Indictment of the PCA Standing Judicial Commission | Preamble

The Member Vows for the Standing Judicial Commission are provided in the Operating Manual for Standing Judicial Commission, annexed to the PCA Book of Church Order, year after year. Every teaching elder and ruling elder elected to the SJC must sign this contract. Yet, has amassed a preponderance of evidence that would seem to indicate a deleterious disjunction between what the SJC members profess in their vows and what they actually do.


“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.” 

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

“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.
… 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.
… 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 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

“I hold that facts have a most unprogressive habit of staying put.” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “The Responsibility of the Church in Our New Age,” 1933


To Dr. Bryan Chapell, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, and to the Presbyterian Church in America, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 

 Especially to the presbyters comprising the Committee on Constitutional Business: the only entity invested with potestas to rein in and repair the Standing Judicial Commission (BCO 15-5.a; RAO 8-2, 14-11.d(2), 17-1,-5; OMSJC 19.1,.5), which tribunal currently is an objectively incompetent, lawless, unfaithful, and malignant “prelatic development” (cf. Rev. D. Douglas Bannerman, M.A.) fraught with unwieldy superconcentration of imbalanced juridical power scandalizing this Church: 

 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 And now, this nineteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord, two thousand and twenty-three, this propitious presbyversary of The Adopting Act of 1729, wherein the Synod of Philadelphia resolved to “agree that all the ministers of this Synod, or that shall hereafter be admitted into this Synod, shall declare their agreement in, and approbation of, the Confession of Faith, with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, as being in all the essential and necessary articles, good forms of sound words and systems of Christian doctrine, and do also adopt the said Confession and Catechisms as the confession of our faith.”: one pivotal, auspicious watershed codification in the historical development of American Presbyterianism; also this centenary of Christianity and Liberalism, Dr. J. Gresham Machen’s prescient and portentous reveille soliciting the Presbyterian Church’s intellectual honesty concerning its very own postulated tenets; and this semicentennial commemoration of establishment of the Presbyterian Church in America, an originally “intensely Presbyterian” denomination (cf. M1GA, 1973); in the spirit of ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbi Dei, and seizing upon the heteronomous authority of Genesis 18:22-33, 44:16, 49:19, 50:20, Exodus 2:11, 8:23, 18:11,18-26, 16:8, 23:1,22, 32:25, Leviticus 19:15, Numbers 16:5,26, 23:9, Deuteronomy 7:22, 20:4, 28:8,13, 31:8, 33:25, Joshua 1:5, 7:1-26, 23:10, Judges 6:14, I Samuel 12:23, 17:46, II Samuel 12:7, 14:24,28-33, 22:29, 23:5-7, I Kings 2:6,9, 18:4, 22:14, II Kings 3:16-17, 6:16, 19:14, I Chronicles 12:32, 28:20, II Chronicles 7:14, 15:7, 19:11, 26:16, 30:18-20, 32:7-8, Nehemiah 4:14, 5:6-9,12-13,16,18-19, 6:1-14,19, Esther 1:13, 3:2-4, 4:13-14, 8:13, 9:1-2,5,16,23-25, 10:3, Job 5:17-19, 13:15, 38:2-3, Psalms 1:1-6,29-31, 3:1-8, 5:1-12, 6:7-10, 7:1-17, 10:2,7,15-18, 11:1-7, 12:1-8, 13:1-6, 15:1-5, 16:1-11, 17:1-15, 18:20-30, 19:7-14, 20:1-8, 21:11-13, 23:5-6, 24:3-6, 25:1-22, 26:1-12, 27:1-14,18, 28:1-8, 30:1-5, 31:1-24, 34:11-22, 35:1-28, 36:1-12, 37:1-40, 38:12-22, 39:1-3, 40:1-17, 41:1-13, 43:1-4, 46:1-11, 49:20, 50:14-23, 51:1-19, 52:1-9, 53:1-6, 54:1-7, 55:1-23, 56:1-13, 57:1-4, 58:1-11, 59:1-17, 62:1-12, 63:1-11, 64:1-10, 65:1-4, 69:1-36, 70:1-5, 71:1-21, 73:24, 74:4-23, 76:10, 78:72, 81:11-13, 82:1-5, 86:14-17, 91:1-16, 92:12-13, 94:12-23, 96:10, 97:10-12, 99:4, 101:5-8, 103:6, 105:42-45, 106:3, 107:39-43, 109:1-31, 112:1-12, 116:12-14,18,19, 118:5-13,17, 119:1-176, 120:1-7, 121:1-8, 122:1-9, 123:3-4, 124:1-8, 125:1-5, 126:5-6, 130:1-6, 138:7,8, 139:19-24, 140:1-13, 141:1-10, 143:7-12, 147:19-20, Proverbs 3:25-27,33, 10:24, 11:1,3,9, 12:19, 15:8, 18:5,13,17, 20:23, 24:11-12,23-25,28-29, 25:8,13, 26:5, 28:9,16, Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, 3:16, 4:1-3, 5:1-9, 7:7-8, 8:1-13, 9:1,11,17,18, 10:4-6,8-10,18, 11:1-4, Isaiah 6:9-29, 28:16, 30:1-5, 33:16, 40:29-31, 43:3-4, 43:2, 48:10, 50:9, 51:12-13, 54:17, 55:6-11, 58:6-12, 60:22, 66:5, Jeremiah 6:10-11, 9:4, 11:18-20, 15:15-21, 20:10-13, 21:12, 23:23-25,28-29, 30:11, 36:27-32, 39:18, Lamentations 1:16, 3:1-66, Ezekiel 7:27, 9:4, 25:17, 33:1-20, 34:1-10,22, Daniel 11:32, Hosea 1:10, 4:6, Joel 1:2-3, Amos 5:7,10,14-15,23-24, 9:9, Micah 3:1-12, 5:7, 6:8-13, 7:8, Nahum 1:12, Habakkuk 2:3, 3:17-19, Zechariah 1:2-6, 4:7, 7:8-15, 8:16, 10:12, Malachi 1:6-14, 2:7-14, 3:16-18, Matthew 3:8, 5:10-12,21-26,44-45, 7:15-20, 10:23, 11:16, 18:15-20, 20:25-28, 28:10, Mark 8:33, 9:23, 11:12-14,20-21, 16:7, Luke 2:35, 6:26, 7:40, 10:3,19-20, 11:5-13,28,33 12:1-3,50, 17:3-4, 18:1-10, 19:14,27, 21:12-13, John 3:19-21, 6:68, 12:26,35, Acts 5:3-4,9,11,29, 9:31, 16:35-40, 17:10-11, 19:22, 20:26-35, Romans 1:32, 8:31-39, 16:17-20, I Corinthians 5:2-13, 11:18-19,27, 14:33,36,40, 15:58, 16:13-14, II Corinthians 4:1-2, 6:3-8, 11:26-31, 12:1,6-7,20, Galatians 1:10, 2:4-6,11-21, 6:6-11,14-18, Ephesians 4:31, 5:6-12, Colossians 1:9-12, 3:23-25, I Thessalonians 2:4-6, 5:27, II Thessalonians 3:3, I Timothy 3:2,15, 4:6-10, II Timothy 2:19, 4:18, Titus 1:5-7,13-16, Philemon 3,8-9,14,20-22,25, Hebrews 3:13, 5:14, 6:10, 12:3-15, 13:13, James 1:19-25, 3:1,17-18, 4:1-3, 5:10, I Peter 2:1,12-17, 3:13-17, 4:4-5,12-19, 5:1-4, and Revelation 2:9,14-25, 3:9,19; the Westminster Confession of Faith 1.10; 20.1-4; 22.1-6; 31.1-3; the Westminster Larger Catechism Q.86, 99.6-8, 130, 143-145, 151; the Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.14, 76-78; The Book of Church Order Preface II.1,4; 10-3; 11-2,-4; 13-7,-9.e,f,h; 14-1.4,-6.a-d,g,k,-7; 21-5; 25-11 (cf. SJC 93-3, M22GA, 1994); 27-4; 32-6.b; 31-11, 33-3; 34-1,-2,-3; 40-2,-3,-4,-5,-6; and 43-1,-2,-3 (cf. SJC 2019-13, M48GA, 2021); Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, §61, §63 (RONR (12th ed.) 61:22; 63:7-9, 13, 35); and The Florida Statutes, Title XXXVI, Chapters 617.0601(5); 617.0607(1); 617.1601(1,3,4,5); 617.1602(1,2); necessarily for the honor of religion and in the public interest, comes Peter Thomas Benyola, a Christian who hews to Presbyterian and Reformed convictions, and evinces the denouement of a quarter-century antipresbyterian mutiny; its concomitant ecclesiastical excrescence and sweeping, runaway scandal; a self-vitiating, illegal Floridian sirocco of untrammeled retaliatory “discipline” against its whistleblower, futilely ignoring his civil liberties as a United States citizen as well as a Zionic citizen; and the enterprise unto the redress of the same “public” and “notorious” offenses: the cumulative “important delinquenc[ies][and] grossly unconstitutional proceedings” (cf. BCO 40-5) that are “hostile to the system [and][strike] at the vitals of religion” (cf. BCO 21-4.f) by negligent office-bearers in the Session of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, the Central Florida Presbytery, and the Standing Judicial Commission of the General Assembly, perpetrated against the peace, unity and purity of the Church, and the honor and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the King and Head thereof; thereupon prosecuting our Lord’s ultimate disciplinary recourse:

“… tell it to the church.” 

— Matthew 18:17


 “R. C. took his message to the people because that’s what the Reformers did.
… Luther took the message to the people.” 

R. C. Sproul: A Life, Stephen J. Nichols, pp. 286-287

 And to the culpable courts, 

 “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.” 

— I Samuel 12:23

 “But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
My foot stands on level ground;
in the great assembly I will bless the LORD.” 

— Psalm 26:11-12

 “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother’s son.
These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.” 

— Psalm 50:19-21

 “Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from dread of the enemy.
Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the throng of evildoers,
who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
shooting from ambush at the blameless,
shooting at him suddenly and without fear.
They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, ‘Who can see them?’
They search out injustice,
saying, ‘We have accomplished a diligent search.’
For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep.”

— Psalm 64:1-6

 Whereas, this entire multivalent, disgraceful saga is a current analogue of Psalm 64 — verses 1 through 6 hitherto have occurred, and verses 7 through 10 must obtain herewith: 

“But God shoots his arrow at them;
they are wounded suddenly.
They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;
all who see them will wag their heads.
Then all mankind fears;
they tell what God has brought about
and ponder what he has done.
Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD
and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult!”

— Psalm 64:7-10

 “I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the LORD!’
Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together,
to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
There thrones for judgment were set,
the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
‘May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!’
For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, ‘Peace be within you!’
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I will seek your good.”

— Psalm 122

 “To whom shall I speak and give warning,
that they may hear?
Behold, their ears are uncircumcised,
they cannot listen;
behold, the word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn;
they take no pleasure in it.
Therefore I am full of the wrath of the LORD;
I am weary of holding it in.” 

— Jeremiah 6:10-11

 “I have something to say to you.” 

— Luke 7:40

 “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!” 

— Luke 12:50

 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. …
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. …
So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” 

— Matthew 23:2, 23, 28

 “But Peter said, ‘… why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit … Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God. … How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?
And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.” 

— Acts 5:3, 4, 9, 11

 “… in … danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night … And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” 

— II Corinthians 11:26-31

 “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.
… I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. … And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him … led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said … before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’” 

— Galatians 2:4-6, 11, 13-14

 “But I have a few things against you … He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. …
I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you … Only hold fast what you have until I come. …
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” 

— Revelation 2:14, 17, 19, 25, 19

 Whereas, for many years, the PCA teaching elders leading Saint Andrew’s Chapel asserted the origin of the church as founded by a Presbyterian pastor, as well as their seditious repudiation of Presbyterian church government, over against their votive obligation to their ordaining authority. 

 History & Identity,, as of 2022
“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). …
Dr. R.C. Sproul (1939–2017) was the founding pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel.”


The Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America

Part I: Form of Government

Chapter 1: The Doctrine of Church Government.

1-1. The scriptural form of church government, which is representative or presbyterian, is comprehended under five heads: a. The Church; b. Its members; c. Its officers; d. Its courts; e. Its orders. 

Chapter 4: The Particular Church

4-1. A particular church consists of a number of professing Christians, with their children, associated together for divine worship and godly living, agreeable to the Scriptures, and submitting to the lawful government of Christ’s kingdom.

Chapter 5: The Organization of a Particular Church

5-9. A new church can be organized only by the authority of Presbytery. 

Chapter 13: The Presbytery

13-7. The Presbytery shall cause to be transcribed, in some convenient part of the book of records, the obligations required of ministers at their ordination, which shall be subscribed by all admitted to membership, in the following form:

I, _______________, do sincerely receive and subscribe to the above obligation [cf. BCO 21-5] as a just and true exhibition of my faith and principles, and do resolve and promise to exercise my ministry in conformity thereunto. 

Chapter 21: The Ordination and Installation of Ministers

21-5. … Questions for Ordination … 

1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally given, to be the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will on your own initiative, make known to your Presbytery the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
3. Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of Biblical polity?
4. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
5. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote His glory in the Gospel of His Son?
6. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?
7. Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relational, private or public; and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your manner of life, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?
8. Are you now willing to take the charge of this church, agreeable to your declaration when accepting their call? And do you, relying upon God for strength, promise to discharge to it the duties of a pastor?

 Whereas, after (someone’s) persistent protests of these PCA teaching elders’ public declamation of ecclesial independence, they rewrote history concerning the spurious formation of Saint Andrew’s and their lucid repudiation of Presbyterian church government. Yet, they continued to purport that a church whose doctrine, worship and discipline that has always been presided by PCA teaching elders consecrated by a particular denomination “is not affiliated with a particular denomination.” (??)

 History & Identity,, as of 2023
“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.
Dr. R.C. Sproul (1939–2017) served as the first minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew’s Chapel.” 

 Whereas, according to Saint Andrew’s’ teaching elders’ bulletin announcement on April 16, 2023, 

 “When Saint Andrew’s was established in 1997, it was the express written intent for Saint Andrew’s to join the PCA in order to be more consistently presbyterian.” 


 “R. C. had his PCA ministerial credentials the entire time he pastored an independent church. … In the end, they decided not to join the PCA but to remain independent.” 

R. C. Sproul: A Life, Stephen J. Nichols, p. 224


 History & Identity,, last accessed September 19, 2023
“Saint Andrew’s was founded in 1997 as an independent congregation in the Reformed tradition. In 2023, the congregation was received into the Presbyterian Church in America.
Dr. R.C. Sproul (1939–2017) served as the first minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew’s Chapel.” 


 Doctrine & Beliefs,, as of 2023
“A Confessional Church
Saint Andrew’s is a confessional church. As such, we adhere to a written confession of faith that we believe to be a good and accurate summary of the Bible’s teaching. Our confessional standards consist of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms. We believe these standards contain carefully worded summaries of the contents of sacred Scripture.” 

 Whereas, the Presbytery consistently demurs admitting any responsibility in this spurious spin-off. 

 “We do not find the complainant’s arguments in Appendix IV regarding why Independent PCA in Savannah cannot serve as a precedent for the decisions made by CFP to be compelling. Mr. Benyola’s argument is that SAC was planted by a PCA pastor without permission of Presbytery. While we agree that ‘a new church can be organized only by the authority of Presbytery’, we do not agree with the complainant’s view that SAC was ‘planted’ by Dr. RC Sproul, who was a member of CFP. We disagree with the conclusion that SAC was an unauthorized church plant by a PCA minister who was permitted to labor out of bounds at this church.
CFP’s minutes reflect approval granted to Dr. RC Sproul in 1997 to serve as ‘Senior Preaching Minister’ for an independent Reformed church (SAC) that was started in Sanford by a group of people from several denominational backgrounds. Dr. Sproul was already serving under the provision of BCO 8-7 with Ligonier Ministries and asked CFP to add this regular preaching duty to the ministry tasks already approved by Presbytery.
The minutes of the MHW Committee at the time provide a clear statement from Dr. Sproul denying direct involvement in starting SAC. That he is referred to on the SAC website as ‘our founding pastor’ is confusing, but it may be better to see that as an error regarding the history of SAC than a statement of fact. Dr. Sproul did not claim to be the founder of SAC in the sense of being the church planter. The evidence available to this presbytery does not support the accusations made by the complainant.” 

— November 10, 2020 Response of Central Florida Presbytery to the September 18, 2020 Complaint, pp. 3-4


 “July 20, 1997. Holds first service of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in the Ligonier studios.” 

R. C. Sproul: A Life, Stephen J. Nichols, p. 327

 Whereas, the same Confession that Saint Andrew’s claimed for 25 years has a rather substantial article asserting the necessity of local churches identifying with a larger institutional church body.

The Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter 31: Of Synods and Councils

1. For the better government, and further edification of the church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils: and it belongeth to the overseers and other rulers of the particular churches, by virtue of their office, and the power which Christ hath given them for edification and not for destruction, to appoint such assemblies; and to convene together in them, as often as they shall judge it expedient for the good of the church.
2. It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in his Word.
3. All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.


 “At the foundation of the life of every corporation is the incorporation paper, in which the objects of the corporation are set forth. Other objects may be vastly more desirable than those objects, but if the directors use the name and resources of the corporation to pursue the other objects they acting ultra vires of the corporation. So it is with Christianity. It is perfectly conceivable that the originators of the Christian movement had no right to legislate for subsequent generations; but at any rate they did have an inalienable right to legislate for all generations that should choose to bear the name of ‘Christian.’ It is conceivable that Christianity may now have to be abandoned, and another religion substituted for it; but at any rate the question what Christianity is can be determined only by an examination of the beginnings of Christianity.” 

Christianity and Liberalism: Legacy Edition, J. Gresham Machen, 1923, p. 20

 “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

 “To allow interpretations which reverse the meaning of a confession is exactly the same thing as to have no confession at all. …
We believe that the unity of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America can be safeguarded, not by a liberty of interpretation on the part of the officers of the Church which allows a complete reversal of perfectly plain documents, but only by the maintenance of the corporate witness of the Church. The Church is founded not upon agnosticism but upon a common adherence to the truth of the gospel as set forth in the confession of faith on the basis of the Scriptures.” 

— J. Gresham Machen’s 1924 tentative draft (never formally adopted by the conservatives) of “A Counter-Affirmation designed to Safeguard the Corporate Witness of the Presbyterian Church to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

 “Many of the rank and file of the churches, many of the individual congregations, are genuinely Christian; but the central organizations of the churches have in many cases gradually discontinued their propagation of the Christian religion and have become agencies for the propagation of a vague type of religion, to which Christianity from its very beginning was diametrically opposed. …
The trouble is that the gentlemen in control of these organizations are, though with the best and most honorable intentions in the world, in a hopelessly false position. The churches are for the most part creedal; it is on the basis of their creeds that they have in the past appealed, and that to some extent they still appeal, for support; yet the central organizations of the churches have quietly pushed the creeds into the background and have devoted themselves to other activities and a different propaganda. Perhaps in doing so they have accomplished good here and there in a worldly sort of way. But in general, the false position in which they stand has militated against their highest usefulness. Equivocation, the double use of traditional terminology, subscription to solemn creedal statements in a sense different from the sense originally intended in those statements—these things give a man a poor platform upon which to stand, no matter what it is that he proposes, upon that platform, to do.” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “The Responsibility of the Church in Our New Age,” 1933

 Whereas, this whistleblower has been abundantly patient and discreet while awaiting internal resolution of this scandal for years. While partial redress of the instigating issue appears to have obtained, there still are sins against the Lord, against the jure divino order of the Lord’s Church, and against the Lord’s heritage — various Christians, of which Benyola is only one — which have yet to see due repentance by the Church’s avowed office-bearers. These people have had years to rectify their own multilayered imbroglio, but instead have allowed it to accumulate into a sequence of one blunder after another. Benyola is out of patience, and these negligent clergymen are out of time. The point comes when the lid must come off (Psalm 64:7-10, Luke 12:1-3, Acts 5:1-11). 

 Whereas, we anticipate that some presbyters might purport that our Lord’s provision to “tell it to the church” refers to the church’s assembly of elders, not the church’s body politic, to which the preemptive and threefold answer is: 1. the offenses are general and public, thus they are exposed in public light; 2. the offenses already were orderly set before all three levels of Church courts, which all failed in their constitutional, judicial and moral responsibilities; and 3. we can gratefully discuss Matthew 18:17 and the finer points of ecclesiology just as soon as the same culprits repent and finally succeed in their votive duties that orbit the most “general principles of biblical polity.” 

 Whereas, regardless of the PCA tribunals luxuriating in their crazed retributive crusade, the fact remains that this admonitor is not the problem. The problem complained against is the problem. 

 Whereas, Benyola is aware that nobody is saved by believing and practicing some particular polity. 

 Whereas, this endeavor began simply over questions and concerns of ecclesiology, not soteriology. Yet, it is these presbyters who — after accusing Benyola, “It feels like polity is being used as the means to remove them [TEs at Saint Andrew’s] from the PCA. … It feels like you have elevated ecclesiology to the doctrine of highest importance in life, and a Reformed and Presbyterian view of polity as a non-negotiable in Christianity” — actually are the splenetic prosecutors who insisted their view of their own ecclesiastical/punitive authority must be of supreme importance after all. Moreover, they are the agent who decided to thrust the issue into public view with vituperative pillories — thus they are the party who really made this entire rupture a public, salvation issue. 

 Whereas, Benyola is aware that the pending Scripture, constitutional and academic citations have their respective contexts, yet, the underlying ethical principles of these advertences heretofore are alleged as transgressed — anyone who questions the relevance of their import is welcome to read. 

 Whereas, before one more evasive presbyter tries to play the “excessively litigious” card, we’d all do well to remember that any BCO recourse available to an individual — i.e., complaints, charges and specifications, credible reports — is conceivable only in reaction/response to remediate errors and/or delinquencies instigated by Church officers and/or courts: thus, any criticism of Benyola’s alleged “litigious” proclivities must be a boomerang indictment upon those officers and/or courts; 

 Whereas, Benyola simultaneously does not lack in gratitude to these ungrateful courts, thankful for a fascinating tour of the PCA-polity maze, and a riveting endeavor in “grassroots Presbyterianism”; 

 Whereas, Benyola loves R.C. Sproul and Saint Andrew’s, cherishing many fond memories of both; notwithstanding, these are the facts, inconvenient though they may be. Thanks to the PCA courts’ mischief, they are but one component in a serial cataclysm that now is part of church history. After all, 

 “Aquinas is clear: ‘A cause must exist if its effect exists.’” 

R. C. Sproul: A Life, Stephen J. Nichols, p. 150

 Whereas, Benyola has no problem with the Presbyterian Church in America, in principle, on paper. The polity as it is codified is mostly cogent. The problem is the leaders of the PCA seem deficient at following it. Pharisaical elders often use misleading polity doublespeak to escape “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness,” protecting each other rather than the sheep. The fallout from the shepherds not following/enforcing their governing standards harms the flock. And there are 300,000 members of this denomination, under their ecclesiastical authority, most of whom deserve better than their elders are giving them. This valence is what has brought us here. 

 Whereas, this timeous exposé providentially commemorates The Adopting Act of 1729, essential for American Presbyterianism and the Confessional Subscription which the PCA inherited from its Presbyterian patrimony, to remind us Confessional Subscription is the omphalos of this omnibus; 

 Whereas, it is the fate of glass to break. 

 And in support of such necessary serotinal lamp-lighting exigency hence adduces an episodic and chronological précis recounting a gigabyte of veritable documentation mining Holy Writ, the PCA Constitution, their public records, and the repository of Presbyterian and Reformed scholarship; whereas, where these works are selectively quoted, 

 “… the evidence of its correctness is cumulative, and is therefore not to be judged exclusively by what is said in favour of the view presented of any one of its parts.” 

A Commentary on Romans, Charles Hodge, p. 175

 Whereas, for as often as the Standing Judicial Commission is so keen to pontificate to the world (especially when a sitting SJC member also doubles as Moderator of the entire General Assembly) that “The decision of the Standing Judicial Commission shall be the final decision of the General Assembly, to which there may be no complaint or appeal,” and “We are your Standing Judicial Commission … We are your Standing Judicial Commission,” of course, there are codified ways of holding accountable this topheavy, self-policing bureaucracy. The SJC can revisit cases and verdicts anytime the SJC deigns to do so, or anytime the Committee on Constitutional Business deems so. 

 Whereas, the performance of the Standing Judicial Commission is unsatisfactory, thus we advance to the next step in the constitutional process: 

The Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America 

Part I: Form of Government 

Chapter 15: Ecclesiastical Commissions 

15-5. a. In the cases committed to it, the Standing Judicial Commission shall have the judicial powers and be governed by the judicial procedures of the General Assembly. … The General Assembly may direct the Standing Judicial Commission to retry a case if upon the review of its minutes exceptions are taken with respect to that case. 

Rules of Assembly Operations 

Article XIV. Committees of Commissioners for Permanent Committees and Agencies

14-11. Guidelines for Examining Committee and Agency Minutes

d. The findings of the committee with respect to the minutes of each permanent Committee or Agency shall be reported under the following categories as appropriate: …
2) Exceptions: Violations of the Assembly’s Guidelines for Keeping Minutes of Permanent Committees of the General Assembly, prejudicial misstatements of fact, and actions which in substance appear not to conform to the Standards of the Presbyterian Church in America, or to be out of accord with the deliverances of the General Assembly, should be reported under this category.

Article XVII. Standing Judicial Commission 

17-1. There shall be a Standing Judicial Commission composed of twenty-four members in accordance with BCO 15-4. …
The minutes, but not the judicial cases, decisions, or reports, of the Standing Judicial Commission shall be reviewed annually by the Committee on Constitutional Business. The minutes shall be examined for conformity to the “Operating Manual for Standing Judicial Commission” and RAO 17, violations of which shall be reported as “exceptions” as defined in RAO 14-11.d.(2). With respect to this examination, the Committee on Constitutional Business shall report directly to the General Assembly. If exceptions are taken with respect to a case, the Assembly may find this a ground to direct the Standing Judicial Commission to retry the case.
17-5. The Standing Judicial Commission shall be governed by the provisions of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America and the Rules of Assembly Operations. Specific directions governing the implementation of these provisions shall be set forth in an Operating Manual for Standing Judicial Commission, as adopted by the General Assembly. 

Operating Manual for Standing Judicial Commission 

19.5 The minutes, but not the judicial cases, decisions, or reports, of the Standing Judicial Commission shall be reviewed annually by the Committee on Constitutional Business. The minutes shall be examined for conformity to this Manual of the Standing Judicial Commission and RAO 17, violations of which shall be reported as “exceptions” as defined in RAO 14-11.d.(2). With respect to this examination, the Committee on Constitutional Business shall report directly to the General Assembly. 

 Whereas, the 22nd PCA General Assembly adopted the formal judgment in SJC 93-3, the case of Dr. and Mrs. Stuart S. Chen vs. Ascension Presbytery, which continued its judicial precedent, 

“PCA is a voluntary association of people committed to a common faith and order. The BCO 25-11 explicitly expresses this voluntary principle as it applies to the association of a local church with the denomination:

25-11: ‘ … Particular churches need to remain in association with any court of this body only so long as they themselves so desire. The relationship is voluntary, based upon mutual love and confidence, and is in no sense to be maintained by the exercise of any force or coercion whatsoever. A particular church may withdraw from any court of this body at any time for reason which seem to it sufficient. We believe this same voluntary principle applies to an individual’s association with a local PCA congregation.’”

Whereas, BCO 38-3 provides, 

“a. When a member or officer in the Presbyterian Church in America shall attempt to withdraw from the communion of this branch of the visible Church by affiliating with some other branch (BCO 2-2), if at the time of the attempt to withdraw he is in good standing, the irregularity shall be recorded, his new membership acknowledged, and his name removed from the roll. But if at the time of the attempt to withdraw there is a record of an investigation in process (BCO 31-2), or there are charges (BCO 32-3) concerning the member or minister, the court of original jurisdiction may retain his name on the roll and conduct the case, communicating the outcome upon completion of the proceedings to that member or minister.” 

Whereas, this Plaintiff did not “attempt to withdraw from the communion of this branch of the visible Church by affiliating with some other branch …” The Plaintiff legally renounced his membership with the local church, absent any attempt to unite with any other communion. There is no evidence of severance of one church membership via attempted union with another church. Therefore, the conditions of the situation logically cannot satisfy the provisions of the BCO statute. Or, as Charles Hodge might put it: the apodosis does not satisfy the protasis of the clause. 

“We have then the protasis of a sentence of which the apodosis does not follow.” 

A Commentary on Romans, Charles Hodge, p. 59 

Whereas, if the Standing Judicial Commission would finally dare to openly invoke BCO 38-3 in the Session’s legal fiction alleging the Plaintiff’s postulated “contumacy,” then this highest Court has much to answer for, especially its precedence established in the historical stream of SJC 93-3. Whereas, BCO 25-11 also requires the local church to obey civil laws governing its jurisdiction: 

“… in matters pertaining to the subject matters referred to in this BCO 25, including specifically the right to affiliate with or become a member of this body or a Presbytery hereof and the right to withdraw from or to sever any affiliation of connection with this body or any Presbytery hereof, action may be taken by such local congregation or local church in accordance with the civil laws applicable to such local congregation or local church; and as long as such action is taken in compliance with such applicable civil laws, then such shall be the action of the local congregation or local church.” 

 Whereas, the SJC’s Reasoning and Opinion in Case 2019-13, the Complaint of Ms. Colleen Gendy v. Central Florida Presbytery, Decision on Complaint, February 4, 2021 — a case arising from the St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church Session — declared on application of the BCO Rules of Discipline, 

“Put differently, fundamental fairness requires that a member facing formal process or removal without process retains standing to complain about the process or removal. … Therefore, if a Session may sever a person’s membership in the church, surely that person should have the right to complain about it.”

 Whereas, the PCA Constitution elsewhere requires the local church to obey the law of the land (cf. WCF 23.3,4) and for the General Assembly “to take care that the lower courts observe the Constitution; to redress whatever they may have done contrary to order” (BCO 14-6.c): 

2022 Florida Statutes 

Title XXXVI: Business Organizations 

Chapter 617: Corporations Not For Profit 

617.0601 Members, generally.— 

(5) A resignation, expulsion, suspension, or termination of membership pursuant to s. 617.0606 or s. 617.0607 shall be recorded in the membership book. Unless otherwise provided in the articles of incorporation or the bylaws, all the rights and privileges of a member cease on termination of membership. 

617.0607 Termination, expulsion, and suspension.— 

(1) A member of a corporation may not be expelled or suspended, and a membership in the corporation may not be terminated or suspended, except pursuant to a procedure that is fair and reasonable and is carried out in good faith. 

617.1601 Corporate records.— 

(3) A corporation or its agent shall maintain a record of its members in a form that permits preparation of a list of the names and addresses of all members in alphabetical order by class of voting members.
(4) A corporation shall maintain its records in written form or in another form capable of conversion into written form within a reasonable time.
617.1602 Inspection of records by members.—
(1) A member of a corporation is entitled to inspect and copy, during regular business hours at the corporation’s principal office or at a reasonable location specified by the corporation, any of the records of the corporation described in s. 617.1601(5), if the member gives the corporation written notice of his or her demand at least 10 business days before the date on which he or she wishes to inspect and copy.
(2) A member of a corporation is entitled to inspect and copy, during regular business hours at a reasonable location specified by the corporation, any of the following records of the corporation if the member meets the requirements of subsection (3) and gives the corporation written notice of his or her demand at least 10 business days before the date on which he or she wishes to inspect and copy:
(a) Excerpts from minutes of any meeting of the board of directors, records of any action of a committee of the board of directors while acting in place of the board of directors on behalf of the corporation, minutes of any meeting of the members, and records of action taken by the members or board of directors without a meeting, to the extent not subject to inspection under subsection (1). …
(c) The record of members.
(d) Any other books and records.
(3) A member may inspect and copy the records described in subsection (2) only if:
(a) The member’s demand is made in good faith and for a proper purpose;
(b) The member describes with reasonable particularity his or her purpose and the records he or she desires to inspect;
(c) The records are directly connected with the member’s purpose.

 Whereas, since Sproul had the right to resign from another denomination and defect to the PCA, then Benyola surely has multiple laws on his side with the right to resign from a PCA church, in perfect order, with his good name intact, and without slanderous reprisals from histrionic clergy. 

 “… whereas R. C. wrote a letter to the Presbytery of Redstone stating that he felt it was his duty to withdraw peaceably from the ministry. The Presbytery, glad to see him go, replied that he was a minister in error. R. C. recalled how that made him feel a little bit of what the Reformers felt. It is a painful irony to be one who has to leave because the church is not faithful to her calling. R. C. transferred his credentials to the PCA, remaining a minister in good standing in that denomination until his death in 2017.” 

R. C. Sproul: A Life, Stephen J. Nichols, p. 118

 Whereas, we can call this representation an “indictment,” or “certiorari,” or “appeal,” or “credible report,” or whatever fits your categories. Whatever we want to call it, it is a very simple request. 

 Therefore, please confirm your subordinate judicatory’s erroneous formal ruling of nonacceptance of my membership resignation has been annulled; that pursuant to civil law, my April 26, 2022, USPS-Certified-Mailed resignation from St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Inc., has been dutifully recorded in the membership book; and that pursuant to ecclesiastical law and judicial precedence of your own Standing Judicial Commission, my name at last has been duly erased from the roll. 

 Thank you. 

 “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” 

— II Timothy 4:18


“The doors of the temple of Janus are not yet closed. This is not the time to lay down our arms and go to sleep, but rather to keep awake and be on our guard.” 

— J.C. Ryle, “About our Church in 1896,” Charges and Addresses, p. 360 (Janus is the Roman God of transitions, i.e., the beginning and end of all things) 

“We want more boldness among the friends of truth. There is far too much tendency to sit still, and wait for committees, and number our adherents. We want more men who are not afraid to stand alone.
It is truth, not numbers, which shall always in the end prevail.
We have the truth, and we need not be ashamed to say so. The judgment day will prove who is right, and to that day we boldly appeal.” 

— from various writings of J.C. Ryle, as cited by Iain H. Murray, J.C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone

“Christ rightly known, Christ truly believed, and Christ heartily loved, is the true preservative against Ritualism, Romanism, and every form of idolatry.” 

Knots Untied: Being Plain Statements on Disputed Points in Religion, from the Standpoint of an Evangelical Churchman, J.C. Ryle, 1885 reprint, p. 421

“In large assemblies of men convened to consider ecclesiastical and religious questions, we may confidently assume that there are always some present whose hearts are right, and who are willing to support the truth, even though they sit in bad company, and are for the present silent and overawed. There is no warrant for staying away from assemblies and councils merely because we happen to be in a minority.” 

— J.C. Ryle commenting on the attendance of Nicodemus in the Sanhedrin, Expository Thoughts: John, vol. 2, p. 173

“In our generation, to speak the truth with conviction, clarity, and boldness is considered arrogant, belligerent, angry, and unloving. Nevertheless, we speak the truth out of love. We get angry because we love, because we hate when people hurt us and our loved ones and when unrighteousness and injustice abound in the church and in the world. Still, because we strive to imitate our Lord, when we must speak the truth in love, we must always strive to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19).
As Christians, we should be the most loving and gracious people the world knows. We should be the most righteous and repentant people the world knows. We should be the most principled and steadfast people the world knows. And precisely because we are loving, gracious, righteous, repentant, principled, and steadfast, we should be known by the world as those humble followers of Jesus Christ who get appropriately and necessarily angry at unrighteousness and injustice wherever it exists, whether in the world, in our churches, in our homes, or in our own sinful hearts.
As Christians, we stand on the unchanging Word of God amid a rapidly changing culture, and we must disagree without being unnecessarily disagreeable people. We must boldly speak out without being belligerent. We must stand stubbornly for righteousness and justice without being harsh, rude, or inconsiderate. And we must be slow to anger, but we must necessarily get angry while not sinning in our anger. The only way we can do that is by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
We get angry because we love. We get angry for the love of God and for the glory of God. Our silence in the face of evil would be most hateful. John Stott boldly declared:

There is a great need in the contemporary world for more Christian anger. We human beings compromise with sin in a way in which God never does. In the face of blatant evil we should be indignant not tolerant, angry not apathetic. If God hates sin, His people should hate sin too. If evil arouses His anger, it should arouse ours too. What other reaction can wickedness be expected to provoke in those who love God?

For the love of God, we must necessarily reclaim the right and appropriate place of anger.” 

“Reclaiming Anger,” Tabletalk, June 2022, Vol. 46, No. 6, Burk Parsons, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel

 “He [R. C.] became, as he later called it, a battlefield theologian. Augustine, in his contentions with Pelagius and a host of others, the Reformers, Edwards, the Princetonians—these were battlefield theologians all. So was Gerstner at PTS and in the Presbyterian Church in the 1960s. R. C. would remind us that Paul was a battlefield theologian in Galatians. Jude commended his original audience to contend for the faith, earnestly, as did Peter, John, and the author of Hebrews. …
But in truth, R. C. was influencing a very large circle, not of platform figures but of the rank-and-file laity. … He also believed that what was said of the nation of Israel through the prophet Hosea could be said of the modern church: ‘My people perish for lack of knowledge.’ (Hos. 4:6). R. C. lamented this in his ‘Right Now Counts Forever’ column in the August 1979 Tabletalk, which he entitled ‘My People Perish’ … He discussed the need for theologians to speak directly to the laity, enlisting the example of the Reformers in the process, and also the need to discuss the knowledge of God.
R. C. did just that, ‘get the message to the people,’ in his books. …
R. C. said, ‘The greatest theologians in history were pastors.’ He named his usual suspects—Augustine, Anselm, Luther, Calvin, Edwards—adding, ‘… When I was studying them, I realized they were all world-class scholars, but they were also battlefield theologians. They took their message to the people.’
… What he truly admired and loved about the Reformers was the whole package of their content, their convictions, and their courage. And they were communicators. … Of course, the leaders of this small handful were Luther and Calvin. R. C. continued, ‘They were both first-rate scholars, but in addition they had an uncanny ability to take their case to the people. They were battlefield theologians, and they understood that they were in a spiritual war. They not only instructed; they mobilized the troops for battle.’ When R. C. looked to the Reformers he saw examples of those who knew the faith, defended the faith, and contended for the faith.
… Among the giants from the past who influenced R. C was J. Gresham Machen. While R. C. mentioned Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Edwards far more than Machen, Machen’s impact was profound … Machen was consistently there at the center of the storm taking a stand for truth and orthodoxy. His biographer and colleague, Ned Stonehouse, called him ‘Valiant-for-Truth,” from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. … R. C. speaks of sitting down and writing on a piece of paper ‘one hundred people whom I knew were leaders of the Reformed faith in America.’ Of the list of one hundred names, R. C. ‘could trace the roots of ninety-nine of them, at one way or another, back to Westminster Theological Seminary that was founded by Machen.’ Machen was a battlefield theologian who produced a generation of battlefield theologians.” 

R. C. Sproul: A Life, Stephen J. Nichols, pp. 65, 140, 227, 251, 257

“There is one advantage about facts—they ‘stay put.’ If a thing really happened, it can never possibly be made by the passage of time or by the advance of science into a thing that has not happened. New facts may be discovered, and certainly we Christians welcome the discovery of new facts with all our heart; but old facts, if they are really facts, will remain facts beyond the end of time.” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “What Fundamentalism Stands for Now,” 1925

 “There is such a thing as being a Presbyterian without being a Christian, as it is possible to be a Christian without being a Presbyterian. Depend upon it, it is best to be both.
Make the atonement of Christ the refuge of your souls; hold fast by every truth of God’s Word, small and great; lend no encouragement to opposing errors; take no pains to conceal your attachment to Presbyterian prin­ciples; and strive to do honor to the system with which yon claim connection, by your love to Christ, by an upright and consistent life, and by earnest endeavors on your part to deserve the character which distinguished the saints of God in other and better days—‘a peculiar people, zealous of good works.’ [Titus 2:14]”

The Apostolic Church — Which Is It?, Thomas Witherow, 1855 

 “So, while each of Witherow’s works has a polemical context—since Presbyterian polity, paedobaptism, and Sabbath observance were all under siege of one kind or another—his ultimate goal is not out-arguing opposing views. Rather, we should think instead of the polemical element as necessary surgery, so that a pattern of health might be allowed to develop in our church, family, and personal lives. …
For, after all, the church to which the Savior belonged was elder led; the family into which he was born was a covenant family; and the rhythm of his whole life was one of work and rest.” 

— Sinclair B. Ferguson, Foreword to I Will Build My Church: Selected Writings on Church Polity, Baptism, and the Sabbath, Thomas Witherow, ed. Jonathan Gibson, p. xx-xxi

 “Thomas Witherow set his mind in 1879 to write The Form of the Christian Temple … since writing The Apostolic Church, he had come to the conviction that church polity was ‘not a matter of minor importance, but a portion of revealed Christianity.’ It greatly frustrated him that there were people of understanding who had read around the subject of polity but who still believed that Scripture contained no clear system of church government. …
Witherow believe that, apart from any polemical purpose, it was time to restate the Presbyterian case, showing the clear scriptural support for its governmental system and its importance to the health of the Christian church: ‘Purity of doctrine and purity of worship are treasures to be zealously guarded; but purity of polity, though not essential but only helpful to salvation, is essential to the whole truth as presented in the word of God, and to which Christ came into the world to bear witness.’” 

A Prince of Irish Presbyterianism: The Life and Work of Thomas Witherow, Jonathan Gibson, p. 69

 “Underlying Thomas Witherow’s writings on polity, baptism, and the Sabbath was a deep conviction that, while these topics were not essential to eternal salvation, they were nevertheless important to the life of the church. As Witherow commented, ‘Every divine truth is important, though it may be that all divine truths are not of equal importance.’
Within the system of Christian theology, as laid down in Scripture, every fact asserted or truth stated, whether great or small in our mind, ‘is, by its very position, invested with importance, answers its end, and, though perhaps justly considered as non-essential to salvation, does not deserve to be accounted as worthless.’ For Witherow, if we attach importance only to matters of salvation, then we make the bulk of Scripture irrelevant and stigmatize much of it as trivia. Such a view makes ‘havoc of our Christianity.’ Indeed, since the Apostle Paul affirmed that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable (2 Tim. 3:16), we deem large portions of it unimportant to our detriment.
A cursory glance at the New Testament reveals that while polity, baptism, and the Sabbath are not matters of salvific importance, they are not unimportant to the life of the church and the accomplishment of her mission.” 

— Introduction to I Will Build My Church: Selected Writings on Church Polity, Baptism, and the Sabbath, Jonathan Gibson, p. xxvi-xxvii

 “I shall endeavor to set forth what I regard as the causes of unrest in the church which have affected so unfavorably its spiritual condition.
Those causes I hold to be all reducible to one great underlying cause—namely, the widespread and in many quarters dominant position in the ministry of the church as well as among its lay membership of a type of thought and experience, commonly called Modernism, which is diametrically opposed to the constitution of our church and to the Christian religion. All the disturbances which have agitated the church in our day, all the controversies which have been so much regretted, are necessary consequences of that one cause; and it as as unreasonable to blame those who call attention to that cause as it would be to regard as disturbers of the peace those who raise an alarm of fire when a building is threatened by the flames. The real cause of the disturbance is not the ringing of fire alarms or the clatter of fire apparatus, but the fire and only that. So the real cause of disturbance in our church today is Modernism and Modernism alone.
Or shall our church itself, in its historic grandeur, shake off its present indecision and become an agency which the Holy Spirit can use? … simply by penetrating beneath all superficialities and by presenting to the church in unequivocal language the true cause of the present unrest. The church could then, I hope, be trusted to adopt the proper ways and means. It is still predominantly Christian; it would, I think, decide the issue aright if, instead of being deceived, as is now so often the case, by a euphemistic use of conventional language that conceals what is really going on, it knew the facts.” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “Statement to the Special Commission of 1925”

 “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. …
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

 “But since my name has been given such a special, though purely accidental, prominence, I think that I may be permitted to say what my attitude is. In doing so, I am speaking in my own name alone. Since many things have been said about my views regarding the situation, some of them true and some of them untrue, I think that I have a right to say plainly, for myself, what those views are. …
In the first place, we stand for the complete truthfulness of the Bible as the Word of God.
… Thus we hold that the Bible is not partly true and partly false, but true throughout.
… The Bible, let it be noted, contains, in our view (which is also the view expressed in the ordination pledge of ministers and elders in our church), not merely this doctrine or that, but a system of doctrine. A system differs from a mere agglomeration in the interrelation and mutual necessity of its parts. And so we cannot agree with those who isolate one part of the system from the other parts as being alone necessary as a basis for Christian work. Very profoundly, for example, do we differ from those who omit the doctrines of grace—the Bible teaching about sin, the Bible answer to the question, ‘What shall I do to be saved?’—from the things that they regard as essential as a basis for cooperation among various ecclesiastical bodies at home or in the mission field.
As over against such a reduced Christianity … As for us, we hold the faith of the Presbyterian church, the great Reformed faith that is set forth in the Westminster Confession, to be true; and holding it to be true, we hold that it is intended for the whole world. …
It would be the greatest mistake to suppose that the difference concerns merely the question whether we are to stand for the full heritage of our Reformed faith or are to content ourselves (in the statement of what is essential) with some lesser creed. No, the difference cuts even deeper than that. It concerns not merely the question as to the content of the doctrine that we are to set forth, but rather the attitude that is to be assumed with regard to all doctrine as such. It concerns not merely the question whether we are to teach this or that, but the question whether what we teach we are to teach with our whole hearts and in clear-cut opposition to the present drift of the times.
… both these things—the full truthfulness of Holy Scripture and the system of doctrine that our Standards set forth—need, and are capable of, intellectual defense. …
Certainly it is a grievous sin to propagate what is incapable of defense. The basic question about any message that may be propagated is the question whether it is true, and that question has been raised with regard to the Christian message in such insistent fashion in the modern world that the challenge must above all things be squarely and honestly met.
In meeting the challenge, we are fully conscious of the magnitude of our task. …
We try, indeed, to lead them [students] to faith, but we do not try to lead them by encouraging them to ignore the facts. On the contrary, we believe that Christian faith flourishes not in the darkness but in the light, and that a man’s Christian conviction is only strengthened when he has examined both sides. …
No doubt such a program is full of perils. Might it not be safer for our future ministers to close their ears to all modern voices and remain in ignorance of the objections that the gospel faces in the modern world? We reply that of course it might be safer. It is safer to be a good soldier in comfortable barracks than it is on the field of battle. But the great battles are not won in that way. …
Nothing can be done, we know, by trying to tyrannize over men’s minds; all that we can do is present the facts as we see them, to hold out a sympathizing hand to our younger brethren, and to commit them to God in prayer.
We cannot, indeed, seek to win men by false hopes; we cannot encourage them to think that if they decide to stand for Christ, they will have the favor of the modern world or necessarily of the modern church. On the contrary, if we read the signs of the times aright, both in the church and in the state, there may soon come a period of genuine persecution for the children of God.
If I find Him, if I follow,
What His guerdon here?
Many a sorrow, many a labor,
Many a tear.
Such, we are inclined to think, will be the lot of those who stand against the whole current of the age. It is not an easy thing to oppose a world in arms, nor is it an easy thing to oppose an increasingly hostile church. But when one does so, with full conviction, what a blessed, inward peace!
… Conviction has issued here truly into Christian life.
… It may come squarely into conflict, at some points, with the present leadership of the church. But because the fervent piety … may be opposed at some points to the ecclesiastical machinery, it does not follow that the ecclesiastical machinery should be allowed to crush it out. Long has been the conflict, during nineteen centuries, between ecclesiastical authority and the free and mysterious operation of the Spirit of God. But under our Presbyterian institutions the tyrannical practices to which ecclesiastical authority has elsewhere resorted are an anomaly and a shame.” 

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

 “The Bible not only requires a Christian man to preach the gospel of Christ, but forbids him to preach any other gospel. ‘Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached until you, let him be accursed.’ (Gal. 1:8). That is only one text among many. Indeed, it is only a summary expression of what runs through the Bible from beginning to end—the utter exclusiveness and imperiousness of the gospel of Christ.
As a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, I am in the presence of a world lost in sin. Men are going down into the darkness of eternal separation from God. There is one gospel and one only that can save them. If by my words or by my gifts I lead them to have the false hope that any other gospel can save them, I am guilty of an awful sin of bloodguiltiness. So if I lead men to think that the vague or antibiblical teaching being furthered by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in many ways can save a soul from death, I am an unfaithful watchman. To me in that case there applies in full measure the warning from Ezekiel: ‘But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take away any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand’ (Ezek. 33:6).
That warning applies not only to a watchman who has what the world regards as an important post or large influence. It applies to every servant of God without exception. Every steward of the mysteries of God must be faithful in the place in which God has put him, no matter how small the world may hold that place to be. So I must be faithful in the place where God has put me, to the very best of my ability and in reliance upon God’s grace.” 

— J. Gresham Machen, “Statement to the Presbytery of New Brunswick,” 1935

 “It is necessary in our hardened and apostate age for the church to be called back to the New Testament doctrine of church discipline. In our day, the church has become tolerant of sin even when it is found in her own people. This warrants the wrath of God upon the church’s indifference to his holiness. The modern church seems more willing to ignore sin than to denounce it, and more ready to compromise God’s law than to proclaim it. It is a mournful fact that many churches refuse to take sin seriously. We have no right to dialogue about sin. That was Eve’s mistake. The tempter’s suggestions should have been promptly rebuked; but instead, they were discussed (Genesis 3:1-5). That discussion was compromise and sin. The church cannot stand before her enemies while ignoring sin in her own ranks (cf. Joshua 7:1-26).
Today, the church faces a moral crisis within her own ranks. Her failure to take a strong stand against evil (even in her own midst), and her tendency to be more concerned about what is expedient than what is right, has robbed the church of biblical integrity and power. It is true that, historically, the church has sometimes erred in this matter of discipline, but today the problem is one of outright neglect. It would be difficult to show another area of Christian life which is more commonly ignored by the modern evangelical church than church discipline.
It is ironic that this rejection is often justified in the name of love. When the apostle John wrote that we should ‘love one another’, he also wrote: ‘And this is love, that we walk after his commandments’ (2 John 5,6). As we shall see, the exercise of church discipline is a command from the Lord of the church. When it is properly carried out, it is a profound display of Christian love. To put it another way, true Christian love dare not ignore the use of the various forms of discipline wherever they are applicable. … If we are to practice Christian love, we must practice church discipline. … we advocate that this is part of the reform necessary in the church today. The way to reform in the church always lies along the road of biblical revelation. …
Jesus prescribed principles to follow which make all Christians to some extent responsible for each other’s behavior, and he included disciplinary procedures (Matthew 18:15-17). It is in this context that he gave the church the responsibility to pronounce his forgiveness and his judgments. … (Matthew 18:18). Of course, the ratification in heaven of what the church does on earth is contingent upon the church acting in obedience to Christ and his principles without hypocrisy or favoritism. As Matthew Poole puts it … ‘The church is not by this text made infallible, nor is the holy God by it engaged to defend their errors.’ …
The necessity and purpose of church discipline can be readily exhibited … To maintain the purity of the church and her worship (1 Corinthians 5:6-8), and to avoid profaning the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:27). … To vindicate the integrity and honor of Christ and his religion by exhibiting fidelity to his principles (2 Corinthians 2:9,17). The church which refuses to exercise discipline can neither command the world’s respect nor the confidence of its own members. … To deter others from sin (cf. 1 Timothy 5:20). By the faithful practice of discipline, ‘vice is repressed and virtue nourished’ (The Scots Confession, 1560, Chapter XVIII). … To prevent giving cause for God to set himself against a local church (see Revelation 2:14-25).
Since the church is bound to give full allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ, and this means to love him and keep his commandments (John 14:15,23,24; 15:10,14), it is evident that the church’s honesty of heart is tested when confronted with the choice between obedience and disobedience in this matter of the discipline of its members. It is just as necessary for the church to exercise proper discipline as it is to preach the Word and properly administer the sacraments. … [cf. Belgic Confession Chapter XXIX, 1561]. …
The fact is that obedience to Christ and his Word is more important than an artificial ‘unity’ built on disobedience and compromise. If discipline is carried on decently and in order, with the church acting through its duly appointed officers, divisions should be kept to a minimum. …
For if only the one sinned against is entitled to pursue discipline, then if persons outside the church are sinned against there is no recourse, because a non-believer would not be allowed to pursue a disciplinary process within God’s church. Thus, whenever a brother sinned against his non-Christian neighbor, the church could do nothing about it, since no one within the church was sinned ‘against.’ What a dishonor that would be to the church’s Lord!
… The power of binding and loosing is given to the church (Matthew 18:18), not to the individuals sinned against. … Comparing Matthew 18:15 with other scriptures we find that in no other text is the right to exercise discipline limited to offended persons. Is the offended one mentioned in Romans 16:17; or 1 Corinthians 5, or 2 Thessalonians 3:14)?
… The example of David stands to remind us how badly a true man of God can fall (2 Samuel 11, cf. his prayer of repentance, Psalm 51), while the life of Judas reminds us how close a man may seem to be to Christ and yet perish. …
As the final occasion for discipline is lack of repentance, so the occasion of restoration is the presence of repentance. Such repentance may reveal itself at any stage in the disciplinary process. …
The history of God’s people from Old Testament times up to the present day is one large collection of illustrations of the fact that the pathway to blessing is along the road of biblical truth. Certainly every faithful Christian desires God’s glory, the prosperity of his church, and every individual in that church. The Bible recognizes this threefold concern and biblical church discipline guards all three. So let us be taught of God and be leaders in the necessary reform of his church by being ready to govern and act according to his precepts and not our own fancy.” 

Biblical Church Discipline: The Neglected Mark of the Christian Church, Daniel E. Wray, college instructor in religion, philosophy and English, and pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Badin, N.C., pp. 7-11, 16-17, 19, 22, 24