Being Careful Of What You Wish For

For anyone interested in reading the judgments against the Louisiana Presbyter for their twice exoneration of Steve Wilkins, here are some downloadable PDF files of the judgments: SJC 2006-2 and SJC 2006-8.

You’ll note per Complaint of TE James Jones, Et.Al. Vs. Louisiana Presbytery SJC 2007-8 above:

In sum, it is the opinion of the Standing Judicial Commission that Louisiana Presbytery erred in its interpretation of the proper standards and procedures for dealing with TE Wilkins’ expressed differences from The Westminster documents, which, as BCO 29-1 and 39-3 both note are “accepted by the Presbyterian Church in America as standard expositions of the teachings of Scripture in relation to both faith and practice.” Moreover, there is at least a strong presumption that Presbytery erred in failing to condemn the views in question. Indeed, Presbytery’s citation, without any caveats whatsoever, of the written and oral examinations of TE Wilkins as part of its grounds for denying the complaint of TE Jones gives the appearance that Presbytery is supportive of views such as those noted above, and it reinforces the concern that Presbytery has failed to meet its Constitutional obligations as noted above. It is for these reasons that the complaint is sustained and the judgment noted above is entered.

According to the BCO (Book of Church Order) 13-9f a Presbytery is “To condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of the Church; to visit churches for the purpose of inquiring into and redressing the evils that may have arisen in them . . . .” This the Louisiana Presbytery failed to do. Now, per the decisions above:

Pursuant to BCO 40-5 the Standing Judicial Commission hereby cites Louisiana Presbytery to appear “to show what it has done or failed to do in the case in question.” To implement this process, RE Samuel J. Duncan is hereby appointed to: a) serve as prosecutor in this matter and conduct the case, which is designated as Case 2007-14; b) select Assistant Prosecutors from members of the General Assembly to assist him with this matter; c) draw an indictment to be served upon Louisiana Presbytery, with the circumstances and specifications therein not being limited to those raised in 2006-02 and 2007-8; d) prepare a citation instructing Louisiana Presbytery to respond, in writing or at a called meeting of the Standing Judicial Commission, to the indictment and to enter its plea to the matters contained therein not later than February 1, 2008. (BCO 40-6, 31-2, 32-3) If Louisiana Presbytery enters a plea of “not guilty,” then Louisiana Presbytery is directed to appear, through its representatives, for trial in this matter before the Standing Judicial Commission on March 5, 2008 (BCO 40-5, 40-6, 31-2, 32-3).

What this all means, at least according to Fred Greco (Senior Pastor at Christ Church PCA in Katy, TX) writing over on the Puritan Boards:

That Louisiana Presbytery will be summoned to appear before the SJC and will go on trial for failing to apply the Constitution to properly judge the case of Rev. Wilkins. If found guilty, the Presbytery – and all its ministers and churches – could be dismissed from the PCA.

The irony here is that back in 2000 the LA Presbytery considered leaving the PCA because of “serious doctrinal departures” of the PCA . Mark T. over at Federal Schism was digging around old archived issues of PINS (Presbyterian International News Service) and came across an interesting little historic nugget. At that time Rev. Wilkins and the Session at his Auburn Avenue Church was encouraging the LA Pres to consider “peaceably withdrawing from the PCA as a presbytery in order that we might continue to serve the Lord in fidelity to His Word.” According to Wilkins the PCA “has begun tolerating serious doctrinal departures from the truth of Scripture as contained in its constitutional Reformed standards; specifically on the issues of creation, the Apostolic gifts and the role of women in the church, which errors will inevitably lead to others.” All good points, but really let that sink in for a minute. Steve Wilkins, a man who has done more than anyone in the PCA to disrupt its peace and corrupt its purity, was complaining that the PCA was “tolerating serious doctrinal departures from the truth of Scripture as contained in its constitutional Reformed standards.”

While Wilkins’ overture for the LA Presbytery to leave the PCA failed, the supreme irony is this same Presbytery is now faced with the very real possibility of being kicked out PCA for their failure to “condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of the Church . . . .” It’s odd (if not downright unnerving) how some of these FV men could have been so right about the expanding role of women, the rise of the so-called “charismatic” gifts, and the simplicity of the doctrine of creation, yet be oblivious to their own promotion of even more deadly and soul destroying heresies.

This is nothing new, in my own Presbytery the pastors over at Calvary Reformed in Hampton, VA lead the fight in the James River Presbytery against the PCA’s theological dive into philosophic relativism concerning the doctrine of creation. As one who attended one of the pivotal Presbytery meetings when this issue was being hotly debated, pastor Byron Snapp delivered an impressive defense from the floor against permitting contrary views on creation beyond the biblical doctrine so clearly expressed in the Westminster Standards. As I recall, the crux of his argument, and the real danger in the debate, was the introduction of a “new hermeneutic” that threatens to undermine other central biblical doctrines. Snapp couldn’t have been more correct. Yet, ironically, it seems he has failed to see the present danger of the novel hermeneutic advanced by his friends in the Federal Vision.

For example, Snapp’s church is the same one that holds an annual Christian Worldview Student Conference that has featured the some of the shining stars of the Federal Vision like Steve Wilkins, Andrew Sandlin, Steve Schlissel, Peter Leithart, Doug Wilson and others. I had the opportunity while briefly attending the conference in ‘04 to hear Steve Wilkins explain to a packed room of young minds how forced baptisms, while not his preferred method of evangelism, is just one way Christians are made. The following year another false teacher, Steve Schlissel, told a similar group young people that God lies. Concerning this outrage John Robbins asked:

What heresies, what blasphemies, what lies have to be told in PCA churches before the members rise up and throw out the liars? The Elders of Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church, who invited Schlissel to speak to the students, stand by his remarks. They have issued no statement contradicting him, and do not intend to do so. What heresies, what blasphemies, what lies do PCA pastors and Elders have to endorse before Presbyteries remove them from office?

Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church is a member of the James River Presbytery in the PCA. Will the Presbytery take any action against Schlissel and the Session of Calvary? Don’t hold your breath.

While still not holding my breath, the significance of the SJC decision against the Louisiana Presbytery is that the GA has now sent a strong warning to other Presbyteries in the PCA, including James River, that they had better do their duty which is to “condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of he Church; to visit churches for the purpose of inquiring into and redressing the evils that may have arisen in them . . . .”

Calvary Reformed Church in Hampton is one church that I think needs a visit, at the very least a visit to their website to download and listen to what is being taught at their Christian Worldview Student Conferences and that just for starters.

My hope and prayer is that individual Presbyteries will start taking the threat of the Federal Vision heresies seriously and stop turning a blind eye to how these doctrines have been progressing within their own churches. Either that or perhaps other Presbyteries should also face dismissal from the PCA.

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