Indictment of the PCA Standing Judicial Commission | Exhibit 8

The Ministerial Obligation is provided in the PCA Handbook for Presbytery Clerks, year after year. All teaching elders must sign the same Confessional Subscription (BCO 13-7) corresponding to the same ordination vows (BCO 21-5) in order to be ordained, and their presbyteries must retain these contracts on file.

The Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America 

Part I: Form of Government 

Chapter 18: The Particular Church 

A candidate for the ministry is a member of the Church in full communion who, believing himself to be called to preach the Gospel, submits himself to the care and guidance of the Presbytery in his course of study and of practical training to prepare himself for this office. 

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
… all things should be done decently and in order.” 

— I Corinthians 14:33, 40 

“As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. …
The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.” 

— I Timothy 1:20-22, 24-25 

“By swearing an oath, we are confessing our faith: God and nobody else, not even ourselves, functions as verifiers of our words.” 

The Ten Commandments: Manual for the Christian Life, Jochem Douma, trans. Nelson D. Kloosterman, p. 90 

“The opposite of precision is sloppiness. When it comes to the knowledge of God and His gospel, there simply is no room for sloppiness. Another opposite of precision is the more subtle ‘studied ambiguity’ that R. C. fought against his whole life. Perhaps studied ambiguity was a far greater threat than blatant error. With the former, people could let their guard down, and subtle drips become waterfalls over time. R. C. valued precision.” 

R. C. Sproul: A Life, Stephen J. Nichols, p. 285 

“In order for a church to reach a community with the gospel of Jesus Christ and serve their particular needs for generations to come, the leadership team must understand the importance of being detail oriented. … we must be detail oriented in our preaching and teaching. … we must be detail oriented in day-to-day ministering to the flock.
… a church must be detail oriented in its preaching and teaching.
… A detail-oriented preacher and teacher understands that correct doctrine matters. Using precise biblical and confessional language is fundamental if we are to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).” 

“A Detail-Oriented Church,” Tabletalk, June 2017, Vol. 41, No. 6, Kevin Struyk, associate pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel 

“Christianity is based, then, upon an account of something that happened, and the Christian worker is primarily a witness. But if so, it is rather important that the Christian worker should tell the truth. When a man takes his seat upon the witness stand, it makes little difference what the cut of his coat is, or whether his sentences are nicely turned. The important thing is that he tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” 

Christianity and Liberalism: Legacy Edition, J. Gresham Machen, 1923, p. 53 

Appendix A. Bearing of Scriptural Principles on the Lawfulness and Duty of Union between Separate Churches
Extract from Speech on the Union Question, Jan. 9, 1867
“… if a Christian Church can say, if it can show that union for the joint administration of Word and Sacrament, of government, worship, and discipline, in a Church, lays upon ministers and members the necessity of some compromise of truth, or some surrender of duty, then this too would furnish a sufficient answer, and union, however desirable, would cease to be lawful or Scriptural. And the question substantially comes to this: Can such an allegation be truly pleaded? Is there, in the first place, any compromise of truth, any sacrifice of the doctrines we believe and hold, any denial of one article of our faith, demanded or expected in the event of the union that is contemplated? Or is there, in the second place, under the restraint of such union, any obligation or necessity laid upon us to adopt a line of practical conduct other than we would take without union, or to act in a way unscriptural, and by a rule we would not sanction, if we continued as a separate Church?” 

The Church of Christ, James Bannerman, p. 865 

“Mr. Thompson in his sermon on conviction of sin, says, ‘It is the indispensable duty of every one who would aspire to the sacred office, to pray and labour in the greatest earnest for true sanctifying grace, and all other necessary qualifications to fit him for his work; and to propose single ends and views to himself in undertaking it. And it is no less the duty of those, whose part it is to call and ordain men to that work, to take all possible care to inquire into the saving grace as well as other qualifications in the persons to be ordained; and the neglect of either is a heinous sin, and of a dreadful tendency; no doubt a graceless ministry is an awful plague and scourge to any people. …
We are directed by the Westminster Assembly to inquire touching the grace of God in the candidate, and if he be of such holiness of life, as is requisite in a minister of the gospel, and adds: ‘I am sure as to the practice of some presbyteries, that it is not ordinary or habitual in their practice to neglect this part of their work.’
And in stronger language: ‘That we allow ourselves to neglect all inquiry about the grace of God in candidates, is a downright slander and falsehood. That in some instances we may be deficient, is readily acknowledged, as well as in many other parts of our work.’ And in the sixth article of the plan of union unanimously adopted by both synods, it was agreed, ‘That no presbytery shall license or ordain to the holy ministry any candidate, until he give them complete satisfaction as to his learning and experimental acquaintance with religion.’” 

The Constitutional History of the Presbyterian Church in The United States of America, Part II, Charles Hodge, D.D., pp. 390-391


08/11/2020: The Saint Andrew’s Session having ostensibly met Presbytery’s conditions, Stephen Adams, a longtime member of Saint Andrew’s and its youth minister, who completed his pastoral internship at Saint Andrew’s, is examined and granted to labor out of bounds in a pastoral call at Saint Andrew’s, at the Central Florida Presbytery 177th stated meeting. Whoops. This contravenes the 1976 judicial precedent of the highest Court of the Church, yet again, and violates the BCO, but in this case, with the Presbytery fully aware of the GA precedent due to Benyola bringing it to the Court’s attention multiple times. During the same meeting, another member of Saint Andrew’s is also examined and granted to labor out of bounds as a teaching elder in a call at the parachurch organization adjacent to Saint Andrew’s. Like Adams, he did not qualify for ordination according to the PCA Constitution, which requires men to be members in the PCA before their candidacy. 

(Minutes of the Fourth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, p. 70

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

Primary standards: Deuteronomy 10:16, II Chronicles 7:14, Proverbs 20:25, Malachi 2:7, Matthew 3:8, Luke 19:14,27, Acts 20:28, I Corinthians 1:10-11, I Timothy 5:22-25 

Secondary standards: WLC Q.99.6-8; BCO Preface I; 1-1; 3-3,-6; 4-1; 5-9; 7-3; 8-7 (cf. 4th PCA General Assembly, Judicial Case 2); 11-4; 13-5,-7; 14-7; 18-1,-2,-4,-5,-8; 19-2,-3.2,3,4,-7,-8,-12; 20-1,-2 

Tertiary standards: Central Florida Presbytery, PCA, Exam Committee Vision, Values, Central Florida Presbytery Standing Rules, Candidacy Policy 


08/14/2020: After obtaining copies of the bylaws from members of Saint Andrew’s, ten days after withdrawing the 07/01 Complaint, Benyola submits an amicus brief to the relevant committee at the Central Florida Presbytery to assist with their “investigation,” alerting Presbytery to important discrepancies between what Saint Andrew’s promised their congregation as well as the Presbytery, and the bylaws they actually presented to the members and that were passed. Benyola cautions the Presbytery against ordaining yet another teaching elder at Saint Andrew’s over against the PCA Constitution and judicial precedent, especially under recent circumstances calling for investigation. 

(Recommendation for Review and Control by Central Florida Presbytery


08/30/2020: Central Florida Presbytery dispatches an RE delegation to Saint Andrew’s Chapel to support the ordination of TE Stephen Adams at this independent church, following through with an agreement to conditions that Saint Andrew’s’ Session apparently met. At TE Adams’ ordination, the Senior Pastor erroneously pronounces and declares in the name of the triune God that Adams’ ordination is agreeable to the Word of God and the PCA Constitution: an illicit ordination that the Complainant later proves — and Presbytery admits — does not accord with the PCA Constitution. But, now Saint Andrew’s Chapel is back up to four PCA teaching elders laboring out-of-bounds. Saint Andrew’s never has any intention to join the denomination, but they want that paperwork.

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by the Saint Andrew’s Chapel Senior Pastor, et al. 

Primary standards: Exodus 20:7,16, II Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 76:22, Proverbs 20:25, 24:8-12, 28:9,13, Malachi 2:7, Matthew 3:8, Luke 19:14,27, Acts 20:27-28, I Timothy 3:2,15 5:22-25 

Secondary standards: WLC Q.99.6-8; WSC Q.14, 76-78; BCO Preface I; 1-1; 3-3,-6; 4-1; 5-9; 7-3; 8-7 (cf. 4th PCA General Assembly, Judicial Case 2); 11-4; 8-1,-2,-3; 13-5,-7; 14-7; 18-1,-2,-4,-5,-8; 19-2,-3.2,3,4,-7,-8,-12; 20-1,-2; 21-4f.,-7 

Tertiary standards: Central Florida Presbytery, PCA, Exam Committee Vision, Values, Central Florida Presbytery Standing Rules, Candidacy Policy 


07/25 through 09/04/2020: Benyola researches classic and contemporary Reformed theological academic works on ecclesiology and polity, writes a five-part article series called Fundamentals of Presbyterianism totaling more than 100 pages, and publishes it at his theological blog, (Everyone at home in quarantine needed their own so-called “pandemic project” and this was his.)
The PCA BCO is extensively quoted, but no direct/overt reference is made to the Central Florida Presbytery or Saint Andrew’s Chapel. Benyola hopes that by keeping the content relatively general, arming people with knowledge of decent, orderly, biblical church government, that local Christians will think through the implications of all the information and will connect the dots for themselves, without having to spell out the specific problems in Central Florida. Not much noticeable happens. 


09/08/2020: The Stated Clerk (then, Pro Tempore) of the General Assembly reports to Benyola that the PCA Standing Judicial Commission has upheld the Central Florida Presbytery’s reasons for dismissing the first complaint of January 2020, which the higher Court upholds on the same procedural grounds as the lower Court. The Complaint’s facts and merits remain unanswered. 

(Minutes of the Forty-Eighth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, p. 801) 

Alleged violations (errors and/or delinquencies) by the Standing Judicial Commission 

Primary standards: Psalm 11:3, Proverbs 3:27, 31:8-9, Jeremiah 21:12, Lamentations 3:34-36, Zechariah 1:2-6, 8:16, Malachi 2:7, Matthew 3:8, Acts 20:27-28, Ephesians 5:11, II Corinthians 6:3-8 

Secondary standards: WCF 1.10; 30.1; 31.1-3; WLC Q.99.6-8; WSC Q.14, 76-78; BCO Preface I, II.1-7; 1-1,-5; 3-2,-3,-5,-6; 11-4; 13-7; 14-6,a,b,c,g,k; RAO 15-5.b; 17-1.4; OMSJC 2.1; 16.1


“The privilege claimed by the Independent ministers, of holding and teaching doctrines not in harmony with the Confession of Faith, is a privilege which, even if harmless in this particular case, might be abused as a precedent, and lead in other quarters and in other relations to serious mischief … in the event that the Independent ministers and churches cannot relinquish their particularities, with a good conscience, this Assembly will cherish them in the bonds of a Christian love but it cannot see its way clear to embrace them in the same denomination.” 

Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (Old School), 1857, p. 42 

“An overwhelming consensus was maintained with regard to the meaning and significance of adopting the confessional standards in the American Presbyterian Church until the decline and departure of the 1900s. It is that earlier, consistent position that continues as the spiritual heritage of such churches as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and others. It must be followed and maintained today.
What is that heritage? It is: (1) that each officer adopts the Confession and Catechisms as his own confession of faith; (2) that each officer by adopting the confessional standards acknowledges that all the articles are essential and necessary to the system of doctrine, (3) that each officer in affirming that the confessional standards contain the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures is assenting ‘to the whole concatenated statement of doctrines contained in the Confession’ but not necessarily to every proposition; (4) that each potential officer must declare any scruple with respect to any article of the confessional standards; (5) that no presbytery may allow the scrupling of any doctrine of the confessional standards but may only allow a scruple at a statement that is not vital to the system of doctrine; and (6) where there are differences of opinion on the significance of the scruple the question is to be determined judicially by the proper ecclesiastical courts, that is, regional Synods and ultimately the General Assembly.
In the past the church abandoned its heritage at two critical junctures. First, the church limited the system of doctrine by Assembly action to just some doctrines. Although the intent of evangelicals within the church was good, the consequence by clear implication declared the other doctrines of the confessional standards no longer to be essential or required of the church officers. Secondly, the church explicitly gave to a presbytery the right to determine which articles of the confessional standards it wanted to consider essential and necessary and the right to determine for itself what the system of doctrine means for the presbytery and those to be ordained. Let the conservative Presbyterian denominations beware of unwittingly falling into the trap into which some of our evangelical forebears fell when they attempted to define the cardinal doctrines within the Confession in hopes of keeping at least faith in the gospel as requirements for church officers. Furthermore, let the conservative Presbyterian denominations beware lest they permit their General Assemblies to give away to the presbyteries the responsibility which those Assemblies have and thus engender doctrinal disunity.
From a practical perspective, how may the subscription question relative to the second ordination vow be handled safely in the presbyteries? By living before God in dependence upon his wisdom to do courageously that which is right without fear of or favoritism to men.
The decision of the church courts will involve a human being who is asking for admission to the position of officer in the church. He may be a friend, a relative, a son of the church—bright and friendly—perhaps already called by a church that says they desperately need and want just this man. He may be a former student, a former or present parishioner. These and other ties must not blunt the seriousness of the moment and the awesome responsibility of each individual in the court.
The time for the vote comes. If the candidate has indicated that he adopts the confessional standards and its doctrines, or if the candidate scruples or takes exception to the way in which a doctrine is stated but indicates that he agrees with the doctrine, and is in all other ways qualified, let us vote with joy and gladness, welcoming such an individual to take part in the ministry with us.
If, however, the candidate scruples or takes exception to one or more of the doctrines of the system of doctrine of the confessional standards (and not merely to the way the doctrine is stated), let us realize our responsibility before God and to the church in terms of our own solemn ordination vow. Let us remember that the decision we are required to make about this candidate is no different from that which we would make about a potential minister who is a Baptist, or about one who thinks the Ten Commandments are not for the New Testament Church, or about one who has ‘problems’ with predestination or Presbyterian church government. The church has entrusted us with the task of seeing that those admitted to its ministry adopt these confessional standards and the doctrines of the system of doctrine contained within them. Hodge put it well when he said: ‘… it is a breach of faith to God and man if she fails to require a profession of this system by all those whom she receives or ordains as teachers and guides of her people.’ [Discussions in Church Polity, Charles Hodge, p. 340]” 

— “Subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms,” George W. Knight III, The Practice of Confessional Subscription, ed. David Hall, pp. 182-184 

“The committee that Dr. Thompson appointed was of a thoroughly partisan kind. … In general, it would be difficult to imagine a more perfect example of a partisan committee.
From such a committee no impartial report could reasonably have been expected. And yet one could scarcely have anticipated quite such unfairness as that which characterizes the report that was actually produced—the misrepresentation of various kinds, the omission of vitally relevant evidence, the unjudicial tone throughout. It is safe to say that seldom has a more unfair document been submitted to a body such as the General Assembly of our church.
Such a document never could have been submitted with any reasonable certainty of its being adopted if time had been allowed for the commissioners to peruse it with any care and for the persons whom it attacked to prepare their defense. …
Indeed, it might conceivably be questioned whether the appointment of an impartial committee was not precluded by the very form of the instructions which the committee received from the Assembly. …
The whole action would be stopped if the rank and file of the church were given the slightest real voice in the questions in dispute. …
But the present method of procedure is such that the laity is given little voice.
… they [the commissioners] will naturally not understand that the men in charge of the whole ecclesiastical machinery are in reality active partisans in the dispute. And so, without any real consideration at all, and with the best intentions in the world on the part of the lay members of the Assembly and on the part of many ministers, a very great injustice may be consummated. In view of the inexperience and lack of information of the bulk of the commissioners, the ecclesiastical machinery may again be supreme. The only hope is that the sound Christian heart of the church, despite all the obstacles, may become genuinely interested at last in this supremely important matter, and that thus there may be fair play. 
It is to the rank and file of the church that we must make our appeal. We do so not altogether without hope. From the human point of view, indeed, everything is against us. The men representing the fine old institution which is now being done to death are for the most part entirely without skill in the arts of ecclesiastical politics, while their opponents are in full control of the machinery of the church. We cannot hope to win this battle by any reliance upon human influences or by any concealment of the real issue. Our only hope for victory is by a frank appeal from the present ecclesiastical authorities to the rank and file of the church. We have a just cause, and the inner heart of our church, we hope, is still sound. If the facts could only be made known, we think that justice would be done.
… In discussing ‘the future of evangelical Christianity,’ we do not mean the ultimate future. The ultimate future, according to the great and precious promises of God, is sure; if evangelical Christianity is true, it cannot ultimately fail.
But the future of which we are speaking is the immediate future. The gospel will triumph in the end, but meanwhile we are living in a time of conflict when we need to ask what it is God’s will that we should do. …
Ecclesiastical action can never, indeed, destroy vital Christianity from human hearts. … Vital Christianity never will be crushed out of the world by action of church legislatures or courts. The gospel of Christ is still enshrined, even in these sad, cold days, in the hearts of men.
But though vital Christianity cannot be destroyed by ecclesiastical action, it may be driven out of the Presbyterian church; Christian people are trying vainly to keep the waters sweet when the fountain is corrupt. It will be a sad day if Presbyterianism in America falls into such a condition as that. …
But possibly the leaders may come to see, on sober second thought, that even from their point of view the end is being attained at too great a cost, that in running roughshod over the principles of liberty in the church they are really harming their own cause, that theological pacifism will hardly prosper in the long run if it is stained with crime. Thus we have hope of every man; and we shall rejoice with all our heart if the present leaders the church show that although they are against us in many matters, they prefer at least to fight with weapons that are fair.
But our chief appeal is to the rank and file of our church. We have a just cause, and the heart of the church, we hope, is still true.” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “The Attack upon Princeton Seminary: A Plea for Fair Play,” 1927 

“Is there anyone we can trust? People let us down again and again, because there is often a discrepancy between what they claim and what they live. But God will never let us down, because he never changes. His promises are as good as His unchanging character. Read Hebrews 13:8 to reflect on God’s perfect integrity. …
God Himself has testified that He does not change (Malachi 3:6). Reflect on God’s immutable character and contrast this with the changing character of people. …
People sometimes tell us one thing but live another. The biblical virtue of integrity points to a consistency between what is inside and what is outside, between belief and behavior, our words and our ways, our attitudes and our actions, our values and our practice. Go to Isaiah 6:1-7 to learn more about the meaning of integrity. …
When the prophet Isaiah had a vision of the glorious and awesome Creator of the universe, he was overwhelmed by the holiness of God. R. C. Sproul comments on Isaiah’s encounter with the holiness of God: ‘To be undone means to come apart at the seams, to be unraveled. What Isaiah was expressing is what modern psychologists describe as the experience of personal disintegration. To disintegrate means exactly what the word suggests, ‘dis integrate.’ to integrate something is to put pieces together in a unified whole … The word integrity … [suggests] a person whose life is whole or wholesome. In modern slang we say, He’s got it all together.’’
In the face of God’s perfect integration, Isaiah saw his deep need for personal reconstruction. Isaiah realized the depth of his own sin in the process of catching a glimpse of God’s perfect holiness, and he acknowledged those areas in which he had turned from his commitments as a priest and a prophet. But his commitment in verse 8 and his life as a faithful prophet demonstrate for all leaders the possibility of framing a life of integrity with God’s help.
*Sproul, R.C. One Holy Passion. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1987.” 

Handbook to Leadership: Leadership in the Image of God, Kenneth Boa, Sid Buzzell and Bill Perkins, pp. 79-82