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


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