Is someone playing the victim to circumstances they created?
In a Sunday morning message titled “After Conversion, What?”, Midway Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor David Hall reflected briefly on his own conversion in the context of the Apostle Paul’s miraculous conversion. He attempted to relate to a newly converted Paul who had to contend with the trust issues early Christians had, knowing him as a recent persecutor of the early church. This was after all, the great persecutor, the man who had cloaks laid at his feet during Stephen’s stoning. Referring to the early church’s suspicions of Paul, Hall warned that after conversion Christians will face opposition even from within the church. He said of himself:
“…how it hurts when a fellow Christian lets us down, or does not support the work of God in our lives. Have you ever been let down by Christians, perhaps even opposed? Most have. I can recall occasions in which I genuinely sought to help a group of Christians by sharing and leading as God’s Word said and then to have your home team oppose you the way unbelievers would is very disappointing.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVChxgKwPzE 1:00:26- Senior Pastor David Hall
Readers may wonder what occasion this was. Members at Midway Presbyterian Church might not find it a stretch to consider that he was referring to the 3 Ruling Elders recently charged by the Session. In a letter dated October 19, 2021, arriving just days prior to this sermon, church members were informed (among other things) that:
“After more than 7 months of prayer and work on this matter, the Session has begun disciplinary proceedings based on an action in which 3 current Session members participated… While in principle, we do not object to Session members filing requests for orderly review, the content of their request made bold allegations against our Presbytery and our Session’s representatives to Presbytery, which allegations are to be investigated during the upcoming judicial process. Your Session has sought to call our 3 brothers back from their involvement in the way this petition was handled which in effect took Session business outside the Session…”Midway Presbyterian Church Session communication October 19, 2021
The “petition” referred to is the BCO 40-5 matter that Ruling Elders Scott, David, and Barnett signed alleging procedural missteps at the local presbytery. The “Session business” referred to were allegedly “important delinquencies and grossly unconstitutional proceedings of the Northwest Georgia Presbytery.” It is everyone’s business if Sessions or church courts misbehave.
It is very difficult to separate the “home team” terminology used several times in David Hall’s “After Conversion, What?” sermon as anything less than a reference to the fellow elders he and the majority of his Session are actively persecuting for exercising their right to file a credible report within the courts of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). But what was the “help” provided? What was the “leading” according to God’s Word? Perhaps it took the form of demanding men abandon conscience and repent for that which is not a sin but exposed wrongdoing.
Anyone can read the 40-5 credible report and see why David Hall in particular might view it as opposition to him given he is the moderator referred to when the credible report states “The Credentials Committee erred in not confirming “that the persons who signed the foregoing call were authorized to do so by a vote of the congregation.” Had they attempted to do so, they would have discovered that the commissioners were not actually appointed by the congregation, despite the moderator’s attestation that they were, in violation of BCO 20-6. The unconstitutionality of the proceedings would have become apparent.” (emphasis added).
Facts are Stubborn Things
Is it a fair comparison to say that filing a report requesting an investigation of actions that appear grossly unconstitutional and downright dishonest equates to the “home team” opposing “you the way unbelievers would”? It might be more fairly called accountability, and desiring it in one’s life is a sign of a mature Christian. American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once remarked “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” Simple but applicable words since the credible report persecutes no man, but alleges missteps worthy of investigation. Calling out a provably false attestation as false certainly would constitute a contradiction according to Emerson.
The credible report clearly alleges that a false attestation took place. The moderator (David Hall in this case) attested that commissioners were appointed by the congregation when they were not. This should be a simple statement to disprove if it is not true. A dictionary defines “attest” as “to bear witness to; certify; declare to be correct, true, or genuine; declare the truth of, in words or writing, especially affirm in an official capacity“.
Either David Hall did this or he did not. Hardly a bold statement or allegation as couched by the Session. It would seem in one sense that David Hall and the majority of his Session are upset that they were exposed for participating in “important delinquencies and grossly unconstitutional proceedings of the Northwest Georgia Presbytery“. So now they must persecute and then prosecute. Now they are seeking to make 3 Ruling Elders pay for it rather than waiting on the courts as prudence and any effort to strive for church peace would dictate. If the allegation of a false attestation was a lie, why would not the Session either provide evidence to the contrary publicly or at least stand back and let the highest court of the PCA smack down the false claim unless it were true?
The Midway Guardian has documented in the past how it is apparent that fear drives David Hall and his Session. The British novelist Phyllis Bottome once wrote “All persecution is a sign of fear; for if we did not fear the power of an opinion different from our own, we should not mind others holding it.” The Session has already made very clear that differing opinions are not allowed, threatening discipline on dissenting church officers as a matter of policy.
Although a secularist, Chapman Cohen once wisely observed that “Persecution is the compliment paid by a threatened lie to a conquering truth.” Is an investigation of the 40-5 credible report about to result in the truth conquering lies? Is this why David Hall and his Session are prejudicially racing to persecute their opposition and dispose of them in secret trials? The world will know the truth soon enough.
One thing is for certain: David Hall and respondents from Midway’s Session caused this entire circumstance by intervening in a proceeding of the higher court when they had no right to do so. No amount of spin in church wide letters or donning the ecclesiastical pallium of victimhood will change that fact.