Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dougzilla Changed His Tune

For over a year now, the Fearless Leader has been huffing and puffing about how the PCA is a corrupt court and they’re afraid to put Steve Wilkins on trial because such a trial would prove their corruption and his innocence. And yesterday Pastor Andy Webb quoted Beelzeblog to this effect (here and here) and the day before David Gadbois made the same point. Last night, however, after seeing his words used to contradict his decision to grant political asylum to the renegade Steve Wilkins, the Great Protector changed his tune, writing:

Secondly, from where I sit an indictment that sets forth the alternatives upon a presumed conviction, one of them being expulsion of the entire presbytery from the PCA, is an indictment that is leaning on people to get them to do something. In this case, the intimidation worked, and the presbytery did it. As Dylan said, you don’t have to be a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing. What I was calling for in the piece you quoted was a trial — not a field trip to Australia to watch some of those bouncy animals.

There’s nothing new about this comment except what Wilson didn’t say. This time he declared the PCA a kangaroo court and didn’t defy the roos to try his buddy so that he could disrupt the proceedings with his peculiar talents. Notice also the absence of blogstomping. We don’t see Dougzilla breathing out threatenings and slaughter. The PCA is corrupt and that’s it. Doug said it; that settles it; I believe it.

But I want to add to the research of Andy Webb and David Gadbois to show just how determined Wilson was to have a trial — fixed or not. In the quotes below you’ll see Beelzeblog declare that Wilkins was not afraid to go on trial; rather, the PCA was afraid to put him on trial because it would reveal the PCA’s corruption.

Honestly, the deceit animating this man is extraordinary. Follow the arguments. First he declared that the PCA wouldn’t try Wilkins because it’s dirty; then he declared that the PCA would try Wilkins because it’s dirty:

In this situation, the more public accountability the better. If the tangle is now resolved, then thank the Lord. But if it continues (through parliamentary chicanery, old-boy-network-pressure, or other means), then at some point there will be a stopping point, a trial. At that point, the accusers will have to make a case that depends on more than just bare assertions. If and when that happens, it would be good to have all eyes focused on the accusers, and for said accusers to have the mike turned on, and the tape running. Perhaps they have not thought this far out, but I don’t see why they are pressing for this. Those hostile to the FV have also been equally hostile to any setting where verbal exchange or cross-examination would be possible — debates, etc. . . . Perhaps the goal has just been to “make things hot” for Steve, so that he voluntarily leaves the PCA. Then they could explain the heresy in detail to various bought-and-paid-for crowds, with no theological debate necessary, and no robust interchanges in the Q&A. The problem is that Steve is a churchman, and has no plans to make it easy for them by acting the part of a radical individualist. He is going to make them prove what they are saying, and this will prove awkward for them because they can’t. (January 25, 2007, “More On Louisiana Presbytery”)

Now the accusation that Steve Wilkins is making trouble in the PCA is a little bit like Ahab calling Elijah the one who troubled Israel (1 Kings 18:17). Steve has brought charges against no one, he is attacking no one, he is blocking the ordinations of no one, and so on. But that does not keep him from being the bad guy in the story that some are industriously trying to tell. He is simply the one that some TRs in the PCA have dubbed the designated villain. He is to be blamed for all kinds of things, and these pressing problems would all be solved if he would just agree with their negative assessments, and put himself into exile. Not only must he be at fault for all the current troubles, but he is being intransigent by refusing to do their dirty sentencing work for them. If he really had the peace and purity of the PCA in mind, he would just slip away quietly and allow his opponents time for a little touchdown dance. But he isn’t going anywhere, and by remaining it is beginning to appear that his opponents may soon have to start proving what they are saying, and that is an outrage upon their dignity. The ones attacking always feel victimized by the one they attack. . . . So this is the drill. The last thing in the world that the anti-FV people want is any kind of open forum where questions get to be asked in both directions. They don’t want this in a voluntary set-up, as in a debate. They don’t want it in a judicial setting, as in an open trial. They don’t want it in a box; they don’t want it on the floor. Not in the closet either. We piped but ye would not mourn; we played the bass line from “Play That Funky Music, White Boy,” and ye would not dance.

They want to chase Steve Wilkins from the PCA into the CREC, and they then will return to their home churches, still breathing hard, and will wonder aloud where he went. And however sheepish they will be over a move so transparent, that sheepishness would be nothing compared to what they would have to deal with if they are ever required to prove these assertions with all the Reformed folk in the English-speaking world looking on. (January 29, 2007, “Opening Play of the End Game”)

You guys want to be honest to goodness Presbyterians? Then why doesn’t someone in Louisiana Presbytery file charges, and have a regular, orderly trial, with true accountability? If the trial comes out wrong, then it can be justly appealed. It is not enough for the Standing Judicial Commission to fire up their search engines. (November 18, 2007, “Standing Google Commission”)

So the Commission already has a strong presumption of guilt concerning Louisiana. This is quite different than saying there are reasonable grounds for holding a trial. You can indict someone and still hold to the presumption of innocence. . . . And the Commission holds to this strong presumption of guilt because the Commission had seen that Louisiana came up with the wrong answer on Wilkins. The Commission, you see, already had the right answer on Wilkins without trying him, or talking to him, or any of that old-fashioned stuff. So the strong presumption of Wilkins’ guilt (with no trial!) is the basis of the strong presumption of guilt for Louisiana (with no trial!), which presumption will be draped around Louisiana’s neck in preparation for her sacri. . . er, trial. . . . You all are conducting a trial with the accused going into it with a “strong presumption of guilt,” and this in its turn is based on a “strong presumption” of Wilkins’ guilt, and all without any trials! Explain that. And if you insist of proceeding with this plate of jurisprudential corned beef hash, then the damage done to the PCA will not be the result of my “acerbic pen.” The real problem you have with my writing is not the tartness that comes from it — it is a simple matter of justice. (November 19, 2007, “In A Clinch With the Tarbaby”)

The trial should have come from within the presbytery. Steve has opponents there. They should have brought charges. So if the SJC finds against Louisiana, the penalty should actually fall on those members of the presbytery who “knew” that there was a problem and refused to bring charges. The majority of the presbytery did not bring charges because they honestly did not believe they were warranted. But what of those men who “knew” they were warranted, and who refused to do anything, thus dragging the PCA through this interminable swamp? The one who knows what to do, and does not do it, for him it is sin. (November 21, 2007, “A Whole Lot Creepier Than I Remember It”)

When we come down the point, and if we are successful in getting all eyes on the trial when it happens, if the confusions that have been evident up to this point are not straightened out, their collective reaction will probably be in the line of yikes!

To recap:
  1. If Louisiana comes to trial, a charge not inherently unjust would be “failure to indict Wilkins.” An unjust charge would be “failure to convict Wilkins.” The SJC could not charge Louisiana with the latter without trying Wilkins themselves, which has not been done.

  2. Lousiana should go into such a trial with the full presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof needs to rest entirely with the prosecution.

  3. If Louisiana is found guilty of a failure to indict Wilkins, then that means that Wilkins should be indicted and brought to trial — with a full presumption of innocence, and with the burden of proof resting entirely on the prosecution. (November 25, 2007, “Questions for Louisiana”)
The bottom line is that Louisiana is judicially innocent right now, and will remain that way unless the prosecution proves that they were culpable in their examination of Steve. Provided the SJC applies this same standard to this case, which seems reasonable, my presumption of innocence question has been answered.

But here is the corner Steve’s adversaries have painted themselves into. Steve Wilkins is a minister in good standing; he is judicially innocent of all accusations made against him. He is judicially in conformity to the Westminster Confession because it has not yet been proven and shown in ecclesiastical court that he is not. . . . That leaves us with failure to indict. The SJC can find that in their judgment there was probable cause, and that charges should have been brought. So if that is what they find, what is the appropriate redress in a situation like that? Someone would have to bring charges. When those charges are brought, Wilkins would then be tried in some venue, and he would have the full presumption of innocence in that trial. The prosecution would have to prove that he was not in conformity with the Confession, instead of doing it the Internet way, which is to baldly assert that someone is out of conformity with the Confession, leaving him to try to prove his way back into conformity.

So this would be a real debate, a real confrontation, requiring real arguments. The accused would have the advantage, instead the current slander system, where the prosecution has the advantage. At the same time, genuine theological experts from both sides would be called to testify. It would be the trial of the century. Finally we would have a setting in which we all could define our terms and settle the matter. It would be fantastic. Throw us into that briar patch. (November 28, 2007, “A Good Answer”)

So here’s where we are. The SJC was involved in this unnecessarily. The trial, if there needed to be one, should have happened in Louisiana Presbytery. If there wasn’t one at presbytery, then this was the failing of those men who believed a trial to be necessary and did nothing, and not the fault of those who did not believe it to be necessary and did nothing. Because of how irregular this whole thing is, and how obviously it is politically driven, observers are right to be nervous. Any process that could conceivably result in Steve Wilkins being forced out of the PCA for “heterodox views,” as this process certainly could, without Steve ever having a full, complete, open and honorable trial, with a presumption of innocence, is a process that deserves to have honest men everywhere ladle piping hot contumely over the top of its pointy little head. If this kind of vigorous response makes folks feel uncomfortable, then they should stop defending the indefensible. . . Folks who want me to shut up about the PCA sure aren’t acting like they want me to shut up about the PCA. (November 30, 2007, “Dead Rat Behind the Fridge”)

And the point here is that Douglas Wilson is the only corrupt factor in this equation. He doesn’t care from one day to the next what he says, because he’ll just deceive his way out of any given statement if someone calls him on it. He is a dirty filthy liar whose malignancy poses a clear and present danger to the Christian church.

And he’s only going to get worse.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Mark, I'm wondering if you know anything about the composition of the committee that prepared the CREC FV report? Doug Wilson often tries to discredit the PCA based upon the make up of their Federal Vision committee, but I can't find any indication that when it came time for Doug's own denomination to study the FV that they did anything like he's demanding others do? Did they include well known opponents of the FV on their committee or prepare a minority report opposing the FV? These are all things he demands of the PCA, but it appears his own actions once again don't square with his rhetoric.

Mark T. said...

That is an excellent question and yesterday, as I blew snow off my driveway, I was pondering various ways to address it. The CREC committee was a joke. Wilson assembled it to intimidate the E Free elders after they had several meetings with Wilson to express their concern about his heterodoxy. The meetings went nowhere, so Wilson threw together a group of toadies to “examine” him. A friend of mine who teaches at Knox said, “Wilson sent me the questions and it was clear that they tailored them to skim over the difficulties of his position.” He went on to call the exam an embarrassment. But I digress.

I have seen a letter written by the Kult elders to the E Free elders that paraded the opinions of various CREC reprobates relative to Wilson’s doctrinal positions in front of them. It was a show of force. If Wilson can’t snake his way in, he’ll flash a bicep. Those are his only two means in life — deceit and brute force. And so he used a deceitful examination to intimidate the E Free elders (which didn’t work), and since then he has acted as though it was a genuine exam. But here’s the kicker. If you check the CREC “presbytery” minutes, the first thing they did after they formed their federation was appoint Wilson — and Wilson alone — to draft the ministerial standards for the CREC (that will be in my history of the CREC), even though no one has ever examined him or ordained him. So they had no real standards to begin with and whatever standards they may have today they got from him — the serial liar. The CREC is one big con job. A total joke.

I’ll make some calls today to see if I can release that letter. It’s very damaging.

Anonymous said...

Mark, I am thinking more in terms of this position statement that the CREC adapted regarding the FV:

The FV according to their statement is within the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy, but I think it might be worthwhile to know who exactly prepared the report? Was in an unbiased committee? Were there members of the committee who were on record as being opposed to the FV? Why isn't there a minority report? These are all things Wilson demands of the PCA, yet when his own denomination per their moderator's report ruled in favor of the FV appear to be strangely missing.