Dear Stanton leadership,
Merie was a big fan of open letters to the leadership of the churches she disagreed with, so I have to assume that this is an acceptable way to communicate with you. Since I have the benefit of the Internet, I’ll refrain from mailing copies to members’ homes, as she did. (Wasn’t that murmuring, by your definition?)
I have tried other ways to start a friendly dialogue, including an email in 2004, numerous offers to my mom to have anyone talk to me about the Bible, attempts to engage my sister in simple conversation about the Bible, even offering to have coffee with any church leaders who happen to be visiting here in the Boise area. The silence has been deafening. But silence is not a strategy.
Perhaps you mistakenly thought that if you ignored questions long enough, you wouldn’t have to answer them; that the questions would just disappear quietly into the night, like the hundreds of members who have left your fold over the years. That’s clearly not working. Those ex-members from the past are resurfacing, and readership is growing here by leaps and bounds.
I don’t credit the growing readership to anything great or clever that I’ve done. My mission was, and is, to just publish historical and Biblical truth about Stanton in a Christ-centered fashion. I have only a heart of love and sincere scriptural inquiry, that is all. I didn’t seek out an audience for this blog; the audience sought it out, and spread the word themselves about the blog.
Maybe you distrust my intentions. I want to assure you that I have no desire to “play gotcha” as I’ve been accused of in a 2013 Labor Day talk. Yes, I do use some good natured satire and sarcasm on this blog for the purpose of making a point now and then, as others did in Biblical times. Please don’t take it personally. I have always tried to make it abundantly clear that I hold no ill will toward Stanton membership or leadership, and am completely open to having friendly conversations about anything.
Those aren’t empty words. I truly do try to practice what I preach about The Greatest Commands to love God and love people. I figure that if God loved you and enough to die for us, then I ought to love you as well, and seek your best interest. That’s good enough for me.
If you are not sure how this blog seeks your best interest, let me just say this: call me, and let’s have a real conversation about it. You can call, text or email anytime to challenge my Biblical understandings, or even explain something that maybe I have wrong. I’m open to that. Convince me.
I’ll definitely listen to what you have to say. Try me, and get to know me better so you can determine for yourself whether I’m to be trusted. I can assure you, you have nothing to fear; I’m just a guy with a blog.
I want you to know that any conversation I have with anyone—member, teacher, preacher, or evangelist—for any purpose, will be kept in complete confidence. Unless you specifically give permission for me to write about our conversation, it won’t be discussed here on the blog at all. You won’t wake up the next day to find a conversation you thought was in confidence poured out on the Internet for “gotcha” purposes. That’s just not how I roll. Everyone on this blog, from anonymous commenters to SCOC leadership, needs to be able to trust that when I say confidential, I truly mean confidential.
I know there are teachers still in the group who read the blog, and either quietly question the church’s stance along with me, or want to defend it and explain it. It is in our nature to think, to question, to wonder, to examine, and sometimes to debate and defend. That’s OK. Understandings can be formed, and relationships built, when there is brotherly communication.
If you’ve been the least bit troubled by the lack of Biblical support for the church’s teachings (doctrines, judgments, or whatever you want to call them), we should talk. Even if you are rock solid in your belief that Stanton is the One True Church, we should talk. What’s to fear in having a conversation with me or anyone else who might challenge your view? Truth, after all, shouldn’t be afraid of a lie.
I’m not writing this open letter to taunt, or to grandstand, or to have a one-sided monologue with you. It really is the only way I know to communicate directly with you, and I really do want to listen to your point of view. If you are fearful of talking me, or want others to be fearful of talking to me, why is that? I sincerely want to know. I’ve tried to reach out before, but my efforts were met with silence.
If you think I’ve erred, and need to be corrected, why don’t you do the loving thing, and share with me where I’ve erred? Let’s talk sincerely, long into the night if we need to, about the scriptures we both love and respect. I don’t want to be in error, and I go to great lengths to keep my words and actions in line with scripture. So if you truly love my soul, help me understand the way of the Lord more perfectly. I truly love your soul, so come, let us reason together.
If you don’t want to talk, that’s fine. I understand that you have no obligation to speak to a lowly guy like me. But in this Internet age, the consequences of trying to control your own narrative about church history, doctrines, and practices, may not work out in your favor. Paul would have loved the Gutenberg press, let alone the Internet. Why not embrace the transparency the Internet provides as a tool of communication?
But if your response continues to be silence—to ignore honest questions—you can’t blame anyone but yourselves for losing more members, much less failing to evangelize a lost world. Fifty years in existence and no elders? And there is not even one of your congregations in every state? OK, I’m sorry—maybe that will be interpreted as taunting. But it doesn’t appear that you are fighting for truth, but hiding from it. And if you’re not fighting for truth, as I recall, that only leaves “dying” or “dead.” Which is it?
In Christian Love,
P.s. – You might rightfully ask what I hope might come out of a conversation. The answer is that I don’t know. That’s why we need a conversation. Maybe it’s the right time to have one. You can trust my motives, even if you’re skeptical of them.