Wednesday, June 24, 2015

24 June 2015

“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]

Presbyterians Week Headlines


A 22 June 2015 Zionica article titled “Billy Graham’s Grandson Steps down from Florida Megachurch after Admitting an Affair” reports that Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) pastor Tullian Tchividjian has stepped down following his admission to an adulterous affair.

Tchividjian released the following statement to The Washington Post:

“I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues. As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. Last week I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign. Both my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions and we ask you to pray for us and our family that God would give us the grace we need to weather this heart wrenching storm. We are amazingly grateful for the team of men and women who are committed to walking this difficult path with us. Please pray for the healing of deep wounds and we kindly ask that you respect our privacy.”

Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church released the following Official Statement from Coral Ridge Leadership:

“Several days ago, Pastor Tullian admitted to moral failure, acknowledging his actions disqualify him from continuing to serve as senior pastor or preach from the pulpit, and resigned – effective immediately.

We are saddened by this news, but are working with and assisting Pastor Tullian and his family to help them through this difficult time, and asking people to join us in praying that God will bring restoration through this process and healing to all involved.

The Leadership of Coral Ridge remain committed to promoting the transforming power of the Gospel. While we do not yet know whom God will direct to lead our congregation in the near future, we trust the Lord’s guidance during this transition period, knowing He is our hope.”

Several articles on the Internet on Tchividjian’s blog and other places written by Tchividjian are no longer available at their original locations including:

The editor in this and in other forums roundly criticized the leadership of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and Tullian Tchividjian for some of their actions following the death of the Rev. Dr. D. James Kennedy, but takes this incident as a reminder that all of us including myself, pastors, elders, men, and women, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, must guard our hearts and our lives against πορνεία (porneia – fornication and adultery in all of its forms) lest we too fall into these sins which can so easily beset us. May God have mercy upon and bless the Tchividjians as they seek to salvage their marriage.

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The Hungarian Human Rights Foundation on 15 July 2015 issued the following statement regarding church property in Romania:

Church Property Restitution in Romania:
Romanian Government and State Department Have 90 Days to Report
In an unprecedented move, the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee passed, on June 11, an amendment to the FY 2016 State Department Appropriation’s Budget on church property restitution in Romania. The unanimous vote by the full Committee came one week after the Washington visit by a delegation from the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ). 

Hungarian-American Caucus Co-Chairs Congressman Dr. Andy Harris (MD-R) and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-D) introduced the language that calls upon the government of Romania, as well as the State Department, to submit a report within 90 days about the steps taken to implement the restitution of communist-era confiscated religious properties in Romania.

In her introductory remarks, Rep. Kaptur stated: “In partnership with our Hungarian American Caucus co-chair, Representative Andy Harris, we have included language expressing concern about the status of restitution of church property by the government of Romania. It is our responsibility to stand on the side of human rights and religious freedom, most especially in countries still dealing with the dark legacy of communism.” Congressman Andy Harris subsequently told HHRF that “The State Department has to take all possible steps to advance church property restitution.”
At the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation’s invitation, the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) delegation headed by party President Hunor Kelemen met with decision-makers, human and religious rights experts from June 2-5.  Subsequently he told the media: “The strategic partnership between the United States of America and Romania does not only encompass provisions for security policy, but should incorporate respect for human and minority rights, property rights, rule of law, as well as strengthening democratic institutions. Therefore we believe that the U.S. should closely monitor what is going on in Romania. Many domestic events prove that even after 25 years, democracy’s foothold in the country is not firm: the renationalization of the Hungarian Reformed Church’s Székely Mikó High School, penalizing the use of community symbols, officially declaring minority rights aspirations a ‘threat to public safety’ are all intentionally retrograde steps. Romanian state institutions no longer face pressure from the West and hence do not always feel the need to respect the requirements of democracy,” said RMDSZ president Hunor Kelemen in Washington.

HHRF President László Hámos applauded the vote, saying that HHRF will keep on working to represent the legitimate claims of the Hungarian community in Transylvania, just as we have been doing for the past 39 years.”

May 2005 marks the 10th anniversary of H. Res. 191, which the U.S. Congress adopted unanimously urging the Government of Romania to provide “equitable, prompt, and fair restitution to all religious communities” for properties confiscated under the communist regime. Recently, letters by Members of Congress to Secretary of State John Kerry have requested focused attention on the issue. 25 years after the fall of communism, only a third of over 7,586 properties in question have been returned to their rightful owners.

The HUNGARIAN HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION – HHRF has monitored for 39 years the human rights conditions of 2.5 million ethnic Hungarians living as minorities in Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Ukraine, who collectively comprise the largest national minority in Central Europe. HHRF is the only professional organization in the West devoted to the rights of these communities.

+ Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, 120 East 90th Street, Suite 5D, New York, New York 10128, 212-289-5488, Fax: 212-996-6268,

+ Bulgária-telepi Református Gyülekezet (Reformed Church in Romania), 400628 Kolozsvár - Cluj Napoca, Arad út 8-10 szám, Romania, 0264 - 415 756

Christopher H. Wisdom, Vice-President, Erskine Theological Seminary, on 18 June 2015 issued the following statement:

“On behalf of President Kooistra, the administration, faculty, and staff of Erskine Theological Seminary, I am writing to inform all our Erskine family of this most recent tragedy and to extend our deepest condolences and Christian love to our brothers and sisters in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. We share this in light of the grievous loss of Pastor Pinckney and the other ministers and members who were victims of the heinous shooting that took place last night during the prayer meeting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

“We have long treasured our relationship with our AME students and colleagues, and pray that the God of all comfort and the Father of mercies in Christ will Himself be the Shepherd of all those affected, and especially those most profoundly bereaved by the loss of loved ones to their church and their families.

“We stand in solidarity and support with the AME Church in South Carolina and across the country, with prayers that God’s mercy and peace will cover all the victims of this heinous crime, and that those responsible will be brought to justice swiftly and fully by the authorities who are in charge of investigating and adjudicating this crime.



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+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1 Cleveland Street Suite 110, Greenville, South Carolina, 29601, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

A local ordinance that blocked an Arizona church from maintaining signs advertising its services was a violation of free speech, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday.

The case involved Clyde Reed, pastor of the Good News Community Church, in Gilbert, Ariz. The town has an ordinance that places time restrictions on outdoor “directional signs” to events while allowing political and ideological signs to be posted longer. Good News Community Church’s Sunday services were held at different locations and the church had posted signs with the time and location of that week’s services. The church received a citation for exceeding the time limits for such signs and for failing to include an event date on the signs.

Justices concluded that this was, in effect, an unconstitutional content-based restriction on speech.

Writing the opinion of the court in Reed v. Gilbert, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the rule wasn’t narrowly tailored enough, even accepting that a local government has a compelling interest in regulating public safety.

“The Town has offered no reason to believe that directional signs pose a greater threat to safety than do ideological or political signs,” Thomas wrote. “If anything, a sharply worded ideological sign seems more likely to distract a driver than a sign directing the public to a nearby church meeting.”

He concluded, “A sign ordinance narrowly tailored to the challenges of protecting the safety of pedestrians, drivers, and passengers—such as warning signs marking hazards on private property, signs directing traffic, or street numbers associated with private houses — well might survive strict scrutiny. The signs at issue in this case, including political and ideological signs and signs for events, are far removed from those purposes. As discussed above, they are facially content based and are neither justified by traditional safety concerns nor narrowly tailored.”

Article was printed on the Washington Examiner website by Philip Klein found here:

You can read the background story and original ARP News post from January 2015 here:

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+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1 Cleveland Street Suite 110, Greenville, South Carolina, 29601, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

-- Synod Prays, Weeps over South Carolina Shooting


-- Synod Launches Overhaul of Denominational Structure


-- Synod Votes to Bring Back Women Advisers


-- Synod 2015 Expands the Role of Deacons


-- Synod Addresses Issue of Sexual Abuse by Office Bearers


-- Synod Says Reformed Church in America Ministry Candidates Must Meet CRC Requirements



+ Christian Reformed Church in North America, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49560, 616-241-1691, Fax: 616-224-0803


+ Reformed Church in America, 4500 60th Street Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512, 800-968-6065,

For the first time, the synods of the ARP Church and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) met concurrently at Bonclarken, and, in my opinion, it was a success. The folks in the RPCNA are genuinely warm people, and their faithfulness to their theological principles and traditions is clear and admirable. Singing the Psalms with them a cappella was glorious to hear. I preferred to stand in the balcony to hear the voices of 600 men blend into sounds of glory. I want to invite them back again. I want to hear singing like that again.

Growing up in Winter Haven, Florida, we lived in hurricane alley. I can remember watching the roof of our house settle in the backyard and, later, playing on the ceiling of our living room. Watching the storm come in was both exciting and terrifying. The hours before the hurricane hit were windy and rainy and exciting, but excitement turned to terror when the monster of rain and wind arrived.

I am wondering if this meeting of synod is something like the excitement that comes before a terrifying storm hits and settles over your house.

The packet that was distributed before synod portended a calm meeting. Indeed, we had guests in the house and wanted to be on our best behavior. Nevertheless, the Erskine and ECJA reports had to be negotiated and both reports sparked a bit of excitement.

Like Superman,“Faster than a speeding bullet,” we flew through the adoption of the budget, “Special Committee Reports,” “Standing Committee Reports,” and “Synod Board and Agency Reports.”

Did anyone take time to notice how we stand financially? Did anyone notice that the budget is 1.2% less than last year? Did anyone notice that our support of ONA and World Witness is down, while our support of Central Services is up? That is, we are spending more and more to administrate less and less!

In American Presbyterianism, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OP) is our counterpart in size. At their recent General Assembly, the OPs reported an increase in congregations as the result of eight mission congregations being particularized and six new mission works started. The ARPs reported one mission congregation particularized and four mission works begun (two in the US and two in Canada [and that is an outstanding effort for the little Canadian Presbytery]). Also, the OPs reported their membership is up to 31,122 while ARPs reported their membership down to 32,842 (Minutes, 2014). Furthermore, the OPs reported their total giving as over 54 million dollars, while ARPs reported total giving at $51,304, 324 (Minutes, 2014). The ARPC and the OPC are now passing each other. One is heading up and one is heading down.

If you missed the obvious, we are headed down! Why were we so nonchalant and oblivious to something so distressing? Our battle song must be: “Backwards Christian Soldiers, Marching Like a Herd of Turtles.”

The Erskine report and the report of the Ecclesiastical Commission on Judicial Affairs (ECJA) were the two controversial affairs.
Report of Erskine College & Seminary

One recommendation of the Erskine report was returned to the Erskine board for reconsideration. The board has changed the bylaws governing Erskine, and the board was asking General Synod to change the Manual of Authorities and Duties (MAD) to reflect the removal of quotas regarding the choice of board trustees. Particularly, the quota regarding the number of ARP ministers serving on the board was changed in the Erskine bylaws. Many of the delegates felt that this was the tail wagging the dog. The board wants more monied trustees. With all that has taken place, the questions of ARP identity and evangelical direction at Erskine were foremost in the minds of the delegates.

A motion was made by Mr. Jeff Kingswood (Canada Presbytery) asking the Erskine board to consider closing the MEDCOM program. This is becoming a rite of passage for meetings of General Synod.

The MEDCOM DMin program for Army chaplains matriculates non-Christian clerics in the program; however, the program also brings in $300,000 a year from the Army in tuition fees which is the only thing presently between Erskine Seminary and insolvency and closed doors. So that the seminary does not violate the seminary’s mission, the program has been transferred to the college. Many of us feel this is a disingenuous move, for the program is administered and taught by the seminary. We are appalled that we advance the religious careers of non-Christian clerics at a Christian institution. In other words, we feel we are aiding and abetting those who would destroy the name and church of the Lord Jesus.

The debate was lively, and everything was said that could be said by those who wanted to say it. The only ugly moment was Mr. Mickey Rice’s insinuation that Mr. Kingswood’s motion and comments betrayed a conflict of interest because he is presently the chairman of the board of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (GPTS), Greenville, SC. I do not know how Mr. Rice came to that conclusion. I know the people at GPTS. I do not believe that one could melt down the MEDCOM program in a pot and pour it on GPTS. Mr. Kingswood’s motion and comments are consistent with the position he has held for years. From the way the program was presented, Erskine Seminary is the only so-called conservative seminary that will take the MEDCOM program. The only other seminaries willing to touch the program are very liberal.

Of course, Mr. Kingswood’s motion failed. No one wants to be remembered as a part of the synod that voted to close the doors at the seminary — so, a protracted and unceremonious death continues. Furthermore, President Kooistra is asking for the unnited and enthusiastic support of the General Synod for Erskine College & Seminary, and that support will never come as long as the MEDCOM program is in place. This simply violates the conscience of too many of us in General Synod.

On Wednesday afternoon, there was a presentation on higher education with the presidents of Geneva College and Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) from the RPCNA and President Kooistra and Vice President of the Seminary Chris Wisdom from the ARPC. In President Kooistra’s presentation, he stated he wanted (1) an Erskine that was authentically Christ-centered; (2) prayer and money from the ARPC; (3) that Erskine has a spiritual problem that must be attended to in order for teaching to occur from a Biblical world and life view; (4) he was seeking unity among Erskine’s stakeholders: the ARP Synod, faculty, students, board, alumni, and friends (but how did the faculty, students, alumni, and friends become “stakeholders” when the ARPC and the board are the owners?); and (5) President Kooistra has set goals: {a} 700 students; {b} a decrease of the number of student athletes and an increase in tuition revenue by $3500; {c} a board that contributes 9% of the Annual Fund; {d} develop a hybrid liberal arts program — for example, the two most popular majors involve either business or athletic training; and {e} develop virtual classrooms and online programs.

Contrast President Kooistra’s presentation with the presentation of the President of RPTS. When President Jerry O’Neill took over ten years ago, he said the seminary was on the verge of financial collapse. He said he, the members of the board, and the members of the faculty made a commitment to stay true to their Biblical principles and wait on God. It was okay if God closed the seminary. It was okay if they were small. It was okay if they had financial struggles. It was not okay to abandon their Biblical principles. In so doing, President O’Neill’s testimony is that he has found God rarely early but always on time and faithful! It other words, the endeavor is not about money, money, and more money; rather, it is about faithfulness to principles. Something that many of us feel has been lost at Erskine.

And the woes continue for Erskine Seminary: it was reported that Dr. Mary Lowe has been reinstated as a full-time professor in order to redevelop the  seminary’s online program. Well, that may happen, but it will be done by someone new. Drs. Steve and Mary Lowe will be teaching at Liberty University this Fall. The online stream of revenue is now as dry as a North African wadi.

Reports out of Due West suggest that a similar faculty and staff exodus is taking place at the college as employees cast a vote of no confidence in the current administration by voting with their feet. Whatever President Kooistra’s plans for “a hybrid liberal arts program” may be, the discontinuation of the teaching of modern languages and the relegation of Bible and Religion instruction to the seminary sends the clear message that Erskine is no longer a liberal arts college. But the Editor seems to recall that the “Statement of Philosophy of Christian Higher Education” in the Manual of Authorities and Duties mandates that Erskine is to be a Christian liberal arts college. Since when are President Kooistra and the board allowed to unilaterally redefine the mission of Erskine College? Are they not supposed to be implementing the mission of Erskine as defined by the ARP Church? Are they not servants of the ARP Church?
Report of the Ecclesiastical Commission on Judicial Affairs

Last year, the complaint from Catawba Presbytery against Second Presbytery “requested that the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church sustain the complaint and assume original jurisdiction in this matter concerning Mr. Wilson and ARPTalk through the Ecclesiastical Commission on Judiciary [sic] Affairs.” At that time, no one knew what that meant. Since appellate courts adjudicate decisions by lower courts, what does it mean for an appellate court to take original jurisdiction of a person? After a year’s work, hundreds and hundreds of man hours wasted, and thousands of pages written and printed, no one knows what is meant by the complaint.

As I count it, the report and the appendices are 126 pages long. It took 63,000 pages to print the report for 500 delegates. The report was late and sprung on General Synod at the last moment, and it took a two-thirds vote to authorize its distribution. The delegates only had about 24 hours to read and digest a complicated and convoluted mess that eluded the grasp of the members of the ECJA for a year. Indeed, the size of the report guaranteed that the report would not be read, and that was demonstrated in some of the goings on as the report was debated.

The conclusion and recommendations of the report were that the report be received as information and, if anyone wanted to bring charges against Chuck Wilson, let that person or persons file charges, but, as to the matters pointed out in the report, they are now three years old and beyond the one year statue of limitation.

The disposition of the ECJA’s report was in this manner: (1) an ad hoc committee will be appointed by the Moderator to investigate how we do judicial cases in the ARPC and the role of ECJA; (2) according to Mr. Mark Miller, a member of the ECJA, there are no charges against Chuck Wilson, and he moved that jurisdiction over Chuck Wilson be returned to Second Presbytery; and (3) a motion was made and passed not to receive the report as information.

At this point, a moment of silence needs to be observed and a Weeping Willow tree planted in front of the Youth Activity Building in memory of the trees sacrificed in printing the report of the ECJA. Good grief, ECJA Chairman Bob Wilson and Mr. Paul Bell, what were you thinking?

A motion was made and passed to discuss Internet domain names involving the letters ARP. After seven years, some folks expressed heartburn over ARPTalk’s name. Well, for all to know, the domain right to ARPTalk is held by Chuck Wilson through the blog administrator, and ARPTalk is a registered business in Oconee County, SC, in the name of Chuck Wilson. I suppose this new committee will work to establish the obvious.

On a humorous note: during one of the lulls, a number of people were discussing domain names with Mr. Chuck Wilson. Mr. Wilson replied, that, if he changed the name of ARPTalk to the name he originally picked, his wife would beat him and leave him. Then he added, “I don’t think you want to see the tender sensibilities of members of General Synod offended when someone rises and intones: ‘Mr. Moderator, I object to the articles in Balaam’s Ass!’”
An Impending Hurricane

Everything above is soft rain and gentle winds as compared to what looms in front of us as an evangelical denomination and Bible-believing Christians. There are two significant matters presently before the Supreme Court of the United States.

The first matter before the Supreme Court involves our ARP Good News Mission in Gilbert, AZ. It involves issues of signage. It involves a congregation’s freedom to put up signs so that the congregation can be found. Thankfully, the Alliance for Defending Freedom has taken on this matter as a freedom of speech issue. If the Supreme Court rules against our Good News Mission, it means that municipalities are free to limit or curtail the right of congregations to post signs.

Far more significant is the same-sex marriage issue before the Supreme Court. Whatever the Supreme Court does, a new normal is going to established this summer. This time next year, Bible-believing Christians who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman may be persecuted for their beliefs as hate-talkers. This time next year, ministers who refuse to perform same-sex marriages may be persecuted for their beliefs and their right to perform marriages withdrawn. This time next year, the congregations and agencies of Bible-believing churches may be persecuted by the federal government with the loss of tax exemption for their belief that same-sex marriage is a sin — an abomination before God.

There was no discussion of these serious matters at General Synod this year. We have made no plans for the cultural hurricane that is upon us.

Dr. Rosaria Butterfield is one of the prominent spokespersons on the matter of same-sex marriage in our theological circle. Her husband is a minister in the RPCNA. She was present with her husband at Bonclarken last week. She spoke before the RPCNA. Why was she not asked to speak to the General Synod on this important matter? Why was the opportunity wasted? Why are we making like a dumb ostrich with its head in the sand? I am sorry, but I simply do not buy the explanation that “It would have made our meeting too long!” Brothers and sisters, we may be on the verge of a hurricane that will blow the roof of our house off and into the backyard, and, then, we can play General Synod on the wrecked ceiling of our house.

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

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Articles from the past week regarding kings and rulers setting themselves against the LORD and against his anointed:

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Articles from the past week about the religion of peace:

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