Watching church conflicts from a distance is like watching a water polo game — much of what constitutes the actual game is not happening above the surface, where you can see it from the back row. You can tell when the ball goes in the goal, but what you actually don’t see are the three pair of swimming trunks on the bottom of the pool. There is a reason we don’t place the referees in the back rows of the stadium. You can’t see from there, and shouldn’t be asked to. But to continue the sports analogy, there are (occasional) times when everyone in the stadium sees a flagrant foul and the referee misses it. However, most of the time, we place the referees in the midst of the action because that is the best place to make the necessary determinations. And after every play, we do not form a committee of the whole. We do not have a review of the call, and invite all the fans who want to contribute their two cents to come down on the field, and look at the replay too.
So those who are charged with sorting these things out hold an important office in the church. In the course of doing this, elders are not only permitted to keep information with discretion and appropriate confidentiality, they are charged to do this.
The previous post generated a lot of discussion, and I want to direct the discussion back to a central principle, which is that of accountability. When the CREC stepped into the role of helping out Saint Peter, we were doing so because we had the peace and purity of the broader church in mind. Was there a way to minister to a hurting congregation, and to do it without bringing us into conflict with a sister Reformed denomination? We thought (and still think) that the answer to this question is yes.
But there are individuals out there who don’t want that. For some reason, what they really want is to trash RC Jr’s reputation, and when it comes to emptying their bottles of vitriol, they do not stint. They do this by lying, by anonymous accusation, by slander, and by any other means that occur to them. They also are willing to say to the CREC and RPCGA, “Let’s you and him fight.” But we have no desire whatever to do this because we do not think the Reformed world needs another pointless cat fight. The CREC wants to be on good terms with the RPCGA, which should not be a problem, right?
All this is leading up to my promulgation of another rule for posting that I will get listed next to the other rules as soon as may be. If any poster on this blog wants to say anything about a fellow believer that amounts to an attack on or a critique of his personal character (or amounts to an invitation to others to attack it), then I will delete that post unless two criteria are met. 1. The post must be obviously in the interests of edification for the broader church; and 2. The person who wants to post such a comment must be willing to provide me with his full name and contact information, along with the full name and contact information of his pastor — the one to whom he must be accountable for his words and actions.
If we are dealing with a “Jimmy Swaggart and the prostitute” kind of situation, and the whole nation is aware of it, then discussion of it on a blog like this could be edifying, and it could well be obscurantism to not discuss it. But if we are dealing with accusations of that kind of behavior, made by people who are ashamed of their real names, that is something to which we must not give the time of day. To try to deal with such situations at Internet speeds and distances is like trying to paint a fine watercolor with your thumbs — with wooly mittens on. And of course, the second aspect of the rule means this. If we do find ourselves in a situation where we have to discuss someone else’s possible failing of character, then on this blog, we will we will all do it with our real names, and each of us under accountability.