Monday, September 15, 2008

A Letter of Repentance

September 15, 2008

Dear Friends and Brethren in Christ,

In March 2007, the Elders of the former RPNA (GM) produced a document entitled “Sins Committed By 'The Effort' And Steps To Repentance” wherein they sought to identify various and particular sins committed by people involved in the group informally named the Effort which organized to bring common questions unto the Elders. The sins the Elders identified can be fairly summarized as: 

1. Conspiracy against Christ-appointed officers as a violation of the Fifth Commandment.
2. Acting in deceit and under the cloak of darkness as a violation of the Ninth Commandment.
3. Membership covenant-breaking as a violation of the Ninth Commandment.
4. Schism and division within the Church of Christ as a violation of the Sixth Commandment.

After some time of reflection, we, J&DD, do believe we were guilty of some particular sins both in our involvement with the Effort and in our own lives as church members at that time.

The sins we believe we have committed are as follows (with excerpts from the Westminster Larger Catechism addressing the commandments):

1. We believe we have violated the 5th commandment by:

1. Forsaking due reverence in heart, word, and behaviour: The general flavour of the Effort was, from the outset, was one of opposition to the Elders. While that did not align with our own private feelings and intentions at the time, we continued participation in the Effort's activities for some time, with the hope that the shared goal (i.e. explanation of or adjustment to the Position Paper on Sessional Authority) could still be achieved.

“Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:3)

2. Neglect of the duties required toward [superiors]: We allowed distance between ourselves and the Elders instead of seeking to come closer together as brethren in Christ. As well, not maintaining the teachable spirit necessary of us as Christian people but instead were suspicious and not receptive to the instruction that was available.

“For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” (Matthew 15:4-6)

3. Contempt of...their lawful counsels: While we did employ private dialog with them, as directed, both during and after the Effort, we also participated in the larger work which was expected to start a public dialog from the outset. This was contrary to their recommendation/counsel of private dialog.

“The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” (Proverbs 30:17)

2. We believe we have violated the 6th commandment by:

1. Wounding..the life of [the church]: Participating in a group which contributed to disunity within the Church of Christ by reinforcing divisions between members.

“Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13)
“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” (Romans 12:5)

3. We believe we have violated the 9th commandment by:

1. Holding our peace when iniquity calleth for...a reproof from ourselves: In various discussions at that time, unfounded accusations and slanderous remarks were made against Elders, members, and already-excommunicated members.

“Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.” (Leviticus 19:17)

2. Forsaking a charitable esteem of our neighbours: We allowed our feelings and actions towards the Elders to be influenced by other people's prior experiences, instead of our own which had been more positive.

“[Charity] beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7)

We sincerely ask for forgiveness of all those who have been wronged by these offenses. We believe we have learned much from this unfortunate situation and have grown, by God's grace, through it. We also believe we have genuine repentance and a turning away from these sins in the intervening time. Our hope is that through the ordeal of our own sins and growing thereby, we may be better able to serve our Lord in our own personal walk and as members in
His church. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”
(Romans 8:28)

We do hope and pray that this step will encourage reconciliation of those involved and can clear our own consciences from these regrettable actions. We also fully acknowledge that there are other requirements for there to be true and full reconciliation. Most notably, there are a collection of still-unrepented sins which were committed by the Elders which necessarily must be reconciled. “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.” (Ephesians 6:4) Additionally, we exhort other members of the Effort to examine their own hearts; whether any of the above sins are personally convicting. “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” (Psalm 26:2)

With love,