Monday, December 25, 2006

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

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.


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.