Livng in the Open....

Two members of Christ the Word who recently returned from a trip to Africa tell me that while there they heard a visiting PCA pastor speak of 85 "Federal Vision" churches he and a group of like-minded friends hope to excise from the PCA.

I'm intrigued to learn there are 85 discernibly "Federal Vision" churches in the PCA and I'm curious to know how the number was arrived at. Does admiring the ministry of Doug Wilson make one a "Federal Vision" proponent? If so, Christ the Word is probably goners in the PCA if I continue to enjoy the privilege of being her pastor when these men achieve their goal.

I'm also intrigued that an ad hoc group of PCA pastors has identified 85 "Federal Vision" churches requiring removal without publicly identifying themselves or publicly acknowledging the breadth of their goals. It's possible the pastor was exaggerating--blowing ecclesiastical smoke. Yet my friends think not. He repeated his statements several times, never with any lack of conviction.

On the whole, Tim and I tend to honor those who take God's truth seriously enough to work to purify Christ's Church of dangerously false teaching. Whether "Federal Vision" theology is cohesive enough or sufficiently heterodox to require such opposition we're uncertain. What is certain is that God's truth prospers in the light, not in smoke-filled rooms and alleyways.

Which brings me to a recurringly troubling aspect of life in the Presbyterian Church in America.

On every side there appear to be clandestine groups of like-minded friends bound together by secret communications. The existence of such groups becomes especially clear when looking through blog referral lists. At times it's quite obvious that PCA-based discussion boards are steering readers to blog entries, but access to the referring site is limited to members and accessible only through password-protected accounts.

Friends who have participated in such groups tell me that not only is membership often by invitation only, but a commitment to confidentiality about discussion items is sometimes required as well.

It's hard to conceive of such secrecy as a good thing. There are times for confidentiality within pastoral circles, but the existence of whole cliques whose agendas and members are closely-guarded secrets runs contrary to the ministry of Christ Who reproached His captors by asking if He had operated in secrecy that they came to take Him at the dead of night....

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Comments

Is it really appropriate for a PCA minister to publicly repeat such hearsay? I have no doubt that if I were to report on my blog that someone visiting Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church had been told by Steve Wilkins that he intended to break off his PCA presbytery and have them join the CREC, there would be howls of protest on Blog and Mablog about my violation of "biblical justice".

And are you equally as concerned, David, about the closed Federal Visionista lists as well?

PCA = Private, Clandestine Associations?

Do you care to publish a list of "PCA-based discussion boards that are steering readers to blog entries...."?

Otherwise how can anyone know the veracity of your statements?

I'm interested to know exactly what these "federal vision" churches are doing that will make them excisable from the PCA. Are they serving communion to non-communicant members? Are they preaching that justification is by faith and baptism? Are they (gasp!) actually taking doctrine seriously?

Somehow, I wouldn't be surprised if it's the latter...

Friends,

Such groups exist at every end of the spectrum. If you're unaware of them, good: I've chosen not to speak of them by name purposefully. In your case, ignorance is bliss.

In Christ,

David

The whole idea of hearing something from a "reliable source" and passing it on smacks more of gossip than the correct Presbyterian way. I am concerned about the Federal Vision/Auburn Ave. Theology, but it seems to me that the path that must be taken is clearly outlined for us in our BCO.
Rattlesnake 6

Despite all of the above comments, David Bayly's point should be well-taken. Issues get illuminated and men are corrected best when it is done IN THE LIGHT, not in encrypted blogs or back alleys or smoke-filled parlors with secret entrances, passwords, and secret handshakes.

Note the especially helpful recent response to the Louisiana Presbytery:

http://www.ecalvinbeisner.com/farticles/LA_Pres_Response.pdf

This was written by Cal Beisner, Richard Philips, Joey Pipa, Carl Robbins, R. Fowler White, and others recommending additional corrections of Wilkins.

These fellas have the right idea, both in the content of their criticisms and in the way they are going about all of this.

As a participant on some of these lists, I think the confidentiality issue makes a lot of sense, when its clear that there is too much suspicion of fellow pastors/laymen in the PCA.

In the MVP report referencing Leithart, his alleged "denial" of imputation of original sin stemmed from a brief and speculative blog posting that was contradicted by another blog posting.

If that's the level of the debate, you betcha that pastors need a place to carry on theological discussion in private away from the eyes of those who are asking questions and 'testing all things'

The existence and membership and agenda of most FV friendly groups, as far as I can tell, is pretty public, even if every last discussion point raised in such forums are not for public consumption/inquisition

I hold in my hand a list...

To be fair, I do think that Paul is right that privacy and confidentiality do make a lot of sense at times. There's a need to be able to "let down one's hair" and talk about issues with likeminded folks. Where we run into trouble is with the temptation to gossip, backstab, plot, and generally engage in all manner of behavior that embarrasses the angels. That sort of thing is nasty whether done in private or public, but cloak it in craven self-protection and it's doubly nasty.

It's puzzling to me how an Internet mailing list or even a weblog with outbound links could possibly be considered bound to the same rules of order as a formal, closed session Elder meeting (to use the Presbyterian term).

I'm not sure why the fact that the Internet allows rapid communication via email, weblogs, and XML feeds should trouble any Christian who is conducting him/herself above board, but I know it does because I've heard this complaint before.

The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops even held an quickie meeting a few years ago to deal with the problem of this Internet thingy allowing church members to communicate with each other and share news where lines of communication were not open before!

Also, don't you think assuming that limited membership of a list implies agenda-driven "cliques" or "closely guarded secrets" kind of prejudices this discussion?

There's absolutely nothing nefarious or "troubling" to me about such voluntary lists of Christians who agree to open membership based on trust.

pduggan says: "The existence and membership and agenda of most FV friendly groups, as far as I can tell, is pretty public, even if every last discussion point raised in such forums are not for public consumption/inquisition"

Well, it depends whose ox is being gored. If it is a Federal Visionista list, all is fair and necessary to prevent the prying eyes of the "heresy-hunting inquisition"; if there is any criticism of the Federal Vision on any list, it is secretive and "not above board"; should really be banned.

David says (while ignoring my questions to him in Comment #1): "Such groups exist at every end of the spectrum."

Then why is is, David, that you have chosen to publicly single out for their alleged secrecy only those lists you don't like (you have declined to provide any examples of whom you're speaking of when asked), yet you're silent on closed, subscription-only groups like the Biblical Horizons Yahoo list, which is populated by many of your theological allies, including (gasp!) the infallible oracle himself, Doug Wilson. Do you equally abhor the conduct of those men for the very reasons you've outlined already, even though you might align yourself with them theologically? This is not a hypothetical question: I received today a number of hits to my blog from the Biblical Horizons list related to my current post on Mercersburg Theology; alas, the list is closed and I do not have the opportunity to see what was said about me. None of the list members has the courage to say anything openly. Won't you join me in condemning this practice, David, or do your principles only go so far as your theological preferences?

And again, how do you answer the charge that you have made these comments on your post based on nothing but hearsay? Would you, as a member of your session, approve of such behavior from any of your congregants?

Much as I dislike to disagree with you, David, I'm gonna do it anyway. ;^)

Christ spoke to the crowds in parables so they wouldn't understand, but His disciples would. ("He did not speak to them without a parable. Privately, however, He would explain everything to His own disciples." Mark 4:34) He would withdraw with His friends to speak privately with them. Surely before Paul approached Peter to deliver the necessary rebuke, he'd privately spoken to others to solicit their opinion and counsel.

I see no Scriptural warrant for being obligated to live life in a fishbowl, and with a bullhorn in front of my mouth and always using the speakerphone. The closest I can find would be Luke 12:3 ("Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in an ear in private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops") but I truly don't believe Christ's words were meant to warn people to not gather privately, but instead to warn them what is said in private WILL come to light at judgment.

A fearsome thought, to be sure. =8^o

I don't object to those opposed to the FV having secret email or other meetings in the least, Patrick. I object to them going to africa and revealing their plans to exise 85 churches from the PCA.

Doug Wilson is NOT on BH, though he was at one point.

I read David Bayly as criticizing everyone for secrecy, not FV or antiFV.

Patrick,

I was the ONE person that commented on your Mercersburg blog entry. I didn't comment further because: 1) your tone unhelpful 2) I didn't want to waste bandwidth on a blog no one's looking except perhaps a few of your buds 3) You've made up your mind.

Frankly, it was boring and looks like every other "Mercerburg's" the anitichrist blog.

As far as private groups go, I say to you, "what business is it of yours?" This is a peculiar disease of the PCA in that it has an over-abundance of sad, middle-aged self-appointed "All-Around Renaissance Men" trying regulate life.

All,

Sorry for horrid one-handed typing but I have a kid on my lap.

BH has been that way since long before the phrase "Federal Vision" even existed. The whole idea was to have a forum where people could bounce literally half-baked ideas back and forth off each other: things that are not ready for prime time. Ideas that the thinker is not necessarily confident about and may want to drop as dead ends. Or, on the other hand, some may be very good ideas that one wants to keep closely held until fully developed so that others won't be able to steal one's thunder. The idea that BH is the way it is on account of the FV is nonsense.

Patrick says,

"I received today a number of hits to my blog from the Biblical Horizons list related to my current post on Mercersburg Theology; alas, the list is closed and I do not have the opportunity to see what was said about me. None of the list members has the courage to say anything openly."

After I have witnessed how you respond to people, I would not call it lack of courage, I would call it wisdom on the part of BHers and anyone else who does not engage you. I read how you responded to Garrett on your blog on the Mercersburg issue, and you were so quick to take offense at his asking what you had read, that you missed his point completely and spent your response on sarcastically spouting off all that you had read and belittling him along the way, yet you never answered his question.

Simple question, brother, what have you read and what parts of what you have read to you disagree with? Why you quickly turn it into a personal attack is bewildering. So much for getting nuanced explanations from the authority.

Ah, yes, I have the monopoly on mean. Shame on me!

To Garrett (posting as anikisan here): it seems I was correct - you do need another hobby other than theology.

And to Richard: I spent three paragraphs in my reply to Garrett detailing what I've read in relation to Mercersburg. I identified a number of concerns about Mercersburg Theology in my original post. I doubt that anything I could provide further would be sufficient to meet your criteria.

And finally to David: Now that Mark Horne has publicly repeated your hearsay and slander, will you continue to refuse to give any account of your actions and statements here?

BTW Anikisan is my Japanese nickname. You can see its not a secret code name by noting its in my homepage URL. Yes, Patrick you are a mean nasty person. I feel sorry for you.

patrick
cool down your rhetoric, as it is not only unhelpful, it is also inaccurate.

for example, your use of 'slander'
if you would consult various dictionaries you would find that 1) the statement must be false (which it appears you have just assumed it is) and 2) logically, the referent of accusation must be properly clear for any of the conditions to be met. (which, clearly, it was not)

if you did not mean the word with such exactness, but rather something more amorphous or idiosyncratic, consider something with less inflammatory power.

and i say all this with the hope that you want to discuss things, rather than just sling mud.

Ok, as a member of David's flock at Christ the Word and a graphic designer no less, I must say that the responses to David's posts are spoken in a manner that reveals your disrespect for David's office as a minister of Christ. David is, next to my father (another pastor), the most loving and wise shepherd of the church that I have ever known...and I have known many. For some of you men and women to speak to him in the manner in which you are speaking is quite over the line. Imagine someone walking into your father's home and speaking to your father in the same nagging, irritable tone. Whatever sin you think David is committing, your attitude towards him is the greater sin.

If we have a problem with something a leader in the Church has to say and we are laymen, we ought to approach him with fear and trembling, knowing that God's servants are not slandered or spoken harshly to without some bit of divine correction occurring shortly thereafter. Some of you will say that David is slandering the PCA group in question. Is he though? He never mentioned their names, but exhorted us as a group to avoid clandestine meetings because of the temptations that so readily occur therein. Responding to David's exhortation woodenly, finding all the exeptions to the rule, just reveal that you are willing to strain at the gnat but have swallowed a camel.

Is it really that outrageous that David, a pastor who regularly attends Presbytery and is heavily involved in the vision and direction of our denomination, should be hostile to the idea that others in our denomination may be carrying on meetings that aim to overthrow ministers and congregations?

Some blame David of partisanship. I have noticed in my experience that those who are angered by partisanship are often the most partisan themselves. That is how it is so easy for them to spot one. It is much like a man who can spot a thief from a mile away because he's familiar with what thieves do.

Lastly, in my experience, disagreeing with David is something that he takes with a great deal of grace and often welcomes it when it is done in a spirit of sincerity and love for Jesus. Disagreeing with David with a sneer will, however, turn your words into a jumble of pixels on the screen and rightly bring disgrace on your own head.

May the Lord richly bless all of you, especially the ones I'm annoyed with.

Never let a Prattlick Foole spoil your day.

It is my opinion that this discussion is an excellent example of the detrimental influence of the internet on the Church in general.

I understand David's concerns full well - and agree with him on the principle enunciated. I also find it humorous that several vehement critics of Mr. Poole and "secret societies" had this "news" posted on their series of blogs within 6 hours of posting by David.

The vast amount of the heat and controversy involved around the Federal Vision would not even exst but for the internet, self-publishing, and blog rings.

Do an experiment yourself. The next time David or Tim post here regarding anything related to the Federal Vision (critical or not) go to any one of the blogs of the men mentioned by Mr. Poole. Then click on any blog link on their webpage. Repeat that when you get to the next page. You will begin to see that all the blogs reference the same clique of blogs. They all will have a post about the "news" - almost invariably a short couple liner filled with saracasm, intended for those "in the know." Doubt me? Do it right now for this post. One would think that some church would have specialized Ministers for the Internet instead of Youth Ministers or Ministers of Family Life.

Personally, I prefer the flesh and blood fellowship and work with David and his excellent Session to a cross-world, cross-demoninational, cross-Confessional internet clique.

Fred,

The Puritan list shows that this kind of discussion can take place openly.

It's harder, but healthier.

Better still to deal with theological issues at the session and presbytery level.

Your brother in Christ,

David

David,

I agree and I agree. It is harder - the Puritanboard requires all members to submit a profile and to acknowledge agreement with either the Westminster or 1689 Baptist Confession. And we require disclosure, no anonymity. You must list your name and church affiliation in order to post.

Even so, far too often the discussion gets out of hand. I have come to realize that it is harder to be misunderstood, or to rant, when one is arguing/discussing in person.

I learn something nearly everytime at Presbytery - often in the halls instead of the floor! I missed you, Andrew and the guys this last time. Blessings on your work!

Hi Fred,

Your points are well-taken. What is going on, however, is what has always occurred. Its just occurring at hyper-speed now. I am, I guess, one of the blogs you are referring to. I got the link to this blog entry from someone else's site and found it persuasive (and very believable from my unfortunate experiences in the PCA). After some quick verification of the veracity of the sources I posted the link on my blog. I actually think discussing these things like this (in various on-line formats) is helpful.

"Cliques" are nothing new and are not necessarily sinister. For example, as any seminary student knows, you naturally fall into groups of common interest. Everybody does. You also do it to have privacy in PCA circles where it is often difficult to have honest discussions about things.

Let me give you an example. I had heard all the pooh-poohing of NT Wright before arriving at the seminary to the point that I thought he was the new Bultmann, even Satan himself! Then I had to read "Jesus and the Victory of God" for a class and found it one of the most helpful and enlightening books on the New Testament, bar none. I mentioned my like for NT Wright to some of my fellow elders but it was quickly construed as a love for everything NPP. Within a short period of time I was being brought before my session to answer questions like "We noticed you like NT Wright, explain yourself." Do you think I'm going to discuss this type of subject matter again in the presence of people who easily misconstrue the nuances of theology? I will only discuss it in the presence of more mature like-minded folk because I want to learn to think through difficult and perplexing issues. That's why I dropped a very lucrative career and spent my pension on a seminary education.

Everybody joins a clique at some point. Heck, Sessions are "cliques" of common interest. It is foolish and unbiblical to think that everything needs to be discussed with everyone all the time.

Now, regarding Mr. Poole's site, you may notice that before anything happened, he mentioned in an uncharitable manner, the names of Mark Horne and Jeff Meyers. Men who are my pastors and close personal friends. If I were to mention Mr. Poole's blog entry on a private board somewhere does that constitute some sinister plot? I think not. Its akin to meeting with a group of your friends at the local pub and in the course of that conversation saying, "Hey, there's this real sweet "renaissance man" who is publicly saying bad things about you over in this other city. And when this other person who started the whole thing stands up on a pile of old pallets and screams, "Who's talking about me!?!" "I'll take any and all of you on now! Who wants a piece of me?!?" We have a right to say, "Pfft." Before we get all pious about naming names I think we need to take Paul out to the woodshed for naming names (Philippians 4 comes to mind).

As I said to my old session, we as PCA elders need a "Middle Forum" to discuss perplexing theological issues in a non-threatening environment. We are either: (1) Totally happy with one another or (2) taking each other to court. We are so stinking litigious in PCA circles. We need pubs in our churches, presbyteries, and GA's so we can sit across from each other over a pint of Guinness (or brandy) and say, "So tell me your thought on A, B or C." I've got no dog in this fight as I will be heading out of the PCA in May so you can take this with a grain of salt.

Mr. Greco does not seem to be telling the whole truth in his comment above. When I applied for admission to the Puritanboard in Dec. 2004, I submitted a profile acknowledging my agreement with the Westminster Confession, and there was full disclosure, no anonymity. I listed my name and church affiliation. But I was asked to affirm that "the Auburn group denies justification by faith alone," to which I replied:

"1) None of the people associated with Auburn Avenue speak for me. 2) I don't have much interest in either defending or attacking them. 2A) I don't care to defend them because I think they need correction. 2B) I don't care to attack them because I don't consider them to be beyond the pale of Christian orthodoxy."

In rejecting my application, the moderator wrote back to me, "The Puritan Board is a board of like-minded fellowship. I do not see your theology as like minded at this point."

Based on the way their moderator gleefully slammed the door in the face of a total stranger who refused to affirm that "the Auburn group denies justification by faith alone," I would say that David Bayly's original post above hits the nail square on the head.

I was going to give my patronizing mockery and my mean-spiritedness the day off today, but I could hear all of the heavy-breathing from Garrett, so I back strolled over here to see what was being said. Now that Mullah of Moscow's lackeys have finally arrived to enlighten us all, I see what Garrett is hyper-ventilating about.

One of the first things I read is this little missive from Christopher Witmer to help bring the discussion back to adult-level:

"Never let a Prattlick Foole spoil your day."

Very adult, indeed. Perhaps Mr. Witmer might want to do some study in the Sermon on the Mount. Like Matthew 5:22.

I also find Ryan telling me to cool down my rhetoric. This from someone who labels his blog, "Acid Letters". Pot. Kettle. Black.

And Garrett finally gets to the heart of his complaint: I had the audacity to name his friends in my blog post on Mercersburg Theology. He didn't like it. He feels sad.

Of course, Jeff Meyers has posted on his website two MP3 audio lectures on Mercersburg, and Mark Horne won the 1997 PCA Taylor Aiken award for his paper on Mercersburg and has more than a dozen articles on his Theologica website dedicated to the issue. But according to Garrett I'm uncharitable for pointing out their rather public advocacy for Mercersburg and their status as PCA ministers. I would feel pity for him if I had more than just my cold, black heart to feel with.

Just for the record, I have no problem whatsoever with these closed lists. David began this discussion by saying that he does. His initial post only concerned the alleged iniquities of Federal Vision opponents and their sinister secret societies. He offered no "Such groups exist at every end of the spectrum" qualification. I raised the issue of the Biblical Horizons list to challenge whether he equally deplored his friends and theological allies engaging in the same behavior he decried of others. I have no doubt he understood my point; for our past disagreements (and agreements!), I take him to be a smart man. But it seems that my critics want to make more of it than that.

And as for my slander charge, David publicly repeated a second-hand comment (problematic in and of itself) and applied it to a whole group of PCA ministers and members who not coincidently happen to share contrary theological views to his. Paul Duggan quickly repeated it here as fact:

"I don't object to those opposed to the FV having secret email or other meetings in the least, Patrick. I object to them going to africa and revealing their plans to exise 85 churches from the PCA.

If that doesn't rise to the level of slander, there really is no such thing. At least Mark Horne tried to qualify it is when he repeated David's slander on his blog. Paul made no such effort, and David has not issued any apology for his conduct.

Now I really don't doubt that if David had come out and said, "A friend of a friend of one of my sister-in-laws told me that Patrick Poole is a transvestite", that comment could never rise to the level of slander for some of the Federal Visionistas and the Moscow Brown Shirt Brigade. As I said earlier, it all depends on whose ox is being gored.

I began this whole thread by pointing out David's hypocrisy: "I have no doubt that if I were to report on my blog that someone visiting Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church had been told by Steve Wilkins that he intended to break off his PCA presbytery and have them join the CREC, there would be howls of protest on Blog and Mablog about my violation of 'biblical justice'." (Comment #1)

If I had made such a statement on my blog there would be the ritual denunciations here on Bayly Blog condemning my slander (rightly so), and violent protests and burning me in effigy over at Doug Wilson's blog, Bilge and More-Bilge.

All this to say, in the past six weeks this is the third instance I've seen in which both Tim and David have publicly condemned behavior in others while simultaneously engaging in the same themselves. It happened with reference to, 1) Doug Wilson (David); 2) R.C. Sproul, Jr. (Tim); and now, 3) the Federal Vision (David).

But, of course, I'm the one who is choking on the camel and blinded by the log in my eye. How do I live with myself?

Mr. Whitmer,

As someone who has personally known David for many years, and who has worked closely with him, I will trust him to judge the truthfulness of my posts.

You of course failed to note:

1. It was not me that rejected your application
2. Virtually all posts on the PuritanBoard (aside from prayer requests) are completely open and public. No membership is required to see what is being discussed.
3. As a result, on more than several occasions, the blog clique has posted a "did you see what they wrote here"

All of this is sharp contradistinction, for example, to the wrightsaid list, which is completely private and regularly purges members who are suspect (of course I also know from first hand experience).

Now of course I expect it will be something like 10 hours before this further charge of "narrowness" makes the rounds of the usual suspects.

Can it be slander if it doesn't mention names? How can you slander a group of anonymous or unnamed men?

Patrick, you ask, "But, of course, I'm the one who is choking on the camel and blinded by the log in my eye. How do I live with myself?"

Not sure how to answer that, but it is an excellent question. You may want to ask your wife.

Dear Mr. Greco,

Sorry for any misunderstanding; it was not my intention to imply that you were deliberately being untruthful.

I know nothing about wrightsaid, but knowing human nature it wouldn't surprise me if they had some problems in that department.

It may be worth noting for parties on all sides of this debate that I was so impressed by the degree of Christian charity manifested by the moderator of the Puritan Board that I created a directory called "So-Called Christianity" in which to store my brief correspondence with him.

It seems to me that the Elmer Fudds of Christendom need to be asked not only "What's up, doxis?" but also "What's up, praxis?" Ye shall know them by their fruit.

Dear Sir Patrick of the Loin-Thick Pinkie,

What I meant was, there's no need to niggle with a nattering Nabal of narrowism.

Fred,
You're comparing apples to oranges. The Wrightsaid list is private in order to protect participants from the kind of excision conspiracy to which Mr. Bayly's post refers. To my knowledge, those having an appreciation for NT Wright aren't calling for the removal of those who appreciate puritanism from the PCA. As long as the witch hunts continue, Wrightsaid will be private.

As to the regularity of purges, you exaggerate greatly. I'd say the Warfield list purges far outstrip the few from Wrightsaid. ;)

Fuss, fuss, fuss, fuss, fuss...over whether or not one gets to be in an Internet discussion group? Sheesh, you'd think people were being barred from the Lord's Table willy-nilly. Maybe that's because, being good Reformed folk, we count theological wrangling as the most precious of our sacraments.

To the Baylys: Congrats, guys, on your Hoosiers' hard fought game tonight against my Buckeyes. It was brutal. They almost pulled it off. Almost...

Go Bucks!

P

I was gloating so much over my Buckeyes win, I almost forgot:

Christopher, please keep posting about my "Loin-Thick Pinkie" all you want. Are you obsessing over my "Loin-Thick Pinkie"? Do you think about other mens' "Loin-Thick Pinkie", or is it just mine? Have you talked to your pastor or your therapist about your fascination with my "Loin-Thick Pinkie"?

And Jim: Thanks for the attack on my family. Glad we're still able talk about the issues without making things personal.

Though Coach Davis is an appealing guy, I suspect Tim and I care more about our sons' sports than college teams.

Nate, my 215 pound sophomore wrestler made it to districts two weeks ago but didn't advance to state.

Taylor (Tim's youngest) went to a national basketball tournament in Kansas this weekend where his team won once, then lost several close games.

In Christ,

David

>Glad we're still able talk about the issues without making things personal.

There is a certain irony at work here...

Patrick,

you write:

"I also find Ryan telling me to cool down my rhetoric. This from someone who labels his blog, "Acid Letters". Pot. Kettle. Black."

ad hominems are a very convient way to divert the actual issues raised. (and i must say it is an ad hominem which displays a definite lack of imagination, and depth, at that).

sadly, it appears you do wish only to sling mud. --at least on this thread. I do hope it is not a normal thing for you.

"And Jim: Thanks for the attack on my family. Glad we're still able talk about the issues without making things personal."

Um, he didn't attack your family. He said you're insufferable. Thanks for providing yet more evidence that you are.

David, the only reason I mention IU was because of Tim's post last week on IU basketball. We'll see how the Big 10 shakes out in the NCAA brackets. That said, the Hoosiers still played a tough game yesterday.

As a former wrestler, I, too, still pay attention to the sport. I watched our Ohio state h.s. tourney a week ago. There are few sports that are as mano-a-mano as wrestling. Not many other sports where you can be 16 points behind, and 10 seconds later be a winner.

Go Big 10!

Finally, thanks to the Academy for their votes. And a shout-out to my adoring fans out there who obscured the real issues at hand, like Garrett, Keith, Ryan, David Gray, and Christopher Witmer, who find me mean, insufferable, ironic, a mud slinger, a child-eating cannibal (don't forget that I disrespect ministers, too!); and for Christopher, well, I'm his "Loin-Thick Pinkie". But I must remember that I'm the one who is making the ad hominem and personal attacks. I'm so ashamed.

Actually, I'm pretty sure I only called you insufferable.

A few thoughts:

Fred, you know I love you, and I usually agree with what you say, but aren't we just as guilty of it in posting here and in other places? The internet is only counterproductive when other people do it!

Re Wrightsaid vs. Warfield. Everything on Warfield is a matter of the public record. Period. It could, in theory, be used in a court case. Frankly, I think theology can and must only be done in the open. To posit some sort of witch-hunt (which has resulted in no defrocking, and no SJC cases) and then use that as an excuse to provide a "safe" forum in which it is safe for men to deny their ordination vows (in theory) is inexcusable. Barb, I disagree with you here.

RE the litigious nature of the PCA: When is the last time a minister has been tried for heresy anywhere in the PCA? Where are our Swing/Briggs trials? It seems to me we aren't so litigious as some might say. Yes, a single pulpit has been closed to a single man by a single presbytery, after which the church peacably withdrew and extended the call anyway. No harm, no foul. Hardly a witch-hunt. Our forebears went to the stake to preach the gospel, and we view slight opposition as persecution.

I don't think it was right for a TE to call for expunging 85 FV churches. I don't think it right to report it as hearsay. I don't think it will ever happen anyway.

I do think, however, that we need to maintain the historic standards on imputation, justification, decretal election, bi-covenantalism, and the gospel itself and to press candidates to define what they mean by these terms, and then let the courts decide whether they are suited to ministry. I don't think anyone would ever precede judicially to disfellowship 85 churches who have supposed FV affinities. I do think it is possible that overtures will be coming that take specific issue with the FV at specific points of doctrine. Is this not the function of the church --to consider these things, and prayerfully decide what is right?

I was pressed hard by the old Great Lakes presbytery on some positions I have since gained the maturity to see as erratic. The church instructed me, and I heeded their instruction. That needs to happen more, not less, IMHO.

Dear Brothers,

Without taking sides, my daughter just wrote to David and me expressing her concern at our allowing this nastiness to continue on our blog. We agree and are shutting down this discussion because of what it's deteriorated into. We have no hesitation in providing a forum for substantive discussions and we are not against those discussions becoming heated. But heated discussions that have become simple exercises in name-calling do not build up the Body of Christ, nor do they honor our Lord.

Please conduct yourself keeping in mind that we will be judged for every idle word.

With affection,

Tim Bayly

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