Friday, February 15, 2008

More BS

I want to make a few more comments on Burke Shade’s letter to the editor of P&R News where he wrote:

This lack of information in your article makes it “appear” that the CRE has a history of taking in, or shielding men, from denominational discipline, which is not true. You may not have meant to infer this, but your mentioning of my case in close proximity to the CRE within these articles lends itself to being interpreted this way. I came to the CRE a full year and a half after deposition, being a minister in good standing in the FORC that whole time.

This interesting interpretation of events requires some interpretation. First, when he says that he “came to the CRE a full year and a half after deposition,” he really means that the membership in the CRE is a two-year process (as in two annual CRE meetings) and he did not complete his process until September 2000. Therefore, Shade was technically correct when he said he “came to the CRE a full year and a half after deposition,” but thoroughly dishonest for leaving the false impression that he had not begun the process of joining the CRE and he could not have joined it as a full member for at least a year and a half. The CRE received him as a fraternal delegate at the earliest possible time, which happened to be six months after the PCA defrocked him, and one year later they vested his church with full membership status. (At that time the CREC had no constitutional process for hijacking churches; since then they remedied this problem, which I will address this weekend.)

Second, he states that he entered the CRE as “a minister in good standing in the FORC that whole time.” This may be true, but the evidence suggests its pure fiction. The FORC examined for ministry and received him as a minister in good standing while he was still on trial in the PCA, and two months later they sent a memorial to the PCA’s GA inquiring about his standing. Please notice the language they used to describe their earnest sincerity to honor the discipline of the PCA:

We bring before you our action in this matter (noted above in second paragraph) and request the judgment of the General Assembly as to our action in receiving Mr. Shade as a minister in good standing. It is because we respect the unity of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, and acknowledge that discipline is not a sectarian matter, that we seek your counsel. If the General Assembly has no response to make, we will assume that we have the blessing of the General Assembly upon our own actions.

And the 27th General Assembly of the PCA made clear in no uncertain terms Burke Shade’s exact standing and the only way he could remedy it, stating:

[Burke Shade] was not transferred as one in good standing as alleged by the Communication but as one who had been found guilty of several charges, suspended from the sacraments and from office, and later deposed from the ministry. . . If the Federation of Reformed Churches desires to receive Mr. Shade, it should be with the recognition that he was not a minister in good standing at the time of his reception since his name was retained on the roll of Illiana Presbytery until his trial was completed. This being the case, the Assembly advises the Federation of Reformed Churches that if they have received Mr. Shade, they should take proper steps to deal with the discipline duly imposed by a PCA court. . . . The proper way for a judicial case, that has been settled by one of our presbyteries, to be brought before our General Assembly is either by appeal by one who has been duly tried by the presbytery or by complaint by a member of the presbytery. Since neither action has taken place, the General Assembly declines to enter into a retrial or review of the case on the basis of the Communication from persons outside of the PCA.

Talk about raining on someone’s parade. The PCA left the FORC wet all over and a plain reading of this communiqué shows no rainbow in sight. Shade’s standing in the PCA could not be clearer, just as the FORC’s position regarding the PCA’s discipline couldn’t be clearer. They affirmed, “It is because we respect the unity of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, and acknowledge that discipline is not a sectarian matter, that we seek your counsel.” And the PCA gave them their counsel. Therefore, it’s difficult to take Shade at his word that he was “a minister in good standing in the FORC that whole time” unless we don’t take the FORC at their word. Someone’s bearing false witness.

In the end, however, I’m not sure that it really matters. Shade comes across as a likeable fellow who’s a tad bit removed from reality. Like the Fearless Leader, he’s always revising the storyline to conform to his fantasy, despite the documented facts. So as for me, I’ve concluded that you can take anything either of them says and . . . well . . . stick a fork in it.

Thank you.


Sean Gerety said...

Why didn't you just post that statement from the PCA GA on Baggins? That would have shut Shade up and all the discussion over timelines, who called who and when, moot.

It would also served as proof that the CREC is the last refuge of anti-Christian heretics, even those defrocked in their own denomination.

Anonymous said...

It has been several years since I have caught up on the fallout of the Shade incident way back in 1999. At the time I read the entire case study and knew everyone involved. What struck me was how the impression given was that although these were weighty matter, once the split was over and the dust settled that the long term consequences were not to be a worry. I remember thinking that whenever you have division that results from serious charges the repercutions would be impossible to predict other than to say that there would be legacy that Shade would have to live with an explain through his entire career. That has to impact his ministry though my impression is that the the local congregation may be somewhat shielded from this ongoing controversy.

That sites such as this are still debating what happened shows that the stakes over the doctrinal issues involved were very high. EPC (PCA) and Cornerstone (CREC) are literally two blocks from each other but remain world apart! Going on 9 years that doesn't look to change and the fallout of the Shades actions are having effects that go far beyond the local church. I wonder if 20 years from now that we may look back and point to these events as playing a large part in influencing the direction of the reformed evangelical debate of the day.