Ancient Landmarks Were Moved
In A Fort Worth Area Church
At the first of our acquaintance with the church located in the Fort Worth area and with their associated congregations in other parts of the nation, the leadership was greatly different, compared to what it is today. In those days there were some consistent teachings that could not be taught today, except in deceit or insincerity. The common doctrine in regard to the authority of the leadership upon the congregation was expressed in a variety of statements and Bible verses, repeated many times in the hearing of the congregation.
The admonition, “Walk in the light that you have.” was said by many to indicate that no one was obligated to walk in any teachings that he had not proven for himself.
Brother Johnson spoke about the clergy and laity system in which the clergy would impose their authority upon the laity, having its double standard of the privileged and the non-privileged, the ruling class and the ruled. Sometimes, as he spoke of the “Reverends” and the “Rite Reverends” and the “clergy,” he would hold his nose as if to avoid the smell. He also spoke of the pious humility of the proud and dominating “clergy,” calling it, “peacock humility.” At times, he would say, “The only big man in the church is the Lord Jesus Christ!”
To further apply the thought to himself and his ministry, he said, “I do not have decisive authority over anybody in the church except my wife, as the husband and head of my house (and that not an abusive authority) and over my children before they grew up.” Brother Johnson would illustrate by saying, “What would you say if I should boost, saying, ‘Look at my finger; it’s twice as large as the others. You would probably say, you boob, it’s swelled up. It’s sick.”
Brother Johnson would say, “The worst “ite” is a “Johnsonite.” He said this to discourage the would-be “yes man” (man pleaser), that might seek to follow him, without personal conviction derived from the word of God.
He told of a person that was famous for asking, “What do we believe about this or that?” He would answer him saying, “I know what I believe, but what do you believe about it?” He repeatedly and strongly encouraged each one to study for himself and to make the truth of God’s word “his own.” He would say, “Can anyone else eat for you? Or digest for you? Or study for you? Or believe for you?” Thus, he taught each individual Christian to study for himself, weigh it, prove it, and walk in, under GOD.
He would say, “Who are you serving?” “Do you know the Christ of the Bible?” “Do you love Him supremely?” “Lay hold on eternal life!” “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
He and others taught numerous biblically liberating texts, such as follows:
“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” (1 Pet. 5:2-3)
“The Bereans were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:10-12) Personal study, personal proving, and personal conviction, were taught as personal responsibility without a pending threat of shunning and expulsion.
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3-16-17)
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21)
In those earlier days, anyone was free to express himself and his convictions (even if different to everyone else) without fear. The truth of the Bible was esteemed to be the source to confirm truth and correct error, rather than someone’s rank.
Invitations to the public were sometimes extended to anyone of a different conviction to speak his views on a Bible subject, sharing equal time. Today, they refuse to discuss their abusiveness with those that oppose it.
The abusive rulers of Israel, the scribes and Pharisees, the religious leaders of that day, were portrayed to have been among the greatest persecutors of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth.
It was reported with appreciation, that a former minister who refused to be subjected to clerical domination as he clung to his Christian convictions, once said, “I am the Lord’s ass on which never man sat.” Thus, he identified himself with the lowly donkey on which Christ sat in His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Brother Johnson commended him for his faith and courage to stand firmly in his convictions and not allow men to load him down with their burdens.
“Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be may sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor. 6:14-18) To emphasize that our Christian calling, our allegiance, our service, our obedience, our submission, and our dedication was unto the LORD, it was often repeated, “Come out unto the LORD!”
The above comments describe in part the teachings and environment of earlier years in the Fort Worth area church. Some of the above verses or statements might be acknowledged today, but their discipline doctrine has priority over them, nullifying them and making them of none effect. As the years progressed, leaders began to teach a clergy/laity system that they called, “leadership and followship,” which was diametrically opposed to the former teachings.
Today, extreme disciplines by leadership judgments are compulsory upon all. Every one must walk in the leaders’ “light.” Men are “marked to be avoided.” Their children are required to have no company with them. The wives may have to profess agreement with the judgment or else be “marked to be avoided,” also. A minister may counsel a wife apart from her husband, privately, one on one. Engaged couples, preparing for marriage, may be counseled about most intimate sexual activity. A minister may kiss the women on the forehead or make other questionable overtures toward them. A minister may incorporate his own name and channel the church funds through it. Leaders and law enforcement personalities may be in the meeting attendance, wearing concealed handguns.
These characteristics give strong evidence to identify them as lords over God’s heritage, and as a cultic group. Individual freedom under God from the former years became sin and wickedness to these men. Individual freedom to serve the Lord in personal conviction by the word of God was replaced by the doctrine and judgments of men. Individual headship and responsibility of family life gave way to the superior authority and control of the leadership. They have become enslaved to the new system of human authority and control. Those, who seek to return to former freedoms or to leave the group, cannot escape without the loss of their family and friends, who do not share their convictions. Such clerical tyranny has brought devastation and appalling disillusion to those of devout reputation.
Milton Dunavant, P.O. Box 37122, Fort Worth, Texas, 76117, firstname.lastname@example.org
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