Editorial Note Regarding The “Shepherds” Post

A member of the Presbytery of the Southeast (OPC), who is also a member of the committee, called to ask me to remove the quotation of Rev. Mahaffy’s post. He argues that though the words quoted were said by the member, on the floor of presbytery, in open session, there is more to the story and that presbytery is addressing these issues judicially.

I continue to affirm Rev. Mahaffy’s sentiments about the role and nature of shepherds in Christ’s church and will be addressing this more fully in future.

Pray for your local confessional Presbyterian/Reformed congregation, that it might be neither “fundamentalist” nor “progressive” but faithful to God’s Word as we confess it in the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort, and the Westminster Standards.

Resources

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
    Author Image

    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

    More by R. Scott Clark ›

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


10 comments

  1. Let’s stop letting writers who hate God define our our terms and us.

    Fundamentalist? I believe that Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God in one person, that he was born of a virgin, that he paid the penalty of our sins on the cross, and that he truly rose from the dead. I believe as well that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God; and when I find myself in disagreement with them, I figure, painful though it be, that I’m in the wrong.

    There. I have confessed the five early 20th century fundamentals. I am therefore a fundamentalist, and accept such a label. Granted, there’s a lot more that I believe about God and his great works (see the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity). But I accept those five fundamentals, even if I like to think I hold to a theology that is more than merely the ruin of a once more thorough confession. If a hater of God wants to call me a “fundamentalist”, OK.

    While I deplore the U. of Chicago and Georgetown U’s 1980-ish “Fundamentalism Project”, which seems to suggest that a “fundamentalist” is a traditionally devout person regardless of deity worshiped whom a liberal writer doesn’t like, I recognize that those called “fundamentalist” back in the early 20th century were Protestant Christians who recognized that theological liberalism was not historical Christianity. Similarly, I most emphatically deny that a man like Rohollah Khomeini was a “fundamentalist” at all, since he was an Ithna’ashariyya Shi’ite Muslim rather than a Protestant Christian. Ditto for R. Meir Kahane or R. Ovadia Yosef/Abdullah Yussef and the rest of the Haredim; or those Theravada Buddhist monks who preach ridding Sri Lanka of the Hindu Tamils or Myanmar of Rohingya Muslims or Karen and Kachin Christians. I absolutely refuse to use “fundamentalist” for anyone, save other Christians willing to own that title.

    If an ignotant liberal bigot wants to assume that I believe Mr. Trump is the Christ (which I emphatically do not) because I also own the label “Evangelical”, I will reply that I believe we’re begotten again by the abiding and living word of God which is the Evangellion [about Christ] preached to us (cf. I Pt. 1:23-25), I will gladly own that label. By the same token, the secular “progressive” must also own that his label once described an unabashed apologist for the regimes of Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Mengistu Haile Mariam, and Pol Pot; just as mine is also held by ill-advised persons who are too easily misled by certain TV personalities and use ill-advised terminology to describe the current, lawful President of the USA.

    I will gladly remain a “fundamentalist” Evangelical [although neither Pentecostal nor Dispensationalist], and then some. I will not fall into the “rpgoressive” camp, whose “progress” is no more than an embrace of the media-created idols of the present age.

    • Peter,

      I mean fundamentalist in the sense of QIRC, in the sense in which I used and meant it in Recovering the Reformed Confession. The U of Chicago project, with which I interacted in the book, has its uses. There are similarities. I also noted the earlier sense, e.g., The Fundamentals of the Faith and the sense in which Machen reluctantly identified as a fundamentalist. But my use of the word here was meant to serve as an opposite to progressive. In the sense in which the word has come to be used since WWII, a fundamentalist is more concerned about his idiosyncrasies than the creeds and confessions. The “progressive” likewise isn’t much governed by them.

      Until we are united by our confession, we shall be pulled back and forth, from pole to pole, in a seemingly endless, internal political struggle normed by the culture wars more than by our theology, piety, and practice.

  2. I missed your original post. But in some posts that I’ve seen (and of course they get shared and re-shared) the context has been missing with reference to what took place during he presbytery mtg. Without the context, the comments have been twisted to make presbytery look bad. This is so wrong. So frustrating.

    • Jeff,

      It was a quote from Rev Mahaffy’s post.

      Rev Mahaffy didn’t take anything out of context. I confirmed that with the committee member. He did dispute Mahaffy’s inference that presbytery implicitly approved the comments.

  3. Could there be a valid reason why brothers in Christ who are members of this presbytery allowed the accused pastor to continue speaking? Are we to assume that they are corrupt and just want to protect this pastor. I think it is wise to get the whole story before delivering a verdict of condemnation.

    • Bob,

      The member of presbytery with whom I spoke indicated that the speaker, to whose comments some objected, was quoting himself and defending his right to speak that way online. I was told that, under OP polity, that body could not censure the speaker without charges and trial but that they silence of the body should not be construed as approval of the remarks.

      There is more to come from this body about this matter.

  4. Scott. I’m not disagreeing with the committee member. As you acknowledge above, it wasn’t just a man standing up and calling Aimee a “wolf,” etc. He had a chance to respond to the report, and that is what he was doing.

    Most people that I’ve read (i.e. comments), even, it seems Aimee herself, see this as an attack on her. When in fact, the presbytery was doing its work (reading from the report, letting the man defend himself) and in the end, will be proceeding with a trial against the man. Charges were also brought up by the session where Aimee is a member.

    People keep asking, with reference to the presbytery meeting, “in what context would it every be appropriate to call someone a “wolf,”, etc. Well, the context, at least in our meeting, is quite important here. And the presbytery has objected to his use of this language of someone who is in good standing in our denomination.

    I was there also my friend, and most of the comments I’ve seen so far, have been twisted out of context.

    • Jeff,

      It’s good to have 1st-hand testimony.

      Let’s try to establish the facts. A member of presbytery, who called Mrs Byrd a “wolf” and “a Jezebel” online (in the Genevan Commons) quoted himself, thereby repeating these characterizations of Mrs Byrd and defended that language on the floor of presbytery, correct?

  5. Well, no. The language, to my knowledge was not spoke in GC, but in articles that Michael posted online. Small correction, but I believe that to be the case.

    After the report was read, and there was some discussion, yes, Michael, point by point went through the report seeking to defend himself. Period. Presbytery in no way approve of the language he used. He was given plenty of time to defend himself, but it was getting too long and the moderator indicated that it was so. Michael finished shortly after. Yes, there was some objections, but the moderator let him proceed. It’s not as though through his “defense” that he was using the language over and over. The language was a piece of the report.

    The presbytery did not approve of Michael’s language in any way. Letting a man defend himself as he walks through the report, is in no way approving of the language used. In fact, the end result (not that there is an end to it at this point) is upcoming trial.

    Please don’t miss the point though. Clearly, many people on FB have been critical of the presbytery for letting someone use this kind of language at our meeting. My point is, yes, it was used, but the context in which it was used is important:

    1) It was used in a report. Reporting on the finding of the committee.
    2) It was used in charges. Those charges were from the church that Aimee attends.
    3) And it was used by Michael, as he sought to vindicate himself.

    After reading the post at https://mahaffynet.net/ once again, I still think it is out of line, and it has be used against the presbytery on Aimee’s FB page.

    I have never spoke against Aimee, nor her writings. In fact, I’ve been sitting on the fence (actually I’ve been critical of Michael), trying to give both sides when the topic comes up. The information I give is not much, because this is not the “fight” I’ve chosen to delved deep into.

    Her post on FB just didn’t sit well with me, especially because of the way it’s being handled by others.

    I think I’ve said enough, here, on her FB page, and on the blog post. I feel like I’ve become obsessed with this the past two days. It’s frustrating to see this happening, because I believe the committee and the presbytery did a fine job with the committee report, and with the charges. Flawless? You know that wouldn’t be the case.

    Blessings Scott.

    Jeff

    • Jeff,

      I believe that the offensive language was first used on the Genevan Commons Facebook page. That was documented on the screenshots page. Spangler used this language in an article posted on the Daily Genevan website. These two sites are linked by a common proprietor.

      As I told the member with whom I spoke, the committee report was very disappointing to this outside observer. I understand that committee work is difficult and even drudgery at times and that no committee gets everything right but there are prima facie problems with the committee’s report and its recommendations. In some places the report read like an apology for the Genevan Commons.

      At this point Aimee’s views are immaterial. What is in question here is how the sheep are being treated by the shepherds.

Comments are closed.