Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Public and Hopefully Reformed Reply

Greetings J & D,

Thank you for your recent on repentance. On the one hand, the spirit in which it is written is appreciated and the desire for reconciliation of all parties involved is commendable. With that we find ourselves in complete agreement.
Likewise to be in hard pursuit of a clear conscience and whether we like to admit it or not, mortifying our own sins is harder than decrying those of others. Further, there is no question that sin accompanied the Effort meeting and what it endeavored. 

Yet one's personal conscience is not the last word. Rather if the whole truth is to be told, whatever the sins and shortcomings of the Effort meeting, neither your paper or the one you are working off of, the Sins Committed By 'The Effort' And Steps To Repentance (SESR) scripturally resolve the following two items.  

Hypocritical Double Standards
it is a little hypocritical of the elders to chastise the Effort meeting as being a secret society or association, all the while the elders themselves have a secret membership requirement to belong to the visible church of the Lord Jesus Christ as it is represented in and by the RPNA(GM). We speak of the necessity of owning and agreeing with the Tattoo and Sessional Authority (PPSA) papers which to this day cannot be found/are not publicly listed on either the Subordinate Standards or Church Writings webpages at the official RPNA(GM) website. (We say nothing at all of the still outstanding "duty" to produce a paper on Birth Control, as the elders themselves put it in their June 14, 2003 letter. They have had over four years to write it, but somehow could only come up with a four month deadline on the Confidential Oath after which excommunication took place a month later.) Above and beyond the intrinsic merit of the requirement that a RPNA(GM) member must be in agreement with the Tattoo and PPSA papers, the secrecy of these documents is simply inexcusable and unacceptable, much more unfaithful and sinful.

While mention is made of the officers in the RPNA(GM) on the church website, nothing can be found regarding the extraordinary, international, non-resident "congregational" court constituted and convened by way of long distance telephone. Why is that? Are the elders simply that incompetent or careless that they can't see the necessity of spelling out exactly what they believe and require of members? And make no mistake about it, they believe and require it of members, otherwise they would not have excommunicated anybody from the visible church of Christ as they did precisely on those grounds: failure to agree with at least the PPSA and subsequently submit to the court argued for in its pages by taking the Confidential Oath. Again, if failure to agree with at least the PPSA and the Confidential Oath is sin, faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ ought to compel the elders to be forthright and up front in the public witness and testimony of the church. But that is not the case. Again, why is that? And if it isn't a sinful omission, what is it?

Could it be, that the "RPNA(GM)" elders responsible for these two papers implicitly realize that these items cannot stand public examination? That both papers are not consonant or agreeable to Scripture, history and reason? (We think to ask, is to answer. Emphatically in the affirmative.) But note bene - note well - you still must own these two papers to be a member. After all they were again, included in the
Confidential Oath along with the other Church Writings. Consequently what gives? The elders complain of and censure secret societies, all the while they maintain secret requirements to their visible church of Christ? Is this faithfulness to Christ? Can one have a visible church of Christ with secret requirements? How can that be?

John 18:20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
John 9:41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
Luke 4:23 Physician, heal thyself.

The Rest of the Story: Unfaithful, Obstinate and Persecutors of the faithful
Two, the SESR itself acknowledges in passing that "Secret societies and meetings may be warranted when . . . the Officers of the Church become unfaithful, obstinate, and persecutors of the faithful, (italics added, p.4)." Of course the SESR goes on to assume that such is not the case in the RPNA(GM) and reads the riot act to the members of the Effort meeting who were excommunicated by 1/5/07 before this literary effort by the elders of 3/25/07 in their march to judgment. All very well and good, we suppose, yet a few questions that ought to be easy to dispose of. As in, what exactly was the behavior of the surrogate elders all about on the email lists, not only moderated by, but also tacitly approved (a cardinal doctrine diligently practiced in the RPNA(GM)) by the elders of the same in the Affidavit and Hypothetical Analogy scandals, which preceded, if not provoked the Effort meeting in the first place? Again, whatever the private sins of the Effort meeting, the prevailing scandals and situation in the RPNA(GM) do not absolve the officers of the taint of unfaithfulness, obstinacy and persecution.

In the first, the elders allowed the future son in law of a ruling elder to require affidavits of other communicant members in good standing in the church. That he was privy to one society's longstanding and private concerns with the elders over the government of the church was winked at because he was considered loyal to the elders. (The brother claims later (
p.59,60.) that a society member told him, but we would like to hear an explicit public denial of communication by both the elder and our brother.) For that reason he felt free to implicitly bring up those issues beyond what had been addressed in the public email by the elders regarding the restructuring of the church. Yet any admonishment was received by others and not the favored son. We saw how lawful - elder Price said as much 2/11/06 and 3/17/06 - questions were nevertheless treated by the surrogate elders on the public email boards. What would anyone think would happen in private with the elders? Again, to ask is to answer. Actions speak louder than words. We saw the practical historical testimony played out and demonstrated before our very eyes.

In the second, again the two surrogate elders engaged in at least "doubtful or equivocal expressions (LC145)" in their asinine "hypothetical analogies"
filibuster which accused nameless individuals in the church of intending, among other charges, to "euthanize" the elders. (Yes, the undersigned in the discussion surrounding the public fast day/affidavits made accusations of sin also. But as we pointed out to the teaching elder, those comments were blanket and across the board and included the one making the charge. That is the distinction between the two.) The elder approved Hypothetical Analogy campaign had no business in raising false rumours, suspicions and accusations of malignants within the church and hem hawing around in the first place. It only further exacerbated the tension and dissension in the RPNA(GM) at that time, if not promoted what it professed to abhor, disagreement of any kind with the elders' agenda and court. (For that matter, speaking of secret meetings, this campaign was orchestrated by the two pets of a certain ruling elder, late from a secret/private meeting with him in Colorado all the while a very public meeting in the church took place in Prince George, at which the presence of the elders was requested, but none of whom could be bothered.) As we have said before, the Chinese proverb of killing the chicken in order to silence the monkey is to the crude point.

No wonder after seeing the display on the email forum, people thought of banding together rather than going alone to the elders with any questions, some of us having already done that both as individuals and societies without receiving any satisfaction other than a runaround. For but one example, remember the BC paper, again promised in the June 14, 2003 letter from the elders?
Somehow it got put on hold, but nobody bothered to tell anybody about it - or wanted to. Can you believe that? Just how did that happen in this day of what is so blithely and egregiously touted in the PPSA (p.9) below as "modern phone communications"? "Beats me" would be one cogent reply. It almost makes us want to ask what Larry, Moe and Curly would do, it is so pathetically ridiculous. Did the elders really think that something like putting the the BC paper on hold wouldn't alienate a lot of people in the church when the import and audacity of it finally sunk through? How could they think that? The birth control issue was the whole cause celebre and reason for the extraordinary court in the first place.

The fact is that now in this day of the Internet, and modern phone communications, it is easier and more convenient for Elders in different nations to ordinarily conduct Church business and constitute a Church Court than it ever was prior to these advantages-even for Elders of days gone by who were living in the same city. This advantage in communication is very significant in our case. Without this advantage, we would not be able to conduct business as a Church Court in any significant way, and thus, were we living under that circumstance, we would not continue to do what we are presently doing (PPSA, p.9).
What the esteemed "court" is really doing and has been doing for some time, even after numerous complaints about it, is withholding relevant information from the sheep, whether it be the Birth Control paper promised or the secret requirements to be a member of the visible church of Christ as represented in the RPNA(GM). (As to whether the last is a legitimate and faithful example of a General Meeting or a nominal one only, consider the example of a real RP general correspondence meeting here.) For that matter that the Tattoo paper was left out of the mix was also inconsistent on the part of the "Session", in their Confidential Oath, but inconsistency and favoritism itself was the hallmark of whole affair and all the extenuating circumstances. In other words, sin provokes sin, if not the public sins of superiors provoked private sins of inferiors.

Did sin accompany the Effort meeting and what it endeavored? Undoubtedly, but whether sin was the rule rather than the exception, the principle rather than accidental, by far has still not been shown to be an open and shut case by the elders in their SESR or this letter, both of which refuse to speak to the provocative scandals and extenuating situation at large in the church previous to the Effort group, whether that be the Prince George Society issue which came out later (10/23/06) or the Affidavit/Analogy email scandals. Rather the Effort meeting was not only provoked by these scandals, but also by the PPSA and the Tattoo paper, to take the steps it did. Further the secret membership requirements are public and sin in themselves, even before their respective faithfulness to Scripture, history and reason has been determined by a lawful authority.

But again neither of these two issues are addressed at all in this letter of repentance, nor have the elders again, in all theirs, touched upon either in any way, never mind substantial. Rather they have studied to do the opposite. In other words, somebody is not fulfilling their public office and calling all the while they censure and excommunicate private parties for resorting to secret means even as the officers do themselves. Yet as public persons, if even a supposed extraordinary and non-resident congregational court, the necessity to repent of and retract their secret and consequently unscriptural requirement for membership in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ outweighs and overrules all. In other words, we think the secret membership requirements are sinful, public, and long standing omissions by the RPNA(GM) elders. They are first commandment issues. No one has the right to dictate secret requirements for membership in the visible church of Christ, yet the elders have essentially done just that and continue to do so.

Further there can be no resolution or reconciliation until not only the unlawful secrecy of these membership requirements is forthrightly addressed, but that much more we are bold to say, their substance is publicly repudiated, as well the excommunications based upon them. We think this necessary and so because both will burn on that day and continue to call upon the Lord God Almighty who judges righteously to hear and see and show himself for the truth
on this matter as it is in Christ, Amen.

Matthew 7:1 -5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Proverbs 30:20 Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.

Thank you very much.

cordially in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Bob S.