Greetings from South Carolina. It was good to see you and your wife at the NAPARC meeting at Bonclarken last November. I trust that your return to Atlanta was safe and uneventful.
Thanks for your recent coverage of my keynote address
to the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council. I did,
however, notice what appears to be a misquotation on p. 10 of
the December 1999 issue. You quote me as saying that "the
issues we're facing are challenging because they're not issues
of right and wrong, but matter of balance." I don't believe
I would have put it quite that way, and according to my manuscript
from that evening, I did not. The actual quote (with a bit more
context) reads as follows:
What are the implications of all this for the
NAPARC community? The first is that the divisive issues that
we face are challenging precisely because they are not just matters
of "right" and "wrong." They are also matters
of balance, in which both sides have worthy and legitimate concerns.
This, in turn, suggests that the NAPARC churches need each other.
I think you will agree that the omission of the word "just" changes the meaning of the sentence substantially. I trust that this matter will be corrected in the next issue of your publication.
With best wishes to you and your family for the New Year, I remain,
Yours in Christ's service,
William B. Evans, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Bible and Religion,
[We apologize for the error, and we thank Dr. Evans
for bringing this to our attention.-Ed.]
Thank you for the December issue of the P&R News. I appreciate your full report on the Cedar Springs matter-it helps me to understand the issues better. And I thank you for the full report on the NAPARC meeting.
I am concerned, however, that you did not report the action of Calvary Presbytery in reference to the Mark Futato matter. You were generous in your last issue to report on a proposal before the Presbytery, and the recommendation of the Candidates Committee, to whom the matter had been referred. But the December issue, while reporting on the October meeting of Calvary Presbytery, neglects to report the action of Calvary Presbytery on the Futato matter.
Calvary Presbytery did not adopt the recommendation of the Candidates Committee. It adopted the following substitute motion: "That discussion and public acknowledgement of Calvary Presbytery's concern with RTS Orlando and Dr. Futato be postponed until its stated meeting July 2000, if appropriate at that time". This adopted motion represents the only action by Calvary Presbytery on the entire matter.
Your earlier reports implied that Calvary Presbytery was very unhappy with the way that RTS was dealing with Dr. Futato. The Presbytery received a motion that we not recommend RTS Orlando to our candidates, and that motion was referred to the Candidates Committee at the July 1999 stated meeting. The action of the Presbytery, after hearing from the President of RTS and understanding that they are dealing with the issue in a pastoral manner, led the Presbytery to give RTS time to resolve the matter.
I appreciate your interest in the work of Calvary Presbytery, but I am disappointed that you did not report our action as a Presbytery.
By the way, Calvary Presbytery did not adopt the personal resolution offered by Dr. Pipa on the John Wood matter at our October meeting. Your reference to this is correct in column 4 of page 1, but is incorrect in the Presbytery news report on page 20.
Thank you very much.
Yours truly, in Christ,
E. Crowell "Midge" Cooley, Travelers Rest, South Carolina
[We appreciate "Midge" sending us this
letter-to-the-editor-especially since we also received one from
his son-in-law, Bill Evans (see the previous letter)! In response,
please note that in the December 1999 issue, we did not report
on the October 1999 stated meeting of Calvary Presbytery, but
on the July 1999 stated meeting. (Although not necessarily the
case here, it is true that there is often a time lag between when
a presbytery meeting occurs and when we are able to report on
its proceedings, because of having to wait until those minutes
are formally approved.) Therefore, we were accurate in our reporting
with respect to Dr. Pipa's two resolutions: the one in July was
adopted, the one in October was not. Also, with respect to the
Dr. Futato situation, we had intended to run a story in our December
issue on the action by Calvary Presbytery in October to postpone
the matter. However, the administration of Reformed Theological
Seminary strongly urged us not to do so, and we acceded to those
wishes. We thought we were being gracious by doing so. But as
this letter demonstrates, sometimes no matter what you do, you
get into trouble!-Ed.]
Dear brothers in Christ:
My distress at the tone of some parts of P&R News increases with every issue. I value having a report on what is happening in the PCA, including the bad scenes. In most cases I am in agreement with your
understanding of the meaning of "bad." But too often I find the way you express your concern sinfully offensive. As one who shares your concerns I find it offensive. What impact does it have on those whom you are criticizing?
I will take as the most recent obvious case in point the "Reward" advertisement on page 4 of the December issue. I think your article pointing out the errors in the SJC's finding is appropriate. But the Bible says, "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice." Maybe you have better imaginations than I do, but I cannot imagine any way that ad can be taken that does not express malice. It is evil speaking, and you need to repent of accepting that ad. Its only purpose is to heap scorn on the members of the committee. I would suggest that you contemplate our catechisms' expositions of the 9th commandment, and make public apologies as signs of real repentance. The issue would have been much better if you had rejected this ad.
Then in the previous edition there was the description of those whose views on worship differ from yours as seeking "sensual" worship. Please tell me how this advances the discussion in a loving, Christian way? I am not particularly a fan of what is commonly called "contemporary" worship. I am strongly committed to the regulative principle. But I have my disagreements with the editor over what is approved in worship. I have challenged him and others who hold his views to answer my scriptural arguments against their views, with no response. Should I write describing those views as "blindly traditional, lifeless, unscriptural" views of worship? No! Name-calling just gets peoples' backs up. It does not conform to our catechisms' biblical call for us to reject whatever is "injurious to . . . our neighbour's good name" (SC 78).
Finally, let me comment on your article on World magazine and the Trinity Foundation. The tone of the article, to me, says you support John Robbins and the Trinity Foundation against World. You certainly quote his dishonest and slanderous statements without any comment. I read World practically cover to cover, regularly. I will be glad to stand up at John Robbins' trial for slander and swear that the statement, "While pretending to be an evangelical magazine, World has been supporting Roman Catholics and ersatz-evangelicals who are doing their best to bamboozle everyone into cooperating with Rome" is a foul lie. Or is Robbins one of those people who are "without the benefit of Church discipline commanded by Christ . . .", to quote his Reformation Day Statement?
I would urge you to think very carefully about God's view of slanderous speech. It comes up again and again, esp. in Psalms and Proverbs (Ps 50:20; 101:5 Pr 6:16-19; 10:18; 11:13; 18:8; 19:5,9; 20:19; 21:28; 25:18; 26:20,22, for starters). The longest answer to any question in the Larger Catechism is to Question 145, "What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?" The Westminster Assembly understood that this is a very serious matter, and one easily passed by. We who hold to their confessions should also realize this is a serious offence, one easy to slip into, and so exercise extreme care to avoid it.
Yours in Christ,
Don Codling, Pastor
Bedford Presbyterian Church
Bedford, Nova Scotia
[Editor's Note: The party who took out the ad evidently was trying to make a point with it. Advocacy of traditional Presbyterian worship can be found in numerous places, including Worship in the Presence of God, co-edited by the PINS Editor. As for the "sensualistic" worship at General Assembly, perhaps you had to be there to experience it in order to understand our comment. (It's the same sort of problem the late G. Aiken Taylor had while attempting, in the pages of the Presbyterian Journal, to describe the infamous "New Days! New Ways?" conference at Montreat in 1968.-Ed.]