A similar situation has unfolded in Siouxlands Presbytery with investigations being launched into the blogging of some of in that presbytery on the grounds that they have violated the 9th Commandment. Two of three ministers facing these allegations were cleared of any wrong-doing -- Here. The third may go to trial.
What's striking to me is the selective use of the Westminster Standards in going after people who have written critically about the theological views of certain ministers. Instead of presbyteries taking these reports seriously and investigating their substance they have chosen to go after the whistle-blowers in order to silence them on the grounds that they have broken the 9th Commandment (see WLC #144 and 145 - Here). Thus, I have coined a new term to describe this use of our confessional standards: Selective Subscription.
When men who are charged with protecting the church from theological error choose to look the other way or drag their feet they are employing Selective Subscription. When these same men choose to investigate a blogger because of the tone of his writing instead of looking into the allegations, they are employing Selective Subscription. When men focus on the technicalities of the 9th Commandment and are unconcerned that a minister might be teaching something that "is hostile to the system" or that "strikes at the vitals of religion" (BCO 21-4 and RAO 16-3.e.5.d) they are engaged in Selective Subscription. In the end Selective Subscription to the 9th Commandment is a tool to deflect attention from the issues at hand, to silence critics, and "to strain gnats while swallowing camels" (Matthew 23:24).
Of late, I've been mulling over John 1 and Jesus' encounter with Nathanael. When Philip told Nathanael that he had found the fulfillment of Moses' teaching and that it was embodied in the person of "Jesus of Nazareth," Nathanael replied, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" A short time later Nathanael met the person he had just insulted (yea, slandered). Jesus greeted him with these words: "An Israelite in whom their is no deceit (guile)!" What's interesting is that Jesus doesn't whip out the 9th Commandment and say to Nathanael, "How dare you insult me and the town where I am from!" Rather, he looked at the substance of what was said and saw it as a reflection of a man who was a straight-shooter. Though he was insulted he turned the other cheek and actually complimented Nathanael for being forthright, though a little uninformed.
Jesus' response is 180 degrees opposite the response of those who are quick to use the 9th Commandment to cry foul. Why won't they see the merit of what has been written and with charity, seek to investigate the substance? Why won't they overlook the tone of someone's words who might be as blunt as Nathanael or who might simply be exasperated by the parliamentary maneuvering to deny what is apparent to many?
In closing I point you to a piece written by Dr. Carl Trueman, reflecting on the Church of Scotland and the news (May 2009) that it ordained a practicing homosexual. He laments the fact that for decades conservatives in that church looked the other way while all sorts of things were allowed to take root. In his final paragraph he captures the essence of what defending the faith looks like:
"The policy of ceding church courts to the liberals has proved disastrous. I feel for friends caught in the crossfire in Aberdeen but, as I said earlier, a petition is too little too late. These battles are not won by petitions which have no ecclesiastical status; nor are they won by preaching to the converted at large Reformed conferences or to congregations of the faithful in the big C of S churches. They are won by the nasty, brutish, hard labour of fighting in the church courts, face to face, toe to toe, eyeball to eyeball, with those who would seek to take over session, presbyteries, synods, and General Assemblies for evil."Note: I am not calling anyone evil or a theological liberal. The point of quoting this paragraph is the final sentence and what contending for the faith looks like.