Saturday, October 04, 2008

How Not to Hunt Witches

For the record, this will be the one and only time I will defend the minority's and my actions with respect to the Pacific Northwest Presbytery and Rev. Peter Leithart. Whatever may be said about us subsequently I will just ignore.

PCA Federal Visionist Mark Horne has publically characterized our actions as "a witch hunt." Allow me to set the record straight.

The PCA's 34th General Assembly formed a Federal Vision study committee, which reported its findings to the 35th General Assembly a couple summers ago. Leithart, on the day that the report was received, correctly complied with the report's recommendations by publishing on his blog an open letter to the clerk of the Pacific Northwest Presbytery, Rob Rayburn, in which he gave his thoughts on each of the nine declarations of the report, saying that he would cheerfully submit to a presbytery enquiry. I drafted a motion some months later, which Peter himself agreed to sign, which requested that the Pacific Northwest Presbytery do precisely what Peter asked to be done, i.e., examine his views in the light of the FV report. I was appointed to this committee along with three other ministers and three elders. Before the committee was appointed, Peter was asked which names he would like to be included. His response was that he was very comfortable with the seven of us being the ones tasked with studying his views.

The fact that this committee, which was my idea, came out four-to-three against me should be evidence enough against any foul play or deck-stacking on my part, as should the fact that the motion to form the committee was submitted by both Leithart and me.

Furthermore, the genius of presbyterial church government is that there is an appellate process designed to allow decisions of lower courts to be reviewed by higher ones. If in civil law we don't question one's patriotism for filing an appeal, why, when the same thing is done in the spiritual kingdom, should we question the person's churchmanship?

Lastly, the vows that all PCA ministers have taken include this one: "Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?"

If Rev. Leithart is in error (which is the real issue, not the false dilemmas and red herrings debated on the floor of presbytery yesterday), then surely it would fall within the jurisdiction of this vow to seek to have those errors corrected, would it not?

But calling it a witch hunt? That is the kind of charge that barely deserves the ten minutes it took to write this post.