Indictment of the PCA Standing Judicial Commission | Exhibit 10

An excerpt of heavily redacted minutes included in the “Record of the Case” prepared by the Presbytery Stated Clerk at the request of the General Assembly Stated Clerk in SJC 2020-13, the escalated Complaint of Peter Benyola versus the Central Florida Presbytery. This record would appear to indicate the provenance of a seminal disaster in the Presbytery stated meeting of October 18, 1997, which generated a 25-year fructifying scandal of Presbyterian governance. That Complaint, like its predecessor SJC 2020-01, addressed the real root cause of the manifold issues, and this was part of the Presbytery’s response.
An excerpt of heavily redacted minutes included in the “Record of the Case” prepared by the Presbytery Stated Clerk at the request of the General Assembly Stated Clerk in SJC 2020-13, the escalated Complaint of Peter Benyola versus the Central Florida Presbytery. This record would appear to indicate the provenance of a seminal disaster in the Presbytery stated meeting of October 18, 1997, and the forensic incunabula which generated a 25-year fructifying scandal of Presbyterian governance. That Complaint, like its predecessor SJC 2020-01, addressed the real root cause of the manifold issues, and this was part of the Presbytery’s response.

The Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America 

Part I: Form of Government 

Chapter 14: The General Assembly 

14-1. … 4. It is the responsibility of every member and every member congregation to support the whole work of the denomination as they be led in their conscience held captive to the Word of God. 

Part III: The Directory for the Worship of God 

Chapter 57: The Admission of Persons to Sealing Ordinances 

(All of) you being here present to make a public profession of faith, are to assent to the following declarations and promises, by which you enter into a solemn covenant with God and His Church. …
4. Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
5. Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the Church, and promise to study its purity and peace? 

“My dearest Mother; …
Things are not all bad. Weakness and defection among our own men are the worst things.” 

— J. Gresham Machen letter, May 9, 1927 

“Presenting an issue sharply is indeed by no means a popular business at the present time; there are many who prefer to fight their intellectual battles in what Dr. Francis L. Patton has aptly called a ‘condition of low visibility.’ …
Light may seem at times to be an impertinent intruder, but it is always beneficial in the end. The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless their meanings, or shrinks from ‘controversial’ matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life. In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight. …
At any rate, an attack upon Calvin or Turretin or the Westminster Divines does not seem to the modern churchgoer to be a very dangerous thing. In point of fact, however, the attack upon doctrine is not nearly so innocent a matter as our simple churchgoer supposes; for the things objected to in the theology of the Church are also at the very heart of the New Testament. Ultimately the attack is not against the seventeenth century, but against the Bible and against Jesus Himself. …
Nothing in the world can take the place of truth. …
It is often said that the divided condition of Christendom is an evil, and so it is. But the evil consists in the existence of the errors which cause the divisions and not at all in the recognition of those errors when once they exist. …
But if the consciousness of sin is to be produced, the law of God must be proclaimed in the lives of Christian people as well as in word. … The rank and file of the Church must do their part in so proclaiming the law of God by their lives that the secrets of men’s hearts shall be revealed. …
Honesty, despite all that can be said and done, is not a trifle, but one of the weightier matters of the law. Certainly it has a value of its own, a value quite independent of consequences. …
Nothing engenders strife so much as a forced unity, within the same organization, of those who disagree fundamentally in aim. …
What is the duty of Christian men at such at time? What is the duty, in particular, of Christian officers in the Church?
In the first place, they should encourage those who are engaging in the intellectual and spiritual struggle. … Indeed, truth cannot be stated clearly at all without being set over against error. Thus a large part of the New Testament is polemic; the enunciation of evangelical truth was occasioned by the errors which had arisen in the churches. So it will always be, on account of the fundamental laws of the human mind. … In such times of crisis, God has always saved the Church. But He has always saved it not by theological pacifists, but by sturdy contenders for the truth.
In the second place, Christian officers in the Church should perform their duty in deciding upon the qualifications of candidates for the ministry.” 

Christianity and Liberalism: Legacy Edition, J. Gresham Machen, 1923, pp. 1, 45-46, 48, 50, 68, 169, 171, 178-179 

“[Machen was] temperamentally defective, bitter and harsh in his judgments of others and implacable to those who [did] not agree with him.” 

— charges levied by Charles Erdman and J. Ross Stevenson of Princeton Seminary, as recounted in the 1988 Ph.D. diss. ‘Doctor Fundamentalis’: An Intellectual Biography of J. Gresham Machen, 1881-1937, D.G. Hart 

“Knowing him as I do, I feel that he has been misunderstood and misjudged, not so much among scholars who generally have recognized and have expressed their respect for the ability with which he presents his point of view even when they differ from it, but rather in the ecclesiastical sphere where his attitude toward the public policy of the church has aroused opposition. But here also I am confident that his course has been guided by principle; and where he has opposed persons, he has done so because of their relation to an issue which for him was determined not by the persons but by the principle involved.” 

— Dr. William Park Armstrong, professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, in his statement of support for Machen following the 1927 PCUSA General Assembly 

“Let’s remember that the Lord Jesus often engaged in conflict. Throughout His public ministry, He was a public controversialist, forever opposed by the religious establishment. And it is important to see that He did not shrink from that conflict. He was not reluctant to stand up for truth. He answered questions, sometimes turning the tables on those who sought to trap Him, used humor to make His point, and was willing to take necessary stances even though He knew they would only provoke further outrage. But what is remarkable about Jesus’ approach to such controversy is how poised and self-possessed He always was throughout it all. His opponents never once managed to get under His skin. He never once flew off the handle. We never once hear in His careful responses any of the customary venom that erupts from our own bruised egos.” 

“Humility during Conflict,” Tabletalk, March 2022, Vol. 46, No. 3, David Strain


02/04/2021: The Standing Judicial Commission’s judgment in Case 2019-13, the Complaint of Ms. Colleen Gendy v. Central Florida Presbytery, Decision on Complaint, — a case arising from the St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church Session — declared on application of the BCO Rules of Discipline, 

“The circular nature of the Presbytery’s argument is obvious when it is considered from the Complainant’s perspective. The Complainant is being told that she cannot complain about her removal from membership because she has been removed from membership. Put differently, fundamental fairness requires that a member facing formal process or removal without process retains standing to complain about the process or removal. Any other conclusion would permit a Session to remove any church member from membership for any reason or no reason without allowing that person to challenge the removal. …
In addition to the wording of the provision itself, the history of BCO 38-4 illustrates this distinction. Following the SJC decision in the case of Chen vs. Ascension Presbytery, which interpreted a predecessor BCO provision dealing with removal of a member’s name from the roll to mean that a member of the PCA essentially had a right to withdraw from church membership unilaterally, the General Assembly adopted the current language in BCO 38-4, moving the section from BCO chapter 46 (‘Jurisdiction’) and to BCO chapter 38 (‘Cases Without Process’) and adding the statement that ‘This erasure is an act of pastoral discipline,’ thus emphasizing that the action is a true ‘case’ of discipline, not merely an administrative procedure. Therefore, if a Session may sever a person’s membership in the church, surely that person should have the right to complain about it.
Ms. Gendy had standing to bring her Complaint. Presbytery should have so ruled and remanded the case to the St. Paul’s Session for consideration of Ms. Gendy’s original Complaint. Thus, we now remand the case to Presbytery so that it may take such action.”

(Minutes of the Forty-Eighth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, pp. 796-800

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by the Central Florida Presbytery 

Primary standards: Deuteronomy 10:16, Joshua 20:4, Proverbs 3:27, 11:1, 18:5, 20:23, 24:23, Ecclesiastes 10:8-10, Lamentations 3:34-35, 5:14, 1:2-6, Zechariah 8:16, Malachi 2:7, Acts 20:28, I Corinthians 13:6, II Corinthians 6:3-8, I Peter 5:1-4 

Secondary standards: WLC Q.130, 143-145; WSC Q.14, 76-78; BCO 38-4; 43-1 


02/15/2021, 03/10/2021: The Complainant’s assigned ruling elder and a teaching elder at St. Paul’s (also the elders who just days earlier received the final verdict overturning their botched discipline in SJC 2019-13), who both are also involved on the Presbytery side, summon him to attend several “conflict resolution” meetings in which he is denied mediation or witnesses, over against recommendations of the Book of Church Order Appendix I. They forbid discussion of the real, actual problems/ruling errors by Presbytery and its members which are the very actions that instigated the entire issue, and pressure him to apologize for allegations that the Complainant issued in his appellate brief to the higher Court: which was a legal replication containing factual retorts to the Presbytery’s very own assertions. Benyola has only himself to blame, we suppose.
On 02/16, the ruling elder emails, “I was disappointed you brought a briefcase of documents, which indicated you were there to challenge … responses, rather than hearing and understanding how you have handled this whole saga through your charges and accusations. I really encourage you to search your heart on how you have confronted people and have justified your accusations and attacks based on your strong beliefs in the rightness of your cause, at least in your mind. However strongly you believe in what you’re doing and that you’re not getting the responses you believe appropriate, if NEVER justifies the interactions you have had …” The “briefcase of documents” this RE refers to are the Complaints in question, a binder containing case files and the history of emails, and most shocking of all, The Book of Church Order. Benyola went into this meeting prepared to discuss the facts of the actual situation, and ready to read these elders’ own governance principles which they themselves took vows that they supposedly believe in (cf. BCO 13-7, 21-5, 24-6). And the elders find this preparation disheartening? If we only desire to talk about our feelings and have no desire to deal with the real problem, then why don’t we just say so?
The higher Court, the SJC, already has dismissed the case on procedural grounds, but this teaching elder decides to take personal offense at the Complainant’s retorts that were provided to the PCA General Assembly, in response to his statements issued on behalf of the Presbytery. This teaching elder who once accused Benyola of “a vendetta” now actually blames him for Saint Andrew’s not coming into the denomination: not just once, but twice. This is an obvious shift of blame since he was a key figure of the Presbytery whose responsibility it was to bring those problems to redress. (In retrospect, when Saint Andrew’s continued refusing to submit, that supposedly was Benyola’s fault for his activities protesting directly to the Presbytery (??) — but since the Saint Andrew’s teaching elders finally did unfurl the august banner of the PCA, which they purportedly wanted all along; now, do these same people claim the Complaints against Presbytery’s persistent errors had nothing to do with that favorable resolution?) Also, where are the Saint Andrew’s teaching elders this entire time? Why do St. Paul’s elders take so awfully seriously their choice to take offense at how the Complainant articulates their imbroglio, but they don’t take seriously repeated requests to facilitate meeting with those TEs who caused or exacerbated this festering welter in the first place? 

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by a teaching elder and a ruling elder of the Session of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, also Chairman and a member of the Minister and His Work Committee of Central Florida Presbytery 

Primary standards: Deuteronomy 10:16, Joshua 20:4, Proverbs 3:27, 11:1, 18:5, 20:23, 24:23, Ecclesiastes 10:8-10, Jeremiah 21:12, Lamentations 3:34-35, Ezekiel 9:4, Zechariah 1:2-6, 8:16, Malachi 2:7, Matthew 3:8, 16:16-17, Acts 20:27-28, I Corinthians 1:10-11, 13:6, II Corinthians 6:3-8, Hebrews 12:15, I Peter 5:1-4, I Timothy 3:2,15 

Secondary standards: WLC Q.130, 143-145; WSC Q.14, 76-78; BCO 8-1,-2,-3; 21-5.7; 24-6.4


02/02/2021: Stephen J. Nichols publishes his biography R. C. Sproul: A Life, which recounts R.C. Sproul’s role as the founding pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel. 

In addition to these theological contributions, there are also the contributions of the institutions R. C. founded and helmed. … But as the second millennium approached, R. C. would be involved in founding two more institutions, a church and a college. …
Church Planter
Some of this same audience were regular visitors to the Sproul home for a Bible study. A group of families within that audience wanted to start a church. They approached R. C., wanting him to be a pastor. … The group persisted. … R. C. became a church planter.
Saint Andrew’s Chapel first met in the [Ligonier Ministries] recording studio. R.C. called it a chapel because it was small. … Vesta explained why his name was chosen: ‘Andrew was always bringing people to Christ. That’s why we wanted to name it Saint Andrew’s.’ …
An undeveloped portion of the land would become the site of Saint Andrew’s Chapel … Two satellite buildings would also hold Ligonier staff. All that needed to be done now was to build a church building. …
The church sign says ‘Saint Andrew’s Chapel, A Reformed Congregation.’ A note on the church website explains: 

Saint Andrew’s was founded in 1997 as an independent congregation in the Reformed tradition. As such, Saint Andrew’s is not affiliated with a particular denomination. That is not to say, however, that we are non-denominational or inter-denominational. On the contrary, Saint Andrew’s is an independent congregation on account of our desire to remain steadfast in the Reformed tradition without the influence of denominational governance. Nevertheless, our pastors are ordained ministers in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). 

R. C. had his PCA ministerial credentials the entire time he pastored an independent church. It was not strictly his decision. The group that wanted to start the church and (kindly) cajoled R.C. into being their pastor met with representatives from the presbytery. That group felt that the representatives, at the time, were less interested in the confessional and doctrinal position of the church and more interested in its business plan and vision. This gave them pause. They reported back to R. C. In the end, they decided not to join the PCA but to remain independent. …
The holy invades the profane in sacred space and sacred time. Saint Andrew’s Chapel, dedicated in 2009, is the manifestation of the vision laid out in the last chapter of the classic book from 1985 [The Holiness of God]. …
At Saint Andrew’s, R. C. and the elders made Burk Parsons copastor. Before he died, the session, with R. C.’s full blessing, had announced that at R. C.’s passing Dr. Parsons would be installed as the senior minister. …
In addition to Ligonier, R. C. founded two other institutions: Saint Andrew’s Chapel and Reformation Bible College. Saint Andrew’s Chapel faithfully continues the work started by R.C. Sproul and that small group of families. …
R. C. could look out his office window at Ligonier and see Saint Andrew’s Chapel to the left and Reformation Bible College to the right. He loved that. These were the institutions that God used R. C. to found—institutions that R. C. hoped would be faithful and, God willing, carry on in the service of the church, institutions that would proclaim, defend, and contend for the gospel. All three—Ligonier, Saint Andrew’s, and RBC—encircle a pond. …
In front of the large oaken doors under a Gothic arch at the entrance to Saint Andrew’s is a graveyard. R. C. always believed a church should have a graveyard. He thought it a strong object lesson for the congregation as they entered and left church. R. C. is buried in that graveyard.” 

(R. C. Sproul: A Life, pp. 216, 219-224, 226, 270, 304-305, 308) 


06/29-07/02/2021: The 48th PCA General Assembly continues having to call on Presbytery for explanations on a megillah of errors, oversights and incomplete records from several years’ worth of requirements for Central Florida Presbytery’s licensure, examination and ordination process for teaching elders. In its report, the GA Committee on Review of Presbytery Records approves Central Florida Presbytery’s records, “with exception of substance.” It repeats many exceptions, including, “Exception: Jan 22, 2019; Apr 9, 2019 (BCO 13-11) – Executive Session Minutes not submitted for review.” BCO 13-11 requires, “The Presbytery shall keep a full and accurate record of its proceedings, and shall send it up to the General Assembly annually for review. It shall report to the General Assembly every year, all the important changes which may have taken place, such as licensures, ordinations, the receiving or dismissing of members, the removal of members by death, the union and the division of churches, and the formation of new ones.”
This excerpt demonstrates that the denomination’s highest Court’s interpretation of its own BCO requires that no presbytery has the right to withhold executive session minutes from records that are required by the GA Stated Clerk’s office. Whether or not the large redacted portions of Central Florida Presbytery’s 1997 minutes took place in executive session, the Presbytery had no authority to block out any portion of the minutes from the Record of the Case in SJC 2020-13.
This is the twentieth (20th) General Assembly since 1991, a span of 30 years, that the Review of Presbytery Records Committee reports disorganization of Central Florida Presbytery’s records. 

(Minutes of the Forty-Eighth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, pp. 536-540

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by the Central Florida Presbytery 

Secondary standards: BCO 13-11; 40-1,-4; RAO 16-3,-4.c,-5,-10.b


08/29/2021: Benyola participates in the worship service on his final Sunday morning at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church before relocating out of state, which demonstrates he remains in perfectly good standing the entire time he is a member living in the geographical bounds of that church. Benyola never caused any problems at St. Paul’s, while discreetly protesting Presbytery’s morass. 

(St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church Morning Worship Service, August 29, 2021, timestamp 59:00) 


09/05/2021: Having accepted a new job, Benyola relocates from the Orlando metro area to the Atlanta metro area. 


“I said, ‘I will guard my ways,
that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,
so long as the wicked are in my presence.’
I was mute and silent;
I held my peace to no avail,
and my distress grew worse.
My heart became hot within me.
As I mused, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue.” 

— Psalm 39:1-3 

The Westminster Larger Catechism

130. What are the sins of superiors?
A. The sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them … commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; counseling, encouraging, or favoring them in that which is evil; dissuading, discouraging, or discountenancing them in that which is good; correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath; or in any way dishonoring themselves, or lessening their authority, by an unjust, indiscreet, rigorous, or remiss behavior. 

“And the responsibility of the whole church is also the responsibility of every individual member; the government of our church is democratic, and democracy involves responsibility for the individual. Every individual member of the church—to say nothing of ministers who are members of church courts—has a vital responsibility for what is done in the pulpits and still more plainly in the agencies and boards. Individuals must witness for Christ, but the church must also witness in its corporate capacity, and no individual is walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel if he acquiesces in a corporate witness that is false.
The corporate witness of the Presbyterian church is being undermined in many ways. …
But the committee almost seems to favor a policy of concealment. …
It [The Auburn Affirmation] is directed against the creedal character of the church because it advocates a kind of interpretation of the creed which makes the creed a dead letter. If a man may ‘interpret’ a perfectly plain confession of faith to mean its exact opposite, what is the use of having any confession at all? …
We certainly do not wish to ‘split’ the church; on the contrary, we are working for the unity of the church with all our might. But in order that there should be unity within the church, it is necessary above all that there should be sharp separation of the church from the world. The carrying out of that separation is a prime duty of the hour. …
The Presbyterian church, we are convinced, is still predominantly Christian; it would stand for Christ if it knew the real meaning of the hostile propaganda which is now attacking the center of its life. At such a time clearness is demanded of every Christian man; the hour for merely pleasant words is over; love demands the plain speaking of the truth. We are witnesses; and if we are faithful to our sacred trust we must witness truly, whether men hear or whether they forbear.
What shall our decision be? Shall we transfer our allegiance to another gospel? Or shall we, by the help of God’s Spirit, be faithful to the Lord and Savior who bought us with his precious blood?” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “The Parting of the Ways,” The Presbyterian, April 17, 24, 1924 

“What mighty doctrinal conflicts there were in the apostolic age! I sometimes think that those who decry controversy have never read history at all, and certainly have never read the Word of God. The New Testament (gospels as well as epistles) is a controversial book almost from beginning to end; truth in it is always set forth in contrast with error. So it was in the apostolic church; truth was struck forth as a fire from the clash of conflict; the great evangelical epistles, Galatians and Romans, were written in the glorious form in which they actually appear only because of the conflict with the Judaizers, who, like the Modernists of today, though in a much less obviously destructive manner, denied the all-sufficiency of the substitutionary atonement of our Lord. So it will always be, even in uninspired books. Men who decry controversy never in the whole course of the history of the church have produced anything really great; great Christian utterances come only when men’s souls are stirred. God brought the church through those early conflicts. But certainly he did not do so by the instrumentality of theological pacifists, but instrumentality of that glorious fighter, the apostle Paul. …
In the second century there was another great conflict, and again it was a conflict not without, but within the church. The Gnostics used Christian terminology, like the Modernists of today; but like the Modernists of today they were opposed to Christianity at its root. Despite the insidiousness of the danger, the church was saved. But it was saved only because the leaders were no theological pacifists, but mighty contenders for the faith. Irenæus wrote his great work against heresies, and Tertullian contended against Marcion, and so the gospel was preserved. Those men were not afraid of controversy. God be endlessly praised for that! If they had been opposed to controversy, there would be no Christianity in the world today.
So it has been in all the other great ages through which the church has passed. So it was in the conflicts by which the great ecumenical creeds were produced; so it was in the days when Augustine contended against the Pelagian view of sin; so it was in the heroic days of the Reformation. Always there have been pacifists who have endeavored to conceal the issue and to bring about the false peace of compromise. But always there have been some true men who have resolutely refused.
So it was also when our great Reformed system of doctrine was set forth on the basis of the Scriptures alone. The Reformation had burst the bands of Roman slavery, and had returned to the Magna Charta of liberty in the Word of God. But after the first heroism was over, there had come the days of vacillation and compromise; the Reformation had completed its negative work, but its positive work was yet undone. It had broken with the Roman system, but it had no thorough system of its own. Then came the man of the hour, the man whom God had chosen. In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin set forth not scattered bits of evangelical truth, but a great system, and a system that was derived from the Bible alone. … The strongest Christianity, I think, is consistent Christianity; and consistent Christianity is found in the Reformed faith. Strange indeed it is that men should desert that glorious heritage, as in the United Church of Canada, for the hasty creedal formulations to be expected of our own intellectually decadent age. I believe in progress in theology. That is the reason why I do not regard theology as a kaleidoscope, but rather prefer to build for the future, in theology as in other branches of science, upon the solid achievements of the past.
At the time of the Reformation, and no doubt at the time of Calvin, there were many voices that counseled compromise. But, thank God, there were also true men who would not listen to the Tempter’s voice.
So it is also in our day. For one hundred and fifty years the church has been in the midst of a conflict greater than all the conflicts that have gone before. Many great branches of the church are completely dominated by the non-Christian forces; our own Presbyterian Church in America is in the gravest danger of going on the same path. …
In this time of crisis, when the question is being determined whether our church is to remain Christian or not, there are those who deplore controversy and say that all is well. Among them there are no doubt many who are not really Christian in their preaching at all. These men are not, indeed, conscious of denying the Bible and denying Christ, but the cross really fails to hold the central place in their hearts. But among the ecclesiastical pacifists there also are no doubt many truly Christian men. They belittle controversy because they do not yet see how serious is the danger, or what the controversy is really about. Can they be made to see in time? That is the question of all questions. Upon that question the existence of our church depends. Oh, brethren, you who belittle controversy, you who think that all is well, if you could only be made to see, if the Holy Spirit would only open your eyes! When I contemplate the issue, I feel as though it were a crime for us ever to rise from our knees, except to speak the word that God has given us to speak. God grant, brethren, that the mists may be dispelled from your eyes, and that you may yet witness in this time of crisis, before it is too late, for the Lord Jesus Christ. If you do, then our Presbyterian church will be saved as a true church of Christ, and will go forth again with new power for the salvation of the souls of men.” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “The Mission of the Church,” The Presbyterian, April 8, 1926 

“In making clear his position, Dr. Erdman said: ‘I want the constructive work of the Presbyterian Church to go on without interruption on account of any doctrinal controversy. …’ It would be impossible to put in any clearer way than is here done by Dr. Erdman the position of doctrinal indifferentism. And it would be impossible to imagine a position to which I am more conscientiously and more profoundly opposed. How can the constructive work of the Presbyterian church go on without interruption on account of any doctrinal controversy? The thing for which the Presbyterian church exists, I hold, is the propagation of a certain doctrine that we call the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only in that doctrine is Christ offered to men as their Savior. The church might do many other things—it might tinker with social conditions, it might use all sorts of palliative measures with men who have not been born again—but only by persuading men to accept the blessed ‘doctrine’ or gospel can it save human souls. The church, I hold, is in the world to propagate a message; and if its propagation of the message is not clear, then, whatever else it does, it cannot possibly be said to be engaged in its ‘constructive work.’ …
Thus Dr. Erdman was nominated in 1924 upon a platform to which I am conscientiously opposed, and he has stood consistently upon that platform ever since. In opposition to it, I hold that the Presbyterian church is in deadly peril and that if the peril continues to be ignored, the evangelical witness of the church will soon—as was so nearly the case in 1920—be destroyed. It would be difficult to imagine a more important difference of principle. …
Such are my ecclesiastical and theological views. If they disqualify a man … I only request that it should be based upon the true ground—that if the real objection to me is found in my ecclesiastical views and my consistent carrying out of the implications of them, my character should not continue to be maligned by making alleged ‘temperamental defects,’ or harshness or bitterness or the like, the reason for what is done. If zeal for the defense of the Presbyterian church—even a zeal that many think excessive—disqualifies a man … then I only ask that the fact should be made clearly known.
I venture, however, to hope that you will bring in no such report. … I venture still to ask that you do not content yourselves with a technical opinion but that you express your judgment regarding the charges that have been brought against me. Whatever the form of your report with regard to the legal aspects of the case, I seek and respectfully request public vindication at your hands. …
Perhaps it may be objected that if we continue to be tolerated, we shall harm the church by an insistence upon the maintenance of a strict view of its doctrinal standards. … The truth, after all, will prevail. If we are wrong, we shall come to naught. Surely it would be better to tolerate our teaching and to refute it in public discussion than to engage in a method of suppression which clearly would involve a breach of faith.” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “Statement to the Committee to Investigate Princeton,” 1926 

“God has brought his church through many perils, and the darkest hour has often preceded the dawn. So may it be in our day. The gospel may yet break forth, sooner than we expect, to bring light and liberty to mankind. But that will be done, unless the lesson of church history is altogether wrong, by the instrumentality not of theological pacifists who avoid controversy, but of earnest contenders for the faith. God give us men in our time who will stand with Luther and say: ‘Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen.’” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “Westminster Theological Seminary: Its Purpose and Plan,” 1929 

“In the nineteenth chapter of 2 Kings, we are told how Hezekiah, king of Judah, received a threatening letter from the Assyrian enemy. The letter contained unpalatable truth. It set forth the way in which the king of Assyria had conquered one nation after another—and could the feeble kingdom of Judah escape?
When Hezekiah received the letter, there were three things that he could do with it.
In the first place, he could obey its behest; he could go out and surrender his kingdom to the Assyrian enemy.
In the second place, he could refuse to read the letter; he could ignore its contents. Like another and worse king, with a far better communication than that, he could take out his king’s penknife and cut it up and throw it bit by bit contemptuously into the fire.
As a matter of fact, Hezekiah did neither of those two things. He took the letter with all its unpalatable truth and read it from beginning to end; he did not close his eyes to any of its threatening. But then he took the letter, with all the threatening that it contained, spread it open in the presence of Almighty God, and asked God to give the answer.
… men say that if we face the real condition of the times, we shall be guilty of stirring up controversy in the church.
No doubt the fact may be admitted. If we face the real situation in the church and in the world, and decide, despite that situation, to stand firmly for the gospel of Christ, we shall be very likely indeed to find ourselves engaged in controversy. But if we are going to avoid controversy, we might as well close our Bibles, for the New Testament is a controversial book practically from beginning to end. The New Testament writers and our Lord himself presented truth in sharp contrast with error, and indeed that is the only way in which truth can be presented in any clear and ringing way.”  

— J. Gresham Machen, “Facing the Facts before God,” 1931 

“One thing need always be remembered in the Christian church—true Christianity, now as always, is radically contrary to the natural man, and it cannot possibly be maintained without a constant struggle. A chip that floats downwards with the current is always at peace, but around every rock the waters foam and rage. Show me a professing Christian of whom all men speak well, and I will show you a man who is probably unfaithful to his Lord. …
Again, men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice, we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end. … One of the most eminent theological professors in the country made an address. In it he admitted that there are unfortunate controversies about doctrine in the epistles of Paul; but, said he in effect, the real essence of Paul’s teaching is found in the hymn to Christian love in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, and we can avoid controversy today if we will only devote the chief attention to that inspiring hymn. In reply, I am bound to say that the example was singularly ill-chosen. That hymn to Christian love is in the midst of a great polemic passage; it would bever have been written if Paul had been opposed to controversy with error in the church. … Every really great Christian utterance, it may almost be said, is born in controversy. It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of the truth. …
Many times, in the course of the past nineteen hundred years, men have predicted that in a generation or so the old gospel would be forever forgotten. Yet the gospel has burst forth again, and set the world aflame. So it may be in our age, in God’s good time and in his way. Sad indeed are the substitutes for the gospel of Christ. The church has been beguiled into Bypath Meadow, and is now groaning in the dungeon of Giant Despair. Happy is the man who can point out to such a church the straight, high road that leads over hill and valley to the City of God.” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “Christian Scholarship and the Defense of the Faith,” 1932 

Facing the Facts before God
The facts, alas, are perfectly plain to the man who is not afraid to see. …
It is perfectly clear, moreover, that in this warfare the anti-evangelical contention has so far won the victory. Of what avail is it to point to general professions of adherence to the faith of the church by this ecclesiastical official or that? The simple fact is that the policy of the church organization as a whole is exactly that which so effectively serves the purposes of unbelief in all the churches of the world—discouragement of controversy, tolerance of anti-Christian propaganda, bitter intolerance of any effort to make the true condition of the church known, emphasis on organization at the expense of doctrine, neglect of the deep things of the Word of God. Let us not deceive ourselves, my friends. The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. includes, indeed, many true Christian men and women; but in its corporate capacity, through its central organization, it has ceased to witness, in any clear and true sense, to the Lord Jesus Christ.
With this drift away from the faith, there has gone a lamentable moral decline. Life and doctrine, here as always, have been shown to be closely connected. When Christian doctrine is neglected or denied, Christian living sooner or later is abandoned too.
We are not referring to the sins of human weakness to which all Christians are subject. Those sins, alas, are always with us, and with regard to them it must ever be said: ‘Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.’ But we refer to the blatant and settled sins of our ecclesiastical habits—not the sins of this individual or that, but the sins that seem to be inherent in the entire corporate life of the church.
Loving Words or Loving Deeds
At this point, two errors need to be rooted out of our minds and hearts and lives.
The first error is the ancient error which applies a laxer standard of morality to the church than the standard that is applied to the world. Unfairness and oppression and dishonesty are somehow thought to become virtues when they serve ecclesiastical ends; an odor of sanctity in the church is thought to take the place of humble moral considerations which prevail generally between man and man.
That error must be rooted out of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. if it is to be a Christian church in fact as well as in name. Secret courts, depriving a man of his right to an open trial, are disgraceful and outrageous in the world at large; they are even more disgraceful and outrageous in a church that bears the name of Christ. Wrong does not become right merely by being within ecclesiastical walls.
The second error which needs to be rooted out of our minds and hearts is the error that makes loving words a substitute for loving deeds. We hear much about love in the church today, but is it really love? Oh, no, my friends. If a man really loved the church of Jesus Christ, if he really moved with his whole heart the little ones for whom Christ died, he would never repeat the vain swelling words of a foolish optimism; he would never cry, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace; he would never conceal from the church its deadly peril; he would never exalt the smooth working of ecclesiastical machinery above the simple principles of openness and fair play; … he would never deprive any man of his right to an open trial. Instead, he would present the real facts without fear or favor; he would love with a love like that of the apostle Paul, who wrote to the Corinthian Christians a truthful letter that cost him many tears. Above all, in this crisis of the church’s life he would come before God in a very agony of prayer—not the prayer that is an evasion of witness-bearing but the prayer that makes even weak men brave. He would pray that those who are leading the church astray may be convicted of their deadly error; he would pray that the great attack just launched in the name of church union against the faith of our church may by God’s grace be brought to naught; he would pray that the coldness and indifference of us who hold to the old gospel might be burned away in the flame of the divine love; he would pray that such a thing as secret courts may hardly so much as be named among us; he would pray that the church may renounce the things of darkness and may return to the light and openness and liberty of the gospel of Christ.
Who, in this time of crisis, will engage, very earnestly and very humbly, in such a prayer?” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “The Truth about the Presbyterian Church,” Christianity Today, November 1931, December 1931, January 1932 

“Controversy, ‘with meekness and wisdom’, in the present day is a bounden duty; silence would be too like neutrality, and neutrality is treason.” 

— letter from 19th-century Church of England clergyman and writer William Marsh, to J.C. Ryle, October 20, 1863, as recounted in J.C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone, Iain H. Murray, p. 113 

“I say that the advocates of dogma can turn boldly to the whole history of the progress and propagation of Christianity, from the time of the apostles down to the present day, and fearlessly appeal to its testimony. … It was ‘dogma’ in the apostolic age which emptied the heathen temples, and shook Greece and Rome. It was ‘dogma’ which awoke Christendom from its slumbers at the time of the Reformation, and spoiled the Pope of one-third of his subjects. It was ‘dogma’ which … revived the Church of England in the days of Whitefield, Wesley, Venn, and Romaine, and blew up our dying Christianity into a burning flame. It is ‘dogma’ at this moment which gives power to every successful mission, whether at home or abroad. It is doctrine—doctrine, clear ringing doctrine—which, like the rams horns at Jericho, cast down the opposition of the devil and sin. …
Well says Martin Luther: ‘Accursed is that charity which is preserved by the shipwreck of faith or truth, to which all things must give place; both charity, or an apostle, or an angel from heaven.’ Well says Dr Gauden: ‘If either peace or truth must be dispensed with, it is peace and not truth. Better to have truth without public peace than peace without saving truth.” 

— “The Importance of Dogma,” Principles for Churchmen, J.C. Ryle, pp. 103, 107, 109 

“If I may be so bold, faithfulness to Jesus Christ will require all of us to muster the courage and wisdom to enter doctrinal conflict …
The logic for this is simple. If Christ was regularly involved in theological disputes, and we are called to take up the cross and follow Him, then we can’t realistically expect to make it through life without engaging in some doctrinal conflict. Servants follow the path of the master, and our Master didn’t back down from needful doctrinal conflict. And neither should we.
The fact of the matter is this: you can’t proclaim the truth of the gospel and expect the lies of the evil one to remain dormant. Conflict always accompanies gospel ministry, which is why we must be prepared for doctrinal conflict if we’re going to share the gospel and live out its implications in the world.
This is why in every New Testament letter, the truth of the gospel is proclaimed, doctrinal error is in some way corrected, and enemies of the truth are called out. It’s a package deal.
Even when the letters aren’t directly engaging in doctrinal conflict or exposing false teachers, they have future doctrinal conflict and false teachers in view.
Peter reminds us of the truths we know, because false teachers are coming, “who will secretly bring in destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2:1). Paul warns Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3–4). These are just two examples among many such New Testament warnings (see 2 Cor. 11:13–14; Col. 2:8; 1 John 4:1–2).” 

“Contending for the Faith,” Tabletalk, March 2022, Vol. 46, No. 3, Nate Shurden 

“As king, Ahab’s job was to build prosperity and security for Israel. Elijah was threatening to withhold rain, an essential ingredient for his kingdom to prosper. Elijah so angered Ahab with his prophetic words that God hid His prophet away for three years (17:2-24). When he came out of hiding, Elijah’s first action was to return to Ahab and inform him of God’s perspective concerning his disobedience. Then he arranged a duel between Ahab’s god, Baal, and Israel’s God, Yahweh (18:16-19). Ahab accepted the challenge, and Elijah with God’s help staged a confrontation (18:20-42).
This amazing account illustrates Elijah’s courage, trust in God and belief in the effectiveness of prayer. His story is filled with amazing miracles (17:1-6, 7-16, 17-24; 18:16-42; 2 Kings 1:1-18; 2:1-9). But before you write off Elijah as some sort of surrealistic Bible superhero, read 1 Kings 19:1-10. After all his miracles and courage and faith, the prophet suffered severe burnout and ran for his life from Queen Jezebel.” 

Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God, Kenneth Boa, Sid Buzzell and Bill Perkins, p. 687