Conspiracy of the Anonymous

The denominational magazine of the PCA, byFaith, reported that there was a secret meeting of 50 PCA pastors and unnamed “denominational leaders” this past week in Atlanta.  Actually, other than Stated Clerk, Roy Taylor, all of the meetings attendees were “unnamed” and will remain “unnamed” as the meeting was conducted under the “Chatham House Rule.”  According to byFaith, the Chatham House Rule means “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant may be revealed.”  Wikipedia adds; “The Chatham House Rule is intended to PROMOTE public discussion of the views expressed at a meeting, but without attributing those views to any individual or organisation.”  Even the byFaith article itself was anonymous as it contained no byline.

Now, the focus of the meeting, at least according to byFaith, was to “ease denominational tension” that has been caused, not by false teaching and the false gospel that continues to spread like cancer virtually unabated throughout the PCA, but by bloggers and a narrow minded faction within presbyteries (read TRs) who are evidently too concerned with orthodoxy when examining candidates seeking ordination in the PCA.  According to one nameless attendee; “At the presbytery level, pockets of the PCA have become overly concerned with measuring orthodoxy.”   Oh, my.  We can’t have that.  Of course, this raises the question what else should those at the presbytery level be concerned with when examining candidates for ministry besides measuring a candidate’s level of orthodoxy?  Admittedly, there are other variables that need to be taken under consideration when someone is seeking ordination like can he teach or does he become tongue-tied or break into a sweat when speaking before a room full of people.  Beyond that his personal character, maturity in the faith, along with his ability to manage his family are all areas to be examined.  However, I would have thought that measuring the orthodoxy of prospective pastors would be the primary concern of those at the presbytery level.   In fact,  PCA BCO 21 requires a “careful examination” (would that be same as a precise examination) of a candidate’s “knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages, Bible content, theology, the Sacraments, Church history, the history of the Presbyterian Church in America, and the principles and rules of the government and discipline of the church.”

According to one nameless attendee, not only does precision in orthodoxy lead to “idolatry,” but having a strict standard of orthodoxy has caused men to leave the denomination, “which means we’re limiting our tools for building the kingdom.”  Call me crazy, but I fail to see how Christ’s kingdom is limited by requiring precision and a high level of orthodoxy in ministerial candidates.  Frankly, I think the requirements in the PCA are too low and prospective candidates should also be examined on their knowledge of philosophy and the laws of logic.

Until reading this article, I never realized the PCA was limiting their “tools for building the kingdom” by excluding unorthodox candidates from the ministry.  Aren’t there already enough homes for such men outside the PCA?  I see stupid and unorthodox pastors on TV every day. I’ve even attended some of their churches.  Certainly some of these candidates for ministry can and should make their living somewhere else, hopefully outside of the ministry.  I guess not according to those anonymous “denominational leaders” attending this secret meeting in Atlanta.  Is the church really suffering from too much precision in orthodoxy?  Give me a break.  I thought Christ’s kingdom was being destroyed and weakened by a lack of orthodoxy particularly in the ministry.  I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that the PCUSA hasn’t faired very well since they abandoned precision in orthodoxy and replaced it with some nebulous and unbiblical idea of “love.”  That didn’t seem to faze one nameless PCA elder who complained: “The proper goal –rather than that level of precision—should be love.”

For the record, I did a quick search of the Scriptures along with the PCA’s BCO and could find no example where church business is to discussed and debated under the Chatham House rule.  But, hey,  I guess I’m just a stickler for precision. 

Precision and orthodoxy aside, the main reason for this meeting was to address the real evil causing tension and division within the PCA; bloggers.   According to byFaith, “A number of men believed that online publications have hurt.”  Interestingly, there was no discussion if those hurt by online publications deserved to be hurt.  Just the fact that someone is  “hurt” by something written about them doesn’t mean that what was written is therefore untrue much less sinful.  Last I checked Jesus said many hurtful things to those who deserved to be hurt, as did Paul after him.  I hardly think whether or not someone has been hurt is much of a standard to judge anything, but I guess those meeting in Atlanta aren’t really concerned with standards, as standards, particularly when it comes to matters of Christian orthodoxy, lead to “idolatry.”

But what examples could these hurt souls provide in support their claim concerning the destructive nature of blogging that has caused so much tension in the PCA to warrant  secret meeting of 50 elders and “denominational leaders” cloaked in the anonymity of the Chatham House rule?  One nameless attendee did provide what he thought was a prime example:

One blogger wrote that a man in the denomination made him “want to throw up,” presbyteries have been characterized as “feminized,” and one blogger referred to his brother as a “purple robed, miter-wearing papist.”

Can you guess who that mystery blogger is?  Yep, you guessed it.  Actually, I confess I wished I used the phrase “purple robed, miter-wearing papist” as I think it is quite good.  Instead, here is what I wrote:

Yet, while the vast majority of FV and No Perspectives false teachers at least play the game of trying to appear as good P&R men in order to fool the feeble minded washcloths that make up the majority of femminized Presbyteries throughout the PCA, OPC and beyond, Otis came across one particular FV man complete with purple vestments and wearing a mitre.   His name is Craig Higgins of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) of Rye, New York. You’ll notice on the church’s website that none other than former WTS  professor, Peter Enns,  is listed as their “Visiting Scholar” and who “comes to Trinity Church and teaches several times each year.”  Those poor people.  [For those interested in reading my entire piece of vile nastiness see Papists in PCA Clothing].

The irony in all this is that I’m not even PCA.  I left the PCA a few years ago after I became convinced over a number of years that the leadership in the PCA was ill-equipped, unable, and unwilling to effectively deal with what byFaith once called “the issue for this generation.”  I even outlined many of the reasons why I left and how I think the problem might be reversed, by God’s grace, in my book, Can the PCA Be Saved?  I still think that is an open question, despite secret meetings protecting men (and I say “men” reservedly) who hurl bombs at their Christian brothers while cowering in the anonymity of the “Chatham House Rule.”

Now, just because I’m no longer in the PCA (actually I was an officer, a deacon) that doesn’t mean I still don’t love the denomination and pray that God might raise up some men who might turn the PCA from it’s headlong and protracted dive into apostasy.  Admittedly, I do believe God has raised a few such men (one of whom is a former Federal Vision pastor himself), but I tend to think it is all too little too late. That’s not to say that God doesn’t work in funny ways, so who knows?  Frankly, if the Meyers, Leithart, and Lawrence cases are all disposed of correctly, which at this point will most likely require direct action by the SJC seeing that the respective presbyteries of these men continue to protect and defend them and their doctrines, I would rejoin the PCA in a heartbeat.  Tomorrow in fact.  Until such time, when I see one FV false teacher after another exonerated of teaching heresy by one presbytery after another I really don’t see ever rejoining the PCA as an option if only as a matter of conscience.

As much as I love the PCA I don’t want to be a member of a denomination that allows the preaching of a false gospel along side the true one with impunity (that ought to warm the hearts of the anonymous attendees meeting in Atlanta and encourage them to continue to do precisely nothing as the Gospel continues to be shred in the PCA).

Further, if anyone was hurt by what I wrote above, why didn’t they call, email, or even write me?  Isn’t that what the FV men are constantly whining about?  Don’t they always cry even from the floor of the GA; “Didn’t you call so-and-so to see if you understood him correctly before writing or saying what you did?”  Well, no one has called me.  Of course, I realize that while I’m not PCA those in the PCA have no obligation to try and correct me, assuming I am in need of correction here.   However, I am friends with a number of PCA elders who I respect very much and consider them in every way my spiritual superiors, even if they’re still figuring out that the PCA is a lost cause.  Frankly, there are a number of PCA elders who are fans of my blog and have written and talked to me privately thanking me for any number of posts and articles over the years.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t have my critics, but it does mean that if someone disagrees with something I’ve said, or even with how I said it, they should man up, put their name to their criticisms, and make their case (preferable from Scripture if they’re really interested in correction and not censorship).  Heck, they can even start their own blog and have at it.

I suppose the better question might be what sparked my “purple robed, miter-wearing papist” crack in the first place?  Shouldn’t this be relevant to the discussion?  To that question PCA pastor Craig Higgins had written (along with a number of other alarming and very un-orthodox things that were brought to light by Pastor John Otis on the Aquila Report blog):

Therefore, if we are to work toward the visible unity of the Church,  we should, I am increasingly convinced, defer to the wisdom of the majority in the Great Tradition and embrace the ministry of bishops.

One last comment: In Ut Unum Sint, Pope John Paul II has invited all the churches to discuss how the Petrine office should function in a reunited Church, and Reformed churchmen should welcome this conversation. Our idea of concentric circles of conciliar accountability would lead us to teach that, if the Church were visibly united around the world, there would need to be an ecumenical council, meeting as necessary to govern and guide the Church. The above argument for a (reformed) episcopacy would also lead us to teach that such a council would need a “presiding bishop,” serving as primus inter pares among his brothers, and historically such a position of honor has fallen to the bishop of Rome.

Now, think about this.  Those in the PCA thought it necessary to meet in secret and on the condition of anonymity in order to decry my blog which described one of their own as an “FV man complete with purple vestments and wearing a mitre,” yet they are not offended, much less outraged, by this same PCA pastor getting all moist about the prospects of the visible church being one day united under “the first among equals,” even the bishop of Rome.  Have those “denominational leaders” attending this secret meeting in Atlanta lost their anonymous minds?

I admit, I have never been much for conspiracy theories, but if I were I would guess that soon there will be an organized effort within the PCA to formally ban blogging and online discussions that are anyway critical of the PCA or any of its “denominational leaders.”  I’m quite sure that self-styled “first among equals” in Rome would approve.

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8 Comments on “Conspiracy of the Anonymous”

  1. Lauren Says:

    Boy, Sean, you sure are a loose cannon! But much to the PCA’s chagrin, you hit the target again. Did these Chatham House Conspirators send up a smoke signal over the Vatican when they finished secretly plotting their next “strategic plan”? The fact that the leaders have to have an anonymous meeting reveals the total lack of trust, integrity, and fear that has permeated the PCA.

    Sean, we literally have a PCA papist cult in our backyard here in Louisville that has chased out all dissenters and gone unchecked, tolerated, and promoted for the last several years. And, the PCA leadership wonders why they are losing membership and money and why there is so much tension in the denomination. It is pretty hard to strategically plan when you are shipwrecked on the rocks of a false gospel.

  2. Dewi Says:

    It is pretty hard to strategically plan when you are shipwrecked on the rocks of a false gospel.


  3. sorry - Chatham house rules prohibit this... Says:

    Sad… What kind of man let alone leader would take part in secret meetings like this. Shame on those cowards.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I have a comment, but none of you are allowed to see it. I am quite proud of it. It is the best comment I have ever made, but I am afraid I must keep it under wraps. It is so true that it is a pity I must keep it from you. Sometimes the best way to spread the truth is to keep it secret.

  5. Steve M Says:

    The problem with backbiting is that if one does it out in the open, for all to see, it is no longer backbiting. In order to achieve genuine backbiting, it must be done anonymously behind closed doors.

  6. Lauren Says:

    Perhaps byFaith was losing readership and to avoid being cut from the PCA budget, they had to come up with an edgy article to rile up the bloggers and get back on the radar screen. Looks like they succeeded.

    The good news is that the false gospel of the Federal Vision is once again being exposed; it will never be put to rest while God’s people remain standing firm and established in the truth. And, God’s truth ultimately prevails – with or without the PCA.

    Whenever I happen to drive by our former church where we ministered together for several years, a dark spirit of sadness and oppression comes over me. Though often tempted to despair and become bitter, I pray that the Holy Spirit would one day push away the darkness and open the spiritual eyes of that dear little church on the hill to His grace and truth.

  7. hughmc5 Says:

    How ironic: To post @ byFaith, one must give his name and geo-location, yet the piece’s author is anonymous!

    If Rome is Christian, then all debate and historic Presbyterianism are finished.

    Paul warned the Ephesians: Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock,
    …care for the church of God,
    …I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and FROM AMONG YOUR OWN SELVES will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert!

    Cf. Ephesians 6:10ff.

    But they failed to take heed. Jesus rebuked them: I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

    “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.” So THERE!

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