What God Has Not Forbidden, Midway’s Session Has Forbidden

Midway’s Session betrays its Reformed heritage by charging its own for “offenses” not found in Scripture…

In 1935, The Presbyterian Constitutional Covenant Union, which formed in opposition to the corruption and error that was rising within the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., published the reprinted statement below. In part, this was in response to a modernist thinking and dangerous policies that were described later as a:

“…policy of exclusion from the ministry of all who will not support the propaganda of the Modernist boards and agencies now functioning in the church and will not promise, for the future, a blanket allegiance to human programs as shifting majorities in future General Assemblies may set them up.”

The Changing Scene and the Unchanging World: Rev. Gresham Machen – PCA Historical Center – www.pcahistory.org/documents/changingscene.html

Midway Presbyterian Church members may find the concept of “blanket allegiance” to church leadership quite familiar. They may also identify with a “policy of exclusion” as the church leadership is actively purging its own Session. Is it not on the back of the sharply criticized, unconstitutional, and conscience binding motion passed by Senior Pastor David Hall and his Session that threatened discipline on those holding opposing viewpoints to their manmade proclamations that no less than four Ruling Elders elected by their congregation have been charged and suspended in recent days? The Session’s need to parade its authority through indictments and coerced secret trails that may last months at Midway Presbyterian Church is akin to setting a wicker basket alight. The flames of division rooted in a lack of purity and peace promoted from the top will surely be apparent in the days to come.

The Session’s manmade motion that demands men surrender their conscience to the majority is contrary to the Scripture and the Westminster Standards by which the church is governed. If the majority of men on a Session can dictate the behavior and suppress the opinions of other men that are contrary to their own simply because they declare it so — then total tyranny over the mind, body, and spirit has arrived at Midway in the same style of the Roman church that the Protestant Reformers broke from hundreds of years ago. Under such circumstances, what couldn’t the men of the Session ask of you while holding the all the too real sword of church discipline at your neck?

The issues were the same in 1935 that Midway faces in 2021. Men on Midway’s Session with limited power created offenses apart from Scripture and have weaponized them against their opponents. Reflect on the statement below made by the Presbyterian Constitutional Covenant Union. Know that it is from the same Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A that the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) was birthed. Midway Presbyterian Church was at the heart of the PCA’s founding. As a local church, it now finds itself parallel with the corruption of churches past by creating offenses that are not offenses proven by Scripture, but offenses created by and defined by men. 

It is not hyperbole. Midway’s alignment with the heritage of the Protestant Reformation and the Biblical principles that drove it is in sincere question when the standard of an offense is no longer the Word of God, but the word of men on a Session. Magnifying the word of man over the word of God is a serious sin.

Will members of Midway stand back and allow the word of man emanating from the Session be held in higher regard than the words of Christ? It is after all in His name that David Hall and the Session of Midway Presbyterian have charged their brothers falsely. It should be in a spirit of great hesitancy than any men punctuate their earthly church indictments as associated with “the honor and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ, as King and Head thereof.” 

“The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.”

The Presbyterian Constitutional Covenant Union, 1935

Protestant Christianity is based squarely upon the belief that God has spoken in His Word, that this Word is infallible, that its authority is final. Protestantism began as a revolt against what the Reformers believed to be the word of man exalted as equal to or above the Word of God: namely the decrees of the Church of Rome. True Protestantism has always been sincerely and passionately jealous not only for the truth of God's Word, but for its final, supreme authority as well. To the Protestant, the word of man is to the Word of God less than a guttering candle to the noonday sun.

Every so often our corrupt human nature breaks forth in some attempt to magnify the word of man. This is one of the most insidious and steady temptations of those who are entrusted with limited authority and power. Now what has happened in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.? Officially, by its constitution, the Church is committed to holding the Bible to be "the only infallible rule of faith and practice," utterly supreme over the word of man. This is true, it will be noted, not only of "faith," but also of "practice," that is, not only of doctrine, but also of administration. But the last two General Assemblies, under the persuasive influence of a small group of leaders' have declared membership on The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions to be an offense. Now, the Word of God does not make such membership an offense. The last two Assemblies have put their own command in the place' of 'God's. What God has not forbidden, they have forbidden. They have thus attempted to make the word of man (their word) equal to the Word of God, trampling upon the Bible, the Confession of Faith and the whole Protestant heritage of the Church. It is the principle of Romanism asserted over again, only without Rome's intellectual power or imposing tradition.

Those who today take the side of the word of man who attempt to make that word equal to the command of God, or who acquiesce in that attempt are fighting against God. No matter how "orthodox" a man may think he is, no matter how earnestly and sincerely he declares his belief in the Virgin Birth, the Substitutionary Atonement or any of a hundred Christian doctrines, if he stops there, he has missed the main point. If he is willing to put the command of men on an equality with that of God, and make disobedience to human orders an offense, he has repudiated the whole reformation and the Bible as well. He is even farther from orthodoxy than one who would reject some such important individual doctrine as the Virgin Birth, for he has rejected the supreme authority of the source of all doctrine, thus casting a cloud over all.

This is what the last two Assemblies, urged on by a handful of key men, have actually done. It was no doubt done without much or any understanding of the betrayal of the Bible involved. Nevertheless, it has been done. The juggernaut is in gear. The very ignorance of its deadliness by those who helped to do it makes the action all the more tragic.

What will a free people do about this? To acquiesce is to approve. If the word of man prevails, it will not be merely the members of the Independent Board who have been thrust out of the Church. The authority of the Word of God, despite all protestations to the contrary, will have been expelled along with them. Christ Himself will thus have been thrust out as the Church's only Head and King. That is why the situation is so much graver than if it involved merely the persons of the few individuals now being subjected to discipline. Is the Church ready to do this? If it is, let it count the fearful cost. There will be a machine "victory" - but will it be a victory that a Christian Church can afford to win?

It has been an axiom of Presbyterianism from the days of John Knox that those who resist such usurpations of power fight not against the Church, but for it and for its Christ. On which side are you?