Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When Presbyteries Rebel

Mr. Wilson,

The problem here is that the BCO does not use the phrase “presumption of innocence,” which bothers you to no end. But the Bible does not use the phrase either, and neither does the CREC Constitution.

Regardless, your question is irrelevant because it ignores the testimony of LAP, which I believe meets the Bible’s two-witness standard. Furthermore, if you had read the record, you would have spared yourself this vexation and you probably wouldn’t ask any more disingenuous questions. It states:

In each of these instances, presbytery’s own description of TE Wilkins’ statements established that TE Wilkins did state differences with The Confession. Presbytery was required to investigate these differences and classify them under RAO 16-3(e)(5). Rather than complying with this affirmative responsibility, LAP asserted that TE Wilkins does not deny or contradict teachings of the Constitutional standards and concluded that the standards have not been violated. (Complaint of TE James Jones, Et. Al. vs. Louisiana Presbytery, emphasis original)

In effect, LAP stands self-accused.

Even worse, LAP appears to be in contempt of court. But as with “presumption of innocence,” the BCO does not use the phrase “contempt of court.” Either way, courts tend to waive the presumption of innocence when they cite persons for contempt (perhaps you can crusade on this one). The record states:

I. The Standing Judicial Commission cites the following as examples of the lack of diligence on the part of Louisiana Presbytery.
  1. The committee charged with investigating the views of TE Wilkins kept no minutes and has no transcript, or even a detailed summary of its examination of TE Wilkins.

  2. The Committee, by its own admission, did not consider a number of TE Wilkins’ writings and published presentations. During his presentation to the SJC, Presbytery’s representative candidly expressed grave concerns over several writings he has reviewed subsequent to the Committee’s final report to the Presbytery.

  3. Neither the Committee nor Presbytery held a face-to-face meeting with TE Wilkins to examine his views.

  4. The Presbytery, as a court, did not examine TE Wilkins.

  5. The Committee’s report dealt with the “Federal Vision” generally rather than the specific views of TE Wilkins.

  6. The Committee’s report (which was adopted by Presbytery) contains no explicit rationale for the conclusion that TE Wilkins “appears to be within the Confession and the System of doctrine contained therein” and that “Rev. Steve TE Wilkins be publicly exonerated by Louisiana Presbytery and declared to be faithful to the Confessional standards of the PCA.”

  7. Presbytery did not respond to the specific concerns about TE Wilkins’ views that were raised in the original communication from Central Carolina Presbytery (dated January 22, 2005).

  8. Even in areas where Presbytery expressed concern about TE Wilkins’ views the Presbytery did not mandate that correction and clarification be issued so as to insure there was no harm to the peace and purity of the churches within the Presbytery or the Church at large.

  9. The Respondent for Presbytery conceded that TE Wilkins in his writings and published presentations uses terms differently from the way they are generally understood in the Westminster Confession and Larger and Shorter Catechisms and therefore is required to explain and define his terms and the usage of terms in this manner is harmful to the peace and purity of the Church. (Standing Judicial Commission Report on Memorial From Central Carolina Presbytery)
Please note that LAP put all of these facts on the record, for the record. Quite honestly, you would think they would have taken this matter a little more seriously after the SJC ordered them to conduct a second exam. The record demonstrates, however, that LAP showed complete disdain for the very process that now has you weeping and gnashing your teeth.

Making matters even more complex, it appears that the PCA never contemplated the possibility of an entire presbytery blowing off its responsibility — i.e. acting like renegades from the CREC (which I suspect is due to your influence, but that’s just a hunch.) Nevertheless, because LAP put the PCA in a position it has never seen, the SJC declared,

We conclude that the best way to address this presumption, to preserve the peace and purity of the Church, to bring closure to this issue within a reasonable time frame, and to give Presbytery the fairest opportunity to vindicate itself by explaining and defending its actions is to follow the procedure of BCO 40-5 and BCO 40-6. (Standing Judicial Commission Report on Memorial From Central Carolina Presbytery)

Therefore, the judgment of charity says that the SJC presumed sufficient innocence to grant LAP the “fairest opportunity to vindicate itself by explaining and defending its actions.” In other words, the SJC has not rammed the accused through a Star Chamber and they have not marshaled a lynch mob, contrary to your reckless accusations. In fact, given the extremely damaging record against LAP, the SJC has given them better than they deserve. And both you and LAP’s presbyters would do well to remember this.

Thank you.