From Jason Grabulis’ Stuff That Matters blog. Originally posted 10/11/07.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Deafening Silence of Unrest

When the proliferate cancer of silence imbues a body, of both culture and religion, how does one achieve genuine peace? Does not the brilliance of true light shed abroad subvert the hushed darkness? Cannot rest and peace then fill the empty, silent complacency? Is it simply not the telling of truth in love, and this alone that is required? Aye, but this is a demand only few seek to fill. For omission of duties bothers not the conscience of the weak soul; for his heart is enraptured with the temporary and fleeting treasures of abundant dissipation, only glimpsing his chains in the shadows as his fugitive comforts run dry….

Peace is not the absence of conflict. It is the ability to handle conflict through peaceful means.

– Ronald Reagan

 

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From Jason Grabulis’ Stuff That Matters blog. Originally posted 10/15/07.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rumblings of Resolution: Knox Seminary Board Returns with Hope

Documentation will hopefully be forthcoming, but for now I can say that the resigned Knox Board members (R.C Sproul, Rick Phillips, Greg Miseyko, Gladys Israels, Rick Penney & Cortez Cooper) have returned to their leadership positions on the Board. At this time, Members of the Board have indicated their strong interest in reconciliation.

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From Jason Grabuli’s Stuff That Matters blog. Originally posted 10/10/07

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Knox Seminary Hermeneutics Controversy – A Break from Posting?

The original sources posted thus far shall remain out here for your reference for the foreseeable future.

At this point there is not too much more to post pertaining to original sources – at least that I know within my very limited knowledge. I was really hoping to obtain some documents from either Dr. Gage and/or the CRPC Session. In fact, a member of the CRPC Session contacted me recently and asked if I would post documents from the Session detailing their “side” – particularly relating to Marsh’s Dictum. I informed him that I would absolutely post such documents and that I would post anything the Session provided that was an original document pertaining to these issues – especially documents detailing the Session’s understanding of WCF 1.9 and 7.5. However, the Session member has opted not to send any documents at this time.

So, the facts are out there in writing from the Board’s perspective. However, the Session’s perspective is also out there, but only via word of mouth within the South Florida locale – I have refrained from posting ANY word of mouth information, for obvious reasons. If any new documents arise, particularly from the Session’s end and I have permission to post them, I will. But for now, I do no see anything coming soon.

Many have seemed to wonder why I have posted this information. Sadly, I have read about motives imputed to me – but it’s funny, almost no one has approached me about my motives.

My only desire in posting these documents is transparency. That is, this once private, closed door issue between an employee and employer exploded into a public event (I am sure I will have my share of fans that accuse me of contributing to this – so be it, too much transpired at CRPC and Knox that turned this into a public event before I posted anything- but that will not sway die hard fans). As such, rumors, slanders, accusations against elders, and division naturally came forth. My desire was to provide pure transparency of the issue(s) in an effort to quell the rising tide of darkness: falsehood, division, and rumor-laden “sewing circles.” John 3 and Ephesians 5 clearly testify to the necessity of bringing deeds into the light. My only desire is the edification and building up of Christ’s Church (Eph. 4:11-16, 29). Building up the church includes both positively spreading the truth and negatively purging that which need not be there.

From this point on I am more than willing to carry on academic and theological dialogues pertaining to hermeneutics, typology, and the relationship between the Old and New Testaments. I am not willing to entertain any questions or dialogues about individuals, their characters, or actions.
——–
On a lighter side, here are the results from the poll:
Which modern theologian/philosopher will still be known and read in 500 years?

  • Van Til 39%
  • R.C. Sproul 18%
  • Gordon H. Clark 11%
  • Alvin Plantinga 18%
  • John Murray 12%

I expected Van Til to win, but not to blow out the competition! I was secretly pulling for Gordon Clark who came in dead last!! Oh well – they are all great men…..

Soli Deo Gloria

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From Jason Grabulis’ Stuff That Matters blog. Originally posted 10/9/07.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

R.C. Sproul, Typology, and Marsh’s Dictum – A Knox Seminary Board Member’s Brief Delineation

Posted with permission:

October 3, 2007

Gentleman,

I just spoke with RC who gave me clarification on the widely repeated objections to point number one of the Board’s instructions to Dr. Gage. Specifically, Dr. Sproul said that the first point is not the same as Marsh’s Dictum. Dr. Gage pressed Dr. Reymond to agree to this and initial the page. Dr. Gage was clearly warned to bring these sorts of questions to Dr. Sproul or to communicate them through me. Dr. Gage has caused great harm by his failure to cooperate with this simple request. Here is Dr. Sproul’s clarification.

1) Requirement #1 is not the same as Marsh’s Dictum and RC never referred to Marsh’s Dictum. Dr. Sproul would have been happy to clarify this, as indicated on the same page with our “7 points”…. CRPC and Knox would be much more peaceful now if Dr. Gage conducted himself as requested, and in keeping with his paid time of study.

2) Had Dr. Gage spoken with RC instead of assuming the narrowest construction of requirement #1, he would have learned what Dr. Sproul meant. RC says the WCF obviously goes beyond the explicit use of types to include those which can be deduced by good & necessary consequence. However, what RC seeks to prohibit are “speculative, fanciful and bizarre typological interpretations”. He notes the distinction between using typology for illustrative purposes and for revelatory purposes. The Bible contains a great deal of helpful parallels between OT events, types & shadows and the NT realities referenced in WCF VII. These are illustrative, and the confession tells us so. RC’s concern is that Dr. Gage must not use unbridled conjecture to arrive at revelation. Dr. Gage is the only one we see engaged in this. Warren’s own classroom comments and e-mails over the past years make it clear he was proud of this. His exegesis before the Session on 9/25 of the “single meaning” term in WCF 1:9 is itself bizarre example of what RC means. This view is held by no one else but Gage among reformed scholars.

I checked with the Tabletalk editors (RC does not personally edit the magazine). They indicated that they were concerned about Warren’s typology and reviewed his submissions with a keen eye for this concern. They noted that Warren seemed to stay in bounds with the articles he submitted. However, they insist that Warren’s claim before the Session that they made no changes is clearly false. They keep exact records of all changes, and there were changes.

Respectfully,

Gregory Miseyko

 

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From Jason Grabulis’ Stuff That Matters blog. Originally posted 10/8/07

Monday, October 08, 2007

Marsh’s Dictum Redux? – A Clarification from Knox Seminary Board Member

Some good questions have been asked pertaining to Marsh’s Dictum and the proper use and approach to typology in hermeneutics. As such, the following is correspondence from a former Knox Theological Seminary Board member, Gladys Israels, to the CRPC Session offering theological and hermeneutical clarification. Please note that this is not the position of just one Board member as there are other board members cited in the process of clarifiying the pertinent points. (Posted by permission):


Session Member

This is in return to your email to me. Thank you for requesting clarification of my statement regarding doctrine. I certainly would not want to be misunderstood.

Of course, the only statement of faith, as you point out, is the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. Careful reading of my letter will demonstrate that I referred only to a new doctrinal position now in place at CRPC and Knox Seminary. I didn’t state or imply that there is a new statement of doctrine. Only a newly accepted interpretation.

The doctrinal position of the two institutions in the past had been to interpret WCF 1.9 with restraint. This was demonstrated by the testimony of five fellow theologians who had approached Dr. Gage to communicate that his teaching on typology went far beyond what that with which they were comfortable and beyond that which properly represented the school. These men had authority to speak for the school. They were (at the time they spoke):

  • the Chancellor, Dr. Kennedy as quoted by Dr. Cooper (see minutes of 9/11/07)
  • Dr. Cortez Cooper, a board member, former President, and former Chairman of Academic Affairs
  • Rev. Rick Phillips, a board member and current Chairman of Academic Affairs
  • Drs. Beisner and Lamerson. two current faculty members,


From their expressed concern and from conversations in which Dr. White repeated their comments Dr. Gage was well aware that his own teaching of typology was unique at Knox Seminary.


Dr. Gage understood very well that Condition #1 of the Restoration Process was intended to limit his teaching of typology to those things implicit and explicit in scripture; i.e. to the restrained position being taught by other faculty members. That is why he insisted that he “could not in good conscience remain” unless the Session was willing to change that Condition to one more in keeping with his practice. On the morning after he was suspended Dr. Gage met with Dean of Faculty, Dr. Reymond, and two members of the Board. He was given contact information and instructed to call Dr. Sproul to discuss what was involved in the suspension and in the Seven Points Paper. Dr. Gage has never made that call. He reported to the session the most narrow interpretation of Condition #1, including mention of Marsh’s Dictum* and represented that to be the requirement placed on him. It was not. Marsh’s Dictum was never mentioned during this process until Dr. Gage brought it up at the Session meeting.* It does not represent the view of Dr. Sproul or anyone on the Board. Dr. Gage did not know that because he chose not to know. The Session did not know that because they refused to allow anyone from the Seminary to speak for clarification after Dr. Gage made those statements


This is how Dr. Sproul explains his position:


The WCF obviously goes beyond the explicit use of types to include those which can be deduced by good and necessary consequence. However, we must prohibit speculative, fanciful and bizarre typological interpretations. There is a clear distinction between using typology for illustrative purposes and for revelatory purposes. The Bible contains a great many helpful parallels between OT events, types and shadows and the NT realities referenced in WCF VII. These are illustrative, and the Confession tells us so. Dr. Gage must not use unbridled conjecture to arrive at revelation**. He is the only one we see engaged in this.

When the Session voted “Dr. Warren Gage was declared Confessional and the Knox Theological Seminary Board’s conclusion was declared incorrect.”

. . . “Further, neither Dr. Gage nor any other faculty members are required to meet condition one of the restoration procedure (Must agree not to set forth any typology except that which is explicit in Scriptures.” all of the theologians listening knew, or should have known, that Dr. Gage’s position — that typology may be used for the purpose of illustration and also for the purpose of revelation — is the now the stated doctrinal position of Knox Seminary and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Dr.Gage certainly understood that.

That is the new doctrinal position about which I wrote in my original letter to the Session. It is not an accepted position in the Reformed community.

Your Sister in Christ,


Gladys Israels

*Please ask Dr. Reymond why he was approached by Sam Lamerson to initial a paper which had a statement about Marsh’s Dictum on it after the suspension took place.


**During his examination by the Board Dr. Gage was asked by Dr. Sproul if he had once held to the position that both of the thieves who died on the cross went to heaven. He acknowledged that though it is no longer his belief he had once believed that. Asked how he arrived at that conclusion he said it was because Revelation speaks of the River of Living Water with a tree on each side of the river; he once thought the two trees represented the two thieves.


P.S. Dr. Sproul does not personally edit Tabletalk. The editors have indicated that they were concerned about Warren’s typology and reviewed his submissions with a keen eye to this concern. They keep extensive records of changes made and provided a three page analysis of changes they had to make to bring Warren’s manuscripts into conformity. Dr. Gage was aware of this when he used these articles to attempt to prove his orthodoxy.

 

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From Jason Grabulis’ Stuff That Matters blog. Originally posted 10/5/07

Friday, October 05, 2007

Excerpts from the Bylaws of Knox Theological Seminary

Excerpts from the Bylaws of Knox Theological Seminary

 

KTS Bylaws, Section I. The Institution, A. Governing Standard and Legal Identity

The operation of Knox Theological Seminary, a commission of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Inc., shall in all instances be according to the Holy Scriptures and the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America, which consists of the doctrinal standards set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith, together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms and The Book of Church Order, as adopted by the Presbyterian Church in America.

The Session of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church is responsible for the lawful affairs of Knox Theological Seminary, as a commission of the Church.

This manual is for the purpose of governing the Board of Directors of Knox Theological Seminary and is to provide procedures for the necessary activities of the Board and/or faculty members.

Further, at any time that there is a conflict between the manual and the Articles of Incorporation of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC), Inc., the Articles of Incorporation shall govern. At any time there is a conflict between this manual and The Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America, except as may be required by the laws of the State of Florida or the United States of America (provided such laws are not in conflict with the Holy Scriptures or classical reformed doctrine), the Book of Church Order shall govern.

KTS Bylaws, Section I. The Institution, C. Statement of Belief and Covenant

The members of the Board of Directors shall subscribe annually at the annual meeting to the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, and to the following Statement of Belief and Covenant:

1. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (excluding those books commonly called the Apocrypha) are the inspired, authoritative, and only infallible Word of God.

2. There is only one God, eternally existent in three co-equal Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

3. Our Lord Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man in one person. He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, performed miracles, and vicariously atoned for sin through His shed blood and death. He was bodily resurrected from the dead. He ascended to the right hand of God the Father and will personally return in power and glory.

4. Sovereign regeneration by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential for the salvation of lost and sinful man.

5. God justifies the sinner on the basis of Christ’s righteousness alone, which is imputed to him by grace alone and which is received by faith alone.

6. Eternal life is received by faith, that is, by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

7. The Holy Spirit indwells all true believers and enables them to live godly lives.

8. Both the saved and the lost will be resurrected from the dead; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.

9. There is spiritual unity of all true believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

KTS Bylaws, Section I. The Institution, D. Statement of Purpose

The purpose of Knox Theological Seminary is to prepare and equip Christians to serve under the Lordship of Christ and the authority of God’s Word, to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:28).

This purpose is fulfilled primarily (1) by training those men called to the Christian ministry; (2) by providing individuals already in full-time service, opportunities for continuing education and advanced degrees for more effective ministry; and (3) by equipping lay persons with greater biblical and theological understanding and with effective skills.

The theological perspective from which the training is offered is that of the classical Reformed theology expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms and in the principles of presbyterian church government. Students from other evangelical perspectives are welcome and encouraged to apply.

The method employed by Knox will provide a quality education, wedding academic content with ministry skills and on-the-job training, enabling the students to discharge a variety of functions in God’s Kingdom such as church planting, pastoral work, evangelism, missions, establishing a Christian school, and the use of media. Knox Seminary will provide opportunity for theological education at the main campus and through extension courses offered at other locations in South Florida and beyond. The school will also offer courses in formats favorable to geography and student needs.

KTS Bylaws, Section II. The Governing Authority, A. The Board of Directors,
1. Authority

The civil activities and affairs of the Seminary shall be managed by its Board of Directors. In addition to the powers and authority expressly conferred on it by the Session of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Inc. and these Bylaws, the Board of Directors may exercise all such powers of the Seminary and do all such lawful acts and things as are not prohibited by law (provided such laws are not in conflict with the Holy Scriptures and our doctrine), by the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America, or by these Bylaws. Such powers and authority shall include, but not be limited to, the buying, selling, mortgaging of property for the Seminary, the acquiring and conveying of title to such property, the holding and defending of title to the same and the managing of any permanent special funds entrusted to them for the furtherance of the purposes of the seminary, provided that such duties do not infringe upon the powers and duties of the Session of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Inc.

The Board shall in all instances conform to the working of a commission as outlined in the Book of Church order of the Presbyterian Church in America.

 

KTS Bylaws, Section II. The Governing Authority, A. The Board of Directors,
6. Officers

The officers of the Board of Directors consist of: Chancellor/Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer.

a. The Chancellor/Chairman is one position and retains the right to protect the Seminary from any deviation from its stated beliefs, purpose, or intention.

b. The Vice Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer shall be elected by the Board and shall be reelected annually at the spring meeting of the Board of Directors.

KTS Bylaws, Section II. The Governing Authority, B. The Executive Commission,
1. Authority

The Executive Commission shall exercise the authority of the Board of Directors except in matters as may be specifically reserved by the Board. Such matters will always include:

a. Any revision or change in the Statement of Belief and Covenant or the Statement of Purpose.

b. The hiring and firing of resident faculty members.

c. The approval of the annual budget.

d. Individual members of the Executive Commission shall have no authority to act for or on behalf of the Seminary.

e. All actions of the Executive Commission shall be reduced to writing and reflected by minutes of the Executive Committee.

KTS Bylaws, Section III. The Administration, A. The Chancellor

1. The Chancellor is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Knox Theological Seminary.

2. The Chancellor’s primary responsibility is to see that the Seminary remains true to the Statement of Belief and Covenant and the Statement of Purpose. As Chancellor, he is able to act alone, if necessary, to assure that this intention is maintained.

3. The Chancellor is the Senior Minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. (Note: When Dr. Kennedy passed away, the Board of Directors elected Dr. R.C. Sproul to the position of Interim Chancellor until a Senior Minister has been called to CRPC.)

4. The position of Chancellor serves as the visible head of the Seminary in the local and national community.

 

Excerpts from the Faculty Manual of Knox Theological Seminary

 

KTS Faculty Manual, Preface: Vision and Statement of Purpose

In obedience to the Great Commission and desiring to meet the need for laborers in the harvest—in our nation and, indeed, the world—Dr. Kennedy and the leadership of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (a.k.a. CRPC) met in 1989 to establish a seminary faithful to the entire Word of God. Knox Theological Seminary (a.k.a. Knox; KTS) is the fulfillment of their dreams.

Our vision is to train men for full-time gospel ministry while enriching and enabling laypersons who seek to become more knowledgeable and effective in their own personal ministries.

Our goal is to prepare leaders for the 21st century, emphasizing the application of Scripture to all aspects of our culture and providing them with excellent academic instruction combined with Evangelism Explosion training, guidance in the student’s personal spiritual growth, and hands-on ministry experience.

Our model is Scottish reformer, John Knox. Future leaders inspired with his commitment, fervor, and fire will cry from their hearts for their own homelands—and the world—just as he did, with his now famous prayer: “Lord, give me Scotland, or I die!”

Knox Theological Seminary seeks to provide students with nothing less than the integration of solid biblical, historical, and practical theology with true spirituality, enabling men and women to become Christian leaders of the church and society.

The purpose of Knox Theological Seminary is to prepare and equip Christian men and women to serve under the lordship of Christ and the authority of God’s Word, to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and to obey the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:28).

The theological perspective from which training is offered is that of classic Reformed Theology as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms and in the principles of presbyterian church government.

Each faculty member is required to affirm his support of the Seminary’s Vision and Statement of Purpose (see also sections I.3.c. and II.8.)

KTS Faculty Manual, Section V. Dismissal

Doctrinal deviation, moral failure, neglect of duty [including, but not limited to, those duties implied or expressed in section II.8. above], or unsatisfactory classroom performance may be grounds for dismissal. With respect to doctrinal deviation and moral failure, the standard for determining the grounds for dismissal will be the Scriptures, as interpreted by the Westminster Standards. With respect to unsatisfactory classroom performance and/or neglect of duty, the standards for determining grounds for dismissal shall be the Faculty Manual.When the Administration1 concludes that dismissal proceedings are in order respecting a given faculty member, it shall advise the faculty member of its opinion and grant the faculty member full opportunity to discuss the matters in question with the Administration. After this conference has occurred and the Administration concludes that dismissal is necessary, the intention to dismiss shall be reported to request a hearing before the full Board. Should such a hearing be granted, the faculty member will have the privilege of addressing the Board respecting those issues that the Administration cites as grounds for his termination. He is granted the opportunity of having a teaching elder present for his hearing to provide advice and counsel should he so desire. Should the Board determine that termination is called for, it shall give notice of its decision to terminate the faculty member, with a written statement of the grounds included.

Should termination result for any reason other than doctrinal deviation or moral failure, at the discretion of the Board, the faculty member dismissed may receive his salary and benefit package as severance pay from the date of his termination for up to but not to exceed six (6) months or until he secures and commences other employment or reaches the age of 65, whichever comes first.

 

 

 

 

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From Jason Grabulis’ Stuff That Matters blog. Originally posted 10/4/07.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Former Knox Seminary Board Member Gladys Israels’ Letter to CRPC

Here is another letter from a former Knox Board Member to the CRPC Session. For those of you not familiar with the environment of CRPC, Gladys Israels, the author of the letter, and her husband were some of Dr. James Kennedy’s closest friends. I personally know Gladys and she is one of the meekest, most gracious women in Christ that I know.(Please note, I have not received this information from any Knox staff. Further, I have the permission and the explicit request of the author to publish this in full – Soli Deo Gloria):

September 29, 2007

 

To the Members of the Session of

Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

 

Gentlemen:

 

On Tuesday evening you voted that

“Neither Dr. Gage nor any other faculty members are required to meet Condition #1 of the Restoration Procedure; “Must agree not to set forth any typology except that which is explicit in the Scriptures.”

Did you understand you were voting to change the doctrinal position that Knox Seminary has held since it was founded in 1989? The same doctrinal position Jim Kennedy held throughout 48 years of ministry. If he were with us today the first letter of resignation from the Board you received would have been his. Six members of the Board did not resign because they are angry. They resigned for the same reason I did.

 

“In light of the decision taken by the Session last night to change the doctrinal position of the Seminary, please accept my resignation from the Board. I cannot in good conscience remain when the doctrinal position is no longer the one upheld by Jim Kennedy and the most outstanding theologians in the Reformed community”

 

You have heard or read testimony from several people who said that Dr. Gage has been approached frequently over the last several years regarding his teaching, always with reference to typology taken too far.

·         These included Cortez Cooper who said that Dr. Kennedy called him, as Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, to express concern about Dr. Gage’s teaching. Dr. Cooper shared that concern. Dr. Kennedy spoke to Dr. White who carried that message to Dr. Gage. And, though only Dr. Gage knows what was said, we know that three times he had appointments with Dr. Kennedy in his office.

·         Rick Phillips said after the first Revelation Conference in late January 2004, “I spoke to Dr. White about my concern that the typology was taken much too far.” This exchange took place in a meeting of the Academic Affairs committee, at which Cortez Cooper and Ron Siegenthaler were in attendance, expressing similar concerns to Dr. White. Dr. White again carried all their concerns to Dr. Gage, who, at Dr. White’s urging later approached Rev. Phillips about an appointment to discuss the matter but that meeting never took place.

·         Cal Biesner told you that on several occasions he spoke to Warren saying that, though for the most part his teaching is very good, it was sometimes carried too far.

·         Even Dr. Lamerson told the Board on September 11, 2007 that he had spoken to Dr. Gage in a similar way and used the word “Parallelmania.”

All of these statements contained the same concern, the over-emphasis on and excesses in his practice of typology. Going beyond “that which is explicit in Scriptures.” Now that is the official doctrinal statement of Knox Seminary!

 

Dr. Gage said that unless you changed the doctrinal position he could not in good conscience stay at Knox. And you changed it. How many others who came here in good faith will now be required by conscience to leave because of the change you have made? And, how many otherwise faithful men will now be unable to consider coming to Knox? Cortez Cooper, R. C. Sproul and Rick Phillips cannot lend their credentials to a school whose doctrinal position they cannot defend. Cal Biesner and Bob Reymond testified before you that they hold the original doctrinal position. What will this mean to them and to other faculty members? To a man who just bought a house in Pompano to start classes here in January and others like him?

 

We have just moved away from the churches and pastors in the traditional Reformed Community that have been our friends and allies since 1959. Many members of CRPC are devoted to R. C. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries. How will they react when they realize we are no longer a part of the same theological community? Your decision will reverberate throughout the Reformed community. Are there some to whom these distinctives will not seem important? Of course there are, but those are not the men Jim Kennedy and CRPC have been close to through the years. When we seek a President and faculty for Knox and a pastor for CRPC the kind of men we might have hoped to attract will not be interested. Cal Biesner pointed out to you that the men who framed the Federal Vision would be very comfortable with this theological position. (And, why would any pastor want to serve with a session that has just demonstrated they think they are more capable of making theological decisions than a man who has made it his career for forty years?)

 

 

OTHER THEOLOGICAL ISSUES

In the “Seven Points Document” the Board was seeking to exercise control should Dr. Gage care to remain at Knox. That could have occurred only if the following issues were resolved. They are far more egregious and were barely considered by the Session. In his classroom at Knox Seminary Dr. Gage endorsed the Quadriga, a method of interpreting scripture taught and practiced in the Roman Church for centuries. He told the students, “You won’t hear this in any other Protestant seminary in the nation.” He suggested that Luther and Calvin were so totally anti-Catholic that they may have “thrown the baby out with the bath” when they rejected this method! When questioned by the Session he said, “I shouldn’t have done that. I won’t do it any more.” You gave him a pass!

 

Asked about the statement that he hears Satan speak to him and he hears the Lord speak, he responded, “I hear the Lord in my mind say, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Of course, isn’t that what all of us Presbyterians believe? Then why did Dr. Gage spend classroom time waiting for the shock value of his statement to take effect and saying, “Does that shock you? This will sound strange to Presbyterian ears…” Why should this statement sound strange to our Presbyterian ears, if what he was proposing is exactly what we all believe? No one asked him that question. You gave him a pass!

 

In the classroom he said, “What does irresistible grace mean? … We resisted the love of God, and He irresistibly forced his love on me … redemption is in the figure of a rape. But that becomes authentic love.” Dear Session members, is that your understanding of the doctrine of irresistible grace? Is this the understanding that you want Knox graduates to learn and teach to their congregations? When told how offensive it is to hear him refer to Christ’s activity in bringing us to Himself as rape, he said, “I am sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” And you gave him a pass!

 

He was asked about his disparagement of Systematic Theology and reason in understanding scripture. He said, “I would never do that. I appreciate Systematic Theology. I sent so many people to Dr. Reymond’s class, he had to have a larger classroom.” But, those he teaches come to a different conclusion as they interact with his lectures in class. Check the recording and the transcript of his lectures. For example:

Student, “(Christian theologians) look at the gospel and see in it a boring system.” Gage, “Be careful, that boring system is your Reformed theology.” . . . Gage, “I really do think there’s a sickness of the soul there.” “Yes, there’s a fragmented soul.” (in Christian theologians)

 

Please don’t miss this point: nothing was known of the OTHER THEOLOGICAL ISSUES (above) until after graduation in May 2007. At the time when Dr. White heard the concerns expressed by a recent graduate (concerns shared by a few other students), he was ending the spring semester and preparing to teach for one week at the Seminary in Korea. He returned mid June and began serious work on the 180 hours of lectures. There was a determination not to rush to judgment but to move slowly and judiciously and not involve any more people than necessary until the seriousness of the situation was decided. In the evaluation process Dr. White wanted a second opinion from an expert in theology.

 

Since his stroke Dr. Sproul had had little interaction with the Seminary and it was known that he had cut back on all of his obligations. The Sprouls and the Israels were to be on the CRM Cruise June 24-30. Dr. White requested that Mrs. Israels ask Dr. Sproul if he would be able to provide assistance in the evaluation process. Dr. Sproul agreed to talk with Dr. White on the phone. This conversation took place the week of July 9. The conclusion was that the issues were very serious and required attention.

 

THE PROCESS

In preparation for the joint meeting we were all told discussing the process was “off the table.” Only theological issues were to be discussed. As soon as the faculty and Board members were excused Ron Siegenthaler asked for a Point of Personal Privilege in order to review the process leading up to the meeting. You may have concluded that two members of the Executive Committee orchestrated these events. Please let me recite what I saw happen and ask you to review the minutes of Executive Committee meetings which are on file in the business manager’s office at the Seminary. And, please keep in mind that Ron Siegenthaler as Chairman of the Executive Committee was responsible for the process.

 

Faculty Manual: (1) When the Administration concludes that dismissal proceedings are in order respecting a given faculty member (2) it shall advise the faculty member of its opinion and (3) grant the faculty member full opportunity to discus the matter in question with the Administrator..

 

The Faculty Manual defines “the Administration” as “the President or his Board-approved representative.” After Dr. Kennedy became ill in December, there was no one individual with the official approval to act as Chairman, Chancellor, or President or his representative and Dr. White was leaving on sabbatical effective August 1. Therefore,
on July 31st the Executive Committee (Ron Siegenthaler, Ron Kovack, Rick Penney, on the telephone, and Gladys Israels) met with Dr. White. In order for the Committee to function as the Administration after Dr. White’s sabbatical began, it would be necessary to have meetings for everyone to be informed and involved. They agreed to have bi-weekly meetings with Dr. Reymond, Dean of Faculty and Brad Briggs, Business Manager to provide greater oversight to the Seminary.

 

On August 14th the Executive Committee and Dr. White met in a teleconference with Dr. Sproul to review the issue of Dr. Gage’s doctrinal position.

 

Minutes of August 14, 2007 “The statement that Dr. Gage should be released from his position at the Seminary received four affirmative votes and one of reluctant agreement. It was determined that he should be asked to attend a meeting of the Executive Committee on the afternoon of August 21st and asked to resign with a generous separation package. And, that should he not choose to resign, he be invited to a full meeting of the Board for examination by them and final determination of the matter.”

 

The Faculty Manual says: When the administration concludes that dismissal proceedings are in order . . . with the Committee acting as the Administration the only way to reach that conclusion was to vote. The vote at the August 14th meeting that we would ask for Dr. Gage’s resignation was the conclusion that dismissal proceedings were in order.

 

The following minutes demonstrate that the Executive Committee acting as the Administration tried to meet with Dr. Gage on August 21st to advise the faculty member of its opinion and grant the faculty member full opportunity to discuss the matters in question with the Administration. Despite the unanimous vote on August 14th, we were not able to meet with Dr, Gage. Ron Siegenthaler took it on himself to prevent that from happening.

 

Minutes of August 21, 2007 “By email Ron Siegenthaler had advised that he would not be inviting Warren Gage to the meeting; that further consideration was necessary. Dr. Reymond has reviewed the paper.* Ron rehearsed Warren’s assent to Reformed doctrine. Teaching elders at CRPC have affirmed that they have never heard any cause for concern in his teaching. It would be a very serious blow to the Church at this fragile time in its history. Warren has a Sunday School class of 300. Sam is very popular.** It is possible that the Knox Board may take a decision that would then be reversed by the CRPC session.”

 

*We later learned that Bob Reymond’s evaluation expressed concern for theological error. He was told that he did not need to attend this meeting.

** Every concern was for CRPC. There was no concern for doctrinal purity at the Seminary.

 

(Minutes continued) It was determined that this matter must be considered a called meeting of the Board of the Seminary. Both Ron Siegenthaler and Ron Kovack have scheduling conflicts (for August 28th.) The meeting will be called for Tuesday, September 11, 2007.*

 

*Ron Siegenthaler, Chairman of the Committee, had refused to invite Dr. Gage to this meeting where he would have had opportunity to hear and respond before meeting with the Board. He made no effort to schedule such a meeting.

 

The paper prepared by Dr. White had only been released to the four members of the Executive Committee and Dr. Sproul with instructions of strict confidentially. On August 24th Ron Siegenthaler gave it to Dr. Gage. He then wrote to the Committee that they were to give it to no one. Not to the members of the Board of Directors.

 

Minutes of September 11, 2007 (which you received before the Tuesday evening meeting) tell the remainder of the procedure. You will note that there was some difference of opinion regarding Dr. White’s sabbatical. The Board understood that it was a reward for a job well done. Dr. Gage said he was told by Ron Siegenthaler and Ron Kovack that it was censure for inappropriate behavior. At the Board meeting Ron Kovack said that did not accurately represent what he had said. That information was published to you without comment even though it was said to be inaccurate.

 

Given the lack of leadership and the determination of some to prevent the matter from being dealt with at all, it is difficult to imagine how the process could have been accomplished in a more appropriate manner.

COMPLIANCE

The following action was taken in order to keep the Board in compliance with our Bylaws: With the loss of Dr. Kennedy as a board member on September 5th, David Ferguson was elected to the Board at the September 11th meeting. With the resignation of Ron Siegenthaler on September 11th, Dan Wesphal was elected by email ballot on September 24th. Both of these men are members in good standing of the Session. These actions would have been reported to the Session in the regular course of events as has been done in the past.

 

No one could suggest anyone more appropriate to serve Knox as Interim Chairman of the Board and Interim Chancellor than Dr. R. C. Sproul. A board member, former faculty member and someone Dr. Kennedy had asked on more than one occasion to serve as the President. At a time when the school was entirely without leadership, the Board was uniformly enthusiastic about approving him for that position. The Bylaws make no specific provision for the process of electing a new Chairman/Chancellor. All other elections are voted on by the Board and reported to the Session of the Church in due course. Randi Walter had already written an article to encourage donors and prospective students. Dr. Sproul had agreed to assist in finding a President and faculty members. It seemed that Knox was poised on the brink of becoming a world class seminary.

 

Today everything is different. Coral Ridge Church and Knox Seminary have a new doctrinal position. I have often heard Jim Kennedy say, “I haven’t moved to the right. They just moved the road.” Gentlemen, on Tuesday evening you voted to move the road.

The events of these days will have long lasting ramifications.

 

I hope this provides clarity and perhaps some new information.

 

Your Sister in Christ,

 

 

Gladys Israels

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From Jason Grabulis’ Stuff That Matters blog. Original posting 10/3/07.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dr. Gage’s & The Session’s Documentation – Unavailable

Well, as many of you know I desire to post original source documents so that truth can be disseminated, rumors can cease, and the church can be edified.

At this time the Session and party’s related thereunto are not willing to release any documentation. I have been told that the Session will release an official summary of their position sometime during the week of 9 October, but the disclosure of other documents is not being considered at this time.

Further, I have heard from several very reliable sources, from the Board and the Session, that the broader issue of a teaching elder’s confessionalism being the responsibility of the Presbytery and not the Session (cf. BCO, particularly Chapter 34) leaves this entire issue open to further official analysis and judgments.

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From Jason Grabulis’ Stuff That Matters blog. Original posting 10/2/07

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

R.C. Sproul’s Letter to CRPC Session over Knox Seminary Issue

Here is a letter submitted by R.C Sproul, Founder of Ligonier Ministries, to the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Session concerning the issues that have recently arisen over Knox Theological Seminary. The resignation letter of Rick Phillips is below. (Please note, I have not received this information from any Knox staff or CRPC session member. Further, I have the permission of those involved to post this):

 

September 18, 2007

To the Members of the Session
of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

Gentlemen:

I am hearing reports of some serious opposition and turmoil regarding the Knox Board of Directors’ decision (by a wide margin) to suspend Dr. Warren Gage from his classroom duties for this academic semester. He has been granted full pay and given time to contemplate his willingness to subordinate himself fully to the doctrinal standards of the Seminary and the P.C.A.

Though Dr. Gage clearly and enthusiastically affirms many crucial doctrines of the Reformed Faith, his views of Biblical Interpretation (the science of Hermeneutics) are, in our judgment, manifestly outside of the scope of the Westminster Confession and seriously undermine our confessional standards. We noted his quote “I have heard the Lord speaking to me” adding “To Presbyterians, that sounds very strange.”

Dr. Gage teaches and testifies that how we interpret the Bible controls our theology.

It is not by accident that the Westminster Confession begins with the Doctrine of Scripture and affirms not only its nature, inspiration and authority, but strongly elucidates the cardinal principles of interpretation. The Reformers of the 16th Century, most notably Luther and Calvin, took a strong stand against the popular Medieval approach to interpretation called the Quadriga. Dr. Gage, in his zeal to increase the role of typology in Biblical interpretation, speaks favorably of this Medieval method and is critical of the Reformers moving away from it.

Dr. Gage emphatically and repeatedly calls for a new poetry that will inform a new approach to the Bible and a new theology that he hopes will usher in a new Reformation. He speaks in his classroom about ecumenical union with Roman Catholicism and other Christian “traditions” around a rediscovery of Christ in the Old Testament. This suggests a deficient understanding of the substantive doctrinal differences between the reformers and Rome. Jim Kennedy and I fought that battle shoulder-to-shoulder in the ECT turmoil of the mid 90’s. I know he would not have tolerated that aspect of Dr. Gage’s teaching.

The task of Knox’s Board was and is not to deal merely with personal conflicts among Professors and Administrators, but to be the guardians of the Doctrinal purity of the Seminary. In our judgment Dr. Gage’s conflict with the orthodox Reformed rules of Biblical interpretation represented a crucial clear and present danger to the school’s doctrinal integrity.

The Board understands that there is a legitimate role for typology in Biblical interpretation, but Dr. Gage takes that method far beyond the legitimate limits of its use. Even Dr. Gage’s closest faculty colleague characterized for the Board that Dr. Gage is caught up in “Parallelomania.” Dr. Gage’s Tabletalk articles do not contain these problems.

As you know, the Board stopped short of termination in the case of Dr. Gage, despite strong sentiment for that action. Instead the Board opted for a one term suspension with the hope of seeing Dr. Gage amend his views of interpretation to the degree of bringing them into conformity with our doctrinal standards.

As a former professor at Knox and long time colleague of Dr. Kennedy, I simply cannot imagine that he would ever have tolerated Dr. Gage’s departure from Reformed orthodoxy. It is also clear that the senior members of the faculty have expressed grave concerns about Dr. Gage’s approach to Biblical interpretation.

I taught a course at Knox on “The Role Of Logic In Theology”. Dr. Kennedy enthusiastically welcomed this particular course by attending nearly every lecture, because he knew the critical role of “evident reason” in theology. Dr. Gage regularly belittles reason and rationality, something Dr. Kennedy surely would not tolerate.

I am concerned that the current upheaval over the suspension of a popular professor may incline the Session to seek to act against the Board’s action. That would seriously undermine the integrity of the Knox Board and the Seminary as well.

I am concerned also that the Executive Committee of the Board of Knox had unanimously agreed on August 14 to call a full board meeting to deal with this matter before the start of the Academic term, so that the upheaval we are now experiencing could possibly have been diminished. The board attempted to deal with this before the semester began, but Mr. Ron Siegenthaler took it upon himself to not invite Dr. Gage to the August 21 meeting, and then postponed the August 28 meeting, causing a delay which made the situation much harder to handle. Dr. Gage agitated the process more when he attempted to turn our September 11 board meeting into a hearing by bringing witnesses that we did not invite. Our dealings with him were employer to employee, not a hearing with charges to be made and rebutted.

There is now a rift between some members of the Session and the Knox Board that could result in serious damage to both institutions. I am aware that the Reformed academic world is watching our deliberations. The question is – will Knox Seminary maintain and protect her theological integrity?

I urge you, brethren, to give your strong and united support to the decision of the Knox Seminary Board.

Soli Deo Gloria,

R.C. Sproul
Interim Chairman and Chancellor

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From Jason Grabulis’ Stuff That Matters blog. Original posting 9/29/2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Knox Seminary Controversy over Dr. Gage’s Hermeneutic – Major Resignations from Knox Board Followed

For those of you who have not heard, Knox Theological Seminary has just gone through a tremendously defining trial.

It is best summed up in the words of one of my professors, Dr. Sam Lamerson that you can read in full yourself here . I will try to provide a brief summary:

On 9/11/2007 the Board of Directors of Knox Theological Seminary, after having evidence presented to them from a number of sources, charged Dr. Warren Gage with an understanding, application, and presentation of hermeneutical theory that was contrary to the Westminster Confession of Faith 1.9 and antagonistic to the Reformed tradition. Dr. Lamerson states, “After a great deal of discussion and hearing of witnesses from Dr. Gage, the board decided that Dr. Gage did not meet confessional standards….The board voted to suspend Dr. Gage (with two votes against) with pay for the rest of the semester until he satisfied several conditions, including agreeing with the one meaning of Scripture.”

Then, as Dr. Lamerson continues, on 9/25/2007 ” a session meeting was called by Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church to examine the charges against Dr. Gage. In the first hour the board was allowed to make its case in favor of Dr. Gage’s conta-confessionalism. The board argued that Dr. Gage, through his typological approach, was seeing more than one meaning in Scripture, and was seeing things in Scripture that just were not there….Next Dr. Gage in one hour presented his defense both by admitting that he had, at times spoken not as clearly as he had liked, but at other times arguing that if the entire lecture had been heard, rather than just a small sound bite, the point would not have been seen as controversial. Dr. Gage apologized for anything that he had said which was seen as being cutting toward any other faculty member… as well as for not being as careful as he might have been when he as explaining certain issues. Most importantly he stated that he did believe in the one meaning of Scripture when it is properly understood.”

CONCLUSION. “Discussion followed and two motions were voted upon by the session:”

  1. That Dr. Warren Gage be declared confessional and that the Knox Theological Seminary Board’s conclusion be declared incorrect.
  2. That Dr. Warren Gage’s suspension be vacated and that Dr. Gage be reinstated immediately with full rights and privileges and that neither Dr. Gage nor the faculty be required to meet condition one of the restoration procedure.

–> “There were other things that were said and done, many details that I have left out, but I think that I have fairly captured the essentials.” End of Dr. Lamerson’s summary – the two rulings of the Session listed above, however, are from an “official” email I received detailing the Session’s rulings.

——-

So, where does this leave us now? I have been perplexed and deeply saddened by the multitudinous response from a representative portion of students and bloggers – it has been a response of glee that “our side won.” Well, here are my thoughts:

I believe the situation is even worse now than when we were in the midst of the accusations.

First, Dr. Lamerson’s summary is extraordinarily helpful. As a Knox student, it was encouraging to watch Dr. Lamerson’s handling of himself in a proper manner through this entire ordeal.

However, all is not well – in fact, far from it! Following the Coral Ridge session’s ruling, several prominent, well-respected, and theologically discerning board members resigned – simply check out Knox’s website listing the now current Board of Directors, minus some important names:
http://www.knoxseminary.org/Welcome/board_of_directors.aspx

I feel obligated to point out, since the Knox website is public record, that the two names most notably missing from the list that many around the nation will recognize are R.C. Sproul and Rick Phillips. The complete list of resignations includes:

R.C. Sproul
Rick Phillips
Greg Miseyko
Rick Penney
Gladys Israels
Cortez Cooper


It is no small thing when men and leaders of a seminary leave over such issues as have transpired here. It is serious.


Humility and brotherly affection have marked some in this situation, but hardly has it been the mark of all. As such, I fully understand the Board of Directors resigning – for they were placed in a position by which they were left with no other choice. Thus, I personally believe the immediate future of Knox is bleak… Sure, God is sovereign. But, we need not forget that God works His providence out within the super-structure of common grace and the works of men. The charges against Dr. Gage aside, the way this was ultimately handled and the subsequent outcome will serve as a hallmark in defining the kind of institution Knox Theological Seminary will be. That is, whether you agree or disagree with the charges against Dr. Gage, whose Christianity & Culture lectures I have absolutely loved, did the result of the Session’s ruling and unconditional reinstatement of Dr. Gage leave Knox in a vulnerable situation?

May God have mercy……

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