Sent: Sunday, May 27, 2007 7:40 PM
Subject: A Letter To You
As people of association and membership in the Puritan Reformed Church since 1993 (now known as the RPNAGM), we believe the attached letter may offer a perspective not considered by many up to this point and hope you will prayerfully read it without bias.
A reasonable amount of time has passed since we received the Confidential Oath. This has allowed us to reflect, pray and finally to carefully compose this letter in the absence of any attempt by Mr. Price, Mr. Barrow, and Mr. Dohms to contact us in the past 6 months.
We do not speak on behalf of the Prince George Society, but only testify of our own household. It is presumed for purposes of brevity and minimal referencing that those to whom this testimony is written are reasonably familiar with the topic, with the correspondence of the past 3 or so years and with basic principles of Presbyterian church government.
We write in the interest of God's cause in the world, to assert and maintain the Truth of His Word and not to partake in any renunciation or denial of it. We hope here to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.
Yours in Christ,
Rod and Milly S.
This is to bear public testimony against the minister Mr. Greg Price, and elders Mr. Greg Barrow and Mr. Lyndon Dohms, as constituting the ‘so-called session of the RPNA (GM)’, and to contend against their departure from our Reformed and Presbyterian Terms of Ecclesiastical Communion. They have quenched the small glimmer of hope of Christ’s own for reformation in this dark age, creating schism from the faithful Church historical and would return Christ’s own to the labyrinth of further Sectarian corruptions. The Solemn League and Covenant, (term 4 of our Terms of Ecclesiastical Communion), term II, says: “we shall … without respect of persons, endeavour the extirpation of … heresy, schism, … and whatsoever shall be found to be contrary to sound doctrine and the power of godliness”.(1) Further, the Solemn Acknowledgement of Publick Sins, and Breaches of The Covenant laments such tolerations because many “have not made conscience of the oath of God” and again obliges us to the extirpation of such tolerations and to “pray unto God, that he would give us able men, fearing God, men of truth, and hating covetousness, to judge and bear charge among his people”.(2) As such, it is not in our power either to repent or to quietly wander off as so-called excommunicants via the so-called Confidential Oath with its secret charge of sin. This ‘excommunication’ was for having asked questions, with the Prince George Society (PGS), concerning the place of the Short Directory for Religious Societies in light of the dissolve of Presbytery June 2003 and concerning the surprise constitution and intrusion of an ‘extraordinary’ standing international session, contrary to scripture. Such constitution and intrusion alters ‘the unalterable Presbyterian order’(3) for both settled and extraordinary times that ‘we have made a conscienced oath of God’ to protect. Rather, according to the faithfulness of our Terms of Ecclesiastical Communion, it is necessary to testify against this usurping, defecting and pretended Court.
Supposed Tacit and Explicit Consent
Matthew 5 and 18
Principle of Non-Intrusion
Regulative Principle of Church Government
Principle of Accountability
1.Westminster Confession of Faith, (Glasgow: Free Presbyterian, 1990), 359.
2. ibid., 368.
3. See term #3 of our Six Terms of Ecclesiastical Communion.
Supposed Tacit and Explicit Consent
In the Position Paper and Response to Questions Circulated About Sessional Authority Within The RPNA (General Meeting) (PPSA) of 2006, pages 13-14, these men assert that, post 2003 Presbytery dissolve, their “extraordinary organized” standing international sessional Court came to being:
we continued functioning as a Church Court upon dissolution of our Presbytery, and … within a very short time … we were ‘publicly’ admitting members and exercising acts of Church power that only a Church Court may exercise. This was done publicly with the consent and participation of our membership. This consent (whether explicitly or tacitly) and actual participation by those in our membership indicated to us that those under our inspection agreed with us that we had the Scriptural right to exercise acts of Church power as a lawful Court of Christ.Much might be said, and has been publicly said, in question of the many assertions in this quote. One such question is: Does the receiving of new members, communion membership, baptisms and serving the Lord’s Supper, which is all that took place up to October 31, 2004 (Appendix A), indicate, in terms of Presbyterianism, the necessary existence of a standing Court of Christ ‘as self-evident’? (No public announcement and formal declaration of constitution seeking consent of membership was made to the societies at that time). Or might it have, in light of the circumstances and in complete absence of any formal and necessary declaration of constitution, only ‘self-evidenced’ a temporary session for those specific functions?
What direction might our higher court General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland offer as an example of Scriptural tacit and explicit consent? Would they not follow the biblical procedural example of Acts 15 and the many instances in the Old Testament of ecclesiastical, civil and social covenanting wherein tacit and explicit consent gathering is exampled?(4) Consider from their Acts, our Westminster Standards or Symbols, “for the establishing and putting into Execution of the Directory for the Publick Worship of God” pages 371-72, where they say,
(T)he General Assembly … after several publick readings of it, after much deliberation, both publickly and in private committees, after full liberty given to all to object against it, and earnest invitations of all who have any scruples about it, to make known the same, that they might be satisfied; doth unanimously, and without a contrary voice, agree to and approve the following Directory.(5)
This is the same procedure given in the Act approving The Form of Presbyterial Church Government.(6) The Biblical and Presbyterian order is first a formal unambiguous informing of members, then seeking their tacit consent, which is satisfaction of all questions, and lastly, the seeking of a formal unambiguous informed explicit ratification via an ordered vote. Might a lesser regular sessional court, let alone an ‘extraordinary’ one, then do less than the higher? It would be helpful here if you the reader imagined for yourself the General Assembly having followed the procedural
4. Procedures used throughout Deuteronomy and in Nehemiah chap. 8-9, etc.
5. Westminster Confession of Faith, 371-372.
6. Ibid., 396.
example of Mr. Price, Mr. Barrow and Mr. Dohms for establishing and putting into Execution of the Directory. There would be no public announcement, no public deliberation, no liberty given to object, no invitation to any with scruples to make them known and be satisfied and no seeking informed consent prior to its implementation, they would just quietly put the Directory into execution and if enough members noticed after the fact, they would deal with it later as in a PPSA. Then to have the Assembly charge with sin those seeking a means to be heard after the fact (e.g. ‘The Effort’s’ Charitable Inquiry), when all other means had proved futile, would appear to be the height of hubris and folly in light of Scripture.
The ‘session’ often invoked the use of the phrase ‘extraordinary’ to avoid or excuse themselves from adhering to the unalterable Presbyterian principles and to justify their means to their perceived ends. This is not to be received other than as an equivocation of the use of the term ‘extraordinary’ in the historical testimony of Presbyterianism.
However, we particularly testify against the assertion of consent, ‘whether explicitly or tacitly’. In the above quote from the PPSA, it is knowingly and falsely asserted by these men that they had the consent of the membership as to their ‘extraordinary’ standing international session. In fact it seems this is one of the reasons that the PPSA was written 3 ½ years after the fact – they must assert this supposed consent because of the growing dissent as individuals became informed of what had actually taken place. Our household, along with the PGS, up until the July 4th 2004 weekend, were unaware that these men were asserting anything other than a temporary session. According to historical testimony in like circumstances, they should have reverted to a temporary session (and not to anything other), allowing them to exercise the keys of order and worship, but they should have done so with public declaration and informed consent. From July 4th 2004 until today, they knew our household did not consent, and they knew this both ‘explicitly and tacitly’ in our part with the PGS in its questions over this and related issues.
Consent whether explicit or tacit must be informed and the informing was withheld. In fact, their patent false read of membership’s so-called ‘consent’ that they assert has become blatantly clear, as the list of those served with the Confidential Oath and consequently ‘excommunicated’ over this issue continues to grow. In short, this assertion of having consent from the membership is contrary to what they knew and an inexcusable, perpetrated falsehood by these men to hold the power of the judicial key without accountability. Historically it is Papists, Prelates, and Erastians who have entitled themselves to dispose of such matters of consent according to their own judgment of the validity of the people’s objections, suppressing the right of the Christian people to have a real and effective voice. The Reformers always looked to establish the right of the Christian people to have a real and effective voice and thus informed.
Further, the consent that these men assert was, in essence, a secret vote that was so secret that only they were privy to it and those supposedly giving consent were not informed. Our household did not know that our actions constituted consent, particularly when our actions were for 3 ½ years tacitly and thus explicitly not consenting, but questioning the lawfulness of their Court. By analogy, they called a secret vote, filled in the ballots themselves, counted them up and determined consent for their ‘extraordinary’ Court established by landslide.
7. See further: Pr. 11:30; Dan. 12:3; I Cor. 9:16-19; *Gal. 6:1; *II Tim. 2:24-26; James 5:19-20; Jude 21-23.
Matthew 5 and 18
Matthew 18 has on numerous occasions been called upon or suspended in lawful application by these men when it has suited their ends in defending their claimed power of the judicial key. Many instances might be cited, but one multiple example of this is all that is necessary. Mr. Price on March 30, 2007 in an Email to Mr. Paul Roberts in answer to his charges of sin against these men and their claimed Court, appeals to Matthew 18 as having been circumvented by Mr. Roberts in not coming to them privately first. In this letter Mr. Price writes as being accused, on pages 1-2: “Does not Matthew 18:15-17 state that a brother is to tell the ‘offending’ brother his specific ‘fault’?” This is a good point, and right Christian jurisprudence, if this was actually the case that Mr. Roberts had failed to do so, but this is not our point here to defend Mr. Roberts. The point is that these men only see Matthew 18 applying selectively as they see fit, as a means to their ends. What he rightly and justly expects for himself, he, with Mr. Barrow and Mr. Dohms, obstinately and unjustly denied to others. These men, concerning the accepted and secret charges against us, never granted us, when served with the Confidential Oath, the said Matthew 18 procedure. They did not confirm with us that said plaintiff/s came to us first, nor were we afforded, according to Matthew 5:23-26, opportunity to go to our brother/s, the secret plaintiffs who have ought against us. We have never been ‘told as offending brethren our specific faults’ we are left to continue in the state of ignorance of our sin and guess at what it might be – how will we repent if we know not what of? Not only is such procedure uncharitable, but sinful, Lev. 19:17, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him”.(7) It may be likened to an ecclesiastical Star Chamber Court, a tyrannical control – it is simply not Presbyterian; it is the very thing that Presbyterianism resists. This example contains as many specific instances as there are Confidential Oaths invoked by these men, which we believe now exceeds 34. In these thirty or more, and now public, instances it appears that these men, claiming the judicial key of the Court of Christ, have in 30 plus instances suspended or obstructed the direct pure rule of Christ Himself to others that they demand and command to themselves. Therefore, they assert themselves and their Court over The Supreme Court of Christ, and over Christ The King Himself, – whom they claim to serve.
Attached to the Matthew 5 reference we have this warning in the words of Christ himself in verse 20: “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven”. In light of this, does Christ recognize such a Court in His Name? Will remaining members continue with these men and partake of their sins? The Confidential Oath cannot be considered lawful as it is wielded to obstruct Christ’s justice by a Court that does not have a moral legitimacy or lawful existence to do so.
Principle of Non-Intrusion
If the above premises be true then these men and their ‘extraordinary’ standing international sessional Court have actively breached the Presbyterian principle of Non-Intrusion.
These men have actively intruded themselves as a Court upon the membership in spite of their knowing they lacked any real consent for an ‘extraordinary’ international standing session and kept this hid from the membership of the societies. If they will interdict the pure rule of Christ Himself to and in His Church as suits them, then they, the lesser, intrude upon the highest Court and implicitly intrude upon all superior faithful earthly Church judicatories. Let us hear the superior judicatory of the Reformed Presbytery in 1876 speaking in the Act, Declaration, and Testimony referred to by its sections in Term 5 of our Terms of Ecclesiastical Communion:
They [Reformed Presbytery] further reject and condemn that sectarian principle and tenet, whether in former or latter times maintained, that a kirk session, or particular congregational eldership, is vested with equal ecclesiastical power and authority, with any superior judicatory, and is neither subordinate nor accountable to them (in the Lord) in their determinations. (197-198)The membership had every right to expect to be openly and publicly informed that their consent was needed, and to be consulted for their consent with a positive informing of what our options were in our ‘extraordinary’ situation after dissolve of Presbytery, in terms of Scripture and our historical testimony. This was never done and those members seeking remediation for this aberration and sinful omission, have at every turn been met with obstinacy, circumvention, hubris, and, finally and summarily, excommunication by the ‘so-called self-imposed session of the RPNA (GM)’. Their answer to this point has been that they simply reverted to the old session – but the old session was in one location able to fulfil familiar Christian duties; it was never international as claimed now (now unable to fulfil familiar Christian duties) and thus is not the old session, but an innovation.
Regulative Principle of Church Government
The Reformers asked the question, does the Church exist for the edification of Church government or Church government for the edification of the Church? The latter is the Protestant distinction (Ephesians 4:11-12) the former is the Papal distinction. How does one answer this question concerning ‘the extraordinary standing session so-called of the RPNA (GM)’ in light of the above premises, if they are reasonably established? They have asserted consent by the membership when membership was not permitted to be informed about giving its consent. They have obstructed Matthew 5:23-26 and 18:15-17 the justice of Christ’s own and pure rule in His Church. They have intruded themselves on the Societies as an ‘extraordinary’ standing sessional Court. These three premises together display that the membership exists for the edification of ‘the so-called session of the RPNA (GM)’ – why else would questioning members be dispatched with so reckless abandonment and rent to the Church, if not to protect the ‘session’s’ own self-interests. If they truly believed that they had the ‘explicit and tacit consent’ they claimed, and it was in question when members became informed, then the scriptural and charitable Christian action in Presbyterian jurisprudence would have been to then call for an informed and explicit vote. This would have simply silenced the questioners or naysayers and ended the matter, rather than to pretend excommunications and wound the flock. Is it not the fruit of hirelings to sacrifice the sheep rather than put themselves at risk of being accountable?
Our household is not edified, but provoked to anger at the actions of these men, 3 ½ years of cat and mouse with them to get answers that never came and then we are sanctimoniously and conspiratorially disposed of so they can avoid accountability on pretence of protecting their Court. (Our questions appear to have stood in the way of the so-called session’s promoting of its own ends). It is apparent that the membership exists for the edification of the supposed ‘session’!
Principle of Accountability
The active charge of the keys of the Kingdom of Christ to the earthly government of the Church, the Divine Right of Church government (Jus Divinum), as asserted in the PPSA, is a doctrine clearly Presbyterian and not to be denied. This charge is an ambassadorial charge of Christ with His regulative principle of government on its exercise as gifts to His Church for its edification, “the ministry, oracles and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints in this life” (WCF chap. XXV sec. III; also see Ephesians 4:11-12). This active charge is subordinate and accountable directly to Christ Himself in heaven and speaking in the Scriptures first and foremost, but it is also accountable indirectly to the Church wherein Christ is present in His people as the passive recipient of the edification. Congregations are without charge of the keys and do not assert active self-rule; this also is Presbyterian.
The Church is with Divine Right (Jure Divino) as receiver and possessor of these gifts from Christ Himself, as exercised upon or in her for her edification, having every right to have these gifts, and to expect to have these gifts exercised rightly and accountably within her. When they are not exercised rightly and accountably, or are in question, she not only has the right, but the responsibility to demand accountability of her officers. In ordinary or settled times this is regularly achieved in most instances through the structure of the graded courts of Presbyterianism, the lower accountable to the higher in appeal. In The Acts of the General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland it is an Act Sess. 22. 29 Aug. 1639 “that the Session books of every Paroche be presented once a year to the Presbyteries, that they may be tried by them”. Failure or refusal of a Session to do so results in its censure by the higher Court, as exampled in the case of Synod books tried by the Assembly, Act Sess. 3. July . How and when will the books of ‘the session of the RPNA (GM)’ be annually inspected and tried as is commanded to avoid censure, without an actual General Meeting in more than name only, that is in real operation?
Further, the Acts of the General Assemblies in Act Sess. 14. 6 August 1641 state “that no Novation in Doctrine, Worship, or Government, be brought in, or practised in this Kirk, unless it be first propounded, examined, and allowed in the General Assembly, and transgressors in this kind be censured by Presbyteries and Synods”.
It is a novation to historical testimony that there be an intrusive sessional Court on an ‘uninformed’ explicit or tacit consent.
It is a novation to historical testimony that there be a sessional Court ‘obstructing the pure rule of Christ Himself’ in His Church.
It is a novation to historical testimony that in ordinary or extraordinary times there be an ‘extraordinary’ international standing sessional Court intruded upon membership ‘without open and public informed consent’.
It is a novation to historical testimony that the ‘membership exists for the edification of a ‘session’’.
It is a novation to historical testimony that the sessional books go untried annually.
In summary, it is a novation to Scripture and to historical testimony that there be an ‘extraordinary’ session ‘unaccountable’ to the Church in any earthly sense.
That these are human innovations obtruded upon Scripture and Presbyterianism, and invalid as shadow principles of regular and valid rule for extraordinary times, is proved, in that if these were general principles in a regular state of the church, they would lead to papal-like or prelatical-like mischiefs. As such, ‘the session of the RPNA (GM)’ is in contempt of all higher Courts of Presbyterian government, and its officers are, in principle, under censure of the Acts and Determinations of the General Assemblies of Scotland .
In extraordinary or unsettled times, like today, Presbyterianism yet demands a valid system of accountability and appeal. It demands a valid shadow of all Presbyterian principles, in which to exercise the principle of accountability agreeable to both the Church and her officers. Accountability keeps tyranny in check; lack of accountability is an open invitation to tyranny.
This is precisely the problem with ‘the so-called extraordinary international standing session of the RPNA (GM)’ as defended in the PPSA. It is an innovation against Presbyterian principles; there is no accountability and no legitimate or valid system of appeal to it and thus its existence is, on Presbyterian principles, whether in extraordinary times or not, unlawful and cannot lawfully be consented to by the membership. This ‘session’ is under censure of our subordinate standards and Christ Himself speaking in Scripture.
Our Covenanter testimony, in like extraordinary circumstances to ours, examples an approved and valid means of shadow Presbyterianism that fulfils Presbyterian principles of government. We have this historical example, in short, preserved by the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States of America in its 1807 Reformed Principles Exhibited. Just before Mr. James Renwick’s ordination, facilitated by the covenanters, the covenanters,
"established among themselves a general correspondence. The societies in each shire was connected by a particular correspondence of delegates, and these correspondences were again connected in a representative general meeting. This plan was highly expedient in their situation, as they had no properly organized Church. It was a measure of expediency, dictated by the necessity of the times. The general meeting managed every thing of common concern to the societies. They claimed neither civil nor ecclesiastical power. They exercised no part of Church discipline. They endeavoured, however, to procure a faithful ministry. (Bk I 84-85) "As a temporary arrangement until the immediate goal of achieving a regular settled state of Church government, a General Meeting might supply a chairman working, independent of elders and minister, to annually audit the labours of these men in terms of their office requirements. (Such things as: meeting minutes up to date and clear, finances, office duties fulfilled, long term goals, etc.) The Chair would annually report to membership and could offer an independent means of appeal for societies and members to the eldership. The safety that such, or a like, form of accountability would provide for
officers and membership should be a welcome relief for any officer that has not already slipped toward tyranny. The past 3 years of energies wasted in counter-productive and harmful results to Reformation could have been averted. A General Meeting is more than a name only.
Whether regular and valid or extraordinary and valid, Presbyterian government is not self-appointment or arbitrary power nor allowing of innovations in government any more than innovations are permitted in worship – the regulative principle of Church government demands every innovation must be purged – there is no room for latitudinarianism by invoking ‘extraordinary’. At every point, these three men have refused all earthly Presbyterian accountability and have manoeuvred to resist informed consent, Christ’s pure rule, non-intrusion, and have changed the edification of the Church for their own edification to the wounding of Christ’s own.
Let these men make a positive display of their above actions, summarized below, as having positive sanction from scripture and the faithful historical testimony, as is obligatory upon and becoming their offices and as is the right of the Church under Christ,
1. that an uninformed explicit or tacit consent of membership is Scriptural and Presbyterian rule
2. that obstruction of Christ’s pure rule and justice in His Church by a Church Court is Scriptural and Presbyterian rule
3. that intrusion or arbitrary self-imposition/appointment of government upon Christ’s Church is Scriptural and Presbyterian rule
4. that the Church exists for the edification of government is Scriptural and Presbyterian rule
5. that Divine Right of Church government means accountable to Christ alone in heaven and not accountable in any earthly sense to the Church it rules is Scriptural and Presbyterian rule.
Our Terms of Communion state in Term 3: “That Presbyterial Church Government and manner of worship are alone of divine right and unalterable”. Church government is as unalterable as worship; both follow the regulative principle of Scripture. As such,
6. Let the ‘so-called extraordinary international standing session of the RPNA (GM)’ prove in the face of the utter failure and schism created by the PPSA due to its innovations and special pleading (being vacuous of right dividing of Scripture and our historical testimony), that its ‘extraordinary’ existence and conduct these past 3 ½ years is Scriptural and Presbyterian rule.
Failing to give the positive sanctions of Scripture and Presbyterian rule for any or all these six issues aggravated and provoked over 3 ½ years (8) requires shame-faced
8. While the Confidential Oath is a secondary issue to this testimony, and not directly addressed, it logically follows implicitly that on failure of these men to answer all these six issues positively from Scripture and faithful historical testimony that the Confidential Oaths are not lawful, but mere fiction and wishful thinking. If the Confidential Oaths will be lawful 3 general requirements are demanded:
1. A lawful court
2. A lawful procedure followed
3. A lawful purpose
See applicable points presented by Stan Birchfield in recent series of e-mails concerning excommunication procedure.
repentance, voluntary standing down as officers for a period until a determination can be procured of their faithful ministry, an accountability that any faithful ministry will desire. Failing a sincere repentance they wear the labels of schismatic and sectarian, testified against in our Terms of Ecclesiastical Communion and are subject of the censure by our higher courts speaking today from the past – faithful historical testimony.
In sober warning the faithful Rev. Mr. James Renwick in comment on Hosea 8:11 says, “When people go on in a course of defection, they cannot be staid, but, ordinarily, become endless therein”. (9)
- We do not want to leave the impression that we are ungrateful for all the benefits, which we received, directing us to right doctrine and practice of the church faithful in history.
- The Confidential Oath only served to separate us from you as schismatic and sectarian, who would lead us astray by separating us from our faithful Terms of Ecclesiastical Communion and our fellowship with the covenanted historical testimony and its martyrs. We continue to maintain our Terms of Membership and Ecclesiastical Communion with the faithful historical testimony – our separation or departure is from your sectarian contrivances against which we testify.
- The participants of ‘The Effort’ now supposedly charged with sin and conspiracy for failing the demand by you to come privately as individuals with our questions. This ‘charge’ is the height of hubris and folly. This ‘charge’ has every indication of displaying a conspiratorial and contemptuous behaviour by the ‘so-called session of the RPNA (GM)’ toward membership whom they are meant to edify. On this very point, the “Terms of Membership” have been invoked against us that we were to come privately as individuals with questions about our subordinate standards. However, the Terms also tell us in 5.d. that, we are to “give the elders due opportunity to patiently and lovingly instruct us”.10 We, with PGS, have waited nearly 3 years for this loving instruction and are still waiting. Any Term is only as good as the parties involved; if the one party (session) refuses its obligation, then it has lost its moral authority to continue to obligate the other party, except it be contemptuous of that other party. The session needs to first consider the beam in its own eye and the offences it perpetrated first. If ‘The Effort’ was in fault, it is our opinionthat it was in being overly charitable in patience with the ‘session’s public offences, by asking questions instead of exhibiting a public witness against these three men.
- To our household, according to Romans 16:17-18, these three men are “marked”, until such time as their full repentance, I John 1:9-10.
- We encourage all “That the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (II Cor. 4:7b-9).
Your Covenanted brother and sister in Christ,
Rod and Milly S.