Christopher Witmer has registered a protest on Vision 20/20 to this post on your blog about the circumstances surrounding COTK’s departure from the CREC. Unfortunately, Mr. Witmer gives no evidence that he actually read COTK’s announcement, but his ignorance furnishes another opportunity to consider the ramifications of COTK’s statement, which is good.
First, in response to Mr. Witmer’s allegations, let me note that he predicates his understanding on a mysterious email that he refuses to produce. He writes:
I am in possession of an email addressed to me by an elder of the Church of the King (COTK) which seems to clearly contradict some of the key claims made in Mr. Metzler’s post referred to above. I am not going to quote the email here at any length, but I am prepared to stand by what I state here. Any plain, straightforward, common-sense reading of the email I received makes it impossible to accept at face value the assertions made in Mr. Metzler’s post.
Therefore, I refer Mr. Witmer to this post that quotes extensively from an email exchange with a COTK elder. Between it and COTK’s original announcement, you will see that all of Mr. Witmer’s claims are demonstrably false.
In the following text, I placed Mr. Witmer’s claims next to direct quotations from COTK so that everyone judge for himself or herself. I double indented Mr. Witmer’s words in red; COTK’s once in blue. And again, the colored texts are verbatim quotations:
First, contrary to the assertion of Mr. Metzler’s post, my correspondent stated that personal disagreements had “zilch” and “zero” bearing on anything regarding COTK’s exit from the CREC.
At one point Rev. Wilson communicated to us that the main issue of this entire dispute was his personal differences with one of our elders, P. Andrew Sandlin.Second . . . it stands to reason that short of Doug Wilson explicitly stating his motives for what he does, any conjecture as to what motivates him must be necessarily just that — conjecture — and nothing more.
Rev. Wilson communicated to us that the main issue of this entire dispute was his personal differences with one of our elders, P. Andrew Sandlin. . . Nevertheless, when Rev. Sandlin repeatedly offered to meet Rev. Wilson privately to address any differences these highly visible men might have, Rev. Wilson declined each offer.Apparently there were some people in COTK who wanted to start a separate church and apparently Doug Wilson supported them in that. Rather than charitably cutting people some slack concerning things about which he is ignorant, Metzler’s unnamed correspondent leaps to the conclusion that Wilson sowed discord with the conscious intention of splitting COTK, all as part of a personal vendetta against COTK’s leadership. But this view is not supported by the communication from my COTK correspondent.
A group of disgruntled COTK-SC members — as well as non-members — contacted Anselm (Western) presbytery moderator, Rev. Douglas Wilson, with their concerns. He advised them to work with us local elders to resolve their issues. At the same time, however, he continued working with these dissidents behind the scenes, leading them to understand him to be in agreement with their negative assessment of the COTK leadership, thereby validating their negative assessment. . . Rev. Wilson pressed the COTK elders to support the disgruntled group in forming a new CREC church, and he irresponsibly assisted that group in plotting a course to accomplish this goal. He unilaterally contacted another CREC minister to solicit his assistance in starting this church. . . despite the fact that we had implored Rev. Wilson not to go over our heads as the duly chosen leaders of the local flock. Rev. Wilson disregarded nearly every one of our pleas. . . . Throughout this ordeal, Rev. Wilson repeatedly dismissed our concerns. . . . Again and again we asked Rev. Wilson to notify us whenever individuals from the disgruntled group contacted him, but he consistently ignored our pleas. On several occasions he portrayed the COTK elders negatively before this group, even while we were seeking to work responsibly with them. When we implored Rev. Wilson to stop his undermining our pastoral efforts with this group, he persistently ignored our requests and continued to do so behind our backs. The desires of our local leadership were of little evident interest to him, in that he ignored us so completely. . . . As it stands now, Rev. Wilson has determined to start a congregation from a church split, a split that his actions repeatedly encouraged. . . This is the same split-group congregation that Rev. Wilson has all along insisted we agree with him in recognizing, and he has finally gotten his way in starting it as a CREC church. The end was visible from the beginning.Third, despite Mr. Metzler’s constant reference to Doug Wilson’s “tyranny,” my correspondent stated flatly that “tyrannical leadership” was never experienced by anyone involved in any way, shape or form.
The CREC constitution forbids that the moderator may exercise judicial authority. . . The CREC constitution specifies a limited, narrow scope to the moderator’s duties and authority, and the CREC has operated according to this constitutional standard until the latest unfortunate events involving Church of the King. A CREC moderator is already now operating as just such a “bishop,” but in so doing, he is acting contrary to the CREC constitution. . . . We had implored Rev. Wilson not to go over our heads as the duly chosen leaders of the local flock. Rev. Wilson disregarded nearly every one of our pleas. . . . Throughout this ordeal, Rev. Wilson repeatedly dismissed our concerns. . . . By his actions, however, Rev. Wilson shifted much of this constitutional authority to his own office as moderator — without specific constitutional warrant, and in conflict with specific constitutional warrant. Throughout our protracted exchanges, Rev. Wilson did not adhere to courtesies and Christian ethics common among church leaders. . . . Our church has been damaged by the actions of Rev. Wilson. . . . Our responsibility is to the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made us overseers (Ac. 20:28), and this awesome obligation dictates our severance from an organization that sanctions injury to that flock and its duly chosen leadership.Fourth, the assertion that CREC leaders acted contrary to their lawful authority and in violation of every principle of justice taught in scripture is, to put it midly, a real stretch. . . What we are talking about here, from the perspective of my correspondent at least, is largely a procedural error.
It has become clear that one or more leaders in the CREC have fundamentally redefined the organization’s authority from what is expressed in its constitution, without the due process of discussion and/or vote by its member churches. . . . By his actions, however, Rev. Wilson shifted much of this constitutional authority to his own office as moderator — without specific constitutional warrant, and in conflict with specific constitutional warrant. Throughout our protracted exchanges, Rev. Wilson did not adhere to courtesies and Christian ethics common among church leaders. . . . By these actions it has now become apparent that the CREC, in conflict with its constitution, has become functionally Episcopal, coalescing around the office of the moderator as the denominational bishops vested with sweeping judicial and prelatical authority. . . . The chief issue is the CREC leadership’s disregard for their own constitution. We cannot remain in an organization that acts so radically at variance with its own constituting documents. . . the CREC leadership is guilty of dishonest subscription to its own constitution. Our responsibility is to the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made us overseers (Ac. 20:28), and this awesome obligation dictates our severance from an organization that sanctions injury to that flock and its duly chosen leadership. . . . We pray that this present statement will be helpful for responsible governance for those remaining within the CREC.Fifth, given the slimy way these so-called “facts” have been formulated and presented, it is little wonder that no CREC official has denied them.
The Anselm presbytery has at this late date retroactively sanctioned his injurious actions.No doubt Mr. Metzler and his unnamed correspondent will protest that they are only motivated by an overriding love for the truth.
Exactly because this “contra-constitutional” activity “could cause others to suffer,” we chose to publish what we did, in the interest in putting before those “others” the information they would need to be fully and responsibly informed, for their own future protection and choices. That WAS our intention, to seek to “protect the whole flock.”
Michael, COTK’s statement is an exceptionally well-written document that leaves no wiggle room for anyone to misconstrue its meaning. The CREC can only affirm it or deny it. They chose to ignore it and hope it goes away. This probably accounts for Mr. Witmer’s state of confusion. You can see that every one of his claims is false and he shows no evidence of actually examining the record. Here we are at the five-week mark after the announcement, and poor Mr. Witmer is still in denial. One more witness has stood up and joined the swelling ranks of those bearing witness against Pastor Douglas Wilson after he wronged them using the same duplicitous measures he deployed against so many others in the past, and Mr. Witmer has not the wherewithal to process it. He’s like a sheep without a shepherd.
I suggest that Mr. Witmer reflect upon the Rev. Wilson’s shameful behavior in light of Hebrews 13:7, which says, “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” Mr. Witmer should contemplate “the outcome” of Pastor Wilson’s conduct because it leads to death. It is a treacherous way full of snake pits and bear traps, strategically placed by the Rev. Wilson just in case he needs a lamb, a pastor, or a church to disappear. And someday Mr. Witmer may find himself face to face with a viper or impaled on a spike, just like the COTK elders, but because of their warning he will have no excuse.