Covenant Theological Seminary and the decline of the PCA

(Jon Swerens) #42

What’s especially maddening is how they diminish the status of their opposition:

“a handful of individuals are posting on personal blogs and social media”

These are ordained pastors with deep ties to the PCA calling out the seminary, not anonymous flamers on Twitter. A shameful characterization.

(Dan Burke) #43

Fair analysis — both sides feel slandered now. And I wasn’t posting this article to perpetuate the slander but because I was interested in seeing a conversation with regard to their bullet points about sexuality. Setting feelings aside, what do you all think of the bullet points clarifying the seminary’s position on sexuality? Some of those points appear to be in direct response to some of the concerns raised in Warhorn’s analysis of Covenant and the PCA. Interested in your thoughts.

(Ross Clark) #44

Methinks Covenant TS are protesting too much - the letter would not have been written in that tone if there was not a case to answer. It seems that they “run with the hares but hunt with the hounds” and no doubt are saying some things to one audience and different things to another audience.

(AndreasM) #45

As a complete outsider: that letter seems to do only one thing: Damage control. Why so many bullet points if there is nothing?

My experience is to read this letter like this: “staff does not [teach|believe|endorse] THAT” with the mental addition “- until they do”. I’ve seen it too often.

(Christopher Thomas Miller) #46

I’m always amused by statements like this:

Dr. Sklar, who drew criticism for speaking last year, has written and taught broadly on the verses in Leviticus that prohibit homosexual activity. He teaches very clearly that these verses continue to be relevant today in their prohibition of homosexual sin.

While Dr. Sklar spoke at last year’s conference, given the increased lack of clarity surrounding this conference and topic, Covenant Seminary has instructed professors not to speak at Revoice this year.

Translation (as near as I can figure): “We did nothing wrong. Also, it won’t happen again”

(Tim Bayly) #47

Really, Dan? Truth doesn’t matter? Just feelings. Mark feels slandered. I feel slandered. Moral equivalence?

This is where we are today and it’s appalling. As I said before, look at all the charges of lying and slander Mark makes and decide if he’s right or wrong. Read his evidence behind his charges. Oh, there’s none. Not one word of evidence. Oh.

Then carefully consider that the man who accuses another of lying and slander is himself a liar and slanderer if it turns out his accusations are false.

The authors of Warhorn’s Revoice posts spent tens of thousands of words and hundreds of hours documenting their charges. If Mark won’t document even a single one of his charges and you think his slander of us is worth adding to this conversation, then you take up the cudgel for him and prove the truth of his charges. Otherwise, rebuke him for his false charges and squelch any circulation of them anywhere. One or the other. Love,

(Nathan Smith) #48

Seems like if CTS wanted to clear itself, it would just release a video of Sklar’s speech at Revoice to show that he is rightly dividing the word. Instead it’s all, “there’s nothing to see here, so don’t look.”

(Dan Burke) #49


Truth matters.

Truth matters. Let’s talk about those bullet points. As I said above,

Warhorn and other blogs made a number of public charges against Covenant’s weak stance on biblical sexuality and other issues. Mark’s bullet points responded to several of those charges and made clear Covenant’s position for anyone who came across those online and very public provocations. The question I asked was this: “What do you think about those bullet points?” I am genuinely interested in your thoughts about those points in response to what you all wrote about Covenant. Do they address any of the concerns you all raised about Covenant’s position on biblical sexuality, or do they still fall short on truth?


(Tim Bayly) #50


Are you even listening? When the substance of a man’s communication is calling other men “liars” repeatedly-repeatedly-repeatedly, those men he is accusing would be stupid to respond to his bullet points. When a man simply rages against his opponents, they would be stupid to respond with logic. In the old days, other men listening would silence themselves and wait for the shots or demand for satisfaction. But today, we can’t even register false charges as serious.

This letter from Mark has been deeply vetted by his trustees and faculty. It’s just like that awful video he put out a few weeks earlier. CTS has been taking painful hits in applications/matriculations. Right then their VP and alumni suffer national opprobrium from Revoice. This produces a huge hit in their donations. CTS hits back by endlessly repeating insults and lies against those who publicized the Revoice scandal and its connection to CTS. Not one response to any of its critics except crying them down as liars. Not one.

That, good sir, is the salient point. The bullet points added to the back of the slanderous letter are merely window dressing. Whitewash. They’ve been repeating them from the beginning. Endlessly. It’s a mantra created for credulous fools. “We all including every last one of us in any way connected to this godly and wonderful institution training the future pastors and leaders of the stupendously graceful Presbyterian Church in America have never wavered from our firm and undying belief in what Holy Scripture teaches: namely, marriage is between one woman and one man and sexual intercourse is reserved for marriage.”

Deep. Profound. What more could anyone ask of men claiming the mantle of Calvin, Edwards, Hodge, Warfield, and Machen?

Actually, pathetic. These men are clueless about sexuality and have been for decades. It’s intentional and they’re culpable. They taught the men and women who created Revoice. These men and women are their fruit. It’s obvious to everyone, but instead of repenting, CTS says “liar-liar-liar,” adding to the back of the letter bullet points for the gullible who then serve as their shills trotting those points out on places like Sanityville.


If you want to ask questions about sexuality and you’ve read The Grace of Shame, let’s do it. But to legitimize two pages of lies and slander from the president and trustees and faculty of Covenant Theological Seminary by overlooking it is precisely what they want and must be denied. They want their talking points/window dressing/whitewash to become the topic after shouting down the godly who call them to repent. Will you give them what they want?


(Andrew Dionne) #51

The only thing close to repentance CTS has shown is their assurance they would not participate in Revoice 2019. Of course, that is not repentance but self-preservation. President Dalbey’s posture from the beginning of this public spectacle has been angry astonishment that anyone would accuse them of any impropriety. If he had any care for the flower of CTS, he’d begin weeding his garden. The kind of students now going to CTS go there precisely because she is not careful to maintain the hard edge of truth. Only thing that will stop that descent is to reboot…which the Committee of Commissioners at this year’s General Assembly should be sure happens. Likelihood = 0%. I hope I’m proven wrong.


(Dan Burke) #52

Straw man. I legitimized nothing. I shared the response they sent out with you guys and asked your opinion. Enough is right.

(Tim Bayly) #53

Dear Dan,

Good having the private exchanges by email just now. Yes, this has gotten testy, but let’s persevere since we haven’t come close to agreeing yet.

I wrote:

You respond:

This is the heart of what we’ve been disagreeing over. I understand why you deny the discussion you’re asking for would legitimate their letter’s lies and slander. Do you understand I disagree? And since I’m the one (among others writing for Warhorn) who have real skin in the game, I’d hope you would be concerned about what we are concerned about. I think that’s reasonable.


(Dan Burke) #54


I understand you disagree and do share many of your concerns, but I think this conversation could have gone differently. And I believe that you could have addressed the bullet points in a way that would have satisfied us both without attacking my character. For instance, several comments ago, you could have said something like this:

"Dear Dan,

I don’t like that you posted this letter here. Let me tell you why:" (And then you could go on to explain why me sharing it here makes it appear I’m legitimizing slander).

Then you could say: “Regarding your request to discuss the bullet points, I am going to decline. Doing so would legitimize what I described above. Furthermore, Mark did not say anything new, and Covenant still fails to address the fundamental talking points of our book The Grace of Shame. If you really want to have a discussion about the bullet points of Mark’s letter, read our book and then email or call me when you’re finished. As of now, Covenant pretends the book does not exist and has encouraged no one to respond to it chapter by chapter, point by point. Instead, they are calling us liars and slanderers.”

After making that point, you could have continued your argument about the slander, explaining why you find those claims to be baseless lies with no documented support, that until Covenant addresses the arguments of The Grace of Shame, among others, the letter itself is nothing more than slander followed with simplistic bullet points. That would have been be a fair time to admonish me to be more careful and thoughtful in the future.

For some of the reasons I mentioned in my email, I don’t agree with everything you have said about Covenant men. My personal experience in the PCA has been almost the complete opposite of what Warhorn describes in many of its posts. But I do share your concerns about Revoice, South City, and a number of issues with our Presbytery.

But that would have been a different conversation. Considering that I have made it obvious in the past (you mentioned in the email you know me and trust me) that I seek to understand your positions and have attempted to be civil even when I have disagreed, I found your approach here surprising. You said to me personally that you were frustrated that I “don’t get it.” Well, perhaps I could work on being less dense and dim and you could work on growing in temperance, especially with men who have every desire to hear you out. For us both, I think that’s reasonable.


(Tim Bayly) #55

Dear Dan,

Yes, if I had been you and you had been me, I guess we both could have responded the way we both would prefer. Shall I spend half an hour writing to you in the same condescending tone misconstruing your words above as badly as you have misconstrued mine? For example, I am quite happy you posted the link to the letter. What made you think otherwise?

I wrote more, here, but I grow weary. I’ll leave it at that.


(Dan Burke) #56


Read through our exchange. Not one person reading these comments could ever have inferred you were “quite happy [I] posted the link to the letter” unless they could read your mind.

The exchange began with me sharing the letter the same way you did to Facebook. I did not demand a discussion from anyone. It was an invitation, which you denied, and I’m fine with that. What I have challenged is not your denial to discuss but the way you have spoken to me and about me from the beginning of this exchange.

When I posted the letter, I did not say anything but “for what it’s worth.” Your response was was to suggest I was acting as one of their “shills trotting [their] points out on places like Sanityville.”

You have accused me of “legitimizing two pages of lies and slander” and implied that I am a “credulous fool” taking “up the cudgel for [Mark] [in order to] prove the truth of his charges.” You have spoken condescendingly saying, alas, I just “don’t get it,” perhaps because I’m just too dimwitted. Thanks, dear pastor.

And why? Because I shared the letter here just as you did on Facebook.

You have described me as “stubborn and impertinent” in my demands. Please show me in my own words where I made demand after demand.

My description of how the conversation could have gone was my defense to your accusations rather than literal advice. I’m not talking down to you. I’m responding to you.

Finally, you said,

I have no intention of stopping reading your work. If anything, I have made it clear from the very beginning that I WANT to read your work and WANT to talk to you about it.

So I am also sadly coming to the conclusion that this exchange is going nowhere and has mostly amounted to nothing beneficial for either of us.

(Ken Lamb) #57

It did seem kind of odd to write the reply he wished you would have said. I suppose we all struggle with understanding one another, but I think if we can put aside now whatever misunderstandings there might have been, we should be discussing the substantive issue of how Covenant Seminary and many from within her ranks seem more interested in self-preservation than truth. It’s almost certain these men would never die to self, lay down their lives for the purity of the church. They are too fatted by the milk of academia. They have appetites that will not permit them to be unpopular, they are too fearful of dividing and being counted as only a remnant. It’s true we should not devour one another, but these men end up devouring the flocks they purport to shepherd.

(Tim Bayly) #58

Dear Dan,

The point isn’t that you would know I didn’t mind, but that you ought not to declare I did.

If you were “fine with that,” why did you repeatedly ask me to respond to his bullet points? I kept saying “no,” but you kept asking.

What way? Read what is above and show us.

So if I shared it on FB, why would you declare I was opposed to you posting it here?

“Credulous fools” was not personal. But furthermore, within minutes of it being posted, it was removed, and precisely because I didn’t want you to think I was saying it to you, personally.

Why quote it if minutes after I write it, I remove it? Days later, you quote something I’ve edited almost immediately after posting it. Not fair. Not kind. Can a man not edit what he has written without having another man refuse to recognize that, and take umbrage, publicly? I wasn’t referring to you, which you ought to have known given the text.

I don’t think you are dimwitted or credulous. Why would you think otherwise? What I do know is that you are a friend of these men and are intent on defending them. That’s not to be credulous, but to be loyal, and honorable.

OK, here it is. In post after post, you ask me to respond to the bullet points:

Then later:

Then later:


To which I responded:

But you persist:

How could I have been more clear?


(Dan Burke) #59


The line “it’s a mantra created for credulous fools” is still in the third paragraph of comment 49. I did not go back to the edits and never would. That would be ridiculous and low.

You said,

It seemed you were implying “credulous fools like me ‘trotting’ around Sanityville.” I believe you now when you say that is not how you meant it.

My intention throughout this entire conversation has been to be both fair and kind. A misunderstanding is not equivalent to malicious intent.

When I was asking in the early comments what you thought about CTS’s official positions listed in the letter (the bullet points), most of the quotes you listed of mine came from comments 38 - 47. I did not fully grasp the connection you were making between slander and responding to the bullet points until your comment in 48 and subsequent email (I am still not even sure I buy it), but when it became obvious what you were saying, I was fine with dropping it. I really was.

At the end of the day, I never demanded you do anything nor harassed you. I even reached out to you personally by email to make sure you didn’t feel that way.


This is a fair comment. But the paragraph about how this could have gone was for illustration. If you look at it closely, it shows I was listening to you and hearing your argument. More importantly, it illustrates that my heart all along has been to listen to you and engage with you in a manner that is humanizing for us both.

Finally, with regard to me defending “my friends at CTS,” it has been many, many years since I have spoken to any of these men. They are not my buddies. They were leaders in my life when I was a boy, and the way you all talk about them does not match my personal testimony, which I also conceded is not necessarily indicative.

By contrast, I have spoken with you many times over the past several years. And even though I have not always agreed with you, your arguments and teachings have done much to deepen my faith and personal convictions. And sometimes, you have completely transformed my position when I compared your arguments with scripture.

This is probably one the biggest and most absurd misunderstandings I’ve ever been involved in creating, but I feel I’ve grown because of it. I have a busy weekend with my family but will try to give you a call tomorrow.

Yours in Christ,

(Tim Bayly) #60

Fair enough. Where there are many words, sin is not absent. Looking forward to talking. Love,

(Jason Andersen) #61

Am I the only person on this forum who has never stirred up enough of a fight to warrant a personal phone call from Tim? :slight_smile: