The Charitable Inquiry: Product of the study group of concerned Covenanters
I have attempted to upload the Charitable Inquiry onto the files section of the forum. I did this because much of what has now transpired regarding the elders of the "RPNA(GM)" and their acts of "excommunications" is a public matter, however the Charitable Inquiry (CI) was written BEFORE anyone of us was excommunicated, but published after the brethren of Prince George, Bob S. of WA, and Tony M of NY (who had nothing at all to do with the CI) were excommunicated. Now, because there has been at least one publicly posting here that some "secret conspiracy" sought to oust the elders of the "RPNA(GM)" and all of that jazz, let the reader determine for himself the end product of these so-called secret meetings, namely the CI.
1st let the reader keep these facts of the time line in mind, let me say however that it is a very brief summary and I may leave some stuff out for brevity's sake (see B. Suden's sit for details):
I. In Jan. 06 the elders called for the members and adherents of the RPNA to fast and pray that the Lord would give the elders wisdom as they sought to reconstruct the present governmental structure of the church, since the elders admitted weakness and the inability to perform their duties as elders in an adequate and effective way. In that call was a duty to confess our sins as a church as well during our time of fast and prayers.
II. Brethren in Prince George asked the elders what public sins, specifically, should we confess to the Lord during this time and also asked about a few other things for better clarification of how to conduct a proper and God honoring fast.
III. The elders did not respond, but a self-appointed proxy elder (layman IOW) did so and unleashed a barrage of insinuating comments and basically scolded the brethren of Prince George for daring to ask such questions. This lead to a conflagration of e-mails within the RPNA that became very harsh and such. This proxy elder wanted signed affidavits from Prince George and Bob S that they did in fact acknowledge the elder's authority. It wasn't until TE Price stepped in to call everyone to calm down and stop posting. It was really bad and now it was becoming evident to some that there were bigger problems going on.
IV. In the summer of 06 more issues arose in Albany, NY that caused many of us to question the manner in which the "court" was handling affairs. Other issues also occurred that began to make more of us uncomfortable of where things were going.
V. After a secret meeting in CO. between a RE and two laymen, including the one mentioned in III, a series of analogies were unleashed, without warning, in the church's private e-group forum. Basically it dealt with a conspiracy of some within the church trying to off the elders, "euthanize" was the word being used. This unleashed a more intense debate and heated arguments, it was very ugly. The elders were silent and did nothing to stop it until much later. Around this time the Position Paper on Sessional Authority was published by the Elders.
VI. This Position Paper on Sessional Authority (PPSA) was an atrocity of a paper. Theological inept and devoid of serious thought and use of received and recognized Standards.
VII. To even try and engage this within our own church publicly may have turned into a figurative bloodbath given the preceding events of the year. Any open questioning would surely have resulted in a much worse situation.
VIII. Some of us that better grasped the situation and shared common concerns over the direction of our church, the rational of the elder's PPSA, and the fading unity of our church. Knowing that a public dialogue would be counter productive we decided to study and discuss the issues privately and we set to undertake this with the view of producing a paper that asked questions of the elders. These questions would be arrived at after careful study of our Standards, Historical Testimony, and Historical Examples laid down by our Covenanted fore-fathers. The goal was to better establish the footing of our church, help the elders to formulate a more cogent paper on Presbyterial Church Government in a broken state of the church, and to help us move forward as a church. We maturely deliberated, met on a weekly basis, read, read, read, and wrote, wrote, and wrote. Right before we were going to publish the First installment of our CI, Prince George and Bob S. were served an Oath in which they were told that they were being charged with sins.
IX. After they were excommunicated, we of the study group, debated whether to keep their names on the CI at the time of publication or not. We knew that if we kept their names that it may cause a stumbling block, but having some fore-thought part of our decision was that once our study group was known, it would also be known that they participated and co-authored the CI and having not disclosed that would have given an appearance of evil at the very least. Besides why hide the fact that they were co-authors of the CI, especially when it was written while they were still members of the church in good standing???
The Elders have never attempted to reclaim my family and I. They have never proved us in sin or sought to correct our ways. What they have done is preached to the choir. They have presented their arguments to those that remain within the "RPNA(GM)", but not to us. Some of us receive it from others from within the "RPNA(GM)".
The recent "expose" on the dastardly study group is laughable. I for one am glad they did as it shows that we actually wanted to reform from within and do so in a more peaceable way given the then climate of the church. Their primary source by the way is one who tends to flip flop about many things...one day he is convinced the Elders are right, another day that they are wrong and acting tryannically. That source also left out many other things that he and another brother did that promoted outright schism from within the "RPNA(GM)" and even we in the Effort told them both that their actions were wrong...but then again why include that after all we are the bad guys...however be careful of your sources they may not be what you think.
There is a term used in Special Ops: Blowback
I believe the Elders have encountered that set of events since their actions of last Fall.