The charge of murmuring is an easy weapon in the hands of Stanton teachers and preachers to strike fear into the hearts of the flock should they get the crazy notion of disagreeing with them. The cleverness of the charge is its easy adaptation to any situation. Nearly any disagreement can be twisted into an accusation of so-called “murmuring,” complete with vivid imagery of Korah leading his insurrection against Moses.

“We must keep the church pure,” they say. Indeed. Pure of reasoned discussion and honest inquiry. Pure of anyone who dares seek truth more than the approval of men.

Of course, God did actually speak audibly to Moses and put him in the position of being his spokesperson, and Korah did actually lead the people in a revolt against this God-anointed spokesperson. But let’s not get caught up in minor details.
The irony of this use of the “murmuring” charge—somehow lost on members—is that speaking out against teachers and preachers was precisely how the Stanton sect was formed (see Founding Documents). Merie poked and prodded the preachers of her day, writing them public letters and castigating them for scriptural differences of opinion. She even went so far as to mail copies of her letters to individuals in the churches she was addressing just to make sure everyone heard her side of the story.
But in a classic revolution-turned-establishment chess move to protect the queen, Stanton changed the rules to outlaw what it had just done. This set the stage for a constant habit of whitewashing its past, and covering its own tracks. Murmuring was considered by Stanton to be a legitimate tool in their revolt against the “preacher system”—without it, they would not exist—but the leadership couldn’t allow their own members to turn the weapon of murmuring against them. So they used the threat of withdrawal to squash any hint of dissent.
The hypocrisy in the second paragraph of Merie’s letter to Forrest Moyer is stunning:

[E]very Christian has a right and a responsibility to express as well as to teach those things which they honestly believe to be scriptural without being called a false teacher, or one who perverts the word of God. Inasmuch as the church is so divided upon so many things, and cannot come into an agreement upon hardly anything, it ill behooves a preacher to denounce and call names because he happens to disagree with that which is taught by others.”

For all the people withdrawn from by Stanton for supposedly “murmuring” because they voiced a disagreement with a teacher, yes, this is exactly what Merie did in the very letter in which she defended every Christian’s right to freely dissent from teachers and preachers of her day. Hypocrisy much?
But I’ve heard the case of the Grecians’ murmuring in Acts 6 cited as an example of the kind of thing Christians need to be withdrawn from for (an unscriptural term, but that’s another story). This is so grossly out of context as to be laughable if it weren’t so sad. The lack of even a basic level of Bible knowledge here is once again stunning for a sect built on the claim that they alone have the truth.
From their favored KJV:

Acts 6:1 – And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

I would like to ask the Bible scholars at Stanton what the church did in response to this “murmuring” of the Grecians against the Hebrews? Did they “withdraw” from the offenders? Did they publicly rebuke them for impugning the twelve apostles? They were the ones leading the flock, after all. No, here is what they did. They listened to them. That’s right. The leadership listened to the “murmurers” and made significant changes.

Acts 6:2-6 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

The Greek christians were complaining (murmuring), legitimately, that their widows were being neglected in daily ministry in favor of the Hebrew widows. The response was not to call a meeting and punish the Greek whistleblowers. It was to call a meeting and create a more organized division of duties. The church appointed deacons (servants) to take care of matters like this so the apostles didn’t have to. They fixed the problem that was being complained about because it was a legitimate complaint!

This is a far cry from today’s crop of teachers and preachers who ignore the legitimacy of any dissenting views and simply lord their power over the flock. They squash dissent with a heavy hand using trumped-up charges of murmuring.

But just as one person’s May Week is another person’s Baptist Convention, one person’s murmuring, it seems, is another person’s whistleblowing. To one, it’s a tool of reform. To the other, it’s a tool of fear and intimidation to keep people in line. This, my brothers, ought not to be.

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