Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Worst Lot of All

Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. — Matthew 26:65

No one knows how to wax indignant better than a self-righteous Pharisee, and the greater the audience, the greater the show. Take Caiaphas, for example, who put on a real-life show before the Lord Jesus Christ and actually tore asunder his priestly garments in righteous indignation when he witnessed the Son of God’s good confession.

Or take Douglas Wilson, for another example, who recently put on an indignant rhetorical spectacle, waxing furious at the PCA for its treatment of Federal Visionist Steve Wilkins:

In the old days, defenders of the faith used proclamation, argumentation, and apologetics. These days, the defenders of the faith use all the bureaucratic levers they have hidden under the desk. If the SJC goes the way I suspect it might, that would mean that Wilkins would be condemned in the PCA despite two vindications by his own presbytery, despite the fact that no charges were ever brought, despite the fact that no trial was ever held, and despite the fact that he was never given an opportunity to defend himself in open court. Don’t talk to me about proof. We don’t need no stinking proof.

In the old days, the prophets of God would thunder the word. These days, they resort to Machinations and Back Room Deals. You don’t think so? Then look at what happens to Wilkins. Look closely. Look at the procedures. Look at what was done, and what was not done. And imagine yourself trying to explain the polity ramifications of all of that to Samuel Miller. The whole thing would be a joke if it were only funny. (“We Don’t Need No Stinking Proof”)

Setting aside Wilson’s obvious ignorance of the issue pending before the SJC, this was not the only time that time he raged furious at the PCA. Consider this one:

To call the determinations of an unpresbyterian entity like the SJC — “where the PCA GA outsources its justice!” — a “final court of appeal” is overstating it a bit. It is certainly a necessary part of the process because the PCA did decide to abandon historic presbyterian polity at this point, and it was all entered into the minutes and everything. (“I Love Analogies”)

Of course, these quotations from the Prince of Blog and Mablog leave the impression that the very thought of dirty back-room deals designed to circumvent presbyterian polity horrifies him. Indeed, these quotes leave the impression that Beelzeblog longs for the old days and that he esteems the historic presbyterianism taught by Samuel Miller so much that he would never violate its principles in such a way that he could not justify it to the Princeton hero.

Unfortunately, Pastor Wilson isn’t as scrupulous as he would have us believe because if you compare his outrage at the PCA in the matter of Steve Wilkins with his treatment of deposed PCA minister Burke Shade, you’ll see exactly where Wilson’s scruples lie.

On April 17, 1999, Illiana Presbytery (PCA) deposed Burke Shade from the ministry after declaring him guilty on three of four charges against him, in a trial that began on November 9, 1998, and lasted six sessions. P & R News covered the whole story.

But while Illiana Presbytery conducted itself pursuant to the PCA’s BCO, which contains a good measure of presbyterian polity, Burke Shade and Douglas Wilson busied themselves working the Machinations of a Back Room Deal. We know this because “it was all entered into the minutes and everything.” Accordingly, the Christ Church Elders’ Minutes state,

Doug described the situation with Cornerstone Reformed Church and Burke Shade. Motion (DW/PB) [Doug Wilson/Patch Blakey] to authorize Doug to make a motion at CRE to receive Cornerstone as a fraternal delegate. All approved. (April 17, 1999)

Admittedly, this doesn’t say much but it shows that Shade made his case to Wilson before the PCA deposed him, and it lays the foundation for this revelation taken from the Christ Church Elders’ Meeting minutes dated July 13, 2000:

Doug Jones reported that the ad hoc committee concerning Burke Shade recommends that we should not send out the current letter, and that we should wait while Chris Schlect and Doug Jones continue to work through the trial materials, before they make a further recommendation. Doug Wilson reminded the elders that we have already agreed this situation is not a barrier to Burke Shade and his church being accepted into the CRE, and that he has communicated this to Burke. The elders agreed that, further review of the material, the burden of proof is on the committee to overturn our previous decisions, which would only happen if new, clear information against Burke appears. The elders would like a report from the committee by July 27. This recommendation considered as a motion passed. (emphasis added)

Now, I know these minutes are legitimate because I know my sources. But don’t take my word for it, take Wilson’s who confirmed it a few months ago at Green Baggins (cf. this comment). The point here, however, is not the minutes’ legitimacy. The point is Wilson’s illegitimacy.

Here is a man who, for all intents and purposes, wants us to believe that he reveres presbyterianism proper and that he abhors back-room deals. But “Look closely. Look at the procedures. Look at what was done, and what was not done. And imagine yourself trying to explain the polity ramifications of all of that to Samuel Miller,” because here is also a man who, like Caiaphas, tears his garments at the PCA for their handling of Steve Wilkins and, just like Caiaphas, thwarts church polity by pulling the levers under his desk with Judas, the covenant breaker.

Yes, indeed, Wilson was right when he wrote, “Don’t talk to me about proof. We don’t need no stinking proof,” because this event took place in the visible church, or as the Federal Visionists would say, in the Covenant. To be sure, this event could be photographed or fingerprinted, for as noted, “it was all entered into the minutes and everything.” Sadly, “The whole thing would be a joke if it were only funny.” But it’s not.

So how do we account for Pastor Wilson’s staggering hypocrisy? How do we reconcile his righteous indignation in one instance with his cunning conniving in the other? — We don’t. Rather, we let his words speak for themselves, because by his own testimony he has the worst lot of all:

The opposing error is that of straight hypocrisy. This is the idea that mere covenant membership can replace covenant faithfulness as the one thing needful. The lips draw near while the heart is far removed from God. But such snakes within the covenant have the worst lot of all. (Douglas Wilson, “Reformed” Is Not Enough, “Judas Was A Christian?” [Moscow: Canon Press, 2003] 21)