SJC Panel Ruling Exposes Midway Session Incompetence – or is it Dishonesty?

The SJC Panel couldn’t be clearer. Charges against RE Phil Dudt were FALSE CHARGES brought in the name of Jesus Christ…

The SJC Panel assigned to RE Phil Dudt’s appeal sustained 14 alleged errors by the Midway Session, and another 8 by the Northwest Georgia Presbytery. That an astonishing number. The Editorial Board at The Midway Guardian cannot find any appeal in the history of the PCA that comes close to that many material errors in one case.   

Readers should know that an appellant only needs one alleged error to be sustained for an acquittal – The SJC Panel determined RE Phil Dudt got 22!

The Session would like us to believe this is a simple disagreement, but it is much more than that as others have exposed how the Session schemed to remove RE Phil Dudt from office.

Decision Details – Hard Words for the Session

The SJC Panel stated “The specifications of error sustained, taken together, demonstrate clear error on the part of the lower courts with respect to factual findings and matters of discretion and judgment, as well as violations of the Constitution of the PCA.”   Not only did the Session violate the Constitution of our Church, but they use bad judgment, poor discretion, and could not even get the facts straight!

RE Dudt was convicted of violating the Ninth Commandant; however, the SJC Judicial Panel stated the record “does not show evidence for the allegation that there were false statements in the Appellant’s July 12 email.”

RE Dudt was convicted of violating the express will of the Session, but the SJC Panel stated that the record “did not provide any evidence of such an express will.”

RE Dudt was convicted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, but the SJC Panel stated “Regardless of the means employed to express its will, Session has no right to make that will a rule requiring obedience from a Session member that is not based upon Scripture.” 

The SJC Panel went on to say, “Preliminary Principle 7 declares: ‘All church power, whether exercised by the body in general, or by representation, is only ministerial and declarative since the Holy Scriptures are the only rule of faith and practice. No church judicatory may make laws to bind the conscience’. The Session had a right to refuse to distribute the SJC decision in question. The Session had no right to forbid RE Dudt from doing so, the 5th ordination vow notwithstanding. The promise to be in ‘subjection to your brethren’ is always qualified and limited by ‘in the Lord’. As the Larger Catechism instructs us, we owe authorities over us “obedience to their lawful commands and counsels”. 

The members of Midway Presbyterian Church have both the authority to elect and terminate their leaders.  These questions must be answered:

  • Is the Midway Session incompetent?   
  • Did the signers of the indictment not understand the difference between truth and falsehood? 
  • Did the signers of the indictment take the Lord Jesus Christ’ name in vain to bring false charges?
  • Did the signers not know the definition of “express”?
  • Were these charges in retaliation for an e-mail?
  • Did the signers of the indictment lie?
  • Is it plausible that the Midway Session and the Northwest Georgia Presbytery do not even understand the basic Biblical principle that all offenses must come from Scripture and not man? 

Whether the Session is Biblically incompetent or was willing to make an indictment full of falsehoods in their anger to retaliate against a fellow Ruling Elder for sending a constitutionally permitted email is a matter that must be settled by the congregation. 

Either way, the elders responsible for this travesty should resign immediately – else the congregation should remove them. Readers are reminded that there are currently three other Ruling Elders under judicial process by this same Midway Session. Since those trials are taking place in secret, does anyone doubt that the errors in that process are not just as egregious, if not worse, than those the SJC Panel just exposed regarding RE Dudt?

The truth has been finally exposed about the false charges brought against RE Dudt, and now it is time for accountability for those who have misused church discipline and so divided the people of God at Midway Presbyterian Church.