Response to Skip Gillikin...

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Tim forwarded an email from a good friend questioning my post on extra-judicial killing last Friday. I appreciate Skip Gillikin taking the time to question what I wrote (and the gentle spirit of his criticism), and I've asked his permission to place my response here.

Dear Skip,

Thank you for taking the time to express your concern with what I wrote on our blog.

I read that entry (on extra-judicial killing) to a number of staff members at the church where I am a pastor before entering it on the blog. On the one hand, I didn't want to write something simply inflammatory. On the other hand, I felt that the reaction to X's (using X in place of a person's name to conceal identity as much as possible...) suicide within the PCA has revealed an unspoken canon of acceptable vs. unacceptable sins at work.

All I was trying to do, brother, was to say that we can't have it both ways: if all extra-judicial acts of killing are indeed murder, then we must be very careful in our response to X's suicide not to gloss over that fact by ignoring the sin at the heart of it; on the other hand, if there are extra-judicial acts of killing which warrant special sympathy and solicitude from believers, then perhaps we should have extended such sympathy to the family of Paul Hill at his death--and perhaps to Paul himself.

In the end, Paul died believing he had done the will of God in killing the abortion doctor. Moreover, he brought forth biblical evidence in support of his position. We can disagree with Paul, but I think his position was, in a sense, biblically arguable, whereas X's was not. Yet we anathematized Paul and we are now, I fear, in the process of casting X in the role of victim rather than sinner.

I know this sounds harsh, brother, but the more I heard X spoken of as a victim, the more I thought of the utter silence at the death of Paul Hill within PCA circles. I didn't know about Mark David Chapman (who had slight ties to the PCA) but I do know that being silent about Paul Hill wasn't keeping his ties to the PCA from anyone. Every obituary written mentioned his PCA and OPC ties. If we were trying to conceal our ties to the man we were closing a gate that every cow on earth had filed through many years before....

Tim tells me you're a friend, so I hope you'll regard me as one despite my taking a view of this matter that may not accord with yours.

Your brother in Christ,