It’s okay when the Session does it, but not when others do it.
“We say, as we hear the slogan, ‘all truth is God’s truth’, and that means almost anything goes, but the flip side of that is that all error is the devil’s error…”Senior Pastor David Hall, March 20, 2022, https://youtu.be/frJ5Rsd1Wbk?t=3665
If this is so, then the devil’s error was all over the Session’s conviction of RE Dudt without evidence, by assigning motive, and on the back of the so-called “Talley Resolution” that an SJC Panel struck down. Readers may be struck by the double standard that currently abounds at Midway Presbyterian Church. The noble virtues of the Bereans are celebrated from the pulpit, but meanwhile anyone who searched out the Scriptural basis of David Hall and his Session’s charges against REs Dudt, David, Scott, and Barnett are dismissed with zealous fervor. One could conclude that members are only supposed to search the Scriptures for themselves so long as their study doesn’t conclude that the Session or Pastoral Staff were in error – or as it has been put: “the devil’s error?”
The Session would have the world believe that the ongoing judicial process against REs David, Scott, and Barnett have no resemblance to those of RE Dudt, who now in the opinion of an SJC Panel stands exonerated of false charges. Is not the foundation of church discipline applied to these men all resting on the divisive Talley Resolution which demanded conformity or punishment among the church officers?
A Constitution of Convenience
Every Ruling Elder charged by the Session has been told that their actions were “divisive”. RE Dudt’s indictment alleged that an email written with temperate language and only containing true statements was “divisive”. REs David, Scott, and Barnett have been told that their participation in a credible report “fostered division among men“. Some may recall prior to their indictments, the Session penned a bombastic and blithering resolution calling them to repentance and expressing “deep concern for their spiritual condition” of these Ruling Elders. The Session went on to declare that the credible report, that was found in order and credible by the Stated Clerk’s Office of the PCA, the Standing Judicial Commission of the PCA, and is currently being investigated by the PCA’s Review of Presbytery Records Committee, was “deeply flawed,” “ill-informed,” “contained both misleading impressions and inaccurate claims,” and was “disturbing.”
One might wonder if the content of the report is more or less disturbing than the Session’s own “deeply flawed,” “ill-informed,” “misleading impressions,” and “inaccurate claims” in their recent congregation wide communications… or in light of the SJC Panel decision exonerating RE Dudt, perhaps the descriptors “deeply flawed,” “ill-informed,” “misleading impressions,” and full of “inaccurate claims” may better describe the Session’s unbiblical conviction with no evidence, Clerk Marc Harrington’s evidence tampering, or the malicious motive assigned to RE Dudt…
Senior Pastor David Hall and his Session’s words and deeds have spoken loud and clear… there are constitutional provisions that allow for various actions they have taken to defend themselves in the church courts, but nobody else should be allowed to exercise these provisions. Does David Hall and the Midway Session believe the church has a Constitution of Convenience?
Recall that the pastors at Midway supported and defended the Session in their booting of Deacon Dan Crouse from the diaconate for filing a complaint stating that by doing so he was not “in submission” to the Session.
Also recall that notably, Midway Pastors Hall, Harrington, and Barry filed an objection against the Northwest Georgia Presbytery arguing their position in the Michelson complaint, which it seems they felt they might lose. This objection, while being a constitutionally allowable action, was not met with any demands for repentance (let alone indictments) in contrast to REs David, Scott, and Barnett’s participation in a credible report (also an allowable constitutional provision). If Pastors Hall, Harrington, and Barry preach submission and endorse the Talley Resolution on officer vows which specifies that they should resign before disagreeing with their brethren – why didn’t these pastors resign prior to filing their objection?
Midway’s Session has declared that the Northwest Georgia Presbytery will be requesting a rehearing before the entire SJC on RE Dudt’s appeal. While this is a right afforded the presbytery and not to the Session, it is widely believed that what David Hall wants at presbytery he shall have, so a rehearing request is likely to be made. This too is a constitutionally permissible provision. One should wonder if David Hall, who objects to RE Dudt’s exoneration, will remind the presbyters to resign their office first before disagreeing with their brethren on the SJC by requesting a rehearing. After all, this is what the Talley Resolution on officer vows stipulates…
Perhaps readers see the absolute absurdity of the Talley Resolution. Certainly the SJC Panel hearing RE Dudt’s appeal did since they referred to it as something that needlessly causes division in the church. As others have asked “If it is unlawful for a Session to prosecute an officer for sending an email to a congregation, how is it lawful for a Session to prosecute an officer for sending a letter to the Stated Clerk of the PCA?“
Clearly provisions of the constitution of the church are good and should be used when it benefits Senior Pastor David Hall and his Session’s agenda, but their use is “divisive” and worthy of discipline for lack of submission when others use similar provisions to seek redress or clarification from higher courts concerning their behavior at Midway.
Can anyone dispute that this pervasive double standard applied liberally by the Session at Midway Presbyterian Church is doing exactly what the SJC Panel said the Talley Resolution would do – needlessly divide the church?