Monday, May 14, 2007

Reprocessing bad process

The title of this post is one of my favorite sayings, drawn from the Intersect forum that we run here at the Seminary led by Bob Burns and Tim Habershon. Basically, the point of it is that when we engage in bad process, we need to go back and reprocess it--apologize, deal with it, and try to make it right.

As readers of this blog know, I have generally avoided comment on the current goings-on in the PCA under the heading, "Federal Vision." Part of that is because for the last year, I've been a member of the GA-appointed study committee studying those issues; I didn't believe it would be right for me to make public comment. Part of the reason is because I've been saddened by the tone of the public debate over the past three years--especially since I've come to the Seminary and learned from my wonderful colleagues how to agree and disagree in a winsome fashion.

But part of the reason is that I've contributed to the bitter tone of the debate. As is known now from this post, I wrote some things before I came to the Seminary, while I was still an assistant pastor in Louisville, Kentucky, that may have said a number of right things but was utterly wrong in tone and attitude. Shortly after I wrote the two reviews of Leithart and Wilson, I took my first blog down because I concluded that it was extremely unhelpful; I had hoped by doing so it was out of the public realm; and, concluding that blogging doesn't accomplish much, I didn't start blogging again for 18 months.

However, more than unhelpful, the way I said what I said was wrong--while I disagree with them in a number of respects, Peter Leithart and Doug Wilson are brothers in Christ; that was what the GA report said and that is what I believe. As brothers, they ought not be treated in a way that disrespects them as persons or pastors, even when I or others may disagree with their views. And so, I publicly apologize for the tone of those two reviews as well as the satirical poem that Mark Horne posted without attributing to me.

I hope by reprocessing my own bad process from 2004, we can move beyond personalities and, especially my own public failings. I still aspire to the things that I talk about on this blog: gracious and winsome dealing with others, even when we might disagree. May God grant us all grace to live by the Spirit and so know the love and joy and peace which the Spirit brings.


Mark said...

Sean, you have GOT to know that I would never claim any moral high ground against you for tone. Nor do I want to.

But you have participated in something I can't even trust myself to describe off the cuff and issues of prejudged verdicts are one (not the only) major issue of concern. That is the only reason this is all relevant. Not past ethics, right or wrong, but passionate zeal.

Why were you chosen and not Dr. Jack Collins, or Professor John Frame, etc? By what proper process was Dr. Peter Leithart treated like an outsider without a say in a forum that was obviously committed to condemning him? By what Presbyterian or Biblical standard does one treat ministers in good standing as pariahs? And how can we countenance a process that claims to find they are unorthodox when it was formed on the premise of their unorthodoxy?

There is no getting away from this Sean. I am nothing but impressed by what you have done in the past. But what has resulted from your present actions is much more problematic and will be more damaging to men--not convicted errorists, but men simply decided to be such beforehand, with a nominal procedure invoked to wrap official appearances around a prejudice.

pduggie said...

Mr Lucas:

As someone who was troubled by the tone of your review of Against Christianity, I'm gladdened to hear you think so to.

Many thanks.

Garrett said...


Many manly kudos. You've got me re-thinking some of my past words as well.

Garrett Craw
St. Andrews Community Church

Don Jones said...

Sean, it is great to see an admission that sometimes the tone of the converstaion over FV has been inappropriate. Wish more (on both sides) would likewise admit that the rhetoric is overwhelming the content of the discussion.

One question I do have, though. As Jeff Myers pointed out in his 30 reasons, the GA report contains inaccuracies in many of its quotes of FV advocates, the most egregious being the one that made Doug Wilson appear to say the opposite of what he had said.

Will these inaccuracies be corrected before the report is released to the GA when everyone arrives?

If not, will an errata or similar be made available?