How do you defend the Pharisaic rules for travel and the many other unbiblical doctrines discussed on these pages? You don’t. You certainly don’t want to have any self-reflection, or engage in critical thinking. You assert instead that answering tough questions legitimizes them (although in fact, refusing to answer them is exactly what de-legitimizes your case). And of course you call anyone who dares ask tough questions an “enemy of Christ” for whom you have “contempt” and “disdain.”
Really? Sadly, there are some for whom that type of response will suffice. For those who question with boldness and search the Scriptures whether these things are so, it’s not hard to recognize flowery speeches and empty words without Biblical support.
If this talk on Labor Day 2013 is any indication, the church leadership has little desire to answer honest questions posed by honest people. The reason? Because there is no Biblical defense for the many man-made doctrines that have been heaped up on top of the Word of God, suffocating the life out of it.
Here is a snippet from the audio of the speech (you can start at about 53:40 to get the context of the comments below):
“Someone told me here just recently that ‘<name removed>, do you realize what’s happening, under cover? People are coming out and expressing what it is that they feel, their disdain and contempt for what you believe. I’ve got to know how to respond.’
And I know how I respond. That’s the basis of this lesson. I refuse. I refuse, to the uttermost of my being to dignify the absurdity of the questions and the challenges in which it is that people will present. What I mean by that is that I will not honor, they are not worthy of my consideration. …
[M]y whole estimation was to not give it a nickel’s worth of consideration. But I want to give you what it is how I deal with things like this. How I respond. Because I don’t. I don’t. I refuse to give satisfaction to someone who wants to see me cringe, or turn around and with wonderment try to figure out “what am I going to say, what am I going to say?”
Someone who “wants to see you cringe?” My friend, you are judging what’s in my heart, and you are wrong about me. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any fair reading of this blog will show that my critiques have been fair and honest, written in love, and have been anything BUT personal attacks or a desire to get satisfaction of any sort. To the contrary, it has been with heavy heart that I undertook this task from day one, because I knew that friends and family whom I care about deeply would feel blowback from it, as would I.
However, speaking the truth boldly but in love is long overdue and will not stop because someone doesn’t want to “dignify” it with a response. The truth doesn’t lack any dignity; but the lack of an answer to it sure does.
I hope that rather than worrying about my satisfaction level, or judging my motives, church leaders will simply take these critiques to heart and make changes from the heart. I don’t want or need any credit for it. Just do it. Stop teaching the doctrines of men, that’s all. If you can’t back it up by Scripture, stop teaching it, and in so doing, stop binding it on others. It’s that simple. I’d much rather see a change of heart and a change of behavior than a formal or informal response here on these pages.
I think Paul would have received honest questions a little differently. I think he would have been ready to give an answer. I think he’d earnestly contend for the faith, reasoning from the Scriptures, and encouraging others to verify the veracity of his remarks by the same. But when your teachings are not from the Scriptures, but from 45 years of tradition, you are left with 2 Opinions Chapter 3 to defend your point of view. Perhaps realizing that this won’t convince anyone, the only option one has left is to feign indignation that anyone would dare ask hard questions.
Labor Day 2013 – “Not ready to give an answer”
The following speech was originally published with a missing 10 minute audio segment. It has since been spliced together into the complete speech.
Listen: Not Ready To Give An Answer (1:51:10)
A REFUSAL to respond sends one LOUD message… 'I have no answer because there IS no answer'. What a sad shame that people will follow a doctrine that is heavily weighted with extra-biblical 'commands' while their leader cannot stand in defense of it's teachings but instead hides behind the 'rock of refusal'. I hope there are at least a few people who see this flowery speech for what it is.
Quite mind-boggling indeed. He has the audacity to refer to our activity as "fiery torment and persecution." He convinces all of his pawns that asking for an explanation for unbiblical teaching is a form of torment sent from God to test their righteousness. Truly a chilling lesson that ought to be titled "Beating around the Bush." I am inclined to email him some questions at his place of employment but unfortunately he has revealed that I am not worth "a nickel of his time." For a man who has dedicated his life to a certain sect for over 40 years,… Read more »
I can say that if I had children who were running away from my convictions, I would be going after them like a shepherd going after the lost sheep, not sticking around building taller fences around the ninety and nine.
By using words like anon 1:57, and Spencer Carr you will not gain constructive communication with Gary Preman. He will not engage in dialogue with you because he doesn't believe he has too. He has seen the results of defending the Stanton Churches on this blog and knows it will be a witch hunt and a sure attack. But if you go to him privately, I believe you will have a better chance to have intelligent exchange of minds, if that is your motive.
Amen Spencer Carr! Beating around the bush is true. Kevin, that is so true! Anonymous at 4:49, I hear your call for constructive criticism. I originally had a massive 26 page letter that I was going to write Gary. I had it all prepared, but then my teacher said in class, "Go ahead and send it, Gary said he will throw it right in the trash. He doesn't want to hear from disgruntled members". So…. would you have sent it? I tried on at least 10 occasions to talk with Dominick, Tom Cornforth, Kim Smith, Gary Preman, Mike Grech and… Read more »
There are mechanics in place when approaching sect leadership. I believe most of us are aware, from the days of Merie, it has been ingrained in them to honor any withdrawal. Please focus on this: asking a sect member to communicate with a withdrawn-from member is a sin against the church and a sin against God, even if the withdrawal has no scriptural merit. I am not defending what they're doing – I only want readers to know the ground rules. Sharing grievances with other members while in fellowship is considered "murmuring," even if you are right. It doesn't matter… Read more »
I wonder if Merie's brethren said her grievances weren't worth a nickel of their time?
Merie certainly tried to reach out – she certainly wanted a response.
I'm well aware of the mechanics of approaching sect leadership, but first of all, I'm not withdrawn from by the group. And second, my primary goal has never been reformation of the organization, but reformation of hearts and minds of individuals.
The organization, despite their self-important pontification to the contrary, is a man-made institution. Yes, it's built on a legal framework as you've described. The church of Jesus Christ, however, is a spiritual kingdom, not a kingdom made with hands. This sect could disintegrate tomorrow and the church–the called out of Christ–will survive just fine.
Anon 6:58; That is one of the best explanations of the Stanton Church judicial system I have heard explained. Well done. Your explanation was not jaded with bitterness, just solid facts. God set up elders, deacons, evangelists, preachers, and teachers for the judicial system to work, through the help of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. But because the Stanton Churches are void of elders, deacons and strong evangelists their judicial process is very destructive and unscriptural.
AnonymousSeptember 16, 2013 at 4:49 PM said:
But if you go to him privately, I believe you will have a better chance to have intelligent exchange of minds, if that is your motive.
I emailed Gary twice with my concerns about my brethren and he ignored me both time. I am perplexed as to why he would choose to do that. Aren't we all brethren? Are we going to be this way in heaven where we ignore each other because your "station" is lower than mine? Imagine if Jesus or the Apostles did this with people. Very sad.
I just listened to this talk and am very perplexed. Gary asks why can't we just talk about this, but his actions are not supportive of that. There are real problems that have been brought to his attention, but he would rather ignore the person to make the problems go away. Guess what? They won't go away. Regardless if you want to believe this, or not, Gary, you have some responsibility in this. You are a leader in the church and God will hold you accountable for what you ignore. I would love to see you confront these problems face… Read more »
Another thing that I greatly don't understand is how that a preacher can murmur in a sermon against counsel given by an evangelist's wife and still be standing behind the pulpit like what they did wasn't wrong. I have pointed this out to various leaders and was brushed off like I was just a complainer. I would really like to know why nothing has been don about this.
Well Lynn you are starting to see the big picture. There are two levels of christians in the church of christ; spiritual and carnal (also master and slave or oppressor and oppressed) The spiritual rule over the carnal and grant themselves privlidges that are not granted to the carnal brethern. The financial needs of the spiritual are meet without question and the financial needs of the carnal are denied. The spiritual despitefully use and persecute the carnal brethern: in Phoenix the false teaching "how much of that money is for the brethern?" was taught and practiced. One brother straight forward… Read more »
When I was working I was giving in the offering regularly. When I became disabled and no longer working I had no income but what we got from TANF. I also missed a lot because of the chronic pain I suffer. Now, we read that we are to give as we are prospered. Since I had no money to keep up what I used to give I gave what i could. It was brought out in class and I was confronted in a fellowship that since I missed so much time that an influx of money should have shown up… Read more »
A lot of grievances being aired here lately. That's OK, that's what the site is for. However, I don't want to lose sight of the solution to these grievances. I didn't start this blog to gripe about unsolvable problems. If you think that you can't go to heaven unless Stanton reforms, or that you can only go to heaven at Stanton, whether it reforms or not, you need to understand that you've been convinced of these lies by fallible humans who are leaving you stuck in first gear, spiritually–maybe even in reverse, if you think about it. There is a… Read more »
Thank you for your input Lynn. What I found disgusting about the "fat cats" in Phoenix was that they were not in need at all. These were men who worked and made more money than me and still asked for your money privately. Many were "self employed" and in fact worked little if any at all and looked for "loaded babes" to freeload off of. One man who asked me for a 400.00 dollar loan was boasting about making 14@hour at motorola and I was making 4.50 an hour literally triple what i made and he was asking me for… Read more »
@Anonymous 2:01, interesting experiences. I would be hesitant to project some of these bad experiences on the group as a whole, but I certainly observed some of the tendencies you mentioned, even as a teen 30 years ago. I want to keep reminding everyone that people can and do change–that's what the gospel is all about. If there is forgiveness and redemption for the woman caught in adultery, there is certainly forgiveness available for people caught up in the dysfunctional power dynamics in the various Stanton-affiliated congregations. My goal remains to speak truth in love and see hearts and minds… Read more »
Yes people do change sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Without the light of the word of God people get worse. While in the church my wife committed adultery on me with an exboyfriend who just got out of prison. I told the teaching preacher at the time that she was being to friendly with he ex and would commit adultery; he told me he did not want to hear it and put out no teaching against adultery. After the adultery he mocked my with the scripture in the old testament about a man who lost his wife… Read more »
Agreed Anon 1:14. Sad story, just one more chalked up to the dysfunctional authoritarian culture that exists at Stanton. I'm sorry for your loss and would love to pray for you and your kids. That's where my heart is…rescuing the next generation from the confused concept of God that Stanton promotes. Are they still in the group?
I agree, people can change, but they have to see the problems first. What people are expressing is that there are things being taught and practiced that are affecting us greatly and the preachers and teachers are not listening. In what I have been dealing with there is a lot of lack of love and empathy. we learn this from our studies and application. We are taught all over the new and old testament that we are to love, understand, and be empathetic towards our brethren. Not run over them, use them, nor be indifferent towards them. This makes it… Read more »
God has caused me to understand how expressing my discontentment, that is complaining about water under the bridge, does no one any good and I wanted to correct myself and say that in all that I have been through God has been good and I am thankful for his kindness and his many mercies in my life. My children are grown, healthy, and drug free. I have taught them both by scripture and by example how to behave and they have accepted the ways of peace. I am still learning and growing as a christian and do forgive others the… Read more »
Anon 7:45 – I think complaining with no purpose is not productive, and we all have a lot to be thankful for…no matter how much or how little the church has affected our lives. However, for the record, there is such a thing as constructive criticism, and as long as the intent of bringing up history is to have honest discussion, correct valid wrongs, and encourage one another to love and good works, there is room for it. It is all a matter of the intent–the heart–behind the criticism. There are those who want to put a lid on valid… Read more »
I agree Kevin. When Tom Cornforth was bringing to light the things that Dianne and Thomas John had done he made this statement, "I don't want to talk about what happened, but I have to so that we can understand what happened". (I paraphrased some, but that was the general gist.) Kevin has been great to bring out a lot of information from as far back as the 1970's, but what some of us can shed the light on is what has happened recently. Some of the things that the church changed 20-30 years ago don't directly affect those who… Read more »
"It's not that we are not intelligent, its that we can't put into the King's English to convey what is upon our hearts" The authors of the Bible didn't have that problem; they perfectly and even poetically translated to us what was in their hearts. Maybe that's because you are not supposed to add extra words and rules to the Bible. Maybe that is why you (coc, Gary, Merie, Paula, Kim, Tom, et al) cannot back your teachings because they are YOUR words, NOT the Bible's. First sentence and I can see this talk is going to be enlightening (insert… Read more »
Here we go again, we are better because we believe this… We don't need to listen to people with initials after their names… We are better… We do this… the longer you are in the church the more that is expected of you… do this… do that…
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Beautiful scripture Isaiah 64:6 and that is what the church's attitude should be like, and right after is what it is like today, Isaiah 65:5 "Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.".
A person in authority needs to recognize and delicately address how to govern. A person saying "go ahead and look if you want" is offering the follower free choice. When you add your authoritative weight and say "go ahead and look if you want, but I'm not going to look. You will be burdened if you do" is not giving the follower free choice. The latter uses authority influence. 'I say yes but really mean no' mentality. That mentality will confuse people to have them questioning every little thing they are doing and keep them going to the person in… Read more »
Absolutely true. A true leader fears nothing from anyone or anything else. They have the truth and are secure in it. Gary has a lot of wisdom, and my beliefs of today have been greatly aided by him, but there came a time when I had to reach farther, and could not rest relying on just his word.
Gary is a very eloquent speaker. He turns and twists things to go his way. That does not mean what he says is truth. They are all scared of him…not what God will do, but what Gary and his "pawns" will do. The rebuking that they would have to endure. So they listen like good little students and do not make any waves.
In one section he says that "no one asks any questions in non-member classes anymore." Like that's a good thing?!?!?
Well, you got his attention. What next? If love is the mission, what is the best way to reach people who are trapped? Do you carefully slip a note under the door, or do you break the door down and barge in (speaking figuratively)? For those of you who may not be aware, these folks are are not used to criticism from credible voices. The more people have access to this forum, the greater the cry will be for change. I haven't seen any posts here from anyone who wants to do harm. Nobody is trying to smear anyone or… Read more »
I love your response!! "The more people have access to this forum, the greater the cry will be for change"!!! So true. We are all creations of God, and it was so frustrating that when I was a christian and withdrawn from, the more I pleaded to be heard, and sought out help, the more I was spurned, rejected, and thrown away. Until I agreed with their assessment that nothing I had to say was worth hearing, they didn't want to hear a word out of my mouth!!
I wish Gary Preman had the same amount of passion he is able to display in front of an audience as he should for keeping the word of God pure. As I've gotten older and wiser I have learned that people can be great orators, very passionate speakers and persuasive but at the same time have no real clue about being truthful. And the truth is this sect is full of doctrines of men which obviously Gary supports 100% based on his unwillingness to address, shame-facedly any of the additions to God's word that he employs. His speech is very… Read more »
Who deserves a nickel's worth of our time? Merie Weiss: Disfellowshipped 3 times.Kevin Harper: Never disfellowshipped. Merie Weiss: Woman with no children.Kevin Harper: Man with children in subjection. Merie Weiss: Writes protest letters to churches.Kevin Harper: Writes protest blog to churches. Merie Weiss: Has wrong exegesis on withdrawal, uncleanness, study, binding judgments, re-marriage, marriage bed, wine, travel, among many others.Kevin Harper: Provides exegesis in context without personal opinion. Merie Weiss: Launches massive crusade of unscriptural withdrawals.Kevin Harper: Does not launch massive crusade of unscriptural withdrawals. Merie Weiss: Faithful, loving protester who deserves to be heard.Kevin Harper: Dangerous, bitter, unloving, undermining,… Read more »
Anon 9:13 – Thanks. Point taken, but just for clarity, I'm not looking for kudos from anyone. I don't want or need it. It would be much easier on my friends and family still in the sect if I wrote anonymously, but I felt my points would have less credibility without a real name attached. So here we are. But I have no desire for followers. 🙂
To me Kevin is the voice of reason which is exactly why the "sect" resists him. To admit they might be wrong would destroy their belief system and they would crumble. But what should lift them up is standing in the light of God's word. It's a choice for all of us.
Did not mean to put you on a pedestal, Kevin – quite the contrary. The point is, if Merie (a contrary protester) deserved to be heard and taken seriously, why can't others be heard? You're not on any pedestal, Merie is! Why can't other dissenting viewpoints be entertained? Your analysis is carefully thought out and well-reasoned with scripture to support it. What's to be afraid of? Do you have big teeth and a tail?
Anon 9:11, It didn't sound from the speech like he's admitting to having read the blog firsthand, at least no more than a casual glance. That's fine. I was honestly never expecting a response from any church leaders. This blog has never been about manufacturing a public challenge in any way. It started with a sincere desire to reach out with facts and clear reasoning to people who may have walked away from God, or may have been left confused about God, or hurt by the church's oppressive doctrines in the past. That goal has been exceeded beyond my wildest… Read more »
Kevin, your words shine. Thank you for your example of what this walk is all about and what our Jesus lived and died for – Love.
Thank you Anon 7:46. You know, it just dawned on me that with all their accusations about preaching "love" being a "feel good religion," perhaps they're working under their own entirely different definition of love than we are. If love is simply an emotion–a feeling–then truly, the old saying that the "gospel in a word is love" would make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Especially a works-based theology like theirs. However, maybe a post is in order that delves into the earth-moving nature of love. Like the fact that it is an action word, a verb: to love. So if one… Read more »
That, Kevin, is an "AH HA" statement. They are all worried about themselves, not the giving of themselves to others.
That is a pure definition of the word Love!!
Gary makes a comment about a "carnal heart". But his pointing of one finger at someone else, has three pointing back at himself.
This passage has been mentioned before, but the Church insists on violating it, so I will bring it up again, Luke 18 9-14 9] And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that… Read more »
Anon 7:19, that deserves a rousing Amen.
Elder Scott replied, "well done" to one of my posts. Not that I'm looking for kudos either, but, I think I'm going to have a great day. Thanks for the encouragement.
I have to admit I am baffled as to why questions are a bed thing. I have always intuitively understood this to be true from the COC but to hear it from church leadership directly has me scratching my head. I am perplexed by the idea that someone who ask you a question that requires logic and reasoning is doing so to see you squirm. I sense that character assignations and judging of motives are a smoke screen because church members and leaders can not give any answers that make any logical and reasonable sense. I submit to you that… Read more »
Exactly, Wendy, I was thinking the same thing. What member would dare ask questions when to do so is to admit you don't understand their so-called "first principles?" And of course, few non-members will ask questions, because the only ones that make it that far (to a class) are the ones who don't know enough of their Bibles to know what questions to ask.
Oops, my grammar and spelling were horrible in my previous post. Yes, that would discourage members from asking questions. Perhaps the inability or refusal of church members and church leadership, to answer questions of nonmembers (children who grew up in the COC and are now adults but were never baptized into the COC)and ex-members, is the reason this blog has so many page views. And perhaps members have questions that they can't ask because they will be met with criticism and rebuke. Perhaps some have come to this blog because they are only curious. Regardless of the reason, the questions… Read more »
Once again this comment is the reason the Stanton Churches will not enter this forum, it will be met with this type of cynical feed back. They really don't see a reason to put themselves in this arena.
It's interesting to me how Wendy's statement is viewed by Anon 5:57 as "cynical" when in fact Wendy's expressing a valid viewpoint based upon long-term experience in the sect and is simply posing non-offensive, reasonable requests and logical observations. Having both experienced and witnessed myself how questions posed to teachers/preachers/leaders in the sect are not infrequently met with verbally aggressive displays or contempt at the mere (presumed) thought of questioning what they’ve said or taught, it’s amazing to me that they would feel threatened by her statement or any of the comments made on this blog. To me it reveals… Read more »
Yes, it is interesting how thin-skinned the church is when asked simple questions about the Biblical backing for their teachings, yet they mockingly portray the "religious world" as unable to back their beliefs by scripture. It's pride, plain and simple. The truth doesn't need to be afraid of a lie. I'm certainly not afraid to defend my beliefs from scripture alone.
Follow-up; It appears the venting is slowing down. Is anyone prepared to print off this information and send it to all those trapped in the Stanton Churches? Just a matter of securing the list each church prints off.
The truth of the matter is that the Holy Spirit is a defender of our faith, but the lack of love and faith/trust of the main teachers won't allow them to depend on the Spirit to do His work.It's called 'over parenting' and it stunts the emotional/spiritual growth of the young. This is partly why questions are so feared, it is often assumed that the person asking is insincere (this assumption has it's roots in the insecurity of the teachers who deep down know that they don't have reasonable explanations for countless 'judgements' of the church). THEY NEED OUR EARNEST… Read more »
Very true!! I often wondered why people were repeatedly given advice or "counsel" and NEVER told to work matters out on their own. This disabled their own ability to grow, and as you very aptly said, Mr. Welch, "it stunts the emotional/spiritual growth of the young". The church has mine. I have forgiven long ago, refused to allow unforgiveness and bitterness haunt and harm me. That said, I will never hesitate to attack the ideas behind the wrong actions taken by individuals. They do need our prayers, and I shall have to be more diligent about this. It would truly… Read more »
Thank you M.F. Welch and Anon 5:26. Let me just say, I've been impressed with the spiritual maturity of readers and commenters.
Speaking of persecution, I hope one day the many faces of anonymous will be able to come out of the shadows and will be able to freely speak their mind without being afraid of the consequences. I hope to one day know who you are and what you story is. Regardless of who you are, we are here on this blog because of the Stanton CoC and we share a common background. May we all learn to love like Jesus.
Amen and amen!
Speaking for many of the anonymous, perhaps not all, it's not the Stanton Brotherhood we fear, not fearing them is part of our strength. They can't do anything to us now and we have the marvelous power of not caring what they think. It's Kevin's blog that we fear.
Anon 9:10, can you elaborate on that? What do you fear from me or this blog? I'm confused.
Fair question. When we brings names to the table we bring histories. Histories cloud doctrine. Doctrine is what we are interested in, not controversy.
You should be able to see that I've used precious few names in this blog. This blog is not about controversy or personalities–never has been. There is an element of history that is important so children, members, and ex-members can understand better how the church got from its early beginnings to where it is now. But doctrine and uncovering the truth found in Scripture are the primary emphasis here. If I've used a name where you think it was unwarranted, please email me privately, and I will consider how to deal with it fairly. I can assure you, I have… Read more »
Anonymous at 9:14, If you don't fear the church or care what they think what do you have to fear from this blog? For instance, in my case I promised my parents I wouldn't put my name on here. That doesn't mean I care what the church thinks. It means I care about my parents feelings. Is that what you mean? Because outside of that I don't see how this blog is threatening to anyone or anything.
Anonymous 9:10/10:14, I agree doctrine is what we are interested in and for some people their history could muddy the water at this point. I hope though at some point we can all love like Jesus and as a result we will not engage in character assassinations or fear that our past will be held against us. Consider the story of the woman at the well in John 4; Jesus talked to her about her sin but didn't hold it against her and attack her character but instead had her share his message. Also consider the story of Peter and… Read more »
Anonymous 9:10/10:14- Do you think if reader(s) of this blog saw your name they would use that opportunity to attack you instead of the issues or discount what you are saying because of your past? Is that what you are saying? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Kevin, the history of this church is very important to me and has helped me tremendously. Thank you.
Wendy, I totally agree with you. The history is important and I think everyone has done exceptionally well keeping the use of names to a minimum. I think that the bloggers really show extraordinary character by being so respectful in this way, even in the face of the widespread injuries they endured in the sect in the past, just plain exceptional. Thank you so much for your posts Wendy, they are full of compassion, wisdom and understanding.
Thanks for everyone's input on this subject. I'm sensitive to the fact that people from Stanton's past may have changed significantly in the time that has passed. I also have no desire to tarnish anyone's character, present or past. I'm not aware that this has happened, but if it has, please bring it to my attention…my email is in the sidebar, and again, I'll vigorously protect anyone's privacy. I don't care who you are, if you contact me and ask to remain anonymous, you won't find a blog post the next day slamming you. That's not the kind of thing… Read more »