Chronology for the Charge(s) Against Elder John O. Kinnaird
September 1, 1996 - Elder Kinnaird preaches a sermon on baptism when Dr. Foraker is away. Concerns are brought to Dr. Foraker. He listens to the sermon and addresses the theological content in the context of the Session. This sermon becomes the basis for the charge later lodged by the Freemans in 2001.
Fall 1999 to Winter 2000 – The Wilkenings attend Elder Kinnaird’s class at the Bethany Institute, "The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Christian,” near the end of the lecture series. Elder Kinnaird gives them copies of all his lectures for the course. Among the lectures was also Norman Shepherd's 1979 paper, "The Grace of Justification," as well as his own paper called, "Vindication Accomplished," and his own lectures on justification as well as union with Christ via baptism.
Early Spring 2000 to Winter 2001 - Pastor Foraker preaches through Romans emphasizing the five sola doctrines.
July 30, 2000, to Sept 24, 2000 - Elder Kinnaird teaches a Sunday School class on the Covenants during which the difference in what Pastor Foraker is preaching and Elder Kinnaird is teaching is evident.
September 22, 2000 - Elder Kinnaird preaches the sermon, "Though the Waters Roar and the Mountains Quake," based on Revelation 22 - "Thus we rightly conclude that those inside the city are those who have kept the law of God and those only. So, a pretty simple answer to our last two questions. Inside the city are those who do righteousness and outside are those who do evil." ... "By now by this we know the decision, the judgment as to who enters the city and who stays outside for eternity will be made on that great day of judgment in accordance with what you have done in this life." (Specification 2 of the Wilkening Charge)
July 17, 2001 – Bill Freeman meets privately with Elder Kinnaird to discuss his concerns regarding Elder Kinnaird's presentation of the doctrines of salvation.
July-August 2001 - A Special Committee appointed by the Presbytery of Philadelphia visits Bethany in response to a request from the Bethany congregation. Bill Freeman, Andrew Foraker, and Aaron Foraker attempt to bring the doctrinal issues to the Committee's attention. The Committee is even presented with a transcript of Elder Kinnaird's sermon on baptism. However, the Committee members refuse to discuss theology with them.
August 3, 2001- Elder Kinnaird sends the Wilkenings, via Rev. Mr. Stevenson, the unedited version of his review of Robert Sungenis' book, NOT BY FAITH ALONE, published in New Horizons. He also urges them to read Norman Shepherd’s paper, "The Grace of Justification," the final form of the "39 Theses" and listen to his lecture tapes on the "Doctrine of the Holy Spirit," which he has at his home. (The review is published in New Horizons in an edited version.) These reviews become evidence in the Freeman charge.
September 10, 2001 – Bill Freeman meets with the Bethany Session for an extended period regarding Elder Kinnaird’s teaching of water baptism and good works being required for justification. One of the Ruling Elders asks Mr. Freeman if he intends to charge Elder Kinnaird. Mr. Freeman indicates that this is a possibility.
September 30, 2001 - Elder Kinnaird preaches the Sunday night sermon on 2 Peter 1, "Everything We Need." In the sermon, Elder Kinnaird claims that Calvin and Luther had different doctrines of justification and that Luther had no doctrine of sanctification.
October 14, 2001 - The Freeman Charge against Elder Kinnaird is given to the Session when Bill Freeman learns they are meeting before Sunday service. The Session dates the charge as having been formally submitted on October 25.
October 14, 2001 - "A Warning to the Session and Congregation of Bethany Orthodox Presbyterian Church" from the Presbytery Committee is read after the morning worship service. The letter reports that there is serious division in the Session and recommends that the Session attend a training session on Presbyterian polity. There is also a strong warning to the congregation against gossip.
October 25, 2001 – The Session formally accepts the Freeman Charge and erects a committee to investigate the charge.
October 25, 2001 - Elder Kinnaird submits "A Proposal for the Session," which states:
"Main motion - That the Session of Bethany OPC provide the following endorsement;
Procedural Motion - That a roll call vote be taken on the main motion.
Procedural Motion - If the main motion carries, that the Declaration and Theological Statements be placed on file and not recorded in the Minutes.
We, the Session of Bethany OPC church, by roll call vote, endorse the following Declaration and Theological Statements of Elder John O. Kinnaird. We find them consonant with the system of doctrine taught in the Scriptures and consonant with the expression of that system of doctrine found in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. We find the doctrine expressed by Elder Kinnaird to be acceptable for teaching in Bethany Church; in fact, we commend it for teaching and preaching everywhere."
December 6, 2001, through February 2002 - Debate about justification/sola fide on the Presbyterian-OPC list begins with message #7647, by Jim Shank, on the Arminian requirement for evangelical obedience for final justification.
December 14, 2001; December 18, 2001; December 19, 2001; December 24, 2002; January 7, 2002, and January 8, 2002 - Elder Kinnaird's most significant posts on justification in the OPC Internet debate.
Since he publicly agrees to send his paper (in the posts of January 7 and January 8, 2002) "Vindication Accomplished," to an individual on the list, the Wilkenings believe that it still reflects his current position on justification. "Vindication Accomplished" is a paper on Romans 2 and is an attachment to his lecture on justification from the course "The Holy Spirit in the Life of a Christian" from the Bethany Bible Institute. From Elder Kinnaird's Internet posts, these statements would become Specification 3 in the Wilkening Charge:
"Every description of the Judgement [sic] events [sic] speak [sic] of these good works. Without them, no one will see God. Our God is not unjust. His judgements [sic] are always righteous and in accordance with the facts of the case. On the past two Lord's Days I shared over 25 texts and passages of Scripture with my Sunday School class on just these two concepts. They were evenly divided between the concept that God's judgements [sic] are always righteous and in accord with the facts of the case and the concept that the final judgement [sic] will be in accord with what we have done in this life." ..."Who are these people who thus benefit - who stand on the Day of Judgement [sic] ? They are those who obey the law who will be declared righteous."
December 18, 2001 – The Session of Bethany votes to not admit the Freeman Charge.
January 12, 2002 – William and Janice Freeman submit a Complaint against the action of the Session of Bethany OPC for not admitting their Charge.
January 15, 2002 – Dr. Clinton Foraker and Elder Mark Whiteman submit a joint Complaint against the action of the Session of Bethany OPC for not admitting the Freeman Charge.
February 18, 2002 - A petition is circulated in the congregation requesting the Session to call a congregational meeting to ask Dr. Foraker to resign as pastor of Bethany OPC. Arne Wilkening writes, solicits signatures, and submits a counter petition requesting that Elder Kinnaird's theology in regard to the Westminster Standards also be allowed to be discussed at that same congregational meeting. The Wilkening petition is ruled out of order by the Session as theology is not in the purview of the congregation. The Wilkenings are advised that if they have a concern about Elder Kinnaird's theology, that the proper manner is to bring a charge. The first petition is accepted and a March 18 meeting is scheduled to vote upon retaining Dr. Foraker as pastor of Bethany OPC.
March 9, 2002 – Pastor Stevenson and all the Ruling Elders, except Mark Whiteman, mail a joint open letter to the congregation stating their approval of asking Dr. Foraker to resign as pastor of Bethany OPC.
March 13, 2002 - The Special Congregational Meeting for the purpose of asking Dr. Foraker to resign is moderated by Rev. Mr. David O’Leary from the Presbytery Committee. He urges the congregation to accept the vote being taken as an indication of God’s will in the matter. The congregation votes to sustain Dr. Foraker as pastor by more than 59 percent.
March 18, 2002 - The Wilkenings submit their Charge against Elder Kinnaird to the Bethany Session. The Session allows them to read the Charge aloud before the Session. Rev. Mr. Mallin acts as the moderator. Representatives from the Presbytery Committee are in attendance. (Note: Rev. Mr. Mallin, from Greencastle, Pennsylvania, was not a member of the regular Session of Bethany OPC. He was brought in at the request of the Presbytery Committee to help counsel the Session and to assist in moderating the Session meetings.)
March 18, 2002 – The Bethany Session votes to deny the Freeman Complaint against the action of the Session in not admitting their Charge.
March 18, 2002 – The Bethany Session votes to deny the Foraker/Whiteman Complaint against the action of the Session in not admitting the Freeman Charge.
March 22, 2002 - Papers are discovered in the Bethany OPC photocopier, written by Elder Kinnaird, and addressed to “Brothers.” These “plans” outlined the procedure to dismiss the Wilkening charge, complete with specific motions and the reason for not admitting the charge: "These specifications do not support the charge." The discovery of the “plans” is made known to the Wilkenings by Pastor Foraker and Elder Whiteman that evening. Pastor Foraker and Elder Whiteman make these plans known to the Presbytery Committee.
March 25, 2002 – At the Bethany Session meeting a decision is made to review the Wilkening charges as a "Committee of the Whole," (following "the scheme set forth in the plans"). The Wilkenings are invited to attend the April 1 Session meeting along with Elder Kinnaird's counsel, Thomas Tyson, to review the matter.
April 1, 2002 - The Wilkenings cannot attend the meeting due to unexpectedly having to drive their son to college in western Pennsylvania. Arne submits a detailed letter to the Session, answering anticipated questions related to the Book of Church Order. The discovery of the “plans” is also made known to the whole Session. Members of the Presbytery Committee urge the Session members to recuse themselves from further deliberations due to the “plans,” but all refuse to do so.
April 2, 2002 - Pastor Stevenson notifies the Wilkenings that the Session has now decided to appoint a special committee to review the charges instead of doing so as a Committee of the Whole.
April 6, 2002 - Arne Wilkening emails Rev. Mr. O'Leary of the Presbytery Committee of his knowledge of the documents found on March 22 and of the Wilkenings protest regarding the Session's compromised position regarding their Charge.
April 11, 2002 – The Committee erected by the Session to review the Wilkening Charge meets. In attendance is Elder Kinnaird, his counsel Mr. Tyson, the three Committee members and the Wilkenings. The Wilkenings submit a formal protest to the Committee regarding the papers found in the copier, which states that the Session’s integrity is compromised due to following the “plans”. However, the Wilkenings reluctantly agree that the Committee should continue to investigate.
April 12, 2002 - The Wilkenings receive an email response from the Presbytery Committee stating that the Committee is not willing to issue a ”finding” in the matter, and that if there is any perceived wrong the proper action is to file a complaint with the Session.
April 20, 2002 - Arne Wilkening writes letters to each of the Session members (who did not disclose their knowledge of the documents) and asks them to repent of their actions.
April 24 & 25, 2002 - The investigative committee of the Session votes 2 to 1 that the Wilkening Charge does not warrant a trial. A Majority Report and a Minority Report are submitted to Session.
April 25, 2002 - Elder Kinnaird emails the Wilkenings his response to Arne's letter, acknowledging that he wrote the "plans" which were found, but denying anything wrong in regard to them.
April 29, 2002 – The Bethany Session meets and votes not to admit the Wilkening Charge.
April 29, 2002 – The Bethany Session debates and a majority votes to approve Elder Kinnaird's Theological Statements. They are voted to be consonant with the Scripture and the Westminster Standards. They are ruled to be acceptable for teaching in Bethany Church. Dr. Foraker vigorously protests the action of the majority.
April 29, 2002 – Bill and Janice Freeman give notice to the Session of their intention to appeal the action of the Session denying their Complaint to the Presbytery of Philadelphia.
April 29, 2002 – Dr. Foraker and Elder Mark Whiteman give notice to the Session of their intention to appeal the action of the Session denying their Complaint regarding the dismissal of the Freeman Charge to the Presbytery of Philadelphia.
May 4, 2002 – The Presbytery Committee reports to the full Presbytery on the situation at Bethany, stating that personality problems are at the root of the problems in the church. Rev. Mr. Galbraith questions the Committee members further, particularly concerning matters of theological conflict. Finally the word "justification" comes out, as well as a cryptic reference to "questions raised twenty years ago."
May 15, 2002 - An open letter signed by sixteen members of Bethany OPC is sent to the congregation, detailing what has been happening in the Bethany Session since the special congregational meeting in March. It contains passages from the Kinnaird Theological Statement, information concerning the Wilkening Charge, and the attempts to subvert the Charge going forward.
May 23, 2002 - Elder Kinnaird replies to the open letter of May 15 with his own open letter to the congregation. He makes his Theological Statements available to the congregation with an endorsement by the men listed in the "appraisals of others."
June 17, 2002 - The Wilkenings file a Complaint with Rev. Mr. Mallin, the moderator of the Session of Bethany OPC, against the action of the Session on April 29, 2002, not admitting their charge.
July 7, 2002 - Dr. Foraker refuses to serve communion with the Session due to their approval of the Kinnaird Theological Statements. Rev. Mr. Stevenson serves communion.
July 8, 2002 - A Special Presbytery meeting on Bethany OPC is held. Dr. Foraker and Pastor Stevenson, along with the rest of the Session, are given a six month leave of absence from their duties. An Interim Session is established for Bethany pending congregational approval.
July 21, 2002 – The congregation votes to accept the Interim Session appointed by the Presbytery.
July 23, 2002 - Pastor Clinton Foraker and Arlyn Wilkening submit a Complaint to the Session of Bethany OPC. The Complaint is against the action of the Session on April 29, 2002 finding the Kinnaird Theological Statements "consonant with the system of doctrine taught in the Scriptures." The Bethany (interim) Session communicated to Arlyn Wilkening that they would conduct the trial of Mr. Kinnaird prior to ruling on this Complaint. No notice of action by the Bethany Session has ever been received by Mr. Wilkening.
August 26, 2002 – The Interim Bethany Session sustains the Wilkenings Complaint against the Bethany Session for not admitting their Charge. The trial date is set.
September 16, 2002 - The first day of the trial of Elder John Kinnaird. The Charge is publicly read, and the Wilkenings submit supplementary evidence to the members of the court and Elder Kinnaird.
November 23, 2002 - The second day of the trial of Elder John Kinnaird. The full record is available here.
November 30, 2002 - The third day of the trial of Elder John Kinnaird. The full record is available here.
January 25, 2003 - The fourth day of the trial of Elder John Kinnaird. All three specifications of error are sustained that Elder Kinnaird is teaching a doctrine of justification by faith and works. Elder Kinnaird appeals to the Philadelphia of Presbytery. The full record is available here.
February 1, 2003 - At the stated meeting of the Presbytery of Philadelphia it is determined to hold an adjourned meeting on February 22 to hear Elder Kinnaird's appeal.
Also at that meeting the Freeman Complaint is dismissed due to their leaving the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The Foraker and Whiteman Complaint on the Freeman Charge is scheduled to be heard on February 22.
February 22, 2003 - At the adjourned meeting of the Philadelphia Presbytery Dr. Foraker withdraws his Complaint concerning the Freeman Charge as the Freemans have no standing any longer to prosecute that Charge.
Also the Presbytery denies the appeal of Elder Kinnaird against the judgment of the Interim Bethany Session. Elder Kinnaird appeals to the General Assembly of the OPC.
July 1, 2002 - The General Assembly of the OPC sustains the appeal of Elder Kinnaird, stating that the trial judicatory was in error in finding him guilty of the Charge.