Monday, November 5, 2007

Snakes Within the Covenant

You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. — Exodus 23:1–2

Last week we considered the remarkable contrast between Douglas Wilson’s righteous indignation at the PCA for the possible way it might handle Steve Wilkins and his complete absence of righteous anger when he personally arranged to receive Burke Shade into the CREC while the PCA conducted the presbyterian process of deposing him from the ministry.

You will recall that in former instance, Wilson accused the PCA of pulling “all the bureaucratic levers they have hidden under the desk . . . 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,” and he rubbed the PCA’s nose in his misrepresentation of their polity, stating, “it was all entered into the minutes and everything.” And you will recall that in the latter instance, Wilson himself pulled all the bureaucratic levers hidden beneath his desk, despite the fact that the PCA lawfully tried and defrocked Burke Shade, pursuant to its BCO, and Wilson documented duplicitous conduct by entering it all into the minutes and everything. We concluded by quoting Wilson, who wrote, “such snakes within the covenant have the worst lot of all.”

But last week we only considered Wilson’s hypocrisy; today let’s examine the primary lever Wilson pulled — deception — in order to insure Burke Shade’s smooth reception into the CREC. And to remind you, the Christ Church Elders’ Meeting Minutes state,

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. (July 13, 2000)

From these minutes we may conclude:
  • The Christ Church ad hoc committee concerning Burke Shade had not finished working through the trial materials.
  • Doug Wilson reminded the elders that this didn’t matter because they had already agreed it would not impede the CREC’s acceptance of Burke Shade and his church.
  • Wilson had already communicated this information to Shade.
  • The Kirk elders placed the burden of proof on the ad hoc committee to overturn the elders’ previous decisions, which they made apart from examining the trial materials.
We must also note that Christ Church still had to overcome the barrier of endorsing a lawfully deposed minister for reception into the CREC, which required convincing two courts — the PCA’s Illiana Presbytery and the CREC — that the Kirk elders judged righteously. And this is a tall order when you remember that they hadn’t even finished reading Shade’s trial materials.

Therefore, the ad hoc committee wrote a “Report on the PCA vs. Burke Shade Trial for CRE Evaluation,” which they submitted to Illiana Presbytery and to their fellow confederates in the CREC, and they concealed these material facts from the two courts. Furthermore, they concocted a plausible story — replete with false witness — that vindicated their decision while indicting Illiana’s — all because Burke Shade broke covenant with the PCA.

For example, the Christ Church elders represented to Illiana Presbytery that Burke Shade applied for membership in the CREC in November 1999, instead of notifying Illiana that the CRE had already received Shade into membership as a fraternal delegate in September 1999 and that Shade’s church had already adopted the constitution of Christ Church, Moscow, by March 1999 Shade’s congregation. Of course, we know this because it was all entered into the minutes and everything. Presumably, Christ Church bore false witness on this point because they wanted to leave the impression that they were out of the loop — that they had no conversations with Shade during his trial — that they were a Johnny Come Lately to this affair long after its conclusion. And if the ad hoc committee had bore witness to the truth on this point, it would have suggested their complicity in the matter of Shade splitting the church.

The Kirk elders also misrepresented the truth to Illiana Presbytery regarding who had the burden of proof when they considered Shade’s trial materials and the exact nature of that burden. In its report, the ad hoc committee represented to Illiana Presbytery that, “since the PCA is a faithful presbyterian church, we began evaluating the case by assuming the correctness of the Illiana decision, with Shade having the burden of proof.” However, according to the Kirk minutes, “the burden of proof [was] on the committee to overturn our [the Kirk elders] previous decisions,” i.e., their decisions to receive Shade into the CREC, which they had already communicated to him because he never had any burden to satisfy. Obviously, if the Kirk elders testified to the truth on this point, it would have appeared as though they stacked the ad hoc committee with a bunch of pro-Shade boys who intended to stack the report in favor of their man. So they lied.

You really have to read the whole report to comprehend fully the staggering hypocrisy of the Kirk elders. It’s quite disgusting. And when you read it, remind yourself that they circulated this false report not only to a lawful court in the PCA, but to their own court in the CREC, i.e., they deceived their fellow confederates.

And as you read it, don’t waste your time listening for the sounds of bureaucratic levers hidden under the desk, because you won’t hear any. No, tune your ears into the sounds of snakes slithering within the covenant.

Thank you.