May 31, 2010 | Comments 5
The trifecta losses of the old PCUSA, UPCNA, and the PCUS were the result not of the failure of orthodox theology or outright victory by liberals, but of the ecclesiastical pacifism and pusillanimity of those who professed orthodox theology. The question asked by the defeated and distraught conservatives was: “What happened to us?” The answer is this: LOOK IN THE MIRROR! YOU HAPPENED! You were not defeated; YOU GAVE THE CHURCH AWAY!
Indeed, those conservatives in the old spiritually bankrupt denominations either withdrew from the struggles or would not stand resolutely in the face of persistent and organized rebellion and heresy. The default setting ecclesiastically for those defeated Presbyterian evangelicals was the Rodney King dictum: “Can we all get along?” The Biblical way of saying that is: “Peace, Peace, when there is no peace.”
Unfortunately, not much has changed amongst evangelical Presbyterians since the demise of the PCUSA, the UPCNA, and the PCUS.
The marks of the Church according to classic Reformed theology are three:
- The faithful preaching of the Gospel;
- The right administration of the Sacraments; and
- The proper exercise of discipline.
Evangelicals of all stripes celebrate the first two, but many tend to shy away from discipline. And the reason they shy away from discipline is that discipline is difficult and demanding. Evangelicals generally want purity without conflict. Reformed evangelicals tend to be willing to “give away the farm” rather than fight for the full three-fold integrity of the Gospel. The nature of conflict is that it is often messy and hard and strident and painful and bitter and divisive. If conflict arises, the Rodney King evangelicals, in their aversion to conflict, will, while affirming orthodox theology, in ecclesiastical matters, countenance falsehood in order to avoid the rigors of discipline and conflict. They will embrace a lie in order to avoid the unvarnished truth that offends their polite sensibilities. They will abandon and betray their brothers who are contending for the full three-fold integrity of the Gospel if it seems to those Rodney King evangelicals that their brothers in the struggle are, God forbid, “mean,” “cold,” and“heartless.” They can never figure out that the conflict is between a Christian construct of faith and a non-Christian construct of faith. Without real spiritual discernment, the Rodney King evangelicals invariably identify polar opposites as the same and dump the genuine for the fake. Then, when the church that the Rodney King evangelicals have served is lost, they dolefully moan: WHAT HAPPENED TO US? And, once again, for the Rodney King evangelical the answer is YOU HAPPENED.
Make no mistake, the issues of the Church have never been lost because of the failure of orthodox theology or a rigorous defense of the same. Most church issues have almost always been lost in the ecclesiastical arena because of pietistic and diffident churchmen who prefer nonresistance and pacifism to contending for the faith!
ARPTalk(Extra12): The Mutinous Erskine Board of Thieves was offensive to some of our readers. What was the offense? There were complaints that the Editor lumped the “good” in with the “bad.” Obvious observation!
The use of overstatement and hyperbole always runs the risk of being misunderstood. However, the Editor is aware that the loyal defenders of the ARP Church, who happen to be in the minority on the Board of Trustees at this time, knew they were NOT the focus of the Editor’s article. The Editor was aiming at the guilty on the Board. Sadly, at this point, the Board is mutinous, that is, in open rebellion against the appointing body, to whom they were under sworn allegiance. Sadly, at this point, the Board is seeking, in some manner, to separate Erskine College and Seminary from the ARP Church. That is theft! And worse: an effort to kill the denominational Christian arm of higher education!
Do not be deceived, that is what is taking place. Consider the following evidence. First, the so-called “reconciliation” committee’s proposal is no attempt at reconciliation. They offer to make a deal that IS NOT theirs to make. The division of the appointments of trustees is not theirs to make. At this point, they are continuing to break faith with the ARP Church. They are COVENANT BREAKERS. They have broken covenant with the vows they took when they signed on as trustees. And now they want the ARP Church to negotiate with them? If this is not mutiny, it is certainly subterfuge – understood narrowly as being the use of a stratagem to gain a self-serving end.
Second, the mutinous and deceitful voice of the Board is an alliance of at least Craig White, Parker Young, Scott Mitchell, Robert Galloway, Joe Patrick, Richard Taylor, Lawrence Nycum, Lisa Senn, and David Chesnut. Some of these are more raucous and discordant than others.
Indeed, these folks may represent the majority of the Board when it meets on June 7 at Bonclarken. Chairman Scott Mitchell began the civil proceedings and dropped over $50,000 on attorneys’ fees of Erskine’s money in a civil suit that he instigated and withdrew. Parker Young, Richard Taylor, and David Chesnut took up and now continue the civil suit against the ARP Church that Scott Mitchell began and Erskine Seminary faculty members Jay Hering, Richard Burnett, and Michael Bush aided and abetted the civil court action. According to sources, Lawrence Nycum has floated a proposal to remove trustees who are outspoken in defense of the ARP Church. Robert Galloway threatens a motion that, if passed, would have the Board declaring itself as self-perpetuating and independent of the ARP Church. In conjunction with these, the EC Foundation, made up of former Erskine people (some of them ARP elders!), continues to solicit funds in order to pay the attorneys’ fee for the civil suit against the ARP Church. Notice what they say on their website:
There is still much work to be done. Continuing to defend Erskine in civil courts requires expenditures for experienced attorneys who have aided other South Carolina institutions such as Furman University and Wofford College.
The Editor asks: Defend against what? Against the denomination’s effort to reassert and maintain the Christian orientation of the institution? The Editor has often written of the Furmanization of Erskine in ARPTalk. Now we add Wofford and come up with a new phrase: The Fermano-Woffordization of Erskine. There is no doubt about the direction that these conspicuous secularists want to go.
Interestingly, time and money and events are NOT in favor of an attempt to seize and sever Erskine College and Seminary from the ARP Church. These folks are very aware of this. Their actions reveal DESPERATION. However, they are also aware of a trump card that they have. They are aware of and are counting on the Rodney King evangelicals in the ARP Church.
Here is the unvarnished truth: IF ERSKINE IS LOST, IT WILL BE BECAUSE WE BECOME RODNEY KING EVANGELICALS AND GAVE ERSKINE AWAY! If in the years ahead we have to ask what happened to our college and seminary, we will have to confess: WE HAPPENED!
And what if that happens? It will be the outcome of our addiction to pacification and our aversion to conflict and it will be our unwillingness to discipline the culpable and it will be our proneness to quick-fix, anesthetic solutions and it will be our reluctance to insist on strict conformity to ARP standards in doctrine and form of government and it will be our reluctance to defend seriously against milquetoast preaching, heresy, near heresy, and unmitigated rebellion and it will be our leniency in tolerating secularism of any stripe and it will be our latitudinarianism in thinking secularism and evangelical Christian faith are compatible and it will be our long-standing disinclination to stand and contend for the faith.
God forbid! In the past we have been Rodney King evangelicals. Yes, in past years our motto has been: CAN WE ALL GET ALONG?
“There comes a time,” says Dumbledore, Harry Potter’s headmaster at Hogwarts, “when each of us must make a choice between what is right and what is easy. Here’s hoping we choose correctly.”
These are my thoughts,
Charles W. Wilson