Many hours of hard work and sacrifice are required to produce and publish a response of this kind. I would like to thank the many people who graciously gave of their time and effort in assisting me in its production. First and foremost I dedicate this book to my darling wife, Fran and to my precious children Amy, Angela, Charity, Joshua and Stephanie. Their patience and encouragement, as well as their willingness to help me in whatever way possible, is a testimony of their love for God and their dedication to the cause of Christ. Furthermore, I would also like to thank the following brothers and sisters in Christ: Pastor Greg Price and his wife Lonna, Lyndon and Ginny Dohms, Dennis and Patricia Price, Reg and Shelly Barrow, Larry and Jennifer Birger, and Kevin and Lea Reed. I thank God for each of you and consider it a privilege to stand with you in the defense of the Truth. Thank you for your suggestions, proofreading, editing, and especially for your encouragement and prayers. May God bless each one of you for your kindness and sacrifice.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalms 126:5-6, AV).
Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart (Nehemiah 6:8, Authorized Version [AV]).
My constant hope was that the differences between the doctrine and practice taught by Mr. Bacon and ourselves might have been lessened by a kindly conducted and thorough discussion, comparing facts and clearly demonstrating principles. That hope, however, was severely diminished on the appearance of Mr. Bacon's late work. Were the subject essentially of less importance than it is, this writer would much prefer to pursue it no farther and simply allow the able and faithful writers of the Covenanted Reformation to speak for themselves. One only need consult the books written by our covenanted forefathers (available through Still Waters Revival Books [SWRB]) to see readily and plainly that the many assertions and representations made by Mr. Bacon in his Defense Departed are misleading and unreliable.
George Gillespie, Scottish Commissioner to the Westminster Assembly, judiciously emphasises this writer's sentiments when he says:
I have often and heartily wished that I might not be distracted by, nor engaged into, polemic writings, of which the world is too full already, and from which many more learned and idoneous [i.e. suitable GB] have abstained; and I did, accordingly, resolve that in this controversial age, I should be slow to write, swift to read and learn (George Gillespie, Aaron's Rod Blossoming, 1646, reprinted by Sprinkle Publications 1985, p. xv).
Nevertheless, to succumb to Mr. Bacon's assumptions and accusations, so utterly unfounded and yet so serious, would be a violation of the ninth commandment, where we are forbidden to keep silent in a just cause or to hold our peace when iniquity calls for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others (cf. Larger Catechism # 145). To allow Mr. Bacon's misrepresentations to go unanswered would lead the Church of Jesus Christ to believe that he has spoken truly and faithfully. To allow his unseasonable appearing and pleading for an evil cause to stumble the faithful would allow the inference that we are indifferent to the interests of both the truth and the Church of Jesus Christ. I submit that Mr. Bacon has spoken falsely and unfaithfully regarding what we believe to be God's undoubted truth. I contend that Mr. Bacon has falsely and unfaithfully represented our views, and consequently the views of the best men of the First and Second Reformations. I ask our readers to carefully consider what is written in this response and to critically evaluate whether our conclusions and representations are true. If it be, as I affirm, that it is the truth of God which Mr. Bacon is striving to suppress, then I pray that God will allow him and all readers to pay close attention to what is said in these pages. Unless he speedily repents, his iniquity, offence and every wanton assault will recoil upon his own head, leaving him in a worse position than when he started. He who would dare speak in the name of the Lord Jesus while endeavouring, through abuse, to suppress evidence and misrepresent His cause, will be called to answer to a far more potent adversary than I.
For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed (Isaiah 50:7, AV).
The Puritan Reformed Church considers Mr. Bacon an erring and disorderly brother in the Lord.
Let not the reader think by my accusations and warnings, that I consider Mr. Bacon anything other than an erring and disorderly brother. When a brother takes it upon himself to write an article publicly misrepresenting the truth of God and the belief of the covenanted remnant, we are duty bound to withstand him to the face and warn him to repent. I desire to admonish Mr. Bacon in the same spirit that Paul admonished Peter: not as an enemy but as a disorderly brother; not desiring continued dissociation, but commanded to continue dissociated as long as the offence is obstinately and wilfully maintained.
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews (Galatians 2:14, AV)?
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us (2 Thessalonians 3:6, AV).
When our Lord Jesus rebuked the Apostle Peter, he did so in love and to the end that Peter might be restored in the truth.
But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men (Mark 8:33, AV).
The Puritan Reformed Church desires Mr. Bacon's correction.
In Mark 8:33 our Lord Jesus exemplifies His faithful love for the Apostle Peter as he demonstrates the use of plain speech in the correction and restoration of a true son. My entire response to Mr. Bacon is to be interpreted in this light. I will endeavour to use language appropriate to the charges advanced and sins committed, while at the same time, humbly entreating the Lord to keep us from exacting personal vengeance. I mourn not only for the sins of this land, but also for our own shortcomings which are too often revealed in the heat of debate. I call upon our Great Shepherd to moderate my tongue, to the end that I may through careful and thoughtful expression effect edification and reconciliation as I testify throughout this discourse. I am not responding to vindicate our church so much as I am responding to the misrepresentation of Mr. Bacon upon the cause of God and Truth itself. In the words of the godly martyr James Renwick I say, "Let us be lions in God's cause and lambs in our own" (W. H. Carslaw, The Life and Letters of James Renwick, 1893, SWRB bound photocopy reprint, 1997, p. 35).
The format of this response.
My format will be simple and direct. Mr. Bacon's general misrepresentations will be followed by a rebuttal and a call to repentance. Many of Mr. Bacon's statements are of such a preposterous nature that I judge them to be a sinful distortion of the facts and no less than an emotional attempt to bias the sincere reader by the use of irrelevant debating tactics. While some may be persuaded by such sophistry, I am hopeful of better things regarding our present readers.
He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him (Proverbs 18:17, AV).
Mr. Bacon has misstated the issues.
The logical fallacy of irrelevant thesis is an argument in which an attempt is made to prove a conclusion that is not the one at issue. This fallacy assumes the form of an argument that, while seeming to refute another's argument, actually advances a conclusion different from the one at issue in the others argument... The fallacy of irrelevant thesis derives its persuasive power from the fact that it often does prove a conclusion or thesis (though not the one at issue) (S. Morris Engel, With Good Reason, p. 97, emphases added).
Whether Mr. Bacon simply does not understand the issues or whether he understands the issues all too clearly and chooses not to deal with them, I cannot say. My concern is that he has fundamentally failed to address the most relevant questions and consequently has directed his energies to the wrong issues.
Others have fallen into the same snare. As a result, our true position has been so grossly misrepresented that we are concerned that sincere seekers of truth may actually judge us based upon the misrepresentations set forth by Mr. Bacon, Mr. Schwertley, or Chris Coldwell, and not upon the plain and repeated published facts. Rather than allowing these men and others to continue in the direction of opposing things we do not maintain, which is obviously unproductive and destructive to sound faith and good manners, I was commissioned by the Session of the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton (PRCE) to defend our doctrine in these controverted areas. We hope that the forthcoming pages will be helpful in promoting a more careful and accurate study of the issues at hand, and we pray that our God and Father will by these efforts reduce the amount of sinful rhetoric cultivated from either side of the question. While it may not be reasonable to expect agreement upon all controverted points, I do believe it is necessary to use any and all lawful means to endeavor to effect a more favourable outcome. This is certainly in accord with the following sentiments penned by John Calvin.
I wish it could be brought about, that men of learning and dignity from the principal churches might have a meeting; and, after a careful discussion of the several points of faith, might hand down to posterity the doctrine of the scripture, settled by their common judgment. But amongst the greatest evils of our age, this also is to be reckoned, that our churches are so distracted one from another, that human society [fellowship GB] scarcely flourishes amongst us; much less that holy communion of the members of Christ, which all profess in words, and few sincerely cultivate in fact. Thus it happens, that the body of the church, by the dissipation of its members, lies torn and mangled. As to myself, were I like to be of any service, I should not hesitate to cross the seas for that purpose. . . . Now, when the object is to obtain such an agreement of learned men upon strict scriptural principles, as may accomplish a union of churches in other respects widely asunder, I do not think it lawful for me to decline any labours or troubles (John Anderson, Alexander and Rufus, 1862, Still Waters Revival Books reprint, 1997, p. 151).
For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease (Job 14:7, AV).