Sunday, March 12, 2006

3/12/06, Special Pleading in Regard to Terms of Communion and Names

From: Bob S.
To: Pastor Greg Price
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2006 10:39 PM
Subject: Re: My Proposed Response To Your Letter

Sunday, 3/12/06
Dear Pastor Price,
My apologies for taking so long to get back to you in regard to the rough draft of your proposed response 1/27/06 to my request 1/25/06 for clarification regarding the "public accusations of sin" in yours of 1/21/06.
I would say at the outset:
1. My comments were never intended to challenge or question the lawful authority of the elders of this church, but only rather to ask some pointed questions and make some possible observations in the light of our past and the upcoming solemn public fast.
2. If there was any accusation of sin it was to obviously included me, as well the whole church, not just the office bearers and was in regard to sincere and well meant ignorance rather than wilful deceit and malice.
3. In light of the fallibility of all parties involved in this discussion, much more the confusion that still revolves around the distinction between public and private sins and their respective relation to a solemn public fast, it is no wonder that misunderstanding still exist on both sides of the fence.
Thank you also for ackowledging that you left out the specification of sin in your comments of 1/21/06.
Yet the root of the matter as I see it, is found in the following comments:

"If, for example, we decided to call ourselves the Church of Scotland (Protesters), would we be in violation of the 9th Commandment simply because we were not circumstantially identical to the government of the Church at that time? I believe we could morally do so as long as we had in substance the same Terms of Communion. If fact, this is what we actually do believe even though we have not adopted the name, Church of Scotland (Protesters). . .
It may be the case that some of you would have preferred to use the name, RPNA, only when we reconstituted as a Presbytery, and thats fine if that is your preference. It may be the case that some of you would have preferred to use the name, General Meeting, only when we established a fully functioning General Meeting, and thats fine too if that is your preference. But, dear ones, I submit to you that it is NOT a violation of the 9th Commandment to use those names by way of morally identifying with our ecclesiastical forefathers in having the same Terms of Communion (though recognizing the circumstantial differences between us and them)."

In other words, since we have the same terms of communion as the Church of Scotland (Protesters), it really makes no difference whether we or the elders call ourselves/themselves the RPNA, the RPNA(GM) or even the CoS(P).
It seems to me that there are three comments that categorically follow from this non sequitur.
1. Names are to distinguish, not confuse, much less the third term of communion regards jus divinum church government. That is, our namesake in the faith, the RP/RP(GM) in light of this term, changed their name according to whether or not they actually had a plurality of ministers, ie. a presbytery or no.
2. On the basis of this reasoning - that having the same terms of communion is the only material thing necessary in our name - we suppose the Washington Society could change its name to the General Meeting of the Reformed Presbytery of the Church of Scotland (Protesters) and nobody could complain, however confused in fact they might really be. Which is exactly what it is: confusion.
3. That the elders are aware of this reasoning and justification for the name changes is one thing, it is entirely another thing for the members of the congregation including the undersigned. That same could not be said. Consequently, any "public accusations of sin," on the part of the undersigned, even sin committed in well intended ignorance, would clearly and only apply to the congregation, and NOT to the elders, which should be enough said.
In other words, there are four options, not two, in the proposed response, to consider regarding the name changes. The elders did/didn’t know and the congregation did/didn’t know. If the last, which seems to me to be the obvious one - the one I know most about - any and all "accusations of sin" would again only apply to the congregation and NOT the elders. The congregation is essentially in well meant ignorance regarding who or what we are.
That, not to mention if the name changes can even be defended on the basis proposed in the response which I would respectfully, but absolutely deny. Rather I would think that this line of reasoning regarding the justification or explanation of the name of the church needs to be repudiated at the earliest possible instance. It respectfully, cannot stand the weight of reasonable examination. . . . . .