1 Reply to Elders/Oath of Elders
2 Subsequent Public Cover Letter to 1
From: Bob S
To: Lyndon Dohms
Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2006 11:09 PM
Subject: Re: CONFIDENTIAL - OATH
I am sorry, but this is the best I can or will do by way of receipt, in that among other things, I would respectfully note that I keep hearing from others in the church that cannot get a reply or receipt of their communications with you or the other elders. In which case, I am sorry, but I am not really setting the standard or the precedent in all this. Others are and respectfully they will have to answer for it if I read the Scriptures correctly. If I am wrong about that, you may of course say something, but respectfully I don't think I will be hearing from you any time soon, if at all.
Even further if I may say so, I have been in a number of P&R churches previously, but if this situation now doesn't beat all, I don't know what.
Sadly I think some are more concerned with their jurisdiction of discipline and emphasis on punishment rather than pastoral oversight and visitation. Likewise their furthering of factions in the church even to the point of being compromised if they were asked to rule judicially on a matter, yet conflict of interest would never cross their mind - at least it certainly hasn't yet that I know of.
But not only do I think it sad, I think it highly volatile, that for the sake of a supposed "covenanted testimony" some would be happy to amputate and butcher the body of Christ in the name of excising malignants and malcontents and rest easy in their self righteous justifications and arrogant excusing of themselves even more after the fact than before. You of course, may think whatever, but time will tell all eventually, even on that Day.
And I may have to be content to wait for that Day.
But I am prepared to do that sir, if need be.
Thank you very much.
cordially yours, in Christ
----- Original Message -----
From: "Lyndon Dohms"
To: Bob S
Cc: "Greg Barrow" ; "Greg Price"
Sent: Sunday, October 15, 2006 7:08 PM
Subject: Fw: CONFIDENTIAL - OATH
> Dear Bob,
> Please confirm you have received this email and attachment.
> Elder Lyndon Dohms
> Clerk of Session
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Lyndon Dohms" < > To: "BS"
> Cc: "Greg Barrow" ; "Greg Price"
> Sent: Thursday, October 12, 2006 6:18 PM
> Subject: Fw: CONFIDENTIAL - OATH
> > Dear Bob,
> > A week ago, we sent you the attached email and document. Please confirm
> > you
> > have received this.
> > thank you,
> > Elder Lyndon Dohms
> > Clerk of Session
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Lyndon Dohms"
> > To: "BS"
> > Cc: "Greg Barrow" ; "Greg Price"
> > Sent: Wednesday, October 04, 2006 7:28 PM
> > Subject: CONFIDENTIAL - OATH
> >> Dear Bob,
> >> Please confirm receipt of the attached document, by a reply email to
> >> the
> >> Members of Session. (Pastor Greg Price, Elder Greg Barrow, and Elder
> >> Lyndon
> >> Dohms).
> >> thank you,
> >> Elder Lyndon Dohms
> >> Clerk of Session
October 18, 2006
Dear Beloved Brethren,
Pastor Greg Price and Elders Greg Barrow and Lyndon Dohms,
Right at the outset, I must say, sending this to a wider audience has crossed my mind. Not that I am interested in unnecessarily offending anybody, but when somebody is put in a corner, what else does anybody expect? We have had no due process or higher court of appeal for some time in our circles and this routine and rut we seem be stuck in, is getting rather old. There is no substantive reply to issues that come up to the point that charity is overtaken and unable to cover faults, much more things are pushed not only past patience, but also the proper bounds of conscience and an informed consent, all I guess, in a zealous desire for uniformity in a covenanted testimony. But maybe zeal is not always according to knowledege or expediency.
Consequently, a number of comments are in order regarding the attached summons and/or request for an oath/affidavit which would supposedly acknowledge the lawfulness of the judicial court of the Session of the RPNA(GM).
Respectfully it must be mentioned, that what is assumed, is not proven. Neither my say so nor yours, can make the Session of the RPNA(GM) what it is or is not. Whether the the same is a lawful court must be determined by the evidence in accord with the Scripture, our subordinate standards and other faithful witnesses, much less reason and the valid rules of argument which we might assume was presented to us most recently - if not for the very first time at long last - on June 4, 2006 in the Position Paper on Sessional Authority (PPSA). In that it was three whole years since the dissolution of presbytery on June 6, 2003 which we were all notified in a letter of June 8, 2003, I am still coming up to speed and assimilating all that has been put before everyone in the PPSA in the three or four months since. But in that the PPSA is again the explicit justification for the lawfulness of the court of the Session of the RPNA(GM), that oath too might be seen as necessary to put on hold until some things get nailed down.
All that not to mention, this summons entirely neglects to inform us of the plaintiff, charges, time, place and rules of evidence and procedure governing such a trial, as well as whether it will be public or private and if the defendant is afforded counsel or not. All this not to mention what determines or decides a lawful as opposed to a specious, frivolous or sinful charge. All this under a cover or cloud - take your pick - of hush-hush confidentiality and hurry up and sign. Yet the Scripture says, “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light (Eph. 5:13).” We respectfully think this summons could use far more light and [far] less hastiness than it has received so far.
Two, regarding the items listed as belonging to and incorporated into the Terms of Communion and/or Terms of Membership after the fact - is everything done tacitly now on the court’s part as well as the congregation?- we would note the absence of the recent paper on carnal graffiti, "Tattooing and the Word of God" and again the presence of the recent Position Paper on Sessional Authority (PPSA). Yet we have been told the first is the position of the elders, though written by Pastor Price alone and that it is binding on one’s conscience and unlawful to question or disown. We would wonder why it is left out. As for the second paper, it comes again, but only three years after dissolution of presbytery and if we may be excused, there ought to be more than a mere three or four month grace period allowed before anyone is required to swear it and bind their conscience.
Even further, if we are really serious about Acts 15 as the PPSA seems to be in claiming that it warrants the elders of the former RPNA to operate on a synodical level (pp.7-9), the Scripture explicitly says Judas and Silas accompanied Paul and Barnabas and by word of mouth confirmed the synodical letter and decrees. That is to say, we are unaware that there has been any public preaching and teaching sessions at all on this paper in, at the very least, Edmonton and Albany if nowhere else (as if distance these days is merely indifferent due to long distance and internet providers as the PPSA states on p. 9), even a public forum of some kind with some real moderation (as opposed to what passed for it recently on the PRCE forum), where questions and concerns could be properly answered.
Yet more importantly and again central to a principled objection to this oath, is its illegal and entrapping nature. Normally in any court of law, a witness is sworn in upon taking the stand to tell the truth, not however many months prior to the trial we know not where, about we know not what, as brought by we know not whom. To be sure, we will grant that the parallels of this oath to the ex officio oath of the High Commission are not perfect. Henry Barrow, who we understand was able to blunt the full arbitrary power of the Commission and its oath in Elizabeth’s day at the price of his execution in 1590, was a noncovenanted separatist and all of this happened before the dawn of time and the beginning of the real world at the Second Reformation. Respectively, the High Commission and the Star Chamber in the ecclesiastical and civil realms, who imposed their open ended and non specific oaths, from Elizabeth’s day through James all the way to Charles and Laud, who only mutilated and imprisoned men in their time, instead of executing them, both played their part in driving things to the point that the Second Reformation was the result.
Neither are we being asked per se to testify against ourself contra the Fifth Amendment in the American Constitution which itself was a result of the ex officio oath, which abused that freedom and immunity. But there is a reason the Psalmist would have the Edomite babes dashed against the stones. So too little errors and little oaths before they are fullgrown. We have an oath imposed, by a lawful authority or no, to a vague and possibly compromising end, with no acknowledgment of who or what we are being tried for and all very hush hush and "confidential." If we may be excused, we will respectfully have to pass.
It is also very possible that the plaintiff in all this is our brother, Mr. Bernal with his previous and curious hybrid of both a self appointed amicus curiae or "friend of the court" brief and vague charges visited upon certain respective parties, January 26, ‘06. But how is one to know the oath is not an implicit compromise and an admission of guilt as the court would or could mistakenly construe it, in that no one is required to testify directly or indirectly against themselves? Rather one is to bring specific charges, make their case forthrightly before the accused - and do the time if they can’t prove the crime.
Yet the lawfulness of the court aside, what guarantee is there in all this, of an absence of a conflict of interest? One of the elders did after all, choose to indulge himself in a very private visit to the possible (hypothetical?) plaintiff above and shun a very public request and opportunity for public teaching in Prince George this past summer on the June 30th weekend, the Society of PG being one of the other defendants in all this, whatever it is - after all we have not been told what it is all about. The salient details are faint and sketchy. What guarantee is there, if that is the case, that the brother will recuse himself and step down/stand aside in all this? What kind of testimony would that be if such a blatant example of favoritism was overlooked and tolerated for the historical record? Just asking, and it is not a hypothetical question in practice as regards both principle and persons.
Again, one is being asked to swear to we know not what, before we know not who, we know not when. (But this is not implict faith?) Respectfully at the very least, until we have some more time and there has been some very public preaching and teaching on the PPSA as per the approved apostolic example, even a decently moderated public forum, we again would respectfully decline swearing an oath such as the enclosed, which neglects to inform one of the numerous prerequisite details and necessary information needed to do so lawfully and with a good, as well as informed, conscience (WCF 22).
In conclusion, dear brethren, I am sure you are very busy as we all are. Consequently I would beseech you. Please do not waste your time on, much more insult your own personal character and credibility, as well as debase your office in Christ’s church by proffering, if not imposing, such an oath as this one is, on your fellow brethren in the church of Christ, even one of those brethren, the undersigned.
Thank you very much,
trusting I am cordially yours,
October 4, 2006
Please confirm receipt of this document immediately by email to the Members of Session: Pastor Greg Price, Elder Greg Barrow, and Elder Lyndon Dohms.
The Session of the RPNA (GM) has received, reviewed, and accepted formal charges of sin that have been filed with this Court and in which charges you are formally named as a defendant. Please understand that this does not mean that the case has already been tried. However, we do find the charges to be in order. As is true with any case brought before the Court, this is a very serious matter that could potentially affect the status of your current membership in the RPNA (GM). Therefore, please carefully and prayerfully consider the following requirements that this lawful Court of Jesus Christ now imposes upon you (as defendant) and upon the plaintiff by lawful authority and out of love for Christ and His Church.
Preparatory to adjudicating the charges filed against you, the Court requires that a formal oath be taken by both plaintiff and defendant in which you both, in accord with your membership obligations, bear formal testimony in the name of Jesus Christ that you:
1. Have no known disagreement with the Terms of Communion of the RPNA (GM), and,
2. Formally own the Session of the RPNA (GM) as a lawful and faithful Court of Christ.
This is necessary, in the judgment of the Court, to ensure that all parties involved in this formal dispute (both the one making the charges and the one being charged) assure the Court of their continued commitment to adhere to the obligations agreed upon at the time of their membership.
The reasons for the Court making this oath mandatory are as follows:
1. Those doctrinal errors or practical scandals that require the Session of the RPNA (GM), as an authoritative Church Court, to refuse a person admission into the membership of the RPNA (GM), also, in consistency, require it to remove one who is already a member barring repentance. Thus, if a person should come seeking membership in the RPNA (GM) and should not positively testify to the Court that he/she has no known disagreement with the Terms of Communion of the RPNA (GM), and that he/she positively "owns" this Court as a lawful and faithful Court of Jesus Christ, that one would "not" be admitted into membership. If this candidate for membership should say, "I don't know (or I am not sure) if you are a lawful and faithful Court of Christ," that person would be positively excluded from admission into membership within the RPNA (GM). Likewise, if a person who is already a Member of the RPNA (GM)—having already affirmed in his/her membership agreement and by his/her continued membership in the RPNA (GM) that he/she has no known disagreement with the Terms of Communion of the RPNA (GM) and owns the Session of the RPNA (GM) as a Church Court that is both lawful and faithful—fails, when called upon to do so by a lawful authority, to positively continue to testify of these things, that one, also, would be excluded (i.e. removed) from membership within the RPNA (GM) barring repentance.
2. Failure to take a lawful oath, when imposed by lawful authority, in matters of great importance, is scandalous and against God's law.
Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 22:2,3 states,
"Yet as, in matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the word of God under the New Testament, as well as under the Old; so a lawful oath, being imposed by lawful authority, in such matters, ought to be taken" (1 Kings 8:31; Ezra 10:5; Nehemiah 13:25).
"Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching any thing that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority" (Exodus 22:7-11; Numbers 5:19-21; Nehemiah 5:12).
Thus, failure to take the oath below would, in the judgment of this Court, be a dishonor to God, a scandal to the Church, a violation of your own membership agreement, and a disobedience to and dishonoring of the lawful ordinance of ecclesiastical authority given to the Session of the RPNA (GM) as a Court of Christ. Therefore, all who refuse such an oath (unless of course the oath is demonstrably unlawful) may and ought to be disciplined according to the rule of Christ set down in the Word of God in Matthew 18:17-20.
This oath is not optional, and failure to sign this oath and return it to the Clerk of Session within the stipulated timeframe will result in the enactment of Church discipline, and barring repentance, will result in formal and public termination of your membership in the RPNA (GM).
Here then is the oath that the Court now imposes upon you (as defendant) by the lawful authority given to the Session of the RPNA (GM) from Christ who is Savior and Head of the Church:
I, ____________, freely and voluntarily, according to my own conscience and not being induced or compelled by any unlawful external means, by the grace of God and in the name of Jesus Christ, sincerely, in the plain and common sense of these terms, without equivocation or mental reservation, formally testify that I, _________ in no way knowingly disagree with any of the five Terms of Membership of the RPNA (GM), or any of the six Terms of Communion of the RPNA (GM) inclusive of its published position papers (namely, "A Brief Defence Of Dissociation In The Present Circumstances", "A Brief Testimony Against The Practice Of Occasional Hearing", "The Common Cup: Evaluated From A Biblical, Historical, And Medical Perspective", "The Practice Of Headcoverings In Public Worship", "A Reformation Discussion Of Extraordinary Predictive Prophecy Subsequent To The Closing Of The Canon Of Scripture", "Reformed Presbytery In North America Deed Of Constitution", and "Position Paper And Response To Questions Circulated About Sessional Authority Within The RPNA (General Meeting)"), and I formally testify that I own the authority of the Session of the RPNA (GM) in both its extraordinary form and jurisdiction, which is presently comprised of Pastor Greg Price, Ruling Elder Greg Barrow, and Ruling Elder Lyndon Dohms, as that Presbyterian Church Court, which is both lawful and faithful to the true Covenanted testimony of Jesus Christ and is agreeable to the Scripture and to all of the Subordinate Documents of the RPNA (GM). I further testify, in the name of Christ, that I do and will willingly submit to the Session of the RPNA (GM) (in so far as they conform to the Word of God), and that I will endeavor to conduct myself in this upcoming Court proceeding truthfully, honestly and charitably.
This signed oath must be returned to the Clerk of the Court, Elder Lyndon Dohms in paper copy (_____ __.Rd. ___, _______ ____, AB _______), or by email (in a PDF file with signature),at the following email address, lwdohms@___________ by 12 AM, Wednesday, October 18, 2006.
Dear Member, the Court appeals to you not only from the authority of Christ, but also from the love of Christ to fulfill this duty incumbent upon you as a Member of the RPNA (GM).
Please confirm receipt of this document immediately by email to the Members of Session: Pastor Greg Price, Elder Greg Barrow, and Elder Lyndon Dohms.
Respectfully submitted in the fear of God and in the love of Christ,
The Session of the RPNA (GM)
Pastor Greg Price
Elder Greg Barrow
Elder Lyndon Dohms
From: Bob S
Sent: Thursday, October 19, 2006 8:39 AM
Subject: Re: PGS Public Protest & Complaint
Attached: Confidential and Compromising Oaths
Dear Brethren at large, much less the SPG,
Yes, I got a summons also. I responded to it late Tues. night.
Yes, I considered it obviously, but No, I was not really interested in going this route.
But the alternative is what? Because we live in a day when offenses unfortunately abound in our circles, I am necessarily called to commit ecclesiastical suicide? To be hustled out at dawn and shot, with or without a blindfold? Purged without a peep? Disappeared? A deserter, schismatic, obstinate?
And please don't talk about respect for the court or playing by the rules. If you can say that, you still don't get it. There are no rules. There is no due process. That is the problem.
Yes, I can still remember the verse the Roman Catholic sister taught us in first grade: Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friends.
But maybe you can tell me.
Does that mean I lie down and say nothing? Or stand up and say something? And get knocked down and trampled on for doing so.
Do you think it an easy question to answer?
Well, I don't.
But I respectfully don't see much alternative.
As the enclosed says, 'when you back somebody into a corner, what do you expect?'
Not much maybe, but we'll try.
Maybe it won't be good enough. Well rest assured, I'll be one for sure that will ultimately have to live with that. I'm not complaining, but maybe I'm not in the mood for any fun and games either.
That is, if I have anything at all to say about this, it's a one time deal only. If people don't want to have anything to do with it or there is not a forum set up with some decent moderation if people do want to talk, respectfully, I am not planning on wasting any more of anybody's time like this.
Of course I'd appreciate it if the favor was returned. And to be sure, you have my apologies for bothering you in the first place if that's the way you feel about it.
Thank you very much.
I trust I am respectfully and cordially yours,
In the interests of full disclosure, please note:
1. Way back on Jan.26 '06 Mr. BB copied myself and SPG into an email to the elders which in a vagueish way talked about court, charges etc. I have no way of knowing, but as the enclosed mentions, it is possible I am a co-defendant with SPG. If anybody is interested in a copy, let me know.
2.Yes, a draft of my response was made available to the SPG. Whether they availed themselves of it, I don't know.
A. They are after all a self contained grammar check and editing team. I am not.
B. We again could be co-defendants.
3. I did not see the SPG's response at all until it came out yesterday nor did I finally decide to send something like this out until late last night.
4.As I indicated in a personal aside to Elder Dohms when I sent him my response, 'I have been in a number of P&R churches, but if this don't beat all, I don't know what.'
That, if not that it is a crying shame. Ps 126:6
>Knowing our Lord's mercies are 'new every morning', we respectfully submit this to you by way of public protest >and complaint.
>Yours in Christ,
>Society of Prince George
>October 18, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006