Saturday, February 11, 2006

2/11/06, A Pastoral Plea to All and the Ensuing Discussion

From: Greg Price
To: Pastor Greg Price
Cc: [Church List]
Sent: Saturday, February 11, 2006 11:01 AM
Subject: A Pastoral Plea To All

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I urge us all to discontinue the public debate that has ensued since the Announcement of the Day of Prayer and Fasting. I see only further wedges and deeper divisions following from further public debate.

I am not judging the motives of any who have participated. Nor do I intend to minimize the seriousness of any concern.

However, it should be apparent to us all that our ongoing public debate is tearing us apart even though we profess to adhere to the same Terms of Communion.

There will be a time to address all concerns in a way that will promote our reformation. But for the present, let us each one focus more upon our own sins, weaknesses, and failures realizing the depth of our offence against Christ and His infinite love for such wayward children. Let us likewise spend much time in humble and sincere prayer for one another (especially those with whom we may disagree) calling upon the Lord to reconcile us in love and in the truth. If our mutual aim is to promote the Cause of Christ by means of a covenanted reformation, let us not forget that we are mutually bound in love and truth by covenant obligation:

"and shall not suffer ourselves, directly or indirectly, by whatsoever combination, persuasion, or terror, to be divided and withdrawn from this blessed union and conjunction" ("Solemn League And Covenant" Article VI).

With brotherly affection for you all,

Greg L. Price

From: WB
To: Greg Price
Cc: Church List
Sent: Saturday, February 11, 2006 12:21 PM
Subject: Re: A Pastoral Plea To All

Dear Brethren,

I for one wish to support Pastor Price in his appeal and will continue my prayers for healing and unity; although it may come only through patience and a bit more tender mercy as we all look at our weaknesses and struggles. May the Lord's Day tomorrow be special for each of us as we endeavor repentance and new obedience. I look out over future generations and pray that our struggles will not be in vain.

Your brother,
Walt

From: DW
To: [Church List]
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2006 7:53 AM
Subject: Re: A Pastoral Plea To All

Dear brethren,

By the grace of God I stand firmly with my brother Walt, and I pray, with all my covenanted brethren. We have been, and will continue to pray, for our pastor and elders and for my convenanted brothers and sisters, that God would sustain us all through our many trials and temptations. We thank God for his abundant mercy which he has poured out upon us undeserving and unfaithful children. I ask of our Lord to fill us all with His Holy Spirit that we might set in rememberance the covenanted unity that our forefathers held so dear, and the importance of love for the brethren that our Lord commands.

May the Lord pour out His grace upon us all that we may perservere the persecution and intolerances we face daily, the ability to resist the temptations to lust after the things of the world, and the wisdom to know when we are glorying in our own wisdom, strength, and beauty rather than
considering our brother better than ourselves. May we seek the establishing of His kingdom above all else.

With love for you all,

Julian and Donna W.


From: Bob S.
To: Pastor Greg Price
Cc: [Church List]
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2006 10:47 PM
Subject: Re: A Pastoral Plea To All

Sunday, 3/12/06

Dear Pastor Price - and List,

I was on the verge of replying Tuesday, 2/14/06 to your request Saturday, 2/11/06 "to discontinue the public debate that has ensued since the Announcement of the Day of Prayer and Fasting," because I disagreed so strongly with it. With the death in your family of your brother, Phil though, I thought it best to put it on hold. Still, close to four weeks should be long enough to wait before one replies.

Not that I am at all interested in revisiting this issue unneccessarily, but then again, I am also not interested in what might happen if I don’t say anything at all and let things pass. In other words, while I would be happy to abide by the request, yet there is also a time when silence is sin (Jm.4:17). In my judgement with this request, that time has come. Consequently and respectfully then, the following:

The request says: I urge us all to discontinue the public debate that has ensued since the Announcement of the Day of Prayer and Fasting. I see only further wedges and deeper divisions following from further public debate.

Reply: While we all would deplore and repudiate any wedge of division, we should not let the desire for peace - at any cost, without discussion, without conflict - become an accursed thing, an idol, an end in itself. Rather as the early church father, Gregory of Nazianzen put it, as quoted by Shields in the opening pages to A Hind Let Loose, "Discord is better for the advantage of piety, than dissembled concord." If one reads no further, that says it all. The request essentially advocates a dissembled concord. That I cannot agree with or abide and the following only further spells out why.

The request states: However, it should be apparent to us all that our ongoing public debate is tearing us apart even though we profess to adhere to the same Terms of Communion.

Reply: Rather what is obvious at least to me, is that some of us are, at the very least, seriously confused. If not about the the third term of communion and church government, at least about the second; more specifically LC 145 on misconstruction of the words/evil suspicions about fellow brethren. It does not behoove a brother, even one with authoritarian leanings - whether an unofficial assistant to the elders or not - to presume other brethren to be guilty on the basis of the brother’s own inarticulate and unwritten surmises and suspicions and subsquently require affidavits from those other brethren. Otherwise I might suppose Calvin's trinitarian orthodoxy must also be suspect because in his day, he refused to sign the Nicean Creed solely at the demand of a contentious critic.

Yet without the certain specious and non sequitur inspired inquiry of the Society of Prince George's inquiry on the public fast, the elders could have answered the question from the SPG - as they did - the SPG would have thanked them -as they did - and we could have all gone back to whatever else we do when off line and all would have been well. But note bene - note well - that did not happen. (As to how or why the brother who is not a member of either the SPG or the "court" is privy to the SPG's private communications to the elders is an interesting, but yet still unanswered question.)

The request states: There will be a time to address all concerns in a way that will promote our reformation.

Reply: Really? I certainly hope so, but I am sorry, I have been here almost eight years and I am respectfully starting to wonder. After all it has been almost three years since the dissolution of presbytery without a word further on where we are at in our church government, but now restructuring our government is on the table. Yet the one burning question would have to be: restructuring from what to what? Would it be too much to ask anybody to attempt to understand why someone might be more than a little skeptical/pessimistic about the whole thing?

As for mentioning any of this regarding our church government in public, the fact of the matter is that quite simply no one should have to ask anybody about these matters, privately or no. As a matter of course the congregation should be informed about the changes in our name and government as part of due process and good order in government, ie. standard operating procedure in the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But whether or not I look forward to hearing the proposals on restructuring church government - if not that the whole thing is a done deal by the time the congregation finally hears about it - one thing is certain, I am definitely not interested in continuing to play musical chairs or mum's the word on the questions and issues involved in this discussion. Again, if I say nothing at all about this request, my fear and concern is the status quo will continue to prevail. And that again, without apology I am respectfully, but most definitely not interested in. I hope that is quite clear.

The request states: But for the present, let us each one focus more upon our own sins, weaknesses, and failures realizing the depth of our offence against Christ and His infinite love for such wayward children.

Reply: But again, there is a time when silence is sin, as stated above. Or as Martin Luther was supposed to have put it:

"If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle field besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point (Jm. 4:17)."

And the point for us today? I think we know what it is. But we don't want to talk about it. To our shame and confusion. We prefer a dissembled concord, rather than discord and piety.

Granted nobody is interested in a squabble and online dogfight per se, but neither is dead silence a real scriptural alternative. As JC Ryle said, "I have always held that truth is most likely to be reached when men on all sides conceal nothing, but tell out all their minds (LCat. 144)." Which is precisely what has not happened in this discussion, (if not that some refuse to tell us their minds, even as they demanded it of others. But that's what is called a double standard, is it not?) Still, I am more than willing to put up with some comparatively minor turbulence, if that is the only way there is -and so far it seems it is - to find out what I got from this discussion on any number of things including church government and who or what we call ourselves and why. It did not make me very happy, but it still was well worth it.

The request says: Let us likewise spend much time in humble and sincere prayer for one another (especially those with whom we may disagree) calling upon the Lord to reconcile us in love and in the truth.

Reply: While I can go with the first clause, I can't with the second. Rather our self appointed inquisitors and lords over the consciences of the brethren are WRONG. It is NOT a question of disagreeing. It is S-I-N. And if we don't understand that, it is meaningless to talk about unity or terms of communion when we are not willing to acknowledge the obvious, but instead keep putting it off, if not resorting to buzz words and pious pussyfooting around. Healing the hurt of God's people slightly is not a Biblical option. Neither is avoiding, downplaying or suppressing the whole counsel of God on the matter.

Rather the truth of the matter we need to be reconciled to is that "Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, while the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Prov. 27:5,6)." Those Scriptures have yet to be acknowledged in all this, but are rather being openly ignored. Nor as a free man in Christ, does one have to take it kindly when a brother assaults the rights of the members of the congregation to a free public and brotherly inquiry and tries to intimidate and cow them into silence on an open forum, unmoderated or not. That they seemed to be sincerely duped about their compromise of Christian liberty, is but another unfortunate aspect to the whole affair.

For that matter, if Augustine could say 'the ridiculous deserves ridicule (Prov. 26:5), it is NOT sinful or divisive to roundly rebuke and call suspicious and divisive nonsense by its wicked name. Rather it is the biblical, righteous and LOVING thing to do, even if those who are more accustomed to drinking milk than eating meat don't think so, but call it "biting and devouring a brother." They may say what they will, but no one is at liberty to judge according to appearance instead of righteousness; instead of reality (Jn. 7:24). Neither is anyone required to go the private route of Matt. 18. When foolishness is vented repeatedly in a public forum, as it was in this case, unmoderated or no, rebuke, repentance and restitution should take place in the same. (And by the same token, since this request was public, so too this response to it.)

The request says: If our mutual aim is to promote the Cause of Christ by means of a covenanted reformation, let us not forget that we are mutually bound in love and truth by covenant obligation:

"and shall not suffer ourselves, directly or indirectly, by whatsoever combination, persuasion, or terror, to be divided and withdrawn from this blessed union and conjunction" ("Solemn League And Covenant" Article VI)."

Reply: But we may NOT read Art. VI of the Solemn League and Covenant apart from and before the previous articles I, II and & IV on sound doctrine, church government, popery, prelacy, heresy, division, schism and superstition as over and against unity for the sake of unity alone. Unity is only in the truth or it is not true biblical unity.

Unity is only in the truth or we don't have it. Do we? If not, why not? If we do, then why the past discussion? If not, then how do we get it? If we do, then how do we keep it, as well increase it? Rhetorical questions to be sure in light of the request to stop debate - if not that Gregory answers some of them - but to the point nonetheless. And to my mind exactly where we should pick up the discussion, if and when as promised, in the indefinite future, according to the request, there will come "a time to address all concerns in a way that will promote our reformation."

Make no mistake about it, I am definitely looking forward to that time and day.
But in the meantime, without apology, I am doing everything I can to hasten it.
Otherwise I would not have written.

Thank you very much,
cordially in Christ,
Bob S.
Member, Washington Society


From: Nick S.
To: Bob S. ; Pastor Greg Price
Cc: Elder Lyndon Dohms ; Elder Greg Barrow ; [Church List]
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 5:19 PM
Subject: Re: A Pastoral Plea To All

Dear Greg,

Thank you for attempting to calm a quickly degenerating public discussion. When slander, misrepresentation, faulty principle, and apparent conspiracy, begin to manifest in public, it’s certainly understandable why one would seek to quiet such developments. It’s also understandable why one would seek to regulate any inquiries to a more profitable period – perhaps a time when certain glaring manifestations of emotional writing would have abated, and as well when the entire exchange (including all issues involved) could be reviewed with a critical & honest eye.

I also thank you for highlighting our terms of communion, which summarily assert a biblical position of Church-government, and assume the underlying Presbyterian principles that ought to regulate the application of such government within differing circumstances (found within the standards upheld within these terms). Indeed, according to such Presbyterian Principles, we know the greater or lesser distance we have from one another increases or decreases the degree of visible communion we have with one another – whether on a membership level, or a government level. Nevertheless, I thank God, though circumstance may hinder degrees of visible communion in these respects, this does not nullify an obligation to exercise the degree of visible communion that may be had, if it can be had (though it be an imperfect degree of visible communion). I'm thankful, that in such circumstances, though the degree of official administration may decrease given the Presbyterian principle above, there is nevertheless a legitimate & authoritative Presbyterial process remaining (albeit in lesser form, and applied extraordinarily). Though it was a sad case, indeed, when we lost our greater Presbytery, nevertheless, the Lord has not absolutely left his people without a method of process (providentially, and preceptively).

I also thank God, that you’re doing your best to proceed in your office, regardless of any nagging instances of any individual’s apparent leanings toward Independency, or any individual’s blindness to instances of open contradiction & special pleading. Such developments are quite obviously aggravated by an individual’s inability to control emotions when writing, to the point that he can do no other, but abuse scripture, and attempt to assassinate the intention and character of those conducting honest and lawful inquiry. Not that I believe I am in need of justifying my approach, but it truly is quite interesting how one will plead for liberty of conscience, in reference to a society’s public inquiry directed to an eldership, yet, arrogantly assume that such an inquiry is not subject to inquiry itself. Double standards are epidemic, so it seems. Though it truly was a blessing when such confused yapping ceased for a moment, nevertheless, this arrogant, intemperate, confused, contradicting, impatient, and flippant approach reared its ugly head again. Nevertheless, dear pastor, thank you for your service to God’s people, and you will continually remain in my prayers.

Your brother,
Nick

From: Nick S.
To: Pastor Greg Price
Cc: Bob S. ; Elder Lyndon Dohms ; Elder Greg Barrow ; [Church List]
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 5:42 PM
Subject: Remedy

Dear Greg,

I refer this email (as attached) from Mr. S. , as well as the entire email exchange between others and myself in this matter (see thread history), as a case to be tried for lawful conclusion in our ecclesiastical court. Given certain public statements, I cannot gain any solemn reassurance that the authority of this court (to adjudicate such matters) will mutually be owned. Nevertheless, although not having this assurance, I intend to present my case to the court for adjudication, regardless. I do this assuming the absence of owning this ecclesiastical court, in its present extension, is effectively a declaration of non-membership. I am willing to rest in the faithful rulings of the court, and to submit to her faithful admonitions if there is cause for my own correction.

Thank you,
Nick S.

Attached:

Dear Pastor Price - and List,

I was on the verge of replying Tuesday, 2/14/06 to your request Saturday, 2/11/06 "to discontinue the public debate that has ensued since the Announcement of the Day of Prayer and Fasting," because I disagreed so strongly with it. With the death in your family of your brother, Phil though, I thought it best to put it on hold. Still, close to four weeks should be long enough to wait before one replies. . . . .

From: Bob S.
To: Nick S.; Pastor Greg Price
Cc: Elder Lyndon Dohms ; Elder Greg Barrow ; [Church List]
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 11:17 PM
Subject: Re: A Pastoral Plea To All

Thursday, 3/16/06

Dear Nick,

A few comments regarding some highlights from your latest to the list.

You write: Thank you for attempting to calm a quickly degenerating public discussion. When slander, misrepresentation, faulty principle, and apparent conspiracy, begin to manifest in public, it’s certainly understandable why one would seek to quiet such developments.

No, you don’t "quiet such developments," you rebuke and admonish them because they are sin. But Pastor Price’s post said, " I am not judging the motives of any who have participated. Nor do I intend to minimize the seriousness of any concern." That’s all. If you want to make the case that "slander, misrepresentation, faulty principle, and apparent conspiracy" manifested themselves in the public discussion, you will have to do better than just asserting the matter, ie. posturing about it and mouthing vague generalities. You have to demonstrate it. Quote it. Rebut it. That is the difference between persuasion and propaganda.

You write: I also thank you for highlighting our terms of communion, which summarily assert a biblical position of Church-government, and assume the underlying Presbyterian principles that ought to regulate the application of such government within differing circumstances (found within the standards upheld within these terms).

One of those principles of presbyterianism would be that if any one has the power or authority to put brethren under oath or demand an affidavit from them, it would be the elders, not some self appointed zealot on a fishing trip at large.

And why would someone need an affidavit from communicant brethren in good standing with no known warrants out for their apprehension by the authorities? It seems to me quite obvious. The self appointed prosecutor misconstructed their words and had evil suspicions about these brethren. But that is a violation of Larger Catechism 145 or the sins forbidden in the Ninth Commandment. Much more, the brother asserting his liberty of conscience - but actually abusing it - wanted to deny the SPG’s liberty of conscience (WCF 20), yet as per the third term of communion, we affirm presbyterianism, not popery or prelacy.

That is, it is not yet a sin to ask an honest question of the authorities in the church, and someone ought to be able to do so without being harassed by a brother to sign an affidavit because he suspects they really, really are questioning/denying the authority of the elders. (But it could be a sin, if this kind of baby poop carries the day and wins the hearts and minds of the people. In which case, the consolation is, ‘they done it to themselves.’)

You write: I also thank God, that you’re doing your best to proceed in your office, regardless of any nagging instances of any individual’s apparent leanings toward Independency, or any individual’s blindness to instances of open contradiction & special pleading.

Again, I am sure all these "instances" of "open contradiction & special pleading" are "apparent" and self evident to you, but to some of us who still remember that in this "quickly degenerating public discussion," you couldn’t tell us what the SPG’s request actually said in the first place, this statement is slightly less than persuasive/conclusive.

You write: Such developments are quite obviously aggravated by an individual’s inability to control emotions when writing, to the point that he can do no other, but abuse scripture, and attempt to assassinate the intention and character of those conducting honest and lawful inquiry.

I wouldn’t say you assassinated the intention and character of the SPG when they asked an honest and lawful question of the elders re. the distinction between public and private sins in light of the upcoming Public Fast, but can you at least understand that some of us might think you sure tried hard. After all, why else would you ask for an affidavit if you didn’t take them for their word?

You write: Not that I believe I am in need of justifying my approach, but it truly is quite interesting how one will plead for liberty of conscience, in reference to a society’s public inquiry directed to an eldership, yet, arrogantly assume that such an inquiry is not subject to inquiry itself. Double standards are epidemic, so it seems.

You may of course, believe whatever you want to, but some of us are interested in who you are talking about. Just for the broken record.

After all, I know you can’t be talking about my objections to your inquiry of the SPG’s inquiry because my beef was that you essentially assumed that since the SPG had the audacity to make an inquiry of any kind whatsoever of the elders's announcement, the SPG must/had to be questioning the elders' authority.

Consequently you took it upon yourself - as a self appointed officer of the "court?" - to take affidavits in the matter. Your zeal is commendable, of course, but again until you tell us who you allude to in your statement above, we remain unenlightened and possibly guilty of other ecclesiastically incorrect thought crimes like asking honest straight forward questions of those like yourself, who seem to know so much.

You write: Though it truly was a blessing when such confused yapping ceased for a moment, nevertheless, this arrogant, intemperate, confused, contradicting, impatient, and flippant approach reared its ugly head again.

But then again, maybe we don’t know so much after all, in that any court worthy of the name operating under biblical principles would have to operate under those found in Act 10:34 and Deut. 19:19. Not only is the Lord no respecter of persons - whether the teacher’s pet or a self appointed surrogate elder - if a false witness can't prove the crime, they 'do the time,' ie. whatsoever penalty they intended for the court to inflict upon the defendant, becomes their own instead. Just calling people names or accusing them of "yapping" or being "arrogant, intemperate, confused, contradicting, impatient, and flippant,"may clear the air and be good for one’s soul, but if you really want to be taken seriously by any court worthy of the name, you need to substantiate your charges rather than just let the invective flow, no matter how good it feels all over, brother. It does neither your cause nor your character any good.

cordially in Christ,

Bob S.


From: Bob S.
To: Nick S.
Cc: Pastor Greg Price ; Elder Lyndon Dohms ; Elder Greg Barrow ; [Church List]
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 11:22 PM
Subject: Re: Remedy

Hello again, Nick,

Sorry to bother you.
A couple of comments re. your post.

You said: I refer this email (as attached) from Mr. S., as well as the entire email exchange between others and myself in this matter (see thread history), as a case to be tried for lawful conclusion in our ecclesiastical court.

From my experience in the past 3 P&R churches I have been in, most courts look somewhat askance at dumping something in their lap and asking them to "adjudicate." Someone has to commit a chargeable offence, ie. a breach of one of the commandments and you have to make a charge against them. And yours is what? Specifically?

You said: Given certain public statements, I cannot gain any solemn reassurance that the authority of this court (to adjudicate such matters) will mutually be owned.

You continue to labor under the misconception that someone owes you something. Nobody does. You owe it to us all to spell out what it is you are about.

You said: Nevertheless, although not having this assurance, I intend to present my case to the court for adjudication, regardless.

But you haven't even made a charge yet.

You said: I do this assuming the absence of owning this ecclesiastical court, in its present extension, is effectively a declaration of non-membership.

Again, you continue to labor under the misconception that your say so, makes it so, as if people are nonmembers because you think so. Better think again.

You said: I am willing to rest in the faithful rulings of the court, and to submit to her faithful admonitions if there is cause for my own correction.

In that this sounds like you are trying to weasel out of everything you have said before, one, would you care to tell us who defines "faithful?" Would it be the "court" or uh. . . possibly yourself? Two, You wouldn't be arguing for liberty of conscience now, would you?

The only reason I ask of course, is because that is precisely what you wanted to deny the SPG all along.

Liberty to ask a straight forward question of the elders re. the distinctions between public and private sins in light of the upcoming public fast.

Instead you assumed they automatically must be disrespectful, disobedient and in rebellion to the "court." But again, in presbyterian circles, this is considered a violation of LCat. 145, the sins forbidden in the Ninth Commandment or misconstruction of the words and evil suspicions about brethren. (Pseudo-presbyterian and self appointed inquisitors of the brethren's conscience of course, need not be bothered by such fine distinctions.) Consequently you wanted them to sign an affidavit because of your suspicions, if not what, you were working undercover for the "court?" Like they "owe" you an affidavit because of your Chicken Little rush to judgement? Pray tell where do you get these ideas about church government, due process, justice and equity? Please don't tell me it's from the third term of communion.

But whatever, my friend.

Hope things work out and you can prosecute your case without getting caught up in these "apparent" inconsistencies. Might tend to wipe out your credibility or make people think you were just yapping to be yapping. That is, if weasels can yap.

Yeah, I know, I'm sorry, that sounds sarcastic, arrogant and/or flippant. But it can't be helped. The emperor has no clothes and the accuser of the SPG brethren doesn't have a case.
In other words, if this is the best you can do, don't bother keeping me in the loop, if it comes to that in the future. Just remove my name from the mailing list, please.

Thank you very much,

cordially in Christ
Bob S.

From: Greg Price
To: Pastor Greg Price ; Elder Lyndon Dohms ; Elder Greg Barrow ; [Church List]
Sent: Friday, March 17, 2006 2:03 PM
Subject: A Renewed Pastoral Plea


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

By way of clarification:

1. I did not intend to cut off all opportunity for further public discussion indefinitely. I qualified my plea to US all:

"There will be a time to address all concerns in a way that will promote our reformation. But for the present...."

2. My "plea" was just that, a plea, (not a requirement) based upon my own personal observation that this forum seemed to me to only be increasing more strife and division (each of you will have to judge whether you have found it profitable or not).
Although a matter made public MAY BE discussed and debated publicly, it is not always in the best interests of wisdom and charity to do so. In my judgment, it would have been far more profitable to discuss such issues after the Session submitted their report and provided constructive guidelines for a profitable discussion.

3. I do not deny the right to discuss a matter made public in a public forum. At the same time, I reserve the right to any who find the present debate and discussion to be unprofitable to remove themselves from the list until they deem it profitable to return to the list.

4. I judge the motives of no one nor minimize the concerns of no one. I have been willing to discuss these issues with any of you who have written to me privately (and have done so with a number of you), and I will continue to do so AS TIME PERMITS.

5. However, I do not personally judge the present public discussion to be profitable. Therefore, I respectfully request that my name, Pastor Greg L. Price, be removed from the list until I indicate otherwise.

6. I renew my plea to us all to discontinue (at the present time) this ongoing discussion and debate.

With brotherly affection for you all,

Greg L. Price

From: Nick S.
To: Pastor Greg Price ; Bob S. ; Elder Lyndon Dohms ; Elder Greg Barrow ; [Church List]
Sent: Friday, March 17, 2006 5:01 PM
Subject: Remedy/A Renewed Pastoral Plea

Dear Greg/list,

It seems the latest response from Mr. S. may be an attempt to circumvent the process of our authoritative Presbyterian court. As I have clearly indicated in my last email, I intend to present my case to this ecclesiastical court (not a court of public opinion). A "case" will obviously include specific charges, and arguments reinforcing the same. The latest public display only highlights the necessity of this approach.

Thank you,
Nick Speleos

From: Brian Bernal
Cc: Bob S. ; Nick S.; Pastor Greg Price ; Elder Lyndon Dohms ; Elder Greg Barrow ; [Church List]
Sent: Friday, March 17, 2006 4:42 PM
Subject: Withdrawal from all unrequested public emails

Dear Brethren,

Going forward, we kindly request that you please remove us (that is, any of our email addresses) from any and all public or copied emails (whether originals, forwards, or responses) that are of the nature of debate or other unrelated information, unless specifically requested by us. We would also request that emails addressed directly to us be not copied to a distribution. This request does not pertain to any of the Elders of the RPNA session, or to the session’s announcements. We will, going forward, afford you the same courtesy, and I apologize if my having done otherwise to you in the past has inconvenienced you. It is just too easy to send off an email that in retrospect we wish we had not, though at the time we judge it a right thing to do (whether by the temporary lapse of good reason or the then undetected influences of passion). This problem is common in large corporations as well, and therefore restraint and time for reflection are the more to be used, if possible. I think that most of us have experienced this in using email at one time or another. I intend, therefore, that this shall be the only such public email proceeding any more from me in my present circumstances. Though I have tried even in this email to exercise calm reason and to eschew such unlawful passions, I am sure that faults can be found herein to complain against by anyone purposed to do so, though I am sincerely attempting to sincerely aim at these goals.

For clarification sake let me say that we are not denying the validity and usefulness of discussions among equals (our brotherly membership) unto edification. However, when the matter of discussion descends (as it has in our opinion) to a hardened public disputation that apparently involves the questioning of the validity of the nature, form, continuation, extent, or temporal continuity of the very authority (superiors) by which our unity and uniformity are regulated (i.e. the RPNA court), this we deem to be no longer edifying. We deem such debates, rather, to then be grievous, divisive, and as such it also makes us feel awkward toward one another in our interaction of fellowship -- not being sure where or how the legitimate or arbitrary and unwarranted lines of allegiances are being drawn, and what those allegiances, if any, are amongst us. Moreover, when the manner of public language in epithets or participles becomes unbrotherly, similar effects ensue. The former circumstance clearly calls, in and of itself, for an authoritative ruling to conclude the matter, and the latter may as well also call for the same. We as a membership have, however, no such authority vested in us to make such a conclusive ruling among or between our brethren. This governing right does not belong to us, nor is it a burden that should be presumptuously and unlawfully imposed upon us in any degree by pressure or exposure from any of our brethren to make us feel otherwise. Our private judgment (or a collective of such) does not extend to bind or make determination among our brethren, though we may lawfully testify to others from the scripture, from the corpus of our faithful testimony and the case law of faithful courts, and from the testimony of the faithful. The present circumstances of the debate have moved well beyond edification, in our opinion.

We as a membership are, being equals and brethren only, not in an authoritative office, nor do we collectively form an authoritative court so as to render binding judgments on such matters -- be it as a majority voice, sentiments of sympathy, or via some other mechanism. Therefore, if anyone is making arguments concerning such matters for a conclusion, or if anyone has formal charges against any, we would encourage them (the case and purported offenses being already manifestly public) to bring and present them and their case, together with their arguments, where alone they ought to be -- to the privy eyes of the RPNA court, and not to the "court of public opinion" or in the public realm at all. And then alone let the court declare its final rulings of the matter to the public members. For otherwise this will redound only unto shame, manifold divisions in allegiances amongst our membership, and to the confusion of persons and issues. Unless division in our membership or denigration of our testimony is the sinful end being aimed at, we cannot understand why the arguments of such a case would continue to be attempted to be presented to the public membership, or even worse, to those outside the pale of our membership.

We as a membership happily and faithfully do not, by constitution, countenance Independency. Therefore, given this reason alone, we should not argue such like cases (supposed as being manifest public offenses) to the court of public opinion, unless, it would seem, we are acting on the presuppositions of such a system that we nonetheless claim to reprobate. Let us, therefore, help one another so as not to act in accord with the governing principles of democracy, when we see such things happening in the presentation of arguments concerning such matters; rather, let us exhort one another to due and right Presbyterial processes to settle these contested issues so as to realize peace amongst us. These processes are there for the preservation of our unity -- let us with good judgment use them to that end.

Our attainments and uniformity are precious, so let us, brethren, so consider these more carefully unto their cherishing and preservation by all lawful and necessary means; even unto a greater unity in our fellowship one with another.

For these reasons, at the least, I reiterate our request as outlined in the first paragraph; and I also request this lest I and my household further countenance a manner of proceeding that seems assumptively democratic and divisive -- as it appears to be in the present circumstances and forum.


Sincerely,
Brian B.

PS Lest there be any questioning as to how we see the RPNA court:

With our standards we agree that even a legitimate court may err in its specific rulings (infallibility is no prerequisite for the legitimacy of a court). We are not presently aware of any such false rulings as proceeding from or maintained by the present RPNA court. We, therefore, own this present RPNA Court as lawful in its nature, form, instance, continuation, authoritative extent and continuous governing of our membership; and, because it alone is presently faithful in our historic and extraordinary circumstances, we maintain that all professing Christians in the earth (unless and until faithful courts may be had among them in their regions) are as well morally obliged to also so submit to her authority as a court, and even to her administrations (in so far as circumstances permit).

Farewell.


From: Bob S.
To: Nick S.
Cc: Elder Lyndon Dohms ; Elder Greg Barrow ; [Church List]
Sent: Saturday, March 18, 2006 11:14 AM
Subject: Re: Remedy/A Renewed Pastoral Plea or Who is an Independent?/Request for Removal from List

Greetings,
My apologies for all the bother. I asked to be taken off the brother's list, but that request was not honored. If I and others can remove those who have asked to be removed from this discussion list, I see no reason why the brother cannot comply re. his list.

Yet Pastor Price who also asked to be taken off this list, but to whom the following post is nevertheless addressed to below, said in his same post:

"I do not deny the right to discuss a matter made public in a public forum."

Consequently a few questions.
As in, who is an Independent?
Since that label has been thrown around a lot lately, it is a fairly relevant topic.
Though maybe not fairly applied.

But again, for the record, as per the post below, who's an Independent?


Dear Greg/list,

[Why is the list posted at all, if this is not an attempt to appeal to the "court of popular opinion" ?]

It seems the latest response from Mr. S. may be an attempt to circumvent the process of our authoritative Presbyterian court.

[But this post is not?]

As I have clearly indicated in my last email, I intend to present my case to this ecclesiastical court (not a court of public opinion).

[As you clearly and publically indicated in your last email to the list. Again, why is the list even emailed at all and your comments made public, if my public comments are automatically deemed a circumvention of our "authoritative presbyterian court," as well you intend to present your case to the ecclesiastical court, but "not a court of public opinion?" But don't tell me. Jm. 1:8 does not apply: " A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."]

A "case" will obviously include specific charges, and arguments reinforcing the same. The latest public display only highlights the necessity of this approach.

[But this is not a public display of brass chutzpah, hubris and obvious contradiction?

In other words, FWIW my translation of the above is, the brother wanted to go the public route at first. Fine. But maybe things got too hot for the brother. So now he wants to go the way of official ecclesiastical discipline. That's fine too, (I look forward to cross examine/rebuttal.) But note well, he goes by way of public announcement to list.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, Who is the fairest hypocrite of them all?
Why, it's Potiphar's wife (Gen. 39:17), who is really guilty of that which she so brazenly accuses others of.

Yeah, I know. I am sorry. I am speaking up on a public forum. Because I repudiate and reject the brother's independent attempt to impersonate an elder, if not rather usurp the elders's judicial function and put communicant brethren in good standing under oath and on affidavit in the same public forum the brother attempts this hijack of presbyterianism, I am tarred and feathered as an independent, a democrat, in the court of public opinion. Go figure.

But I will instruct counsel to plead Tamar's defense (Gen.38:26). - After all in any court worthy of the name besides the kangaroo venue, the defendant has a right to counsel, no?

That is to say, some people are more responsible than others for all this doodoo and stinkaroo, but I won't make any "public accusations" of who that would be. But as per a condemned man's last request, I would like to know just where were all the true blue genuine Presbyterians when all this happened?
And for the record, Cain's defense won't cut it.
"I know not, am I my brother's keeper?"]

For the second and last time, brother, don't bother keeping me in the loop, but remove my name from your mailing list, please."

Thank you very much.
cordially in Christ
Bob S

From: Jen B.
To: Bob S. ; Nick S.
Cc: Elder Lyndon Dohms ; Elder Greg Barrow ;[Church List]
Sent: Saturday, March 18, 2006 1:54 PM
Subject: Removal From Email Chain Request

Dear brethren,
I would request that you please remove my email address from this chain. It is apparent that little if anything has been settled by public discussion.
Our minister from the Lord has asked that it be furthered no longer publicly and I believe that his request be honored due to the fact that he is our pastor (his office) and God has granted him wisdom in scriptures as well as in practical life matters.
For the glory of Christ and the furthering of His kingdom,
Jennifer B. [nee Price]


From: Larry B.
To: Bob S. ; Nick S.
Cc: [Church List];Elder Greg Barrow ; Elder Lyndon Dohms
Sent: Sunday, March 19, 2006 5:55 PM
Subject: Remove from list

Please remove me from all future mailings on these matters. This includes email addresses:

larryb...@yahoo.com
lb.....@stny.rr.com

In Christ,

Larry B.

From: Greg Price
To: [Church List]
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2006 6:04 AM
Subject: Update On Our Progress

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We would like to provide you with a brief update. We are working to complete our report on matters related to the structure, administration, and government of our Church which will be submitted to you all. Due to the events that have occurred in our lives over the past three months, we ask for your patience as we seek to finish the report we have started. We hope to have it completed over the next several weeks.

Once you have received a copy of the report, we will set up a forum by which discussion of the report will be facilitated.

Your continued prayer for us at this time is so much appreciated.

In the bonds of Christ's love,

Greg L. Price
Greg Barrow
Lyndon Dohms

From: Benjamin H.
To: Bob S. ; Nick S.
Cc: Elder Lyndon Dohms ; Elder Greg Barrow ; [Church List]
Sent: Saturday, April 08, 2006 9:25 AM
Subject: Re: Remedy/A Renewed Pastoral Plea or Who is an Independent?/Request for Removal from List

Hi,

Has anyone kept a separate folder or a log of all of the emails that went back and forth in this thread? If so, would it be possible to organize them into one file/email and send it to me? I'd really like to have them all. Thanks,

-Ben

From: Willena
To: Benjamin H.
Cc: [Church List]
Sent: Saturday, April 08, 2006 9:49 AM
Subject: Re: Remedy/A Renewed Pastoral Plea or Who is an Independent?/Request for Removal from List

Hi Ben,

What I have is all the emails, starting with the initial announcement of the day of fasting and prayer, to today, all in one Word document. I'll send it to you privately, and to anyone else who requests it.

Willena

2/11/06, A Pastoral Plea and Promise of a Time in the Future to Address Concerns for Reformation

From: Greg Price
To: Pastor Greg Price
Cc: List
Sent: Saturday, February 11, 2006 11:01 AM 2006
Subject: A Pastoral Plea To All

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I urge us all to discontinue the public debate that
has ensued since the Announcement of the Day of Prayer
and Fasting. I see only further wedges and deeper
divisions following from further public debate.

I am not judging the motives of any who have
participated. Nor do I intend to minimize the
seriousness of any concern.

However, it should be apparent to us all that our
ongoing public debate is tearing us apart even though
we profess to adhere to the same Terms of Communion.

There will be a time to address all concerns in a way
that will promote our reformation. But for the
present, let us each one focus more upon our own sins,
weaknesses, and failures realizing the depth of our
offence against Christ and His infinite love for such
wayward children. Let us likewise spend much time in
humble and sincere prayer for one another (especially
those with whom we may disagree) calling upon the Lord
to reconcile us in love and in the truth. If our
mutual aim is to promote the Cause of Christ by means
of a covenanted reformation, let us not forget that we
are mutually bound in love and truth by covenant
obligation:

"and shall not suffer ourselves, directly or
indirectly, by whatsoever combination, persuasion, or
terror, to be divided and withdrawn from this blessed
union and conjunction" ("Solemn League And Covenant"
Article VI).

With brotherly affection for you all,

Greg L. Price


A reply to the above of 3/12/06 can be found here.



Friday, February 10, 2006

2/10/06, The Nature of the Solemn League & Covenant and its Renovation



[Extracted from some Comments and Answers to Questions about the Solemn League and Covenant and its Renovation from Greg Price, sent: Friday, February 10, 2006.

Question #1 was how can the specific public social covenant called the Solemn League and Covenant be reduced to its general moral principles and still be maintained that it is the same covenant? How does this reconcile with the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXII, Section IV, which states that an oath must be taken "in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation?" Isn’t this a change to the sense of the words of the Solemn League and Covenant?

Question #2 was how were two ministers able to renovate (change) the Solemn League and Covenant at Auchensaugh, Scotland in 1712, for all parties concerned, and their posterity as well?

Question #3 was how do we know the intention of the original parties who swore to the Solemn League and Covenant, and that their intention was that the Solemn League and Covenant would remain applicable throughout time and therefore self-renovating? Covenant renovation then becomes a mere formality and renovation is unnecessary in order to make changes to the Solemn League and Covenant.

Q.1
1. Argument From Scripture
a. The Abrahamic Covenant
b. The Mosaic Covenant
2. The Argument from Historical Testimony
a. The Church of Scotland (1638)
b. The Society People (March 3, 1689)
c. The Society People (July 24, 1712)
d. The Reformed Presbytery Of Scotland (1761)
e. The Reformed Presbytery Of Scotland (1801)
f. The Reformed Presbytery In The United States (1880)
Q.2
Q.3
Conclusion]

Questions: Is the Abrahamic Covenant essentially (as to the moral principles and matter) a Christian Covenant (as opposed to only a Hebrew Covenant)? Do we as Christians presently own and renew the Abrahamic Covenant even if the specific words and outward circumstances have been altered?

As we consider the words and circumstances of the covenant made with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 15:18-21; and Genesis 17:4-10, we see that there are specific words used by God and various outward circumstances that pertain to Abraham and to his seed. Among several circumstances mentioned, we see that God includes in the covenant the possession of the land of Canaan to Abraham's seed (Genesis 15:18) and circumcision as the outward sign of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 17:10). I would submit that both of these outward circumstances were altered for the spiritual posterity of Abraham (Hebrews 11:8-10,13-16; Colossians 2:10-12), and yet it was essentially the same covenant made with us (as posterity) as was made with Abraham (Galatians 3:6-9,14,29). For it is this moral truth that is the essence of the Abrahamic Covenant: "And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, TO BE A GOD UNTO THEE AND TO THY SEED AFTER THEE" Genesis 17:7). Regardless of the change in the outward form of the Abrahamic Covenant (whether in the specific words or in the outward circumstances), it is the matter (or moral principle) of the Abrahamic Covenant that makes it the same covenant throughout thousands of generations, languages, nations, cultures, and ages. For the same essential promise is repeated throughout biblical history in both altered words and different circumstances (Deuteronomy 29:12,13; Jeremiah 30:22; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Heb. 8:10; Rev. 21:2,3). God has Himself demonstrated for us in the covenant made with Abraham and his posterity that the specific words and outward circumstances might change, but if the moral principle remains the same it is essentially the same covenant that posterity owns and renews.

Interestingly, I found this statement on the official website for the Presbyterian Church In Ireland (under "Baptism"):
"Baptism, in the Presbyterian Church is firmly based on the Covenant, established in the Old Testament and renewed in the New Testament i.e. the relationship into which God enters with his people, expressed in the words 'I will be your God and you will be my people'."
I would submit that this is sound covenant theology: "established in the Old Testament and RENEWED in the New Testament" (emphases added). Yes, dear brother and sister, we RENEW the SAME ESSENTIAL covenant made with Abraham in our baptism (even though the same words used in the original covenant with Abraham may be altered and the same circumstances changed). It is the fact that this covenant made with Abraham had in view HIS POSTERITY and WAS MORAL IN NATURE that binds posterity to own it, to renew it, and to obey it. These circumstantial changes in the original covenant did not alter "the plain and common sense of the words." This simply is what we Presbyterians call the continuity of the covenant. It is what distinguishes us from the destructive error of Dispensationalists and Baptists.

b. The Mosaic Covenant

Questions: Is the Mosaic Covenant essentially (as to the moral principles and matter) a Christian Covenant (as opposed to only an Israelite Covenant)? Do we as Christians own and renew the Mosaic Covenant even if the specific words and outward circumstances have been altered?

The specific words of the original Mosaic Covenant are given in summary form in Exodus 20:1-17. The same essential covenant was renewed forty years later before entering into the land of promise in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. It is clear from Deuteronomy 5:1-4 that an entirely new covenant is not being sworn by God's people for the first time in Deuteronomy 5, but rather a renovating of the same covenant that was sworn forty years earlier in Exodus 20:
"And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire."

And yet when the Mosaic Covenant was renewed forty years later, we see certain changes made to the original covenant. Among a number of minor alterations in words and the order of words is the following significant addition in the covenant renewal:
"And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day" (Deuteronomy 5:15).

Is this essentially the same covenant in Deuteronomy 5 as that which is given in Exodus 20 even though the specific words are not the same and especially since something new was added to the original covenant? Absolutely. These circumstantial changes in the form of the covenant did not alter "the plain and common sense of the words" in the covenant renewal.

Furthermore, as Presbyterians we acknowledge that the Mosaic Covenant (The Preface and The Ten Commandments) is a Christian Covenant and an expression of the Covenant of Grace (like the Abrahamic Covenant). For the Mosaic Covenant first summarizes in the Preface God's free and gracious redemption of undeserving sinners (Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6) This is made clear in the words of the Larger Catechism (Question 101):

Q. What is the preface to the ten commandments:
A. The preface to the ten commandments is contained in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Wherein God manifesteth his sovereignty, as being JEHOVAH, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God; having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works: AND THAT HE IS A GOD IN COVENANT, as with Israel of old, SO WITH ALL HIS PEOPLE; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, SO HE DELIVERETH US FROM OUR SPIRITUAL THRALDOM; AND THAT THEREFORE WE ARE BOUND TO TAKE HIM FOR OUR GOD ALONE, AND TO KEEP ALL HIS COMMANDMENTS (emphases added).

The Preface that precedes the Ten Commandments makes the Mosaic Covenant a Covenant of Grace. The Ten Commandments without the Preface makes the Mosaic Covenant a Covenant of Works. Although the Ten Commandments express the moral law which binds all mankind due to their relationship to God as a sovereign and righteous Creator, the Ten Commandments also express to Christians the moral law in the hand of our Redeemer who calls them to love Him and obey Him because He has graciously redeemed them from their spiritual slavery to sin and Satan. Thus, we see various places in the New Testament that would call us to own the Mosaic Covenant (as to its moral principles) as a covenant that not only binds as human beings, but even further binds us as Christians (even though the specific words and outward circumstances have been altered): Matthew 5:17-19; Matthew 22:36-40; Romans 3:29-31; Romans 7:12,14; Galatians 5:14; James 1:25; James 2:10-12; 1 John 2:3-7.

Moreover, there is one example from the Ten Commandments that I would highlight wherein we see an alteration in specific words or outward circumstances in the New Testament and yet the Mosaic Covenant remains firm to all posterity because the moral principle remains the same.

The Fifth Commandment

"Honor thy father and thy mother: THAT THY DAYS MAY BE LONG UPON THE LAND WHICH THE LORD THY GOD GIVETH THEE" (Exodus 20:12, emphases added).

Now compare that with the alteration in specific words and outward circumstances found in Ephesians 6:2,3.

"Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH THEE, AND THOU MAYEST LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH" (emphases added).

Here we see that the Mosaic Covenant to which we are bound as Christians has been altered in words although the moral principle has remain steadfast. Not only have the words been altered, but the outward circumstances have likewise been changed. For the original promise in the Fifth Commandment was of long life in the land of promise (Israel) because it spoke immediately to Israelites. However, as the circumstances change to Gentile believers in Ephesians 6:2,3, the promise likewise changes: "that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the EARTH" (emphasis added). Now does the change in specific words or outward circumstances change the Mosaic Covenant itself to us as Christians or do we believe that it is essentially the same Mosaic Covenant and binding upon us as posterity even though the outward form has been altered? These very issues are again that which separate the Presbyterians from Dispensationalists.

I would likewise submit that the same thing may be said about certain circumstantial elements found in some of the other commandments: The Second Commandment, The Fourth Commandment, and the Tenth Commandment (upon which in the interest of time I will not further elaborate).

I would also submit that in the various covenant renovations subsequent to Moses (under Asa in 2 Chronicles 15, under Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 29-30, under Josiah in 2 Chronicles 34, under Ezra in Ezra 10, and under Nehemiah in Nehemiah 9-10), there are likewise differences in the specific words and outward circumstances of these covenant renewals. Yet, because the posterity were included in the original covenant and because the same moral principles were being followed by the posterity, they were not making a new covenant with the Lord, but were renewing the Mosaic Covenant which they were charged with having broken. Dear ones, the circumstantial changes made to the outward form of the Mosaic Covenant did not alter the essence or substance of that covenant as applied to the physical and spiritual posterity who were bound by it. It was essentially the same covenant before and after the circumstantial alterations were made.

2. Argument From Historical Testimony

a. The Church Of Scotland (1638)

When the Kingdom of Scotland (in all of its classes) swore with uplifted hands the National Covenant (or Confession Of Faith), it was not making a new covenant, but rather was renewing a previous National Covenant (or Confession Of Faith) made in 1581. This is clear, first of all, from the superscription to the National Covenant (1638):

"Subscribed AT FIRST by the King's Majesty and his Household, in the year 1580; THEREAFTER by persons of all ranks in the year 1581, by Ordinance of the Lords of secret council and Acts of General Assembly; SUBSCRIBED AGAIN by all sorts of persons in the year 1590, by a new ordinance of council, at the desire of the General Assembly."

It is also noted that near the end of the National Covenant (the third from the last paragraph), it is acknowledged that those swearing this covenant "have RENEWED their Covenant with God." Thus, the faithful Church of Scotland clearly states that this National Covenant (1638) was a covenant renovation of a previous National Covenant rather than an altogether new covenant.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland confirms again that the National Covenant (or Confession Of Faith) sworn in February 1638 was a covenant renewal in the following Acts:
"Thirdly, that all his Majesties Subjects both Ecclesiastical and civil, being without consent of the Kirk, commanded to receive with reverence a new book of common prayer, as the only forme to be used in God's public worship, and the contraveeners to be condignly censured, and punished, and after many supplications and complaints, knowing no other way for the preservation of Religion; were move by God, and drawne by necessitie, TO RENW THE NATIONALL COVENANT OF THIS KIRK, AND KINGDOM, WHICH THE LORD SINCE HATH BLESSED FROM HEAVEN, AND TO SUBSCRIBE THE CONFESSION OF FAITH, WITH AN APPLICATION THEREOF ABJURING THE GREAT EVILS WHEREWITH THEY WERE NOW PRESSED, AND SUSPENDING THE PRACTICE OF ALL NOVATIONS FORMERLY INTRODUCED, TILL THEY SHOULD BEE TRIED IN A FREE GENERALL ASSEMBLY" (_Records Of The Kirk Of Scotland_, "Act of the Assembly at Glasgow, Sess. 16. December 8, 1638", ed. Alexander Peterkin, 1838, emphases added and original spelling retained).

"The Assembly considering that for the purging and preservation of religion, for the Kings Majesties honour, and for the publick peace of the Kirk and Kingdome, THE RENEWING OF THAT NATIONALL COVENANT AND OATH OF THIS KIRK AND KINGDOME, IN FEBRUARY 1638, WAS MOST NECESSARE" (Records Of The Kirk Of Scotland_, "Act. Sess. 26. December 20 [1638]", ed. Alexander Peterkin, 1838, emphases added and original spelling retained).

Not only is the National Covenant (or Confession of Faith) clearly said to have been RENEWED in February 1638, but it is also noted that there was added to the original National Covenant (or Confession of Faith) an "APPLICATION" to the needs of the present time in regard to certain great evils which faced them.

Furthermore, the "Reverend Ministers of the Gospel" who met at Edinburgh in February 1638 sent to everyone of the Lords of Council an exhortation "inviting them to subscribe the Covenant." Included in this exhortation are the following words which again confirm the fact that what occurred in February 1638 was a covenant renewal not the taking of a new covenant:
"May it please your Lordship, We, the ministers of the Gospel, convened at this so necessary a time do find ourselves bound to represent, as unto all, so in special unto your lordship what comfortable experience we have of the wonderful favour of God, UPON THE RENEWING OF THE CONFESSION OF FAITH AND COVENANT" (_The Covenants And The Covenanters_, "The National Covenant: Exhortation To The Lords Of Council", ed. James Kerr, 1895, p.52, emphases added and original spelling retained).
Finally, in a sermon preached in March 1638 by Alexander Henderson (who played a most significant role in both the National Covenant of 1638 and in the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643), he not only states that the National Covenant (or Confession of Faith) of 1638 was a covenant renewal of the original National Covenant (1581), but also makes clear that the ADDITIONS made in the covenant renewal were lawful and warranted.
"Because it God's cause ye have in hand, and it is no new cause to us. It is almost sixty years old; it is no less since this same Confession of Faith was first subscribed and sworn to. And it has been still in use yearly to be subscribed and sworn to in some parts, among some in this land, to this day. And I think it would have been so in all parts of the land if men had dreamed of what was coming upon us. WHATEVER IS ADDED TO IT AT THIS TIME, IT IS NOTHING BUT ANE INTERPRETATION OF THE FORMER PART; AND IF MEN WILL BE WILLING TO SEE THE RIGHT, THEY MAY SEE THAT THERE IS NOTHING IN THE LATTREPART BUT THAT WHILK[WHICH] MAY BE DEDUCED FROM THE FIRST. AND IN MAKING OF A COVENANT WE ARE NOT BOUND TO KEEP ONLY THESE SAME WORDS THAT WERE BEFORE, BUT WE MUST RENEW IT; AND IN THE RENEWING THEREOF WE MUST APPLY IT TO THE PRESENT TIME WHEN IT IS RENEWED, AS WE HAVE DONE, RENEWED IT AGAINST THE PRESENT ILLS" (_The Covenants And The Covenanters_, "The National Covenant: "Sermon At St. Andrews", ed. James Kerr, 1895, pp.65,66, emphases added and original spelling retained).
From the historical citations above, it is beyond dispute that the faithful Church of Scotland and its Ministers believed they were RENEWING a previous covenant in February 1638 and that it was lawful and expedient to add to the original covenant applications to their present circumstances. In so doing, they believed it was essentially the same covenant before and after the circumstantial alterations were made.

How was the National Covenant (1638) renewed? Was it precisely the same covenant in form to the previous covenant? Let us see.

The National Covenant or Confession of Faith (1638) is comprised of three parts: (1) The original National Covenant or Confession of Faith (1581); (2) The legal warrants specifying the Acts of Parliament suppressing popery and establishing the Reformed Religion in Scotland; and (3) The bond adapting it to the present circumstances wherein popish and prelatical innovations were prohibited from being introduced into Scotland until they be tried and allowed by the General Assembly and Parliament. In other words, there are two new parts to this covenant renewal that were not present in the original covenant. Did the faithful Church of Scotland err? I do not believe so. They were simply following the biblical pattern presented above. Did the faithful Church of Scotland change "the plain and common sense of the words" of the original covenant or did they further clarify the moral obligations found in the original covenant now applying them to new circumstances that had arisen since the original covenant wassworn? Clearly, they were clarifying not altering the moral obligations to posterity. Thus, we see that that Church of Scotland and Parliament of Scotland did not view circumstantial alterations to the outward form of a solemn covenant as changing the matter (or moral obligations) of a covenant as applied to succeeding generations. Nor did they believe it was not essentially the same covenant afterward the circumstantial changes were made that it was before the circumstantial changes were made. For the intrinsic obligation of a covenant continues to bind succeeding generations as long as posterity are included in the original covenant and as long as the matter of the original covenant is agreeable to the moral Law of God.

b. The Society People (March 3, 1689)

The National Covenant (1638) and the Solemn League And Covenant (1643) were renewed by the Society People (the faithful descendants of the Church of Scotland) March 3, 1689 (as recounted in _Faithful Contendings Displayed_ by Michael Shields). The following is stated by Mr. Michael Shields (who was in attendance) in this record of events that occurred at this covenant renewal:

"This being done, Mr. Lining read before the congregation the Acknowledgment of Sins, and Engagement to Duties, and next the Covenants National and Solemn League, which were fairly written at length, WITH SOME ALTERATIONS WHICH THE CIRCUMSTANCE OF THE TIMES OF NECESSITY CALLED FOR, SUCH AS, WHEN THEY MENTION THE KING, IN PLACE THEREOF IS PUT THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE" (emphases added).

Here again a circumstance is altered by the Society People without altering the moral obligations in these faithful covenants. And yet they declared that they were renewing the National Covenant and the Solemn League And Covenant. Notice also that it is said that these "alterations which the circumstance of the times" called for were "of necessity." Certainly, they understood they were renewing these solemn covenants "in the plain and common sense of the words" even though there were some circumstantial alterations made.

c. The Society People (July 24, 1712)

Again the Society People (under the inspection of Mr. John McMillan) renewed the faithful covenants (National and Solemn League) of their forefathers (which covenant renewal is called _The Auchensaugh Renovation_, 1712). In the following extended citation, it is evident that the covenants were not materially altered as to moral duties, but only as to certain circumstances which necessarily must be altered since there was no lawful King to whom they could swear allegiance.
"Upon these and the like weighty considerations we resolved to set about this solemn and tremendous duty; and being assured that we have no sufficiency in ourselves for any such undertaking, after frequently imploring the Lord for light and direction, strength and assistance, and seeking for ourselves a right way in the performance of the duty, upon days of humiliation, both in our private societies and publicly in the fields, we did condescend upon the following acknowledgment of sins, the more to enable us to remember our own and the land's breaches of covenant, in our solemn public confession thereof; and did draw up the following engagement to duties, NOT TO SUPERADD ANY NEW OATH AND OBLIGATION TO THE COVENANTS, BUT ONLY TO ADJUST THE ARTICLES OF THE COVENANT TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE TIME, AND TO EXPLAIN IN WHAT SENSE THE COVENANT BINDS US AGAINST THE PRESENT EVILS THAT ARE NOW PREVALENT IN THE LAND, AND TO THE CONTRARY DUTIES. AS FOR THE COVENANTS THEMSELVES, WE MADE NO MATERIAL ALTERATION IN THEM,as judging it a work more proper for an assembly of divines, or representative body of church and state (had they been upright and faithful in this cause) than for us, who, as we are called by others in contempt, must own ourselves in truth to be, but a handful of weak and most illiterate people, and but as babes in comparison of the first framers of our covenants; ONLY THAT WE MIGHT MAKE THEM IN SOME MEASURE ACCOMODABLE TO THE PRESENT LAMENTABLE CIRCUMSTANCES, whereinto we are involved by our iniquities, WE HAVE ANNOTATED SOME FEW NECESSARY ALTERATIONS UPON THE MARGIN, WHEREIN THE JUDICIOUS WILL FIND THAT WE HAVE IN NOTHING RECEDED FROM THE SCOPE AND SUBSTANCE OF THE COVENANT, BUT ONLY IN THE PHRASE; FOR INSTANCE, WHERE THE COVENANT BINDS TO THE DEFENSE AND PRESERVATION OF THE KING'S MAJESTY AND GOVERNMENT, IN REGARD WE HAVE NO KING NOR SUPREME CIVIL MAGISTRATE SO QUALIFIED, AS GOD'S LAW AND THE LAUDABLE LAWS OF THIS REALM REQUIRE, TO WHOM WE MIGHT, FOR CONSCIENCE SAKE, SUBJECT OURSELVES, IN A CONSISTENCY ITH OUR DEFENDING THE TRUE REFORMED RELIGION IN ALL ITS PARTS AND PRIVILEGES: THEREFORE, WE CAN ONLY BIND OURSELVES TO DEFEND AND PRESERVE THE HONOR, AUTHORITY AND MAJESTY OF LAWFUL SOVEREIGNS, OR SUPREME MAGISTRATES, HAVING THE QUALIFICATIONS AFORESAID, WHEN GOD SHALL BE PLEASED TO GRANT THEM TO US, WHERE NO JUDICIOUS PERSON WILL SAY THAT THERE IS ANY SUBSTANTIAL ALTERATION AS TO THE MATTER OF THE DUTY, BUT ONLY AS TO THE OBJECT TO WHOM THE DUTY IS TO BE PERFORMED; THERE BEING NONE SUCH IN BEING AS CAN JUSTLY CLAIM, OR TO WHOM WE MAY WITH A GOOD CONSCIENCE PAY SUCH AN ALLEGIANCE" (_The Auchensaugh Renovation_, pp.14,15, emphases added).

Here the Society People are following the same principles for covenant renewal as presented in Scripture and in the faithful Church of Scotland. They made no material alterations (as to the moral duties), but only circumstantial alterations (as to the outward form of the covenants). They understood they were renewing these solemn covenants "in the plain and common sense of the words" even though there were some circumstantial alterations made. They also understood the covenants were essentially the same before and after the circumstantial changes were made.

d. The Reformed Presbytery Of Scotland (1761)

This Presbytery is the faithful posterity of the Church of Scotland in its most pure times. The Reformed Presbytery was constituted in 1743 and in 1761 there was issued a judicial testimony entitled, _Act, Declaration, And Testimony_. Under "Part III", the Presbytery testifies against various principles and judicial actions of the Associate Presbyterian Church (or Seceders). There are some helpful distinctions made in this section with regard to covenant renewal which explain the actions of the Church of Scotland in its covenant renewal of the National Covenant (1638).

"Hereby they [the Seceders] have cast a most injurious calumny and reproach upon our honored reformers, and in their pretending to imitate their practice, in renovation of the covenants, are guilty of a most dreadful and deceitful imposition on the generation; for though our reformers did RENEW THE COVENANTS WITH A NEW BOND, and perhaps very seldom swear them WITHOUT SOME ADDITIONS, yet they never went back from any part of reformation, espoused and sworn to IN THE RENOVATIONS THAT WERE BEFORE THEM, under a pretense, that such points of reformation formerly attained, were unsuitable, OR NOT ADAPTED TO THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES, as Seceders have done. On the contrary, our reformers, IN ALL THE DIFFERENT RENOVATIONS OF THE COVENANTS, NOT ONLY INCLUDED ALL THAT WAS FORMERLY ATTAINED TO, BINDING THEMSELVES IN STRICT ADHERENCE TO ALL THE ARTICLES PRIORLY IN THE OATH AND COVENANT OF GOD (at the same time solemnly acknowledging all former breaches thereof; and obliging themselves, in the strength of grace to the performnce of the contrary, and consequential duties), BUT ALSO, STILL WENT FORWARD IN EXPLAINING AND MORE EXPLICITLY APPLYING THE COVENANTS AGAINST THE SINS OF THE DAY, AND MORE EXPRESSLY BINDING THEMSELVES TO THE OPPOSITE DUTIES, AS IS CLEAR FROM THE BOND WHEREWITH OUR REFORMERS RENEWED THE COVENANTS 1638, AND THE SOLEMN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF SIN, AND ENGAGEMENT TO DUTIES 1648" (pp.148,149, emphases added).
The Reformed Presbytery of Scotland judicially ruled that the Church of Scotland was acting in all faithfulness to the Word of God when it renewed The National Covenant Of Scotland by adapting it to the circumstances in 1638 and by adding a new bond further strengthening their moral duties that were already pressed upon them in the National Covenant of 1581. Was The National Covenant (1638) essentially the same covenant as that of National Covenant (1581)? According to this faithful Church Court it was. In so doing, they agreed with the Church of Scotland.

e. The Reformed Presbytery Of Scotland (1801)

A document entitled, _An Explanation And Defense Of The Terms Of Communion_ was issued by the faithful Reformed Presbytery Of Scotland in which each of the Six Terms Of Communion are reasonably presented and biblically argued. Under "Article IV" is discussed not only The National Covenant and The Solemn League And Covenant, but also the renewing of those covenants at Auchensaugh, Scotland, 1712. The Reformed Presbytery of Scotland judicially approved (by issuing this document) the covenant renewal at Auchensaugh to be a faithful covenant renewal. In fact, the following is stated in this regard:
"Those who approve of the original covenants themselves, cannot consistently deny the propriety of the Auchensaugh renovation, which is also mentioned in this article of our Terms; seeing it must be obvious to every one who hath properly perused that deed THAT THERE IS NOT THE LEAST SUBSTANTIAL ALTERATION. AFTER OMITTING, THE DESIGNATIONS, NOBLEMEN, GENTLEMEN, &c. WHICH COULD NOT APPLY TO THEM, BEING ONLY A FEW PRIVATE CHRISTIANS, WITH ONE MINISTER AND A PROBATIONER, AND AFTER ADDING A FEW MARGINAL NOTES, ACCOMMODATING THEM TO THE REAL CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THE SWEARERS THEN WERE, THE OLD COVENANTS REMAIN AS THEY WERE. There are, indeed, accompanying that renovation, an enlarged Acknowledgment of sins, and an Engagement to duties. These also, were necessary, in order, to accommodate the solemn transaction unto the existing circumstances of the nation in which the swearers lived, as well as unto their own condition" (p.186, emphases added).
This provides further testimony that though certain circumstances might alter the outward form of a covenant, the covenant remains the same throughout the generations if the duties and principles are agreeable to the moral Law of God. To adapt a faithful covenant to the present circumstances in which the posterity find themselves is not only possible, it is necessary (whether it is done explicitly or implicitly, whether it is done in the covenant itself or in the acknowledgment of sins and engagement to duties as was done in the renewal of the Solemn League and Covenant in 1648 in Scotland).

f. The Reformed Presbytery In The United States (1880)

This faithful Presbytery followed in the footsteps of its spiritual forefathers in renewing The National Covenant and The Solemn League And Covenant according to the pattern given by the Church of Scotland, the Society People, and the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland (and ultimately according to the pattern found in the Scripture itself). These are the words found in the covenant renewal by the Reformed Presbytery in the United States in 1880:
"The federal deeds which we propose to RENEW are, of course, those of our witnessing fathers, THE NATIONAL COVENANT OF SCOTLAND AND THE SOLEMN LEAGUE OF SCOTLAND, ENGLAND AND IRELAND, ADAPTING THESE PUBLIC DEEDS TO OUR TIME, and comprising all preceding and subsequent attainments, AS WAS DONE BY OUR PREDECESSORS AT AUCHENSAUGH.. After these examples, which we judge "written for our learning," WE RENEW OUR OWN AND OUR ANCESTORS' COVENANTS" (pp.131,132).

. . . It seems beyond question that both Scripture and Historical Testimony warrant the alteration of the form (as to circumstantials) of a previous covenant that binds posterity in succeeding generations, but not of the matter (as to moral principles) of that previous covenant. If the moral principles of a covenant are the same from the fathers and to the posterity, then the covenant is the same (even though specific words and outward circumstances should necessarily be altered in order to apply the same moral principles of the previous covenant to different sins and errors)."

Question #2 was: ‘How are two ministers able to renovate (change) the Solemn League and Covenant at Auchensaugh, Scotland in 1712, for all parties concerned, and their posterity as well?’

". . . (T)he Society People renovated the Covenants March 3, 1689. In that covenant renovation there were three Pastors (Shields, Boyd, and Lining), no doubt a number of Elders, and all of the members of the various Societies who were able to attend. The Society People again renovated the Covenants in 1712 with one Pastor (McMillan) and one Licentiate (McNeil), no doubt a number of Elders, and all the members of the various Societies who were able to attend. It is important to note that these proceedings at this covenant renewal at Auchensaugh were judicially approved to have been faithfully conducted by the following faithful Church Courts who all at one time included the Auchensaugh Renovation as a Term of Communion: The Reformed Presbytery of Scotland, The Reformed Presbytery of Ireland, The Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, and the Reformed Presbytery in the United States. The Society People at Auchensaugh, Scotland (1712) did not renovate the covenant for anyone but themselves. However, they did set a godly and faithful example for all posterity to follow in renovating the Covenants of their forefathers by which all posterity is bound."

Question #3 was to the effect: ‘How do we know the intention of the original parties who swore to the Solemn League and Covenant, and that their intention was that the Solemn League and Covenant would remain applicable throughout time? The implication of this assertion is that the Solemn League and Covenant is self-renovating. Thus, the position would be that covenant renovation is a mere formality, and is not necessary in order to make changes to the Solemn League and Covenant.

“. . .(W)e do know the intention of the original parties who swore the Solemn League and Covenant, not because we have made unsubstantiated assumptions, but because the original parties have told us themselves that the Solemn League and Covenant was a perpetual covenant and that no authority on earth or no amount of backsliding in Church or State can absolve posterity of the obligations found in the Solemn League and Covenant.

"Both nations have covenanted with God, and each of them with another, in things most lawful and necessary for the preservation and good of both, WITHOUT ANY LIMITATION OF TIME. And therefore we and our posterity are obliged before God unto the observation thereof , AS LONG AS THE SUN AND MOON SHALL ENDURE" (_The Records of the Church of Scotland_, "A Solemn and Seasonable Warning to all Estates and Degrees of Persons throughout the Land; by the Commissioners of the General Assembly, December 17, 1646, pp. 489, 490, emphases added).

"Although there were none in the one kingdom who did adhere to the Covenant, yet thereby were not the other kingdom nor any person in either of them absolved from the bond thereof, since in it we have not only sworn by the Lord, but also covenanted with Him. It is not the failing of one or more that can absolve the other from their duty or tie to Him: Besides, the duties therein contained, being in themselves lawful, and the grounds of our tie thereunto moral, though the other do forget their duty, yet doth not their defection free us from that obligation which lies upon us by the Covenant in our places and stations. And the Covenant being intended and entered into by these kingdoms, as one of the best means of steadfastness, for guarding against declining times: It were strange to say that the backsliding of any should absolve others from the tie thereof, especially seeing our engagement therein is not only National, but also personal, everyone with uplifted hands swearing by himself, as it is evident by the tenor of the Covenant. From these and other important reasons, it may appear that all these kingdoms joining together to abolish that oath by law, yet could they not dispense therewith; Much less can any one of them, or any part in either of them do the same. The dispensing with oaths have hitherto been abhorred as Antichristian, and never practiced and avowed by any but by that man of sin; therefore those who take the same upon them, as they join with him in his sin, so must they expect to partake of his plagues" (_The Acts of the General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland_, August 6, 1649, p.474-475).
"Albeit the League and Covenant be despised by the prevailing party in England, and the work of Uniformity through retardments and obstructions that have come in the way, be almost forgotten in these kingdoms, YET THE OBLIGATION OF THAT COVENANT IS PERPETUAL, and all the duties contained therein are constantly to be minded, and prosecuted by every one of us and our posterity" (_The Acts of the General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland_, July 27, Session 27, 1649, p.460, emphases added).
"The honourable house of Parliament, the Assembly of Divines, the renowned city of London, and multitudes of other persons of all ranks and quality in this nation, and the whole body of Scotland, have all sworn it [The Solemn League and Covenant], rejoicing at the oath so graciously seconded from heaven. God will, doubtless, stand by all those, who with singleness of heart shall now enter into an EVERLASTING COVENANT WITH THE LORD" ("An Exhortation To Take The Covenant", General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, February, 1644, cited in _The Absurdity and Perfidy of All Authoritative Toleration_ , p.161, John Brown of Haddington, 1803, emphases added and original spelling retained).

"Go on in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, against all opposition, without fear of whatsoever dangers, to purge the house of the Lord, to repair the breaches thereof, to set up all his ordinances in their full beauty and perfection, to the uttermost of your power, according to the pattern of the Word of God and zeal of the best Reformed Kirks. And let these two kingdoms be knit together as one man in maintaining and promoting the truth of the Gospel. LET US ENTER IN A PERPETUAL COVENANT FOR OURSELVES AND OUR POSTERITY to endeavour that all things may be done in the House of God according to his own will, and let the Lord do with us as seems good in his eyes" (_The Acts of the General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland_, "The Assemblies Answer to the Reverend their Brethren, Ministers in the Church of England", 1643, p. 205, emphases added and original spelling retained).

No, the Solemn League and Covenant is not "self-renovating." It is perpetual in its intrinsic and moral obligation to all posterity. However, it is also necessary for posterity to renovate the Solemn League and Covenant (in applying those same moral principles to the new sins and errors of the time) on those extraordinary occasions when God providentially calls His people to do so. This is confirmed in the words of The Reformed Presbytery In The United States:
"Again, when we renew our covenant, we do not mean that the obligation has ceased, or that we can increase its obligation for this is infinite and permanent; we intend by our personal act to deepen and render more durable our sense of pre-existing obligation. This is indeed the immediate object of all renovations, by Moses, Joshua, kings of Judah and Nehemiah" (_The Renovation Of The Public Federal Deeds_ , The Reformed Presbytery In The United States., p.128).
. . . .

My Concluding Thoughts On The Solemn League And Covenant.

I would submit that SINCE the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant (being historical expressions of the Covenant of Grace made between God and undeserving sinners and their posterity on the basis of the righteousness of Christ alone) can be altered in specific words and in outward circumstances (as is evident in the changes that occurred in these covenants after the death and resurrection of Christ) and yet remain essentially and morally the same covenants afterwards as they were before the changes were made, THEN a social covenant which flows from the Covenant of Grace (like the Solemn League and Covenant) and which is made between God and undeserving sinners and their posterity may likewise be altered in specific words and in outward circumstances and yet remain essentially and morally the same covenant afterwards as it was before the changes were made. For if the Covenant of Grace (the Fount of all blessings to God's people) may be altered in specific words and outward circumstances and yet remain essentially and morally the same covenant, then social covenants (the streams that flow from the Fount) may also be altered in specific words and outward circumstances and yet remain essentially and morally the same covenant. If the GREATER, then the LESSER. As long as the changes in the covenant renewal do not ignore, neglect, minimize, or destroy the previous moral obligations and truths, but rather strengthen them and further apply them to new sins and errors of the time, there is no material and moral change to that covenant--only a formal and circumstantial change. In such cases, the covenant after the circumstantial alterations is essentially the same as the covenant before the circumstantial alterations. This I understand to be the position of Scripture and of the Church of Scotland and of its faithful posterity in their purest times (namely, The Society People, The Reformed Presbytery Of Scotland, The Reformed Presbytery Of Ireland, The Reformed Presbyterian Church Of North America, and the Refored Presbytery In The United States).

2/10/06, Others' Knowledge of SPG's Concerns/Questions

[As another party from PG pointed out at the time, it was only after this post, that TE Price requested people to cease and desist for the time being. Just a coincidence or more than that?]

From: CG
To: NS; MG
Cc: Pastor Greg Price ; Elder Lyndon Dohms ; Society of Prince George (RPNA) [Rest of Church List]
Sent: Friday, February 10, 2006 3:20 PM
Subject: Re: What was attempted: A reconciling path


Dear Nick,

For reasons that are a mystery to me, the initial post from the PGS inquiring about the fast has provoked some responses from you that are rather obscure in their meaning upon initial reading and which require a sharp mind and several cups of coffee in the early morning in order to be able to understand them. Additionally, you chose to start addressing Mike as an individual as opposed to the entire society. In case there is a misunderstanding, I would like to clear a few things up.

First of all, all nine communicant members of the PGS consulted together on the email that was sent to the elders. We sent it publicly because we felt we were not the only ones who had these questions and thought that it would save the elders time and answer everyone's questions than if we sent the questions privately. All could benefit from instruction. As Mike said, this should not have been controversial. And Mike is not leading us about by the nose.

The elders are also aware that for almost two years now we, as a society, have had some questions and concerns before them, some of which have to do with the nature of our ecclesiastical government. You knew this in part I know, from a conversation you and I had shortly after the elders were here in Prince George the summer of 2004, when you told me some of the things you had been told about us by one of the elders [emphasis added]. We were served the Lord's Supper that weekend, and those of us who attended again in Edmonton last summer. Combining this with the fact that we were taking direction from the elders concerning the recent fast and had asked questions that would make it more profitable for us should make it self evident that we have NOT cast off their governance nor are we out of fellowship with our brethren in the societies, nor are we seeking to be. These requests for affidavits are downright silly imho, and display a grievous suspicion of mind towards all the members of the PGS on your part, which surprises me greatly, considering the affection, love, and respect we have tried to show them on many occasions. I would hope that you would know this of me personally.

Secondly, what we as a society in Prince George have been doing, has been done without consulting outside our society. If Mr. S and the Everson society have concerns that appear to be similar in nature, this is not because we had been consulting back and forth or seeking to influence one another. We did do much to encourage one another regarding common concerns when Presbytery dissolved summer 2003, and since, even as we communicated to the elders, in our efforts to encourage one another during a trying time. Both of our societies had Pastor Edwards scheduled for visits in the weeks following the dissolving. To my knowledge, this is the first time that anyone from our society has acknowledged publicly that we have been corresponding with the elders on questions and concerns that have been raised by us. What Mr. S related to us last month in their record of society concerns from over a year ago, was the first time any of us in Prince George knew what they in Everson had asked. Though they may speculate what we have asked, they have not seen nor been invited to consult with us, as we have sought to maintain confidentiality as best we can. [emphasis added] We did this because we are seeking to be orderly and apply mature judgement in our actions for love of the elders AND the brethren as well as obey fifth and ninth commandment duties.

Do we own Bob S's opinions? We own Bob S didn't you know?! BWA HA HA! We keep him in a closet and feed him Samuel Adams when he is good, and Coors Lite when he is bad. He has been drinking a lot of Coors Lite lately. [ducks and runs]

Seriously though, Bob raised some interesting points that I am sure raised questions in the minds of not a few, me included. So tell me Nick, in light of the official evidence that we have from the elders' own correspondence, what do you believe concerning how our socieities are governed? Was the presbytery dissolved? Has it been re-formed? Though we have been commended for our willingness to hear their biblical and historical reasoning and have been promised a written and comprehensive answer as their highest priority (excluding emergencies and other necessary familial and ministerial duties) we have yet to receive these. It may be that you are privy to these answers where we are not. You appear to have some ideas on this based on your questions. I, for one, would be happy to hear what they are.

Yours and His,
Cheryl