Dave Doran on ACCC T4G resolution: "a classic case of people talking to themselves inside an echo chamber"

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Jim's picture

http://www.amcouncilcc.org/resolution.asp

Quote:
Resolution on Together for the Gospel
Resolution 10-05

The theological and ecclesiastical confusion that has its roots in the middle of the 20th century and that has been flourishing in the first decade of the 21st century springs from the willingness to forsake the Biblical doctrine of separation. The “new” evangelicalism of dialogue and cooperation with those who deny the Gospel departed decades ago from the old evangelicalism, also known as Fundamentalism, which stressed the need for the people of God to maintain separation from those who depart from Biblical truth (Eph. 5:11).

Early in the 21st century, another movement has begun as an effort to counter the dilution of Gospel doctrine by the marketing schemes concocted to make church growth easier to generate and consolidate. Part of those schemes emphasized the need to avoid any heavy emphasis on doctrine, particularly doctrine that could make seekers uncomfortable. A certain group in evangelicalism sounded the alarm that some churches, at least, had opted for the road of less resistance and had weakened the Gospel message to such an extent that it was practically devoid of any direction to show people how to be saved or even that they needed to be saved.

In the middle of the century’s first decade, four men agreed to establish a movement that they called Together for the Gospel. Initially, its main purpose was to organize conferences every two years, beginning in the spring of 2006, which they hoped would attract those who had also become alarmed at the weakening of the evangelical message. Since then, it has developed into the desire for a loose affiliation of individuals and churches that have been involved in the conferences. The founders of the movement were J. Ligon Duncan III, who until this past June was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA); Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Church in Washington, D. C.; C. J. Mahaney, who served for 27 years as pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD and who now leads Sovereign Grace Ministries; and Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Those men drafted a constitutional document for their movement that they called Affirmations and Denials in which they sought to clarify the purposes they were trying to achieve. They began by saying, “We are brothers in Christ united in one great cause – to stand together for the Gospel. We are convinced that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been misrepresented, misunderstood, and marginalized in many churches and among many who claim the name of Christ. Compromise of the Gospel has led to the preaching of false gospels, the seduction of many minds and movements, and the weakening of the church’s Gospel witness.” They added, “We are concerned about the tendency of so many churches to substitute technique for truth, therapy for theology, and management for ministry.”

These statements along with many other parts of the document express sentiments for which Fundamentalists have been contending for years. The doctrinal affirmations and denials of Together for the Gospel reflect sound orthodoxy. For example, Article VII maintains, “We affirm that salvation is all of grace, and that the Gospel is revealed to us in doctrines that most faithfully exalt God’s sovereign purpose to save sinners and in His determination to save his redeemed people by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to His glory alone.”

However, there is one vital element of Biblical truth that is missing from the document. There is no call to adhere to the Biblical doctrine of separation. Instead, Article XV states, “We affirm that evangelical congregations are to work together in humble and voluntary cooperation and that the spiritual fellowship of Gospel congregations bears witness to the unity of the Church and the glory of God.” However, what constitutes an evangelical congregation is not readily apparent. It is even less apparent when considering that two of the signers of that document, Albert Mohler and J. Ligon Duncan III, are also signers of the Manhattan Declaration that pointedly affirms that Roman Catholics and adherents of Eastern Orthodoxy are fellow Christians.

The appeal of Together for the Gospel is undeniable. The 2010 conference attracted an attendance that numbered in the thousands. The potential for harm, however, is just as real. The idea that cooperation can be a function of agreeing on the Gospel without referencing the historic lines of Biblical separation sounds eerily like the philosophy of the “new” evangelicalism from the late 1940s and onward. The inclusion of so-called Reformed Charismatics as speakers in the conferences, notably C. J. Mahaney, has been justified by describing them as continuationists as opposed to other speakers who are called cessationists. This assumption that there is a place for charismatics in the evangelical tent is not a new error, but the use of the affirmations and denials makes the argument for that place more attractive to those already inclined against Biblical separation.

This new movement, then, follows previous error in neglecting the Biblical doctrine of separation that has always marked Fundamentalism. Sadly, some Fundamentalist institutions have begun to welcome as co-laborers some conservative evangelicals associated with efforts like Together for the Gospel. If such trends continue, what has been known as historic Fundamentalism, with its emphasis on Biblical separation, personally and ecclesiastically, will be seriously eroded if not rendered irrelevant.

Therefore, the delegates to the 69th annual convention of the American Council of Christian Churches, meeting October 19-21, 2010 in Hope Baptist Church, Hanover, PA resolve to remind God's people that Biblical separatism is a watershed doctrine that has its source in the attribute of God’s holiness and determines what kind of legacy we will leave to the generations that follow our own. Undermining separatism for the purposes of cooperation with those who either define the doctrine more loosely or do not hold it at all has proven costly in the past, and it will do so again. Faithfulness from generation to generation requires that we do not surrender the ground that has been defended by those who have gone before us lest those who come after us have no ground left to defend.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Looks like a pretty good resolution to me... a bit long though (so I may not have taken it all in).
I think DMD's observation is pretty much true of resolutions in general by any fellowship/association/etc. But that doesn't mean they are not worth making.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Read in context, it looks like Dave is not referring to the entire resolution, just one argument in it.

Quote:
Reread that last sentence again, because that’s where I want to focus our attention. I would contend that the argument that we must be against T4G because it will accelerate the erosion and irrelevance of Fundamentalism is actually symptomatic of Fundamentalism’s erosion and increasing irrelevance. While probably not deliberate, the essence of this argument is that we don’t do that because it hurts the movement. This, from my vantage point, is a classic case of people talking to themselves inside an echo chamber. For people who care about the movement, the resolution may carry some weight, but it means virtually nothing to those who think (a) there is no movement at this point and (b) separation decisions must be made on biblical principle, not membership in the movement.

I think what he's getting at is that the argument is circular--or maybe tautological... we should define our movement as distinct from T4G because if we don't, we won't be distinct from T4G.

fsansone's picture

I thought the resolution was pretty well done. I had worked on a resolution for a different conference that I ended up not submitting because I had not had the time to evaluate it and research it to the degree I would have liked before it was due.

I haven't yet read Dr. Dorna's comments on this, but I will say that when I read this statement that I thought "that could have been worded much better."

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This new movement, then, follows previous error in neglecting the Biblical doctrine of separation that has always marked Fundamentalism. Sadly, some Fundamentalist institutions have begun to welcome as co-laborers some conservative evangelicals associated with efforts like Together for the Gospel. If such trends continue, what has been known as historic Fundamentalism, with its emphasis on Biblical separation, personally and ecclesiastically, will be seriously eroded if not rendered irrelevant.

I think that this part of the statement misses the mark in that the T4G guys and most of their constituents could care less about "Fundamentalism" and this statement makes it look like the issue is all about Fundamentalism.

I haven't had the time to think through a complete re-write of this portion, but something along these lines may have made the point a little clearer.

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This new movement, then, follows previous error in neglecting the Biblical doctrine of separation that ought to mark Biblical Christianity. As such, we are greatly concerned that some Fundamentalist institutions have begun to welcome and promote as co-laborers some who are part of Together for the Gospel. While we appreciate the works of some of these men in opposing error, we cannot condone their disobedience in the area of Biblical separation as though this were a minor error. As the Bible commands separation from apostates as well as from disobedient brothers, we urge Biblical Fundamentalists to refrain from the unqualified fellowship with and promotion of these men.

Flame away :).

Frank

rogercarlson's picture

Frank,

When you read DMD's article you will seee the point. It is not that he is defending T4G. In fact, he wrote an article for 9marks with criticisms. What he is saying, is that it is inconsistant to criticize T4G but then say nothing about the Sexton conference (sorry, cant remember the name of it now) when Jack Schaap preached at it along with the FBF president. He goes on to argue that Dever is much less problematic than Schaap, but that speaking at a conference with Schaap is overlooked becuase he wears the label. I think Doran is right on this point. I have yet to hear good reasoning to the contray.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

fsansone's picture

Roger,

Thank you for your comments.

I just finished reading his article and I have some additional thoughts.

I find it interesting that Dr.Doran was targeting the same paragraph that I had concerns about when I read the resolution (and which I commented about in my previous post). I agree with him that the wording in that section is, at best, unfortunate.

However. having said that, while I have great respect for Dr. Doran, I think that when Dr. Doran leaves the discussion of the resolution and moves from there that he is off in his comments that follow. Now, before you have a heart-attack from that statement, let me explain what I mean.

1. His comments on Vaughn speaking with Schaap and the Baptist Friends Conference are a separate issue from the T4G resolution. To use that connection to criticize the ACCC for the T4G resolution sounds an awful lot like the little boy caught in disobedience who excuses what he does by saying "but my sister did bad things too." Whether the sister did bad things is irrelevant to the issue at hand, namely, the brother's disobedience. Bringing up the sister's errors does not excuse the brother's errors - and it does not invalidate the one pointing out the brother's errors. (I hope that is clear, but it is getting pretty late.)

2. I also believe he is off with heading down this direction due to a principle that he himself has declared in the past, namely, that separation, etc. is not warranted necessarily for a one-time offense, but is the result of a pattern. The one-time connection of JV and JS at a conference does not make for a pattern. Is it concerning? ABSOLUTELY!!! Does it rise to the same level as an ongoing movement that has consistently showed itself to be negligent in the area of Biblical separation? Not yet.

Should JV have spoken along side of JS? I really don't believe so. Do I think JS should repent of and repudiate the stuff he wrote regarding communion? ABSOLUTELY. Do I have A LOT of other concerns regarding JS and his ministry? Of course. Have I spoken to some in authority over others who also spoke at this conference and expressed my concerns? Yes. However, did JV speak along side of JS just because JS caries a label of "Fundamentalist" like Dr. Doran claims (or more accurately, "loosely holds the membership card")? I highly doubt it. I don't know JV. I have heard him speak. I would guess that there is more behind this than just hanging out because they both carry a card that has an F on it.

Should the ACCC issue a resolution in regards to the Baptist Friends Conference to provide some "balance." Perhaps - if it develops into a pattern. T4G has been going on since about 2006, correct? And this is the first ACCC resolution regarding T4G as far as I can find. Looks to me that they did exactly what they should have done and what Dr. Doran has advocated in the past, they waited and evaluated and saw a pattern before "jumping into the fray."

Just my thoughts,

Frank

P.S. Should some speak up about JV and JS at the Baptist Friends Conference? Sure. I think it needs to be addressed - and Dr. Doran has rightly addressed it in other places. However, it is wrongheaded to use one error as a cover for another error.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

David Doran brought up an important issue about preserving the movement.

I still have this question in relation to the resolution - is it o.k. to accuse people who are practicing separation, albeit not the the degree others practice it, as "neglecting separation?"

While I am still waiting for an answer when it comes to T4G, I will confess that there have been too many times that I have been told that somebody did not practice separation and later found out that person did practice it. I just think we need to be careful. If we believe someone is not practicing separation correctly ,help them, don't shoot them. But we often shoot first and ask questions later.

Also at what level do we "tolerate" differences in the practices of degrees of separation?

RPittman's picture

Somehow, Dave Doran seems to have gotten a burr about Jack Schaap under the saddle of his hobby horse. His purpose, it seems, is to use the ACCC resolution against T4G as an argument to generate a similar resolution against Schaap and company. Well, the view from the ACCC is different for T4G than for Jack Schaap. The T4G crowd is drawing young theologues like flies but I doubt that the ACCC folks are in danger of losing their young guys to Jack Schaap. BTW, I am NOT criticizing the ACCC for defending their borders. It is just that Schaap is more or less irrelevant to them in that they move in separate orbits with only occasional overlap.

Jim's picture

Doran said:

Quote:
I keep beating this drum, but [color=red ]it really does illustrate the point which I am trying to make[/color ]. Because a man like Jack Schaap loosely holds the membership card, it’s okay for men to go speak for him or speak along side of him in a conference. Because a man like Mark Dever does not hold the membership card, it’s not okay for someone to invite him to speak or speak along side of him in a conference. Which of these two men represents a greater threat to the fundamentals of the Faith and to the health of the church? If one is contaminated by some of his contacts and friendships, why is the other not? If one contaminates others by contact with him, why does the other one not do this?

While he does say "I keep beating this drum" but what about the logic of his point (red above)

Does it or not highlight the membership card type of mentality that exists in some elements of fundamentalism?

Would you agree or disagree that Schaap is a greater threat to fundamentalism than Denver?

By the way, in our (speaking of the state association of which my own church is in fellowship) MBA we have at least one and I believe (but cannot independently confirm) at least one more church Pastored by KJVOnly adherents. Why is that tolerated but T4G or Denver not?!

RPittman's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
Doran said:

Quote:
I keep beating this drum, but [color=red ]it really does illustrate the point which I am trying to make[/color ]. Because a man like Jack Schaap loosely holds the membership card, it’s okay for men to go speak for him or speak along side of him in a conference. Because a man like Mark Dever does not hold the membership card, it’s not okay for someone to invite him to speak or speak along side of him in a conference. Which of these two men represents a greater threat to the fundamentals of the Faith and to the health of the church? If one is contaminated by some of his contacts and friendships, why is the other not? If one contaminates others by contact with him, why does the other one not do this?

While he does say "I keep beating this drum" but what about the logic of his point (red above)

Jim, upon careful cold analysis, I see no profound logic. Obviously, Doran is trying to make it a matter of consistency. Nothing more. But, there's no inconsistency because Jack Schaap and T4G are apples and oranges. They are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. They do not present the same threat or type of threat. Thus, Doran cannot make his case on inconsistency. Now, he may make a strong case for separation from Schaap on other grounds but he can't do it here because it is all surface appeal.
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Does it or not highlight the membership card type of mentality that exists in some elements of fundamentalism?

Yes, it does but I'm sure that I am thinking of it in broader terms than Doran. I don't see Doran in the same circles of Fundamentalism as Sexton, Schaap, & company. It has some of the vestiges of the old BJU-TTU rift and the Rice-Jones split. In some ways, I don't see that Doran has a dog in this fight. Also, I don't like how he handles his objections especially when he tries to polarize the parties. It has the appearance of condemning a rival (i.e. association with Schapp) to justify self (i.e. association with T4G crowd). IMHO, Dorn would better himself by sticking to critiquing Schaap on demonstrable points.
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Would you agree or disagree that Schaap is a greater threat to fundamentalism than Denver?

Dever is more dangerous because he is credible and much more attractive to young men from Doran's crowd. Schapp discredits himself.
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By the way, in our (speaking of the state association of which my own church is in fellowship) MBA we have at least one and I believe (but cannot independently confirm) at least one more church Pastored by KJVOnly adherents. Why is that tolerated but T4G or Denver not?!

I am KJVOnly--so, what's wrong with that? Am I not entitled to that conviction? Am I a heretic? If so, how? Watch carefully! Heretical is only that which opposes Scriptural teaching, not a rationalized theological position unless you are RC. Smile

Ron Bean's picture

Quote:
Would you agree or disagree that Schaap is a greater threat to fundamentalism than Denver?

Personally, Jack Schaap and his ilk are the reason I'm personally hesitant to use the label fundamentalist. Given a choice of attending a Schaap's church or Dever's church, I'd choose Dever hands down.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

RPittman's picture

Ron Bean wrote:
Quote:
Would you agree or disagree that Schaap is a greater threat to fundamentalism than Denver?

Personally, Jack Schaap and his ilk are the reason I'm personally hesitant to use the label fundamentalist. Given a choice of attending a Schaap's church or Dever's church, I'd choose Dever hands down.

Yeah, Ron, you have beautifully illustrated my argument. Dr. Doran need not worry about losing you to Schaap but to Dever . . . .

Ron Bean's picture

RPittman wrote:
Ron Bean wrote:
Quote:
Would you agree or disagree that Schaap is a greater threat to fundamentalism than Denver?

Personally, Jack Schaap and his ilk are the reason I'm personally hesitant to use the label fundamentalist. Given a choice of attending a Schaap's church or Dever's church, I'd choose Dever hands down.

Yeah, Ron, you have beautifully illustrated my argument. Dr. Doran need not worry about losing you to Schaap but to Dever . . . .

I wouldn't consider it a loss but a gain. Frankly, I hear more of Christ from Dever than I've ever heard from Schaap.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

RPittman's picture

Ron Bean wrote:
RPittman wrote:
Ron Bean wrote:
Quote:
Would you agree or disagree that Schaap is a greater threat to fundamentalism than Denver?

Personally, Jack Schaap and his ilk are the reason I'm personally hesitant to use the label fundamentalist. Given a choice of attending a Schaap's church or Dever's church, I'd choose Dever hands down.

Yeah, Ron, you have beautifully illustrated my argument. Dr. Doran need not worry about losing you to Schaap but to Dever . . . .

I wouldn't consider it a loss but a gain. Frankly, I hear more of Christ from Dever than I've ever heard from Schaap.

Ron, would you like to restate your post? In context, it appears that you would gain if Doran lost you to Dever. This rates Doran below Dever. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . . .

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
But, there's no inconsistency because Jack Schaap and T4G are apples and oranges. They are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. They do not present the same threat or type of threat.
I think there is some inconsistency, but on the second part, I think you are largely correct. They are apples and oranges. Schaap is theologically deficient on so many key areas and T4G is generally not. Schaap also inexplicably tolerated and excused the actions of Hyles while heaping lavish praise on him for many years (and remember Dever has been a voice for separatism in the SBC), and on top of that he has the fundamentalist card so he is "approved." These are not minor issues. These are not issues about which "good men" disagree. They are not areas where godly students of the word might legitimately disagree on a matter of interpretation.

On the other hand, T4G is, in the main, doctrinally sound on key points such as bibliology and the gospel (two key areas where Schaap is not). There are some issues, and as a disclaimer, I have nothing to do with T4G except that I downloaded the messages and I have the musical CD from the first one (which is one of my favorites). Dever is not much of a danger unless you are scared of a person who believes you should preach the Bible, worship conservatively with little fanfare, separate and confront false teachers and apostates, take the local church seriously, plant churches, etc.

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Now, he may make a strong case for separation from Schaap on other grounds but he can't do it here because it is all surface appeal.
As you said above, he is not making a case for separation from Schaap, but a case for consistency.

Quote:
It has the appearance of condemning a rival (i.e. association with Schapp) to justify self (i.e. association with T4G crowd).
I can't imagine any way in which Schaap is a rival, and Doran doesn't to my knowledge have much an association with the "T4G crowd."

Quote:
IMHO, Dorn would better himself by sticking to critiquing Schaap on demonstrable points.
He has done that in several places, but this post was not really about critiquing Schaap, as you say above. It was more about consistency, as you said above.

RPittman's picture

Larry wrote:
Quote:
But, there's no inconsistency because Jack Schaap and T4G are apples and oranges. They are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. They do not present the same threat or type of threat.
I think there is some inconsistency, but on the second part, I think you are largely correct. They are apples and oranges. Schaap is theologically deficient on so many key areas and T4G is generally not. Schaap also inexplicably tolerated and excused the actions of Hyles while heaping lavish praise on him for many years (and remember Dever has been a voice for separatism in the SBC), and on top of that he has the fundamentalist card so he is "approved." These are not minor issues. These are not issues about which "good men" disagree. They are not areas where godly students of the word might legitimately disagree on a matter of interpretation.

On the other hand, T4G is, in the main, doctrinally sound on key points such as bibliology and the gospel (two key areas where Schaap is not). There are some issues, and as a disclaimer, I have nothing to do with T4G except that I downloaded the messages and I have the musical CD from the first one (which is one of my favorites). Dever is not much of a danger unless you are scared of a person who believes you should preach the Bible, worship conservatively with little fanfare, separate and confront false teachers and apostates, take the local church seriously, plant churches, etc.

Dever's problems are associations. Sometimes, associations seem to be small fish to fry but you obviously have not lived through the compromise and drift into apostasy of bygone years. You are seeing only the result of a conservative resurgence after all seemed lost. However, T4G is precisely at the position where the compromise of the 50's-60's-70's-80's began. We may be at the crest of the conservative wave because we are already seeing signs of defection in academia. The problem with T4G is that it is too open to other positions and is subject to drift.
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Now, he may make a strong case for separation from Schaap on other grounds but he can't do it here because it is all surface appeal.
As you said above, he is not making a case for separation from Schaap, but a case for consistency.
Yes, he is making a case to separate from Schaap on grounds of consistency in separation.
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It has the appearance of condemning a rival (i.e. association with Schapp) to justify self (i.e. association with T4G crowd).
I can't imagine any way in which Schaap is a rival, and Doran doesn't to my knowledge have much an association with the "T4G crowd."
Rival fits here in the sense of differing views and opposition to his style of ministry. I won't go any further.
Quote:

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IMHO, Dorn would better himself by sticking to critiquing Schaap on demonstrable points.
He has done that in several places, but this post was not really about critiquing Schaap, as you say above. It was more about consistency, as you said above.
We're really not at odds but we just seem to have missed one another in passing. My point is simply that Doran can't make his case on inconsistency because there is none. Unless they contain common factors, each case of separation must be argued on its own merits. Inconsistency in separation is the failure to separate consistently for the same grounds. With Schaap and Dever, the grounds for separation are different and must be established independently. Let's take a hypothetical case. As a Baptist, suppose I believe that belief in believer's baptism by immersion is grounds for separation. If you associate with Presbyterians, can I fault you for inconsistency if you do not believe that the mode of baptism is grounds for separation? No, I must build my case on the validity of baptismal mode being grounds to separate. Even so, Doran cannot fault other believers for inconsistency unless they are inconsistently separating on the same grounds.

Dave Doran's picture

I have posted http://gloryandgrace.dbts.edu/?p=481 ]a statement at my blog about the original post that ackowledges some of the weakness of my original post as well as the impropriety of accusing the ACCC of inconsistency.

DMD

RPittman's picture

Dave Doran wrote:
I have posted http://gloryandgrace.dbts.edu/?p=481 ]a statement at my blog about the original post that ackowledges some of the weakness of my original post as well as the impropriety of accusing the ACCC of inconsistency.
There are probably many things about which I disagree with Dave Doran as much as ever but I have a new found respect for a man who will face up and acknowledge weaknesses. It takes a man to admit his mistakes and make amends.

dnickson's picture

Severe criticism of brothers in Christ? Without so much as a phone call, or an email? I might have expected that of Katie Couric or Rush Limbaugh, but a seminary president?

ACCC is not doing anything in an echo chamber. We are fighting the good fight, standing for separation from the world's diversionary nonsense, and doing our best to be steadfast and clear -- even though the phrasing of a sentence or two in our resolutions might use some help now and then.

If the ACCC misspeaks, by all means call it to our attention and we will thank you. But wouldn't it be wise, even kind, to refrain from this sort of public forum criticism until you are dead sure of your accusation's foundation?

Truly, it did not help.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I didn't think it was that bad to begin with, read in context. But he clearly thinks so now. I think SI was unintentionally unhelpful in this case because we increased the likelihood of Doran's observations being misunderstood. So we'll have to try to be more careful when we're linking to short quotes.
As it is, I guess there were two problems. The misunderstanding problem and the understanding problem. That is, the former had to do with taking Doran to mean things he didn't mean. And the latter had to do with a portion of what he really did mean... which he now sees as a mistake.

As for letters and phone calls though.... I kind of tend to think that public documents like resolutions don't really require that. I don't know--do we call up every author who's book we're going to somewhat unfavorably review? But I'll grant that this sort of contact should probably happen more often than it does.