An Exchange on the Consistency of Fellowship Issue
The following exchange took place on a popular Internet list involving hundreds of preachers who preach for non-institutional churches of Christ. The discussion focuses on the fellowship issue from the slant of consistency. So many believe that they are scripturally allowed to join hands with brethren who hold false doctrine and that they in doing so are not violating biblical fellowship. It is my belief and observation that such inconsistent practices have done more to promote the unity-in-diversity doctrine than all combined overt oral teaching has accomplished. The exchange revolves around two respected preachers and their current practices, Connie W. Adams and Donnie Rader. Before reading the following, please read "Fellowship" and "Unconditional Fellowship in Churches of Christ."
Don Martin to the list:
I have a question, it is a question that examines consistency, fellowship,
and the extent of allowed flexibility. All who are familiar with Truth
Magazine know that many who are associated with it as staff writers, etc.
hold the view that the innocent put away may later put away and marry another.
Mike Willis himself (Editor) contends that there are numerous scriptural reasons
for divorce other than fornication. The magazine is going to go down in history
as the main purveyor of teaching that falls under the "mental divorcement"
Here is the question: Connie Adams (he has been of friend of mine for many years) who is an Associate Editor (serves with Mike) believes and teaches what I believe to be the truth regarding the put away person, whether innocent or guilty of fornication. In a section titled "Editorial Left-overs," Connie has a paragraph named, "Binding Where Jesus Did Not Bind" (Vol. XLVIII, No. 16, August 19, 2004). Again, Connie states the truth regarding all put away people, based on Matthew 5: 32 and 19: 9. Do you believe that Connie is justified and is conducting himself consistently in continuing to be an Associate Editor working with Mike Willis and a paper that has become an instrument for the put away innocent may later put away and marry another? On a lower level, Donnie Rader (a friend) also teaches the truth on this particular MDR issue and yet he serves as one of the staff writers for Truth Magazine. Both Connie and Donnie serve on the Board of Directors of the Guardian of Truth Foundation, along with Weldon Warnock who has for years publicly advocated "putting away in the heart" performed by an already put away person.
I, too, often wrestle with such above matters; albeit I do not involve myself on such levels with others whom I believe to be advocating false teaching. I would like to observe your comments as to whether or not such fellowship is consistent.
Thank you in advance for any comments you may make. Before you lash out and attack me, keep this in mind:
(1). I am representing the truth and not falsely accusing others.
(2). I am asking a question as to consistency of fellowship.
(3). I am not responsible for the above scenario and I myself do not participate in such. Lashing out at me is simply avoiding the issue and creating a smoke screen. Making me the bad guy does not accomplish a thing as far as the above circumstance is concerned.
Don Martin to the list:
Perhaps I am being premature, but I do want to thank those of you who have
commented on my fellowship question, both on list and privately. I suppose that
I have struggled more over the fellowship issue as it comes down to various
subjects than any other subject. However, for the most part, I have not had to
severe fellowship, others with whom I have doctrinally and morally disagreed
have severed the fellowship.
One thing that makes the matter of many associated with Truth Magazine such a glaring inconsistency is the fact that Ron Halbrook and a couple others have taken credit for "exposing Homer Hailey" and his erroneous teachings on marriage, divorce, and marriage to another (later referred to as MDR), yet, some of these same men are now holding and teaching views relative to MDR that also result in adultery. What is the difference? How can men who opposed Hailey and those who defended him now rally as they are doing, ignoring their own doctrinal differences?
A case in point: Mike Willis recently held a meeting in Denver and preached on MDR. In the sermon, Mike listed multiple causes for what he considered scriptural putting away or divorcement. Notwithstanding, the scriptures only provide one acceptable cause for divorce and that is fornication (Matt. 5: 32). The statement that if the cause for the divorce is not fornication, then all that follows and all involved parties down stream are wrong is true, I am persuaded. Yet, Mike says there are about six allowed reasons (perhaps more). A number of staff writers and even the Associate Editor do not agree with Mike, yet, there is fellowship among them and as a group, they rally in unitedly exposing other matters.
Several of you have indicated that you do not have a problem with this because you agree with brethren such as Ron Halbrook that an innocent put away person may later put away and marry another. Some of you may also agree with Mike Willis that there are multiple reasons for divorce. In this case, I understand that you do not experience my problem. However, how do you explain and justify the behavior of those who hold my convictions that only the innocent mate (not one already put away) may put away their guilty mate and marry another or, even, that the ONLY cause for divorce is fornication (even if there is not marriage to another, I Cor. 7: 2ff. cp. Matt. 5: 32, 19: 9) being so tied together with men who teach and allow what would be fornication or adultery? Herein is my query.
Don Martin to the list (post one of two):
I posed a question about consistency and fellowship. I asked how men such as
Connie Adams and Donnie Rader could be so involved organizationally with
men who teach what both Connie, Donnie, and I deem serious error on
MDR (Connie is the Associate Editor along with
Mike Willis and Donnie is a staff writer and both
Connie and Donnie serve on the Board of Directors of the
Guardian of Truth Foundation, along with Weldon Warnock who has
for many years publicly advocated "putting away in the
heart" performed by an already put away innocent
I appreciate very much the kind responses to my question. I am sincere and I often wrestle with the issue of fellowship, just as many of you also do. In pointing out the relationship between Connie and Mike Willis, I mentioned that Mike teaches that there are multiple reasons for divorce, in addition to fornication (Matt. 5: 32, 19: 9). I have never said that Mike also advocates that these multiple reasons also constitute grounds for marriage to another. However, I do know that a number with whom I have debated this issue in the past manage through word equivocation and gymnastics to have the innocent mate who put away for some cause other than fornication being able to subsequently mentally divorcing and remarrying when their "ex-mate" does commit fornication. I also mentioned that Mike Willis taught multiple reasons for divorce here in Denver (the Boston Street church) as recently as this spring (2004).
Randy Wilson to Don Martin:
"Mike Willis recently held a meeting in Denver and preached on MDR. In the
sermon, Mike listed multiple causes for what he considered scriptural putting
away or divorcement."
Don, what reasons did Mike give other than fornication or death of spouse?
Alex Smith wrote:
I was surprised at what Don wrote about Mike Willis... 6 or so reasons for divorce? I am curious as to what they are, but Don didn't say (Don, if you are reading this, let us know.)
I again appreciate the attitude and manner of both Randy and Alex. I have enjoyed posting to both these men many times on this list. Alex and I have differed on a few issues, but Jon has admirably conducted himself and I hope that I have as well. To my knowledge, Randy Wilson and I have never differed (Randy might want to challenge this statement, perhaps I have forgotten some matter).
Mike is very clever in his presentations. I discussed Mike's teaching with the local preacher at Boston Street, a young man whom I thought would have opposed multiple causes for divorce. However, Mike completely convinced him regarding multiple reasons. This is one reason such teaching must be challenged and exposed. I agree that the life of the Christian takes priority over all human relationships. However, I do not agree that when there are actual spiritual infractions that divorce is a scriptural option, other than fornication (Matt. 5: 32, 19: 9). In fact, other than for fornication, when one removes oneself from domestic responsibilities, in the way being discussed, one has sinned (I Cor. 7: 2ff.). I might add, I say this in regards to a legitimate scriptural marriage and not a state of fornication (no bond, I agree with Mike's number "a").
Here are Mike's reasons for multiple divorce (taken verbatim from the sermon outline that Mike continues to use, one he used here in Denver this year):
"a. A person may have to divorce his mate to break an unscriptural marriage (Matt. 19:9). In this case, one is divorcing for the kingdom of heaven's sake.
b. A person may have to leave his mate to become or remain a Christian (Luke
18:29-30; 1Cor. 7: 15; Matt. 10:34-48; Luke 14:26). In this case, one is
divorcing for the kingdom of heaven's sake.
c. A person may be in a marriage relationship in which his mate runs up bills
which he has no intention of paying. In this case, one's responsibility to God
to pay one's bills would demand that he not be supportive of his mate's ungodly
behavior (Rom. 13:8).
d. A mate may be abusive to the children (beating). A person has a
responsibility to bring up his children in the nurture and admonition of the
Lord (Eph. 6:1-4). To fulfill that responsibility, may require him to leave his
mate to provide for the children.
e. There are some cases in which one must leave to have physical and
emotional health. One's obligation to serve God would require him to preserve
his physical and emotional well being.
f. Sometimes a couple becomes so alienated from each other, the hostilities
have reached such a point, that they must live apart.
(1) Cf. Prov. 21:9; 25:24; 1 Cor. 7:15-16.
(2) We cannot force them to stay together.
(3) The Scriptures do not teach a person that he must become a doormat to his partner to keep the marriage together. A person who becomes another's doormat will do more to destroy his mate's love and respect for him than about anything else he can do. A person has to maintain his own self-esteem to have proper Bible love. One is to love his neighbor "as himself" and the husband is to love his wife "as his own body" (Matt. 22:39; Eph. 5:33).
g. Obviously, there is going to have to be left some room for judgment in
these matters. (Those who allow a "separation" but not a "divorce" agree that
there are some areas of human judgment that we must leave for each other.)
C. Sometimes we place the blame for divorce on the wrong shoulders -- we
blame the mate who has reached the end of his rope in tolerating an intolerable
situation and in his desperation has filed for a
divorce, rather than blaming the one guilty of the
ungodliness who created the intolerable circumstances.
D. If one must separate from his mate in order to serve his God, that is
exactly what he should do!"
Please see post two.
Don Martin to the list (post two of two):
I do not want to stray from my original question (see post one), but two good
men have asked me a fair question as to the proof of Mike Willis teaching
multiple reasons for divorcement. I have exactly quoted Mike in post one. Please
allow me to now anticipate some objections:
It might be explained that Mike was not talking about "divorce" in his multiple reasons but only "separation." However, Mike plainly stated in the sermon:
5. She had a choice between 'remaining unmarried' and being 'reconciled.'
Neither choice is a sinful choice."
Here is Mike's logic that allows for multiple causes for divorcement:
"2. The best interpretation is the view that compares Paul's command to obey civil government (Rom. 13:1-7) with Acts 5:29 (cf. Acts 4:19-20; the conduct of Daniel and the three Hebrew children).
a. Under what circumstances is one permitted to disobey civil government?
(1) Whenever he disagrees with a law?
(2) When his taxes are used for things he does not approve?
(3) Whenever he so chooses?
b. No! He is only justified in disobeying civil government when his responsibility to God conflicts with his responsibility to civil government. In such cases, he must obey God rather than men.
3. In a similar way, one has an obligation to stay in his marriage until and
unless his responsibilities to his mate interfere with his responsibilities to
God. He must leave 'for the kingdom of heaven's sake.' Let's illustrate some of
these things…." (Mike then introduces his reasons for divorce that I inserted in
post one, dm).
I invite you to take a closer look at reasons "c" and "e."
"c. A person may be in a marriage relationship in which his mate runs up bills which he has no intention of paying. In this case, one's responsibility to God to pay one's bills would demand that he not be supportive of his mate's ungodly behavior (Rom. 13:8)."
I agree that the faithful husband/wife cannot participate in such irresponsible behavior. However, I cannot tell such a husband or wife, "Divorce your mate so that they do not drag you down financially." Mike is wrong in such teaching, no "ands, ifs or buts" about it.
"e. There are some cases in which one must leave to have physical and emotional health. One's obligation to serve God would require him to preserve his physical and emotional well being."
"E" really opens the door to all manner of excuses for divorce. It reminds me of the infamous "irreconcilable differences" that many claim for grounds of divorcement.
Here, again is the point: How can men who hold the truth on MDR be tied together with a man such as Mike Willis?
Thank you for your interest.
Don Martin to the list:
I have not received an email from Connie Adams, Donnie Rader, or Mike Willis,
however, it is the weekend and I imagine that they are busy. I do not
recall receiving any emails from Ron Halbrook regarding my challenges to him
relative to his teaching on MDR, unless he emailed me to say he was too
busy to be held accountable.
Raymond Blare and I have had many disagreements on this list. I do want to say this, though, I sincerely appreciate what Raymond wrote regarding his relative, Mike Willis (below). The fact that Mike Willis has mostly gone unchallenged by brethren who know Mike's teaching regarding multiple causes for divorce being scriptural is often an indication of brotherhood politics and double-standards.
I have asked Connie and Donnie how they can work so closely with Mike Willis in view of his teaching on MDR and we are awaiting an answer. I do very much appreciate the fact that Raymond does not defend Mike's teaching on MDR. Here is what Raymond wrote:
Don Martin to the list:
Alice Carpenter wrote regarding the matter of Connie Adams and
Donnie Rader being so organizationally tied together
in fellowship with men such as Weldon Warnock and Mike Willis, while they each
hold very different views on MDR:
I assume that since both of these men are your friends, you have questioned them regarding their consistency. What was their answer?"
Alice has asked, as usual, a very good and practical question. I thought the best thing would be for Connie and Donnie to speak for themselves. I am in hopes that they will and that I can learn how I can also involve myself with brethren who seriously differ on such subjects as MDR.
I shall insert below email that I have sent to Connie, Donnie, and also Mike Willis. As you can read, I have invited each of these men to come to this list and offer explanation for our education relative to the fellowship issue.
"Hello Connie, Donnie, and Mike,
I trust all of you are doing well.
I am sending you the below because I mentioned your names on … List in a fellowship discussion. Others and I would also like to see you reply on list. Connie and Donnie, you are both very intelligent and I am sure your comments could be educational to fellows like me who am confused when it comes to the below.
Mike, I had a post in which I carefully quoted your teaching regarding the reasons you allow for divorce. I also stated that you do not advocate marriage to another in the simple scenarios you teach.
To be able to directly publish to the list, contact …(list owners) at: …." (I included my first post to these men so that they would know the context of my question and the question itself.)
Don Martin to the list:
Again, we continue to wait to see when Connie Adams, Donnie
Rader, or even Mike Willis will reply on list to my
question. My question asked how Connie and Donnie can be so involved with men
such as Mike Willis who hold the view that one is allowed to divorce for
Gary Jones wrote:
I give a benefit of the doubt to Mike Willis (if all said is true) in that he isn't teaching women to stay with a criminal as long as he doesn't commit adultery. How many women have lived in fear for their lives and no one would help! From husbands who were not Christians as well as some who were Christians or even preachers?
I am not one hundred percent as to what Gary is saying. In the first place, there is no room for allowing doubt as to what Mike Willis taught here in Denver earlier this year. He clearly taught that there are a number of reasons for scriptural divorcement, even including the generic cause of if your mate had created an atmosphere that is spiritually discouraging. Why is it that we are always eager to offer doubt in cases that are beyond question? Is it just another way to stall fellowship issues and perhaps assign some measure of guilt on those who do their research and speak with authority?
In my opinion we debated questions about remarriage to the neglect of questions about the sins of separation and divorce. I moved to work with a congregation splintered over a spouse who was advised (I was told) to separate then divorce (not for adultery) just not remarry.
Again, if I understand what Gary is saying, I appreciate very much his point. All the unscriptural postures relative to various marriage related issues all begin with the unscriptural divorcement act. As I have taught for many years, if the divorce is wrong, everything that follows is wrong (Matt. 5: 32). Moreover, even an unscriptural divorce that does not result in another marriage is wrong (I Cor. 7: 2ff.). Remember that the only allowed cause for divorcement is fornication (Matt. 5: 32).
Again, though, MDR matters as such are not the object of these posts. I want to know how Connie Adams and Donnie Rader can work so closely with men such as Mike Willis and a number of the staff writers for Truth Magazine in view of their serious differences on MDR.
Don Martin to the list:
There are so many in the church that have no idea which way is
up and down. They continue in a vacuum and false teachers love such (see below):
Don Martin to Fred Brown and the list:
I wrote in a post:
Again, we continue to wait to see when Connie Adams, Donnie Rader, or even Mike Willis will reply on list to my question. My question asked how Connie and Donnie can be so involved with men such as Mike Willis who hold the view that one is allowed to divorce for multiple reasons.
Many times over the years you have asked this same type of question of others. So I ask you, why do you think anyone has to come to this list to answer questions you put to them? If you are seeking the answers, why don't you write, call or contact them in some way and ask them these questions? If they are on the list and make a statement about the subject, I can understand the questioning, but I don't understand the questioning of their views in this way. It seems as if there was false teaching, we should tell what it is and then show where the Bible shows this is wrong. I am not a preacher, maybe this is the way preachers are supposed to do it. I just don't understand it.
Fred, I am a little surprised that you do not understand (Fred serves as an elder in a local church). There is a huge inconsistency that is glaring and I believe fostering more misconceptions about the nature of biblical fellowship. Connie Adams and Donnie Rader are both respected among conservative brethren and they both teach the truth on MDR and, yet, we observe Connie and Donnie closely tied in with Mike Willis who teaches multiple reasons for divorce.
I am attempting to get them and others (list members) to see that there needs to be some serious consideration of such activity. Paul rebuked Peter for his inconsistent behavior before "them all" and there were probably some who said, "Why did you do this, we just do not understand." This list should be a means of teaching, testing, and making us think. Yes, I have called on others to come to the list. I have repeatedly asked Harry Osborne and Ron Halbrook to come to the list and discuss their views on the innocent put away being able to subsequently put away and marry another. I have done this for the sake of truth and study. Is this so bad and why do you not understand such?
The unity in diversity spirit cannot fathom such investigation and accountability. Mike Willis is blatantly teaching what I believe to be a doctrine that results in sin by teaching multiple reasons for divorce (I Cor. 7: 2ff.). Why, Ron, am I a bad guy for informing these men of my posts and asking them to come to the list and discuss such matters? Does such offend your sensibilities? Souls are at stake and practices need to be examined. I was asked on list how Connie and Donnie justify their working with Mike Willis and I contacted them so they can speak for themselves. Why is this so hard to understand? Have you not followed the progression of the posts? I do know that there are others who do understand, appreciate, and hope these men will come to the list and responsibly address such. I know I would were it reverse and I often do. I have gone to various lists when challenged because I do feel a responsibility for my behavior and teaching. Also, I have gone to provide others on those lists with a study opportunity. I should think you would relate to this and I am sorry that you do not. Men who teach must be publicly held accountable. This is one way I attempt to do this and there has been much resulting good in the past. Even when men do not respond, they make a loud statement.
I trust I have answered your question and thanks for asking.
Don Martin to the list:
Connie Adams just wrote the following in reply to my posed question as to how he can be so closely involved in fellowshipping Mike Willis, a man who teaches blatant error on MDR.
I do not wish to reply on list. I am not on any of these discussion lists and don't intend to be. My position on MDR has been well known for a long time. I have been free to write my convictions in Truth Magazine from the start. In fact, when I agreed to write, this specific issue was discussed on three occasions and I made it clear each time that if I agreed to write, it would be understood that I could respond to whatever appeared in the paper on the subject with which I disagreed. It is not true that the subject has been avoided in the paper. My recent short piece was in reaction to two articles by Bill Cavender with which I disagreed. We recently had a 3 hour open forum in which this matter was aired. Material from both sides of the story are in the book "Renewing of Your Mind." Guardian of Truth publishes Donnie's book on the subject in which I wrote the foreward.
Hope all is well there.
We are staying busy with meeting work. Still have six to go this fall. Regards
to all there….
Don Martin to the list:
I asked the following:
Here is the question: Connie Adams... who is an Associate Editor of Truth
Magazine (serves with Mike Willis) believes and teaches what I believe to be
the truth regarding the put away person, whether innocent or guilty of
fornication. In a section titled "Editorial Left-overs," Connie has a paragraph
named, "Binding Where Jesus Did Not Bind" (Vol. XLVIII, No. 16, August 19,
2004). Again, Connie states the truth regarding all put away people, based on
Matthew 5: 32 and 19: 9. Do you believe that Connie is justified and is
conducting himself consistently in continuing to be an Associate Editor working
with Mike Willis and a paper that has become an instrument for the put away
innocent may later put away and marry another? On a lower level, Donnie
Rader...also teaches the truth on this particular MDR issue and yet he serves as
one of the staff writers for Truth Magazine. Both Connie and Donnie serve
on the Board of Directors of the Guardian of Truth Foundation, along with
Weldon Warnock who has for years publicly advocated "putting away in the heart"
performed by an already put away person.
Connie Adams emailed me today but stated that he did not intend to be on an Internet discussion list. It was good hearing from Connie and I eagerly read his comments as to his current involvement with Mike Willis, with whom he differs relative to MDR. Connie stated that on three occasions, he and the appropriate ones discussed his biblical stance on MDR and that before he accepted the Associate Editor to Truth Magazine position (serving as editor with Editor Mike Willis), it was agreed that he would be free to speak his mind on MDR in the paper.
Connie reminded me that the Guardian of Truth Foundation published Donnie Rader's book on MDR. Based on these two matters, Connie experiences no compunction of conscience due to perceived or real inconsistency on his part in being so involved with the foundation and paper.
Connie did not mention Mike Willis, his views, or how he feels serving as joint editor with Mike. Also, Connie did not mention Weldon Warnock and the fact that he and Weldon serve together on the Guardian of Truth Foundation Board.
I have personally turned down many invitations in the past that would have meant income and further preaching opportunities because I believed such matters would place me in inconsistent positions relative to fellowship issues. I continue to be very troubled at the common attitude about fellowship evinced in the church. As I have said, I believe we are sending a mixed message to others in regards to fellowship.
As I have said, I appreciate Connie and also Donnie, but while they and I seem to be in complete agreement on MDR, we appear to be worlds apart when it comes to the fellowship issue. I have allowed time, have studied, and debated the MDR matter. However, I think the time has been present to where we just do not mix and mingle as though there were no serious doctrinal differences.
I posed my original question to try to precipitate thinking and application. If this has happened, then my posts have been successful. I am also very up-set that a man (Mike Willis) is allowed to go around the country teaching multiple causes for divorce without any appreciable challenge and exposure.
I recall about ten years ago talking to Paul Earnheart about being a staff writer for Christianity Magazine. Paul told me that there were serious differences between him and some of the other staff writers regarding the fellowship issue. I asked him how could he continue to be a part of a magazine that would go down in history as one of the main instruments in conveying unity in diversity in non-institutional churches. He thought a while and said, "I think I can do more good by continuing to be a part of the paper than by resigning." Again, where does fellowship figure into this?
Do not misunderstand me, while I draw attention to others and ask fellowship questions, I myself am often troubled and fear that I, too, on occasion am inconsistent!
Thank you for your concern.
Don Martin to the list (post one of two):
We (some others and I on the list) have been waiting to see what Connie
Adams, Donnie Rader, and Mike Willis would say regarding their intertwined work
in both Truth Magazine and the Guardian of Truth Foundation in
view of the very divergent views that they hold and teach regarding MDR. As
stated, Connie and Donnie maintain antithetical views with men such as Mike
Willis (multiple causes for divorce) and Weldon Warnock (Board Member who holds
the position of "putting away in the heart" performed
by an already put away person).
Connie has said that he would not answer on list. Donnie Rader has just emailed me with a similar response (he "does not care to respond to anything on …."). Donnie contends that if others or I had any questions about consistency of fellowship on the part of him and Connie, we "could have asked all the questions...to me and Ron at the lectures open forum session this year."
I am sorry, but I could not have. Why do I say this? In the first place, I do not believe in an institution comprised of brethren who are pooling their resources to preach the gospel having a gospel meeting or as Donnie calls it, "the lectures open forum."
Donnie did not like my statement regarding Truth Magazine, "The magazine is going to go down in history as the main purveyor of teaching that falls under the 'mental divorcement' canopy." One thing that I have found in about forty years of dealing with the privately supported missionary society system concept is that some are very defensive of their devices. Some have told me, "Our institution can do a better job of preaching the gospel with its board of directors as overseers than the local church with its elders." I am not saying Donnie has said or even believes in defending his organization so strongly. However, this mind-set of defending the organization at any cost is fairly common, in my experience.
I have said that Truth Magazine and the Guardian of Truth Foundation is going to go down, "...in history as the main purveyor of teaching that falls under the 'mental divorcement' canopy" for several reasons. Since April of 2001 (when Ron Halbrook really went public), I have observed more staff writers taking the second putting away view. In my observation, most of the writing in Truth Magazine since Ron clearly made known his position that touches on this particular MDR issue has been promoting "Ron's teaching."
Don Martin to the list (post two of two):
Marshall Patton, while serving as a regular contributing writer for Searching The Scriptures, debated this issue with H. E. Phillips. It would have been less than honorable for someone to have said that STS "is going to go down in history as the main purveyor of teaching that falls under the 'mental divorcement' canopy."
Even while Connie Adams was the editor for Searching the Scriptures, I never could reconcile the fact that Weldon Warnock often wrote in the magazine and even presented his views regarding the innocent put away being able to subsequently put away in their heart and remarry (when the other mate remarried). Connie would usually have a rebuttal, but as Connie put it, Weldon was welcome to write in Searching the Scriptures whenever he desired.
Again, I raise the question, how can men such as Connie and Donnie be so closely associated with men such as Mike Willis and Weldon Warnock in a joint fellowship effort? If Joe Blow who advocated mechanical instruments of music in worship were a staff writer and/or a member of the Guardian of Truth Foundation Board, would it make a difference in the matter of fellowship? I venture to say that it would. I expect we would hear it said, "Joe Blow can no longer be a staff writer or member of the board because of doctrinal incongruity issues and the problem of fellowship." Yet, if men such as Mike Willis and Weldon Warnock advocate a doctrine that Connie and Donnie believe can result in practicing adultery (such is a dialectically necessary conclusion), then it is permissible, just as long as something is said that states the truth of the matter (the put away, whether innocent or guilty is not allowed to later put away, etc., Matt. 5: 32, 19: 9).
I experienced the same problem regarding incongruity of fellowship a couple years ago when Shane Scott went public regarding the days of creation cannot be literal, twenty-four hour days and the issue was basically ignored by Florida College until much pressure was applied. In my observation even when addressed, it was more of a political issue. Again, there was the mentality on the part of not a few that each person involved in the school was an individual and what Shane taught did not affect the school or the organizational involvement of other teachers.
Do not misunderstand me, I appreciate the teaching and ability of both Connie Adams and Donnie Rader. However, I fear that they both are being absorbed in the milieu of a human institution and placed in an amalgamated state of "fellowship" that is destroying their credibility on the part of many thinking people. I, again, close by asking the question, "How can men such as Connie Adams and Donnie Rader who teach the truth on MDR be so closely and organizationally involved with men such as Mike Willis and Weldon Warnock?
Don Martin to the list:
I have asked the thought question regarding how Connie Adams and Donnie
Rader could be so intertwined with men such as Mike Willis and Weldon
Warnock, in view of their serious doctrinal differences on MDR. Most who
have commented on list seem to not even relate or know what I mean. At any rate,
they see no problems, whatsoever. If they have a problem, it is with me for even
raising the question. Still, I appreciate them taking the time to reply.
Bryan Atkins wrote:
"Marriage and divorce is probably not the only issue over which regular contributors, editors, and board members find themselves in disagreement. However, it has been made the focal point being addressed now on this list."
There could be other differences between the named staff writers and members of the Guardian of Truth Foundation. However, the MDR differences seem to be well known and most serious in that they result in how the men view a state, either as sinful or acceptable. I say this because Mike Willis says there are multiple causes for divorce; while men such as Connie Adams and Donnie Rader say there is one cause, fornication (Matt. 5: 32, 19: 9). Mike's teaching results in people divorcing for unscriptural reasons and thus being in sin (I Cor. 7: 2ff.).
Bryan offers a fellowship explanation:
How can "fellowship" exist between those associated with Guardian of Truth who differ on this question? As long as there is no required positional standard to which writers in a religious journal must conform it is a forum in which writers are free and unincumbered to use that medium to teach.
There is the view that Christians can come together in forming an organization, have assigned titles and positions, and a treasury with assigned work for the entity that is cooperatively discharged and they still only function as individuals. One man is allowed to believe and teach divorce only because of fornication and another divorce for a number of reasons and just as long as they each may teach their views in this corporate arrangement, there is no fellowship problem. I personally cannot even begin to follow the involved logic. However, I think such reasoning is reflective of the common fellowship view characteristic of many in the church today.
Bryan attempts to draw a parallel:
Since Guardian of Truth is the product of a non-profit business organization, and has no connection with local churches, it bears some marks of what takes place on this list. There is no fellowship issue here on this list to my knowledge. Does participation in discussions on this list affect the fellowship God provides in his church?
If this Internet list were a parallel to the Guardian of Truth Foundation or Truth Magazine, I would have no part of it. I believe this list is a good example of individuals truly functioning individually through a loose medium. On the other hand, if this list formed a treasury, implemented an organizational structure such as the Guardian of Truth Foundation or Truth Magazine, and assigned organizational titles, then Bryan would have a parallel and I would be inconsistent for condemning such organizations while being a member of one.
Several on this list may be like me. I haven't subscribed to Guardian of Truth for several years. I have nothing against buying the paper or products produced by their bookstore. Time and budget constraints cause me to opt not to take the paper. Thus, I am not fully aware of all the alleged differences supposedly existing among certain ones being repeatedly named here on this list.
Bryan's lack of knowledge about such differences does not minimize them or make my question less applicable.
Don Martin to the list (post one of three final posts):
I have posed a question to the list as to how you believe Connie Adams and
Donnie Rader justify their close working condition with Mike Willis and Weldon
Warnock in view of their serious differences relative to MDR. All four of
these men are intertwined on a high organizational level in the structure of
Truth Magazine and the Guardian of Truth Foundation. The views of
Connie and Donnie versus the teaching of Mike Willis and Weldon Warnock are so
practically different that they either result in a person committing fornication
and encouraging to sin or binding where God has not bound and unscripturally
pronouncing one a sinner. I say this in view of Weldon's teaching that one may
simply put away "in the heart" and marry another, notwithstanding the fact that
they have already been put away by the guilty mate and Mike Willis' teaching
that there are multiple causes for divorcement (cp. Matt. 5: 32, 19: 9, I Cor.
7: 2ff.). These are not trivial
nuance differences, but involve sin, either way.
I think the more troubling issue is how so many brethren view this whole matter. A large number have the understanding that brethren can start an organization that has the mission of preaching the gospel and evolves to offering a gospel meeting or lectureship (playing church), be involved organizationally as staff writers, etc. and still only function as individuals. I tell you what, so called non-institutional brethren who have this mentality are a setting duck for skilled institutional promoters and debaters. I never thought that I would see the day that we would attempt to justify the privately supported missionary societies among us by arguing that there is no cooperate action, but only individuals working individually. However, the thrust of my query has been the fellowship issue. How can brethren who are so divided on MDR (this is the subject at the time) pool their resources and work together in challenging other issues? I submit that basic truths pertaining to New Testament fellowship are being ignored and, in some cases, perverted.
There are basically six Greek words (some of which are cognates) which are translated fellowship or its equivalent in the Greek New Testament. Three are nouns, two are verbs, and one is an adjective (nouns: koinonia, metoche, koinonos; verbs: koinoneo, sunkoinoneo, and one adjective: metochos). Koinonia (one of the three nouns) is found 20 times. It is translated, "fellowship" (Acts 2: 42), "contribution" (Rom. 15: 26), "communion" (I Cor. 10: 16), "distribution" (2 Cor. 9: 13), "communication" (Phile. 6), and "communicate" (Heb. 13: 16). Koinonos (second main noun, used ten times) is translated "fellowship" (I Cor. 10: 20), "partakers" (Matt. 23: 30), "partners" (Lk. 5: 10), and "companions" (Heb. 10: 33, all translations are from the King James).
What exactly is fellowship? "Fellowship" was one of the four descriptive terms Luke used to describe the activities of the Jerusalem Christians (Acts 2: 42). Notice that fellowship was constant ("they continued steadfastly."). I submit that while the early Christians were socially close and often physically together, "fellowship" is never used in the New Testament to denote coffee and donuts, as such.
Fellowship in New Testament concept and terminology, when used in a spiritual climate, is communion or sharing in spiritual matters. For instance, there is fellowship in the gospel (Phili. 1: 5), fellowshipping needy saints (2 Cor. 8: 4), fellowshipping God (I Jn. 1: 3), and fellowshipping Christians (Gal. 2: 9, I Jn. 1: 3, 7).
Please see post two.
Don Martin to the list (post two of three final posts):
Fellowship is partnership and approval in spiritual matters. Notice that
koinonos (fellowship) is secularly used in Luke 5: 10. Peter, James, and John
were partners (koinonos) in a commercial fishing business. They enjoyed joint
participation in that undertaking (appreciate the fact that here koinonos is
secularly used but there is no admixture or injection of the spiritual). Hence,
when fellowship is used in a spiritual setting, mutual efforts and commonality
is obviously meant (Gal. 2: 9). Fellowship between Christians, then, implies
approval and endorsement (Phili. 4: 15). The converse of 2 John 10, 11 is
assistance ("receive him into your house") and approval ("bid him God speed").
Assistance and approval are the components,
if you will, of fellowship.
We read of fellowship between Christians and God and Christians between Christians. We often encounter the concept of fellowship between God and his people. There is the consistent residual meaning of approval and mutual work. The apostle John wrote, ".and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (I Jn. 1: 3). Another truth regarding fellowship is that when it is used in the positive sense, it is always active (never passive). The apostles, in other words, could not have enjoyed fellowship with God and have been idle or inactive in their work (more later).
In verse seven of I John, John appears to address fellowship between Christians, ".But if we walk in the light," John states, "…we have fellowship one with another.." In verse three he wrote of this mutual fellowship between Christians (Christian and the apostles) when he penned, ".that ye also may have fellowship with us.."
Fellowship with God and between Christians is conditional. Fellowship with God is conditioned on "walking in the light, as he is in the light" (I Jn. 1: 7, 3, 2 Cor. 6: 14-17). This is in harmony with John's later statements, "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him" (I Jn. 2: 4, 5).
Fellowship between Christians, in like manner, is conditional. Many scholars believe the expression "one with another" (met allelon) refers not to Christians and God (vs. 3), but to Christians with Christians (I Jn. 1: 7). Fellowship (joint participation in spiritual matters and approval one of another) is obviously meant in the command, ".withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly. (2 Thes. 3: 6, such an one is not "walking in the light," I Jn. 1: 7).
The means of fellowship. Since fellowship is conditional, it is axiomatic there is a standard or means through which the conditions of fellowship are expressed. Beloved, that means is the gospel of Christ, the word of truth (Gal. 2: 14, 2 Jn. 9-11, I Jn. 1: 3, 7). The gospel or "doctrine of Christ" is how we know to accept and assist a teacher or reject him (2 Jn. 9-11).
Please see post three.
Don Martin to the list (post three of three):
Fellowship is divinely limited and restricted. This Bible truth has been
largely forgotten in "Protestantism" and in many "churches of Christ."
Notwithstanding, limited fellowship is irrefutably taught (2 Cor. 6: 14, 17,
Rev. 18: 4). Paul enjoined, "Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have
no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them"
(Eph. 5: 10, 11). Notice that the passage requires three things: (1) prove what
is right, (2) have no fellowship (do not participate and approve), (3) reprove
them. It is not enough to just not join in, but the Christian must reprove or
show where such is wrong. The word translated "reprove" can also be rendered
"expose." Of course, when one reproves one is exposing.
Let us now make application of some of the essential principles relative to fellowship as set forth in the New Testament. One may avoid direct participation in but approve of and be guilty of fellowshipping sin (2 Jn. 9-11). Moreover, one may not join in, not express approval and still be wrong - one must reprove and expose. Many of my brethren (as well as your writer on occasion) fall short in this last scenario. Many preachers also err in this last consideration. In this vein, let us notice two examples.
The church in Pergamos had much with which the Lord was pleased (Rev. 2: 12, 13). However, Jesus said, "But I have a few things against thee." (vs. 14). What was the problem? ".Because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam." (vs. 14). There is a distinction made between those of verse thirteen and the false teachers of verse fourteen. "Repent," Jesus warns, "or else I will come unto thee quickly, and I will fight against them with the sword of my mouth" (vs. 16). Yes, the false teachers would be recipients of Jesus' wrath, but so will the non-participants ("repent.them."). There was a similar situation in the church at Thyatira (Rev. 2: 18-29). They also had many commendable traits (vs. 19). "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel." (vs. 20). This person (probably a faction) was told to repent by the Lord (vs. 21). However, the non-participants were also wrong - they allowed such teaching and practice in the local church (cf. I Cor. 5).
In view of the teaching of the New Testament pertaining to fellowship, again, I ask the question: how can men who differ so importantly on a subject such as MDR pool their resources and work together being intimately intertwined organizationally in a climate such as Truth Magazine and the Guardian of Truth Foundation?
One last matter: the argument that men can be drafted into such a highly organized entity such as the Guardian of Truth Foundation that has the clear and manifest role of preaching the gospel and simply and only be working together financially and secularly is totally ludicrous. Yet, this is still being argued, even though the entity is now having gospel meetings and urging the "brotherhood" to attend.
Again, thank you for your interest and concern.