Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Update: Pastor Files Defamation Suits Against Former Parishioner-Blogger

Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Oregon
          Yesterday, we covered the developing story of an Oregon Pastor, Chuck O'Neal, of Beaverton Grace Bible Church, who filed a defamation suit against a former parishioner who blogged about the Pastor’s and church’s issues—unfavorably blogging about them.  We would like to get the pleadings of the Pastor.  We'd like to add it to growing binders consisting of state and federal cases pertaining to the First Amendment.  There is an entire progeny of cases on the First Amendment. We are predicting that O'Neal will end up with egg on his face and that this case will die in the cradle of preliminary skirmishings.

          Here’s our media roundup at:          
“News Roundup: Pastor Files Defamation Suit Against Former, Blogging Parishioner” at: and
1st Amendment, Blogging, and Pastor O'Neal's Lawsuit Against Former Blogging-Parishioners” at   
          A subplot in the larger story is that Chuck O’Neal allegedly received pastoral support and advice from a Pastor on staff with John MacArthur’s community.  Allegedly, one of MacArthur’s Pastors counseled O’Neal to lodge the suit.  Dee at The Wartburg Watch raised the main narrative, but also this subplot about MacArthur’s involvement was involved.  Dee had communications with Phil Johnson, an assistant to MacArthur.
          On one level, Phil Johnson disavows involvement of MacArthur’s people with Rev. Chuck O’Neal and Beaverton Church.  Here’s Dee’s post at:
Phil Johnson Responds for John MacArthur and Grace Community Church
Tue, May 15 2012
By dee
I emailed Phil Johnson this morning. He promptly responded with the following statement.

"In a story currently circulating on the Internet, a claim is being made that the elders of Grace Community Church (John MacArthur, Pastor) advised a church in another state to file a defamation lawsuit against a former member.

For the record, we would not approve of such a lawsuit, for multiple reasons.
'First, Scripture expressly teaches that it is better to be defrauded than to take a fellow Christian to court: "Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? . . . It is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?" (1 Corinthians 6:7). Here is what John MacArthur says about that passage:
Christians who take fellow Christians to court lose spiritually before the case is heard. The fact that they have lawsuits at all is a sign of moral and spiritual defeat (hettema, a word used of defeat in court). A believer who takes a fellow believer to court for any reason always loses the case in God's sight. He has already suffered a spiritual defeat. He is selfish, and he discredits the power, wisdom, and work of God, when he tries to get what he wants through the judgment of unbelievers.
The right attitude of a Christian is to rather be wronged, to rather be defrauded, than to sue a fellow Christian. It is far better to lose financially than to lose spiritually. Even when we are clearly in the legal right, we do not have the moral and spiritual right to insist on our legal right in a public court. . . .

. . . If we cannot convince the brother to make things right, and if he will not listen to fellow believers, we are better off to suffer the loss or the injustice than to bring a lawsuit against him. "Do not resist him who is evil," Jesus commanded, "but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also" (Matt. 5:39-40). Contrary to the world's standard, it is better to be sued and lose than to sue and win. Spiritually, it is impossible for a Christian to sue and win. When we are deprived wrongfully we are to cast ourselves on the care of God, who is able to work that for our good and His glory. [The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Corinthians (Chicago: Moody, 1984), 139-40.]

, Jesus was very clear about what Christians should do even when we are vilified by unbelievers: "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad" (Matthew 5:11-12). "Do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also" (vv. 39-40).
That is our official position, and it is not merely theoretical. Having been at times targets of malicious slander in various gossip-forums on the Internet, we do appreciate the frustration of dealing with relentless character assassination.
But the example we were given to follow by Christ Himself deals with exactly such situations: "While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:23).
Phil Johnson - Elder, Grace Community Church

Phil also told us in the email that they hope to speak with Chuck O'Neal this AM. They attempted to contact him yesterday but were unable to leave a message in the voice mailbox which was full. I, too had the same experience yesterday.
We are gratified that Grace Community Church handled this matter with the expediency and the concern it deserves.
Once again, we are grateful for folks like Julie Anne who stand tall in the face of intimidation. We believe that the Lord will honor her for her courage in confronting the apparent lack of grace and love in her former church.

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