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not suffer ourselves, directly or indirectly, by whatsoever combination, persuasion, or terror, to be divided and withdrawn from this blessed union and conjunction" ("Solemn League And Covenant" Article VI).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

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