Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I lose

The question is, how far do I take this, or has it gone far enough?
I'm thinking (and praying) about it.

One of the vain hopes I have had, the longshot scenario, is that in some way in my dispute with the church over marriage, I would win a sort of stalemate, where I would be allowed to believe what I believe, and the church would view that belief with disfavor, but nevertheless, allow me to hold my views nonetheless.

Always the greater possibility would be that the church would bend every rule and forsake every scriptural principal, to silence me. Surprise surprise.

One of the strategies in dealing with the church was to take one of the elders before his certification agency and thereby apply pressure to a member of the session, and thereby lever the session.

Not exactly Biblical procedure, but we've long since departed that format. "Peacemaker Ministries" whitewashed the whole issue, let Dr. Selle see my complaint, but never let me see his answers, and judged (shock) in his favor.

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Ron in Houston said...

Hold on

Didn't you sort of admit that you were willing to "bend" some rules and "forsake" scriptural principles to get what you want?

I'm not disagreeing it was a whitewash but given the rules quoted in their letter you could probably justify just about any behavior.

The irony I see is that you're trying to REFORM an ORTHODOX church. Talk about beating your head against a wall.

Honestly are you really surprised you lost?

The Pharisee said...

No, I'm trying to reform a REFORMED church, one of which swears to the principle "Semper Reformanda" and the Westminster Confession of Faith which itself states that there is no pure church.

If you've kept up at all with my various postings in this arena, which number quite a few there are some key points that must be understood:

1.) The "Grand Father" of the modern day Reformation is Martin Luther. He agreed with me on this issue.

2.) Presbyterian Denominations are "Reformation" or "Reformed" churches. In claiming "orthodoxy" the orthodoxy they give allegiance to agrees to the idea of change, but change in the direction of agreeing more, not less, with scripture. Again, the idea of no pure church expressed in the WCF and "Semper Reformanda" are key.

3.) When moving to the Americas, the puritans brought with them the "WCF." After the revolution, the WCF was changed in two key ways. One was in Chapter 24, the section regarding marriage, eliminating rules regarding "consanguinity" that the states regarded as unbiblical. There was also an elimination of language regarding Kings. Change is predicted in the reformation and the WCF and change occurred in the very chapter I seek to again change. To be more Biblical.

4.) The church has a stated public standard of membership that is accepting of my difference. Not accepting the difference, but accepting of my holding that difference.

The "Peacekeeper" group and the local church and the denomination, ALL violated their stated principles to arrive at the decision they arrived at. They have not stated it publicly, but they know a renewed discussion of polygyny in the church would be by all human wisdom, destructive to the denomination.

God told Gideon though, to go on with only 300 men to do his will, when over 20,000 showed up.

Ron in Houston said...

The "Grand Father" of the modern day Reformation is Martin Luther. He agreed with me on this issue.

Yeah, but you aren't trying to reform a Lutheran church - you're trying to "reform" a Calvinist one. Besides their "orthodoxy" is the WCF. Both Calvin and the WCF disagree with you.

Honestly Don Quixote I think I see another windmill on the next hill...

The Pharisee said...


You show a profound LACK of understanding with regard to "Calvinism," the Reformation and the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Not that I would win this particular battle, but it is presupposed in the WCF that there are flaws, that the flaws would be brought to the attention of a subscribing denomination, and they would be corrected as they became apparent.

This is assumed to be an ongoing process until Christ returns. The process is of making the church MORE in alignment with HIS word, not less so.

Reformation is conforming ourselves to God's will and word.

Sadly, most of what occurs in the name of the Reformation is only conforming to society around us.

"Semper Reformanda" Ron, and Ezekiel is my role model, not Don Quixote.

"If thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul." The LORD God, to Ezekiel, Chapter 3, Verse 19.

Ron in Houston said...


Honestly, I get where you're coming from and don't disagree with any of the theological and philosophical points you've made.

Your church leadership disagrees. Even if you can get them to buy into the theological need for reformation, they'll still disagree that your stance on polygamy is any kind of needed reform.

In some ways I admire people who tilt at windmills. However, many end up like Don Quixote despondent and ready to give up their chivalry.

The Pharisee said...

The church has an advertised standard for membership that they departed from, just for me Ron.

I am not required by any published or advertised standard to agree to their view of marriage. What the church would do with me if the issue were perhaps infant Baptism, is not even certain were I to apply to be an elder:

From the OPC Website - "Members are received into a local Orthodox Presbyterian congregation by the session on the basis of their credible profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. While members are exposed to the Reformed faith from the pulpit, from the teaching ministry of the church, and from the sincere convictions of their elders and deacons, (prospective members) are not required to receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms as a standard for membership....

All church officers-ministers, ruling elders, and deacons-are required to receive and adopt the Confession and Catechisms as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Bible, and to approve of the government, discipline, and worship of the Church."

What they are holding me to Ron, is a standard for Elders and even Elders are not required to sign on to the WCF, though exceptions are made on a local church case by case basis:

"Officers are, by the way, allowed to take exceptions to the Standards, within reason."

Furthermore, they have violated Matthew 18, since they have received anonymous accusations against me that form the basis for my banning.

As is frequently the case with such matters, they cannot combat me on the substance of my application for membership, so they "trumped up" a charge that I was "perceived as threatening" to two or more members of the congregation whose names I have never learned.

I understand if there is someone who really feels afraid of another, and doesn't wish to tell them, so I don't require those names be revealed. Christ himself though, said that personal one on one interaction was the only way to form the basis for any later disciplinary actions. Had those members felt real fear and should that fear be the basis for later discipline against me, they would first have had to come to me alone. That never happened.

The church then went to civil authorities without completing the internal procedure they are by Christ required to follow. One of the elders is a member of a Christian Conciliation group called Peacemakers and they preach the same standard themselves, and require that their certified conciliators hold to that standard. Dr. Selle did not so I complained to them and they whitewashed the issue.

Ron in Houston said...


I know - and I actually empathize with you. You'd found a church you were comfortable with and kicking you out because you had some theological disagreements is certainly not what I'd call "Christian." Honestly, in my mind, it's largely caused by their perception of your theological arguments as both frightening and also wholly unacceptable.

In my mind, you're trying to use "legalistic" arguments in a theological setting. There is rather an inherent conflict there if you ask me.

On one hand, I'll say I don't think what happened to you is either what I'd call "fair" or "Christian." However, on the other hand, it's also not in the least surprising.

The Pharisee said...

Legalistic arguments, within the framework of what the Church regards as law, shouldn't surprise, but in fact are rarely used. It's generally power and authority that are wielded to protect power and authority, perhaps more so than in the secular arena.

And I agree with you Ron on the issue of surprise. I really wasn't surprised. It stings when it happens. You can't say that you knew what to expect when you went in to get a tooth pulled and because of that, you feel no pain.

I have to contemplate what I do next. It may be incumbent upon me to attempt to start a reformed denomination, accepting of polygyny.

Yes, I know what to expect there too.


I think you're trying to take what they did with HIS Church and do it to them. I doubt they'd let that happen: like it or not someone (or some people) are going to act as pope and act like Jesus had died and left them the keys to the kingdom. [The real difference between them and the pope if that the first pope actually did see Jesus die and leave him the keys... They can't stand that.

The Pharisee said...

RINK, I think I can agree that they are acting like little popes.


I think you're trying to do to them what they tried to do to the leaders of this "reformed" church, what the leaders of the reformed church tried to do with HIS Church. Those leaders think that Jesus died and left them the key to the Kingdom. However, fact is that He died and left those key to the first pope. They're envious of the pope only because the first pope actually did receive the keys.

I don't think they'd ever allow you to do what they tried (and are still trying) to do.

The Pharisee said...

I do not see the evidence for Apostolic succession through Peter. There is no acceptable record of such succession.

Jam Inn said...

Well for all of the Catholic Churches failings and vices they do represent approximately half of all Christians, round numbers one billion believers, and have a nearly 2,000 year church history. Not confirmation of apostolic succession but a convincing presence of some duration and population.

How many reformation church members and like same time of existence?

The Pharisee said...

My wife is Catholic. One of the things we discuss is that there are two major differences between the Reformation churches, and the RCC.

The RCC has had more time to accumulate error and the RCC has no mechanism for correcting error once it is in place.

The fact is though, reformation churches rarely if ever employ their mechanism for correcting error, so it hardly matters. With regard to the number of errors over time, the RCC has just been at it longer than the various reformation denominations.

The numbers don't impress me Jam. The way is narrow, and few there are, that find it. "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat..."

"Enter ye in at the strait gate..."

Jam Inn said...

Not exclusive Pharisee, rather more all inclusive:

"That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. that is the whole Torah, the rest is explanation; go and learn" Talmud, Shabbat 31a

"For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment,'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'". Galatians 5:14

Everyone's Final Judgment is made by Him not Scripture. The 'straight gate' is the passage that followers of Christ pass through, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" John 14: 6.

The Pharisee said...

"That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. that is the whole Torah, the rest is explanation; go and learn" Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Don't care.

"For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment,'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'".
Galatians 5:14

Yes, that's a quote, of the law.

"Everyone's Final Judgment is made by Him not Scripture."

Odd, he elevates his word, above his name.