Confession of Sins: Time to Practice What You Preach, Part III

Senior Pastor David Hall extols the virtues of Westminster divines whose example he doesn’t follow…

The Editorial Board of the Midway Guardian is pleased to present Part III of its “Time to Practice What You Preach” series on pastoral hypocrisy. While not chronological, readers are encouraged to review Part I on “submission” and Part II on “suppressing the truth.

Amidst the phenomenal silence and lack of repentance from Midway Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor David Hall and the Session he controls in the matter of the false charges they brought against their equal, Ruling Elder Philip Dudt – many may find it instructive to remind David Hall of his own words.

In his 2019 publication Divine Character, he profiles the “Westminster divines” (that is – the men who presided at the Westminster Assembly that produced the historic Westminster Confession of Faith). The back cover lauds the “enduring value” of these men’s example that still “inspires us today,” and states that “Surely, their spirituality exceeded that of average pastors and theologians; thus, we should seek to learn from them.”

It seems that David Hall forgot their example in recent times… here’s a reminder of a few key Christian essentials…

Extraordinary Spirituality Worthy of Imitation…

David Hall’s Divine Character is less of a book than it is a collection of lengthy quotes from others. Nonetheless, the Senior Pastor has much to share about the example of the Westminster divines and their opponents. In a section summarizing criticism of the divines, Hall notes that “It is not the case that these divines were spiritual pygmies. It is time to help rehabilitate these saints. Any who slander them without reviewing the record first are guilty of false witness not to mention ignorance. These divines were deeply spiritual; most of us could learn from them.”

The divines are described as men who were engaged “in the protection of their flocks from deadly error.” One might wonder if this would be a more appropriate attitude for David Hall to render toward the 13 ordained officers at his own church who wrote a credible report describing grossly unconstitutional proceedings of the local presbytery. Instead, he currently sits as moderator in the never ending trials of three of the signatories of the report that, in part, exposed his false attestations written in his own hand. Never mind that the credible report has been found worthy of investigation by multiple parties at the General Assembly of the PCA. Yet David Hall quotes men who implied the divines were intolerant and persecuted their opponents. Maybe if he exhibited a little less of a litigious spirit and more tolerant grace, he would imitate the divines he so elevates…

Hall quotes another who asserts “that both the principles and the constitution of a rightly formed Presbyterian Church render the usurpation of power and the exercise of tyranny on its part wholly impossible.” How true this is. The problem is that David Hall is not a Presbyterian. In truth his actions have proven himself to be a power driven man who abuses his spiritual authority to persecute those with whom he disagrees, and manipulates courts to avoid judgment for violations of the church’s constitution he perpetrated. If the local Northwest Georgia Presbytery, to which he is subject, exercised its proper authority under a Presbyterian system – it is true that the tyranny of David Hall and all like him would would be “wholly impossible.”

“…both the principles and the constitution of a rightly formed Presbyterian Church render the usurpation of power and the exercise of tyranny on its part wholly impossible.

The highest court of the PCA ruled 19-0 that David Hall exhibited bias as a moderator of a trial bringing false charges and was unable to determine where the burden of proof rested. This is not the first time the Senior Pastor failed in his pastoral role as moderator. Yet in Divine Character David Hall praises the moderation of the Westminster Assembly because there was no “elaborate” “scheme” or attempts at “staking out absolutist positions on every subject.” David Hall and his Session as a rule take extraordinarily radical, unbiblical, and absolutist positions on submission to their earthly authority. And the highest court of the PCA ruled as such… and yet they continue to use church discipline against those who disagree with them.

Confession of Sins: Worthy of Imitation

The second half of David Hall’s Divine Character explores the spiritual traits of the divines. He cites in particular their “fasting,” “spiritual battle,” “preaching,” “confession of sins,” focus on “family,” “reliance on Scripture,” and “missionary zeal.” Hall notes that the divines saw themselves “as unworthy and consequently wanted it known how much they depended on the grace of God from first to last.

Would that not be the prayer of every church member for their pastor? That they would depend on God’s grace such that in an example of piety and Christlikeness, they would humble themselves and repent when found to be in error? Alas one will find no such leadership in Midway’s pulpit. The highest court of the PCA issued a total rebuke of David Hall and his Session’s attempt to crush Ruling Elder Philip Dudt. No apologies yet…

How can a congregation trust a man to bring them the Word of God faithfully from the pulpit if he himself could not discern right from wrong using Scripture in a serious matter of church discipline? How much less should that same congregation trust a man who cannot admit wrongdoing when shown overwhelmingly to have erred? David Hall’s stubborn refusal to apologize damages the witness and credibility of the church at large as non-believers would be right to scoff the hypocrisy on display.

Consider the hypocrisy of a pastor who praises the divines for their willingness to confess sin saying “these divines were not afraid to confess their sins… Charles Herle was not afraid to admit the sins of the Assembly publicly and arranged a list of offenses of the Assembly in order to expedite confession.

The Editorial Board of the Midway Guardian wants to know what David Hall is waiting for. Is he “afraid to admit the sins of the Assembly” he rules and led in the sinful use of church discipline against Ruling Elder Dudt? What is needed to “expedite” their confession? As David Hall himself writes in “Divine Character” “sophisticated spirituality is bravery.” Will David Hall exhibit the “bravery” of the divines he reveres and LEAD in the CONFESSION OF SINS?