Investigating Committee Preface
The Presbytery established a committee to investigate the actions of TE Brian Carpenter objected to in the overture from Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. The committee consisted of TE Tom Penning (chairman), RE Karl Pasch, RE Bill Jorgensen, RE Bill Larson, and TE Wayne Reed. They brought the following report to the Spring 2010 meeting of Presbytery.
The accusations concerning TE Carpenter are specific. While we might wish to discuss the ‘tone’ of bloggings, the attitude displayed during discussions, or the dangers of blogging in general, TE Carpenter was accused simply of breaking the ninth commandment, as expanded in the Larger Catechism, Questions 144 and 145.
The investigations of the committee included independently reading the blogs of TE
Carpenter; both those listed in the accusations from Good Shepherd PCA, and further bloggings that were followed from TE Carpenter’s bloggings, and bloggings made since the committee was created.
The committee (represented in person by TE Penning, RE Larson, and in telephone conference call by TE Reed and RE Jorgenson,) met with TE Carpenter (and TE Sartorius, present at TE Carpenter’s request) and asked questions regarding TE Carpenter’s blogs and his statements concerning TE Moon.
TE Carpenter does not perceive that he has broken the 9th commandments in his bloggings concerning TE Moon. He believes that the statements he has made, the conclusions he has drawn, and the accusations he has made are truthful and unexaggerated. In fact, TE Carpenter believes that since TE Moon is guilty of the things TE Carpenter accuses him of, TE Carpenter is obligated to make such things public, using every opportunity to do so that is available to him. He believes that to do otherwise would be, in fact, breaking the 9th Commandment.
TE Carpenter does not believe he has sinned in his blogging. He was quite emphatic and confidently stated that he had not sinned in any way in this matter.
The committee does not believe that TE Carpenter has been sinless in this matter.
Even beyond the obvious effect that TE Carpenter’s own general sinfulness would have on any and every action of TE Carpenter, the committee finds the following reasons for concern:
The Shorter Catechism (77) summarizes the ninth commandment in this way: "The ninth commandment requires the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbor’s good name, especially in witness-bearing." And then further (78): "The ninth commandment forbids whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our own neighbour’s good name."
TE Carpenter believes that TE Moon is guilty of heinous theological error. However, as TE Carpenter acts in submission to Presbytery, he should acknowledge that Presbytery has not found TE Moon guilty of heinous theological error. If TE Moon had been found guilty, the types of statements made by TE Carpenter might have been found acceptable. But as such, TE Carpenter should have been cautious with his public statements, desiring to protect TE Moon’s ‘good name.’
TE Carpenter’s statement that he was sinless in this matter was particularly of concern to the committee. We are concerned that it evidences a self confidence in this matter that is not Biblically supportable. His intentions might indeed be lofty. But appointing ourselves as God’s necessary actors is not pleasing to God. Moses’ angry actions at Meribah were condemned by God for this very reason.
That Siouxlands Presbytery find a strong presumption of guilt, in this particular:
"That in recent written statements in blogs, TE Brian Carpenter has not acted in a way consistent with the Westminster Larger Catechism 144 and 145, and Westminster Shorter Catechism Questions 77 and 78."
That Siouxlands Presbytery follow the instructions found in BCO 31-2 subsequent to
The Presbytery received this report and instructed the committee to attach to it specific evidence substantiating this conclusion. Because of the resignation of TE Penning and
RE Larson and the additions to the committee of TE Michael Rico, TE Sam Rico, and TE
Stephen Wynja, the committee presenting this evidence consists of TE Wayne Reed (chairman), RE Karl Pasch, RE Bill Jorgensen, TE Michael Rico, TE Sam Rico, and TE Stephen
Wynja. This committee has spent much time in independent reading of blogs and has met together via conference calls eight times and now presents to the presbytery the following evidentiary report. This report is presented after a 6 to 0 vote concurring with its contents.
Investigating Committee Report
TE Brian Carpenter’s actions and the ninth commandment concerning TE Joshua Moon
This report considers TE Carpenter’s actions with regards to TE Moon: Did TE Carpenter violate the ninth commandment (as stated in Westminster Larger Catechism [WLC] Q 144-145) concerning TE Moon and his alleged association to Federal Vision (FV) theology[i]
The discussion and conclusion presented below center around TE Carpenter’s actions, his statements and the manner, against TE Moon. He appears to have publicly declared a strong presumption of guilt with TE Moon in teaching FV, prior to any PCA court ruling that
TE Moon is guilty of FV.
Our committee reasoned that between his own posts and links provided, TE Carpenter violated the ninth commandment as defined in the Larger Catechism Q 145, e.g., in “prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbor,” and “endeavoring or desiring to impair it,” before any courts have made a decision. In addition, the committee finds TE Carpenter guilty when we consider a Christological interpretation of the ninth commandment.
The Sermon on the Mount reveals that when interpreting the law, Christ’s teaching gets at the heart of the law rather than the letter of law. Accordingly, the manner in which TE Carpenter engages the issues bolsters the nature of his infraction.
What follows is discussion of TE Carpenter’s violation of the 9th commandment:
WLC Q 144 and 145: Q144 What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?
A. The duties required in the ninth commandment are, the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man,(1) and the good name of our neighbour, as well as our own;
(2) appearing and standing for the truth;(3) and from the heart,(4) sincerely,(5) freely,(6) clearly,(7) and fully,(8) speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice,(9) and in all other things whatsoever;(10) a charitable esteem of our neighbours;
(11) loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name;(12) sorrowing for,(13) and covering of their infirmities;(14) freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces,(15) defending their
innocency;(16) a ready receiving of a good report,(17) and unwillingness to admit of an evil report,(18) concerning them; discouraging tale-bearers,(19) flatterers,(20) and slanderers;
(21) love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requireth;(22) keeping of lawful promises;(23) studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.(24) and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.
Q145 What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbours, as well as our own,(1) especially in public judicature;(2) giving false evidence,(3) suborning false witnesses,(4) wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, out-facing and overbearing the truth;(5) passing unjust sentence,(6) calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked;(7) forgery,(8) concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause,(9) and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves,(10) or complaint to others;(11) speaking the truth unseasonably,(12) or maliciously to a wrong end,(13) or perverting it to a wrong meaning,(14) or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice;(15) speaking untruth,(16) lying,
(17) slandering,(18) backbiting,(19) detracting,(20) tale-bearing,(21) whispering,(22) scoffing,(23) reviling,(24) rash,(25) harsh,(26) and partial censuring;(27)misconstructing intentions, words, and actions;(28) flattering,(29) vain-glorious boasting,(30) thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others;(31) denying the gifts and graces of God;(32) aggravating smaller faults;(33) hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when
called to a free confession;(34) unnecessary discovering of infirmities;(35) raising false rumours,(36) receiving and countenancing evil reports,(37) and stopping our ears against just defence;(38) evil suspicion;(39) envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any,(40) endeavouring or desiring to impair it,(41) rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy;(42) scornful contempt,(43) fond admiration;(44) breach of lawful promises;(45) neglecting such things as are of good report,(46) and practising, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.(47)
1. From Blog, “Puritanboard,” on 10-27-2009 05:14 PM:
TE Carpenter provides a reference to Sean Gerety’s post, “Siouxlands Schizophrenia God’s Hammer.” It’s an article laced with name calling and negative pathos. Gerety states, “TE
Moon is insane,” and calls him a dog.[ii] Referring people to this article has negative results.
This blog discussion lead to what the WLC describes as, “Backbiting, detracting, tale-bearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash…misconstructing [sic] intentions.” This correspondence has the overall effect of prejudicing the truth of TE Moon’s association with FV.
2. In the same blog, October 28, 2009 at 2:11 pm:
TE Carpenter insinuates danger in TE Moon’s views, he states, “I am committed to fight for the biblical faith once delivered to the saints. And I am determined to do all in my power to see that the PCA doesn’t go the way of the PCUSA.” Stating that the TE Moon FV issue is a sign of the PCA going “the way of the PCUSA”, is an example of what the WLC Q 145 for -bids, “Especially in public judicature,” and “Passing unjust sentence.”
3. Rev. Clay Spronk uses TE Carpenter as source in order to reason that TE Moon is a heretic: Rev. Spronk states, with regards to TE Moon,
“This is a clear assertion of both universal and resistible grace, both of which are clearly rejected by all the Reformed Standards. Despite these heretical views, Lawrence (and Moon by implication) was officially exonerated by the Presbytery by a vote of 24-13. The status of this case is unclear, because it was reported on October 20 that the Presbytery met again and “repented of its hasty actions.” Apparently the case is being reconsidered and will be dealt with again in January.4 Rev.3 Brian Carpenter. Presbytery of the Siouxlands Exonerates Member Suspected of Federal Vision Teaching, Complaint to the SJC Considered. http://theaquilareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=481 (Brian Carpenter. Siouxlands Presbytery Sustains Complaint, Answers Overture).
http://theaquilareport.com/index.php?option=com … The disease has spread. There are many who are tolerant of it and unwilling to administer the strong medicine [discipline] that is necessary to kill it. Much instruction must be given, and yes, more discipline will likely have to be exercised. Will it happen? May God give the strength.”
This is a clear example, contrary to WLC 144 & 145, wherein TE Carpenter’s actions are “prejudicing the truth” before the courts have made a decision. For, Rev. Spronk used TE
Carpenter’s correspondence in order to publicly assert the TE Moon holds to FV.
4. From TE Carpenter’s blog, April 10, 2010 7:02 PM Rev. Brian Carpenter:
“Anonymous said...Just curious - there's a lot of chatter about TE Moon. I haven't seen anything posted about what he's actually said. I see that he defended TE Lawrence. But has TE Moon actually said anything that gives cause for believing that he's an FV proponent? Thanks.”
[TE Carpenter] “Yes. See Lane Keister's blog "greenbaggins" for his statement defending TE Greg Lawrence. It is classic FV "scholarship" and he admits there that his views of baptism are the same (with various nuances) as TE Lawrence's. A re-reading of his ordination papers with fresh eyes has also raised some concerns that were missed in his examination. He uses a lot of monocovenantal language, and there are other problems as well.”
In this blog response TE Carpenter affirms, “Yes,” that TE Moon is a proponent of FV. He states this is proven from the fact, via Lane Keister’s blog, that TE Moon develops “classic FV ‘scholarship.’” In this post, TE Carpenter publicly states that TE Moon is FV. And this occurred before any PCA courts have decided the issue.
5. From his blog, Tuesday, March 30, 2010:
Below, contains a timeline that TE Carpenter developed in his blog post on March 30 that links TE Moon to FV. The post is cited in full, as follows:
[TE Carpenter wrote:]
“Background on Siouxlands Federal Vision Controversy: Some Background on TE Joshua
Moon By 2001, when Joshua Moon began his studies at Covenant Seminary, TE Jeffrey Meyers, a PCA Pastor in St. Louis, had been very active with James Jordan’s Biblical Horizons organization for over a decade. The Biblical Horizons list is the discussion list started by a group of men who had formerly been theonomists. They came under the influence of the theology of men like Norman Shepherd, E.P. Sanders, and N.T. Wright. According to one watcher, they ended up rolling their theonomy into their ecclesiology and the result was the Federal Vision.
TE Wes White tells me that by 2001 Jeffrey Meyers was active on this Biblical Horizons list and that even men like John Barach (now a minister in the CREC, Doug Wilson’s denomination) looked up to Meyers as a leader in what later came to be called the Federal Vision movement.
It is important to recognize that what became known as the Federal Vision was a cohesive movement before the controversy about the Auburn Avenue Conference broke out. TE Meyers is the author of a book on Covenant Renewal Worship, which articulates the distinctive theology of worship in the Federal Vision. Some critics have voiced concerns that
Covenant Renewal Worship has too much in common with the Roman Catholic Mass. TE
Meyers is also a signatory of the Joint Federal Vision Statement. Here is a series of photographs that TE Meyers took at an Auburn Avenue Pastor’s conference.
TE Meyer’s church, Providence PCA, is very active in recruiting and training Covenant Seminary students and hosts numerous internships. Prior to TE Moon’s tenure at Providence
PCA, two other men of interest served as interns. In 2000, Albert Scharbach was an intern.
He is now a Roman Catholic priest and assistant to the Bishop in the Diocese of Baltimore.
In January of 2001, TE Greg Lawrence was also an intern at Providence PCA. TE Lawrence is currently under investigation in the Siouxlands Presbytery for holding/teaching Federal Vision theology.
1. Fall 2001 – Joshua Moon begins his studies at Covenant Theological Seminary. He attends Federal Visionist Jeffrey Meyer’s Church for his first two years at seminary. Here is
how Moon described his time at Providence in a document sent to the Presbytery of the
“September ‘01 - May ‘03: Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA), St. Louis, MO. Duties included teaching children’s Sunday school, preparing for and leading the weekly adult Bible study and prayer meeting, and occasional preaching along with regular (mostly weekly) meetings with Pastor Jeffrey Meyers.”
2. January 2002 – The first “Federal Vision” Auburn Avenue conference. This conference ignites the Federal Vision controversy in the confessionally Reformed Churches.
3. January 2002-June 2002 – Josh Moon continues regular meetings with Jeffrey Meyers (mostly weekly).
4. June 2002 – RPCUS condemns the Federal Vision as heresy.
5. June 2002-January 2003 – Josh Moon continues regular meetings with Jeffrey Meyers (mostly weekly).
6. January 2003 – The second “Federal Vision” Auburn Avenue Conference in which the Federal Visionists debated their opponents. You can see some of Jeffrey Meyer’s thoughts on this conference here.
7. January 2003-Summer 2003 – Josh Moon continues regular meetings with Jeffrey Meyers (mostly weekly).
8. Summer 2003-Summer 2004: Moon did an internship in a Providence PCA (Meyer’s Church) Church plant, Cornerstone Presbyterian Church. Moon writes:
Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (PCA), St. Louis, MO (church plant.) Duties included regular preaching in morning and evening services, a six-week adult Sunday school course, active participation in the outreach ministries of the church, regular meetings with Pastor Tommy Lee, and attendance at session and planning meetings of the church.
9. Received a grant for graduate theological studies from Covenant Seminary.
10. Fall of 2004-Fall of 2007 – Josh Moon in the U.K. doing post-graduate studies.
11. December 2007 – Moon receives a call from Good Shepherd PCA in Minnetonka, MN to serve as Pastor. Good Shepherd PCA describes its worship as “covenant renewal” worship.
12. January 2008 – TE Moon licensed at the 82nd Stated Meeting of the Presbytery of the
13. July 2008 – TE Moon sustains ordination exams at a meeting called for that purpose.
14. April 2009 – TE Moon agrees to serve on a committee to investigate whether or not TE
Greg Lawrence was holding or teaching doctrines related to the so-called Federal Vision.
15. May 2009 - TE Moon is quoted in By Faith magazine as follows:
Joshua Moon, pastor of Good Shepherd PCA in Minnetonka, Minn. says, “I don’t attach a special value to eternal election over and above any other doctrine of the church. However,
Paul emphasizes it to the Ephesians, but not the Corinthians, or the Galatians, or the Philippians.
[The prophets of the Old Testament are] by and large silent on the issue of divine (eternal and effective) election: they are more interested in the reality of ‘covenantal’ election, and urging those elected into the people of God by birth and promise to become and live like true people of God. That I take as more central to my task in preaching.”
16. August 2009 – The committee assigned to investigate TE Lawrence's views winds up its work. The majority recommendation is that a strong presumption of guilt be found that TE
Lawrence is teaching theology at odds with the Confession. TE Moon is one of two "no" votes on the committee. The other "no" vote was RE Milt Werkema, a ruling elder from
Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church
17. September 2009 - TE Joshua Moon stood up and moved that "the Presbytery of Siouxlands finds no strong presumption of guilt in the preaching/teaching views of TE Lawrence with respect to any doctrines associated with the so-called Federal Vision that are contrary to the doctrinal standards of the PCA." This motion passed 20-17.
18. September 2009 - TE Moon's speech defending TE Lawrence (which you can read here), he stated, "The fact is, what TE Lawrence says on baptism is held in various ways and with various nuances by a lot of people in our PCA...myself included..."
19. October 2009 – The Session of Foothills Community Church in Sturgis, South Dakota overtures the Presbytery of the Siouxlands to begin a BCO 31-2 investigation. The Presbytery approved the overture, did a cursory investigation of TE Moon at the end of the meeting, and declared no strong presumption of guilt.
20. January 2010 – The Presbytery of the Siouxlands hears my complaint that the Presbytery erred in not finding a strong presumption of guilt in TE Moon. The Presbytery rejected the complaint in large part because of Moon’s claims that he does not hold Federal Vision theology, is ignorant of Federal Vision theology, and that he was unaware of the controversy surrounding the Federal Vision.
Specifically, TE Moon wrote the following in a letter to the Presbytery in response to news of my complaint:
Mr. Carpenter attempts throughout to attach to me the label of “federal vision,” apparently hoping to influence the court by naming me as such. Presbytery is well aware that I came here ignorant of the controversy, having been overseas throughout the course of the disputes, and still I have read almost nothing from those involved in the disputes. To attempt to lump me into the views of others in such a crass manner, without caring to give justice to my views as an individual, and even stating that a similarity of argument is a “clear sympathy” with “federal vision”, is an especially gross kind of guilt by association. And that is beneath the dignity of this court. What similarities may exist are independent: I have almost no familiarity with the writings of the so-called “federal vision” theologians or their opponents. I trust Presbytery will treat me with more charity and understanding than this type of argument.
[End TE Carpenter’s post]
This timeline and discussion demonstrates that TE Carpenter prejudiced the truth. The timeline links TE Moon to pastors and teachers who have also been accused of advocating FV theology. In associating TE Moon to this men in such a manner, TE Carpenter has engaged in, “Misconstructing intentions, words, and actions.” Neither has he demonstrated, as WLC Q 144 states, “A charitable esteem of our neighbours;(11) loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name;(12) sorrowing for,(13) and covering of their infirmities;(14) freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces,(15) defending their innocency;(16) a ready receiving of a good report.”
6. From his blog, 25 April 2010:
TE Carpenter wrote:
“On May 19 we will be dragging them before the SJC again in order to deal with their lack of diligence concerning TE Joshua Moon.[iii] TE White and I have come under some criticism from outsiders for asking for the presbytery to investigate TE Moon’s views, instead of just laying charges against him and moving directly to trial. We chose this route because we thought it was important for the presbytery to do its job. When it became apparent that the presbytery had no intention of doing its job,[iv] TE White decided to lay charges against TE Moon for heresy. He attempted to do so on April 22nd, at the most recent stated meeting. The presbytery, in blatant violation of the BCO, refused to entertain the charges. They criticize us for blogging about these things and not simply making use of the process prescribed by the constitution of our church. But when we try to make use of the constitutional processes, they violate the constitution and refuse to allow us make use appropriate use of it and start complaining that we’re violating the Ninth Commandment.[v] I suffered with them for almost two years and didn’t say a peep until it became obvious that 1) they weren’t going to do the right thing without pressure and 2) public disclosure produced pressure.
So once again, we lodge a complaint. The presbytery will reject it. We will appeal to the SJC. Perhaps two or three years from now we will finally have TE Moon before the presbytery under oath and demand an explanation for his words and make an examination of his views.[vi] The presbytery will probably vote to acquit in the face of all the evidence. Then we will appeal to the SJC We will win, eventually. It’s just going to be a long haul. We’re ready for it. We expected it. In the meantime, TE Moon continues to occupy a PCA pulpit, just like TE Lawrence, and probably 60% of our presbytery is enraged at us. I wonder if some even hate us. I don’t like all of this, of course, but making my brothers in the presbytery happy with me is not my highest priority. I am highly, highly disappointed in many of them.[vii]
This blog post is “speaking the truth unseasonably,(12) or maliciously to a wrong end,(13) or perverting it to a wrong meaning,(14) or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice.” Moreover, his statements, “I suffered with them for almost
two years and didn’t say a peep until it became obvious that 1) they weren’t going to do the right thing without pressure and 2) public disclosure produced pressure.” This relates to violating the ninth commandment per WLC Q145, “(1) especially in public judicature.”
Comparing this post by TE Carpenter to the rhetoric of WLC Q 145 reveals that he violates the ninth commandment in variety of ways.
7. From his blog, August 15, 2010:
“I took an unannounced step back from blogging for a while…But now I’m back, and as full of piss and vinegar as before… So let’s get down to brass tacks. The April meeting took place, in part, on my birthday, and Josh Moon and Greg Lawrence gave me a wonderful birthday present. I’d like to share it with you.”
Here, his language is, (from WLC 145) “Rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy;(42) scornful contempt,” and “scoffing,(23) reviling,(24) rash,(25) harsh.” This post disregards, (from WLC 144) “a charitable esteem of our neighbours;(11),” and it is not a demonstration of “loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name;(12) sorrowing for,(13) and covering of
their infirmities; (14) freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces,(15) defending their innocency;(16) a ready receiving of a good report.”
In summary, after investigating TE Carpenter’s public engagement concerning TE Moon &
FV, both on his own blog and the blogs of others, our committee concludes that his actions and character has had this result: “prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbor,” and “endeavoring or desiring to impair it,” before the PCA courts have made a ruling regarding TE Moon’s views. TE Carpenter has prejudiced the debate “in public judicature,” and in his own mind appears to have declared TE Moon guilty as charged in that he believes, teaches, and preaches FV. The committee recommends that the Presbytery of the Siouxlands find a strong presumption of guilt with TE Carpenter, whereby, in relation to TE Moon, he has violated the ninth commandment as both defined by the Larger Catechism, and ultimately as it is interpreted within a Christological framework.
[i] Our committee makes no claim on the theology of TE Moon’s status concerning Federal Vision.
[ii] http://godshammer.wordpress.com/2009/10/27/siouxlands-schizophrenia, 2-3, / 1/13/2010
[iii] This statement is, “Speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end” (Q 145).
[iv] These statements are, “Out-facing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil” (Q 145).
[v] These statements are, “Backbiting, detracting… scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions” (Q 145).
[vi] 6 These do not demonstrate, “A charitable esteem of our neighbours; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for, and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocency; a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report” (Q 144).
[vii] These statements are, “Vain-glorious boasting, thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins... unnecessary discovering of infirmities…raising false rumours, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defence; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavouring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt” (Q 145).