24 August 2011


Beginning tomorrow, the Fellowship PC(USA) Gathering will convene in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For a good discussion of what faces the group, see GA Junkie ("Fellowship PC(USA) Gathering -- Some Things To Pay Attention To" 8/15/2011). Some 1900 registered attendees, representing 830 Presbyterian Church (USA) [PC(USA)] congregations will assemble for prayer, teaching of the Word, and examination of possible ways forward for orthodox churches within a denomination that has, in my opinion, completely left the tracks of the Reformed faith in favor of bowing to the demands of the world.

As one of the authors and editors of the report of the New Wineskins Strategy Team, and a ruling elder in one of the first four churches to leave the PC(USA) in 2007, I will view this meeting from afar and with interest.

Some folks who were involved, to one degree or another, with the New Wineskins Association of Churches (nee New Wineskins Initiative) are now involved with the Fellowship. Others appear to be the remnant of the two churches within one structure (the "2 synod model")camp that was so evident some ten years ago at the height of the Confessing Church Movement.

Some will attend who have different lines in the sand than did we who fought our way out of the PC(USA) four years ago. They will probably follow us out, through the holes we opened for them at great cost. And finally, a very few others, mainly the victors in the long-lasting guerrilla war fought by those who demanded that the PC(USA) abandon Scripture in favor of a worldly ordination standard, are admittedly attending with the intent of sowing more seeds of distrust and dissension.

In our Strategy Team Report which was unanimously adopted by the more than 600 delegates to the New Wineskins convocation in February 2007, Rev. Dr. Rick Wolling and I wrote:

In this report, we set out a strategy for achieving a new thing, and for engaging in and effecting a realignment that fosters and nurtures that vision. The goal is to further the Great Ends of the Church, and not to undermine, but to uphold our life together as members of the Body of Christ.

Some of us will be called to follow The Plan detailed in Part III that leads to new relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ who are in a different place. Those who follow this path will leave their parent’s home and join with others to discover new ways to carry out the Great Commission.

Others may be called to stay where they are and be a prophetic witness to what has been our traditional home. Those who follow this path will continue to strive to reform, renew and repair the old homestead so that it can once again be a vibrant and welcoming lodging for those who are lost and hungry for the Word.

That being said, we implore all to whom this report shall come: there must be a new thing, wherever it may occur. To simply stand fast and relax in the status quo is to agree that no change is necessary. Is such a course a faithful response to the moment in time in which we find ourselves? We emphatically respond, “No!”

We believe there are two faithful options for evangelicals to follow:

To realign with an evangelical, Reformed body that is more faithful to Christ, obedient to Scripture and seeks a missionally focused partnership with us than is the PC(USA); or

To stay in place within the PC(USA), while working for the reformation and renewal of that part of the Body of Christ if so led by the Holy Spirit.

From what I have read, the Fellowship is still struggling with those issues.

For those of us who left in the first wave, the line in the sand was the Trinity report and the PUP report received and/or adopted by the PC(USA) in its 2006 General Assembly. For the Fellowship, the issues are the adoption of the New Form of Government and the abandonment of Scripturally-based ordination standards approved by the 2010 GA and ratified by the presbyteries in 2010-11.

If the Fellowship focuses on the important issues of God’s sovereignty and the authority of His Word, I can see the possibility of some real renewal in the PC(USA) as many of its most influential and orthodox congregations finally take a stand. But if the focus is simply on creating two different bodies joined only by common pension, medical, and retirement plans and an endowment fund, in which one body submits to a new, hierarchical denomination controlled from Louisville, while the other hopes to ignore that hierarchy, well…the Titanic will sink, no matter how the deck chairs are arranged.

There are many wonderful brothers and sister in Christ who will join this week to determine the future of the PC(USA), and they need and deserve our prayers.

23 August 2011


On one of Sunday’s talk shows, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana was asked one of those “Have you stopped beating your wife?” questions that pass for journalism today.

“Governor,” he was asked, “what do you say to your party when in the recent debate, every candidate said they would not accept a deficit reduction plan that had curt spending by ten dollars for every dollar of tax increases?”

Surprise! Mitch belted that one out of the park.

He said that the real problem for at least the past half century has been that every time a deal like that is accepted — multiple dollars in cuts for each new tax dollar — the taxes have always been enacted right away while the cuts just never seem to be made.

Exactly right. I am so sick of hearing the President and the Dems in Congress telling us that there is no need for a balanced budget amendment. According to the Prez, all we need is for “members of Congress to do their jobs.” But the history of the past 80 plus years teaches that politicians are simply unable to pass up the opportunity of spending other peoples’ money on the things necessary to get them reelected. See, e.g., this article from Nevada (coincidentally, the home of Harry Reid) about $490,000 of stimulus money that created 1.72 (yeah, less than 2) permanent jobs.

I want a little piece of that action!

19 August 2011


As we enter a time of bus tour presidential campaigning “investigation,” the proponents of the Obama-led drive towards bigger government constantly assure us that we have nothing to fear from such a government. We are promised that when we are compelled to release all sorts of personal information, including but not limited to medical information, the law will protect the confidentiality of that information.

But now, we learn that even if the regulators try to obey the law, any member of Congress can request any information he wants and then spread it across the media.

According to an August 19 Reuters article by Sarah N. Lynch, confidential oil trading data collected by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has been intentionally leaked to a Wall Street Journal reporter. The article states that the leaked information “exposed the extensive positions speculators held in the run-up to record high prices in 2008. . .. Senator Bernie Sanders, a staunch critic of oil speculators, leaked the information to a major newspaper in a move that has unsettled both regulators and Wall Street alike.”

The CFTC is specifically barred from releasing confidential data it collects. However, the law also requires the CFTC to produce such information if a Congressional committee acting within its proper authority requests it. “Once it is in the hands of Congress, there is nothing to prevent lawmakers from releasing it publicly.”

In this case, when the CFTC first became aware of the breach of the data, it conducted an internal investigation to determine whether agency staffers were the source of the leak. The investigation concluded that no CFTC employees were involved. Instead, it appears that the data was first formally requested by the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. From there it made its way into Sanders’ hands. It is interesting to note that Representative Henry Waxman, a liberal Democrat and ally of Senator Sanders, was the Chairman of the Committee when the data was obtained from the CFTC. Unsurprisingly, Sanders’ office refused to say exactly how it acquired the confidential information.

Now I hold no brief for the oil or commodities trading industries. I suspect that there were indeed shenanigans involved in the sudden catapult that sent oil prices skyrocketing in the summer of 2008. In addition to starting the landslide that engulfed our economy, it surely did no good to John McCain’s presidential hopes.

But the larger concern is the egoistic—even egomaniacal—assertion by one Senator that he is above the law, that he can ignore the protections that were consideration for people to produce otherwise privileged information to the government.

Certainly, this precedent must raise concerns at the CFTC, which is legally prohibited from releasing confidential information that identifies trader positions and identities, and other regulatory agencies which are also barred from releasing information. Many agencies are tasked with gathering information for use in proactively preventing future dangers to people, property, and the nation’s economy and security. If people realize that an investigator’s promise that “we cannot release this information,” means nothing, they will be less likely to give information voluntarily and in a timely manner.

But that meant nothing to Sanders. Ignoring the CFTC’s legal obligation to preserve the confidentiality of the information it obtained, we are informed that “In a statement from Sanders provided to Reuters, Sanders said he felt the data needed to be publicly aired. ‘The CFTC has kept this information hidden (sic) from the American public for nearly three years," he said. "This is an outrage. The American people have a right to know exactly who caused gas prices to skyrocket in 2008 and who is causing them to spike today.’" (Emphasis added.)

Perhaps next year he will decide that the American people have a right to know details of my medical treatment by the VA. . . or your vasectomy! It his decision alone, the law be damned.