Posted by: reformedmusings | November 6, 2007

Bad News For Federal Vision

Here’s the Reader’s Digest version: As many in the Presbyterian Church in America know, Central Carolina Presbytery put forward a Memorial on 28 January 2006 concerning Teaching Elder Steve Wilkins’ conformity to the Westminster Standards and his examination by Louisiana Presbytery in July 2005. The Presbytery exonerated Wilkins in that examination. One of the two actions requested in that Memorial was upheld, and after a procedural move by Louisiana Presbytery attempting to head off the examination, the Standing Judicial Commission on 19 October 2006 required Louisiana Presbytery to conduct a formal examination of Wilkins that would be recorded and transcribed.

Louisiana Presbytery submitted a list of questions for Wilkins largely based on the Memorial’s contents, to which Wilkins responded on 8 December 2006. You can read his responses here. The Presbytery examined Wilkins on 9 December 2006, with the audio available here (part way down page). At their meeting on 20 January 2007, Louisiana Presbytery again exonerated Steve Wilkins, with their reasoning posted here.

This time, however, other officers in Louisiana Presbytery filed a formal complaint against the Presbytery’s conclusion. Not surprisingly, the Presbytery denied the complaint on 21 April 2007, which was then properly submitted on 7 May 2007 to the Stated Clerk of the PCA General Assembly, who in turn forwarded it to the Standing Judicial Commission.

So there were two parallel threads at the Standing Judicial Commission. One was the Central Carolina Presbytery Memorial concerning the July 2005 examination of Steve Wilkins by Louisiana Presbytery. The other was the complaint from officers in that Presbytery concerning the Presbytery’s 20 January 2007 decision from the 9 December 2006 examination of Wilkins.

The results of both these actions are now public. As to the Memorial, the SJC found that although Louisiana Presbytery had conducted the December 2006 examination in the manner required by the SJC. However, there was also the consideration as to whether the Presbytery upheld their responsibilities resulting from that examination. Since that was also the subject of the separate complaint, the SJC conclusions on the last point were combined with the complaint.

The SJC found that Louisiana Presbytery erred in two critical ways. First, the Presbytery used a non-constitutional criteria for evaluating TE Wilkins’ conformity to the Standards. Second, the SJC found that TE Wilkins’ testimony clearly differs from the Constitutional Standards. Therefore, there is strong presumption that Louisiana Presbytery did not comply with the Book of Church Order 13-9f to “condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of the Church.” That then puts them squarely into BCO 40-4: “Courts may sometimes entirely neglect to perform their duty, by which neglect heretical opinions or corrupt practices may be allowed to gain ground.”

The final conclusion:

In sum, it is the opinion of the Standing Judicial Commission that Louisiana Presbytery erred in its interpretation of the proper standards and procedures for dealing with TE Wilkins’ expressed differences from The Westminster documents, which, as BCO 29-1 and 39-3 both note are “accepted by the Presbyterian Church in America as standard expositions of the teachings of Scripture in relation to both faith and practice.” Moreover, there is at least a strong presumption that Presbytery erred in failing to condemn the views in question.

Thus the SJC upheld the complaint against Louisiana Presbytery. As a result:

Rather, what is before the SJC is whether Louisiana Presbytery has dealt adequately and constitutionally with those views. The conclusion of case 2007-8 is that there is a reasonable presumption that Presbytery has not so done. We conclude that the best way to address this presumption, to preserve the peace and purity of the Church, to bring closure to this issue within a reasonable time frame, and to give Presbytery the fairest opportunity to vindicate itself by explaining and defending its actions is to follow the procedure of BCO 40-5 and BCO 40-6. It is for this reason that we mandate the amends noted above.


The amends mentioned above reads:

Pursuant to BCO 40-5 the Standing Judicial Commission hereby cites Louisiana Presbytery to appear “to show what it has done or failed to do in the case in question.” To implement this process, RE Samuel J. Duncan is hereby appointed to: a) serve as prosecutor in this matter and conduct the case, which is designated as Case 2007-14; b) select Assistant Prosecutors from members of the General Assembly to assist him with this matter; c) draw an indictment to be served upon Louisiana Presbytery, with the circumstances and specifications therein not being limited to those raised in 2006-02 and 2007-8; d) prepare a citation instructing Louisiana Presbytery to respond, in writing or at a called meeting of the Standing Judicial Commission, to the indictment and to enter its plea to the matters contained therein not later than February 1, 2008. (BCO 40-6, 31-2, 32-3) If Louisiana Presbytery enters a plea of “not guilty,” then Louisiana Presbytery is directed to appear, through its representatives, for trial in this matter before the Standing Judicial Commission on March 5, 2008 (BCO 40-5, 40-6, 31-2, 32-3).

I will post larger sections of the reports as I get time, but I wanted to get the good news out quickly. I have purposely summarized the events and left out names. Those details will be posted when I put up larger sections. I believe that the reports are too long to post in their entirety, but I may try.

Soli Deo Gloria!





  1. […] 6th, 2007 at 10:28 am (Federal Vision, Heresy) Bob Mattes has commented on the decision that the SJC made. I just wish to make a few points here. No longer […]

  2. […] Mattes over at Reformed Musings reports that the SJC of the PCA has found the Louisiana Presbytery was in error when it, twice, […]


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