Sunday, June 08, 2003

6/8/03, Announcement of Dissolution of RPNA over Birth Control (Corrected)

From: Greg Barrow
Sent: June 8, 2003 12:32 PM
To: [List]
Subject: Correction to previous announcement of RPNA

It has come to my attention that there was a problem in the first email sent out [10:05 AM] and that one portion of a sentences line was excluded from the original announcement. Here is the corrected version. My apologies for any confusion this may have caused.
Your brother,
Greg Barrow

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This is one of the most difficult letters we have ever had to write since the formation of the Reformed Presbytery In North America.

We have earnestly examined all of our known lawful options and alternatives, but have been unable to come to any other conclusion than the one we must herein sadly communicate to you.

This past Friday (June 6, 2003), each of the officers of the Presbytery sorrowfully concluded that the Reformed Presbytery In North America must be dissolved due to the recent discovery that fundamental differences exist among us over the issue of the use of contraception in difficult cases.

These issues were thoroughly discussed before the formation of the Reformed Presbytery In North America, and we all believed that we had reached an agreement at that time. However, last Wednesday, during a discussion regarding a real case placed before us, we learned that, within the Presbytery, there in
fact "still" existed two fundamentally different doctrinal positions regarding the use of contraception.

Greg Barrow, Lyndon Dohms, and Greg Price believe that only abstention is biblically permitted to preserve the life and health of a mother (whose health would be at risk in the event of a pregnancy) and that other means are prohibited by Scripture.

Derek Edwards believes that abstention is likely the least effective means of preserving the life and health of a mother in such a case and that the Scripture warrants the use of other means to preserve the life and health of a mother (such as condoms for men and diaphragms for women).

This is not the only case or point concerning this issue upon which Greg Price, Greg Barrow, and Lyndon Dohms significantly differ with Derek Edwards.

Additionally, a hypothetical case was discussed which supposed the following:

A married woman in a very weakened condition, who lived in a poor country gripped by famine, had numerous children. Some had already died of starvation and many people around her were also
dying of starvation. Hope of any relief was, for the sake of discussion, negligible, both for the woman, her living children, or any children to be yet conceived/born in the near future. In her mind it was nearly certain that any children she would bear in the near future would in fact suffer and quickly
die of hunger, and that her own health and life would be in extreme danger due to the added stress on her body during the pregnancy. One of the questions before us was this--in this circumstance, could this woman intentionally and actively use contraception to prevent other children from being born in
order to protect herself? Also the question was asked--Is it morally necessary that the woman use contraception in an extreme case?

Derek Edward's represents that he thinks it would be "sinful" for this woman to have more children in this particular circumstance. He represents that in this circumstance she should intentionally and actively prevent further children from being born, and that in this case, since she is married, it
would be both lawful and wise for her to use something other than abstinence to fulfill her sixth commandment duty to protect herself. The reason is, that over time, in the environment of the marital bedroom, it is more than unlikely that abstinence would be maintained. He also maintains that in
certain very extreme cases and circumstances, that it is not optional, but morally necessary for a woman to use contraception to prevent the life of further children.

Greg Price, Greg Barrow and Lyndon Dohms, represent that in this particular circumstance this woman can lawfully bear more children, and that it would be sinful for her to intentionally
and actively prevent further children from being born via methods of contraception. They can presently see no case in which they believe that it is morally necessary for a woman to
intentionally use contraception (although they remain open to examining hard cases), and thus they oppose the intentional use of contraception for the purpose of preventing life.

This past Friday, we, as a Presbytery, concluded, that we would not be able to with a clear conscience, maintain unity in our Presbytery without unity upon this important subject.

This issue affects the very counsel we give to others in very serious practical situations. The doctrine we promote and practice in this important area of Christian obedience directly exhibits our understanding of what does or does not constitute a violation the Sixth Commandment. If persons on either side of
this question believe that a fellow Presbyter is advocating a sinful and unbiblical position, practically, we find ourselves unable to with a clear conscience, support that ministry. If it were possible to consistently maintain our principles while holding these two diverse positions, we would do so, but it is
painfully evident to us all that we cannot do so with a clear conscience before God.

We realize (with much love for you all), the difficult position into which you are put (and this weighs heavily upon us). Presently, you must exercise the right of private judgment (in
your families and societies) in determining which of these positions is biblical and which elders you desire to financially support and minister to you.

We invite you to call us or email us in order to discuss these matters. You may also, in the future, expect to receive position papers from us which will seek to defend the respective positions taken. Where there is yet uncertainty over this issue in societies, there is no reason to make quick decisions. We exhort you to carefully consider and prayerfully weigh the evidence presented before coming to a decision in this matter.

Let us all be humbled before almighty God, understanding that for our well-being He has seen fit to take us through yet another trial of our faith. Where we have sinned, may we be quick to repent and seek the Lord's forgiveness.

May the Lord yet promote reformation in the truth so that we may see in the near future the Reformed Presbytery In North America formed and established anew in the truth of Jesus Christ.

Let us love one another and pray for one another.

With love for you all in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Greg Barrow
Lyndon Dohms
Derek Edwards
Greg Price