I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

 

The meeting of the General Synod did not end but fizzled out like a wet firecracker for want of a quorum at about 8:00 PM on Thursday, June 7. I am still depressed. How does one describe the 2012 meeting of Synod? The following came to my mind:

  1. “June 2010 Revisited but Worse”;
  2. “Parade of Fools”;
  3. “The Night of the Boy Who Cried Wolf”;
  4. “An Exercise in Platitudinous Nonsense”; and
  5. (my favorite) “Ugh Again!”

However, in conversations with a friend who was there and one who only read about our goings on, both of them said this meeting was like the old TV commercial for Life Line: “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up.” Well, who am I to disagree with such astute observation and scintillating wit?

The meeting of General Synod was Erskine, Erskine, Erskine, Erskine ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Since the 2007 Synod, Erskine College & Seminary matters have bottlenecked the business of the ARP Church. The report below is not exhaustive; rather, only the highlights (or “lowlights,” as the case may be) are discussed.

1. The Moderator-elect is Rev. Jeff Kingswood. He is a Canadian. Perhaps, God willing, he can bring some order back to the ARP Church.

Sweet Chuckie-Poo!2. As usual, Synod began with a worship service on Tuesday evening. Using Acts 20, outgoing Moderator Andy Putnam preached a sermon entitled “Wolves.” Sadly, Mr. Putnam used the lectern as a partisan bully pulpit as he demonstrated that he was thin skinned and lacked the humility to deal with criticisms forthrightly. Pity, the text has great potential, and some of what he said was appropriate.

Now, if Mr. Putnam wants to call the Editor of ARPTalk a “wolf,” let him have at it. The Editor is not offended. “Wolf” is one of the nicer things the Editor is called. On the two Erskine alums’ Facebook sites, the Editor is referred to as “the one whose name must not be spoken.” Also, if Mr. Putnam wants to charge the Editor with “slander,” let him remember that pointing out the obvious, no matter how unpleasant to him or the reader, is not slander. Somehow, Mr. Putnam does not seem to understand that his actions on the Erskine board of trustees (EBOT) are open to criticism – even harsh criticism, for what he has done involves all of us in the ARP Church. Therefore,

  1. is it the work of a “wolf” or “slander” for the Editor and others to point out that Mr. Putnam’s actions on the EBOT’s committee that revised the EBOT’s bylaws resulted in a distancing of Erskine from the ARP Church rather than a drawing of Erskine back to the ARP Church?
  2. Is it the work of a “wolf” or “slander” for the Editor and others to remind Mr. Putnam that he was one of the people who helped frame the 2011 Synod’s request to Erskine asking that our language for trustee removal be written into the charter/bylaws, and he agreed such was not only possible but needed?
  3. Is it the work of a “wolf” or “slander” for the Editor and others to remind Mr. Putnam that he was a member of the EBOT’s ad hoc committee that reported it was impossible for Synod’s request to be accomplished?
  4. Is it the work of a “wolf” or “slander” for the Editor and others to remind Mr. Putnam that the Minority Report demonstrated that the ad hoc committee’s report, which he signed off on, was incorrect if not a falsification of facts?
  5. Is it the work of a “wolf” or “slander” for the Editor and others to remind Mr. Putnam that his actions in this matter show as a member of the EBOT, he demonstrates failure of “competence,” failure of “knowledge,” and failure of “fiduciary responsibility” on behalf of Erskine. After all, is he not party to a report that has caused the integrity of the EBOT to be questioned?
  6. Is it the work of a “wolf” or “slander” for the Editor and others to remind Mr. Putnam that his actions in this matter have shown that as a member of the EBOT he has lead many of us in the ARP Church to question his “competence,” “knowledge,” and “fiduciary responsibility” to the ARP Church?
  7. Finally, is it the work of a “wolf” or “slander” for the Editor and others to say they feel Mr. Putnam, in his role as the Moderator of General Synod, brought not the church together but further divided us? Mr. Putnam asked at Synod, “Why wasn’t I asked to sign the Minority Report?” Mr. Putnam, could it be that you were not trusted? Well, about half of the members of the house you moderated feel that, in the matters pertaining to Erskine, you have not lead or represented us wisely and you cannot be trusted. And, by the way, the way many of us feel about you, is this not how you felt about Dr. Dick deWitt’s leadership as Moderator? Now, we do not know your motives; however, whatever they are, we know what has been done. As unpleasant as it is, this is the unvarnished truth.

3. The first item of business before the 2012 Synod on Wednesday morning was the adoption of the Budget. A motion was made to delay the adoption of the Budget until after the Erskine Report. Obviously, funding of Erskine College & Seminary was the issue. A house of nearly 300 delegates was split by 15 votes (157-142). This sharp division set the tone for the rest of the meetings of Synod.

4. Since about 2007, when Dr. Mary Lang Edwards who teaches biology at Erskine College published an article in the Greenville and Columbia papers affirming evolution and attacking Biblical views of creation, creation issues have been a hot topic in the ARP Church. Hopefully, the adoption of a “Memorial” from our Mississippi Valley Presbytery (along with a subsequent amendment) has put this issue to rest in the ARP Church. Our stated position affirms the “special” creation of Adam and Eve. That is, Adam and Eve are historical and created by God without evolutionary forbears, and an amendment made it clear that this memorial does not settle interpretive issues regarding the days of creation. This should put to rest the debate over the days of creation and allows some liberty of conscience. The Editor is a six-day creationist; however, he does not wish to hold a position that would exclude J. Gresham Machen, E. J. Young, or James Montgomery Boice. Interestingly, the adoption of this position on creation widens the gap between Erskine and the ARP Church. Dr. Edwards and her colleagues are not going to enthusiastically join us in our affirmation.

5. Just before the meeting of Synod, the issue of anthropological monism was opened when questions were asked about President David Norman’s doctoral dissertation. As most of you are aware, an “Open Letter” written by Mr. Scott Cook was posted on ARPTalk. The first day of business the Editor was asked: “Chuck, did you write the “Open Letter” for Scott and post it under his name? Dr. Norman thinks you did.”

On Wednesday afternoon, I introduced Dr. Norman to Mr. Cook. I do not like philosophical theology. Like Luther, I think philosophy is “the devil’s own whore.” Their discussion made my head hurt. I was interested that Dr. Norman said what he wrote was nothing more than a speculative conversation in which philosophers are wont to engage. At the end of the discussion, Dr. Norman said whatever the church said he would affirm. He said he held his views hypothetically and was willing to change his views in order to be in accord with the church.

Now, before anyone accuses the Editor of Jesuit casuistry: NO! Chuck Wilson did not write Mr. Cook’s article.

6. Rev. Ken McMullen of First Presbytery made a motion that was passed asking the Moderator to appoint a committee to undertake the revision of the Book of Discipline. Amen! This task is long overdue. Our Book of Discipline is universally looked on as contradictory, convoluted, and useless. Using the Book of Discipline, one could not convict a boar hog of being non-kosher.

7. For the second time in three years, the annual meeting of General Synod came to a stand still because of conflict over Erskine. For the second time in three years, delegates left Bonclarken tired and disgusted over the Erskine conflict before the adjournment of synod. A quorum could not be found on Thursday evening to finish the business of the ARP Church. We left with 17 items on the table.

After 40 years of dealing with Erskine College and Seminary, the principle that I have learned is not to trust any Erskine report or presentation as reliable or truth until there is rock hard verification. As I predicted in ARPTalk, there was a “feel good” video. In that video we learned the following:

  • “All the professors” at Erskine are “Christians” – and the implication is “just like us.” This in the face of the fact that at the 2009 Synod there was a student-made video and a room full of students who bore witness to the opposite.
  • We learned the Synod-sponsored and financed ministry of The Barn was leading students to Christ and growing them in their faith. We also learned other parachurch organizations were doing similar ministries. What we were not told about was the ministry of the administration and faculty to the students. What a howling irony that parachurch organizations are needed on the campus of a Christian college to do what the college is charged and tasked to do!
  • We were informed that through the DMin program to US Army chaplains Erskine Seminary is now the seminary of the US Army to train their chaplains. However, nothing was said about the ministry of Erskine Seminary to the ARP Church. I think Jesus said something about doing the one without sacrificing the other!
  • We also were informed that Erskine Seminary through the Columbia campus is the handmaiden to First Presbyterian Church of Augusta (PCA) in their endeavors to overcome racial tensions in Augusta. Outstanding! However, nothing was said of how the seminary of the ARP Church was advancing the ARP Church! Could this be because Erskine Seminary has been one of the focal points in this controversy, and, in fact, Erskine Seminary has, in recent years, done more to harm than to help the ARP Church?

The Moderator’s Committee on Erskine was a disaster. The discussion on the floor was even more of a disaster. A motion to restrict funding to Erskine was defeated. The division was bitter. A motion to hear the Minority Report of EBOT members to Synod failed by only three (3) votes. David Conner, the on-coming Chair of the EBOT and author of the EBOT’s scandalous ad hoc committee’s report did not recuse himself from the floor debate. A lawyer should know to do that. Rather, he joined in begging General Synod for money. Nevertheless, I will give this to Mr. Conner: he said he was not in favor of separation from the ARP Church – not when they can get Synod’s money! Shamelessly, Dr. Mark Ross gave a very loud and impassioned speech that was the equivalent of pandering and begging Synod for funding. He said he had been forced to terminate people. He said if Synod did not release funding to Erskine Seminary immediately “we will die.” I suppose this means he would lose his job. However, the portion Erskine Seminary will receive is only $172,400 and Erskine Seminary has an endowment of about $8,000,000 plus; therefore, how is Erskine Seminary in immediate peril of death? Good grief, Mr. Ross!

The Rev. Kyle Sims said that he wanted change at Erskine. He said he wanted reformation at Erskine. He said as a member of the Nominations Committee he has pledged himself to change. However, that was not heartening to many of us. Mr. David Conner, who is the author of the EBOT’s scandalous ad hoc committee’s report, came on the EBOT under Mr. Sims’ watch. In conversations with both Rev. Sims and Rev. Matthew Miller, Mr. Conner’s pastor, I was assured that Mr. Conner would be the voice of advocacy for General Synod. That is not the way events have unfolded! At this point, Mr. Conner embarrasses his church.

Amazingly, we were told by the Erskine people if General Synod did not watch out ATS and SACS were watching and they would get us. The Erskine people attempted to blackmail General Synod with the accrediting agencies. Good grief! These Erskine people should resign and go home and play with their toys!

In the end, the prevailing motion was made by former Moderator Mr. Steve Maye. After recognizing we are brothers with different opinions regarding Erskine, he moved that the EBOT be given another year to study this matter of relationship to the ARP Church and asked that they report back to the 2013 Synod with their findings. He also moved that the Moderator appoint a committee to do the same work and report back to the 2013 Synod with its findings. Both parts of his motion passed. The Synod is at an impasse with Erskine. We do not trust them. We are now following the lead of former President Ronald Reagan: “Trust but verify!”

At this point, the Editor will make a prediction. The Erskine people actually acknowledged the findings of the Minority Report were CORRECT. They now say adding Synod’s language regarding trustee removal “for cause” is not “prudent” or “wise” “at this time.” Therefore, I predict there will be two very different reports presented to General Synod next year. I no longer allow hope to triumph over experience. It is time to separate and “let Erskine be Erskine” and let the ARP Church be about the kingdom work of the Church of Jesus Christ.

The following Peanuts’ video is a metaphor for the ARP Church’s long hope over experience when it comes to matters of Erskine. Watch the clip. I would say, “Enjoy!”; however, the truth hits too close to home and hurts too intensely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsSXMT0NrB4

8. The final event of Thursday (and the final business of the 2012 Synod) before the adjournment for supper was a speech by Rev. Dean Turbeville of First Presbytery. Mr. Turbeville did not at first wish to have this statement published, as he intended it “only for the ears of the delegates at Synod and not for the public.” However, when reminded that Synod was an open and public meeting, that recordings were made, and transcripts could be attained, he agreed to its publication. He said: “Well, Chuck, at least I know you will print it accurately.”

Passionately, sincerely, and with tears in his eyes, Mr. Turbeville spoke:

Mr. Moderator, if I may have a moment of personal privilege. After almost forty years of attempted reforms at Erskine College, Synod has once again shown its limitless patience with its own rebellious agency. This is God’s will. Whether for the blessing or the discipline of our body, it is God’s will; I accept that.

Now I would address only those men of tender conscience for whom the use of church tithes to pay for the salaries of college professors who would laugh at our position on Adam and Eve, professors who still teach our covenant children an unvarnished Darwinism in our biology department, administrators who cheered the church elders who took the Bride of Christ before civil court judges, and a seminary professor who believes the Bible is not the objective Word of God – I speak to those men of tender conscience who remember that brave covenanter martyrs once stood against the intrusion of civil power into the life of the church, and who now cannot fathom the unqualified deference our brethren pay to hostile secular accrediting agencies – to you dear men of tender conscience, I urge you first of all to pray for our denomination this year, and to do all that you can in your local church to see that congregational monies are sent by designation to those agencies which still honor the Gospel, and that you do all you can to end undesignated giving to the Denominational Ministry Fund.

Thank you.

Amen, Mr. Turbeville. Amen and amen! I will no longer give to Erskine. Erskine, whether we like it our not, is no longer an “agency” of the ARP Church. Why is money from the DMF going to an college that identifies itself as “independent”?

9. The report holding the distinction of being the most surreal is the Strategic Planning Committee Report given by Rev. Doug Petersen. Mr. Petersen took over 20 minutes to tell us he had nothing to tell us, and this after his committee last year promised a final report to the 2012 Synod. Then, after 4 years of study and $24,000 spent, he announced the only thing the committee had come up with is a request for us to read the first page of the Form of Government. Then he asked General Synod to continue the process for yet another year. Good grief! And, NO, I am not making this up!

No wonder there is consternation on the Board of Stewardship over a lack of giving to the Denomination Ministry Fund (DMF) by our churches. Would you buy stock in this? Well, neither will our people buy stock in the DMF. If giving to the DMF is down, it is because we have not given our people a reason to give. The sort of mediocrity and nonsense we see fails to engender confidence that the General Synod wisely spends the tithes and offerings of God’s people.

Indeed, the only way to describe this meeting of General Synod is “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up.”

Perhaps there is a Biblical analogy. For all our good “evangelical theological speak,” we are a sinful and disobedient people. Like ancient Israel, we have Achans in our camp who in their tents are cherishing the idols of Erskine. Therefore, even little Ai defeats us. God has turned our wisdom into foolishness. Instead of the joy of obedience, He has given us fogginess of mind. The reason we retreat before small enemies is because the judgment of God is upon us.

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

 

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  1. Dody Morris says:

    Chuck,
    As you know, I was not present at the meeting. In reading your article, I’m proud that you are a “wolf” that cares about what Erskine is teaching and preaching. It is a shame that our present society wants everyone to “go with the flow”, “don’t worry, be happy” and “don’t rock the boat” mentality that it affects all institutions and its people. I say KUDOS for standing up for what you believe in and in some peoples eyes, “It is all about the money”. Shame on them!!!!
    Sincerely,
    Dody Morris

     
  2. Bob Hovey says:

    Good job Chuck, well written, thoughtful, insightful, brief and entertaining (loved the CB Video, so perfectly apropos).
    God help us all, as we labor together to bring Him glory.

     
  3. Scott Robar says:

    Chuck, thank you so much. Amen!

    I hope that our current Moderator and our most recent, past Moderator would get together and work out their differences and get back to us all, confessing sin where appropriate and defending their character where appropriate.

    I am thinking of LC 143-145. As far as I can tell, silence is not a biblical option, when one’s own good name has been called into question, and more especially when one is the public representative of the ARP Synod.

    Jesus, our far greater representative head, defended His good name, during the time of His active obedience. Jesus was most humble; yet He defended His good name – as the Law of God requires.

    It was during His time of passive obedience,i.e., after the Garden, that He was silent like a lamb going to its sheerers.

    Dr Suits and Mr Putnam, please lead us in this matter. If you don’t, then we are at the extremely shameful point of needing to call in some outside ministry like Peace Keepers, as someone on the floor suggested.

    We all break the 9th commandment in many ways; yet this particular matter is public and it is harming the ARP Church.

    Q. 143. Which is the ninth commandment?
    A. The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

    Q. 144. What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
    A. The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth; and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever; a charitable esteem of our neighbors; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging talebearers, flatterers, and slanderers; love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requireth; keeping of lawful promises; studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.

    Q. 145. What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?
    A. The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful or equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of the truth or justice; speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, talebearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vainglorious boasting, thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession; unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any; endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.

    Scott

     
    • Dear Mr. Scott Robar,

      Thank you for your comments.

      For those like yourself who parse this as a Ninth Commandment issue, I think you are incorrect. There is another paradigm at play in this conflict.

      There are two incompatible views regarding Erskine in collusion. There are also two incompatible ways of dealing with issues in collusion.

      This is not a conflict between Andy Putnam and Steve Suits (as you call it) or Andy Putnam and Chuck Wilson (as others call it). To characterize this a Ninth Commandment issue is a mischaracterization of what is going on and a trivialization and avoidance of the differences between us.

      The Biblical principle you’re looking for is this: Can two walk together if they are not agreed on the direction” (Amos 3:3)?

      Think about that a while. Let’s talk some more.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
      • Scott Robar says:

        Chuck, my main concern is for the ARP Synod. I’ve goten to the point where I really don’t care what happens to Erskine. Obviously I hope that it will become a truly Christian college; but that seems more unlikely than ever at this point. Make no mistake, when a former professor who belittled Christian beliefs as his hobby was voted teacher of the year by his Erskine peers, the sickness at Erskine is enormous.

        I am more concerned about the ARP Synod, i.e., the Church. Andy gave a sermon wherein he spoke of wolves among us. What are we supposed to think when he later spoke about being troubled by Steve’s actions, regarding Steve’s minority report? On the other hand,Steve made such a stacked Moderator’s Committee on the Erskine matter, that I laughed out loud when I read the names – mine being one. Someone (I think it was the incoming chairman of the Erskine Board of Trustees) said that Steve sprang his report on everyone as a “gotcha” kind of thing. Andy told us from the floor that he wasn’t approached by Steve in order to sign onto Steve’s Minority Report; but other board members were. Then we had a vote as to whether to treat the Minority Report as part of our packet, and we had an almost evenly divided vote. That isn’t unity – that’s a public mess; it needs to be cleaned up publically.

         
        • Dear Mr. Scott Robar,

          Thank you for you questions. You make good points.

          1. Once again, this is not a 9th Commandment issue. It is both a 2nd Commandment issue and an Amos 3:3 issue. After 170 years of identifying the ARP Church with Erskine, we don’t know how to define the ARP Church as the Church of Jesus Christ (for example, look at our Strategic Committee Report!). When people who know about the ARP Church think about us, do they think of “church” or “Erskine”? The response is: “You’re the Erskine College people!” A “good thing” has become an “idol” for us. The Biblical analogy is found in 2 Kings 18:4. It is Moses’ serpent that saved the Children of Israel in the desert. It was preserved as a “good thing”; however, in time, it became an idol of worship. It had to be destroyed. Such I fear is the case for the relationship between the ARP Church and Erskine – Erskine has become an “abomination” to us. And, of course, this leads to the second point of Amos 3 which states that two cannot walk together unless they are agreed. These points are and have been the heart of this long-running conflict.

          2. Your assessment regarding Dr. Crenshaw is correct. The Erskine faculty has no love for the ARP Church which makes it possible for them to eat. Most of the people who voted for Crenshaw to be the “teacher of the year” are still there. They still “hate” us!

          3. You say that you are embarrassed because of the public nature of this affair. Well, we all are. Could it be that we’re experiencing the judgment of God for our sins related to Erskine? What we would not deal with in private is now being played out in public? As we look at how God judges sin, isn’t that the model?

          4. Mr. Andy Putnam’s sermon was horrible. I have read it twice. I don’t think he spent much time on it. First, “wolf” in Biblical parlance is a FALSE TEACHER who promotes heresy (see what Jesus says to the Church at Ephesus about false teachers). Second, Mr. Putnam’s application is vague. If there are false teachers (“wolves”) among us, he is required to name them. However, in fact, Mr. Putnam knows that those of us who have questioned his actions on the EBOT are not “wolves.” We are not false teachers. We have just hurt his feelings.

          5. If you want to know why Moderator Steve Suits ordered the Moderator’s Committee in the manner that he did, you will need to ask him. However, remember, the Moderator’s Committees serve at the pleasure of the Moderator and not the Synod. In my opinion, the collision that took place was going to happen no matter what the makeup of the committee. The conflict was the making of Erskine and not the committee. How is it that we forget that the conflict came because Erskine told General Synod the following in their ad hoc committee’s report: “You can go to hell; we can do as we please, and you can’t ask us or tell us what to do!”? Scott, is this not what happened?

          6. Let me remind you of a working principle I have: “Don’t trust an Erskine report as true until it can be verified; they will do anything to protect Erskine.” With that said, Mr. David Conner’s actions on the floor of Synod were predictable. He was the “pit bull.” He knew that it wasn’t a “gotcha” moment; he knew that he and the rest of the ad hoc committee got caught either in a convenient misrepresentation of the truth or they simply didn’t do their homework or they flat out lied. Scott, the answer to this is easy. It’s easy to check up on them. Make some phone calls. I did. Why do you think there are two committees NOW doing the same work? We can’t trust anything that comes out of Erskine. What a mess. A total loss of trust!

          7. Why was Mr. Putnam not asked to sign the Minority Report? The answer is obvious: HE WASN’T TRUSTED! He was a part of the ad hoc committee’s report. Scott, would you have trusted him?

          8. One more thing about the Erskine report: they had time to change. If Mr. Putnam and others saw the truth of the Minority Report, why didn’t they sign on at the May meeting of the EBOT. Thursday when Mr. Putnam made his statement, why didn’t he sign on to the Minority Report at that point? He could have done the research by then? I had! The words of Mr. Conner and Mr. Putnam simply lack the ring of sterling silver.

          9. You’re right! We are divided! Is Erskine worth a divided church? Well, I guess it is if “Erskine” equals “church”!

          What I have written is sobering. Let’s chat again after you have had time to think about these things.

          Regards,

          Chuck Wilson
          ARPTalk

           
          • Scott Robar says:

            Chuck Hezekiah Wilson,

            You have done an excellent thing for the Church, through your tireless efforts.

            I am so sorry that you appear to be a slandering crank, because of spinelessness in the Church.

             
            • Frst Mr. Scott Robar,

              Thank you for your kind words.

              “Slandering crank” is one of the kinder things I’m called. I like “crank.” My number two son-in-law calls me “Grumpy.” I like that too. What amuses me about “slandering crank” is that “slander” is what is spoken. I am criticized for what I “write.” Just saying!!

              Let’s talk some more. What do you think of the points I made with Amos 3:3 and 2 Kings 18:4?

              BTW, Scott and I are willing to have others join us in this conversation.

              Regards,

              Chuck Wilson
              ARPTalk

               
          • Daniel Stephens says:

            Chuck,

            Could you explain the difference between a convenient misrepresentation of the truth and a flat out lie? (#6 in your reply) Where I come from, those are one and the same.

            I’m not sure the Erskine/ARP issue can be narrowed down to a 9th commandment issue, or a 2nd commandment, or Amos 3:3 issue. The conflict is rife with foolishness and even sin on so many levels that I’m not sure it can be narrowed down. Just at a glance, one could make a good case that all of the commandments, minus 4 and 7, are habitually and callously broken.

            Finally, your point of the public nature of the conflict and the shame it brings can be strengthened with Hosea 2:10-13

             
            • Dear Mr. Daniel Stephens,

              Good to hear from you. Thank you for you comments.

              You ask: “Could you explain the difference between a convenient misrepresentation of the truth and a flat out lie?” My answer: I was being nice; I was being less confrontational.

              I used Amos 3:3 and 2 Kings 18:4 because the concepts are easily understood. Indeed, the sinful nature of the conflict is far more nuanced – both the unfaithfulness of Erskine and the failure of the General Synod to deal with Erskine. And, by the way, for the readers who know little of the Erskine “mess,” Mr. Stephens is an Erskine alum and he was a part of the group of students who had the courage to be whistleblowers at the 2009 General Synod. He knows of which he writes.

              Indeed, Daniel, Hosea 2:10-13 fits. The passage reads in this manner: “And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand. I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.”

              Regards,

              Chuck Wilson
              ARPTalk

               
          • Eric Goodwin says:

            Chuck, two points re: #2

            Students determine the three finalists in the Teacher of the Year award. With your logic, a majority of the then-students hate the ARP. I believe it is more accurate to say that we hated what you were trying to do to our college (in point of fact, SAFE only spoke for a small minority of the campus). But I think it is more accurate to say that a majority of students loved Dr. Crenshaw.

            Also, students (and former students) pay the faculty salary far more than do the ARP.

             
            • Mr. Eric Goodwin,

              Thank you for your comments. It is always good to hear from you.

              1. As you say, students make the recommendations for “Teacher of the Year.” The faculty determines the one chosen. Therefore, I think my point stands.

              2. As I remember, SAFE was a rather significant “minority.” Their petition looked like a “Who’s Who” of the student body at the time.

              3. No student pays the full load at Erskine. Let me remind you of the “student discount.” There is indeed a more accurate way of speaking of how the bills are paid at Erskine. It is through state scholarships, other outside scholarships and grants, and the Endowment – particularly the Endowment as of late. When I was on the board (and from conversations with present board members, the situation hasn’t changed), we were concerned about how much it cost “to buy” students. So, as one who was a member of the board’s finance committee, let me assure you that the $36,000 check that General Synod writes monthly to Erskine this years is greatly needed to pay salaries. If that check wasn’t desperately needed, Erskine would have been gone from the ARP Church a long time ago.

              4. BTW, since you brought up the alumni, did you know that only about 7% contribute annually? In the past, I have referred to them as parsimonious. I still think the word fits. I hope it never fits you.

              5. A technical and legal and very important point that needs to be stressed: Erskine, for the students, is not now and has never been “our college.” According to the new charter and bylaws, Erskine is now owned and operated by the board. Neither the ARP Church nor the alumni nor the students can say that Erskine is “our college.”

              6. Finally, let it be noted that no group or individual has given more to Erskine in the last 40 plus years than the ARP Church.

              Once again, thank you for your comments.

              Regards,

              Chuck Wilson
              ARPTalk

               
  4. Katherine Rudolph Arrick says:

    Thank you so much for telling the truth! May God bless the faithful few! K

     
  5. Ken Huff says:

    Chuck:

    Sorry for not commenting before now. I was attending Horizon last week at the other Idol of Bonclarken. I have been involved with this (Erskine Idolatry)for only three years, and in that short amount of time I have come to the conclusion that this madness must end. During Synod week, I heard two respected “Fathers” speak of their 40 plus year battle over the direction of Erskine.

    Indeed, Erskine is an Idol! Many in the ARP love Erskine more than they love the Church or the Gospel. The emphasis at Horizon last week was on the Gospel, encouraging the ARP teens to embrace the theology of the Gospel and live the Gospel practically. Where was this kind of emphasis at Synod? True, the theme was the Lordship fo Christ in the Church. However, the delegates did not live the practicality of the Gospel for the church, thus the mass exodus Thursday evening. The hard work of the church is as much a work of the gospel as any verbal articulation of the Gospel. The delegates as leaders of the church must set the example for this living out of the Gospel. The Gospel is the only thing that will change matters for Erskine or the ARP. The cool thing is genuine Repentance and Forgiveness will model the Gospel and set off a sweet aroma that will draw others to the Gloriousness of Christ.

    So, whether it is the Leaders (delegates) of the ARP, including me, for I am the biggest sinner in the room, former Moderaters or current Moderators, past or present Erskine Presidents, or past or present Chairmans/members of the EBOT, let’s repent of the sin of Idolatry. Jesus did not die for Erskine. I repeat; Jesus did not die for Erskine. Jesus died for the Church and purchased with His own blood. One word: REPENT!

    The next generation of the ARP (as small as it may be) watch their Shepderd Leaders for how they will handle this. All leaders or even members of the ARP involved, remember your vows to Christ as elders in the Body or remember your vows as members of the ARP Body. Those vows supercede any allegences with boards, committees or educational institutions. We have much to seek the forgiveness of our Savior.

    Grace and peace to you all in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

    Ken Huff

     
  6. Reformed Rebel says:

    Well, Chuck, I can say that there are at least two things in this “report” of yours that just don’t surprise me.

    1) I’m not surprised that someone would ask if you wrote Scott Cook’s “Open Letter”. Despite an astonishingly capable faculty, and Mr. Cook’s own native intelligence and diligent study, clearly a work of such nuanced theology couldn’t possibly have come from a student at that little unaccredited seminary up in Greenville! Heavens to Betsy, don’t we all know that the sole place to learn theology is at Erskine? Surely it most have been ghost-written or perhaps plagiarized!

    2) I’m not surprised by Dean Turbeville’s comments on Thursday. Dean is one of the best men I’ve ever had the high privilege and honor of meeting, and it’s an even higher honor that I can call him a friend. Of all the men there, Dean would be the one to speak from the heart, and encourage men to send there monies to organizations that still honor the Gospel. May his tribe increase!

    Like you, Chuck, I don’t have much use for philosophical theology, but I’m proud that my pal Scott asked the hard questions. My skills lie in other areas; I should bring you to the house sometime for an adult beverage and show you my wolf-skin rug.

     
    • Dear Reformed Rebel,

      Thank you for your comments. It’s good to have you back on ARPTalk. I hope your work at GPTS is going well.

      Once again, I did not write Scott Cook’s article for him.

      BTW, no one with “walking sense” doubts the academic rigor of GPTS. The catalogue explains it all. GPTS students do very well in presbytery exams.

      Actually, I like the animal we call “wolf.” The one of which I speak in my article, “Wolf,” is an extraordinary animal. He is amazing to watch. Frightening? Yes! Nevertheless, amazing! I did not realize the intelligence of the wolf.

      Reb, why don’t you get Scott and drive over to Seneca. I’ll buy lunch and Scott and teach us philosophical theology – something about monism. Whatever!

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       

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