Mar 16, 2011 | Comments 11
March is the time for the meetings of most of the Presbyteries in the ARP Church. As expected, First Presbytery and Second Presbytery dealt with the most controversial and significant issues that are now before the ARP Church. Once again, items that involve Erskine College (EC) and their Theological Seminary (ETS) were the main focus of the meetings. Because of the amount of material, this article is limited to actions by First Presbytery and Second Presbytery.
The knotty issue before the Presbytery dealt with judicial matters regarding Dr. Parker Young.
The following is a short sketch of the history of events relative to Dr. Young and First Presbytery since the “Snow” meeting of General Synod.
Dr. Young, a member of and an Elder in the Pinecrest ARP Church and a former member of the Erskine Board of Trustees (BOT), is one of the trustees who sued the ARP Church in civil court last year in the dispute between the ARP Church and Erskine College and Seminary over the appointment and dismissal of trustees.
Certain members of First Presbytery charged that Dr. Young had violated both his oath as an ARP Elder and 1 Corinthians 6. The Pinecrest Session was quizzed as to why the Session had not attempted to deal with matters regarding Dr. Young. Motions were put forth to relieve the Pinecrest of jurisdiction in this matter. The matter was then remanded back to the Pinecrest Session for adjudication.
Two reports from the Session of the Pinecrest Session ensued and the charges against Dr. Young were before First Presbytery for action.
The FIRST report is from the Session of the Pinecrest Session.
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE FIRST PRESBYTERY OF THE ASSOCIATE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT THEIR STATED MEETING, MARCH 8, 2011
We, the members of the Session of the Pinecrest Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, wish to thank the members of the First Presbytery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church for remanding to us the matter of the “Charge and Specifications” of First Presbytery against Dr. Parker Young, member and elder (presently not an active member of the session) of the Pinecrest ARP Church.
As most of the members of the Presbytery are aware, we reported to the Presbytery at its meeting on June 8, 2010, that we were aware of Dr. Young’s participation in a lawsuit challenging the action of the General Synod at its meeting on March 2-3, 2010 which removed all the members of the Board of Trustees of Erskine College and Seminary and then reappointed 15 of them along with replacements for the other 16. In that report we quoted from the Book of Discipline, Chapter III, paragraph 1, “Original jurisdiction over church members, including non-communing members, and over elders and deacons as officers, is vested in the session of the congregation to which they belong”. We also quoted paragraph 3 as follows: “In cases where the court of original jurisdiction is unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction, the next higher court may assume original jurisdiction upon demonstration of sufficient cause having been shown to the higher court.”
In our report we specifically stated that we were able and willing to act in this matter, but that the issues involved had not been clearly delineated and thus at that time no direct action on our part had been taken. It was then that the Presbytery assumed original jurisdiction, thus taking the matter out of our hands.
Insofar as our ability and willingness to handle the matter are concerned, our position remains unchanged, and we appreciate the Presbytery’s recognition of that position by remanding the case to us.
We have carefully studied the “Charge and Specifications.” We also studied the Standards of our denomination and researched what the Bible teaches concerning situations such as this. In addition, Dr. Young appeared before us on December 7, 2010 at which time we gave him the opportunity to explain his actions and defend his position in the matter.
Dr. Young explained to us the circumstances leading to his filing of the lawsuit, which we feel we need to explain to you, the members of the Presbytery. He stated that he was a member of the Board of Trustees of Erskine College and Seminary and was present when Synod’s committee [Moderator’s Commission (MC)] to look into the affairs of the school visited Erskine.
He stated that the committee [MC] interviewed some but not all members of the college’s administrative staff, faculty, student body, and Board of Trustees. After the interviews they presented to the Board their findings, all of which the Board agreed to with one exception. The committee [MC] felt that the Board was too large and wanted to reduce its size immediately. The Board was agreeable to reducing the size, but felt that it should be done incrementally, i.e., as each year group rotated off they would be replaced with a smaller number until the desired total number would be reached.
The committee [MC]told the trustees that if they did not agree with every one of their recommended changes, they (the committee [MC]) would recommend to Synod that the entire board be removed from office. They left no room for negotiation on any point; and so, their report to the Synod at the called meeting March 2-3, 2010, called for the immediate removal of all 32 trustees and the reappointment of 16 of them, along with 16 new trustees, to an interim board. The charter of Erskine College and Seminary, and other procedural documents, all of which have been approved by the Synod, allow the Synod to remove individual trustees for cause, and spell out the procedure for filing charges, etc.
However, under South Carolina law, the charter and procedural documents do not allow the removal of the entire board at one time when there has been no statement of charges filed against any of them. Dr. Young felt that the action of Synod was illegal under South Carolina law, and as a trustee he realized that it was his fiduciary responsibility to protect Erskine from the damage that would result had the ruling of Synod been allowed to stand.
Thus he, with Dr. Richard Taylor, also a trustee, and Mr. David Chestnut, President of the Erskine Alumni Association, filed a lawsuit against the Synod asking for an injunction to prevent the Synod from implementing their decision to remove all members of the board. The court agreed with the position of the plaintiffs and issued the injunction.
Dr. Young also pointed out that the officers of SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which is Erskine’s accrediting agency) placed the college on “warning status” immediately upon learning of Synod’s action, and later stated that had Dr. Young and his fellow plaintiffs not filed their lawsuit the college would have been subjected to much more serious action. Dr. Young was and is very familiar with the way SACS operates and was unwilling to wait for SACS to take action against Erskine, knowing that such action was inevitable unless something was done immediately to prevent it.
He then, as stated above, with his fellow plaintiffs, filed the lawsuit to prevent further harm to the school, its standing and its reputation. (As evidence of Dr. Young’s relationship with SACS, he has been a speaker at their annual meeting every year for the past 31 years, most recently at their meeting December 6, 2010; this is because he is regarded as one of the nation’s leading experts in college and university law.)
The synod appealed the decision of the lower court which issued the injunction, and after the stated meeting of Synod in June 20L0, Dr. Young, Dr. Taylor and Mr. Chestnut agreed to drop their lawsuit if the Synod would drop its appeal. Following this agreement, each side withdrew and now there are no further legal proceedings pending. As far as the plaintiffs and the Synod are concerned the matter is completely settled.
Following Dr. Young’s explanation, we entered into a discussion of the items in Presbytery’s “Charge and Specifications” and submit the following as our findings:
With regard to the summary explanations of the “Charge and Specifications,” we submit the following as our findings:
Finding Number 1: Charge #1 states, “As a member He violated his vow to question 3 of Chapter V, C, FOG ‘Do you believe the Scripture of the Old and New Testaments to be the written Word of God, the only perfect rule of faith and practice?”’
Charge #2 states, “As an elder he violated his vow to question 2 of Chapter IX, D, FOG ‘Do you reaffirm your belief in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the Word of the living God, the only perfect rule of faith and practice, to which nothing is to be added or from which nothing is to be taken at any time or upon any pretext?”’
Dr. Young has reaffirmed his belief that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are indeed the “written Word of God, the only perfect rule of faith and practice, to which nothing is to be added or from which nothing is to be taken at any time or upon any pretext.” Further, Dr. Young has affirmed that at no time since he first accepted Christ as his Savior has he ever doubted, denied or acted contrary to this belief with regard to the Scriptures.
Charge #2 also states, “l Corinthians 6:1-8 does not list any exceptions for filing a lawsuit against fellow Christians, much less the Bride of Christ, but Dr. Young has not only denied the truth of the Scripture, he has transgressed it.”
We believe this passage to be applicable in most situations, but we also believe that all Scripture is to be interpreted in the light of other Scripture.
We find it difficult to distinguish between Dr. Young’s actions in following what he felt to be God’s guidance after much prayer on his part and that of his fellow plaintiffs, and the actions of the Apostles Peter and John who were brought before the Jewish “rulers, elders and scribes as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest” (Acts 4:5-6) When asked by what authority they preached that there is “in Jesus the resurrection from the dead,” (Acts 4:2), and by what authority they had healed a man lame from birth (Acts 3:1-10), they replied that it was in the name of Jesus. The council then ordered them not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus,” (Acts 4:18), to which they replied, “Whether it is right the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.” (Acts 4:19)
Later, after the apostles had disregarded the command of the council, they were arrested again and thrown into prison. God sent an angel to open the doors of the prison so that they were set free. Again they began preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus and again they were called before the council; and the high priest said, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?” (Acts 5:28) to which “Peter and the other apostles answered and said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.”’ (Acts 5:29) NOTE: Even one of their chief leaders, Gamaliel, said to the council, “In the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them. You will only find yourselves fighting against God. (Acts 5:38-39)
It is generally agreed among Biblical scholars that the First Letter to the Corinthians was written as early as AD 52 or probably no later than AD 58 while Paul was in Ephesus. This means that Paul wrote this letter several years before he attempted to persuade the Jews in Jerusalem that he was a Jew following the revealed will of God in preaching to the Gentiles. We read in Acts 23:9ff and in Acts 25:2-3 that the religious leaders of the Jews banded together with an oath to kill Paul. Specifically, Acts 25:2-3 says,
“Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him [Festus] against Paul; and they petitioned him, asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem – while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him. See also Acts 25:9-12, “Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, ‘Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me on these charges?’ Paul answered, ‘I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to turn me over to them. I appeal to Caesar’
After he had conferred with his council, he declared, You have appealed to Caesar; to Caesar you shall go.”’ When Paul realized that Festus would take him back to Jerusalem, try him, and possibly turn him over to the Jews he was not willing to risk being tried by them (an ecclesiastical court), so he appealed to Caesar (a civil court). This occurred around AD 62-64, for we know that several of his epistles from Rome were written around AD 63-55. If Paul, after writing I Corinthians 6:1-8, felt that he must appeal to a civil court, then obviously he felt that there had to be exceptions to the rule about never going to civil court with matters that normally would have been tried by an ecclesiastical court.
We believe Dr. Young and his fellow plaintiffs acted in good faith and with clear consciences, feeling that the action of the Synod at its meeting on March 2-3, 2010 was improper. They felt that they had no recourse except to appeal to civil authorities since the ARP Church has no ecclesiastical body higher that the Synod to whom they could have appealed. It would have been unreasonable to appeal to us (the session of his church), or to you (the members of First Presbytery), since neither of these courts has jurisdiction over the Synod.
The Scriptures reveal very clearly many instances wherein servants of God were at odds with the religious leaders. It was the religious leaders who plotted Jesus’ death simply because He was a threat to their power and did not buckle under to their authority. It even reached the point that they said,
“If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him and then the Romans will come and take away our place and our nation.” (John 11:48) and the high priest, Caiaphas, said, “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11:49) Their concern was not for what is right or what God desired, but rather for their positions as religious leaders.
Stephen was brought before the council (Acts 5:12) and after testifying only the truth as he was led by the Holy Spirit, was stoned to death by the members of the council. (Acts 7:1-50) Later, Stephen was described as God’s martyr. (Acts 22:20)
Peter went to the home of Cornelius, a Gentile, and proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to him, his relatives and close friends. (Acts 10) When the Jews in Jerusalem heard of it they were incensed and when Peter returned to Jerusalem they confronted him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” (Acts 11:3) But Peter’s response included the statement that “The Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing.” (Acts 11:12) and that “as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as upon us at the beginning.” (Acts 11:15) And he concluded, “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17)
We read in Esther 1:12 that when King Xerxes commanded his wife, Vashti, to parade her beauty before a drunken group of nobles and officials, she refused. As a result she was deposed as queen and a Jewess, Esther, was chosen in her place. When it was learned that there was a plot to destroy all Jews, Esther broke with the customs, traditions and rules of the day, went to Xerxes at the risk of her life, and ultimately saved the Jews from destruction. (Esther 4:11 & 5:1-2)
The point in citing this incident is that Esther knew what she must do to save God’s people, and even at the risk of losing her life, she went against the “powers that be” and she did what she was convinced was right.
Finding Number 2: Charge #3 of the “Complaint and Specifications” states, “Dr. Young violated his vow as a member of the A.R.P. Church to question 5, Chapter V, C, FOG “Do you accept the doctrines and principles of the A.R.P. Church, so far as you understand them, as agreeable to and founded on the Word of God?”
Charge #4 of the “Complaint and Specifications” states, “He violated his ordination vow as an elder to question 3, Chapter IX, D, FOG “Do you accept the doctrines of this Church, contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, as founded on the Word of God and as the expression of your own faith and do you resolve to adhere thereto?”
We feel that Dr. Young has not violated either of these vows. The Confession of Faith, Chapter XXV, ‘,OF THE CHURCH,” Paragraph 5, states, “The purest of churches under heaven are subject to both mixture and error…..”
Also, in Chapter XXXI, ‘Of SYNODS AND COUNCILS,’ Paragraph 1, we read, “For the better government and further edification of the Church there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called Synods or Councils.” Paragraph 4 states, “All synods or councils since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as a help in both.” We believe that Dr. Young and his fellow plaintiffs acted in good faith, sincerely and honestly believing that the Synod had acted improperly.
It should be noted here that the Confession of Faith, Chapter XXIII, “OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE,” recognizes the legitimacy of civil courts.
Paragraph 1 states, “God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under Him over the people for His Own glory, and the public good; and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, (emphasis ours) and for the punishment of evildoers.” And Paragraph 4 states, “It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute and other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority for conscience’ sake……..”
Since Dr. Young and his fellow plaintiffs were acting in good faith and sincerity, several references should be quoted:
The Confession of Faith, Chapter XVI, “OF GOOD WORKS,” states: Paragraph 3: “Their (believers’) ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ.”
See also Paragraph 6, which states that “….. the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in Him ….. He (God the Father), looking upon them in His Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere. (emphasis ours) although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.”
Also see Chapter XXX of the Confession of Faith, “OF CHRISTIAN LIBERTY, AND LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE:”
In Paragraph 1, there is a description of the various freedoms accorded to Old Testament believers who were under the law, and it is stated that New Testament believers have additional freedoms, being part of “The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel…..”
Those additional freedoms are described as “greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.” Thus, according to our Confession of Faith, Dr. Young and his fellow plaintiffs had free access to God without going through a priest, and the Holy Spirit, as revealed to us through the Scriptures, is directly available to believers. Dr. Young has stated to us that he and his fellow plaintiffs, as believers who prayed about their entering into the lawsuit against the Synod, believed that it was the Holy Spirit Who was guiding them in this matter.
Paragraph 2 states that “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in anything contrary to His Word, or beside it, in matters of faith and worship.” The next sentence states that if one obeys that which he feels to be contrary to the will of God in “an absolute and blind obedience,” then such blind obedience “is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.”
Dr. Young testified before us that he acted in good conscience as described in this chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith. When reading this statement from the Westminster Confession of Faith we were reminded of the words of James 4:17, “Therefore, to him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” And of course we remember the words of Christ Himself in His parable of the unfaithful servant, “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luke 12:47)
Finding Number 3: Charges #5-7 have been answered in the foregoing comments.
However, as a matter of clarification; Charge #5 states: “Larger Catechism question 132 asks: What are the sins of equals? Answer: The sins of equals are besides the neglect of the duties required, the undervaluing of the worth, envying the gifts, grieving at the advancement or prosperity one of another, and usurping pre-eminence over one another.”
Since the charge does not specify exactly what sin Dr. Young is accused of, we looked up the Biblical references cited after this question. We found nothing to indicate that Dr. Young is in any way guilty of either of the sins listed.
Charge #6 states: “Larger Catechism question 142 asks: ‘What are the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment? Answer: ….. unfaithfulness in contracts between man and man, or in matters of trust ….. vexatious lawsuits.’ The civil lawsuit brought before an ungodly civil court by Dr. Parker Young because of his disagreement with the actions of our General Synod was vexatious and is condemned in those answers.”
The verb, to vex, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary means “to disturb; annoy, especially in little things; to trouble seriously; to torment; to shake; to agitate.” We have found no evidence to substantiate the claim that Dr. Young’s lawsuit was in any way vexatious.
NOTE: After listing numerous sins forbidden by the eighth commandment, including those quoted in Charge #6, the summation is given: “and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking or withholding from our neighbor what belongs to him, or enriching ourselves.” There is nothing in the Charge nor in the evidence presented to us to indicate that Dr. Young took or withheld, or intended to take or withhold anything from anyone else.
Charge #7 states: “He violated his vow as a member of the A.R.P. Church to question 7, Chapter V, C, FOG, ‘Do you submit in the spirit of love to the government and discipline of this Church and seek the peace, purity, and prosperity of this congregation as long as you are a member of it?”’
Specification 8 is similar, but pertains to his ordination as an elder: “He violated his ordination vow to questions 4, 6, and 7, Chapter IX, D, FOG respectively, ‘Do you accept the government, discipline and the worship of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church? And do you promise to submit in the spirit of love to the authority of the session and to the higher courts of the Church? Do you promise in all things to promote the unity, peace, purity, and prosperity of the Church?”’
Then follows the accusation that Dr. Young has not accepted said government and that he chose to ignore the procedure for handling complaints and disagreements as specified in our FOG. We have found no evidence to support the claim that Dr. Young was not seeking the peace, purity and prosperity of the church when he filed a lawsuit against the Synod. Rather, we find that he was seeking to prevent the harm to Erskine College and Seminary that would have resulted had he not filed the lawsuit.
After the called meeting of Synod on March 2-3, 2010, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the regional accrediting agency for institutions of higher learning in the southeast, placed Erskine on warning status, and at a recent meeting with the Vice President of SACS it was made very clear that had Dr. Young and his fellow plaintiffs not filed the lawsuit resisting the actions of the Synod, Erskine would have faced at a minimum the more severe sanction of probation.
As a reminder to the Presbytery, Barber-Scotia College lost its SACS accreditation in 2004. Prior to such loss, that college was similar in size to the combined enrollment of Erskine College and Erskine Theological Seminary – in the fall of 2004 Barber-Scotia College had an enrollment of 742 students. The total enrollment in September, 2009, was twelve (12) students.
Finding Number 4. Charge #8 states that “our FOG ….. contains written procedure for addressing complaints and disagreements among brothers…..” Book of Discipline, chapter X, paragraph E states, “A complaint is a representation made to a higher court in respect to a decision of the lower court regarded as being irregular or unjust.”
As stated in the 4th paragraph of section 1 above, Dr. Young had no higher ecclesiastical court to which he could appeal since his complaint was against the Synod.
Charge #8 also states: All actions by a Synod can be changed at the next Synod Meeting if it is the will of that Synod. It was proved this past June 2010, when the Synod voted to recognize the present Board and agreed to mutually take certain measures if the Plaintiffs would drop their lawsuit.”
Plaintiffs did drop their lawsuit and so far as the Synod is concerned the matter is concluded. While we understand that the First Presbytery Committee charged with looking into this matter felt that regardless of the action of the June 2010 Synod, Dr. Young and the other plaintiffs were not justified in bringing the lawsuit, the majority of those who attended the June 2010 meeting of the Synod recognized that God’s will could be best followed by reversing the action of the Called Meeting of Synod in March 2010 if the plaintiffs would drop their lawsuit. We are not saying that the action of the March 2010 Synod was wrong. We are saying that the actions of the plaintiffs were justified and that when the filing of the lawsuit accomplished the purpose of restoring the original Board of Trustees of Erskine College, they removed the matter from the civil court.
Charge #8 states, “Most importantly it is the Word of God that gives us adequate direction.” We fully agree with this statement, but feel that Dr. Young has followed Biblical guidance as he, with a clear conscience, followed the examples of Peter and John who said, “we ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
Finding Number 5. The allegations of Charge #9 have been covered to our complete satisfaction in our answers to the allegations in Charges #1-7. We do not agree that Dr. Young is guilty of any of the sins listed in this Charge, but we call the attention of the Presbytery to another listed sin that was omitted by the committee: “holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others.” From his testimony in court we read that Dr. Young felt that the action of the March 2010 Synod was unlawful, unethical and not Christian. It follows then, that as a matter of conscience, and convinced that he was following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Dr. Young committed no sin by bring the lawsuit against the Synod.
It should be noted that the General Synod itself on two occasions did exactly the same thing that Dr. Young is being charged with, namely, bringing a lawsuit before a civil court. The first occasion was in 1953 when the Synod filed a lawsuit against the Sardis ARP Church, a congregation of First Presbytery. The second occasion occurred some time after Dr. Young and his fellow plaintiffs had prevailed in their lawsuit against the Synod. Rather than accept the judgment of the court, the Synod filed an appeal with a higher court. As noted above, (see section 4, paragraph 2) Dr. Young and his fellow plaintiffs withdrew their lawsuit prior to the hearing of the appeal, at which time the Synod dropped its appeal.
Having considered all the facts available to us, having thoroughly studied the Standards of The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, having spent much time searching the Scriptures to determine their teaching regarding matters such as this, and having spent much time in prayer concerning this matter, it is our judgment that Dr. Parker Young is not guilty of the charges that he disregarded God’s Word and that he broke his ordination vows. We find that he has committed no offense that would call for discipline.
Sincerely in Christ,
The Session of the Pinecrest Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church:
The Reverend Anthony Ward, Moderator (Refused to sign)
Elders: Jim Brice, Blake Moore, Carl Mills, George Lamb, Andy Scott, Terry Wallace, Bill Stanley, Ken DeZwann, Steve Simpson, Ron McKnight, Ron Everhart
The SECOND report is from Rev. Andy Ward, the Moderator of the Pinecrest Session and the Associate Pastor of the congregation.
REV. ANDY WARD’S POSITION ON
THE CHARGES OF PARKER YOUNG AS DIRECTED
BY FIRST PRESBYTERY OF THE ARP SYNOD
for the Pinecrest Called Session Meeting on Tuesday, December 7
Parker Young, although he had good intentions in trying to save Erskine College and Seminary from losing its accreditation,
1) Disregarded God’s Word, and
2) Violated his vows as a member and as an elder.
Of the charges listed (see attached), Parker broke the following vows listed in Charges 1-9.
The crux of the matter can be simplified into 2 main points that Parker Young believes justifies his actions:
- As believers, through earnest prayer, Parker and his fellow plaintiffs believed it was the Holy Spirit guiding them in bringing the lawsuit against the Synod. (WCF 20.1)
- And that he and his fellow plaintiffs acted in good conscience. (WCF 20.2)
And it is on the basis of these two points that Parker is guilty of violating Scripture and his vows in Charges 1-9.
- The Holy Spirit will never lead a believer to do something that is contrary to His Word. (WCF 1.4-6, 9-10 – sited on other side of page)
- This being true, brothers do not take each other to court. (1 Corinthians 6:1-8)
- John 17:17 – “Sanctify them by Your truth; Your Word is truth.”
- John 16:13 – “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you in all the truth.” – And that truth is based on the Word!
- If a person is led by their conscience to go against Scripture, then they are ultimately saying that obedience to God’s Word depends on the situation and that they are a law unto themselves.
- Scripture is clearly over our conscience.
- Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep my commands.”
- Romans 1:18-32 explains what happens to the human mind and heart when they try to determine for themselves what is right.
- Acts 5:29 – Peter says to the Jewish Council (who was against the Lord Jesus), “We ought to obey God rather than men.” We should heed Scripture before we do our own conscience.
- Scripture is clearly over our conscience.
Some might say that Parker and His fellow plaintiffs’ actions were justified because they saved Erskine. So that justifies disobeying the Lord’s Word? Sin (according to the WSC Q14) is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God. While Parker felt he had good intentions to help Erskine, taking the Synod to court was sinful (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). And while there was the potential for damage to Erskine’s accreditation status that does not justify breaking God’s Word and vows. God is in control and He can fight His own battles. He did not expect Parker to disobey Him on Erskine’s behalf. All of God’s people commit sins everyday, and we are called to repentance and obedience. All Parker Young has to do is to repent of filing this lawsuit and he would experience the forgiveness of the LORD and the mercy of God’s people. But if he insists that he did nothing wrong, that he was led by the Holy Spirit, and that he exercised freedom of conscience, there will be consequences from First Presbytery for refusing to submit to the Word of God and to the courts of the ARP Church. To prevent this action from First Presbytery, I propose that we, the Session of Pinecrest ARP Church, administer the first level of discipline, which is Admonition.
I am praying for God’s mercy, direction, and obedience to His Word.
Rev. Andy Ward
Pinecrest ARP Church
Associate Pastor and Moderator of the Session
Below and highlighted in yellow is the action taken by the Presbytery. In effect, the Presbytery rejected the response of the Pinecrest Session and received the report by Mr. Ward.
Whereas the response of the session of Pinecrest Church relative to Dr. Parker Young is inadequate and insufficient, I move that First Presbytery resume jurisdiction in this matter and assign it to an ecclesiastical commission to adjudicate the charges listed against Dr. Young in the report of the Moderator’s Committee to Investigate, adding to them the charge of contumacy (see FOG.XIV.B.).
Below are the charges that were filed against Dr. Young.
CHARGE AND SPECIFICATIONS – FROM THE MODERATOR’S APPOINTED COMMITTEE
In the name of the Holy catholic Church of Jesus Christ and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, First Presbytery Moderator’s Committee upon completion of its investigation hereby requests First Presbytery to charge Dr. Parker Young of the Pinecrest A.R. P. Church with the following sins:
- Disregard of God’s Word,
- The breaking of his ordination vows.
These charges are serious and grievous but the evidence supports the conclusion. We bring to this Court these charges in full knowledge of our own sin, and we repudiate all of them in repentance to our Lord Jesus Christ. We submit this report without prejudice or malice. Although the lawsuit has been dismissed, Dr. Young’s has refused to acknowledge his sins or repent of them. He continues a willful refusal to submit not only to Christ and His authority, (1 Corinthians 6:1-8), but also to the authority of the General Synod and First Presbytery in this matter. Dr. Young told the Chairman “He had no regrets about his actions because he felt it was an emergency situation and he would do it again.” He said, “he did what he had to do for his conscious sake.” He said that he “believes Erskine would have lost its accreditation had he not brought the lawsuit.” He said his action “has made it easier for others to take similar legal action on other future matters should the need arise.” He said “he resigned as elder because he was not willing to be a part of any investigation.” He said “he has taught law for 35 years and he stands by his testimony that he made in civil court. He said “That men had come into the ARP denomination who were intolerant and something had to be done to stop them and the law suit accomplished that.” Dr. Young said “he believes the majority of the A.R.P. Church agrees with what he did and most are appalled that 1st Presbytery would try and discipline him.” He said “he had to break the law in order to bring about good for Erskine.”
In summary, Dr. Young sinned against God and His Church by disregarding the Word of God found in 1st Corinthians 6:1-8. He sinned against God and His Church by breaking his ordination vows connected to the Authority of the Word of God, and he did those things not only as an elder but also as a member of the Pinecrest A.R.P. Church.
- As a member He violated his vow to question 3 of Chapter V, C, FOG “Do you believe the Scripture of the Old and New Testaments to be the written Word of God, the only perfect rule of faith and practice?”
- As an elder he violated his vow to question 2 of Chapter IX, D, FOG “Do you reaffirm your belief in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the Word of the living God, the only perfect rule of faith and practice, to which nothing is to added or from which nothing is to be taken at any time or upon any pretext.” I Corinthians 6:1-8 does not list any exceptions for filing a lawsuit against fellow Christians, much less the Bride of Christ, but Dr. Young has not only denied the truth of the Scripture, he has transgressed it.
- Dr. Young violated his vow as a member of the A.R. P Church to question 5, Chapter V, C, FOG “Do you accept the doctrines and principles of the A.R.P. Church so far as you understand them, as agreeable to and founded on the Word of God?”
- He violated his ordination vow as an elder to question 3 Chapter IX, D, FOG “Do you accept the doctrines of this Church, contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, as founded on the Word of God and as the expression of your own faith and do you resolve to adhere thereto?”
- L.C. Question 132 asks: What are the sins of equals? Answer: “The sins of equals are besides the neglect of the duties required, the undervaluing of the worth, envying the gifts, grieving at the advancement or prosperity one of another, and usurping pre-eminence one over another.”
- L.C. Question 142 asks what are the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment? Answer:…. “unfaithfulness in contracts between man and man or in matters of trust…vexatious lawsuits.” The civil lawsuit brought before an ungodly civil court by Dr. Parker Young because of his disagreement with the actions of our General Synod was vexatious and is condemned in those answers.
- He violated his vow as a member of the A.R. P. Church to question 7 Chapter V, C, FOG “Do you submit in the spirit of love to the government and discipline of this Church and seek the peace, purity, and prosperity of this congregation so long as you are a member of it?”
- He violated his ordination vow to questions 4, 6, and 7 Chapter IX, D, FOG respectively “Do you accept the government, discipline and the worship of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church? And do you promise to submit in the spirit of love to the authority of the session and to the higher courts of the Church? Do you promise in all things to promote the unity, peace, purity, and prosperity of the church?” Dr. Young by his attitude and actions has not accepted the government of the A. R. P. Church or its authority over him, and although he has access to our FOG that contains written procedure for addressing complaints and disagreements, he chose to ignore them and appeal to the civil court. Our FOG has in place ways to address complaints and disagreements among brothers, but most importantly it is the Word of God that gives us adequate direction. All actions by a Synod can be changed at the next Synod Meeting if it is the will of that Synod. It was proved this past June 2010, when the Synod voted to recognize the present Board and agreed to mutually take certain measures if the Plaintiffs would drop their lawsuit.
- Dr. Parker Young has transgressed the Ninth Commandment “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” See LC question 145 “What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?” At least the following portions apply, Answer:.… “ Prejudicing the truth and the good name of our neighbors as well as our own, especially in public judicature…wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause…the calling of evil, good and good, evil, … envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any…breach of lawful promises….thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others.” Attached is a partial copy of the official court record and the words sworn under oath in civil court by Dr. Parker Young.
From Page 43.
Mr. Devlin: “Why are you bringing this lawsuit Dr. Young?”
Dr. Young: “I have grave concerns about the college itself being changed. I have concerns about the college becoming something other than a Christian Liberal arts institution. Because you see, what the Synod did was unlawful, I think unethical, and it was certainly not Christian.” (Committee emphasis in bold).
The Committee reviewed the 2009 Manual of Authorities and Duties for Officers and Agencies and Rules of Order pgs.9-10, 1st Corinthians 6:1-8, Calvin’s Commentary on 1st Corinthians 6, Calvin’s Institutes Of The Christian Religion, Book 4:XX:17-21, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms and the complete record of transcript (especially pgs 43-44 and 65-67) from the Court of Common Pleas 2010-CP-10-080.
Specifications: That on March 25, 2010 the said Dr. Parker Young was a member of Pinecrest A.R.P. Church and an ordained Elder and he did willingly bring into civil court, the Church of Jesus Christ, represented by the A.R. P. General Synod, and he testified against the Synod of the Associate Reformed Church. Therefore:
The Moderator’s Committee upon completion of its investigation recommends First Presbytery to:
- That the Presbytery direct the Moderator to appoint a Commission to begin the trial procedure on the above named charges against Dr. Parker Young as proscribed in the Book of Discipline Chapter V, Section 5 ( c ) and that the report of this committee be used as the “charges for presentation against Dr. Parker Young by First Presbytery as stated under Chapter V Section 5 ( c ).
- That the preliminary report and this full report as a whole be approved.
- That this Moderators Committee be excused from further duties on this issue.
Respectfully Submitted by First Presbytery’s Moderator’s Committee, 10-12-2010
Rev. Mr. Edward Fleagle, Chairman, Rev. Mr. Robert Hunter, and Elder Dr. Charles Smoak
Multiple members of First Presbytery report that the motion to proceed with charges against Dr. Young passed 61 to 31, that is, a 2 to 1 margin.
1. The response of the Pinecrest Session is, to be polite, astonishing. At very least, it is an attempt to obfuscate the issues and to exalt conscience over Scripture in a matter of faith and practice. It also demonstrates appallingly irresponsible exegesis of Scripture. The various Biblical quotations used are simply NOT germane to the discussion that is at hand. For example, it should be noted that in the Biblical passages that were used from Acts that the leaders of the church were being persecuted by the Jewish Sanhedrin and the civil magistrate. Is the author of the Pinecrest Session’s report suggesting that the General Synod is a non-Christian Sanhedrin and/or an ungodly civil magistrate or, in the case of the story of Esther, an ungodly and sinful and lecherous Persian king? If the ARP plaintiffs are convinced that the General Synod had acted in an unrighteous and ungodly manner, then why did they not renounce their membership in an unrighteous church and then proceed in THEIR righteous actions? Instead, they have troubled the church and violated their vows as Elders in their church. Once again, if Dr. Young truly believes that General Synod has acted in a manner that is “unlawful” and “unethical” and “not Christian,” then why does he remain in such a disreputable church?
Finally, the example of Barber-Scotia College has nothing to do with the matter that is before the ARP Church and Erskine College and Seminary. It is well known that the issues involved at Barber-Scotia College are very different from the issues that are before the ARP Church. This is nothing but obfuscation or an example of analytical incapacity to make distinctions. Or is it fearmongering?
2. YES! There is a man of integrity and courage in the ARP Church. The Rev. Andy Ward is a truth-teller! And a youth will lead the old men! Indeed, Mr. Ward’s statement is succinct and clear, while the report from the Pinecrest Session is ponderous and convoluted and unconvincing.
3. Sadly, sources within the Pinecrest congregation and the Presbytery indicate that the report by the Pinecrest Session was, with the input of the Elders, written by Dr. Doug Jones. Dr. Jones is a former Moderator of General Synod, former Synod Coordinator and currently a member of Synod’s Ecclesiastical Commission on Judiciary Affairs. In his long ministry in the ARP Church, Dr. Jones has often emphasized that Ministers and Elders are to honor their vows by being in submission to the will of the their brethren. It was not too long ago at Bonclarken that Dr. Jones asked a Minister who was transferring into First Presbytery if he could be in submission to his brethren. The Minister’s response was: “God helping me!” Dr. Jones, does that question also apply to you? The Editor thinks that the words of 1 Samuel 2:29 fit this situation: “Honourest thy sons above me?” This is the stinging rebuke of God to Eli. Have Dr. Jones and the members of the Pinecrest Session honored a friendship over faithfulness to God and His Word written? In the case of Eli, the priesthood was taken away from his family and given to another who was more noble!
4. The motion and action of First Presbytery to form an Ecclesiastical Commission to adjudicate this matter speaks for itself. However, we expect that attempts will be made by Dr. Jones and others to block the work of the Ecclesiastical Commission of First Presbytery in the Ecclesiastical Commission on Judiciary Affairs of General Synod or the Executive Board of General Synod. Does it matter that the vote to proceed was 2 to 1? Does it matter that the Judicial Commission has not yet been formed or met or acted on the matter? Well, one wonders what has happened to the time-honored idea of the integrity of the Presbytery.
The matter before Second Presbytery is similar to that which is before First Presbytery. The difference is that this action involves a Minister who is a member of Second Presbytery and a Professor at ETS, Dr. James T. Hering.
The matter regarding Dr. Hering was not dealt with by Second Presbytery because, we were told, Dr. Hering ONLY ATTEMPTED to file legal actions against General Synod. The legal action that Drs. Hering, Burnett, and Bush attempted was, we were told, unsuccessful. The action of Second Presbytery not to proceed in the matter of Dr. Hering has been appealed to General Synod in what is called a “Complaint.” It was signed by six members of the Presbytery.
The Complaint is printed below.
To Calvin Draffin, Stated Clerk of Second Presbytery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.
And now, this 22nd day of October, A.D. 2010, Rev. James Loughner, Mr. Philip Malphrus, Mr. Earl Riddle, Rev. Peter Waid, Dr. Charles Wilson, Mr. Harold Wright, and Rev. Mark Wright complain against the action of Second Presbytery on October 12, 2010 in the matter of Unity ARP Church Session vs. James P. Hering, and in support of said complaint set forth the following reasons:
On October 12, 2010 Second Presbytery approved the recommendation of the Minister and His Work Committee (MHWC) that charges in the case filed by the Session of the Unity ARP Church against James P. Hering (attached as Exhibit A) not be pursued. The MHWC concluded that there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the charges, and that these charges do not “rise to the level of a censurable offense. In support of these conclusions, the MHWC cited the following considerations:
- The civil action was not filed
- Mr. Hering believed the General Synod was in error and had acted hastily. Because of the overlap of ecclesiastical and civil governances of an institution such as Erskine, and that further harm and damage would be done to the church and to Erskine if the decision of General Synod was enacted, he believed his actions were in keeping with the commandments and his vows of ordination. (MHWC, “Report on the Investigation into Charges against Rev. Jay Hering, October 2010, p. 3, attached to this action as Exhibit B)
After some discussion by the court the recommendation by the MHWC that the charges against Mr. Hering not be pursued was approved by Second Presbytery.
The undersigned complainants believe that the decision of Second Presbytery is “irregular or unjust” (BoD X.E.1), and that grounds for this appeal are the following: “receiving improper or declining to receive proper evidence; rendering a decision before all testimony is taken; evidence for bias or prejudice in the case; and an unjust or mistaken sentence” (BoD, X.D.4). The complainants cite the following considerations and evidence:
I. The MHWC failed to investigate this matter in a full and appropriate way. The Chairman of the Committee volunteered the information on the floor that members of the Committee had not even bothered to visit the courthouse to research any relevant legal judgments and documentation in this matter.
II. Erroneous and unsubstantiated assertions were presented to the court:
A. Presbytery was told that the “civil action was not filed.” This is demonstrably incorrect. An action on behalf of Michael Bush, Richard Burnett, James Hering, J. David Chesnut, and the Erskine Alumni Association seeking to intervene in the action “Erskine College, Plaintiff vs. General Synod of the Associated Reform [sic] Presbyterian Church, Inc.” was filed in the Court of Abbeville on March 12, 2010 at 4:18 PM (see exhibit C). Furthermore, the existence of this civil action was referenced in the Settlement Agreement filed on September 17, 2010: “WHEREAS, certain individuals (the “Intervenors”) filed a motion seeking to intervene in the Erskine action”; see exhibit D.
B. Presbytery was informed by the MHWC that the motion had been refused by the court when Mr. Hering presented it to the secular court. After evidence of the court filing was referenced in the Presbytery meeting, the representative of the MHWC called upon Mr. Hering to explain to the court what had happened when he went to the courthouse. At this point, Mr. Hering admitted that he had not gone to the courthouse at all on March 12, 2010, and that the motion had been filed with the court via a courier.
C. Presbytery was told that the motion had not been accepted by the court and that it therefore had not been filed. Hearsay reference to the opinion of “three lawyers” on this matter was cited by the representative of the MHWC. However, no concrete evidence of any dispositive action by the secular court (one way or the other) with reference to the motion to intervene was presented to the Presbytery.
III. The Report of the MHWC is rife with opinion and interpretation, and the MHWC exceeded its mandate as an investigative committee under the provisions of the Book of Discipline by in essence seeking to try the case itself. For example, the MHWC report attributed the current matter to alleged “hastiness” on the part of the General Synod at its March 2010 meeting (“The MHWC believes that while the Called Meeting of the General Synod was in part the result of decades of frustration on the part of brothers in Synod over situations at Erskine, that the hastiness of enacting all of the Commission’s recommendations had great bearing on the matter before us with Mr. Hering”; MHWC “Report,” p. 1; Exhibit B). The MHWC also placed great emphasis on what it understood to be the motives of Mr. Hering (“Mr. Hering believed the General Synod was in error and had acted hastily. Because of the overlap of ecclesiastical and civil governances of an institution such as Erskine, and that further harm and damage would be done to the church and to Erskine if the decision of General Synod was enacted, he believed his actions were in keeping with the commandments and his vows of ordination.” MHWC, “Report,” p. 3; Exhibit B). Finally, the MHWC, while recognizing that there had been contact between the Unity Session and Mr. Hering before and after the filing of charges (note that the ARP BoD does not require a Matthew 18 process in matters involving general and public offense; see BoD II.A.2; IV.1), the MHWC nevertheless opined that “perhaps a subsequent meeting could have been held between Mr. Hering and the Unity Session after both parties had time to reflect on their previous meeting and discussion.” (MHWC, “Report,” p. 4; Exhibit B).
The content of said “Report” indicates that the MHWC exceeded its purpose and role in conducting a probable cause hearing. According to the BoD, the Committee was to determine if there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the charges, if all preliminary steps have been taken, if there are probable grounds for the accusations, and if the charges are proved will they constitute a censurable offence (BoD, IV.A.5). In reality, as the content of the Report of the MHWC amply demonstrates, the MHWC took it upon itself to try the case and, in effect, to present a verdict of “not guilty” for the Presbytery to approve. Matters of interpretation such as the status of the motion that was filed and the motives of the accused should have been left for the Court to decide according to proper and established procedures for ecclesiastical discipline as outlined in the ARP Book of Discipline. Furthermore, the incompleteness and one-sidedness of the “Report” at least suggest that the MHWC was less than even-handed in its handling of this matter.
In conclusion, the Complainants believe that Second Presbytery acted in an irregular and unjust manner. They believe that the record now shows that:
A. A civil action was filed on March 12, 2010 in a secular court of law by Mr. James P. Hering and others against the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.
B. That Mr. Hering is unrepentant and that he has defended his action both verbally on the floor of Second Presbytery and in writing.
C. That Second Presbytery acted on the basis of a flawed and inaccurate report that was presented by the MHWC to the Presbytery.
For the reasons listed above they complain this action to the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and ask for appropriate redress.
Charles W. Wilson
As far as the Editor is concerned, the saddest and most heart-breaking issue that was before Second Presbytery was the matter of the New Days Mission Congregation in Atlanta. The congregation has been attempting to move to a new location. The leadership of the small congregation had approached the Church Extension Committee and the Trustees asking for a $400,000 loan through Outreach North America and with Second Presbytery standing as security. The request for the loan was denied on the basis that the congregation could not afford the loan and that Second Presbytery could not afford to stand security for a new $400,000 loan at this time. Over the objections of the Church Extension Committee and the Trustees of the Presbytery, the mission congregation somehow obtained a loan for $600,000. Putting aside the fact that the New Days’ leadership ignored the directives of the Church Extension Committee and the Trustees, Second Presbytery, in the case of a default on the loan by the congregation, simply does not have the resources to stand security for a $600,000 mortgage that has a $4,400-a-month loan payment. The actions of the New Days Mission Congregation put the Presbytery in an untenable position. The only action that was left to the Presbytery was to dismiss the congregation and wish them Godspeed.
Is it not ironic that when a congregation fails to submit to the directives of Second Presbytery in a mater that involves money that the Presbytery will remove the congregation, but when the matter is a Minister’s attempt to violate his vows by suing the ARP Church in civil court that the Presbytery turns a blind eye to what the minister attempted? Does this not seem ironic to the reader? In the real world, attempted back robbery is considered a serious offense. In Second Presbytery, attempted breaking of one’s vows is not considered an actionable offense.
These are my thoughts,
Charles W. Wilson
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