Thursday, January 26, 2006

1/26/06, Mystery Plaintiff?

From: BB
To: Greg Price , Greg Barrow , Lyndon Dohms
Cc: MC; JS; CG; MG; BS
Subject: A Matter of Record
Date: Thu, Jan 26, 2006 00:50 PM
Attachment(s):5 file(s)/document(s) | Total File Size: 86K

January 26th, 2006

Dear Officers of the RPNA Court,

We submit to the Court, for record, this email to you regarding the attached messages which we deem to contain a strange manner of Christian proceeding, though it be forwarded as "Brotherly", "Apology", or containing the title of "Sir". We have several objections to the attachments (and to other public messages by the same parties not here attached), and therefore do not feel lawfully compelled to answer any such inquiries directed toward us by the same, aside from any specific direction from, or within the venue of, this Court. If formal charges are made against us by the same, and the Court so allows, we are prepared to submit arguments to the Court regarding our reasons for denial to answer such things. In anticipation of events that require us to submit formal counter charges, we are also preparing a brief for the Court that contains the substance of counter charges of a personal and public nature, and which can be submitted to the Court within reasonable notice when the Court's schedule is able to consider such.


If all parties concerned in this matter acknowledge themselves to be under the RPNA Court as common, none should act according to the presuppositions of ecclesiastical Democracy and/or Independency so as to seek a popular majority as a judgment -- by engaging in any disputes or debates regarding this specific matter unto such an end (as though the "court" of public or common judgment is authoritative). This, however, is that which we are threatened with, and into which arena there have been not a few attempts to bait us to respond by the opposing parties. If, however, all parties do not admit the Court of the RPNA as being common to them for adjudication, and under this pretext we are soiled publicly by the representations of the parties so threatening to do the same, we shall answer such things nonetheless lawfully, and as we deem necessary, according to our liberty of discretion in such things.


However, before dealing with such matters any more or in any way, we would firstly know who it is we are dealing with as to the opposite parties: Do the persons represented in the attachments explicitly, fully, and cheerfully own this Court of the RPNA as lawful and faithful (though extraordinary); and, do they own it as extending its authoritative jurisdiction over them in all matters of a moral and ecclesiastical nature? If not, we consider them to have dismembered themselves from the RPNA by their lack of promptly so owning this Court (as is requisite for membership), and shall so deal with them as we are to deal with all disaffected and separated brethren -- by ignoring the nuisance of any of their cavils and attempted obstructions, or by rebuking, entreating, and exhorting them to faithfulness as circumstances dictate and/or allow.


Even if the Court is so owned by them as per above,* and formal charges proceed in this Court, nevertheless, because of the grievous interpersonal tensions and suspicions created by their recent public actions, statements, and methods, we do not intend to interact with them apart from the specific direction of the Court -- until the matter(s), if being so prosecuted, receive a final ruling. Even in the event that such a process is so prosecuted unto such a ruling, we would desire the outcome to be our mutual and full reconciliation in the solidarity of doctrine, government, worship, and discipline; and that we be thereby united, not only with the good-will (according to the good of God's law) that is always required, but also in the mutual complacence of Christian graces and gifts in sincere fellowship, mutually employed to the edification of the whole body.


Psalms 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!


We understand, especially given the present extraordinary circumstances, that the scheduling of this matter (if necessary) for any hearing could be delayed by many, many months, which delays are not dissimilar from present civil court delays. We understand that especially during the next few months that the Court is especially exercised with matters of much more significant import regarding governmental matters proper, and therefore patiently defer the timing of this matter to the calendar that the Court sets for the same on its docket.


Sincerely submitted,

BB

attachments:
(3) emails, "PGS";
(2) emails, S.
*
At this point, because of concerns raised by the recent public actions, statements, and methods, nothing but an explicit and signed affidavit to this effect will suffice to assure us of the same. We would be glad to provide the same as consistent with our membership engagements.


Files & Documents
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Message (22KB) 1/12/06 Soc. Pr.Geo.
Message (27KB)1/13/06 Soc. Pr. Geo.
Message (1KB) Blank
Message (10KB) 1/12/06 B. S.
Message (28KB) 1/20/06 B. S.
Attachments Scanned - No Virus Detected (Learn More)

From: Society of PG (RPNA)
Sent: January 12, :10 AM
To: 'BB
Cc: CG; JS; M& BC; MG; RS; R&MS; TG
Subject: A Brotherly request for your Clarification

[My apologies - more operator error! This version comes from the correct email address, AND has the subject. Please, delete the prior one & work off this one.]

Dear Mr. & Mrs. B,

We in The Society of Prince George can confirm our receipt of your January 11, 2006 email, which appears may have some context to our own recent emails.

It was a pleasure to see you had emailed us, as it marks the first direct contact from you to us as a Society, or any of our members (aside from an incidental conversation of a few minutes duration). Even if in a ‘cc:’ capacity, we are thankful for the opportunity and only desire it could have been in a more joyful context.

As we consider how, or even if, to comment on your email, we thought it best to ask clarification from you on one particular aspect. We shall try to be as minimalist as we can, in our request.

The Nature of Our Request

Clearly, you took care to frame your joint-email. We certainly commend that, as we ourselves desire to take care with our words, always at risk of misrepresenting and overstating (1Thess. 4:6).

Also, we fear misunderstanding you, knowing all men’s capacity for overreacting and jumping to conclusions; we do not desire to sin against anyone in this way, let alone covenanted brethren. If we represent any of your own words too strongly or overstate in any way, please accept our apology and correct us accordingly.

In our review of your email broadcast to the brethren, your words of concern (if we can call them that), use the terms, “may”, “temptations”, “possibly” and other good qualifications, in addition to the few firm positive and negative conclusions.

Due in good part to your thoughts coming so soon after our own inquiry to Pastor Price and Elder Dohms, causes us to wonder if your thoughts in the email were of a random quality, with no particular parties in mind beyond the most generic sense in which all men have sin; or, wonder if your thoughts were composed with specific parties actively contemplated, perhaps even, those who have been involved in the recent email exchanges. Rather than wonder, we thought it best to just ask.

So, with those qualifications, we respectfully ask you in the bonds of Christ to clarify this for us:

1. Were any of the accusatory/sinful highlighting aspects of your email:

1. Of the broad, generic sense in that all men have sinned, yet bearing those sinful elements mixed in their hearts and actions? Or,

2. Actively contemplating specific parties from the recent email exchanges of this week?
3. Something else other than a. or b.? And if so, what?
2. IF the answer to 1.b. above is ‘yes’:
1. Did any of the following constitute part of that active contemplation (noted in order of appearance)?
i. Elders Greg Price, Lyndon Dohms &/or Greg Barrow
ii. Society of Prince George, BC
iii. Private members of our Society as contemplated within 'ii.’ above
iv. Mr. NS
v. Mr. BS
vi. A combination of the above?

2. Which one(s) of this list?

Thank you for receiving our respectful request before you now, regarding your public email of January 11, 2006. We do not request any lengthy reply and thus overburden your time; only sufficient to answer the specific questions we have itemized for your convenience. We look forward to hearing from you, that we might better understand you and have these confusions of ours cleared.

In the bonds of covenanted unity and Christian love,
MG on behalf of,
Society of Prince George (RPNA)
rpna_pg. . . .


From: Society of PG (RPNA)

Sent: January 13, 2006 6:54 PM
To: BB
Cc: CG; JS; M& BC; MG; RS; R&MS; TG
Subject: A Brotherly request for your Clarification

Dear brother and sister,

In that we have not heard from you at all, we thought it expedient to forward this once more to you, in case you had overlooked or had not received our first request.

So, we respectfully request confirmation whether or not you have received it and whether or not you expect to grant our request.

We thought not to overburden you time-wise, and thus framed our request in what we though a succinct way, to faciliate your ease of replying. If for any reason you do not expect to get back to us later than, say, Saturday night, we would also take it as a brotherly kindness if you would let us know when you expect to.

In the event your pc system defaults to decline such requests, or if your missed or chose not to respond to the automatic request, we respectfully ask that you positively reply, and thus confirm your having received our second request before you now.

Thank you.

Mike G. on behalf of,
Society of Prince George (RPNA)
rpna_pg@. . .


From: Society of PG (RPNA)
Sent: January 12, :10 AM
To: 'Brian B. . .
Cc: CG; JS; M& BC; MG; RS; R&MS; TG.
Subject: A Brotherly request for your Clarification

[My apologies - more operator error! This version comes from the correct email address, AND has the subject. Please, delete the prior one & work off this one.]

Dear Mr. & Mrs. B.

We in The Society of Prince George can confirm our receipt of your January 11, 2006 email, which appears may have some context to our own recent emails. . . .


From: BS
Sent: January 12, 2006 6:39 PM
To: BB
Subject: RE: Public Fast - Resources still needed )

Dear B,

Thank you for your recent post. On one hand your comments are well taken. The Psalmist after all says,
"Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities (Ps. 141:5)." Yet on the other hand, something remains to be desired, particularly regarding the following:


. . . even a temptation wherein, with many being carried away, societies may begin to act like independently constituted moral persons in-and-of themselves (independency), rather than cultivating their true and subordinated identity as collective members of the constituted moral person of the RPNA and seeking her well-being and uniformity. So that, alas, in these and other kinds of things we have not only tolerated independency, but we have acted like independents and embraced independent principles under the guise of Presbyterianism: its evil principles taking root in our all-to-welcoming and depraved subconsciousness, if not in our consciousness. For this indeed alone we have great cause of repentance, not to mention also that we have not properly esteemed the inestimable advantage of the existence, and
sought earnestly for the well-establishment, of the government of Christ's kirk,


Plainly put, sir, may I remind you that whether the RPNA - the Reformed Presbytery of N. America - has been dissolved or not, is a matter of public record. There is no question of that. The letter of June 8, 2003
from our three elders and Derek Edwards plainly states at the outset:


This past Friday (June 6, 2003), each of the officers of the Presbytery sorrowfully concluded that the Reformed Presbytery in North America must be dissolved due to the recent discovery that fundamental differences exist among us over the issue of the use of contraception in difficult cases.

A followup letter signed by our three elders alone on June 14, 2003 says:

In short, we maintain that the dissolution of Presbytery . . . We do not believe that the error of one man (which consequently led to the dissolution of Presbytery). . .

Both letters are signed by the parties as individuals and not under a byline as the RPNA or even the former RPNA. That should be enough said, right? But if the RPNA has been reconstituted, then why has there not been an announcement of it, of all things? We certainly weren't shy about it the first time in Aug. 2000.

We do happen to be on record though, of calling ourselves the Session of the RPNA General Meeting, Sun. Oct. 31, 2004 through Oct. and now the Session of the RPNA Sun. Jan 1 & Tue. Jan. 10, 2006 in the various announcements/letters of those dates from our elders. But not to nitpick, I really could care less about the name ultimately. What matters is the substance. But I will leave that to your judgement, sir, in that the historical testimony of the body we claim to continue as a moral person, the Reformed Presbytery of Steele's day and thereafter, required a plurality of ministers - more than one - and at least one elder to constitute a presbytery. Otherwise they were NOT a presbytery, they were NOT the Reformed Presbytery, NOT the same RP of which the RPNA from Aug. 5, 2000 to June 6, 2003 was the namesake and continuing moral person. Rather they were a general meeting, the RP General Meeting. The same RP,GM for which there were correspondents and/or ruling elders from the different societies and congregations that belonged to it, which attended the at least once a year public stated meeting of that same RP General Meeting. The same RP,GM which had a written record, ie. minutes, which is in part, how we know all this. In other words, however redundant, this is all a matter of again, the public record (see http: //www.covenanter.org/Minutes/ minuteshomepage. htm).

In other words, sir, whatever we claim to be, whatever moral person we are the continuation of, it does not seem to me - and that is to put it mildly and to equivocate for the sake of politeness - to be the RP General Meeting, never mind the Reformed Presbytery, in the state of church government we are in now and have been since dissolution of presbytery - the Reformed Presbytery of N. America - the RPNA - as stated by that former Presbytery and our three elders in the summer of 2003. While we are the closest thing to it in existence, our stated desires have yet to substantially match the reality when it comes to church government. I am sorry about that sir, I really am, but I don't see any way around the facts/historical testimony/public record other than wishful thinking.

But is all this the end of the world? No. Not at all. Far from it. No one has left the church over it and no one should. But it is a 9th commandment issue, a matter of frustration, as well prayer and fasting when we won't admit it publically. That is, we won't repent of our public posture and pretence to be something we are not when it comes to church government (as opposed to doctrine and worship), if not at the very least our very well intended ignorance, however sincere at this late date. And if you do not think that this grieves some of the saints of God no end, if not to despair, if that were not also sin, sir, you respectfully know nothing at all.

As for the one sided charge of independency regarding those in the church - for that is what it is, an unproven assertion - you make no mention of the possible corresponding alternative charge to independency regarding the governors. And who will judge who? May I respectfully remind you that the Lord is no respecter of persons. We may not hide behind our office any more than those of us in the pew may hide behind a profession of sincere love for the peace and purity of the church all the while we wreck it, if not that some accuse us of it. But no one may promote anything other than the truth, whether in or out of office, in Christ's church. That is the issue.

Yet we quote the two opening paragraphs to the letter from our three elders of June 14, 2003 commenting further on the dissolution of the RPNA:

"When differences in doctrine and practice arise between brethren, and especially when they arise between Presbyters, it is the duty of all to deal with these differences with true biblical love and God honoring actions. True love to God and faithfulness to His cause demands, at times, that we express our love by sharp rebukes, and clear testimony of truth. The purpose of such is not to harm or to take vengeance upon another brother, but rather to reclaim him from the error of his way and to preserve the pure testimony of the church from a dangerous error or a promoter of error, in order that we might all walk with a clear conscience before God and transmit a faithful testimony safely to our posterity.

Accordingly, we share the sentiments of our faithful forefathers when they say:

To speak thus publicly against those who may be the precious sons of Zion, is a painful duty. That charity, however, which rejoiceth in the truth, requires of Christ's witnesses that they censure and rebuke, in a way competent to them, those of the household of faith whom they see and know to be in a course of error or of sin; Is. 58:l; Tit. 1:13 (Act Declaration and Testimony, Supplement to Part 3, Section IV)."

Faithful are the wounds of a friend while the kisses of an enemy are sweet deceit. I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted for Zion's trouble. Yet those who sow in tears shall reap with joy. May God still arise and have mercy on her.

But enough, sir, I will leave off, trusting that the Lord will truly bless your day of Public fasting and prayer for the public, as well as private, sins and situation we find ourselves in before him.

Thank you very much.
I am cordially yours, in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Bob S Member of, but not speaking for the Everson, Wa. Society)


Date: Fri, 20 Jan :32:
From: BS
To: [RPNA(GM) List]
Subject: Apology, further remarks Re: Public Fast - Resources still needed )

Greetings all,

If I may presume on the patience of the brethren one more time. (To the best of my knowledge only five people have opted out and they have been accommodated.) I have received a number of private comments and criticisms regarding my previous to Mr. BB and Mr. NS. Some while writing positively, didn't care for the postscript to Mr. NS and/or my statement to Mr. BB that: "you, sir, respectfully know nothing at all," and felt I needed to apologize for such statements and retract them in order not to stumble people from understanding my overall concerns about the upcoming public fast and prayer day and the Society of Prince George request for more information.

Preliminary Retractions & Remarks

While on the one hand, if retracting these statements and the like would help others to understand the larger argument and buy into the necessary distinction between public and private sins in regard to a public fast, I would be happy to do so. On the other hand, I don't know that it will be so easy. After all, one who wrote to say they were offended by mine, in the same breath also admonishes another brother, as if he had written what I actually wrote to Mr. BB. However one might desire that people read a post rather than just react to it, evidently practice isn't always perfect, mine [,] included. Still, while not claiming to be omniscient regarding the deceitfulness of my own heart, my postscript to Mr. NSp was prefaced by the remark, "unfortunately speaking from my own experience." In other words, I was saying, 'been there [and] done that,' if not that, at times I continue to do so. The statement was not meant at all to be patronizing or sarcastic. Certainly it did not need to be said, [though in the larger context it was helpful to clarify things and tie his principal error in with somebody like Schlissel who we can understand to be in errror] particularly if it would stumble the brother or brethren and I am happy to withdraw it as not being essential to resolving the question.

As for mine to Mr. BB it was not written out of spite, but from the perspective of Ps. 126:6, 'That those who sow in tears shall reap with joy.' Yes, there was some frustration and anger mixed in with the tears and sorrow at where we find ourselves in the church today, but while not disagreeing with his concern for the peace of the church, the brother errs in persisting to judge according to appearance, rather than righteousness and the larger history and issues. Not only that, Mr. BB seems to accuse me of sin, if not essentially insinuate that I or any who ask similar questions, are but troublers of Israel, malcontents and ungrateful to the elders in his letter full of generalities which appeared on this list shortly after the SPG request and mine to Mr. NS appeared. I, for my part, only charge him with being ignorant of the real issues and background. He not only fails to substantiate his remarks, they are vague and ambiguous to begin with. But let the reader judge.

The Larger Question/Issue

Yet above and beyond these items, it was and is my zeal and desire to stop the mouths of those, who IMO needlessly confuse and cloud the important and long standing issues before us today. That alone is bad enough, if they do not also stand along the side of and approve the prophets who proclaim "peace, peace," when there is no peace and daub a wall ready to fall with untempered mortar (Ezek. 13:10).

That is, just what is it that we don't understand about the judgement of God? Just what is it that we don't understand about how important proper church government is in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, who as king rules his church by his word and said same government? Just what is it that we don't understand that when 2 out of 3 of our officers are providentially relieved from office and the remaining elder taxed to his limit, that God just might be chastising us for our sin, whether it be failing to do our office or failing to value and pray for our officers and strive after proper church government as we should? Just what is it that we don't seem to be able to make the distinction, as our confession, testimony and history clearly do, between public and private sins, and the confession of not just thelast in a public fast?

The Name of ?

My understanding is, from the sermons I have heard, that the name of the Lord tells us something about who God is. If we but know his name, we know something truly substantial about even the invisible and incomprehensible God. So too, our name as a church of Jesus Christ. But while we, for instance, adhere to the terms of communion of the RPNA - the RPNA, as the RPNA - a presbytery - has been dissolved and no longer has a stated/written constitution. Neither do we seem to even know what the RP General Meeting is. But we call ourselves by one or the other of these two names. And that only for starters. As if this alone, is not starting to trespass upon the 9th Commandment?

Before the Lord, the question arises again. Just who do we think we are? Just who do we say we are? Just how do we think that God cannot possibly have a controversy with us because of who we say we are? That we can do everything and anything because of extraordinary circumstances and our sincere belief that we are The covenanted remnant? God surely is merciful, but only if the hypocrisy, ignorance and negligence, however sincere on the part of all are repented of, not continued in. That again is still the real status of the question IMO, and to my knowledge it has yet to be acknowledged, let alone rebutted and clear instruction in the correct alternative given. The last would most certainly would be appreciated.

Further Background

But this is not the first time these questions have been asked and in a forum perhaps more appropriate to resolution, which even now still eludes us. The Everson Wa. Society in a letter of Nov. 28, 2004 asked if the name change in the letters from the elders from RPNA to the RPNA, (General Meeting) indicated a corresponding change in practice to one stated public meeting a year with a written record as per the practice of "the RPNA,(GM) those whom we claim to faithfully follow and continue as a church?" The Dec. 10, '04 reply by the elders stated:

"The General Meetings of the Reformed Presbyterian Church were primarily business meetings with very little recorded by way of substantial information regarding decisions etc. The preponderance of information recorded usually revolved around Causes Of Fasting and Causes Of Thanksgiving. From our perspective, due to our ability as officers to communicate with one another by phone or email, we are enabled to have regular contact in a way that is far more efficient and profitable than was possible to our forefathers of the past. Although we do not record minutes of all of these meetings throughout the year, when there are decisions that affect the Societies at large, we do communicate in a more formal manner by email. We also are always willing to talk by phone with any Society or members thereof when it is desired."

The Everson Society replied on Jan. 16 '05 again questioning the "need for a name change to the RPNA,(GM) and its significance." While the ES acknowledged the need for "fasting and/or thanksgiving today," in light of the "one stated public meeting of the RPNA, (GM) a year and likewise, a published/public record of that meeting," the ES asked further: "is the name change only nominal - and if so, why the bother - or will we begin to implement more of the policy and practice of the RP,(GM) than we do now?" The answer to the question in person upon the visit of the elders Jan. 21-24 to Everson was not memorable. At least I [do did] not remember it. Which is just the problem.The ad hoc, laissez faire, informal way we do things around here leads to pretty much everybody forgetting what they forgot, whether in or out of office, whether in the pew or the pulpit. 


Refreshing Our Memory

It has been two and half years since the dissolution of presbytery on June 6, 2003.

1. Since then, there has been no written defense of our position on birth control as intended, promised and demanded by "our present circumstance" as stated in the letter on dissolution of presbytery, June 14, '03.

2. Nor has there been a written notification and clarification of the retraction of the promise and intent to write such a paper since then and about which retraction those of us in Everson have been told only in person or on the phone in Jan. 05, rather than in print. As if this was not one of those "decisions that affect the Societies at large" in which the elders would "communicate in a more formal manner by email" to some degree. After all, being faithful to one's word is part of being faithful to one's testimony, is it not?

3. There has been no further real explanation or clarification written or otherwise of the church government we are under, or the name change from the RPNA to the RPNA, (GM) and now, back
again to the RPNA, never mind whether our practice even begins to conform to either.

4. There has been no further explanation or clarification written or otherwise re. the well known, by rumor and hearsay, paper on ordination that another brother and I were told Jan. 24 '05 in Everson would be forthcoming for discussion at the then upcoming July '05 gathering in Edmonton.

And so on and so forth. But not to multiply instances, however minute, which taken by themselves are hardly something to get upset about, but when they are taken as a whole, only further aggregate and aggravate our situation. There are exceptions and there is the rule. In other words, the snowball effect. What started out small at the top of the hill, grows considerably by the time it reaches the bottom. We are not at the top of the hill.

The Question Again

As the letter from the Everson Society Nov. 28, '04 stated,

"the lack of official or regular communication and prevailing disorganization can be very discouraging/confusing at times for us as a society, as we assume it also is for Session. Yet we hope something can be done about it, as was done in the past, in like circumstances by the RPNA,(GM) those whom we claim to faithfully follow and continue as a church."

In short again, we forget that we forget and no matter how well intentioned, the lack of due process, good order and a paper trail is one of the chief shortcomings of the ad hoc, laissez faire, informal, extraordinary church government we find ourselves under. All these things fall through the cracks of our collective and individual memory and further retard, stunt and confuse our growth, development and edification as a church of Jesus Christ. Will we acknowledge it, much less repent of it? That is the question.

Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. (John 9:41.)

Before the Lord and mindful of the upcoming Public Day of Prayer and Fasting, does God have a controversy with us or not? Does it have anything to do with how we conduct or what we call ourselves publically, whether in office or out, whether in part or as the whole congregation, whether before him, the rest of the church, or the world, if not all three? Even further, does it have anything even remotely to do at all with church government? And our answer?

Thank you very much,

cordially in Christ,
Bob S
Member of, but not speaking for the Everson, Wa. Society of the . . . .?