Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Protest filed in Peter Leithart case

Teaching Elder Grover Gunn has filed a protest in the Peter Leithart case. This follows the recent Standing Judicial Commission decision to respond in the negative to three overtures from last summer's General Assembly for that court to assume original jurisdiction.  The text of that protest may be found here.

What I appreciate about the protest is that it isolates the very problem our denomination has with regard to conducting trials: if a court (Pacific Northwest Presbytery in the Leithart case) conducts "a technically correct trial" (it dots all of its "i"'s and crosses all of its "t"s) then there is no means by which that decision can be re-visited.  Thus a court may actually affirm teachings that the much of the denomination rejects, and there isn't a darn thing anyone can do about.

For the record, a protest does not change the outcome of the decision one iota.  According to our Book of Church Order a protest is a way for a member of a court to express his displeasure with an action of that court.  A protest is stronger way of expressing displeasure than a dissent.  The Book of Church Order offers these definitions:

45-1. Any member of a court who had a right to vote on a question, and is
not satisfied with the action taken by that court, is entitled to have a dissent
or protest recorded.

45-2. A dissent is a declaration on the part of one or more members of a
minority, expressing a different opinion from the majority in its action on any issue
before the court, and may be accompanied with the reasons on which it is founded.

45-3. A protest is a more solemn and formal declaration by members of a
minority, bearing their testimony against what they deem an improper or
erroneous action on any issue before the court, and is generally accompanied
with the reasons on which it is founded.

45-5. If a dissent, protest, or objection be couched in temperate language, and
be respectful to the court, it shall be recorded; and the court may, if deemed
necessary, put an answer to the dissent, protest, or objection on the records along
with it. Here the matter shall end, unless the parties obtain permission to withdraw
their dissent, protest, or objection absolutely, or for the sake of amendment.

It sounds as if the the SJC will respond to this protest.  Don't look for a change of heart on the matter. Rather look for affirmation that TE Grover Gunn has correctly pointed out the weakness in our constitution and the need for future amendments.  In the meantime TE Leithart and Pacific Northwest carry on.  

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