From: Bob S.
Date: Fri Nov 17, 2006 :12 am
Subject: Re: Welcome Wayward Covenanters/Read it Yourself If You Think I am Lying
[Abridged version on CRC list, full post below.]
Dear Gerry and Tom,
Appreciate you speaking up on all the current unpleasantness in the RPNA(GM).
> Private actions warrant private discussions: these are public acts.
> This is a public act. Discussing this public act cannot
> be condemned as "airing dirty laundry" or discussing "in-house"
> matters. Public acts, public discussions about those acts.
> "But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned,
> being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us
> out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us
> out." -- Acts 16:37.
Excellent choice of Scripture with the last. If the Session of the RPNA(GM) excommunications are both public and just, they ought to be able to bear public examination, as well the oath and the Position Paper on Sessional Authority which led to them. Those in favor of them ought not to fear the light (Eph. 5:13). Let the whole story be told and justice vindicated.
But not now and not here? Where then? There was no orderly hearing in the RPNA(GM) and those complaining now, did not say boo then. If we don’t like that or can’t handle that, then we need to re-examine some of those things that put us in to the spotlight in the first place.
Just in case we don’t know, for the record it is one thing to excommunicate somebody from your own little private club and neck of the woods. It is entirely another to kick somebody out of the visible Church into the abyss and, barring repentance, a free fall that is supposed to end up in the lake of fire. In other words, if we can't run with the footmen, how will we keep up with horses (Jer.12:5)?
Thanks also Gerry, for posting some of the official documents - the Position Paper on Sessional Authority of June 4, ‘03, the Session’s Response of Oct. 28th and the excommunication notice of Nov. 4th.
> To the end that public discussion might be done according to
> knowledge, and so people's mouths can be closed about my reading
> altered/filtered/adulterated materials, I will be posting, in this
> groups file section, the RPNA (gm)'s own document defending their
> extraordinary "session" which they believe is ok to call a presbytery,
> and which they admit is not a general meeting though they still shall
> call themselves a general meeting. . .
> The Covenanted Reformation Club's file section can be seen here:
While they should be enough for starters, there is more of course/unfortunately - the Oct. 4th oath alone or with the accompanying letter and a second/further Response to Recent Objections of Nov. 4th which immediately preceded the announcements of excommunication.
> It is clearly a duty to publicly protest unlawful public acts and
> say, "not in our name." Not only are these acts not a Reformed or
> Presbyterian, they are not even biblical Christianity: these are
> further acts of tyranny and oppression done under color of law.
> They are to be opposed.
Exactly, but sad to say, one big reason for objections to publicly protesting these acts from what I can tell, seems to be that many(?) in the RPNA(GM) don't have much of a background in presbyterianism and the reformed faith. Rather all they might seem to know on both counts is tied up in their acquaintance with the three elders of the former RPNA. Consequently to question, dissent or disagree with these brethren, is to be automatically and categorically irreverent, disrespectful and rebellious of all lawful authority and to irrevocably damn one before any real discussion can even begin.
That and they mistake compromise and not rocking the boat for genuine piety, love and holiness. But again, if we want to assume the privilege, authority and power to excommunicate people from the visible Church and hand them over to Satan, it behooves one to take care just how they exercise that option. Granted, those who truly deserve to be excommunicated will stop at nothing to justify themselves, which is how I am sure some will take my comments. But so likewise will those who administer excommunications sinfully or improperly in seeking to cover up and suppress the truth of the matter. Eph. 5:13 is again to the point: “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.”
Yet where have we heard this before regarding government? That RP’s deny or refuse to own just any civil magistrate is enough said and conclusive proof that they deny all civil magistrates, if not the ordinance itself and are obviously incorrigible Anabaptists and rebels at heart? So too at least the opinion of the Session itself. Those that balk at the oath, the PPSA and the authority of the “Session” automatically and categorically oppose all lawful ecclesiastical authority. Hence the “self excommunications” post haste. But this really is to take too much to oneself (Num. 16:3). It is a non sequitur. It does not follow. To oppose or question the authority of one court is not to oppose all courts.
And let’s not delude ourselves either. Self excommunications are just an excuse to avoid following due process and good order. Or was due process followed in the RPNA(GM)? But the buck stops somewhere and it generally stops with those in charge. At least in the real world. And in the real reformed presbyterian world. Are we really there yet? In the RPNA?
> It appears from the public record that the leadership sincerely
> believe they are doing the right thing, but I believe they are in
> serious error and doing an incredible amount of damage, even if
Exactly and unfortunately, all too true.
Again, those who will not swear an oath to recognize the authority of the Session of the RPNA(GM) and its judicial acts, particularly the recent Position Paper on Sessional Authority of June 4, 06 which is the Session' s justification for its existence, are essentially and presumptuously considered by the elders of the former RPNA to be rebellious and disobedient to all lawful authority of Christ in his church and are therefore to be excised immediately, if not sooner. Hence the self justifying rationale and circular reasoning for " self excommunications."
> The "Reformed Presbytery of North America
> General Meeting" is NOT a Presbytery, not even a real session, and not
> a general meeting (yes, I read the defense of the name and of the
> government in the current circumstances, and found it to be pretty
> poor). I never joined them or owned them as lawful.
The PPSA comes almost three years to the day after the Reformed Presbytery of NA was dissolved June 6, 03. It is the supposed argument from Scripture, history and reason alone to justify said session - the RP subordinate standards being essentially, if not totally AWOL, a telling as well as devastating omission. As a “Petitio Principii” of Sessional Authority it is well named though. The PPSA "begs the question" and assumes the existence of a lawfully constituted, as in electronically, - by way of "the Internet and modern phone technology (PPSA, p.9)" - and lawfully named extraordinary permanent Presbyterian court. It presumes that under the name of a session - the "essence” or "being" of which is a local congregational court - the body in question has both international, i.e. synodical powers, as well as those of a presbytery or common court. But that is just it. Extraordinary or not, only a local court preserves the essence or being of an ordinary session. An extraordinary out of town permanent “session” doesn’t qualify. To electronically constitute the court over the phone qualifies as an innovation at least. Will public worship and the administration of the sacraments via video conference be next? High speed internet a pre requisite to enter the kingdom of God? Also, both of the higher or broader courts, a presbytery or synod, presume a plurality of ministers, which at one time the officers in the former RPNA to their credit, admitted they did not have (June 14,’03). Those days seem to be long gone. [CRC post abridged here, more boring details below.]
Another one of the marked differences between the Session of the RPNA(GM) and both of these higher courts of jus divinum or divine right Presbyterian church government, if not any court , is the absence of a stated due process and right of appeal. (Without the second because of legitimate circumstance, at the very least the first ought to be top notch.) To those who are swayed enough by emotion or ignorance to ignore the light of natural reason, or are not now under the judicial gun and the onus of self excommunication via an oath, that may seem a small thing, but it is all the world and the substantial difference between a court and a travesty thereof.
Which again is just the problem. A lot of people in the former RPNA might not have that much previous experience or knowledge of P&R churches and how presbyterianism plays out in a local church or denomination. Consequently familiarity with our past practice and present personalities plays a large part in maintaining the status quo over and against presbyterian principle in the RPNA(GM). To disagree with the elders is to attack presbyterianism. That along with an ignorance of the historical distinctions and testimony RP’s have regarding general meetings, societies and temporary sessions, leaves many adamantly opposed to the same and charges of independency and congregationalism fly.
For that matter I have been in three P&R churches in Washington, spending roughly five years in the PCA, two in the RPCNA and seven in the PRC’s, before attending the then PRCE society down here in Abbotsford/Everson since ‘98 and joining in ‘99 or so. I would note, that in both the Seattle RPCNA and the Lynden Protestant Reformed Church - the Everett PCA congregation only implemented this ordinary P&R duty after I left - every year, every household in the congregation would get a visit from two elders. So too, in both the PCA and the PRC, - I assume the same of the RPCNA, but not only did I live out of town, I can’t specifically remember - every year, visitors from presbytery/classis came around and met with the session/consistory and examined their minutes, i.e. the written record.
That is to say, if and when a genuine presbytery shows up on the scene and examines the minutes - if they exist - of the Session of the RPNA(GM) they are going to have a few questions for the brethren. Such as: ‘we notice you have excommunicated en masse your oldest Society in Prince George, BC. OK, for sake of discussion, they “excommunicated themselves.” But just when did you notice things starting to go gunny bag there? Just exactly when was the last time you visited? In July2004? And how come you haven’t been there since? Don’t the records show that the SPG had a public conference/get together in June 2006 and you were publicly invited to come as early as Jan. ‘06? So you haven’t been there for over two years, but in the same time frame, this one brother in Colorado has had at least three visits by elders? [The same being very possibly the mystery plaintiff that kicked off the whole oath/excommunication process in the first place, not to mention other extenuating circumstances in all this.] What exactly is going on here?’ Can anybody say favoritism? How about negligence? Even if the SPG deserves to be booted, the session has not fulfilled its responsibilities for oversight of the group, particularly when there were known problems.
Even further, I have also been through the channels of ecclesiastical discipline in two of these three churches prior to the PRCE/RPNA, going to presbytery in the PCA and synod (general assembly) in the PRC’s with first a protest and then following up with an appeal of the rejection to each protest. In other words, while no expert, I am not a complete stranger to judicial ecclesiastical process. While no expert on the 2nd Reformation and jus divinum church presbyterian government, I am respectfully still not too impressed or nonplussed with the excuses and ad hoc machinations masquerading as due process and good order, even under the excuse of extraordinary times, chief among them being self inflicted excommunications. The politicking and gamesmanship where due process and right of appeal is present is bad enough. To be without it pretty much at all is worse.
In all three churches Monday in and Monday out, the session/consistory met, if not weekly,then biweekly or monthly at 8:00 usually. You knew when and where the court was in session. As they used to say in the PRC, ‘the door to the consistory room is always open.’ Presbytery/classis was announced off the pulpit and in the denominational magazine. And whatever you want to say about the Dutch Reformed, in the PRC’s after Synod in June, come August there would be a box in the foyer full of paper bound copies of the Acts of Synod. The elders would stand at the door after worship and hand out at least one copy to the head of every household. I never saw that in the PCA or the RPCNA, with the PCA General Assembly record particularly resembling the proverbial teeth from the invisible chicken. Of even the existence of session meetings in the RPNA(GM), I was unaware, until the recent Session Response of Oct. 28th (p.9). But I never asked, I am sure is, but one reply. I never knew that I should have to, is the answer. I know now, though. Funny that I had to excommunicate myself to find it out or is that just sour grapes on my part? Am I just a slow learner?
Still, if by their fruit ye shall know them, practically speaking, some things are quite clear. The emperor has no clothes, and the court is clothed with less than the authority of Christ to appeal to. If it does have Christ’s authority, it needs to do a much better job of establishing and teaching that then is done in the PPSA. For one instance, if you really want to appeal to Act 15 in the PPSA (pp.6-9), much more the excommunication (Act 16:4) a little better job of following through the approved example and justification for the extraordinary state of affairs in our circles is in order. Why has there not been very public sessions of preaching and teaching on the PPSA in the very least Albany and Edmonton as there was in Acts15:22-33?
> I want to you understand that almost 100% of the information I'm
> basing my position on is RPNA (GM) written materials in which they are
> explaining themselves. I am not going on much, if anything, of what
> others have told me. I read the defense of the current government and
> other documents, I read the charges they're putting out against
> people, the stuff about excommunicating yourself, I read the oath. . . .
I of course, remain open to be persuaded that the RPNA(GM) is being misrepresented on this site, if such is indeed the case. Those who seem to feel that way are welcome to do so as far as I am concerned. I cannot help but notice then, that so far, as has been pointed out a number of times, the public record of the RPNA(GM) is available and now is even more so and others who are not of the undersigned’s biased point of view ought to be competent enough to reach an opinion of those public acts and documents without any insinuation, help or coaching on my part. They have done so.
Consequently I am bold to also say, their opinion is correct and they are to be commended for saying so in public as they have. I for one certainly appreciate it.
In conclusion, gentlemen, my apologies for the length of all this in that I really say no more than what you have already said previously.
Again my appreciation and thanks.
cordially in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Sole Member of the
RPNA Society of "Disaffected Brethren"