Any group of people closed off from outside influences to any degree will develop their own cultural norms for words and phrases that come to mean something different to them than to the outside world. This is true of all denominations and church cultures, not just the Stanton churches, by the way.
Below is a glossary I’ve compiled to help readers sort through the many definitions and common phrases used by the Stanton churches.
Appearance of evil – In Stanton usage, “appearance of evil” is a verse pulled wildly out of context and used to refer to the “optics” of your actions, not the actions themselves, as the Bible uses it. The ASV correctly renders this “abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thess. 5:22 ASV) Example: Anna was told by her Teacher that she couldn’t go to a G rated movie with her child because it was an appearance of evil.
Adding on – This refers to the practice of adding church functions to your schedule, which you cannot “draw back” without jeopardizing your salvation. Example: Edna added on the Ladies’ Bible Class on Friday morning, but when she missed one day to take her husband to the doctor, she was rebuked for “drawing back unto perdition.”
Babe – This is the common way of referring to new Christians. A “baby babe” is a very new Christian. Example: Did you hear about Tacoma’s new babe Tom?
Counsel – Members are encouraged to “get counsel” (ironically often confused with “council,” which means a legislative body of people convened to regulate matters of doctrine). This means to go to a Local Teacher to ask their advice for something. Local Teachers are to get counsel from Main Teachers, and if they don’t do so every so often, they can come under suspicion for being too independent (a maverick, so to speak). Example: Mary asked Martha, the Local Teacher, if she could go out of town for a family wedding over a weekend. Martha wanted to make sure she didn’t get rebuked for giving permission, so she asked Mona, a Main Teacher, for counsel on the matter.
Doctrine – Stanton considers a doctrine to be different from a judgment. As I understand it, teachings that are agreed upon by delegates to the May Meeting are doctrines of the church. Advice offered by a teacher in a specific circumstance would be a judgment. However, the line gets blurred when the “teaching comes back” from May Week in response to a question about what the proper “judgment” in a circumstance should be. Does that then push “judgments” into the category of “doctrines?” The Biblical meaning of the word “doctrine” is simply anything that is taught. So judgements, when taught, become doctrines.
Doctrine of Christ – As best I can tell, to Stanton this term means the entire New Testament processed through deductive and inductive reasoning using command, example and so-called “necessary inference.” Further, it is only those deductions and inductions as arrived at by Stanton; other Christians who have attempted to use deductive and inductive reasoning to determine the Doctrine of Christ are wrong if they don’t agree with them. In reality, the Apostle John uses the phrase to mean Jesus’ primary teaching: “Love one another.”
Evil surmising – Teachers use this phrase to rebuke someone for assuming bad things about someone. Ironically, we’ve seen recently that it is common to assume evil things about unbelievers’ motives, the motives of anyone critical of church doctrines, etc. Example: All criticisms of church doctrines or practices are done out of evil motives.
Fallen away – Stanton uses this term to refer to people who have left their fellowship. To leave their church is to fall away from Christ altogether–never mind that people might leave because their consciences can’t take the unbiblical teachings anymore. Example: The church would say Kevin is a fallen away Christian, but he continues to be a die-hard believer and follower of Jesus Christ.
First Principles – Stanton uses this phrase to refer to what they teach in non-member classes. This is to them the milk of the word, whereas all the rules and regulations added after that apparently are the meat of the word. Example: After attending non-member classes for years, our members are ready to debate the Pope about the First Principles of the Doctrine of Christ (see above).
Judgment – The advice given by a Teacher in response to someone “seeking counsel.” Stanton tries to maintain a distinction between “judgments” and “doctrines,” but in reality, anything that is taught is by definition a “doctrine.”
Gospel of Christ – See Doctrine of Christ.
Indiscreet – Stanton uses the word “indiscreet” as a synonym for immodest. While the words are related, indiscreet is more accurately referring to a lack of judgment about when or when not to reveal information and to whom. Example: John was indiscreet in telling Jane about Jim’s immodesty so that Jeff heard all about it.
Law of Christ – See Doctrine of Christ.
Man-pleaser – This is a term used to label someone in a derogatory manner who does things to be seen by men. In the context of Galatians 1:10, there is nothing wrong with this term: “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men?” The irony, however, is that the entire hierarchy of Stanton function to ensure that members must be “man-pleasers” toward the Local Teachers, Main Teachers, and Evangelists.
Marked and avoided – This phrase comes from Romans 16:17 and 2 Thessalonians 3:14. However, Stanton manufactured its use of the term as a way to distinguish it as a form of church discipline more severe than their “withdrawal.” In truth, both terms are used out of their proper context.
Miscarrying womb – A church that does not grow.
Murmuring – Speaking out against a Teacher or the teachings of the church. The story of Korah murmuring against Moses is used as an example. This says something about the authoritative role Teachers play in the church, given that Moses was told word for word by God the laws that Korah was rebelling against. There was no “command, example, and necessary inference” on Moses’ part, and Moses was literally speaking by divine inspiration. Modern Teachers are not. Example: Harvey was withdrawn from for murmuring against Harold at a fellowship because he shared with someone that he didn’t agree with Harold’s exegesis of Scripture.
Off church – Any non-Stanton (mainline or otherwise) church of Christ. In their minds, they are the Only True Church, and after the early 70’s, the other churches of Christ were “off.”
Older ones – This is a term used loosely to refer to members in good standing who have been around since the early days of the sect’s formation. It is generally used to refer to members who knew Merie, or at least met her.
Prove all things – Stanton uses this admonition of Paul’s in 1 Thess. 5:21 to tell its members to study the doctrines of the church to be able to prove them by the Bible to themselves and to others. The word “prove” is actually an archaic English word meaning “to test.” So the Biblical phrase actually means to test all teachings by the Scriptures to determine whether the teachings of the church or anyone else are true, just like the Bereans did, and if they stand up to Scripture, only then hold fast to them.
Putting too much paint on the brush – This term is used to refer to a rebuke or reproof that is too specific.
Religious world – This term is used to refer to Christians whom Stanton does not consider to be true Christians. Example: The religious world is full of soft preachers who just want to talk about soft topics like love all the time.
Study to show thyself approved – This is used by Stanton to mean “study the Scriptures” whereas it actually means “be diligent” to show yourself approved: 2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (NIV)
Unclean – This term used to be used exclusively as a label for a person who was caught or admitted to masturbation. Questioning people and withdrawing for this offense has stopped, and the church has realized that the word is not synonymous with masturbation in the Bible like they once thought. Nevertheless, the word is still often used euphemistically to refer to masturbation, and there have even been examples of teachers using the term to refer to normal marital sexual relations. Example: The Teacher asked Dora if the only reason she wanted to reunite with her husband was to be unclean with him.
Withdrawn From – Stanton uses this to mean a state someone is put into by church as a matter of church discipline. By inappropriately cross-referencing several verses that address how to deal with various behaviors in the church, they have developed a list of rules for “withdrawn from” members. Example: Balinda’s son Blaine is withdrawn from, so she may not eat with him or have conversations with him. Balinda may have a brownie with Blaine if they are standing outside on the patio, but not if they are sitting at a table together. Balinda’s husband Bob is withdrawn from also, but she is able to have sex with him, eat with him, and talk with him about everything except church business.
Worship Service – The period of time that is considered to be “commanded” by God using a combination of “commands, examples, and necessary inferences.” Between the opening prayer and the closing prayer of this time period, women may not speak or even motion to people as a form of communication, except to stand up and make public confessions. Once the closing prayer is done, the Worship Service is over, so women can speak and teach, and the rules of Worship Service no longer apply. Example: Nancy was rebuked for asking her husband to pass the diaper bag during Worship Service.