Saturday, December 30, 2006

12/30/06, A Vindication of the Charge of Ministerial Unfaithfulness [rev.]

In that the undersigned is a "disaffected brethren," i.e. excommunicated, we were not included on the mailing list for “A Vindication of a Faithful Minister” that went out Dec. 25, 2006 at 4:25 PM. We were however included in some of the pious congratulatory gush and empty fluff, that however sincere, was mailed out in response to it. Our comments are twofold. One, those who do not appreciate the following comments are respectfully then requested to stop emailing us with them in the first place and provoking our response. Two, it still would be helpful to note the following items that have been totally ignored in the one way discussion.
Respectfully
B. Suden


1. Private vs. Public
As has happened previously in the discussion of lawful courts, oaths and discipline in the former RPNA, there continues to be an ongoing confusion about and lack of distinction between the power of order/office and the power of jurisdiction/court, as well as a private and personal ministry as opposed to a public and judicial ministry. (See the Second Book of Discipline 1:3 or Gillespie’s Assertion of the Church Government of Scotland, Part I:II for more on the power of order and jurisdiction).

Yet faithful is as faithful does, in that it is not the personal actions or character per se, but particularly the public preaching and teaching ministry and even more the public judicial actions that have compelled brethren at this time to question whether or not a particular pastor and his ministry, or that of other officers, is faithful.

2. Accountability and Standards
And that judgement is in the light of the Word of God. None of us stand before and ultimately answer to the court of public opinion. We all shall stand before the court of heaven and answer the Lord for what we have done in the flesh and how we have improved our time, talent and opportunities. Ministers even more so, because they minister and rule in the name of Christ and consequently their shortcomings, sins, competency and character reflect more directly on the Lord as per the quote of 1Cor.4:1-5 in the VFM. But that said and notwithstanding, the Scripture is an infallible and perspicuous word from that same court of heaven by the light of which and with a good conscience we are to not only frame our lives, but also private Christians may make a right judgement, non-judicially though it may be, about the character and competency of a minister or officers, as well as a court to which they will submit the care of their soul.

In other words, we are to judge not according to what 1 Cor.4:1-5 might appear to say [as quoted in the VFM, Dec. 25, '06] or in the sense it could be taken, if not wrested out of context, but make a right judgement (John 7:24). While we may not be able to judge the heart which God will judge on that day, we are to judge all things in light of Scripture and no one is above reproach. God is no respecter of persons or members even of presbytery, great or small. Rather presbyters are on that account, even more accountable and woe be unto those who on the basis of this passage think a man or a minister has no one to answer to simply because they are a member of the court or that God gives the keys of the kingdom in doctrine and discipline to elders, instead of the congregation, as in independency. There is no such thing as a professional immunity. When someone comes to those who are called to preach and teach in the church of Christ with a question from the word of God or the subordinate standards and historical testimony - which those same officers have taken a solemn oath to uphold - such as why the contradiction between for instance, the Position Paper on Sessional Authority (PPSA) and those sworn standards, they cannot wave the magic wand of 1Cor.4:1-5 and beg off answering or giving account.

3. The Absence of Approved Examples of Apostolic Teaching
Neither is it enough to chant the usual mantras, of “lawfully excommunications,” “lawful Church Court of the RPNA(GM),” etc. etc and cry down all that has recently revolved around the PPSA as categorically submitted in a “disorderly and sinful manner”and setting “a sinful precedent for further acts of public defiance.” That and taking “steps that have promoted further division within the Church and further public defiance for the lawful Court of this Church” as some have done. Even if those protests are out of order and the argument of necessity and extraordinary times does not apply, previous to all the complaints and questions, as noted before, the PPSA itself appeals to the apostolic example in Act 15 to support its international session. There is also much ado in the excommunication notices about the “decrees for to keep” of Act 16:4 as to the binding nature of lawful sentences from lawfully constituted presbyterian courts, which all parties are agreed to, the question being rather, the lawfulness of the particular court issuing the ecclesiastical fatwas against certain members.

Yet at the same time there has been no corresponding diligence to follow the example in Act 15:22,30-35 to publicly and in person preach, teach and expound by word of mouth the distinctive doctrines and issues contained in the PPSA. Public question and answer sessions should have been and should be taking place even now in Albany and Edmonton at the very least. This is so that if it were possible, not only the court would be established and defended publicly, but also the saints would be established in this conscience binding dogma. (That Act 15 applies to a situtation where there is a plurality of ministers or the existence of a genuine greater presbytery, would seem to be also a prima facie reason that it cannot apply to the situation in the former RPNA or justify the extraordinary session as the PPSA asserts.) Yet we are implicitly told that the absence of all this is the ministry and actions of a faithful minister, if not a faithful court? We respectfully suggest that those who think so, do not know what a faithful public ministry ought to consist of, above and entirely apart from again, the private character of the parties concerned.

We further respectfully suggest that this ignorance is also likely to continue, once again because of that self same public ministry. It has not taught the whole counsel of God on the matter, at least publicly, (regardless if it has been taught house to house privately) and is therefore guilty of blood. To those that think that simply scandalous to say so, we ask just how do they gloss Act 20:20 - 27 to read?
And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, . . . Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
The church of Jesus Christ does not exist in order that we may play an orderly game of musical chairs. Neither is it a social club or an ecclesiastical sandbox. There are serious matters at stake and studiously avoiding them is not an option by a faithful ministry. On the contrary a free and full discussion and exposition of the issue is called for.

If complaint is made that Acts 20 only refers to the gospel narrowly considered, what of 2 Tim. 3:16 & 17 wherein we are told Scripture equips a minister unto all good works? Even the good work of an elder or bishop in Titus 1:9,11 of holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he might be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers - and stop the mouths of the church government naysayers? That we have not seen, though excommunications have flourished and multiplied with perhaps no end in sight (all will have to take the oath in the end or should, if the elders are consistent, no?) Meanwhile a four month cutoff for asking questions about the PPSA is rather a weak alibi as we approach a four year wait for a statement on birth control as promised in June ‘03 upon dissolution of presbytery by the officers in question. To whom much is given, much is required and woe be unto them if they require more from the sheep than they are willing themselves to do.

4. Faithful Ministers According to Our Vindicated Officers
After all, we can still remember a conversation with Pastor Price and Elder Barrow when they were visiting Everson in the fall of ‘98. Pastor Price quoted from the The Fourth Head of the First Book of Discipline, “Concerning Ministers and Their Lawful Election” in regard to a faithful minister:
And last, let them understand that it is alike to have no minister at all, and to have an idol in the place of a true minister; yea and in some cases, it is worse. For those that are utterly destitute of ministers will be diligent to search for them; but those that have a vain shadow do commonly, without further care, content themselves with the same, and so they remain continually deceived, thinking that they have a minister, when in very deed they have none.
Not only are those who have been excommunicated now destitute of a minister, we all have been destitute for much longer than that, of a minister who will preach on and speak to the point now in question. Yet the same officer(s) and court are more than willing to excommunicate people on the matter and that promptly. This is faithfulness? Or a shadow thereof? Again, between June 14, ‘03 and June 4, ‘06, as well as after, there has been no real substantial public teaching or preaching on the subject, although the elders began signing their letters as the “Session of the RPNA(GM) on Oct. 31, ‘04. Neither did the Prince George Society or the Washington Society receive any substantial answer to their private questions on the matter at that time. As in one, ‘Why the name change from the RPNA to the RPNA(GM)? Is it only nominal or will there be an implementation of a general meeting in practice?’ Yet when brethren could not and would not sign an oath accepting the PPSA and the court justified therein - the “Session of the RPNA(GM),” - they were subsequently “self” excommunicated. This was done on the basis of “public contempt of the common order of the church,” without any opportunity, other than in the court of public opinion, to defend and clear their name and that before, the public order of the church had really been properly, explicitly and publicly established. (It was after all, extraordinarily, as in implicitly, constituted.) This is the fruit and ministry of a true pastor or elder? Or but an idol in its place? Yet if the RPNA(GM) is a nominal general meeting - and it clearly is - perhaps nominal officers are to go with.

That is to say, regardless of a someone's personal sincerity, we may make an estimation of their public ministry for good or ill and stand by it now and answer for it then. If anyone objects to that, then they at the least simply don’t understand the bare minimum regarding liberty of conscience and private judgment. In other words again, a faithful minister/ministry is not judged solely on the basis of personal sincerity, in that many Mormons or Muslims are also sincere. Rather we have an objective standard in the word, as well the subordinate standards that declare authoritatively and specifically just how the Scripture is to be understood (in marked contrast to the popular vague and general generic affirmation that somebody “believes the Bible” whatever that means), that along with sincerity, establish the bar by which to measure and answer the question. We are to consider a man (or men’s) doctrine publicly published and preached and/or the lack thereof in this instance, along with the judicial decisions, as well and besides one’s personal character, diligence and professed sincerity, however commendable or no that is.

5. Further Contradictions between June ‘03 and June ‘06
From the top again, the June 14, 2003 letter - which granted, does allude to the particular elderships of the Second Book of Discipline 7:10 (which are not extraordinary courts, much more Gillespie, the star witness of the PPSA, and Calderwood, can be shown to consider them greater presbyteries with a plurality of ministers) - even more plainly and explicitly says that Pastor Price can administer the sacraments because of his office as a pastor, not because he is a member of a court, extraordinary or not. It also explicitly mentions Renwick and Cargill who admitted people to the Lord’s Supper as pastors and upon the doctrinal basis of the six terms of communion even at a time when there were no formal sessions in existence.

Yet fast forward to the June 4, 2006 PPSA and we are told that receiving the sacraments means we have implicitly recognized the validity of the permanent international session/court of the RPNA(GM) (pp.13,21), instead of merely acknowledging the faithful office of the pastor administering them on the basis of the six terms of communion. These are two very different things. Still, as a consequence oaths have been served and brethren excommunicated because they cannot in good conscience swallow this contradiction and confusion between June ‘03 and June ‘06 and accept the PPSA and the court it justifies. We ask anyone with eyes, if oaths and excommunications are a faithful way to resolve this contradiction and problem, that discipline and denial are the way of moderation, equity and faithfulness in answering the genuine questions of the flock? Is excommunicating brethren from the visible church because they will not bow the knee and submit by oath to the PPSA and its extraordinary international session, which contradicts not only the June 14, ‘03 letter, but also the historical testimony (doctrine and practice) of Renwick and the Reformed Presbytery, of whom we profess to be the faithful continuing moral person, the work and action of a faithful court, minister and ministry? Pray tell, do tell. We think not.

Further more, we understand that faithful ministers in Reformed Presbyterian churches swear to uphold those same subordinate standards and historical testimony that Renwick and the Reformed Presbytery did, which same standards and historical testimony do not uphold the permanent extraordinary international sessions the PPSA attempts to justify. (If the essence of a session is that of a local congregational court, technology notwithstanding, an extraordinary session can not be constituted or be “in session” when the necessary number of officers needed for a quorum are out of town, long distance phone calls to the contrary.) As should be obvious then and as a consequence, there is no real historical testimony referenced in the PPSA, much more the PPSA is an unfaithful document when judged in the light of the RP historical testimony.

Likewise ministers and courts who publicly profess to uphold both the PPSA and the historical testimony are unfaithful ministers and courts, if not that they are seriously confused. Likewise those who buy into the PPSA, which only demonstrates a shallow discernment and an immature and mistaken judgement that more and more in light of the circumstances seems to be the endemic hallmark and fruit of the preaching and teaching ministry in this church. But that is the responsibility not only of the pulpit, but the ruling elders who are to oversee and supervise the pulpit, particularly if everybody is what they claim to be, a genuine presbyterian session and the RPNA(GM) is but one big congregation. Has that been done?

6. Conclusion
Respectfully, the answer to the question of what is a faithful minister and ministry in our circumstances is only too painfully clear and has been said before, until there is repentance and restitution made for these public decisions, we can only answer in the negative to the question before the house: Are the officers, whether ministers or ruling elders of the extraordinary permanent international session of the RPNA(GM) faithful? Answer: No, they are not faithful in their capacity as a court in their power of jurisdiction and if they will not promote the truth in all this in their capacity and power of order/office as ministers and ruling elders, then they must also be judged as unfaithful in that regard, whatever their respective merits as private individuals are to their family or the community. That is the sad and sorry state of affairs as things stand now about which so many seem to be confused and deceived.

Still faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Open rebuke is better than secret love ( Prov. 27:4,5). Paul asks the Galatians, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth (Gal. 4:16)?” After the second wave of excommunications last Saturday night, Dec. 23rd, the total disciplined so far came to twenty [four] out of an approximate total of eighty eight communicant members. The third wave of oaths went out the evening of Dec. 24th with a response due next Wed. Jan. 3rd. The question then, might seem to be will 2 Chronicles 18:16 be the epitaph for this church, where “all Israel [is] scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd?” That, if not Jeremiah 50:6:
My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace?
Or will it be Ezekiel 34:6?
My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.
We think the answer Scripturally self evident.

Monday, December 25, 2006

12/25/06, A Vindication of a Faithful Minister

To: [List]
Date: Dec 25, 2006 4:25 PM
Subject: A Vindication of a Faithful Minister

While this is a family's testimony of their husband and father, we would like to acknowledge the faithfulness and loving authority of the entire court. This court has tirelessly laid down its life for Christ's church. We love and thank you all for your years of faithful service and contending for the truth.

In light of the countless false accusations and misrepresentations, it is our honor to bear witness to the faithfulness of our beloved husband, father, and shepherd of our souls. This testimony is the result of our own personal convictions without the influence, suggestions, encouragement or review of Pastor Price.

We cannot fully express the amount of love and patience he has chosen to display when ministering to many through their trying situations. He has sacrificially laid down his life for this church, guiding, counseling, and comforting his dear flock who has been given to him by God to lead, feed and protect. In these present trials, as well as former, he has spoken charitably of others who in return have chosen to malign him; he has chosen to deal justly and honestly in the love of Christ. He has anguished and labored fervently to preserve the peace, purity, and unity of Christ's church. He stands not before the court of public opinion, but before the Court of Heaven. It is that standard alone by which he will be judged, and by which he has chosen to act. Therefore, it is with immeasurable gratitude and love that we attest to the constant and faithful ministry of this humble servant of Jesus Christ.

From those who know him best,
[Extended Family of Teaching Elder G. Price.]


I Cor. 4:1-5
"Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God."

~Love God, and there is no fear that can enslave you.
Trust God, and there is no worry that can overtake you.
Praise God , and there is no complaint that can consume you.~


A reply to the above is found here.


12/25/06, Another Reply to the Oath and Excommunication

Sent: Monday, December 25, 2006 8:42 AM
Subject: Regarding our "Excommunication"

Our response to our "Excommunications" is attached.
Humbly submitted,
Edgar & Juana I.

Reformed Presbyterian-----Para la Corona y el Pacto de Cristo
www.PresbiterianoReformado.org www.TrueCovenanter.com


Our submission in regards to the Oath tendered by
Teaching Elder (te) G. Price, Ruling Elders (re) G. Barrow and L. Dohms that lead to our excommunication


Dear Elders,

As we acknowledged we received the Oath that you sent to us on Dec. 10th, 2006. You requested an answer by Dec. 20th, 2006. We apologize for our delayed response, but this has been due to several factors in our family and a heavy work schedule. We now ask that you will patiently read our response and know that it is written humbly and respectfully to you.

It is with a heavy heart, with sadness, and lament that we view the state of our church and community of Covenanters and we do not desire to add to the pain and separation that is now transpiring in our midst, but your actions compel us to write a response regarding your actions. We also feel compelled to answer you publicly as this is in the common interest of the church and our Covenanted brethren.

Your Oath tendered to us vs. Scripture and the Standards

You have declared that we have sinned in committing familiar fellowship by collaborating in an ecclesiastical manner with brethren that were excommunicated in writing our Charitable Inquiry. However, we have told you both as the signatories and privately that those brethren that you have excommunicated were not so when we all began to write the Charitable Inquiry. We are all co-authors and worked on this since June of 2006. The fact that they were excommunicated afterwards, in our (my family) opinion does not change the fact that we collaborated together beforehand and that they are co-authors of the Charitable Inquiry. Your decision to hang over our heads the threat of excommunication (and then proceeding to it) for familiar fellowship can not be interpreted any other way by my family as a red herring, filibustering, and excusing the legitimate concerns brought before you in order to avoid answering the Charitable Inquiry. Instead of dealing with very real problems that many of us see with the “Session” that you call Presbyterian, it is easier to cast us out of the Church and therefore not have to answer our concerns and questions.

You are bold enough to serve us such an Oath and then excommunicate us, but derelict in your duties as Elders towards us. How so? RE Barrow and Dohms claim to have the rule over us, so much so that they can discipline us. However, not once has Elder Dohms ever called us to even perform his basic duty as an RE to inquiry into our spiritual well-being. The first time we met was over the summer of 2006. Before or since, not once has there been even an e-mail sent from him to ask how we are doing. Not once has Elder Barrow called us to perform his duty as an Elder towards us. On the contrary we have had to initiate the phone calls to him. If you seek to be leaders, then a true and faithful leader goes to those he leads to inquiry about their well being, to ask how they are doing, and to build them up in words of encouragement, at the very least. Instead the REs rely on other laymen to find out how others are doing. They set up unofficial proxy elders to look after others and to report back to them as to how others are doing. They, themselves have not initiated contact with us, except of course to discipline us. Not once have any of the REs ever called us after the Oath was tendered to persuade us that the Oath is lawful. Not once have any of the REs ever called us or e-mailed us to advise us of an impending excommunication and try to reclaim us before issuing such discipline. TE Price has not given an attempt to instruct us and to answer our questions in regards to the Oath and their International Session, only to declare that such instruction would only come after we had affirmed and accepted the Oath. TE Price has not attempted to speak to our questions or concerns, only to ask further questions of us, especially in regards to “joining hands with excommunicated brethren”. TE Price asks questions of us, instead of seeking to instruct us. His duty calls him to teach, but he with the REs appear more concerned about issuing censure then leading, shepherding, and teaching. The Elders have been very quick to communicate to us words of discipline and to perform actions of censure, but their attempts to instruct and to catechize have been rare, if not outright extinct and non-existent.

You have stated many times that you despise implicit faith. Your words and actions contradict each other. To question the lawfulness of your Court is akin to rebellion in your eyes. You have stated that we are to submit to your Court before you will entertain our questions and concerns. Pray tell, how can we submit to the very thing we have questions and concerns about? You ask of us to swear an oath to the lawfulness of the Court, and then we can question the legitimacy of it? You ask us to sin! You ask us to be double-minded and to play the part of a Roman Catholic. For it was Rome and its emissaries that asked the people to outwardly worship in their temples even though inwardly one may doubt and not submit. How can we sin in such a way when the Word of God warns us not to trample such holy things, (and taking oaths and swearing allegiance are such holy things), and then to question the very oath or vow? This is the method of Rome, not of Presbyterian Elders!

It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry. Proverbs 20:25

Westminster Confession of Faith Ch. 22 (emphasis added):

I. A lawful oath is part of religious worship, wherein, upon just occasion, the person swearing solemnly calls God to witness what he asserts, or promises, and to judge him according to the truth or falsehood of what he swears.
III. Whosoever takes an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth: neither may any man bind himself by oath to any thing but what is good and just, and what he believes so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform. Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching any thing that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority.
IV. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation, or mental reservation. It cannot oblige to sin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man's own hurt. Nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics, or infidels.
Therefore considering the Word of God and our Confession of Faith that we both profess to hold to and own, how can you lawfully serve us and my brethren such an Oath while we have doubts, questions, and concerns regarding the very thing you are asking us to swear to own? The Word of God warns us not to commit such foolishness. Do you not see how clearly the Divines wrote, “to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth”? Yet, you are calling us to do that very thing that the Divines, in accord to Scripture, taught us not to do. Again, you are calling us to sin against the Lord Jesus Christ, to take His name in vain, contrary to the 3rd Commandment, and to despise those faithful Presbyterian Standards that we do hold and own. You seek implicit faith from us, yet the Confession states not to swear if one has mental reservation or equivocation.

A representative Church may be thought a number sent by a community, and elected to give laws, absolutely tying, as if believers should say, We resign our faith and conscience to you, to hold good whatever you determine without repeal or trial; that is blind faith, that we disclaim: all our Ruler’s acts in our Assemblies do bind, 1. conditionally, if they be lawful and convenient, 2. matters to be enacted are first to be referred to the congregations and Elderships of particular congregations before they be enacted. (Italics in original, bold added)

You see, even Samuel Rutherford speaks against your process and manner of imposing new Terms of Communion (the fact that you say that your Papers are explanations of the Terms or commentary does not void the fact that to disagree with such Papers is to disagree with the Terms and therefore are Terms themselves) and then asking us to own them before putting them to trial or inquiry, much less offering them up in overture as true Presbyterian polity calls for, before making them binding. You are abusing the power of your offices that you received from Jesus Christ alone, the King and Head of the Church. Elders, again, how can we swear such an Oath given what we have stated? You cannot command our consciences, do not seek to be the One you are representing in your offices.

Misrepresentations addressed & Presbyterianism upheld.

To remove all doubt from the brethren and to publicly declare unto you all, we, the Ibarras, hold to and maintain the Six Terms of Communion without exception. Contrary to what has been circulated and misrepresented concerning us. We declare that we believe that Greg Price is an ordained minister of Jesus Christ and do not doubt that fact. We declare that Greg Barrow and Lyndon Dohms are Ruling Elders in the Society in Edmonton, Canada and do not doubt that fact. We also declare that their authority does not come from the laity, but from Jesus Christ. This is Presbyterianism. This should also cause them to be more grave in their proceedings. We believe in the gradation of Courts, the Session being the lowest court at the local level. We confess that the laity are not members of a Church Court, but of a local particular congregation without ecclesiastical power, this is Presbyterianism. We know that a TE is not a member of the local congregation, but of a Presbytery, this is Presbyterianism. How then are we Independents? Or Brownists? No, these are meant to slander and libel us and to hide the real issues and scare others away from looking into the legitimate questions and concerns that have been laid open and bare. We seek transparency in these issues others seek obscurity. Is it un-Presbyterian and a trait of Independence to question your claim as a Session and claim to have International Jurisdiction as a Lower Court? If so, you seek to bury our duty to private judgment, Acts 17:11 & 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

You claim to uphold and maintain the Word of God, our Subordinate Standards, and the faithful examples of our Covenanted fore-fathers and martyrs. Where in the Word of God do you find an International Church Court that is comprised of a Session or Lower Presbytery? Note, we are not asking about a Synod or greater Court, but your claim to be a Session. If no where in the Word of God, much less will you find it elsewhere, except maybe with the Church of Rome and their claim of a universal bishop. So if we are to submit to you as a Court and to your jurisdiction, we must ask if you even have that much.

The Form of Church Government on pp. 403-404 defines a Particular Congregation as such (emphasis added):
IT is lawful and expedient that there be fixed congregations, that is, a certain company of Christians to meet in one assembly ordinarily for publick worship…The ordinary way of dividing Christians into distinct congregations, and most expedient for edification, is by the respective bounds of their dwellings.
First, Because they who dwell together, being bound to all kind of moral duties one to another, have the better opportunity thereby to discharge them; which moral tie is perpetual; for Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it.
…Thirdly, The pastor and people must so nearly cohabit together, as that they may mutually perform their duties each to other with most conveniency.
In this company some must be set apart to bear office.
Please notice that a particular Congregation is one in which the company of Christians leave nearby and co-habit so much so that they can perform mutual and moral duties to one another. From that particular company are officers to be set apart. Please also note that when you quoted the several writings of outstanding and faithful Presbyterian theologians, wherein the words Particular Congregation or Particular church is found that their meaning is that of the FPCG. The FPCG goes on to define the Officer of a particular Congregation as such, p. 404 (emphasis added):

FOR officers in a single congregation, there ought to be one at the least, both to labour in the word and doctrine, and to rule….These officers are to meet together at convenient and set times, for the well ordering of the affairs of that congregation, each according to his office.

Please notice that the Officers are to be chosen from among the men of a Particular Congregation and to well order the affairs of that congregation that they are from. Again, the boundaries of a congregation are defined by the proximity of the dwellings of the company of Christians. Again, in your PPSA when you quote the same Presbyterian ministers and when they use terms and words such as Particular Eldership, Particular Elders, &etc. the definition in employment is that found in the FPCG. Your commentary that follows such quotes seeks to redefine the words and terms these men used.

Therefore, if a Particular Eldership or Session is defined as the local court that is situated within a certain boundary and proximity of the congregation, how then can you defend from the Scriptures and the Subordinate Standards, the position or innovation of an international lower Presbytery/Particular Eldership, or Session? Finally since a Particular Eldership or Session has its bounds of jurisdiction limited to that particular congregation and proximity of congregations, if it is presiding over more than one, that is not distant and wherein they can perform mutual duties one to another, then how can you claim to have jurisdiction over every society outside the bounds of your dwellings? In other words, how can RE Barrow and Dohms claim jurisdiction over the brethren that live outside of Edmonton? Presbyterian polity declares that they cannot. And if they do not have such jurisdiction, much less can they exercise discipline over such. So, then the Excommunications they have enacted are unlawful to Presbyterian polity and unfaithful to the Word of God and the King and Head of the Church, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Conclusion

You Elders have committed grave sin in seeking to redefine Presbyterianism and have therefore usurped what is of divine right. You have not demonstrated from Scripture, as is your duty as Elders, much less from the Standards that you can claim to be an International Session and much less able to exercise the discipline of Excommunication in the present structure you find yourselves in as Elders. You seek from those you would have the rule over implicit faith and total submission that cannot be questioned. You ask us to violate and transgress the Third Commandment. Your excommunications are not valid according to Presbyterian polity, unlawful according to our Presbyterian Standards, and more importantly, unfaithful to the very Word of God. Is it then a wonder that the Lord has come upon us all so hard in His discipline of you and us? Such actions by you Elders would cause you to be removed from office, at least temporarily, if we had a greater Presbytery to appeal to as they took into consideration and examination of such teaching and actions. Since we do not have such a privilege or blessing, we can no longer partake in your usurpation of Christ’s divine right and much less attend your ministry, unless there is repentance. May the Lord God of hosts have mercy upon us and you.


In the fear of Christ,

Edgar and Juana I.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

12/24/06, Of the "Public Sin" of An Unqualified Condemnation of Paganism (Among Other Allegations)

From: Bob S.
To: Lyndon Dohms; Greg Price; Greg Barrow
Cc: [List]
Sent: Sunday, December 24,2006, :32 AM [w. corrections]
Subject: Re: Session Response to _______ Allegations

Dear Lyndon, Greg and Greg et al,

I read with interest your response at large of Wed. Dec. 20th, (though sadly yours of last night was only more of what one has come to expect). Since you took the liberty to include me in the broadcast of those comments, I have taken the same to reply, particularly among a few other things, to the notion of a "public sin" of an unqualified condemnation of paganism, (which if the link is broken, can be found at: http://reformedveritas.blogspot. com/2006/12/ . . . ) Coming as my remarks do, from a “disaffected brethren,” they of course, are sure to be beneath the notice of some, even many, never mind reply, but that is no real matter. . .

It is also true that these are days in which unfortunately offences abound and scandals multiply in our circles. Neither is anyone interested at all in starting, much less fueling, any fires of hatred and/or bitterness. Yet if the wisdom from above is first of all pure, and then - and only then - peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated and so forth, it must simply be said that for someone who either wrote or approved the lukewarm and half hearted paper of 4/30/06 entitled: “The "Tattoos and the Word of God (TATWOG” as you brethren did, to then charge the family in question with a violation of the First commandment because they condemned tattoos out of hand and without qualification is just that much pompous noise and nonsense and a pathetic excuse for judicial process. Let them who are without the greater sin, [if the E family's is even sin], cast the first stone. Even further, because it is a frivolous charge, it necessarily causes the merit of the other two charges, if not the overall discernment, ability and fitness for office of the parties responsible to come under suspicion, never mind the question of the constitutionality of a court.

(Neither for that matter, is this the first time that TATWOG has been called to your attention. When TATWOG was first posted on the Albany website on 5/7/06 along with the corresponding sermon, an objection was made to it by the next day. Nor is it that one is merely against tattoos, because you brethren are for. The objections go deeper than that, as well that the undersigned had already gone on record against tattoos in a letter to a secular periodical in the fall of ‘04)

I. The First Commandment
In other words, taking the commandments in the order they come in the Decalogue, rather than in the order in which you make your charges at the close of your post, you speak of a “violation of the First Commandment in making the opinion of man the lord of one’s conscience in stating that all tattoos (without qualification) are sinful intrinsically in and of themselves.” Your most recent response quotes your letter of 5/28/06 to our sister or sisters, who supposedly commit this disciplinable offense for not qualifying their condemnation of tattoos on the LOC forum. The same letter requested clarification and contained 20 questions as it were on the topic, but it really was all about the possible exceptions to the general rule in the Scripture contra tattoos. That is, it is established jurisprudence, whether secular or ecclesiastical, that one does not make laws based on exceptions. While someone can be faulted for not acknowledging those exceptions, that does not excuse another party from the greater error. There is after all, a higher accountability for teachers and masters (Jm.3:1). In this case, the mistake is assuming that the practice is indifferent because of the mere existence or possibility of exceptions. That is pretty much the thrust of your letter in conjunction with the previous errors of TATWOG though. Again, while the general rule is that tattooing is wrong, - there might be some exceptions, just as of course we are told there might be with birth control - it does not follow that the possible existence of exceptions establishes that tattooing is indifferent.

That is to say there are a number of fundamental errors in TATWOG, any one of which seriously damages its credibility.
1. It is erroneous to assume that the prohibitions of Lev. 19 are only in regard to the connections with pagan religious rites. Quite plainly, the enchantments or observing times of v. 26 are forbidden at all times, regardless if they accompany the rituals for the dead of v. 28 or not, just as the prostitution of v. 29 is also forbidden, whether apart from idolatrous religion or not, as well just the plain old cutting of oneself in v.28 or “wounding” as LCat. Q&A 136 has it.
Leviticus 19:26 Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.
27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
29 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.
Yet TATWOG says regarding this section of Scripture: “If one of those practices was absolutely forbidden for all time, then all of those practices were likewise absolutely forbidden for all time (p.2).” This is only the case, if arguably we were to restrict the relevant verses under discussion only to verses 27 & 28. Yet cutting yourself is not the same as cutting your hair or beard and the folks downtown patronizing the tattoo parlor are not there for a surgical procedure upon medical reasons or even a simple haircut. Nor is a tattoo artist the same thing as a doctor, or even a nurse, poking a needle in your arm for a shot, while the only time a barber cuts you is when he makes a mistake.

2. The main ground of the paper though, is not Scripture, but a mistaken read of Geo. Gillespie in which he explicitly distinguishes between moderate and immoderate grief in the following (as underlined). The emphasis, in the caps of TATWOG (p.2) begs the distinction and assumes both are indifferent/moderate, as long as they are not superstitiously used:
“So that from this law [Leviticus 19:27,28 and Deuteronomy 14:1—GLP] it most manifestly appears that we may not be like idolaters, no not in things WHICH ARE IN THEMSELVES INDIFFERENT, when we know they do use them superstitiously. What warrant is there for this gloss, that the law forbids the cutting round of the corners of the head, and the matting of the corners of the beard, to be used as signs of immoderate and hopeless lamentation for the dead, and that in no other sense they are forbidden? Albeit the cutting of the flesh may be expounded to proceed from immoderate grief, and to be a sign of hopeless lamentation; yet this cannot be said of rounding the hair, marring the beard, and making baldness, which might have been used in moderate and hopeful lamentation, as well as our putting on of mourning apparel for the dead. The law says nothing of the immoderate use of these things, but simply forbids to round the head, or mar the beard for the dead; and that because this was one of the rites which the idolatrous and superstitious Gentiles used, concerning whom the Lord commanded his people, that they should not do like them, because he had chosen them to be a holy and peculiar people, above all people upon the earth. SO THAT THE THING FORBIDDEN, IF THE GENTILES HAD NOT USED IT [SUPERSTITIOUSLY—GLP], SHOULD HAVE BEEN OTHERWISE LAWFUL ENOUGH TO GOD’S PEOPLE, AS WE HAVE SEEN OUT OF CALVIN’S COMMENTARY” (_A Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies_, George Gillespie, Naphtali Press, 1993 [1637], p. 185. CAPS have been added for emphasis)
In other words, following the caps, TATWOG insists that as long as one does not cut or print marks on oneself superstitiously, it is a moderate/indifferent thing that may be done.

Yet Gillespie just as distinctly says, that the cutting of the flesh in Lev. 19 proceeds from immoderate grief, as opposed to cutting the hair or beard which comes from a moderate grief. (In all this he is really answering Hooker's gloss of the law that said cutting the hair or beard is immoderate (Dispute, p.184)). So that while cutting the hair is not a problem when not done superstitiously, cutting oneself and making marks is not quite in the same category. One could be used, though abused. The other was essentially immoderate, i.e. unlawful.

In other words, what we seem to have here is a similar situation as is many times said of 1Cor 11 where we are told if a woman prophecies with her head uncovered, it is a shame. Yet it does not necessarily follow that a woman may prophecy with her head covered, as many, including the feminists take the passage. Paul later in 1 Cor. 14:34 says women may not speak in the church, period. So too, just because enchantments, observing times, rounding the head, marring the beard and cutting and making marks upon oneself, if not also prostitution, are done superstitiously, does not necessarily make those actions alright or "moderate" if done without superstition. But that is exactly what TATWOG erroneously teaches. It assumes there is nothing per se wrong with cutting and making marks on yourself, that it is equivalent to and as indifferent as cutting your hair or beard. We might suppose then, by the same token, killing also is indifferent, though the circumstances of accident, suicide, murder, war or execution play their respective part.

Still, if Scripture tells us that we are not to desire being teachers of the law; particularly if we neither understand what we say or affirm (cf. 1 Tim. 1:7.), TATWOG is a case in point if it is true that cutting oneself is the same as cutting the hair or beard. History tells us Van Gogh cut off his ear and sent it to his girlfriend (a prostitute, though not a pagan) maybe in hopes that she would cut off a lock of her hair in return. History also tells us Vincent was insane. But TATWOG would tell us this is indifferent? Respectfully, TATWOG needs to be repudiated before it reproduces itself again even further like it did in principle with the Position Paper on Sessional Authority with all its misconstructions, invalid arguments and attendant bad consequences.

3. The paper also positively ignores what is generally considered the locus classicus, the classic place or proof text on the topic in 1 Corinthians 6:19,20:

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”

To permanently mar or scar the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, through body piercing, scarification or tattooing has always been something that primitive, barbaric and pagan peoples forsook upon conversion to Christianity. And as has been mentioned before, how one views and either excuses or accuses all these practices is indicative/symptomatic of a view of Christian liberty. (It might be argued a rather deficient view that encompasses music, drama, entertainment, recreation, dress and attire in our circles.) In the context of - of all things - Christian modesty and dress, D. Phillips, the editor of J. Pollard’s perceptive little booklet, Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America (2002) says:
Today, the line between the professing Christian and the savage tribesman has become increasingly blurred, as more and more "Christian" people resort not only to the pagan practices of scarification, tattoos and body mutilation, but have thrown off the "restraints" of modest dress in favor of the trendy and physically revealing. The result is that modern America has become publicly undressed. What is worse, Americans have come to think of nakedness as normal and acceptable, even preferable (p.13).
So too again, many modern American Christians, as demonstrated in TATWOG, are in danger of thinking that tattoos and other body modifications are normal and acceptable, if not preferred or "indifferent." At the very least TATWOG entirely fails to clarify exactly what are those circumstances that surround tattooing that make it lawful or unlawful. When called to preach the whole counsel of God and sound a clear blast on the trumpet, all one gets is the pathetic bleat and whimper of the following statement in TATWOG(p.3):
. . . .since I do not believe these practices are unlawful in themselves (but rather are indifferent), I do not believe it is immoral or unlawful to use any of these practices as long as one can do so to the glory of the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31).
In reply, if that isn't a buy off, what is? One, there is absolutely no attempt to spell out exactly how a tattoo could be to the glory of God in TATWOG of any real substance. We would respectfully suggest that is because it would be extremely hard, if not in fact impossible and definitely the exception and not the rule. Two, this is to beg the question and fail our day as paganism and the attendant hatred of the image of God in man, as seen in the popular worldly practice of tattooing and body piercing/modification, is clearly on the rise. So much so, there are even "Christian tattoo artists," of which TATWOG could easily construed to be their manifesto and mission statement. Oh happy day! - Hardly.

However some might not seem to know it, there is a war going on and we are not talking about Iraqistan. The Christian is at war with the world, the flesh and the devil, the last whom roams about, looking to see whom he may devour. Yet we are to put on the whole armor of God and not be led around as it were, by a ring in our nose, following after foolish fables and compromised doctrine. If TATWOG is an attempt to be judicious and reasonable, in its zeal it errs in the excess, in that it is not enough in a day and age when drunkenness is a prevailing sin, to merely proclaim that drinking is lawful. It of course is, but that statement alone is not sufficient to fulfill the charge to the church of Jesus Christ to preach and teach the whole counsel of God. Again, a modern version of idolatrous paganism is on the rise and as a consequence the pagan practice of cutting and marking the body is clearly on the increase and quite acceptable in some circles, even some that purport to be Christian. That TATWOG aids and abets this mind set is not at all commendable.

In other words, if anybody in this church deserves to be disciplined or censured for their erroneous beliefs on tattoos publicly owned and published, as opposed to the "public sin" of an unqualified condemnation of paganism - the last of which tattooing essentially is a badge, if not a sacrament of - one had best look no further than those parties responsible for the public and pathetic scandal of TATWOG. “Physician, heal thyself” is the word, if not “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” But to say that, we suppose, is in some peoples' eyes to be guilty of a worse scandal than TATWOG itself. Yet if that is not to strain the gnat and swallow a camel, pray tell, what is? Or are officers above reproach and only members subject to correction for doctrinal error? One certainly would have appreciated knowing that before they joined this church, their self excommunication, if that were possible, would have happened that much sooner.

II. The Fifth Commandment
You also cite charges against the Fifth commandment, regarding the supposed contempt for the ordinance of Christ in the lawful Court of Jesus Christ called the “Session of the RPNA[GM]” which also compels comment. If nothing else, it is crystal clear to anyone with eyes that our Lord did not intend the “gathered together” of Matt. 18:20 to be glossed over or interpreted in the fashion that the Position Paper on Sessional Authority has done. But if modern phone and internet technology can set aside entirely the original intent of the verse and the need for the court to meet in person - and we deny that it can - there still needs to be an authoritative ruling to that effect by a presbytery. And that, a plurality of ministers, we clearly do not have and have not had since June 6, ‘03.

In other words there can be no such thing as a extraordinary permanent or temporary session “in session” or open for business in place of an ordinary local congregational court or session when enough officers for a physical quorum are not in town and in the same room. When brethren, who are officers, do gather together in one place physically, in person and in the flesh, then and then only does our Lord Jesus Christ give them the keys of the kingdom which lately have been exercised with such seeming abandon in (self) excommunications, preceded by the oaths of allegiance and loyalty. After all even the Romans didn’t pass sentence on a man until he had a chance to answer his accusers face to face (Acts 25:21). Likewise even those guilty of scandalous sins in the Order for Excommunication. Satisfaction was made or no before an actual court, not a conference call or trial by email.

Speaking of the terms of communion, how come there are no oaths to uphold the same? The absence speaks volumes. An extraordinary permanent congregational court which is not a local court is quite clearly contrary to jus divinum presbyterian church government as per the 3rd term of communion. The quorum for a session includes not only a minister in person and actually present as a representative of Christ, but at least one ruling elder in person and actually present as representative of the people or hearers and preferably a local/resident ruling elder. Furthermore the terms of membership promise obedience to the officers, only in the Lord. Neither can the terms of membership supersede those of communion. The June 14, 2003 letter upon the dissolution of presbytery, which up until the PPSA of June this year was all anybody had to go on, explicitly and repeatedly speaks of membership and receiving the sacraments on the basis of the terms of communion.

If that letter also says, in reference to birth control, “our present circumstance demands that we, in writing, become much more explicit regarding our position,” as far as our ecclesiastical government is concerned, that did not happen until June 4, 2006, three years later in the PPSA. In the meantime, our “stated doctrine and practice as summarized in our six terms of communion” morphed into/was reinterpreted into what we have now: An innovation and/or novel interpretation, totally unsubstantiated authoritatively by a presbytery, which allows for a extraordinary “local” court to convene - not locally in one place actually in person - but by ethereal electronic current over the phone or by email. To gather together, not in the way intended and spoken of by our Lord in Matt. 18:20, but at a remove and an impersonal distance. (Is it just us or have society visits decreased, as this view has increased?) There is it seems, jus divinum presbyterianism and just down right pragmaticism in church governments and church courts. If one may be excused, the second is a pretense for the first, regardless if by holding that view one thereby excommunicates oneself from whatever kind of fellowship it is that can accept this interpretation of Matt. 18:20. Technology is only an aid, not a total replacement for personal ministry and presence.

Yet respectfully a few more questions and answers from the Larger Catechism regarding the Fifth Commandment:

Q127. What is the honor that inferiors owe to their superiors?
A. The honor which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence in heart, word, and behavior; prayer and thanksgiving for them; imitation of their virtues and graces; willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels; due submission to their corrections; fidelity to, defense, and maintenance of their persons and authority, according to their several ranks, and the nature of their places; bearing with their infirmities, and covering them in love, that so they may be an honor to them and to their government.

An extraordinary permanent session that is contrary to our terms of communion and an item like TATWOG in which those who disagree with it are to be disciplined are not matters of infirmities, but public grievous error, if not also sin.

Q128. What are the sins of inferiors against their superiors?
A. The sins of inferiors against their superiors are, all neglect of the duties required toward them; envying at, contempt of, and rebellion against, their persons and places, in their lawful counsels, commands, and corrections; cursing, mocking and all such refractory and scandalous carriage, as proves a shame and dishonor to them and their government.

Again, duty requires a plain statement of the abuse of government in an unlawful command to swear an oath either to a government at the very least one is not adequately informed/instructed of or one that is neither lawful, precedented or reasonably and scripturally substantiated. Even further, since the glaring scandal of the PPSA is the absence of any real appeal to RP subordinate standards or historical testimony, a reasonable doubt is all that has to be raised against it. The positive answer is already given in the Informatory Vindication of Renwick and the practice of general meetings, correspondence and societies that continues up until the time of the Reformed Presbytery of Steele and Lusk.

Q129. What is required of superiors towards their inferiors?
A. It is required of superiors, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love, pray for, and bless their inferiors; to instruct, counsel, and admonish them; countenancing, commending, and rewarding such as do well; and discountenancing, reproving, and chastising such as do ill; protecting, and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God, honor to themselves, and so to preserve that authority which God hath put upon them.

Again there is precious little substantial counseling and instruction going on regarding the questions about the PPSA and the oath affirming it and the court it argues for. Much ado is made of Act 16:4 and the decrees for to keep from the council in Jerusalem [in the excommunication notices], but at the same time the apostolic practice of personal public teaching and preaching sessions by word of mouth as well as by letter (Act 15:22,30-35) has not been seen in Albany or Edmonton, never mind that the rest of us would have benefited somewhat by at least hearing questions and answers secondhand on tape. Neither brethren, are you as elders providing the necessary protection against sinning against one’s conscience, all the while your carriage, i.e. behavior, leaves much to be desired in hastily and willfully pressing the oath over known and substantial questions and objections. This, so much that your power of order or office comes in question - your fitness and competence; never mind your power of jurisdiction or the "court." Even further, the distinction between the two is repeatedly confused in the discussion to the point that it is assumed to deny jurisdiction is to deny office. They are not the same.

Q130. What are the sins of superiors?
A. The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them, and inordinate seeking of themselves, their own glory, ease, profit, or pleasure; commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; counseling, encouraging, or favoring them in that which is evil; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath; or any way dishonoring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behavior.

All the imposition of the loyalty oath essentially amounts to, is an inordinate and unbridled pursuit of power, notwithstanding genuine church government is unto edification, not summary and swift self excommunication to all who dare ask questions. That is the real offense in all this and as usual a persecuting party will find some other question of order or secondary matter in order to avoid the primary issue, such as for starters, one’s “public sins” regarding tattoos. - This charge again from those who are responsible for or approving the abysmally poor showing of TATWOG. - Conscience and the subordinate standards/historical testimony regarding extraordinary sessions must be sacrificed for the sake of expediency and the maintenance of a centralized and unaccountable authoritarian "presbyterian" power, an extraordinary synodical session and a lesser presbytery masquerading, if not usurping the jurisdiction of a greater presbytery. Yet the subsequent loss of respect, authority and impartiality necessary to the office for doctrine and discipline has necessarily followed the imposition of this loyalty oath. Loyalty to whom or what is the real question though. Christ or his church? Rome said and says they are indistinguishable - one and the same. And your answer, brethren, as elders? So far, the answer seems only too clear, particularly again, with the "discipline" exercised last night in the excommunication notices.

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

What remains to be determined, it might seem, is the truth of the following:

Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof (emph. added)?

In other words, have you at least equipped the brethren at large to be able to make an honest choice in all this, with an informed, as opposed to an ignorant conscience? That is the real question.

III. The Ninth Commandment
As regards the last charge concerning the Ninth commandment, a few comments about what little we know. While not a member of the Edmonton society, one did visit in the summer of 2005 along with many others. While a very enjoyable time was had by all, one younger brother, who is no longer with the church, did come up to us Sunday morning with the pressing question of did we know who was cool? When the answer was in the negative, he said, nodding over at a group of young people, both boys and girls, “You can tell who the cool kids are because their bellybuttons are showing.” Though none of the offenders in this regard were from the two families recently discussed in your letter, it also is to say that the issue or the problem in our circles is not entirely unknown, which is not a good thing. While one doesn't expect perfection, when one hears, as one does in our circles, even from those of the elder persuasion that the young people have to fit in with everybody else as an excuse for the clothes, music, hairstyle or attitude, something is wrong. Nobody expects a bunch of Quakers, Shakers or Amish in old fashioned clothes and horse drawn buggies, but what can look to be a pretty authentic copy of and/or wholescale conformity to the world, whether Hollywood/Britney, goth or punk is not really the godly alternative. The evangelicals play that game real well, but that is no excuse for the RP's to do the same.

That also brings up Matt. 18 about which we seem to have in these circles a phobia where nobody can say anything about even the most obvious things because they haven’t first got witnesses and gone to their brother privately. And supposedly the family in question was counseled regarding the Matt. 18 option. But maybe misled is more like it, in that we don’t understand Matt. 18 to require one family to go and get two or three more families to verify their concerns, before anything at all can be said to anybody. It sounds more like they got the runaround than anything else, as in being asked if they wanted to go the Matt. 18 route when they already essentially had regarding the first couple of steps. As mentioned previously, while one doesn't know the full particulars, the previous specious charge against them regarding at least the First Commandment, because of their “public sin” of an unqualified condemnation of paganism, consequently casts doubt on the the merit of this charge also, if not the discernment and competence of those who made it, apart from again, any question again, of the constitutionality of the court.

For that matter though, if our brother is so upset and jealous for his reputation, because of what one of the ladies put up on the LOC forum out of Miller on the Ruling Elder, perhaps the brother understands how some of the rest of us lowly pew dwellers took the “hypothetical analogy” onslaught and campaign on the public email forum at about the same time, if not the previous phony affidavit routine. Neither did the tattoo or elder posts on the LOC forum shut down/euthanize the LOC forum like the spam wave of hypothetical analogies did the general forum after people objected. (That is, correct us if we are wrong, but the forum was shut down because people objected to, not because of, the hypo analogies, right?) We have to assume, the brother fully and explicitly approved of this ploy involving the stampede of hypothetical Trojan horse analogies due to his Colorado visit to the brethren responsible right in the middle of the event. But if everybody is jealous of their own interests, those in charge are supposed to be looking out for everyone’s interests. That certainly didn’t happen.

For that matter, Colorado has still gotten more visits than Prince George has received, even if PG has disagreements with the elders. In other words, in the larger context, conflict management (as well society and family visits) - in person - comes with the turf, brethren. Neither is evasion or even (self) excommunications a genuine option or first resort for those who are called to serve the sheep.

And if the brother is willing in the first place - as he plainly was - to stoop to the “disorderly” and "public" hypothetical analogy email campaign as waged by his proxies and surrogates, instead of forthrightly addressing and dealing with the issues and controversies in the church at the very least by positive preaching and teaching, if not actually moderating the forums in person, what does that say for the caliber of one’s administration and impartiality, brother or brethren? Respectfully, not much and that without mentioning again, the phony January affidavit episode in response to a perfectly legitimate question in its own right, regardless of who asked it, i.e. what are the public sins to be confessed in a public fast? (For that matter, it would be entirely in order even at this late date to return to the church restructuring proposal of last year in earnest rather than with the mere lip service it ended up getting.) Never mind that others are going the route of the “court of public opinion.” It starts at the top. He who knows and does not who is in office, has the greater burden of responsibility than those who are without.

Again, there is no question that all the public emails can be or even are a disorderly way to carry on with business. We would be the first to tell you that, but the alternative, besides following the example of our elder brethren is what? As one who has gone repeatedly to you and not received any real satisfaction whether regarding the smug, sanctimonious and self righteous little screed of "Saul in the Cave with Adullam" all the way to TATWOG, there comes a time when enough is enough. Things snowball to the place where you throw in the towel on all the private parleys and circular negotiations. Hence the joint attempt of something like the Charitable Inquiry. Though it is not perfect, it is a passable and necessary effort to address the issues raised in the PPSA which are but a further development in principle of TATWOG”s shoddy and invalid forms of arguments, mistaken applications and non sequiturs or conclusions that do not follow from the many times ambiguous premises. (If you can believe it, supposedly and implicitly if a congregation alone in an island has the right of discipline in their own local session, so too a "session" is adequate/expedient for group of societies, families and individuals alone in the island of the N. American continent. But not only is it illogical, it is extremely impractical from what we see going on all around us. The PPSA, true offspring of TATWOG that it is, also asserts that a “session” can have synodical, if not presbyterial power/jurisdiction in part due to technology and that despite clearly not having a plurality of ministers necessary to either higher court, the excuse of extraordinary times notwithstanding.) All of which, without apology, we have a problem with nor do we have to put up with. If that is sin, well then, so be it.

While as a rule people in this church or in general are long suffering, sooner or later if frustrated with, among other things, a less than speedy administration of process they will follow the example of their betters and elders who have clearly led the way in all this for the worse. Contra the supposed violation of the Ninth commandment as your recent response charges, respectfully one needs to look a little closer to home for the root of the problem. Again, let those who are without sin in this regard, cast the first stone and those with sin, refrain from and halt process, in that the Scripture says fathers are not to provoke their children to wrath. Those who are in authority who have done so, need to look no further than the mirror for the real reason why there is all this turmoil and dissatisfaction in the church of Jesus Christ. That is because, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (Jn. 10:47)"

In short and in sum, gentlemen, the case remains to be made that these charges regarding the First, Fifth and Ninth Commandment are legitimate and substantial as opposed to frivolous. And if they are frivolous, Deut. 19:19 necessarily comes into play in that those who can't prove the crime, do the time. At the very least, that epitome of mediocrity, TATWOG needs to be locked up and the key thrown away for good, if not that TATWOG itself ought to be thrown overboard in close proximity of and in intimate communion with a millstone in order that we never see it again. The same too, could be said for its soulmate, the PPSA.

That, if not again, “Physician, heal thyself,” is still the real prescription necessary to begin to solve all these problems that trouble the waters of Jordan and disturb this church of Christ at the moment. May God grant you the grace and humility to see that, before you drive all to wrack and ruin, as you seem bound and determined to do in your own wilfull stubborness and obstinacy.

And the sooner you begin brethren, the better it will be for all of us in the church of Christ, yourselves included.

Until then I trust, I am cordially yours,
in our Lord Jesus Christ, who will not allow robbers, thieves, wolves or hirelings to disturb his sheep. Neither do his elect fear the excommunication of mere men.

Thank you very much.
Bob S


Saturday, December 23, 2006

12/23/06, Second Wave of Excommunications

From: "Lyndon Dohms"
To: [All who signed the Charitable Inquiry who were not yet x'ed and one other couple and an individual]
CC: "Greg Price"
"Greg Barrow"
Subject: Excommunications
Date: Sat, 23 Dec 2006 20:06:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Attached are announcements of excommunications.


The Session of the RPNA (GM)

(w. 14 pdf notices of excommunication for 15 individuals attached)

Friday, December 15, 2006

12/15/06, G. Price's Reply to the UnExcommunicated Brethren

From: G.Price
Fri Dec 15 2006, 08:17 AM
[In reply to the unexcommunicated brethren]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Although I admitted in my letter to you that there were some concerns worth discussing, my letter to you, as dear brothers and sisters whom I love in the Lord, was intended to persuade you to separate yourselves from those who had been excommunicated by the lawful Church Court of the RPNA (GM) rather than joining hands with them in a public letter of common concerns.

I do understand that you began working on these common concerns with our excommunicated brethren before they were actually excommunicated. However, as I pointed out to you in my letter to you, once they were excommunicated, it was your duty to remove your names from any association with them and if you still desired to forward to the Session such concerns for discussion you may have done so (in accordance with the Session's invitation extended to you in the "Position Paper On Sessional Authority").

Dear ones, by your continued action to stand with the excommunicated brethren in this common cause, the concerns you have expressed have not been submitted to us in an orderly manner (in that they were submitted publicly rather than privately as we proposed in the "Position Paper On Sessional Authority" and were submitted in a common cause with those who had been lawfully excommunicated which is contrary to Scripture and to our Subordinate Standards). Thus, I cannot receive this installment or any others that are submitted in such a disorderly and sinful manner lest it set a sinful precedent for further acts of public defiance in joining hands with those who have been lawfully excommunicated.

You obviously disagree with me (in the letter I sent to you all) and with the Session's excommunication of our dissenting brethren, but I do yet plead with you to discontinue with any further steps that move you further from us. You may believe that the steps you have taken were taken to promote peace, but in all honesty before the Lord, I see them as steps that have promoted further division within the Church and further public defiance for the lawful Court of this Church.

My heart goes out to you all (my dear brethren whom I love in the Lord) as I plead for the Lord to grant you understanding and repentance.

With brotherly affection,
Greg L. Price