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Session decision on a Moral Person

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  • Walt
    Dear brethren, Back in 1999 after coming out of the unincorporated, independent baptist church movement, and having been a member of the PRCE for about six
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2006
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      Dear brethren,

      Back in 1999 after coming out of the unincorporated, independent
      baptist church movement, and having been a member of the PRCE for
      about six months, I decided to put to our Session about 15 questions
      that were most important to me in proper form of church government,
      business, lawful money/currency, being/wellbeing and a host of others.

      I'm sure that all of you have posed similar questions to your local
      sessions, as Presbyterians and Covenanters, and had similar decisions.

      So for those of you who have already firmly grounded your doctrinal
      positions on the subject of Moral Persons (as a court Session), I only
      share this with you as information. I understand that there are
      several ministers on this site, and that you may have already
      addressed these questions with your congregations formerally. Perhaps
      you have used more biblical references. Your Session decision may be
      radically different than this decision, or only slightly different,
      but those who reject the decision as totally unlawful because it was
      completed by our Elders (as some might suggest are the most tyrannical
      Elders that were ever discovered in the history of plant earth!),
      please don't blame me for ignorantly or blindly following this
      decision without a substantial amount of additional biblical references.

      You have NO IDEA the amount of detailed research and effort I put into
      my questions before they were submitted to the Session, nor the amount
      of work my Elders did (as they have always done for me and others)
      regarding this one answer on my question. Subsequent to their
      decisions, we are always given a period to come back with further
      questions and received detailed explanations. Most of the time, I
      pick up the phone to go over my additional questions or concerns, and
      usually try to prepare some Scriptural distinctions or historical
      references that might reverse a decision. Nevertheless, I know what
      it is like to have a decision rendered, and be so upset because it
      went against my own presuppositions, that I literally gave notice I
      was thereafter leaving the church.

      Yep, formerally and specifically, I outlined my position and said,
      "See ya, been nice knowing ya...but I'm going back to my little house
      on the prairie and not going to stand for your tyrannical decision."
      Within hours of my notice, an emergency Session was held, and a gentle
      response was given to my hasty allegations and I was convicted in my
      conscience, and by Scripture (and mostly by God's grace), that I was
      wrong, Scripturally and emotionally, and thereafter humbled myself,
      begged forgiveness and was subsequently blessed by the Lord beyond my
      wildest dreams. I'll never forget what a fool I was and what my
      covenant of membership meant to me (and does mean to me).

      I'm sure all the ministers on this site spend the same amount of time
      with each of their members working through questions of controversy or
      questions of inquiry, and therefore you will know the work it takes to
      answer sometimes just one question. The following are two of perhaps
      a total of 15 questions I have posed to the Session. To be overly
      critical of the lack of effort some may suggest that went into this
      decision, I wish to inform you that I asked 3 additional question in
      the same formal request, and the decision did not just address this
      one question on a Moral Person.

      I share this background because I know how much we are disliked by
      other covenanters, and presbyterians in general, as I have read on
      several public forums how alleged unfaithful and filled with legalism
      we are, but I gentle reject these public allegations.

      We are men and women just like you, and work through our questions,
      concerns and answers in similar ways as you, whether you are ministers
      or members of a congregation or independents. Some desire to throw
      off all tyranny, or even the perception of tyranny, and submit only to
      themselves as a lawful and highest court. As head of the household,
      the buck stops there since there is no lawful and faithful
      Presbyterian court in the world, as defined by them, in our unsettled
      state of the church. Others submit to a local independent minister as
      being their only lawful court. Some to Elders that are congregated
      face-to-face as being an only lawful and faithful court. Others, as
      myself, to Elders whether local (as when this decision was made) or
      international and extraordinary. Therefore, before you judge my
      questions, and my Elders response, as being unfaithful, tyrannical,
      unbiblical, or whatever other labels immediately jump to your mind as
      your read the decision, please take a time like I had to and work out
      the Scriptures referenced in the decision, using other historical
      references or formal higher court decisions.

      Remember, Presbyterianism gives us the beauty to overturn a lower
      Session court decision by Scripture and historical arguments or
      decisions from other lawful Session and higher courts. If following
      appears unfaithful and unlawful to you, whether it is because you
      believed the PRCE was not a lawful Session court, then made up of 3
      church officers ruling with Chris in the midst, then I agree there is
      not much I can do to persuade you that this decision is not void ab
      initio (void on its face). But, if you believe the court was indeed a
      lawful court, firmly founded in Scripture and Presbyterian, Covenanter
      government (as the PRCE constitutionally adopted the Six Terms of
      Ministerial and Christian Communion March 22, 1996), then use our
      biblical and church government system to overturn the decision.

      If it turns into a private internet or phone campaign of how messed up
      we all are at the church, then I cannot (nor will try) to address
      those arguments and allegations. Better to leave me out of the
      controversy and give me some alias name, like, for example, "dumb and
      dummer said this or that". That way harsh words won't be attached to
      either of us before the thrown of Christ, our final court.

      Here is the decision on the subject...but remember from my previous
      post I'm still doing my research on whether a lawful moral person (in
      our case a international, extraordinary Session) can exist without a
      written constitution. Sorry for all the long wind.

      They were asked and answered in late July, early August, 1999.
      Remember, I am only posting one of the four questions and answers.

      "Walter wrote:

      As a member of PRCE, I submit four questions:


      1 a. What is a moral person as defined by man's law (e.g. Christian
      common law, common law, canon law, law of nations, international law,
      civil law, criminal law, military law, etc.) and God's law (e.g.
      Scripture)?

      This question depends upon a multitude of particular circumstances
      which are too numerous to be presently described. A "moral person," as
      regarded by man's law, may change radically over the circumstances of
      time, place and national religion. For example Compare the following
      questions: What did heathen Rome, at the time of Christ, consider a
      moral person to be, versus, what did the heathen United States of
      America in 1999, consider a moral person to be, versus, what does
      heathen world international law (at least those nations who subscribe)
      in 1999 consider a moral person to be? The answer to this question
      goes beyond the ability and time of your elders. To answer this
      question properly, it ought to be referred to a legal historian, and
      we very much question whether even a council of legal historians could
      give anything more than a mere doubtful opinion upon this matter.
      Please let us know more specifically why you think this is relevant to
      your present business dealings. Presently, we do not see this question
      being crucial enough to spend hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of
      hours to determine a mere conjecture about what heathen think of the
      definition of a moral person. We, of course, remain quick to listen,
      easy to be entreated, and humbly willing to be convinced otherwise.

      The question we can determine from Scripture is What will the faithful
      governments of the future millennium determine a moral person to be
      and upon which principle "ought" they to act?

      To this we submit the following citations for your inspection:

      It may tend to cast some light on this matter, to state a few of the
      differences betwixt the obligation to duty by the moral law, and that
      of the church's covenants. ***The obligation of the church's covenants
      is distinct from the obligation of the law. It is not independent of
      the law, nor separate from it; but the obligation of the one may be
      distinguished from that of the other.*** Christians are under an
      obligation to perform duties, by the authority of God in his law; and
      they are, at the same time, under an obligation to perform the same
      duties, by their own act, whereby they have bound themselves to
      practice them. ***The obligation of the law is primary and supreme;
      that of the church's covenants is secondary and subordinate
      thereunto.*** The obligation of vows and covenants, both as to the
      matter and manner thereof, may always be examined by the rule of the
      law; but that which we know to be the law of God is not, as to its
      rectitude and obligation, the subject of any such examination. ***The
      obligation of the law is necessary unto the very being of the rational
      creature; that of our covenants is not so.*** It is impossible for
      them to exist, without being under the obligation of the divine law;
      but the greater part of them are not under the obligation of religious
      covenants. An act of the creature is necessary to bring us under
      obligation of vows and covenants; but no such act is requisite to
      subject us to the obligation of the moral law. The obligation of our
      covenants with God reaches to time only; but that of the law of God
      extends to eternity. By the former, we bind ourselves to sincere,
      though but imperfect obedience, but by the latter, we are divinely
      bound to perfection. In the law, God, who is its glorious author,
      binds us to obedience, by his own authority; but, by our promises,
      vows and covenants, we bind ourselves to be the Lord's people, and to
      serve him.

      The moral law is the directing standard, by which these solemn
      transactions of the church are to be regulated. The regulations of the
      law, concerning these acts of the creatures, respect both the matter
      of them, and the manner of their performance. As the directions of the
      law respect the matter of our vows and covenants, they indispensably
      require, that the things we bind ourselves to perform be agreeable to
      the law, and in nothing contrary to the precepts of the word. If they
      are otherwise, our vows and covenants are null and void in their
      obligation; and it is sinful to fulfil them (Archibald Mason,
      Observations on the Public Covenants, see www.covenanter.org, emphasis
      added).

      Thus, we note that all rational beings are under the law of God, and
      thereby have a duty and corresponding moral obligation to covenant
      publicly and socially. Generally, even heathen civil governments
      recognize this fact although, as is common to tyrants, they abuse that
      which is intended for their good.

      The obligation of our covenants with God is also evident, from the
      binding force of human contracts between man and man. It is a natural
      dictate of reason, which is confirmed by the word of God, that the
      promises, oaths and covenants of men with one another, oblige the
      parties to fulfil them; and that their failing therein, or acting
      contrary thereto, is a great evil. If our promises, oaths and
      covenants with our fellow creatures, bring us under a moral
      obligation, and bind us to fulfil them; must not our promises, oaths
      and covenants with the most high God, contain in them a moral
      obligation to perform duty to him? (Archibald Mason, Observations on
      the Public Covenants, see www.covenanter.org, emphasis added).

      Add to this the testimony of Thomas Sproul:

      Covenanting with God is the swearing of an oath of fidelity to him. It
      is the act of subjects engaging in the most solemn manner to be true
      to their king. This was the import of the covenant entered into by the
      kingdom of Judah at the inauguration of Joash: "And Jehoiada made a
      covenant between the Lord, and the king and the people, that they
      should be the Lord's people." 2 Kings, 11:17. God's right to men is
      not based on any conventional arrangement between him and them. It is
      original and absolute. "All souls are mine." "It is he that made us,
      and not we ourselves, we are his people." It is however their
      indispensable duty, as rational and moral creatures, to recognise that
      relation which by a divine constitution they sustain to their Creator;
      and to give all the security which he requires, that they will be his
      true and faithful subjects. It is perfectly reasonable that
      intelligent beings governed by moral laws, should give their consent
      to that constitution under which Infinite Wisdom has placed them, and
      swear allegiance to the "Lord of the whole earth," by whom it is
      administered. There is something analogous to this in the constitution
      of human governments. Nations usually require an oath of allegiance in
      order to citizenship. And though the principle has been wickedly
      misapplied, by requiring of men oaths of fidelity to governments that
      are not in a state of voluntary subjection to the Lord and his
      Anointed, yet the fact that they do so, demonstrates that men have
      naturally, some sense of the duty of covenanting (Thomas Sproul, The
      Duty of Social Covenanting Illustrated and Enforced, www.covenanter.org).

      Though heathen nations, by the light of nature, understand that they
      have an obligation to fulfil God's law, and to act responsibly, as
      both individuals and societies, they, nevertheless, pervert this
      precious truth into a means whereby they might attain to their own
      selfish ends. Thankfully God, in His omnipotent power will change all
      that.

      Sproul continues:

      In support of this position we adduce the very remarkable prophecy in
      Isaiah 19:18 21, "In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt
      speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the Lord of hosts In that
      day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of
      Egypt and the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall
      know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea
      they shall vow a vow unto the Lord and perform it." Without examining
      minutely into the precise time and circumstances of the fulfilment of
      this prophecy, it is sufficient for our present purpose to show, that
      it refers to a time yet future, and of course under the New Testament
      dispensation. No "altar has yet been erected to the Lord in the land
      of Egypt" "the Egyptians have not yet known the Lord nor done
      sacrifice and oblation." As the prophecy is yet to be fulfilled; so
      the promise connected with it remains to be performed. When "the great
      city which spiritually is called Egypt," Rev. 11:8, shall have "an
      altar to the Lord" in its midst and a "pillar to the Lord at its
      border" the worship of God established in its purity in the church and
      the law of the Lord made the main "pillar" of the political
      superstructure when the inhabitants of the city shall do sacrifice and
      oblation then five cities "the cities of the nations," Rev. 16:19,
      "shall swear to the Lord of hosts." These predictions containing
      promises of good to the subjects of them are preceptive. What God has
      said they shall do, he commands them to perform. It is the duty of not
      only five cities of mystical Egypt, but of all its cities of all the
      cities and kingdoms on the face of the earth to swear to the Lord of
      hosts to vow a vow and perform it. And in this way will "the kingdoms
      of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and
      he shall reign for ever and ever (Thomas Sproul, The Duty of Social
      Covenanting Illustrated and Enforced, www.covenanter.org).

      Thus, Egypt and most other political corporations (cities, provinces,
      nations etc.) of this world will eventually repent, covenant, and bow
      the knee to our Lord and King. Those who refuse will be destroyed. One
      way or the other these moral persons will be brought to do what they
      ought to have been doing all along subjecting themselves, for
      conscience sake, to the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

      Next, Pastor David Scott explains the Biblical concept of a moral person:

      1. Ecclesiastical and national societies are moral persons.***By a
      moral person I mean that each of these kinds of society has an
      understanding and a will of its own, by which it perceives,
      deliberates, determines and acts.*** An individual person, is one that
      has the power of understanding and willing; ***the name moral person
      is therefore applied to a society, having an understanding and a will
      common to the whole body, by which, though made up of a vast number of
      individuals, it possesses the power of knowing, deliberating,
      determining, and acting. A moral person may enter into contracts and
      covenant obligations; and these are as valid when entered into, as the
      covenant obligations of individual persons.*** [Walter, this would
      include corporations PRCE] Being moral persons, churches and nations
      are capable of entering into covenant with God; and that it is their
      duty to do so, I have demonstrated in the preceding section. Such
      obligation, when constituted agreeably to the will of God, are
      necessarily perpetual; for it is not the individuals merely of which
      the society consists, but the society itself, as a moral person, that
      covenants. In the case of personal covenanting, no one will question
      that the covenant obligation extends throughout the whole life of the
      individual; the same principle prevails in relation to social
      covenanting: the obligation extends throughout the duration of the
      moral person.

      2. The church is a permanently existing body. It has undergone,
      indeed, several changes in its external administration, but it is the
      same now that it was when first constituted. The church in the
      wilderness of Sinai is identical with the church in the days of Adam
      and Eve, and continues still the same moral person in the nineteenth
      century. The removal by death of individual members, does not destroy
      the identity of the moral person, which remains unaffected by the
      removal of a thousand generations. Covenant obligation entered into by
      the church, in any given period, continues of perpetual obligation
      throughout all succeeding generations, and that too, on the recognized
      principle that the church continues the same moral person.

      3. National society does not possess an undying constitution like that
      of the church, it may be dissolved; and history presents a vast number
      of instances of the entire dissolution of nations. But the obligation
      created by national covenanting, extends throughout the duration of
      the society, because it is a moral person; and if the perpetuity of
      the obligation may be limited, it is limited only by the moral person
      ceasing to exist (David Scott, Distinctive Principles of the Reformed
      Presbyterian Church, pp. 61 63, 1841, emphases added).

      Add to this the teaching of Thomas Houston where he further explains
      the nature of federal obligations:

      The principle of continued or transmissible federal obligation is not
      liable to the objections that have been urged against it, and is no
      novelty. We do not make our ancestors a sort of federal head as Adam
      was to the human family, when we allege that our posterity are bound
      by their engagements. This is altogether a misrepresentation of the
      argument on the subject. The descending obligation of the public
      covenants rests upon the essential character of organised society. It
      is the same party in different stages of its existence that is bound
      to moral obedience; and the obligation rests in all its plenitude upon
      the community as the same moral agent, until the whole matter of the
      engagement be fulfilled (Thomas Houston, A Memorial of Covenanting,
      1857, p. 35, emphases added).

      Finally, for a complete Scriptural defence of the necessity and duty
      of social covenanting, we refer you to John Cunningham's book
      entitled, "The Ordinance of Covenanting." Therein you may more
      accurately learn the Scriptural justification necessary for making the
      proper distinctions regarding personal and social covenanting, along
      with the doctrine of the moral person, and the associated binding
      obligations associated with such engagements. We deem it needless to
      enter into Scriptural proof of propositions already admirably and
      faithfully delivered to the church in writing. You will find
      Cunningham's work replete with Scripture proof and accurate logic.


      1 b. Can a moral person, if a fictional entity created by the unlawful
      state, swear a covenant oath to the NC & SLC? Does the legal doctrine
      entitled "conflict of laws" arise in causing the "doctrine of
      impossibility?"

      Can an unfaithful man enter into an honest covenant with a faithful
      man? Yes. We proved this in our last post wherein we showed Abraham
      and Jacob entering into lawful covenants with unfaithful men.

      Can a "group" or "unlawful association" of unfaithful and tyrannical
      men elected by the people, enter into an honest agreement with a
      faithful group of people. Yes, we also proved this in our last post,
      wherein we demonstrated that Solomon, on behalf of Israel, entered
      into a commercial contract with Hiram (an unfaithful, though, at that
      time, peaceful king).

      Likewise, a corporation may lawfully (i. e. equitably and honestly) be
      created by an unlawful state where and when no unlawful obligations
      are imposed by the unlawful state upon that corporation. The fact that
      the state is tyrannical does not mean that they are incapable of
      transacting honest business or covenants. If articles of
      incorporation, as required by an unlawful state, do not demand an
      unlawful oath of allegiance, sinful terms of association, or sinfully
      entangle a moral person (such as in the case of a covenanted church,
      in violation of previous lawful covenants, unlawfully entangling
      itself with an unlawful and tyrannical state), then what sin has been
      committed by such an incorporation? There is neither conflict of laws,
      nor any problem relating to the doctrine of impossibility, when the
      agreement between the state and the corporation is inherently lawful
      (according to God's law) as to its specific terms and conditions.
      Clearly, if the terms and conditions of such an incorporation is not
      inherently lawful (i.e. inequitable or dishonest), no moral person
      (whether individual, corporation, church or nation) may enter into
      such an agreement without sin."
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