In the Stanton sect, the term “Off Church” has only one meaning: Churches of Christ that do not follow Merie’s teachings. Who declared the Churches of Christ to be “Off Churches”? Merie, and only Merie Weiss. No one else has had the authority to declare a church “off.”
Years ago, an early follower of Merie, disappointed by Stanton’s drift away from some of Merie’s core teachings, spoke out against current leaders (just as Merie did against the leadership in her day). She was rebuked, and when she stood her ground (as Merie did), she was “marked and avoided” (an invention of current leaders supposedly harsher than “withdrawal”). Guess what? This disciple of Merie then started her own sect, declaring Stanton to be the Off Church, and her new sect to be the new One True Church. Like “mother,” like “daughter.”
So I ask you, who is the real Off Church? Is it the original Churches of Christ Merie attended and was baptized into? They had their faults, as we all do. Or was it Stanton, or maybe the newer breakaway sect? Who’s the Off Church? How about both of these sects? They are both “off” by intentionally setting out to cause division, then actually accomplishing it by dividing from their previous fellowship. So I say “a pox on both their houses.” Both were wrong. Both divided brothers and sisters from one another.
For new readers of this blog, I’ve explained and documented clearly the history of Merie’s withdrawal by the conservative Churches of Christ back in 1958. She may have been withdrawn from up to three times, and did not come back from at least one withdrawal, maybe more of them. But her 1958 withdrawal by the East San Diego Church of Christ for “sowing discord and causing division” is one I’ve been able to document with a photocopy of the letter of withdrawal. A letter of withdrawal is something the mainline churches provide, but Stanton prefers not to leave a paper trail—it’s easier to rewrite or completely hide its history that way.
We know that Merie did not come back from this withdrawal. To her, her “rightness” in her own eyes justified her defiance of the withdrawal. But for those of you still in Stanton, does this sound a little bit hypocritical? I thought someone withdrawn from unjustly should keep quiet until church leaders reached the conclusion that the withdrawal was unjust. Why the double standard for your founder?
Merie declared that the mainline churches had “lost the candlestick,” in the early 1970’s. This means the church that withdrew from her in 1958, by her own teaching, was the Lord’s church. She should have honored that withdrawal without “murmuring” about her teachers and preachers. Merie, a murmurer? Yes, there’s no way to plow around this stump, Stanton. Using your own definition and rules regarding murmuring and withdrawal, Merie was a withdrawn from murmurer when she started the Stanton churches.
Merie justified her behavior by saying the original churches had “lost the candlestick.” How could she know this without miraculous revelation? Yet we’re supposed to just follow a fallible woman’s teachings by faith, without questioning them, because she was so much older and wiser than the rest of us. Really? The Bible says to check everything against the scriptures, like the Bereans, and if someone is claiming to have special knowledge that isn’t spelled out in the Bible, well—you’ll forgive me if I’m not that trusting. I choose to accept the Bible alone as my authority.
The facts are clear. The real Off Church was the one started by Merie. Are there sincere but mistaken believers in their fold? Very likely. But anyone who has come to the conclusion that Stanton is built upon a house of cards, Biblically, and continues to support and defend it, is doing wrong. If you know to do good and don’t do it, it is sin, right?
So express your doubts about Merie’s leadership, and the unbiblical birth of Stanton. You can even question the veracity of this blog, as well, right here on these pages. I welcome it, because I know that truth doesn’t need to be afraid of a lie. But for your own sake, question your teachers and evangelists with boldness, like the Bereans. Do it in a humble spirit of truth-seeking, but don’t take the threat of withdrawal for murmuring as an answer. Get to the bottom of your questions. I dare you.