But with continuing astonishment at the grace and maturity in my new community, I received the news that Doug Jones has resigned his position as an elder of Christ Church, and that after long deliberation, they have accepted.
The reason behind this move? Nothing like the usual sexual infidelity, drunkenness, or secret sins: rather, a difference in opinion upon the central focus of the Lord's Service that would have led to greater division in the future, as "it affects everything from budgets to buildings, and everything in between."
To cap it off? I'll continue to see him in church each week.
This, brothers, is why I'm still in Idaho, still at Christ Church, still so far from home.
For those interested, here is their report and his statement:
On Doug Jones’s Resignation
From: Doug Wilson
The elders of Christ Church recently accepted the offered resignation of Doug Jones from the session of Christ Church, and we did so with grief and great reluctance. The resignation will be effective as of June 1, 2009, and includes Doug’s service on various committees and related ministries. Although this may appear abrupt to many in the congregation, it was actually the end result of years of discussion, debate, reading and study. Scripture says that two cannot walk together unless they are agreed (Amos 3:3), and while we all continue to treasure our fellowship in Christ, and certainly continue to agree in that sense, we nevertheless have come to a foundational disagreement that would disrupt any attempts at coherent leadership together.
As a congregation, and as elders of the church, we all owe a great deal to Doug, and to his family. We continue to be extremely grateful for all the contributions he has brought to our church and community, and we intend to continue to build on those gifts to us. In Doug’s statement about this resignation, he framed it as his new conviction that the Church should be organized and structured around the centrality of the poor and the outcast. We continue to believe that our central priority is worship of the triune God, that being the kind of worship that will flow out into the rest of our lives—including of course ministry to the poor and outcast. To anticipate the objection that this is a trivial difference, it really isn’t—it affects everything from budgets to buildings, and everything in between. So given the fact of these differences, which appear to us to be intractable, we can honestly say that we have conscientiously sought for other ways of resolving this, and have b!
een unable to do so.
We are very grateful that Doug and Paula will be remaining as members of Christ Church, and we ask all of you to fully accept and receive them in that capacity. Please pray for them, and for us, and that God would use this disagreement as much as He used the differences between Paul and Barnabas (Act 15:39).
Cordially in Christ,
Resignation Statement from Doug Jones
On April 30, 2009, the session of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho reviewed a letter of resignation from me as an associate pastor, and, after a time of discussion, they accepted it. Though this might come as a surprise for some, it is actually the result of several years of turnings and discussions. Over a decade ago, I began meditating on the life of Father, Son, and Spirit, and since that time I’ve written numerous articles, given lectures, and counseled church members in terms of the richness and joy I’ve discovered within the Trinity. When the U.S. government invaded two countries after 9-11, I sought to understand these developments, as well, in light of a Trinitarian framework. This rethinking of politics and economics in light of Trinitarian life pushed me in unexpected directions over the ensuing years.
My attempt to understand the Trinity led me to rethink Jesus’ mission and his themes, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Lk. 6:20) and “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Hos. 6:6; Is. 1:11ff; 58:3ff; Mt. 9:13; 12:7). To me and others in this tradition, this places the poor and outcast at the very center of the kingdom, around which the church is to be shaped and prioritized. Defenders of this view can be found in every Christian tradition over the centuries, and in our own Reformed tradition we find it among such folks as Andre Trocme, Jean Lassere, and Jacques Ellul. I have also found myself very sympathetic to such perspectives as found in the work of Methodist theologian Stanley Hauerwas.
This shift, though, has proven deeper than anticipated. It has turned all my practical priorities upside down. With the result that this shift has backed me into deep and wide divergence with the Christ Church vision. The fault for this is mine, not the session’s. Throughout this time, the elders have been very kind, caring, generous, and thoughtful as I sought to understand where I was. The person I’ve been closest to during this time, Doug Wilson, has been a stellar pastor and kind opponent from the start. In our conversations over the past three years, he has been a gentleman, friend, and brother without fault in my view. I gladly affirm this against his detractors.
Nonetheless, it has become clear that my shift in theological vision produced practical, day-to-day obstacles for me serving as a minister at Christ Church. The majority of elders politely and thoughtfully made it clear that they did not wish to go toward the vision I espoused, and they were understandably obligated to defend the current Christ Church vision. They even repeatedly sought ways for me to continue, but in the end, I determined to resign from the session as well as from my leadership roles at Canon Press, Credenda/Agenda, Sabbath House, and New St. Andrews College (though my ministerial credentials remain in the CREC). In such circumstances, it became a question of how all of us could better redeem the time.
My family and I will continue to attend Christ Church and participate in life and learning at Logos School. I am forever grateful to the elders and members for my time in leadership at Christ Church. It has been a wonderful gift, and I am eternally changed for it. May the Lord continue to bless Christ Church’s work for the kingdom.
Douglas M. Jones