An Open Letter to
From J Wayne Airy
December 21, 2007
Long ago, I lost count of the number of times you and others reminded us: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." [Proverbs 27:6] Please take all of what I state here in that light; itís not all addressed just to you personally. You will understand why this letter is so lengthy as you read further into it.
It's hard to believe it has been over 38 years since you stood as a groomsman (a "friend of the bridegroom") at my wedding. Your son David was my ring bearer. While I didn't consider you an "elder" in the Biblical sense, you were one of several brothers almost like the older brother I never had. You taught Bible studies in San Diego, and seemed to encourage saints to walk in the truth. Other than that, I probably would have had no reason to select you to stand with me at my wedding. I might have selected Burnell or a High School brother with whom I still have contact after all these years.
In my early days of association with saints influenced by the ministry of Maurice Johnson and Wilbur Johnson, I didnít know your father had abandoned you - so I'm sure I wasn't as sensitive as I could have been to the pain his neglect caused in your life. Having been raised by loving parents, I could never fully empathize with all you endured. Still, I apologize for any insensitivity on my part. The scar of it no doubt shaped the way you treat other men. Since you didnít have a strong father role model in your youth, most believers would be willing to cut some slack in your case, except for the fact theyíre forced to acknowledge that your brother Jim endured the same tribulation without becoming a man who views nearly every believer he meets as an enemy of God the way you do. Many of my brethren have tried to be a faithful "father" to you, telling you to straighten up and fly right. So far, it doesnít appear you want to "obey" them - even when they prove their admonitions are rooted firmly in the Word.
The effect of your handicap was driven home for me when you severed our association. At first, when you made no genuine effort toward restoration, I thought you just didnít realize youíd severed association with a student who took the church unity message to heart, not just to mind - a "son" you could be pleased to say keeps the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Then I realized why your "chastening" brought no reward: You do not have a fatherís heart. My fatherís example, and the examples of many "fathers" in the faith, taught me to recognize and be a loving father. Ask my children. The technique of proper discipline known as "the rod of correction" is not just corporal punishment; it is correcting little mistakes so big ones are few. [Proverbs 3:11-12, 15:10, 22:15 & Hebrews 12:11] All believing men have the example of a loving Father in Heaven; so we have no excuse not to be a loving father to our children and all members of the church on earth.
You boast of knowing the letter of church truth, yet fail to demonstrate how to experience the life of it, thus you donít really know the letter of it. If you were one to observe genuine unity, youíd recognize those who genuinely seek it. Instead, youíve preached a message denying church unity, claiming sects and denominations divide it; youíve promoted the notion it will never be united until all saints come out of denominations. You oft proclaimed that denominations unite what God wants divided and divide what God wants united Ė truth, when it comes to association, lie, when it comes to spiritual unity. Just as nothing shall separate us from the love of God, nothing shall divide His body of believers. Paul asked a rhetorical question: Is Christ divided. The obvious answer he expected was a resounding NO! Anyone who does not believe the church is united is, by definition, an unbeliever. We know weíve passed from death unto life if we love the brethren Ė all saints. The world notices our love, but canít understand or reciprocate. [John 5:24 & I John 3:14] Association has always been divided. Think about that a minute! It has obviously been divided by geography. It has also been divided by household, race, gender, age, maturity, understanding, opinion, ideology, attitude, cliquishness, and like factors.
"If we have the mind of Christ, we have the same mind and the same judgment. Do we all have the same light and knowledge? Do we have perfection in knowledge? No! But we know nothing in religion more than Paul when he said: ĎI was determined to know nothing among, you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.í [I Corinthians 2:2] The unity is plain. If we know nothing but Christ or what belongs to His gospel, divisions are impossible." Church Unity Lyman H Johnson
I want to be sure you get brother Lymanís point here. Not even the knowledge of "the truth of the one true church" unites believers. Belief unites believers. Faith in the gospel is the unifying factor. When saints departed your assemblies seeking association elsewhere, their association separation was cemented into division by your marking saints to be avoided. I spoke out against the irrational stupidity of your unscriptural practice.
You seeÖWell, I guess you donít see. When I thought I could count on you most as an older brother, you abandoned me. Long before you "marked" me, without even hearing my voice in the matter, I left phone messages at your home asking you to call collect to discuss the developing situation. You never returned my calls. Instead, you called my brother Charles on a pretext of making radio tape arrangements; youíd consulted "the men" - taking hearsay from those you should have had little confidence were motivated by love of the truth; you dissected a transcript of my message on sectarianism, in which you admitted you found no fault; you attempted to parse my letter to Jack Potter entreating him as an older brother to reconsider what he had described in his letter defending your marking practice as "retaliation" Ė his exact word (It was an issue you clearly did not take time to understand.); then, with your typical sneering, condescending tone, you blasted me with a taped message using weapons from your arsenal of twisted Bible texts, clichťs, slogans, and your oh-so-powerful, irrefutable, incredulous "My! My!" and dismissed the matter and me as of little consequence, unworthy of further consideration - essentially what youíd done publicly in an attack against your own brother Jim. Even before I read a transcript of your taped address, I knew there wasnít a shred of truth in your accusations or basis for your actions. While I thank God for the lesson I learned as a result of your rude treatment, it took me a while to get over the disappointment of it. The sting of your reaction didn't last long as I poured over the transcript, realizing you lacked the credentials of discernment and Biblical support for what you were attempting. I prepared a carefully worded statement, replying to each accusation in a document titled A Matter for Discernment, which you dismissed and returned to me, presumably unread. I was forced to sit back and observe how things would play out. Your report card is not good. Yet, before I met the saints in Alhambra, I enjoyed genuine association with saints who did not have the least bit of sectarian attitude. Although some had only known association within sects and denominations, they didnít cast off spiritual relationships over minor doctrinal differences. If folks went elsewhere for association, they didnít enlist their allies to ambush dissenters in a general assembly. So, when you excommunicated me, it was not difficult to renew spiritual association with those walking by faith, not by sight - I never should have allowed recognition of my relationship with them to lapse.
The only "common thread" of my acquaintance and association with you was the ministry of Maurice Johnson and Wilbur Johnson. There was a major difference between your journey to their school and mine, between your interpretation and mine. Your quest began with a skeptical eye toward walking outside denominations; you carried the baggage of religious traditions; you approached them thinking, "There [is no way Iím] going to surrender all this [mega-denomination heritage] and accept a little scrawny group of troublemakers, who met in a back street rented auditorium - without a challenge!" You rejected the premise that observing the church universal is possible or practical. My quest began with anticipation that I might have found other saints who were indeed living it beyond premise. When introduced to those dear brothers, Iíd already staked my faith in the Savior; I was aware He places all believers into one body; I knew His church didnít need a denominational name; I knew His Spirit worked with humanity in different ways in different dispensations - the Law and water "baptism" for Israel, not this dispensation; I was aware of the pagan origin of holiday traditions practiced by many believers. What I had seen little of anywhere was a genuine example of meeting simply as members of the church. What I was yet to see was how that message would become corrupted by men with personal, ulterior motives to create a paralytic movement (Pardon the oxymoron.) vastly different from what Iíd seen in the assemblies influenced by those two beloved brothers, yet so similar to what Iíd seen in denominations, in the military, in business, and in the accounts of life within states controlled by oppressive totalitarian governments.
Did I miss something in their message? I donít think so! They didnít corral believers (even under a non-denominational banner) or erect nearly impenetrable doctrinal walls to keep disciples in, defectors out. Yet thatís exactly what you "Leaders" did with your descent into comfortable sectarian religion engineered and executed with a subtle evolution of doctrine. A no-salary-guaranteed "minister [small Ďmí] of Christ" position evolved into a no-promise-of-support "Minister [capital ĎMí] of Christ" clique with business calling cards. The "Minister of Christ" position reported to "the men" - which seemed reasonable enough until the tables were turned and "the men" reported to "The Leadership" Ė who just happened to be the card carrying "Ministers". This has since evolved into "The Leadership" reporting to "[Man-headed] Ministries" which pay the salaries of the religious businessmen. Finally, the religious businessmen became the heads of the Church [capital "C"] Which Is Christís Body. An evolution from conviction to legalism accompanied the evolution of organism to organization. Personal convictions became bi-laws and conditions of association. And if you donít like "Ministries, Inc." you can get out and stay out; no minister of truth need apply. The cult cycle is complete.
Saints defected from your "Leadership" cult because they are saint-embracers, not sect-supporters. The true ministers they knew built a solid foundation based on the fact Christ is building one church, comprised of all genuine believers, placed in His body where He pleases; their gospel was a revelation that all believers can walk simply as members of that one body without the human guidance of organized religion. While they denounced sectarian divisions created by denominations, and avoided denominational practices, they didnít "mark" or "avoid" saints within them who didnít know the truth. They denounced the leaders of all sects Ė the defenders, champions, Goliaths of sectarianism - just as Jesus denounced the religious leaders of Israel. They realized all members of the church are like members and joints of the human body, and every joint supplies or adds something to the whole so that it edifies itself in love. By way of contrast, you and your cronies, while preaching somewhat the same message, became champions of negativism, discouraging saints from interacting as members of one body with ALL other members as the church Head gives opportunity. Your tactics left the impression your motive was to take out the champions of truth and compassion right along with the victims of sectarianism.
Asserting Maurice and Wilbur shunned contact with and edification from saints in organized religion, you latter-day "Leaders" changed the truth into a lie. They rejoiced in the inspirational words of such saints by singing their great hymns of the faith and reciting their theological writings. I marvel you "men" were so soon removed from our mentors (who taught the truth) unto human works. [Galatians 1:6] It took the Roman church 300 years to evolve. Like the "foolish" Galatians, you were obsessed with another "gospel" that was not good news at all. You boasted of rejecting organized religion; yet the very fact you promoted a "Leadership" concept was evidence you had established a layer of government not unlike organized religion; it added an "arbitrary gloss" obscuring the true church. You tried to become a dictatorial head for the body Ė a level of church machinery, as Lyman H Johnson might observe. Hereís an excerpt from one of his lectures:
"Now let us see the plain error of this Babel of sects. It is the antichrist spirit, which usurps the place of Christ as head of the church. This was my error and of every sectarian. We mistook Godís church for an earthly house and we took Godís place when we undertook to draw lines. We might just as well box up the sunlight and separate it from the sun, as to organize Godís church and enforce its separation by lines of our own. The light goes out and its visibility ceases the very moment we organize it or box it up by our shortsighted judgment, and draw any lines of fellowship or disfellowship, which we push into a separation of our own, which is not the work of the Holy Spirit.
"Yes, Godís church is visible by its fruits of holiness, and the spirit of its membership in contrast with the world. It is entire a separation of hearts between the carnal and the spiritual that gives the church visible existence. This separation is entirely Godís work in the hearts of believers. It is visible and gloriousÖfor manís wisdom to touch it by enforcement of human discipline spoils the life of it. Jesus Himself says, ĎI judge no man.í Even a Judas was with His twelve and sat at His last supper. He did not turn him out of the church. Judas went out himself. Peter did not turn SimonÖout of the church, but told him he was out alreadyÖ [T]he faithful word Christ preached and all the prophets and apostles, was the fan that separated the chaff from the wheat. This spiritual instrument is what God uses to separate the false from the true and keeps the church pure.
"God forbid that we should take the judgment seat, but faithfully use the gospel fan and let God draw the lines, rebuking open sin and error but fully fellowshipping as Jesus did, all who take the Lordís side of the line drawn by His spiritual Word. O the blessed fellowship of all who love the faithful Word no language can exaggerate! That is the visible church, which Godís Word builds. Every member is born of that Word, and Paul says in his farewell to Ephesus: ĎI commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified.í [Acts 20:32] I have already said enough of the visibility of Godís spiritual church." [The Spiritual Church, Lyman H Johnson]
Your evolutionary process started with similar tenets of faith. From the fact the Savior, by the gospel, adds daily to one church such as should be saved [Acts 2:47], you helped saints feel smug in the belief they were the only ones "walking in the truth" of it; you encouraged them to suspect all saints outside your sect of doing the Devilís work. You may think you have deniability, but the fact remains: your assemblies became complacent in their knowledge of the "truth" you repetitiously preached. To solidify your rationale, a co-conspirator, Robert A Grove, produced a chart similar to one brother Maurice used to illustrate the church. RAG assumed it was safe, by that time, to introduce a not-so-subtle change: A green ring to distinguish faithful believers (Viola, us!) from carnal believers, who just happened to include all saints in denominations. Not only did this amount to judging hearts, it fostered a haughty notion that only those who carefully follow his teaching are not in the green ring of carnality. The most diabolical aspect of his chart and ministry (yours too) was the implication that the Head of the church doesnít have full control of His body, canít place members where He pleases, or rely upon them to function as He directs, because evil men have divided them with denominational names. You "Leaders" tried to convince folks they need "The Leadership" to save them from division. This also provided an added "benefit" to the erection of your heretical edifice by reinforcing your contention that anyone in your assemblies who maintained contact with saints in the "carnal" green ring was automatically walking in darkness. The cloud of smoke emanating from the strange fire in your censers made it easy to obscure "carnal" believers with the saints restoring them. Your disciples found it easier to just "mark" everyone who didnít "walk" as "we" do. To distract attention from the fact all believers are members of one body, and contribute something to it, your attacks against sect founders broadened to include every member of any sect not associated with yours. It even became heretical to listen to "sectarian" radio preachers for edification. Just like many sectarian preachers, you essentially decreed believers could not lead holy lives unless they lived huddled within your imaginary walls of doctrine. You created an organized religion, and lacked the discernment to detect the fact youíd traded one error for another.
A CALL TO ACTION
Now comes your arrogant "open" letter to brother Burnell Johnson exposing your obvious heresy and undisguised, unrepentant sectarian attitude. [Romans 12:3] It provides an opportunity to express what has been on my heart about you and your heresy for years. Not that I expect you to hearken unto my entreaty since you havenít hearkened unto the entreaties of many of my brethren all these years; I just hope someday Godís message will get through to you. Iíd hoped brother Alan was making progress toward drawing you into association with all saints in the church universal. Obviously, youíre not interested - and apparently never have been. I entreat you to reconsider. And lest you think it arrogant of me to "rebuke" you - a man older than myself, albeit not much older, I can provide copies of letters proving I only approach hypocrites and teachers of false doctrines this way. I do love you, Jack, so just consider this a loving "fatherly" lecture.
Your letter is an excellent example of sectarian rationale, and it provides material for a study of the sectarian spirit. Reread it and ask yourself who you think you are. Youíre certainly not the second coming of Wilbur Johnson! If you donít detect the unmitigated gall and arrogance of your conceited tone [Proverbs 26:12], you are not likely to ever fully understand a topic as basic as the church of Jesus Christ.
The purpose of this letter is to boldly stamp out any notion remaining in the mind of any believer that we should follow men like you or believe your messages. It is important to answer your diatribe point-by-point to leave no doubt about your heresy. Your false doctrines warrant full investigation. This format and approach is of necessity lengthy. Using your postscript as a springboard, Iíve prepared a thorough reply. I didnít originally plan to share all of it with others until you had time to review it. The more I considered the public nature of your confrontational challenge Ė even posting it on your website! - the more I realized giving you a grace period is not required by love or by Scripture. Beyond addressing your arrogant demeanor, what I will also do in this open letter is outline some of the differences between what youíve taught and practiced, and what Iíve discovered is the truth of the one true church. Iíll address your letter pretty much paragraph by paragraph and parse your statements honestly Ė in contrast to the way you parsed my statements some 20 years ago by taking them out of context, ignoring the truth I presented. As much as this technique exposes where you really stand in opposition to the truth so that you ought to be able to see yourself more clearly, I have little hope of ever enlightening you as long as you maintain your current belligerent attitude. Maybe in a few years youíll go back, read your letter and see it for yourself. Anyway, you ought to be able to endure this lengthy letter. You had the stage and megaphone for many years; and I listened patiently. While you gave me given little opportunity to speak out against your heresy when I recognized it, now itís my turn denounce it publicly.
THE REVELATIONS OF A POST SCRIPT
Hereís your postscript:
"Yours in faithfulness, Jack Langford (ĎI thought we had seen the last of him!íó You reminded us your father once said this, in your hearing regarding me, when he was surprised to see me come back. I know your father was glad to see me back because in the days and years ahead he called on me many times to assist him in his service to the saints. And assist him I did, and I can do the same for you, Burnellóif you will let me.)"
Let you? Presumptuous arrogance! You remind me of Agag, "Surely the bitterness of death is passed." [I Samuel 15:32] Perhaps Wilburís son will someday see you come to proper spiritual awareness, and heíll turn to his son and say in surprise, "I thought weíd seen the last of him!" That will be a glorious day, signaled by your willingness to extend the right hand of fellowship to ALL saints. We can talk about your "faithfulness" then.
Now, letís go over your letter together. First, hereís how you should have titled it:
A CLOSE-MINDED LETTER
From A Man With A Withered Hand
Why do I suggest this title? Because you began with an unbelievable assertion that you look forward to when your mutual handshake will be the "right hand of fellowship" and the insinuation that Burnell is responsible for divided fellowship. Only your pride and false doctrines divide association within the fellowship. If you truly recognize Burnell as a brother, thereís absolutely no reason not to extend the right hand of fellowship. Iíve known few saints who have fulfilled the visions and exhortations of his great-grandfather Lyman, his grandfather Burnell, his father Wilbur, and many other faithful men, as well as Burnell has. Thereís no excuse for your sectarian statement and behavior!
In your limited view of Godís plan for this dispensation, only the Spirit of God "can sort out much of the confusion that has resulted in the last 20 or more years." Fact is God sorts out all confusion; itís not difficult for His sons to expose those responsible for it. You canít sort it out since you were a key player initiating it - youíre obviously confused by what you've done. You criticized saints for seeking association with denominational saints, yet didn't pause to consider why they didn't find satisfying, wholesome association with you and your former supporters. You apparently still don't know the meaning of fellowship; for you, it hinges upon 100% agreement with your false doctrines. You never noticed the absence of genuine fellowship in your assemblies; you never noticed that they had become little more than social gatherings where the same mantras were repeated over and over with little real living truth observed or practiced. Saints were hungering for living Bread; "The Leadership" gave them moldy crumbs of legalism. "Follow ĎThe Leadershipí!" "Follow ĎThe Leadershipí!í" That was the oft-repeated rallying cry. It is reported that some were actually instructed to follow "the Leaders" whether they were right or wrong; at the same time, wives were "counseled" not to follow their husbands when they were "wrong". Truth or hearsay, see I Corinthians 11:18d. Like Rehoboam, your generation of would-be "Ministers" and teachers apparently assumed itís your sole task to tighten your grip on a movement you presumed you inherited. You donít see that the church actually functions without human control far beyond the little sects you know. You think it your calling to publicly attack saints in denominations, and any of your own disciples who dare interact with them. You wonít soil your hands to enter denominational gates to actually help tear down the walls and partitions; instead, you remain outside and lob verbal assaults at the saints within the walls. Thus youíve erected walls of words with the hope none would dare question your authority and stand up to your "Leadership" pack. What a contrast to a voice from a generation nearly a century earlier.
"I tried to ignore and break down the walls between the denominations of that village. I made myself at home with each, and preached love and unityÖI tried to ignore the walls and get them together in spirit until the walls would disappear." The Spiritual Church, Lyman H Johnson
While LHJ soon realized this strategy doesnít work when sectarians dogmatically clutch views having nothing to do with the gospel, his attitude toward saints in denominations never changed. Thereís no evidence he ever renounced his effort to associate with them as members of the same body, joint heirs of the grace of God; it was the attitude he passed on to his spiritual descendants. Only one doctrine unites us: the gospel of salvation by faith. Without agreement on that basic tenet of faith, there is no basis for interaction, except to share the gospel. Dogmatism over any other issue divides the association.
AFTER THE ORDER OF
WILBUR JOHNSON (?)
No doubt Burnell's heritage is remarkable; but I doubt he seeks to be placed on a pedestal as "royalty" - heís probably insulted by your attempt at flattery. Heís no more royalty than any other believer privileged to be born into Godís family. [Consider I Timothy 5:21.] Itís ludicrous to claim brother Wilbur Johnson as your father, especially when heíd repudiate your walk over the past 25 years; heíd label you a false prophet [Deuteronomy 18:22] like Hananiah [Jeremiah 27 & 28] - not just because you falsely predicted our Saviorís return date, but because you also taught saints to believe the lie [28:15] that your excommunication of saints is Biblical discipline that will lead to spiritual purity and unity. Heíd likely see you along the line of the mad prophet Balaam who led Israel to sin by committing adultery. After all, thatís exactly what youíve done Ė caused saints to commit "spiritual adultery" by adulterating Scripture - as you charge saints in denominations do. About the only difference is that you had them refrain from taking a corporate name, while your attitude toward those who did not join you was every bit as schismatic and adulterous as those who do take a name. You led saints to become smug in their sectarian attitude like the "I am of Christ" sect at Corinth. I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas, I am of Maurice, I am of Wilbur, and I (puff, puff) am of Christ! Youíre not a minister after the order of Wilbur Johnson, for above all he demonstrated love for all saints. Iíd go so far as to state that he, like David, was a man after Godís own heart. Your wife Jean noted he had a fatherís heart; I doubt she honestly thinks you do. It has been widely observed that we cannot appeal to your heart; therefore we must try to appeal to your intellect. I donít question your intellect; I question your judgment.
You admit you were a very confused young man; admit you are a very confused old man. If youíre not confused, youíre deceitful and fit the following observation: You found in Maurice and Wilbur a means to retaliate against those you blamed for your confusion; you never got out of that mode. Let me cite an example: Your treatise on "baptism" Ė it suggests adherents to water rituals lack intelligence. Thatís unnecessarily confrontational, condescending and insulting. While I accept the fact water "baptism" is not for the church, I do not endorse insensitive assaults on believers who do not accept it. While it may be helpful to know the word "baptism" is transliterated from Greek into English, itís not necessary to know the original text languages to understand Truth. The problem most people have is not with understanding Greek and Hebrew but with understanding plain English. Besides, it is the responsibility of mature saints to comfort the feeble minded. So, why not comfort "confused" saints in denominations? Not the hypocritical leaders, their confused, unsuspecting followers. Comfort them; encourage them in the legitimate work God has given them to do. Donít insult them or contribute to their confusion by offering another man-made, man-headed organization. Donít expect them to wink at your false church concepts and the lines youíve drawn to cause more divisions Ė or to validate hypocritical divisions, created under the guise of promoting unity.
One evening about 37 years ago, brother Wilbur met in my home with some men who had contacted me about our non-denominational stance. Before our second meeting, I let him know I was anxious to present "the truth of the one true church". He said, "As much as we might want them to learn from us, we must be ready to learn what God wants us to learn from them." Iíve never forgotten that lesson. Toward the end of our meeting, one of them declared, "If we can talk over the fence, we can tear down the fence." In all my association with brother Wilbur, he was willing to both talk over and tear down fences. You are a fence builder - a mason who builds walls excluding believers who donít follow or believe exactly as you do, provoking otherwise godly men to fortify their strongholds, leaving them further alienated from all saints. I remember brother Wilbur as a humble servant of God; he didnít place agreement above love. I cannot pinpoint a single memory of consciously thinking of you as humble, except perhaps in the early days when you were willing to work with your own hands to support yourself and your family.
Your attempt to claim brother Wilbur's mantle reminds me of the passage in John 8:31-47 about the Pharisees and Jews who "believed" Jesus , claiming, "Abraham is our father" , and, "God is our Father" . First, they claimed a man as their father; then they claimed God as their Father. You've been walking around in essentially the same comfortable, arrogant shoes for a long time. You need to take them off and have your feet washed. Jesus told those men, "Ye are of your father the devil." Judging by the destruction left in your wake, brother Wilbur is in no way your father; and youíve left serious doubts in the minds of some saints whether God is your Heavenly Father.
NOT THE BEGINNING - THE CONTINUATION
You proudly boast of standing with saints for over 50 years as a result of "the clear love and persistence [brother Wilbur] showed [you] back in 1952Ö" yet youíre not standing with those you joined to excommunicate his sons. Why not? Did you discover what we discovered about them over 30 years ago? If you left the cult before being expelled, why didnít you remain and walk in subjection to "The Leadership" (as others were apparently urged to do) to be a testimony to them? Did they turn on you? No, you fell into the pit you dug for others. I doubt Wilbur would stand with any of you. Your "ministry" is a charade; the ministry of J Vernon McGee stands in judgment of your treatment of saints. Yes, J Vernon McGee! Not that his message consistently applied the Word properly - the fact you should have known better, just as you claim he should have known better.
The account of your pilgrimage from Fundamentalism into the light of dispensational truth is worth considering. Iíve never been a member of a denomination, and never intend to be. One semester at Westmont College in Santa Barbara was enough to show me I would not find the whole truth in organized religion. Yet I did find a few saints who at least sought to please the Savior with their lives. Perhaps because the young folks I met in Alhambra were consistently exposed to Truth, I assumed a greater number of them also sought to please the Savior with their lives. Lesson learned: We cannot determine motives by how much truth people know. They were clearly taught that all believers are members of one body; they were not being encouraged to behave as if they were one with all saints, but to avoid contact with other saints outside their sect.
A major difference between your pilgrimage and mine was that my father taught me the dispensational aspects of Scripture. There were a few different views, such as when the church began, but I didnít confront Maurice, Wilbur, Russell, Beryl, Earl or you. I asked questions to learn, not teach - certainly not to cause trouble. Thereís no role in the body for men to be confrontational with humble teachers of the Word. I was a student at the feet of those I thought worthy to teach. I didnít set my sights on overthrowing my prior associates; I didnít seek to overthrow my new ones; I never viewed them as a scrawny little group of troublemakers to be set straight. They presented the living truth. Your messages actually put me to sleep. (Remember?) After studying with brother Wilbur for several hours one day, he said to me, "Iím looking forward to meeting your father." When I asked why, he answered, "Because he trained you to listen with an open mind and heart and search the Scriptures to verify what you hear."
Itís hypocritical to disdain your buddies who were unwilling to go back to talk to "those people" when youíve exhibited the exact same attitude time and again, refusing to talk with saints youíve known - some for over 55 years. You wouldnít talk with me, but went around behind my back, like a coward, ganged up on me with a posse of your "Leadership" buddies, and sent a tape. I pity the BIOLA buddies you abandoned to Fundamentalism, unable to convince them of the truth, unable to draw them to it as brother Wilbur drew you to it, unable to restore those overtaken in a fault. You, above all, should understand saints in denominations and have compassion, even for the leaders. [Luke 23:24] If brother Wilbur was your father in the faith, as Paul was a father to Timothy, you bear little resemblance on the spiritual plane. Thatís why itís deceitful to claim a "beginning" with him when itís obvious your walk has been a continuation of traditions you picked up in organized religion.
YOUR PILGRIMAGE FROM
CONFRONTATION TO CONFUSION
It's more than a little presumptuous to base your credentials on being a troublemaker like John the "Baptist", Jesus, Paul, Peter, Jude and whomever else you might name from Scripture. They stood against the leaders who did not believe in Messiah. Youíve been a "Leader" standing against believers in Him, pretending youíre against sins, not saints - a clever ploy to get around the fact you wonít honestly work to restore them until they restore themselves. Oh, you are a troublemaker - after the order of Saul of Tarsus who made havoc of the church Ė scattering the flock of God. [Acts 8:3-4] (It worked together for good to those who love God.) You not only held the cloaks of those who verbally stoned saints like Stephen, you cast many verbal stones yourself. Itís not my purpose to address all your abuses against saints here, just to leave no stone in your letter to Burnell unturned. It would certainly be appropriate for you to base your credentials on being the kind of troublemaker the apostles warned us against.
It's preposterous for you to question whether the modern religious world would allow John or Jesus or Paul or any of the other apostles and prophets to preach in their midst. Not all churches reject the Word as you imply. Many give ear to reading the Word and would surely allow Paul to read his own letters. He might read them the first chapter of his first letter to the church at Corinth. If allowed to read in your presence from the old scriptures he often quoted in his letters, he might turn to Jeremiah 23:1-4. He might even turn to a passage we find in the sixth chapter of his letter to the church at Galatia and read about restoration, thus reminding you of your failure to do so.
Labeling yourself a troublemaker like Jesus is a prime example of how you twist Scripture to glorify yourself. We cannot begin to compare ourselves to Him. And youíre not a prophet or priest after the order of early church "troublemakers"! They were on a mission - a crusade, to spread the good news of the resurrection. (To set the record straight, Jesus was not crucified because He was a troublemaker, but because we are the worst sorts of troublemakers: sinners. It was expedient for one man to die for the people. [John 11:50])
Now, you stated: "If the language of John was scalding, the language of Christ was even more severe Ė ĎSerpents, you brood of vipers, whited sepulchers, wolves in sheepís clothing, woe unto you hypocrites, fools and blind, etc., etc., etc.í" Do you really think Jesus addresses His sheep that way? Paul was even cautious about addressing saints as fools, hypocrites or blind. In case you didnít notice, the world hates Fundamentalists. Christians in general are despised - not because theyíre divided, but because theyíre united in morals rooted in Scripture. Even with all the "evils" associated with Christendom, itís not really hated for its evils or failures, but for its moral values and the behavior of believers within them - for Godís law written in their hearts. Believers despise hypocrisy and abuse; the world despises assaults on its individual and collective conscience more than it despises hypocrisy and abuse. Itís unlikely youíll be persecuted, imprisoned or martyred for marking saints who donít agree with you; open letters exposing your false doctrines do not amount to persecution; and itís no badge of honor or sign faithfulness to deceive yourself into thinking your erroneous judgment engenders hatred. Itís not bitterness but pity that compels me to entreat you to reconsider your course and analyze where it has taken you. I long for the day you have a vision of the whole church. Unlike you, I DO expect Christ's ministers to be sweet, genteel, positive Bible teachers loved by all saints and respected by those who are without faithÖ uh, pretty much the way brother Wilbur was. After stooping to wash His disciplesí feet [John 13], making Him servant of ALL, Jesus declared that a servant is not greater than his Lord! He treated His followers like royalty. Who are we to judge His true servants? We ought to wash the feet of ALL!
The apostle Paul "turned the world upside down" in his day; your crusade against believers has not turned the world upside down in ours. If you really think youíre ready to stand up and risk genuine persecution, imprisonment and martyrdom as a minister of Christ, think about mounting a crusade against Babylon Ė the great mother of harlots with all her daughters, on a binge, rapidly becoming drunk on the blood of the saints. To turn the world upside down, try disturbing her politically correct, Christian-hating daughters at the world government "United Nations" by denouncing Islam, the religion of Mohamed that is growing more rapidly than the body of believers in Jesus. (Is that so?)
Since I never met H.G Ross or heard him explain why "compromising Fundamentalists" were "deeply bitter" against MMJ, I am torn over whether or not to accept your account. I remember his widow Betsy and son Russell; I donít recall them recounting such a statement. I suspect you exaggerated your version by adding the word "deeply" to it. If MMJ attacked false teachers, naturally theyíd lash out against him verbally a few times, then cut him off by ignoring him. (He continued to listen to them.) They probably reacted to him pretty much the way you reacted to your brother Jim. Itís fair to state that you are deeply bitter toward many saints who reject your false doctrines.
WITH FILTHY RAGS
To liken your crusade against saints who differ with you to King Josiahís Temple cleansing is absurd! Temple cleansing is not even a figure of church discipline; if anything, itís a figure of cleansing our temples (bodies) in recognition that we are His "holy" habitation. To liken cutting off members of the body of believers to "cleansing" is to make a mockery of truth and logic we find in Scripture. Itís not our job to purge or cleanse the body; the Head performs that work. Human efforts are filthy rags. Proper discipline of church members is intended to promote fellowship, not end it; when coupled with proper restoration, it works. Your proclamations and actions failed to restore saints to our association. Our mission is to recognize the unity the Head of the church established. You lost sight of it. It would almost appear we never really had fellowship with you, Jack.
The thing that clouds your vision of genuine church unity is the fact you shut the "temple doors" to association. [Acts 21:30] Then you watched the assembly evolve from a house of prayer into a den of thieves obsessed with converting gifts into income tax deductions. [Mark 11:17] Iím not accusing you of supporting it; Iím referring to the fact it took you so long to notice it. Nearly 30 years ago - not long after you and your family were guests at my home in Mission Hills, I discerned that Robert A Grove is in the religion business. Now itís a family business with nepotism rivaling Herbert W Armstrong, Billy Graham, Robert Schuler, and numerous other religious family financial empires of our day; and the "leaders" fare sumptuously. I was young, and didnít know what to say about it then.
"The zeal to build up selfish interests in religion causes divisions. Jeremiah speaks of the same in the 5th chapter 26th verse: ĎFor among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.í The gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be preached where the motive is a craft." Church Unity Lyman Johnson
With no reason to doubt hearsay reports, I learned you publicly denounced RAGís incorporation scheme, lashing out at charlatans of that religious persuasion. A little late, donít you think? But it wasnít the first time you spoke before that spiritually slumbering assembly. You ignored their lack of suspicion as long as they supported you. If you didnít notice it before, you should have. Over twenty years ago, I rejected your "Leadership" cult, having faced an apathetic assembly that had, for the most part, put their brains in neutral without questioning what was preached or noticing the evolution of doctrine. They measured spirituality by how closely they thought they adhered to the teachings and traditions of MMJ and Wilbur Johnson. The cult developed as the result of a habit Iíd witnessed among some of our brethren in denominations, namely: a failure to try the spirits. [I John 4:1] With itching ears, they listened only to voices saying what they wanted to hear, and discarded the assiduous tradition of the noble Bereans. That mistake leads to failure on the spiritual level, as in politics, business, science, education.
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE
WITH THE WRONG MOTIVE
You claim you faced a choice between "fame and prosperity [with the] compromising Fundamentalists" and "the truths of Godís Word" Ė presumably taught by saints you had recently met. Your choice supposedly reminded you of Abraham, Moses, Daniel, and numerous other saints, and their separation from the "apostate religion" of the world. (Can you say, "Megalomania"?) Your claim does not wash with me, Jack. The history of your walk with saints over the past 30 years, and your own words in your open letter to Burnell, make your claim unbelievable. Whatever future you may have had in denominational religion, I doubt it would have been as splendid as you would have us believe. What I do believe is that you had another, personal, hidden agenda: You sought advantage; youíd rather win an argument than a brother. Tough statement if Iím really trying to win you, isnít it? Is there any other way to waken you and win you to love? You and your novices sought intellectual power over inquisitive disciples; Robin Hood RAG and his merry "men" sought financial power over sycophantic elders and psychological power over naÔve adolescents and newlyweds. The validity of this observation should be obvious to you by now, but apparently isnít. You had a goal that was not spiritual in nature Ė a goal to win at religion, which is an indication of seriously flawed religious character. Such motives have little chance of survival or universal appeal, except in cults.
STUMBLING OVER CONVICTION
Thereís no doubt the ministry of brother Maurice Johnson, coupled with the ministry of brother Wilbur Johnson, was an inspiration to many saints. However, after observing you all these years multiplying divisions contrary to their example, and the instruction on the subject of unity I received at their feet, I doubt your ministry. You allude to "walking ĎOutside the Campí"- as if thatís all youíve done for the past 50 years. I donít find that to be the case at all! I find youíve been setting up your own little camp; and although it may technically be outside the camp of denominational religion Ė itís a no-name division within the greater camp of sectarian religion. Youíve built wood, hay and stubble on the solid foundation of truth noble men established for us. While claiming to adhere to the truth they taught, you helped mold their personal convictions into conditions of association. With your dogmatic devotion to a diabolical doctrine of division, you stumbled over the personal convictions of other men and cast away the Chief Cornerstone of Godís love that unites all saints Ė something I never saw brother Maurice or brother Wilbur do.
While itís certainly not my mission to justify denominational saints, it is my mission to edify them in the faith as the Head of the church leads and provides opportunities. He is, after all, Head over His church Ė over all His saints, in all things. [Colossians 1:18] "The Leadership" condemned seeking edification from saints in denominations. "The men" of our generation discouraged us from entering Jericho to spy out the land. It was considered a sin to go behind "enemy" lines for association, or to find sympathizers like Rehab. Your "men" took the personal conviction of MMJ against attending "sectarian" weddings and funerals and attempted to fortify it to give it the appearance of law. MMJ was not a little Moses declaring his conviction law; I didnít get the impression he thought it a sin to attend a denominational meeting. He didnít teach that itís wrong to try to edify believers within denominations or to be edified by them. He taught that believers should not yoke together with the unbelievers in them. The Master is present where two or three gather in His Name; He is present in my house, a courthouse, a jailhouse, a steeple house Ė or any other house where two or three gather and lift up His Name.
When my believing grandfather went to his eternal rest, his wife arranged a mass for him. If memory serves me correctly, brother Wilbur saw nothing wrong with me attending because he knew I was grounded in the Word; but in the atmosphere of negative advice surrounding me in the assemblies, he recommended that I wait outside the cathedral and act as a pallbearer to be a testimony to my unsaved relatives. I think he referred to a similar situation - Naaman. I had an opportunity at the mausoleum to witness to the priest who offered my grandfatherís widow and children no hope. Yet because I did not grieve with them at their "altar", to this day it is difficult for me to proclaim the gospel to them. I know God is faithful to everyone; it just grieves me to think I left the impression I didnít care. Of course, I realize now that I too stumbled over someone elseís stand.
DEFECTION IN THE 1970s
Contrary to what you may think, you have not deftly deflected attention from the fact "The Leadership" defected from the truth as early as the mid 1970s. The "defection in the 1980s" (as you put it) was a direct result of "The Leadership" defection in the prior decade. It would take many pages to document what could be observed from the distance of a little backwater assembly like San Diego. What began as a "scrawny little" sect, became, in the end, an organized religion - a "Leadership" cult. Young men were encouraged to "desire" (essentially covet or grasp) the office of bishop - not stewardship Ė and they became obsessed with the acquisition of "Leadership" positions. When personal ambition is praised and admired as an indication of "Leadership" material, the dross that floats to the surface of the refinerís pot is not fit for genuine ministry to the church!
Your request to speak at "Camp Dwight" is just another example of "Leadership" bullying tactics - an attempt to put Burnell on the spot. Supposedly, he refused. I canít trust your version of his response. His more credible version is documented in Alanís letter. Burnell knows youíre personally disqualified no matter what topic you choose to address. As Alan observed, several hundred families were scattered because of the "despotic leadership" you provided, encouraged and supported. We rejected your judgment then - and youíve given us no reason to believe youíve changed - so thereís no reason to adopt your judgment now. And you want to speak about "the church of Jesus Christ"! In light of your track record, I suspect you really donít know a whole lot about it. (Hear you speak about the church after youíve shown little regard for fully embracing it? It would be better to hear Joseph Smith speak about "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" knowing what to believe and what not to believe right from the start.) This may come as shocking news to you Jack: Saints you cast off as unworthy of your "fellowship" are not looking to someone like you for leadership. Weíre looking for lessons, not leaders. Youíve taught outstanding lessons in heresy through your bad examples Ė youíre one of the best teachers of it; but weíre not looking for lessons in heresy. Teachers of heresy are all around us in the world, and weíre not interested in their message either; their spirit does not bear witness with ours. We rejected cult "Leadership" long ago, and find no positive connotation in any use of the word "leaders" (plural) in Scripture. Weíre not looking for human "leaders" at all; we recognize one Leader, one Master. Let me toss it right back to you and ask if youíd allow Burnell or me, or any one of several other brothers I could name, to speak before your flock, whether scrawny or enormous.
Besides, where in Scripture would Burnell find an admonition to invite a self-described "troublemaker" to address an assembly of saints on a controversial topic? The church is not a controversial topic; but based on your "Leadership" track record, your view shoves it into the category of doubtful disputation. It would be absolutely inappropriate to invite you to speak about it as you have, especially in public meetings with women and children present. Youíve displayed attitudes saints must avoid in delicate situations.
YOUR POINTLESS POINT
You posed a series of rhetorical questions. If you were to pose them at a "menís" meeting or a public meeting, you might catch people off-guard and theyíd be inclined to think youíd made a good point. Seeing heresies such as yours in print, Berean-like students can go back to their Bibles to see whether these things are so. Basically you challenged Burnell to consider whether heíd allow John the "Baptist" or Jesus or Paul or Maurice or Wilbur to speak at Camp Dwight. In the first place, those ministers would be in tune with the fact they were addressing mostly believers, not religious Scribes [media] or Pharisees [politicians] or infidels or cult groupies; theyíd primarily be addressing saints. Theyíd tailor their message to the daily needs of the saints much like Jesus did in the final chapters of the gospels. On the other hand, they might address you, as Jesus addressed Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, noting itís hard for you to "kick against the pricks" of your obvious failures. Many have prayed that you would experience an epiphany - a bright, shining light of truth - and turn your heart toward edifying all saints.
To paraphrase a couple of your sentences: "Jack, you positively affirm you still believe what brother Wilbur believed! Iím sure in your own deluded mind itís true Ė at least in externals." Yet time and again youíve proved youíre not walking in the footsteps of brother Wilbur or even the non-legalistic example of brother Maurice. While you may feign a willingness to talk over fences, you have not shown you are willing to tear down the fences you have so painstakingly constructed over the past 50 years. "Fellowship" that excludes other saints is "Satanís bloat!"
OUR TRUE CALLING
The unity of the Spirit has not been diminished one iota by all the carnal struggles among the earthly members of the church. Unity has survived despite external and internal church conflicts. Early external conflict was mostly with prevailing religions and superstitions; internal "conflicts" were essentially the same conflicts saints face today. Paul urged the Ephesians to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. You latter-day cult "leaders" basically assert that "endeavoring to keep" means saints must work toward unity. Thatís not the sense I gather from Paulís letter at all. He urged them to keep - as in observe or notice - the unity that already exists. Just as Jews did no work when "keeping" the Sabbath, itís not work to keep the unity of the Spirit. It exists without work and thrives in the face of "C-O-N-F-L-I-C-T". All we have to do is recognize it.
If "every Christian admits...that these are the days of Ďapostasyí" Ė the last days, I might be tempted to think that view borders on being a little too popular for the likes of you. Come to think of it, as much as I tend to believe it myself, Iím inclined to wonder about it if itís all that popular. Yet if every believer can easily draw the same conclusion about the end times, itís reasonable to conclude that there are a lot of other shared conclusions that are just as valid. Obviously, shared conclusions do not establish or destroy the unity of the Spirit. We donít establish unity by vote, consensus or fiat.
You claim your calling is to "Preach the Word!" You assume you were called; itís obvious you were not sent. If you were sent to preach Word, I doubt youíve honestly fulfilled your ambassadorship, because your record of discord indicates you are totally disqualified for it. Weíre specifically instructed not to treat errant brothers as enemies; yet you have used the Sword of the Word against faithful believers in the manner intended for use against the enemies of God. Like Diotrephes, you have cast members out of the church [III John 9-10], and many saints have entreated you to repent of it. The sectarian "Leadership" - of which you were so prominent a member Ė exercised lordship over Godís heritage, forgetting the very essence of the Saviorís word: "A servant is not greater than his Lord." You declared that your judgments would stand in Heaven when they canít even stand for the true calling of believers on earth. Itís impossible to hear Godís call in this dispensation when you refuse to hear the call of your brethren.
DISCERNING THE SPIRIT
Your closing remarks would almost be humorous if they werenít so blatantly arrogant and hideously self-serving. You claim you reminded Burnell that "the real basis of sectarianism is the Ďchoosing spirití" Ė all the while you deny the insidious choosiness of your own little sect. How so? You declare that the "Fundamentalists Ďchooseí what they consider truths that we can Ďall agree uponí and those on which we canít see alike Ďwe donít talk aboutí" while you choose with whom you will speak and what you will not talk about. In essence, thatís what your "marking" practice has proved to be. You claim the "spirit of Ďtolerationí and Ďappeasementí is what every Ďcarnalí Christian wants to hear because then they can select what they will walk in and what they will not." From reports Iíve seen and heard, youíve tolerated and appeased factions in your assemblies and your "Leadership" clique for years. Even if I discount those reports as hearsay, you have surely selected what you will walk in and what you will not - youíd just have us believe you choose to walk in "the truth" and not walk in error, a claim not backed by your own life and relationship with all saints. What more subtle way for Satan to deceive and confuse saints than to get them to believe they are "walking in the truth of the one true church" when theyíre actually just embracing another sectarian movement? Your fantasy is "Satanís bloat" just as surely as "Baptists" believing they are closest to the truth.
You followed your sectarian fantasies with a false charge that Burnell would be so tolerant heíd leave you in the morass of the compromising Interdenominational Fundamentalists. Iíve known Burnell a long time; I believe I know his heart; I do not believe heíd ever encourage a believer to remain in a denomination if they were inclined to hear the truth about the church all believers comprise. Heíd be no more willing to leave you there than his father was. The way youíve addressed him in your letter, I think heíd be just as surprised if you decided to come back for more of the truth. Did brother Wilbur require that you sever ties with the Church Of The Open Door [COD] or BIOLA before he would associate with you? Of course not! As a matter of fact, I doubt he urged you to break contact with saints you knew within those organizations. I suspect heíd urge you to reach out to them - he might have even gone with you! In that same spirit, Burnell is following in the footsteps of his father Ė and of his Father Who seeks lost sheep.
The men, who met with brother Wilbur and me in my home, claimed they were attempting to meet just in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Theyíd reached a major hurdle in their association with one another Ė a decision whether to incorporate. They were curious to know how we functioned as a tax-exempt, non-profit organization without denominational incorporation. At our second meeting, brother Wilbur gave them a copy of A Federal Court Acknowledges Christís True Church. We never saw them again, and subsequent calls to their La Jolla headquarters were not returned. They proved unwilling to talk over the fence, leading us to conclude they werenĎt really interested in tearing down the fence. We learned something from them, as brother Wilbur said we might. We learned that not everyone who claims to meet in the name of the Lord is meeting with proper motives. I strongly believe you have been in that "camp" for years, Jack.
After you signed off, you added a parenthetical note (the springboard for this open epistle) citing what brother Wilbur had said about you: "I thought we had seen the last of him!" You claim you know he was glad to see you because he called on you many times to assist him in his service to the saints. (I think you even drove him from Los Angeles to San Diego for Bible studies a few times.) Yet, if you are implying Wilbur would be willing to allow you to minister the Word to the flock of saints assembled at Camp Dwight, surely you jest! Youíve given Burnell no reason to accept your absurd offer. You should consider yourself honored if he ever asks you to drive him to San Diego.
* * *
In A Matter for Discernment I gave an account my parentsí salvation and how I came to know the Savior. Let me wrap up this letter with a few highlights of my pilgrimage in the faith to illustrate how the body of believers works to edify itself in love. Before I met Maurice, Wilbur and saints associated with them, I had other mentors. My quest for the truth was a lot like Christianís in Pilgrimís Progress. I donít remember by name all the saints who crossed my path. My parents and grandparents certainly played a major role. Mother often had the radio tuned to The Haven of Rest or a radio preacher when I came home from school and I heard many messages that strengthened my faith. I attended church camps and conferences; I was encouraged in the faith by the speakers. Bill Bush had a way of bringing Bible truth home to a childís heart and mind. Erhart demonstrated the joy of living by faith. He introduced me to a couple living in Julian. When I said I thought the "Baptists" were closest to the truth, they planted the seed of truth about the universal aspect of the church. Something in the godly way they lived demonstrated that all believers are closest to the truth. When I asked my father what he thought about there being one church, he surprised me by stating itís true. That couple was Harold and Frances Sharpless! I didnít meet them again for about twelve years; my parents and I enjoyed many hours of association with them thereafter. Neighbors and schoolteachers demonstrated their faith. Jean encouraged me to share my testimony throughout High School. Oswald Chambers, C S Lewis and many other authors helped me put on the whole armor of God. I rejoiced in great hymns of the faith. I attended Bible studies in various venues. Al and Ruth Sandoz unfolded dispensational aspects of Scripture. Emery and Gertrude Tidlund heard brother Maurice on the radio and shared his message. They set up a meeting with Maurice, Wilbur and Earl and their wives, and eventually took me to a meeting in Alhambra, where I met Lynita Cotten and was never able to forget her! The Cottens were a blessing. In the years that followed, I met many other saints Ė Bob Arrington, Elmer Roy, Bob Thompson, James Cox Ė I cannot begin to name them all. These, and many other saints, touched my life in a beautiful way. Every "joint" supplied something. And you know what, Jack? I donít know a single true believer who has not had a similar experience walking in faith. Our lives have been touched by other members of the body - from Bible times on down to the present day. We still benefit from the faithful walk of men and women who endured hardships - we in the 21st century can little imagine - preserving the Word of God and carrying "the torch of the testimony" as one author put it. So, itís no wonder we noticed something wrong when men came along attempting to control our interaction with the rest of the body of believers. They did not observe the unity.
So, in closing, I urge you again to reconsider where you are in the body of believers. As brother Lyman H Johnson stated, "My prayer to God is that you may be persuaded to drop everything in your religion which makes you different from other Christians." To that I would add, "My prayer to God is that you may be persuaded to drop everything in your religion that hinders you from being conformed to the image of the Son."
With angels beckoning me from Heavenís open door,
J Wayne Airy
From: J. Wayne AirySent: Monday, December 31, 2007 5:48 AMSubject: An Open Letter to Jack W Langford [EDITED]
[The following message and attached open letter to JWL were edited for spelling and grammatical errors, and for clarification. Upon reflection, I realized I'd used the word "fellowship" in some places where the words "association" or "interaction" convey my observation more clearly. It's a common English language mistake; we often use the word "fellowship" when we mean interaction or socialization; but fellowship has more to do with the fact we are "fellows" or have an equal relationship. I regret any consternation this may have caused you. Please disregard all previous communication on this matter. Thank you. Wayne 12/31/7]December 23, 2007Jack,The following will be distributed today to as many believers as I can reach who are familiar with the confusion and the disruption you created in the association of saints within church.Wayne"[T]he great business of God's ministry is the education of the church." Two Covenants [page 81] Lyman H JohnsonDear brethren,Before you is a case for church judgment. Attached are two open letters - there should have been no "need" for either of them to be written. The same man is responsible for both. The first is Jack Langford's. If he truly recognized the unity of the Spirit, he would not have felt the "need" to assail brother Burnell in An Open Letter to BURNELL JOHNSON. If he hadn't tried to humiliate Burnell, I wouldn't have seen the need to set the record straight in An Open Letter to JACK LANGFORD. I confess I'm grateful for an opportunity to confront Jack about his heresy - I tried to reach him years ago, but his ears were stopped. I hope he has ears to hear now. I have not conferred with Burnell about answering Jack's letter. Knowing him, I think he would find it unseemly to mount a campaign in his own defense or in defense of his father's honor.Having gone to great lengths to discern whether Jack truly seeks to observe the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace with ALL saints, I admit I was frustrated by the attempt. On the one hand, he has preached a message of "unity"; on the other hand, he hasn't been observed practicing it. I suppose that makes him a hypocrite in the minds of most folks. The problem with that analysis is: hypocrites know better. I'm not entirely convinced Jack knows better or sees himself for what I'm inclined to believe he really is: a false teacher. That's right - a false teacher. Like a lot of sectarian preachers, Jack has convinced himself he acts consistently with what he preaches; and the record reveals that he is consistent - so that's why I found it important to examine his message and see what's wrong with it. Since I'm not fully convinced he realizes his error, I've devoted time to another attempt to help him, to show him in black and white what's wrong with his ministry and theology. Love hopes all things; I hope this epistle (a treatise on genuine unity) will restore him, or perhaps bring him into fellowship, with all saints. If he's genuine, he will respond with appropriate humility.Whether it be providence or coincidence, about the time Alan sent out Jack's letter and his reply, he sent notice that he had posted some documents pertaining to the life and work of Burnell's great-grandfather Lyman H Johnson. I don't usually take time to read long articles when immersed in preparing replies to letters such as Jack's. For some reason, I felt the needed of a break and started reading them - first Not Without Courage, then Lyman's lecture series. What a blessing those biographies and messages turned out to be! Allow me to share one of the most delightful passages with you here."Church Unity"an excerpt of a lecture by Lyman H JohnsonI will close now, by noticing some things in my own experience. In my travels I have, usually, in a strange community, inquired for a Christian family with which to find lodging and to stop with them.At one time my wife and I stopped about sundown in a strange country at a farm house. I introduced myself as a gospel minister. There were four present, a man and wife, a son and daughter. I said I desired to find a Christian family with whom to stop over night, and would like to be informed where I could find such a family. They answered that they were all Christians in the neighborhood, that the Church was just back there. I then described a Bible Christian and inquired for any such person. The woman said: "The Bible says we must not judge." I replied that in the same chapter it said, "by their fruits ye shall know them." Then the man said, "I guess you have got us there." They did not know any Bible Christians. Then the daughter spoke and said, "I guess Mr. Porter is the kind of a Christian they want," and they all agreed at once that he was the one. We found they were sinners of the world, but they knew what we meant by a Bible Christian, and we left them in tears at our strange inquiry for a Christian family. And when we visited Mr. Porter we found him to be a Bible Christian indeed.After a long visit with him he asked me to come and preach. I said, "Sectarians won't let me preach." He said, "They can't help letting you preach. I have the keys." So I preached. He received it joyfully, and some, of course, took offense.I was passing by a saloon keeper. I said, "Tell me where I can find a Christian." He said, "What denomination?" I replied, "I don't know any denominations; I would like to have you mention any that are living up to the Bible, according to your understanding of it." He said, "I don't know of any such. There is an old man living on the hill that they call crazy. He comes as near it as anybody." I found him a child of God, recommended by the saloon-keeper.Coming into a place about sundown I asked a man working in a garden, "Can you tell me where I can find a Christian family?" He said, "No, they are all Lutherans and Methodists." I replied, "I want to find a Bible Christian." He seemed astonished and finally said, "Just down outside the village you may find such a man; and, of course, I found him. God's Church is visible and known even by the unsaved world.The Church is the light of the world, a city set on a hill that cannot be hid.There is a poem I want to call attention to. I presume you have read it. This poem describes the denominations. It begins:An English Churchman who, with his prayer-book and robe,came down to the river of death;his prayer-book and robe floated down the river,and he came out on the other side only a Christian.A Quaker came down to the river with his broad-brimmed hat,"thee and thou" and his Quaker garband all floated down the river,and he came out only a Christian on the other side.A Presbyterian came with his Westminster Confession,and it floated down the riverand he came out only a Christian.And so with all the denominations.I would add one verse to that poem:A horse thief came down to the river;his booty floated off down the stream,and he comes out the same as all the rest!No, my beloved friends, we enter eternity as we leave this world. The heart does not change by death. It must be changed here. And I am glad that there is power in the gospel of Jesus Christ to save from all sin, make clean the inside of the cup and platter that the outside may be clean also. That is God's plan, and what the gospel proposes to do. And if the religious people of Charleston had the inside of the cup and platter clean, every Church door would be thrown open, and all denominational lines would be erased. We can't all come together so far as the knowledge of the letter is concerned. There are questions we might differ about. It is plain to me that all rituals belong to the old covenant, and yet there are God's children who don't see everything at once as I do. But if you have the love of God in your heart and you hate sin and are open to conviction for truth, you are my brother and sister. We have no half-brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are born again we are in God's family, complete in Christ.* * *As brother Lyman reminded his listeners: Even the unbelieving world knows how to recognize true members of the church. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Yet, the most profound wonder of wonders is that many associated with Jack Langford over the years don't recognize our relationship with one another and our liberty to function in genuine loving association with all saints. Their false doctrines on the topic of "the one true church" will float down the river with all the rest of the false religious notions in the world.Many "men" of the generation after brother Maurice and brother Wilbur proved to be merely man-followers, obsessed more with the talents and offices of those faithful ministers than the truth they presented. They were in awe of "Leadership" roles. They were good speakers and knew how to take matters into their own hands to control a flock of God's sheep. We saw them assume positions of preeminence in the church; and within a short time they lost half the flock because they didn't know ministry is really about serving, not being served. Now we see them more interested in fleecing the flock than feeding it.Some of you attempted to rescue friends and loved ones from the tsunami of consensus thinking that passed for church judgment, only to face the swift waves of sectarian excommunication that came on the heels of it. You'll find the root cause of that situation in the doctrine expressed in Jack's letter; I urge you read it before reading my reply. I'd like to share this exchange with all who ever listened to Jack, to undo the interruption of interaction he created among the assembly of saints we once enjoyed and in the church at large. I hope his false doctrines exposed will liberate the thinking of anyone who is still in bondage to assuming men like Jack - who claimed to be ministers to the church - had a right to do so.Please express and share your response to Jack's letter.Blessings to all in the Savior's care,Wayne
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