Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Christ Church’s Acceptance of Shade, Part 2


Last week we all received yet another dictate from Doug Wilson on his understanding of “biblical” justice. I noted this passage:

So the rule of thumb ought to be this. If someone comes to you from another Christian church, and they are under some kind of cloud, admonition, rebuke, suspension from the Table, or excommunication, what this should mean is that the burden of proof has shifted. An individual in your own church is innocent until it is proven that that they are guilty. Guilt has to be established, and it has to be established beyond any reasonable doubt. But if another church has taken disciplinary action of some sort against one of their members, and then that member comes to you, the burden should be on him to demonstrate and prove that an injustice was done to him. . . (“Jurisdictional Justice: A Justice Primer,” 3/8/06, emphasis added)

But then Pooh dropped this bombshell in the Wood a few days later:

Doug Wilson reminded the elders that we have already agreed this situation is not a barrier to Burke Shade and his church being accepted into the CRE, and that he has communicated this to Burke. The elders agreed that, further review of the material, the burden of proof is on the committee to overturn our previous decisions [to vindicate Burke — P], which would only happen if new, clear information against Burke appears. The elders would like a report from the committee by July 27. This recommendation considered as a motion passed. (Christ Church Elder Meeting Minutes, July 13, 2000, emphasis added)

When it came to defrocked PCA minister Burke Shade, the burden wasn’t on the convicted; from the word of his mouth alone, Doug Wilson shifted the burden to the court that had lawfully convicted him. (So let it be written! So let it be done!) Thus, Wilson subverted even his own version of “biblical” justice.

But I can already hear Wilsonista’s court eunuchs pulling up their keyboards to accuse me of failing to quote the following line of the Great Leader’s dictate, which will allegedly clear him:

If he can do so, and all the principles of justice outlined in this series are remembered (with the former body is given full opportunity to present its reasons), then there is no problem (in principle) with a receiving body overturning a judicial decision by another church.

They will try to obfuscate the matter by saying that Burke Shade’s receiving body (the CREC) did overturn a judicial decision (the propriety of which I will leave for another time), so there’s no hypocrisy involved on Wilson’s part. The fact is, however, when you read the cited Christ Church Elder Meeting Minutes, we discover in the sentence preceding the one quoted above that the Session members charged to look into the matter had not even finished reading the trial materials, let alone arrived at a final recommendation, and urged caution about acting on what they had at that time:

Doug Jones reported that the ad hoc committee concerning Burke Shade recommends that we should not send out the current letter, and that we should wait while Chris Schlect and Doug Jones continue to work through the trial materials, before they make a further recommendation. (Christ Church Elder Meeting Minutes, July 13, 2000, emphasis added)

There is a problem (in principle) with a receiving body overturning a judicial decision by another church without first having examined all of the evidence and having agreed in advance to clear the convicted. It seems that Wilson’s court jesters had a better sense of true biblical justice than Wilson himself. Yes, those are not the bells of justice we hear ringing over Anslem House, but the clanging cymbals of hypocritical autonomy:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. (Matthew 23:27)