Missouri Presbytery Revoice Report: a close reading (9); selective memory

Missouri Presbytery Revoice Report: a close reading (9); selective memory

NOTE: Missouri Presbytery (PCA) is the ecclesiastical authority over Pastor Greg Johnson and the elders of Memorial Presbyterian Church. Pastor Johnson and Memorial hosted the first Revoice 18 conference one year ago in St. Louis. The second Revoice (19) will soon be held, once again in St. Louis.

Responding to national pressure from inside and outside their denomination, Missouri Presbytery put together an investigatory committee and just issued their ReportThis is ninth in a series of close readings. For all Warhorn articles on Missouri Presbytery’s Revoice Report, see here. Report text is indented. Unless otherwise indicated, footnotes are from Missouri Presbytery’s Report. We pick up where we left off last time.

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Under “II. CONTEXT” following “A. History and Context of Revoice,” Missouri Presbytery’s Report inserts a table of the development of the Revoice scandal labelled “B. Timeline”

One timeline entry is factually wrong. It reads:

July 15, 2018: TE Johnson is interviewed on Crosspolitic. Days later Crosspolitic publishes a mock-website comparing Revoice to pedophiles.

This website was not published in connection with Crosspolitic’s interview of Pastor Johnson. The website went up a week and a half earlier, on July 6, 2018. Although Warhorn wasn’t involved with the website, the website’s basic premise is Biblical and helpful, demonstrating how Revoicers are precious with the sins of sodomy and effeminacy in a way they never would be with pedophilia. Scripture condemns sodomy in the same terms it condemns incest and bestiality. This is instructive in weighing the premises and language of Missouri Presbytery, Covenant Seminary, and Revoice in dealing with men who self-affirm as “gay” or “same-sex attracted.”

Moving through the Missouri Presbytery’s timeline, it’s clear how selective the presbyters have been.

For instance, Missouri Presbytery specifies Revoice was approved by Memorial Presbyterian Church’s Session by email, only. Other specifics in the timeline are used to absolve Memorial and its Pastor Johnson of full responsibility.

Other specifics Missouri Presbytery hides. For instance, the timeline mentions some critics of Revoice while hiding others. Missouri Presbytery is careful never to mention Warhorn’s work including our May 25, 2018 “The PCA on homosexuality: the influence of Covenant Theological Seminary…” breaking out the link between Revoice, Covenant Theological Seminary, and the declining commitments of PCA members to Biblical sexuality. That particular piece has been viewed 10,000 times with 500 FB shares.

Covenant’s President Mark Dalbey has repeatedly attacked this and the other Revoice articles here on Warhorn, but like Missouri Presbytery, he is careful not to mention the articles or Warhorn by name.

It might be permissible for Dalbey and the men of Missouri Presbytery to refuse to identity their opponents if they didn’t both habitually accuse their opponents of spreading misinformation, lies, and slander. When they made these accusations, Missouri Presbytery and President Dalbey ought to have been specific, identifying who said what, and where it can be read?

Take, for instance, Dalbey’s March 18, 2019 letter to Covenant constituents in which Dalbey referred to our criticisms as  “rumors,” “falsehoods,” “patently false,” “slanderous,” “sinfully slander,” “slander,” “completely untrue,” “actively misrepresenting,” “misinformation,” “misbehavior,” “falsehood,” “untrue,” “falsehoods,” “attacks,” “distractions,” “noise,” “confusion.” President Dalbey failed to produce a single example of all these “slanderous falsehoods” he claimed hurt him and his institution.

Missouri Presbytery employs the same tactic throughout their report. Veiled talk of others’ bad motives and evil deeds, but all in generalities and unable to be checked with the sources. For Missouri Presbytery, the important thing is that readers come away from their Report knowing how much Revoicers have suffered at the hands of people who are ill-informed and sinful, but readers will have to take their word for it that their opponents are ill-informed and sinful.

What the timeline should have said is that Janet Mefferd brought Revoice up in her May 18, 2018 radio program. speaking of the PCA as the “allegedly conservative Presbyterian denomination.” The following week, on May 25, 2018, Al Baker published “Queer Culture in the PCA” ; then later that day Warhorn Published “The PCA on homosexuality: the influence of Covenant Theological Seminary…“, at which point the entire Reformed world had been informed of the Revoice schism.

Then, a month and a half later, CrossPolitic interviewed Pastor Greg Johnson, asking him questions he declined to answer then, but finally answered in the pages of Christianity Today timed release the same week this Missouri Presbytery Report was released.

Starting back in May of last year, then, church members were scandalized by Revoice. Meanwhile, pastors and elders generally tried then (and continue) to stifle their members’ concerns, assuring them Revoice isn’t really that bad.

At last year’s PCA General Assembly, President Dalbey reported to Covenant Theological Seminary’s Committee of Commissioners that Covenant’s enrollment was declining. This decline had been growing even before we publicized Covenant’s alumni and faculty’s associations with Revoice. Since Revoice, we have heard both directly and indirectly from PCA men and women concerned over Revoice who want action taken to hold Covenant Seminary and Missouri Presbytery accountable. Also, there are a number who are dropping their financial support for Covenant Seminary.

There have been a few church sessions and presbyteries who have communicated some concerns to Missouri Presbytery. There are also a couple overtures and resolutions headed to this year’s General Assembly about to be convened June 25th in Dallas.

There’s more that could be said about the Timeline. but we’ll leave this part of the Report behind after making one more observation.

This Timeline weaponizes information by hiding negative things while being very specific with information that shows Revoice, Pastor Johnson, and Memorial Presbyterian Church in a better light.

It is important that commissioners to this 2019 General Assembly be properly informed on everything having to do with Revoice. This is a critical moment for the PCA as well as Covenant Theological Seminary and Missouri Presbytery. Much primary source material has been reproduced and critiqued here by Warhorn over the past thirteen months.

We are pleased many have read and linked to our posts. We are particularly thankful for the men on the PCA ruling and teaching elder Facebook group who have read, linked to, and forwarded Warhorn’s pieces. Strong support by men and women across the Reformed church has resulted in 100k pageviews and 10k shares of Warhorn’s Revoice pieces.

Please continue to strengthen this work through your social media shares, giving, and prayers.

We are grateful for your support.

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(This is ninth in a series of close readings. For all Warhorn articles on Missouri Presbytery’s Revoice Report, see here.)


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About The Authors

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Tim has been senior pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Bloomington, Indiana since 1996. Married to Mary Lee, the Baylys have five children and twenty-something grandchildren. Tim's book on fatherhood is "Daddy Tried." Co-author of a book on homosexuality, "The Grace of Shame," his latest book on the Church is "Church Reformed."

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Andrew Dionne is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (Evangel Presbytery) in Spartanburg, SC. He serves on the boards of Clearnote Pastors College and Personhood South Carolina. He has six children and a lovely wife.

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Andy Halsey is a pastor ordained in the PCA. He has a wife and 5 children and lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

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