Tenth Presbyterian Church: sheep without a shepherd

New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:

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Tim,

There is a problem within NAPARC churches that pertains to sheep as well as elders. This post from May of 2022, which kicked off a brief three part series, raises some related concerns to yours. Things are bad, and congregants need to own their responsibility for it is they who vote in elders. This isn’t to pass the buck from pulpit to pew. It’s just a reality we all must come to grips with today.

Tim,

I should probably make something clear. My concerns for the church at large should not be construed as associating myself with any of the particular comments on this site voiced about Tenth. My concerns pertain only to the demands that the confessional infidelity (of any church) places upon congregants to become better Bereans. As for Tenth, we must trust in the courts of the church and guard against being quick to spread and receive a bad report.

Ron

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With all due respect, I offer this.

Some of us would respond that it is precisely because the “courts of the church” have not done their job in this instance, that we have organisations like GRACE.

At the moment, our Pentecostal friends are having to deal with a scandal of comparable egregiousness in their own ranks. While it is not an exact parallel, the organisation concerned (something called the “International House of Prayer” in Kansas City) brought in outside parties to investigate the situation, and on the strength of those findings, felt confident in telling the erring minister that he was out the door, permanently. We may question the use of outside parties in a Presbyterian polity to resolve cases like this, but sometimes it is the least-worst way to proceed.

Dear Ron DiGiacomo,

Your piece is bad, and for two reasons. First, you are almost completely wrong about Tenth Session’s actions related to Paul Jones. It was almost the opposite of what you report. What you don’t realize is the distinction between hearsay and firsthand testimony. You would be wise not to carry water for your friends at Tenth who assure you of this and that. You did not meet and work with the Session. A number of us did, firsthand, and none of us, nor the victim we were supporting, would recognize your opinions on those matters as truthful, or even informed.

Second, and more importantly, you are seriously in error concerning the nature and uses of suspension from office and the Lord’s Table. Read this and the historical context and explanations of suspension from the PCA’s Archive.

Why Dominic’s Report published your errors is beyond me. The simplest fact checking would have cleared up both errors and kept them from promoting falsehoods. Sorry to have to say so, dear brother. Love,

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Your piece is bad, and for two reasons. First, you are almost completely wrong about Tenth Session’s actions related to Paul Jones. It was almost the opposite of what you report.”

Tim,

What did I report about Paul Jones?

“You would be wise not to carry water for your friends at Tenth who assure you of this and that.”

Those who know me know I don’t carry water for anyone. So, please quit the nonsense. Anyway, it’s impossible to have a rational discussion when one engages so fallaciously as you sometimes do.

“You did not meet and work with the Session. A number of us did, firsthand, and none of us, nor the victim we were supporting, would recognize your opinions on those matters as truthful, or even informed.”

On which issue(s), Paul Jones? As I noted, sins (including those of session) were dealt with by presbytery. In fact, I’ve never read such a severe rebuke in my life than that which was issued by the Philadelphia presbytery to Tenth’s session. So, let’s not pretend they weren’t censured severely (but obviously not enough to satisfy everyone).

“Second, and more importantly, you are seriously in error concerning the nature and uses of suspension from office and the Lord’s Table.”

I made no remarks about sufficient conditions for suspension from office or suspension from the table. Accordingly, you’ve merely shot off another misguided arrow. Regarding the table, my points were limited and pertained to (a) confusing the practical and wisdom-governing consequences for sin with the means of grace, (b) reinstatement to the table after suspension, and (c) a biblical motive for a repented sinner to be reinstated to communion.

“Why Dominic’s Report published your errors is beyond me.”

Your rhetoric is on par with, “have you stopped beating your wife yet?” You’d do much better, Tim, if you dropped the informal fallacies.

Feel free to phone me.

Best wishes, Brother.

Ron

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Dear Ron,

I have pared this comment down to this. A number of church officers and I were directly involved with Tenth’s Session for several years following our meeting with them March 15, 2014. We were an ecclesiastical commission wrestling with Tenth’s elders and pastors, as well as Philadelphia Presbytery, trying to get them finally to admit Tenth’s failures and say they were sorry. It took years!

About suspension from the Lord’s Table, your article is wrong. I’ll give you a call. Love,

“Tenth’s Session didn’t issue the censures.”

Tim,

I’m sorry but you’re simply mistaken. Grace drudged up 130 pages of stuff and censures were indeed issued by Tenth in certain instances, including banning from the table. My article references one indefinite suspension but it wasn’t the only one.

“Tenth’s Session was itself censured.”

Yes, which implies that presbytery did take the matter seriously. Their severe censure won’t satisfy an insatiable desire to judge more harshly, even at a tribunal of one. More on that in a moment.

“Then, your statements about the nature and purpose of suspension from the Lord’s Table are so far off the mark, as I have said before. There are, and have always been, reasons to suspend souls from the Lord’s Supper who are said to have repented. Go and study the subject.”

You act as though a credible confession of sin and the fruit thereof is purely an objective matter that is accompanied by some sort of epistemic certainty. It’s not. Yet even the confession-verbatim GRACE reported was an extraordinary one. Tim, I can only imagine the pressure to not restore to the table given the blood thirsty mob out there. So, they must’ve been fully persuaded of genuine repentance. What GRACE wanted is foreign from Scripture’s testimony!

“I won’t bother responding to all your harrumphing.”

Brilliant!

The rest of your remarks are, I find, a bit reckless and go beyond the scope of the article, which pertained primarily to GRACE’s understanding of the Supper as it relates to one person, and not the ministerial and declarative details of session and presbytery. Sadly, I do believe you may have stepped into the yoke with the woke and have more than tacitly placed your imprimatur upon, I believe, a dangerous organization.

“I’m happy to talk, if you’d like. You have my number, dear brother.”

I’d like that. Let’s continue only that way. This is fodder for those who hate the church.

Blessings,

Ron

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Noted. Thank you.

Great chat. We do better in person!

Love,

Ron

Thanks for. your time. Great talking.

Love,

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For future record for anybody who happens on this, there’s not a lot of love for GRACE around here, either from my father, or myself.

It’s a mess of an organization, and a mess of a report.

However, Ron, not trying to start an argument, but I’ve been meaning all day to point out that the leadership at 10th are the ones responsible for bringing GRACE in, and everybody knows exactly what GRACE is. It’s a bit rich to blame GRACE for the fact that 10th decided to hire them to exonerate themselves and purge their demons. Whatever failures the GRACE report has, 10th is responsible for it.

It’s a bit rich to blame GRACE for the fact that 10th decided to hire them to exonerate themselves and purge their demons.

Whatever failures the GRACE report has, 10th is responsible for it.

Dear Joseph,

  1. Perhaps you know that the motive behind session commissioning GRACE was for exoneration. If so, then how foolish of the session to tell you that, for surely you could not know an entire session’s motive without them telling you.

  2. I don’t recall blaming GRACE for Tenth’s bad judgment in commissioning them. I merely blame GRACE for GRACE’s own beliefs and actions.

  3. Lastly, you’ve conflated responsibility with culpability. Indeed, Tenth is responsible for hiring GRACE. Notwithstanding, Tenth is not culpable for GRACE’s faulty views on the Supper, which is the thrust of my short article.

Best wishes,

Ron

Are motives really so opaque? Especially in a situation like this? Given the witness of the New Testament, judging motives based on actions and precedent seems fair game…even necessary and wise.

I trust anyone with a modicum of discernment knows why people hire GRACE. On the other hand, some people will never know why anybody does anything. Perhaps we’ll have to agree to disagree. I believe that men can And must be judged by their actions, not just what they tell you, And that, furthermore what they tell you is often a lie, As can be seen over and over again in the Grace report.

I have not conflated culpability and responsibility. Have you ever heard of culpable ignorance? This is the opposite of that. I don’t for a moment believe that 10th was ignorant of what Grace would produce. After all, they were the ones paying them to produce it. They knew what they were buying. Furthermore, Tenth is culpable for what Grace left out of their report.

Are motives really so opaque? Especially in a situation like this? Given the witness of the New Testament, judging motives based on actions and precedent seems fair game…even necessary and wise.

Aaron,

For people who take seriously their sin, their loving Savior, and the final judgment, yes, motives of others are recognized as being more opaque. In fact, I suspect that often times you don’t understand your own motives. Regardless, I fail to see how the New Testament affords more (and not less) liberty into this area of judgment.

As for “a situation like this” - a situation like what? What situation have you judged from your throne to be the impetus for commissioning GRACE?

I don’t for a moment believe that 10th was ignorant of what Grace would produce. After all, they were the ones paying them to produce it. They knew what they were buying.

Joseph,

That’s interesting. So, Tenth knew that GRACE was going to drudge up over ten years of highly unfavorable publicity and that’s what Tenth intended to purchase. Yet earlier you asserted “that 10th decided to hire them to exonerate themselves…” Talk about a house divided. By these calculations, Tenth sought to exonerate themselves by intentionally paying to incriminate themselves.

Ron, not trying to start an argument…

Actually, your are. You’re just doing badly, Joseph.

Tim,

I won’t be responding further. It’s too reminiscent of Anglican Watch.

Best wishes,

RD

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You keep leaving half of what I said out.

And yes. 10th knew precisely why they were hiring Grace. It’s to show people that they “take this seriously” but without there being any teeth. And so they can say that now they’ve really dealt with it.

And you have fallen for it hook line and sinker.

But they have not dealt with it.

Feel free to see yourself out while judging my character based on what I’ve said. I’ll feel free to judge the character of other men by what they say and do as well.

Accusing the pastors who have been discussing this with you of being like Whartburg Watch is certainly not giving us anywhere near the grace that you’ve been extending to the sexual abusers and men who covered it up

Nor is such behavior acceptable here. I will be moderating future comments that you make before they are posted.

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