because it is an irrelevant argument. You can’t, in this instance, climb up to the SJC roof and then kick the Study Committee ladder away. How we got where we are is a big part of the problem in my view. Bob Mattes clearly thinks that dependence on anonymous accusers is just fine. Did that opinion come out in any practical ways in the work of the Study Committee? He believes a little judicious pressure applied to witnesses beforehand goes a long way, and is trying to do that to Louisiana. Just check his blog. Did that come out in the work of the Study Committee?

    Please know that this is not an attempt to change the subject, or to apply the fallacy of the tu quoque. All of it is relevant. And to address Rev. De Pace’s central question, if there is no fire, then yes, I have been rash and disruptive in what I have been doing, and I would owe a lot of people a lot of apologies. But if there is a fire, then I don’t believe I have been.

  13. its.reed said,

    November 21, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Rev. Wilson, I understand. You perceive fire. Nothing I say will alter that perception.

    You continue to assume at least an insinuation of guilt on the part of men of the PCA, now the Study Committee. Nothing I say at this point will convince you that this is unjustified.

    I believe you are sinning and offer you that opinion in love. You are yelling FIRE, when there is only evidence of heat. I recognize that you do not agree that your rash comments are a large source of that heat. I disagree, and will at this point leave matters where they lie.

    So be it. May Christ have mercy on us all.

  14. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 21, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    My response to both Ken and Doug would be the same: hold your fire.

    There isn’t even a smoldering coal yet — not an indictment, not a judgment.

    It would look remarkably silly if, after all of the complaint about unjust process, Wilkins is exhonorated. What would you be able to say then about the quality of his exhonoration?

    Rev. De Pace says “suppose that Bob Mattes is wrong,” what does that have to do with the SJC? Just like that old song about Ezekiel and skeletal structure, the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone. Bob Mattes was on the stacked study committee, which was connected to the GA adoption of the report, which is connected to the environment in which the SJC indicts Louisiana, without talking to Steve Wilkins about anything. My argument is simple: I am having trouble trusting the process for the immediate future based on what “the process” has been doing in the immediate past. This may be an erroneous argument…

    It is an erroneous argument. The decision of the SJC will be publicly disclosed (unlike the Star Chamber to which you have compared it). The grounds for its decision will be clearly stated. At that time, we can all Monday-morning it to death and talk about how environment influenced the outcome. At that time, and not before, we can attempt to determine whether the SJC is politically driven or doctrinally driven. If the decision is unjust, then you and I can complain together about it.

    But until then, I have no idea how “environment” will play a role in the outcome, and neither do you. You implicitly acknowledge this yourself:

    But if there is a fire, then I don’t believe I have been.

    The mixing of tenses is an implicit admission that you don’t know whether the outcome will be just or not.

    And, talking to Steve about what he believes would not help in the least *in this case.* It would — should, IMO — have helped for the Study Committee Report, but not here.

    The SJC is not trying to determine his guilt. They’re claiming that there should have been a trial to determine his guilt.

    If you would prefer for the SJC to step aside and let the GA handle it, then I can guarantee that there will be a sufficient majority to send Mr. Wilkins packing.

    I don’t say that because I *want* that to happen, nor because I approve of what happened at GA. In fact, I don’t. I’m just saying that the alternative to majority rule is the rule of law. That’s what we have here.

    So far, it has been the right process.

    Jeff Cagle

  15. Ken Christian said,

    November 21, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Jeff C – I appreciate your comments. Yet if you’ll see my comments on other posts, you’ll find I have been searching for answers, not firing at the members of the SJC (at least I haven’t meant to). As the answers have come, I have become a bit more comfortable with the process, in theory anyway. My comments on this post were directed at Jeff H. who, in my opinion, responded a bit rashly to Wilson’s reply to Rev. Reed. (And yes, many of us, myself included, have been members of the rash-reply club lately). Blessings.

  16. Ken Christian said,

    November 21, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    Ok, Jeff C., in all honesty, maybe saying that I’m becoming a “bit more comfortable” with this process is sugar-coating things a little too much. My worse-case-scenario fears have been asuaged, a little.

    But the fact that, as far as I know, no official member of any group officially investigating Wilkins or matters related to him (be it the FV Study Committee or the SJC so far) has contacted Wilkins personally and asked him about his views. I might be wrong about this. I hope I am. Someone, please correct me.

    But if I’m right, this bothers the heck out of me, and it always will. I’m not wondering about anyone’s motives. I’m not questioning anyone’s honesty. I just wish that someone whose opinion officially matters in all this would pick up the phone and give dude a call. Why is this too much to ask?

  17. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 21, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    I agree with respect to the Study Committee — perhaps Bob Mattes could address that directly?

    But the SJC is ruling on matters of law, not matters of fact. They’re relying on the records and saying that LAP’s process was wrong based on the facts that they themselves discovered. So it doesn’t bother me that they haven’t contacted Mr. Wilkins directly on this.

    Maybe it should, but I don’t think so.

    And I should not have entangled you in the “hold your fire” comment; sorry about that.

    Jeff C

  18. anneivy said,

    November 21, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    I’m still at a loss as to what is so gosh-darn unreasonable, nay, unjust, about relying upon someone’s written statements, especially in those areas where the author essentially repeats himself.

    If I publicly state two or three times that I prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate, why the dickens should anyone who has read those statements feel under an obligation to contact me to inquire as to my views are regarding dark versus milk chocolate?

    And come to that, why should I be bothered by such inquiries?

    Surely a primary goal of writing out and publishing one’s views is to provide a reliable method for others to have access to them. If one is constantly asked to verbally repeat what one wrote, ISTM that pretty much makes the written statements a waste of time and effort.

  19. its.reed said,

    November 21, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Ken, question Rev. Wilkins formally? Echos of previous posts -Rev. Wilkins views are not presently the issue. Can we wait until we get through the process before us first?

    Question Rev. Wilkins informally? You are aware of the substantial conversation that has gone on between pro and anti FV since at least the first Auburn Avenue conference – a conference held at Rev. Wilkins’ church?

  20. Keith LaMothe said,

    November 21, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Anne,

    If we entered the twilight zone and there was a strong movement to exclude all dark chocolate lovers from the PCA, and a study committee was put together to see whether the love of dark chocolate is the root of all evil, and you were one of the foremost dark chocolate lovers in the PCA, would you appreciate a phone call from that committee? ;)

  21. Ken Christian said,

    November 21, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Pastor Reed – I’m aware there has been interaction. What I’m wondering is why those responsible offically for dealing with Wilkins matters in the PCA have yet to contact him? (If they have, someone please tell me and I’ll shut up) I’m not even speaking of a formal questioning. I’m speaking of a, “Brother, what you wrote here sounds like “this” to me and many other folks as well. Is that what you meant to convey? Is this what you believe?”

    Ms. Ivy – If one’s ministerial status and current employment were dependant on one’s views about ice cream flavors, yeah, I think a face to face (or “ear-to-ear”) conversation is in order, preferably before the charges and accusations start flying. The potential injustice comes in when everyone and their brother knows that the one accused denies what he’s accused of yet still no one bothers to speak with him.

  22. anneivy said,

    November 21, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Assuming my public statements regarding my affection for dark chocolate were clear and comprehensible, I’d expect such an ill-starred committee to contact me only for the purpose of civilly inquiring if – under the circumstances – I’d prefer to rethink my position.

    And I trust my answer would be a resounding “no!”, choosing to tell the truth and shame the devil. :-D

  23. November 21, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Doug,

    NOTE: Before you or anyone else reads this comment, know that there is no rancor in it. Disappointment and sadness, yes, but no rancor. Please read it that way.

    I grow weary of your misrepresentations. I have clearly posted on my blog that I did not come to my conclusions about you and FV before the study committee, but did so during my research after my appointment. My research on you it came after the report was finally published. You know that because you posted about my posts on your blog. I also clearly say on my About page and other posts that I do not, cannot, and will not speak for the study committee or the PCA. I speak only for myself. It eludes me as to why you continue to misrepresent these facts.

    As to Mark’s blog, I answered that in comment 50 on the Answers post. I’m on a 2″ screen at the moment and cannot link it in this post, but it should be easy to find given that I just gave you the coordinates. It is not the spin comment as someone opined above.

    As for your assessment of “hit blogs”, I believe without rancor in my heart, again only disappointment and sadness, that your blog provided the prototype for the genre. I and others have amply pointed out your hit targets throughout the comments on these issues. Just in the last six months or so they include MARS, the OPC, Dr. R. Scott Clark and the URC, the PCA moderator who appointed the study committee, the study committee itself, the SJC, the PCA at large, and now little ‘ol me. Please pardon the incompleteness of the list of your hit-post targets, but my thumbs are getting tired.

    I and others have explained the PCA processes using original source material until our keyboards have worn out. Nothing seems enough for you, and your baseless attack posts continue unabated. A reasonable man would just agree to disagree and move on. We keep trying to do so on this blog.

    I don’t care about your attacks on me. I live and work in a town where if one wants a friend, he should buy a dog. You don’t even come close to my usual opposition. But I cannot conscience your baseless attacks on my denomination and fellow elders. In fact, I believe that my ordination vows forbid me to accept them. I will not be intimidated into silence by attack-blogging or any other “special talent”.

    Your recent posts and comments merely tell me that your “special talents” involve writing biting attack pieces (i.e., attack blogging) that your devotees find perversely witty (especially “stacked” analogies that denigrate women). You seem to bask in the radiance of their endless adulation, drawing energy from it. On the other hand, you don’t seem to be able to handle people questioning or holding you to account for your statements and actions very well (and that’s a polite way of saying it.) Perhaps if you didn’t treat people the way that you do with your “special talents”, they wouldn’t treat you similarly. I have personally both tried to answer your posted concerns calmly and I’ve also tried to hold you to account. You have responded to both approaches the same, sad way.

    I’ve probably missed answering something in this comment but my thumbs are really getting sore and I’m really feeling the limits of the small screen.

    In closing, I point out that Lane took the time from his church ministry to graciously engage your material on this blog and enter a dialog with you on it, but you have repaid him by repeatedly trashing his ecclesiastical office, his denomination and its courts, and his friends. Perhaps that’s what grieves my heart most of all. Disappointment and sadness.

  24. anneivy said,

    November 21, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Mr. Christian, all I can say is Pr. Wilkins would benefit from writing classes if, after the AAPC Position Paper on Baptism, etc. (Revised), and the succeeding written statements he’s provided (and most kindly posted on the net) at the behest of the PCA, he STILL needs to be personally contacted to find out what the deuce it is he actually believes and teaches from a PCA pulpit.

    In any case, I’m thinking part of the problem is there really isn’t any way to trim some of his statements so as to fit within the WS as traditionally understood and accepted (which apparently he himself has acknowledged to be the case).

    There’s been talk about the FV taking the church in a new, improved direction.

    Inherent in such talk is that wherever it is the FV is trying to get the church to go, doctrinally, it isn’t there now. Logically, then, it follows that the FV doesn’t currently mesh with accepted PCA doctrinal standards. I mean, if it did, it wouldn’t be able to move the church in a new, improved direction, now would it?

    Anyone teaching that which clashes with currently accepted doctrinal standards really shouldn’t be surprised to find himself on the hot seat, so to speak.

    People desirous of moving a large organization in a direction it hasn’t any particular interest in going had best be prepared for theological combat. Such an endeavor is not for those who value peace and unity (whether for themselves, personally, or the church) above all else, that’s for sure.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  25. its.reed said,

    November 21, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Ken, the only basis for someone “responsible for officially dealing with Wilkins matters,” is the formal basis. That is, if they are acting in an official capacity, then their questioning must be rooted in the formal. I am not excluding the informal in conjunction with the formal (i.e., dealing with the man as a brother in a judicial process). I agree this must take place, and tends to be a weakness in our application of formal processes in Presbyterianism.

    However, to repeat, the matter at hand is not directly Rev. Wilkins. So what need is there to formally/informally engage him? More specifically, why have a conversation about matters that are not relevant to the matter at hand? It is only if one insists that this process is some sort of bueracratic procedure to indirectly deal with Rev. Wilkins’ views that your concern would be valid. Since this is not the case, it is pointless, does not help, and may even hinder the need for simple clarity on the matters at hand.

    As to whether or not and if so who has talked directly with Rev. Wilkins, I would suspect his presbyerty has. In this regard, can we not assume that the one brother who complained against LAP’s examination of Rev. Wilkins to have participated in what appears to have been both the formal/informal questioning you are concerned about. After all, we do have the formal response of Rev. Wilkins (on his church’s website) and we do know that his presbytery holds him in affection (nothing wrong with that).

    Look, if/when we get to the point that this issue of Rev. Wilkins views are the matter at hand, your advice comes into play. If/when it gets to that point I’ll echo your advice. In the meantime …

  26. November 21, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Doug,

    Relative to your attack blog assessments, how would you rate this post? Does it advance the discussion or does it just denigrate the PCA and its ordained officers? Do you find the comments that follow that post advancing a search for the truth?

  27. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 21, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Back near a computer after a good day away from them! [Anybody who hasn’t read the Kelly Kapic/Justin Taylor edited version of John Owen’s work, Communion with the Triune God, or, for that matter, Stephen Colbert’s, I Am America (and So Can You), should put them on your Christmas wishlist–unless you object to the celebration of Christmas. In that case, just buy them now.]

    Ken, I will think (don’t worry, I was thinking all day, even while reading Owen and Colbert) about whether my comment #7 was “a bit rash.” For now, though, I’ll say that I still don’t think so. The Holy Spirit neither slumbers nor sleeps so I trust He’ll change my thinking on that if I was indeed rash, so that I would see it and confess it. In the meantime, though, I am glad for how Reed and others have answered and interacted with you. “What they said.”

    Re #11

    Comment #11 is funny.

    Re #12

    First let me address my lord and master (small “l” and small “m”) Lane directly. Since he’s gone under the Maxwell Smart Cone of Silence since being appointed an Assistant Prosecutor, we don’t talk anymore, and I am having to divine his will by mystical meditations.

    So, Lane, is it okay with you if I modify your “three strikes and you’re out” rule to allow for genuine repentance? Such that if a person is given a strike, but then is genuinely sorry (as best we can tell) for it, and apologizes sincerely and sufficiently, that strike would then be removed from the scoreboard? I am going to proceed as if that is in keeping with your merciful spirit, unless you tell me otherwise.

    Which brings me to….

    Doug,

    I do think your comment #12 crossed Lane’s line for acceptable comments, in that I judge it be an “attack comment” (in particular against Bob–who has NOT asked me to do this), and one part of it (where you wrote, “Bob Mattes clearly thinks that dependence on anonymous accusers is just fine”) to be (quoting from Lane’s rules) an “asinine remark.” I am hoping that you will keep commenting here, so I am hoping you will simply apologize sincerely and directly, so that I can take “strike two” off the scoreboard. But, until then, I do judge your comment #14 to be “strike two.” One more and (Lane’s words) you will be permanently banned from commenting on this blog.

    FINALLY,

    Everyone should listen to Anne Ivey.

  28. Jeff Cagle said,

    November 21, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Hey Jeff H, how does one contact you offline?

    Thanks,
    Jeff Cagle

  29. Dave Glasebrook said,

    November 21, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    This is a most interesting series of posts.

    I do not think that Bob’s answer in the previous post concerning Mark T’s blog was sufficient. Mark T’s blog is not accurate and is so full of gossip and disinformation that a normal reader would not be able to discern truth from that which is not truth.

    If anyone so desires I am at:
    DaveGlasebrook@netscape.net

    I do not work for Wilson. I am only concerned about gossip being touted as truth.

    The peaceful tone of posting is a welcome relief.

    Have a great Thanksgiving and may God continue His blessings upon all His children.

  30. its.reed said,

    November 21, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Rev. Wilson: please provide some explanation of your post (the pirate picture) on your blog. I understand you have not offered much verbal explanation. As well, please observe the comments made by those on your blog.

    Do the comments of those on your blog fairly represent your own convictions?

    If so, I guess I am to be equated with wicked murderers who most likely are currently in hell, as I am in the “bad guy” camp.

    If not, will you vigorously chastize those commenting on your post for their gross sinfulness, as vigorously as you continue to chastize us PCA elders intent on putting the fix in on Rev. Wilkins?

    May I be so bold as to say your comment, or lack thereof, will speak volumes to the sincerity of your professions of well-being for Christ’s beloved Bride.

    You’ve made a statement with such a post on your blog. How am I to respond as a brother who can’t help but once believe I am unjustly maligned, let alone any other Christian who disagrees with you?

    Where is the committment to Christlikeness?

  31. David Gray said,

    November 21, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    >Inherent in such talk is that wherever it is the FV is trying to get the church to go, doctrinally, it isn’t there now. Logically, then, it follows that the FV doesn’t currently mesh with accepted PCA doctrinal standards.

    That is based on the presumption that the PCA is currently adhering, in fact rather than theory, to its own doctrinal standards. That is some areas a questionable thing to presume.

  32. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 21, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    Jeff Cagle,

    I am pastor of Trinity PCA in Asheville, NC. Contact info can be found online at http://www.trinityasheville.com

  33. November 21, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Dave,

    I do not think that Bob’s answer in the previous post concerning Mark T’s blog was sufficient. Mark T’s blog is not accurate and is so full of gossip and disinformation that a normal reader would not be able to discern truth from that which is not truth.

    Thank you for your thoughts. I could say the exact same thing about blogs that post stuff like I linked in one of my comments here and a host of other factually incorrect posts about the PCA, its courts, and its officers (individually or collectively). I think that we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this subject as this thread of discussion is going nowhere.

    I wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving as well. Please remember to pray for all our military folks spending Thanksgiving away from home and/or in harms way to preserve our freedom.

  34. Seth Foster said,

    November 21, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Why is it that everyone feels they have to coddle and kowtow to Doug Wilson? He is not even in the PCA. The SJC decision is none of his business. Since when does the PCA have to answer to him for their actions? Who cares if he is going to watch every move the PCA makes and threaten to “huff and puff and blow the PCA house down” on his blog? If he doesn’t like what’s happening – pardon the expression – tough bananas.

    I think the reason he is putting up such a fuss is because he personally feels threatened by this latest action. Mr. Wilson, if you are walking in the truth, what are you worried about? Why all this ranting and raving when it is really none of your business? Where is your quiet confidence and trust in the Lord that He will work all of this out for His good purpose and for His glory?

    Let’s remember Psalm 37:7-9
    Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret – it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.

    A BLESSED THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL

  35. Robert K. said,

    November 21, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    >”And I hope that Mr. Wilson does not see this as an “anonymous attack,” but I wonder why he does not believe that his conduct should “clearly seen to be above the fray.” Furthermore, I wonder why he believes others have the obligation of reassuring him.”

    That last sentence gets at the center-of-gravity of all this. The FVists’ juvenile “I, I , I, me, me, me.” So much has been written to describe these FVists to their essence and soul along these lines, but they merrily cruise along with their self-awareness meters stuck at -2.

    DOUG WILSON AT THE FEET OF JESUS: “On that last part of what you said I’m willing to shelve for now and be persuaded on perhaps at a later time, but the first part still troubles me, but that’s not to stay I can’t be won over, I just think maybe if the language was fine-tuned to include perhaps fuller aspects of what the language suggests then I think we can come to some degree of mutual agreement as brothers in Christ. Er, I mean, well…you know…”

  36. greenbaggins said,

    November 21, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Jeff, I like your idea of forgiveness wiping the slate clean.

  37. Robert K. said,

    November 21, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    >”Why is it that everyone feels they have to coddle and kowtow to Doug Wilson? He is not even in the PCA. The SJC decision is none of his business. Since when does the PCA have to answer to him for their actions? Who cares if he is going to watch every move the PCA makes and threaten to “huff and puff and blow the PCA house down” on his blog? If he doesn’t like what’s happening – pardon the expression – tough bananas.”

    It’s because heretical movements sometimes, oftentimes, develop cult qualities and are fueled by a spirit that is greater than the individual spirits of the people who make up the heretical push. Doug Wilson ‘feels this’ in himself and asserts himself knowing he is asserting the spirit of disobedience that is working through him. From the point-of-view of defenders of sound doctrine we get our chains yanked (the devil yanks our chains very easily) and we focus on these types with this spirit of disobedience because they are effectively provoking us and because they actually are dangerous to sound doctrine. They have the spirit of the devil working for them, giving them their tactical and strategic moves and this raises the stakes. In the case of these people calling themselves Federal Vision they have established themselves inside the tent and thus can exert a leverage far greater than their numbers because of it. Another reason we react to them as we do is because they are shameless with language and will ‘say anything.’ When you actually value sound doctrine this is a level of chaos that rivals hell and it is difficult to not answer them point-by-point in fear that such shameless use of language on their part might actually start to defile the environment in a real way.

  38. anneivy said,

    November 21, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Re: #31

    Me: Inherent in such talk is that wherever it is the FV is trying to get the church to go, doctrinally, it isn’t there now. Logically, then, it follows that the FV doesn’t currently mesh with accepted PCA doctrinal standards.

    Mr. Gray: That is based on the presumption that the PCA is currently adhering, in fact rather than theory, to its own doctrinal standards. That is some areas a questionable thing to presume.

    ==============

    Fair ’nuff. Not sure I agree with you, mind, but it’s always possible a case could be made for that.

    However, my point would still stand, wouldn’t it? If a denomination has a working, accepted doctrinal standard, and someone comes along and attempts to substitute an alternate doctrinal standard, feathers are bound to fly.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  39. David Gray said,

    November 21, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    >However, my point would still stand, wouldn’t it? If a denomination has a working, accepted doctrinal standard, and someone comes along and attempts to substitute an alternate doctrinal standard, feathers are bound to fly.

    Well if you mean a de facto standard, absolutely. Certainly happened when Luther did just that.

  40. anneivy said,

    November 21, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    To be sure, it did.

    As it happens, right this minute I’m not addressing the sticky wicket of whether or not the PCA’s established doctrinal standards are biblically accurate, just that it’s not reasonable for those urging an alternate doctrinal standard to act taken aback and aggrieved at the decided lack of enthusiasm – even hostility – displayed by the majority.

    Bluntly, they should have seen it coming a mile away.

    If they aren’t up to trials, etc. they shouldn’t have started down this path.

    Heck, odds are there are more than a few PCA pastors who hold to some fairly creative theology, but since they aren’t hosting conferences, etc. publicizing it, they’re being left alone. From what I’ve seen, the PCA doesn’t have an equivalent of the KGB or J. Edgar Hoover, actively searching out aberrant theology. They need to have their nose shoved into it, so far as I can tell.

    But once one HAS hosted conferences, published stuff, posted things on the internet, etc. etc., a rational doctrinal cage-rattler should expect to have his denomination’s muckety-mucks eventually take notice and then action.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  41. Robert K. said,

    November 22, 2007 at 2:27 am

    Perhaps Mr. Hutchinson is unaware that some of the FV’s critics, such as myself, see their campaign as a multi-pronged attack on one thing solely: justification by faith alone. And that we see sola fide as the heart of the Gospel and the most attacked doctrine because seen as the most central by the devil himself. If you don’t know this about some of the FV’s critics such as myself you are likely to think the stakes aren’t really that high and we are overreacting.

  42. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 22, 2007 at 7:50 am

    I agree 100%, 1000%, 10,000% that the FV distinctives are an attack on the heart of the gospel, and that the stakes are higher than anything else in all this earth, far higher than the war on terror, for instance. (I would imagine that FV men are laughing at me at this moment for my having just said that.) But I don’t know that they know or intend that. Maybe some do, but it seems pretty clear that some don’t. But I believe Lane wants us to remain relatively agnostic with regards to the motives and degrees of self-conscious intentionality of the FV men. We may speak with strong (but not dehumanizing) language with respect to their visible fruit, but their hearts (and they of course are each different from each other) are not ours to see. I hope that makes sense.

  43. its.reed said,

    November 22, 2007 at 8:01 am

    Ref. #41:

    No Robert, Jeff is aware, as are many of us who have been reading and listening for sometime. Some of us (many?) most likely agree with you as to the trajectory. Some of us probably even agree with you as to the intentionality of the trajectory on the part of FV proponents.

    Rather, I think given Lane’s intention for this blog, observations on the motives, character, etc. of people are generally (completely) inappropriate – even if they prove to be true in time.

    Taking a particular post-thread and tying it back to what you believe is the central issue, justification, must be pursued then without arguments that are rooted in the personal demerits of others. Instead we need to do so based on a discussion of the doctrine in view.

    This is not to say that observations about how Satan continually engages in a multi-pronged attack on justification are wrong. But when you tie them back to a person engaged in the debate, … surely that speaks for itself.

    Please, don’t misunderstand and be upset at Jeff’s efforts to police us. He is trying to abide by Lane’s wishes as to the nature of this blog – respecting that is is a simple matter of respect for Lane and Christ. If you wish, it is perfectly appropriate to start another blog whose rules are not so restrictive.

    I really do feel the pain here – it is very, very hard to abide by this rule when I see so many unjustly attacked. My flesh wants tit for tat. My spiritual cries out to God for justice. And I still need to respect Lane’s wishes, and apologize when I blow it (this last phrase a warning to myself Robert, not directed at you).

  44. David Gray said,

    November 22, 2007 at 8:18 am

    >I would imagine that FV men are laughing at me at this moment for my having just said that.

    I think anyone who agrees with your presuppositions would agree with your statement. Either way it isn’t laughable. As Lewis observed during WWII even if Hitler was correct and the Third Reich lasted one thousand years that is still nothing against the immortal existence of a single soul.

  45. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 22, 2007 at 8:31 am

    Wow! Lewis said that? It doesn’t surprise me, I just had never run across that before (and we have perhaps the nation’s leading expert on Lewis–at least his poetry–as one of our elders here at my church). That’s going in a sermon sometime soon.

    Thanks, brother.

  46. David Gray said,

    November 22, 2007 at 8:32 am

    My pleasure. It was from one of his WWII radio talks if I remember correctly.

  47. Todd Bordow said,

    November 22, 2007 at 9:49 am

    As a regular observer to this blog and one who has dealt with Wilsonites first hand for years, and has been pastorally picking up the pieces of soul destruction left by the cult arising out of Moscow, to ban Robert K. from the blog would be most unfortunate. He more than anyone else sees to the heart of whole FV matter and its leadership, to be distingusihed from their confused but at times sincere followers.

    Todd Bordow
    Pastor -Covenant Presbyterian (OPC)
    Fort Worth, TX

  48. jeffhutchinson said,

    November 22, 2007 at 10:09 am

    I’m definitely with you, Todd. Thank you so much for your comment, and even more for your ministry.

    I am simply asking for Robert K to use appropriate qualifiers, along the lines of how Reed tried to explain it. I would imagine Robert K would be the first to say, “I am not God, and not the Judge of these men, but it appears to me that…”, so I am hoping he will make that clearer in some of his posts.

    I remember my High School English teacher correcting my use of “I think” in my papers, reminding me that the very fact that I was writing the paper was evidence that I thought the things I was writing, and so I was marked down for redundancy. I can imagine that all Robert K is doing is following my English Teacher’s advice, that he would be the first to say, “OF COURSE my observations are just that, my OBSERVATIONS of things as they appear to me!” so he may be asking “So why do I have to SAY THAT every time I write anything?”

    I take your point, and his imagined point, but I do think we need to go the extra mile on this. Thank you so much (and thank you, Robert K).

  49. Todd Bordow said,

    November 22, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Thanks Jeff,

    Helpful thoughts

    Todd Bordow
    Pastor – Covenant Presbyterian (OPC)
    Fort Worth, TX

  50. curate said,

    November 23, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Robert K and Reed, I am a FV sympathizer. You think that people like me are attacking sola fide. Here is my offer to the two of you. I have just finished a Bible Study with a small group on Galatians which one of the attendees recorded on an MP3 player. If you wish to know what people like me think and teach week by week to the flock, I am willing to post the unedited recordings of that study to you at my own expense. I repeat that they will be unedited, so you will get the full story of an actual FV man’s doctrine of sola fide.

  51. its.reed said,

    November 23, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Roger, please relax (said with resigning sincerity as I fear you may be too worked up to hear the peace inn my voice).

    You cannot tell from my post whether or not I am one who explicitly agrees with Robert K as to the trajectory and intentionality of the FV. I intentionally expressed myself in a manner to acknowledge what I could for Robert’s concerns, while leaving open that not all will hold to his opinions, and that is not a bad thing.

    I do not care to question you on your views. I have enoigh failings of my own to spend time hunting for whatever yours may be.

    My prayers for God to use you in the spreading of the gospel are sincere.

    Robert, as well to you my same wishes and prayers.

  52. im.steve said,

    November 23, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Re #50, it would be fair (as neither FV advocate or FV antagonist) for me to ask for such a recording. After all, I would hear first-hand, for myself, right? It seems to me that, peace-making, as opposed to peace-faking or peace-breaking, would start with hearing someone on their own terms before jumping to any conclusions. And, I won’t be hunting for anything. I will first listen and consider. Thank you for the offer, curate. (PLMK if you need my email address.)

  53. November 24, 2007 at 10:28 am

    […] whining about the fact that no one seems to want to call poor pastor Wilkins. He even said “dude” in good Beach form. I guess all those transcripts and tapes from Wilkins’ FV […]


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