Since time and distance have a way of blurring the “first principles” of any endeavor, I think it would be helpful to restate the goals of this blog for the benefit of newer readers. Why did Stanton Blog come into being? Why does it still exist? What are the motivating factors for me, and for those who have engaged with the content through conversation and comments? But first, I think it’s important to clarify some things that are NOT the reasons for its existence.
NOT the reasons this blog exists
This blog was not started to insult or tear down the Stanton group, or even to reform it, for that matter. I actually care little whether Stanton disbands or reforms (as a group, that is—I worded that very carefully). I’m more interested that the individuals caught in its grip come to know the God of love that I know. I pray that they come to appreciate the forgiveness that Jesus gave to me—not because I deserved it, but precisely because I didn’t. That is what grace is—unmerited favor—and Stanton as a group doesn’t teach that.
So whether reformed believers continue hanging around in Stanton or not is between them and God. Maybe God’s called some to change it from within. I haven’t, but I’m not going to sit here and insist that you haven’t.
It does not exist to hurt or attack individuals. I’ve gone out of my way to keep the blog from becoming a tool for causing more hurt than Stanton has already caused. I hope that whatever uncomfortableness the blog may cause for some individuals is due purely to the uncomfortableness that happens when truth exposes error. I make every effort to say what I say, not just with the appearance of kindness, but with genuine love for the readers who may still not see things the way I do. I’ve learned—only because of Jesus—that I can love people who don’t agree with me. So I would never attack or try to hurt someone with my words, only point out truth in as loving a way as I know how. Do I always know how? Evidently not, according to some Older Ones. But I don’t care about praise from men.
The blog does not exist to divide. God knows, Stanton has caused enough division in its short history; I certainly don’t desire to add to it. But to the extent that people want to have honest inquiry into the scriptures without fear of punishment simply for asking honest questions, any division that results is not due to someone asking the wrong questions. Maybe it’s the right questions being given the wrong—meaning unbiblical—answers.
After all, doesn’t Stanton tell people they shouldn’t associate with people in other churches who don’t teach what they teach? So when a Stanton member reaches an honestly held and studied opinion in disagreement with something taught at Stanton, aren’t they obligated to speak out?
Merie said as much: “[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” (Moyer Letter, 1967).
And if someone’s being threatened with punishment for speaking out (inaccurately labeled “murmuring“), or their family is, aren’t they acting reasonably if they were to leave that kind of abuse? That’s what Merie did, isn’t it? Stanton (Spring Valley, to be more accurate) wouldn’t exist if she hadn’t, so I rest my case.
So what, then, are the purposes of this blog?
To provide factual history of the Stanton sect’s origins and history. I do this in the light gray menu of articles. I have a unique knowledge of the group, since the Stanton congregation was started by my parents about the time I was born. Not a perfect knowledge of it, of course—if you ever see something factually incorrect, please tell me.
Since Stanton (and by “Stanton,” I’m referring to the entire brotherhood that was started by the joint venture between Spring Valley and Stanton) doesn’t like to openly share its true history, information can be pretty hard to come by. So the time came for someone like me, who was raised in it my entire life, to utilize this thing we call the Internet to give Stanton some much-needed transparency.
To provide Biblical commentary (my opinions, as opposed to hard facts of history). My goal in this regard has been to help people find and correct their mistaken understandings of Scripture on their own, as they grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. It’s not for me to tell people how they have to believe to get to heaven. That’s above my pay grade.
But I do have thoughts to share about God, Jesus, the Bible, grace, love, truth…all of it…and I’m willing to put my reasoning (and even my sense of humor) out there for anyone to criticize or correct, if they desire. Truth doesn’t need to be afraid of a lie.
To facilitate a helpful conversation between those whose paths have crossed with the Stanton sect. The group has impacted many lives, and not for the better in most cases. It’s helpful for some people to have someone else to talk to who can relate to the experiences they had in the group. This aspect of the blog is hard to keep in balance as the editor, because not everyone who comments shares my goal of speaking truth in love. Certainly not everyone who comments is a follower of Christ. Some have become agnostic, atheist, or anti-Christian, in part due to their experiences in Stanton. But I do have hope that even some of the hardest rebels against Christianity may begin to see a better representation of the love of God by reading this blog than they ever got in the sect. I do realize that sometimes my reach exceeds my grasp, and I have to be OK with that.
To encourage and edify. Those of us who are believers get through rough times together, by encouraging one another. That can be through connections made through this blog, or other connections with believers in our local churches. When someone falls, we should help them get back up again, not tear them down as we “withdraw” from them on their way out the door, then talk viciously about them behind their backs.