Posted by: reformedmusings | November 11, 2007

Friendly Advice for Lousiana Presbytery

Update: Because this post has been grossly misrepresented and flat out misquoted by some rabid Federal Vision proponents, I have reluctantly included some additional information. They are enclosed in [brackets] to distinguish them from the original text. I apologize that these additions make the post flow less smoothly and make it harder to follow. I’m used to working in an environment where men are held accountable for their words and actions. I continue to learn that such is not the case on the blogosphere or in some denominations.

Years ago, I inherited a problem airman who had been convicted of a heinous offense in civilian criminal court off the base. He worked a deal where he could do his jail time on the weekends while he served in the Air Force during the week. I wanted to discharge him from the Air Force for the good of the force and to send him to jail full-time, but that process delayed due to the unavailability of his chosen military defense counsel. In the ensuing months, he accumulated disciplinary actions like a gambler accumulates debts.

At one point, I finally had him on a court-marital offense that he could not duck. The only problem was that someone had provided an alibi that contradicted all the facts that we had accumulated. I called the alibier’s first sergeant (the leader who cares and feeds the enlisted folks in units), who told me that the individual was one of his best young troops. [Although the outcome of the potential court-martial was not in doubt given the factual evidence, I had to choose whether to let the alibier perjure himself and then be charged with career ending offenses, or to show him mercy in giving him a second chance. After weighing these choice and the first sergeant’s assessment, I decided that mercy was the correct option and set up a teachable moment. At my request with the concurrence of the young airman’s commander and the Staff Judge Advocate staff (the prosecutors),] the first sergeant readily agreed to bring the young man over for a dose of reality. In the military, it is very unusual for a young airman to meet with a commander, especially of a different unit, unless they really did something notably good or bad, so the meeting alone would create helpful tension.

The young airman formally reported in full military manner, with his first sergeant taking a seat quietly in the corner. While the young man stood at attention, I read him his rights to add further gravitas to the session. I then told him that I had some serious questions about his statement and went down that statement point by point, looking up at the young man after each and asking if each statement was true. At each point, the young man repudiated his previous statement. When I got to the end, I looked over the top of the letter at the airman and asked if he’d like to withdraw the statement. He readily agreed, and with great relief.

I could tell that the first sergeant was right, that this young man was a good fellow who just made an unfortunate error and needed a lesson in choosing his friends. I told him that he was obviously a sharp airman with a bright future. I said that loyalty was a noble and necessary trait, but that one should be careful not to be loyal to the wrong people. As far as I know, the young airman went on to a long, successful career [with a newfound appreciation for telling the truth even when people who you think are your friends ask you to lie. Such people obviously aren’t your friends]. OTOH, my problem child ran from the Air Force directly to a civilian jail faster than I could say “court martial.”

[I use this instance in the manner of an Aesop Fable to get to a moral of the story.] The lesson should be obvious to the officers of Louisiana Presbytery. Their loyalty to teaching elder Steve Wilkins’ with his aberrant Federal Vision theology has caused the Presbytery to violate the straight-forward processes in the Book of Church Order that govern us all in the PCA and keeps us mutually accountable. They presumably did so to protect Wilkins and try to sweep his aberrant views under the rug. It didn’t work, and now the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission has indicted the Presbytery for the liberties it has taken with the BCO in light of Wilkins’ clear theological errors.

The SJC has given Louisiana Presbytery the opportunity to plead guilty by February and fix its errors. That would certainly cause the least additional disturbance to the peace of the denomination. The alternative would be for Louisiana Presbytery to try to defend the indefensible and stand by Wilkins and his aberrant Federal Vision theology, which has already been rejected by the PCA almost unanimously.

By being loyal to the wrong people, Louisiana Presbytery will undoubtedly further harm and disturb the peace and purity of the church. As with the young airman years ago, Louisiana Presbytery needs to learn not to be loyal to the wrong people.

That’s a lesson worth learning-then and now.



  1. […] Advice for Lousiana Presbytery Friendly Advice for Lousiana Presbytery Reformed Musings __________________ Chris Coldwell Lakewood Presbyterian Church (PCA), Member Naphtali Press: […]

  2. […] wrote a piece providing some sage advice for the members of the Louisiana Presbytery that if any were going along just to get along, now was […]

  3. […] speaks for itself, and vindicates my post here about objectivity and […]


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