Yes, I suppose I am sitting here confused, illiterate, and already defeated. And I do not even know how it started. I was just minding my own business, playing my little piano, singing my little songs, preaching messages about Jesus to the church I pastor. Suddenly, someone gets really mad at someone else, ties that someone else (falsely) to me and my teachings, and blasts away at me. Why? They admit they got “in the flesh.” Of course, “they in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:8).” So, this all started because someone did not want to please God? Maybe. I mean, “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:20).” So, here I sit, typing away, getting ready to answer someone whom ethically I cannot share everything I do as ELC Director, or else people who read this will know what we do and how we do it, and some will try to take those things and have a “do it yourself” unincorporation party and wreck what has taken the ELC twenty-eight years to accomplish. I am wondering if they will even be satisfied with anything I answer anyway. They have already declared that I am “defeated.” I take that to mean they are pretty confident that the last word has been declared.
Been There, Done That.
So, where do I start? Well, I do remember a time before when I was “already defeated.” Satan, the confident enemy, had convinced me that I was his, lost in my sins, serving him in every way. Then I heard the Gospel preached and I was convicted that I was already going to hell because of my sins. Nothing I could do about it. I was truly defeated, dead in my trespasses and sins. I could not get victory over my sins. But I turned to Jesus Christ. I found Him to be Lord of everything. He had already taken all of my sins and paid the penalty for them on the Cross. I did not have to do anything but trust what He already did for me. Then I became “more than (a) conqueror(s) through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
My Brother “AND/OR” Enemy. :-)
Those thoughts took me to the time when Satan was so overconfident again that he had won. It was at the cross of Christ. Finally he had “defeated” his enemy, the One who a few short years before he was going to give all the kingdoms of the world. Christ was dead. Buried. Gone. Then three days later… well, you know the rest. Now, my enemy is not Satan, he isn’t even my enemy, but claims to be a “humble” child of God, I guess we could say we are brothers in Christ. He had it right when he called me “confused.” I did not even know the man. I did not know what he taught. Everything I had heard in the past about the man was positive from people I respected. I had never read his blog or his books. Was that mandatory? I guess I did not get God’s memo that I was supposed to read all that the man wrote. It is quite humorous to me though. Everyone in the past that this man talked to at different conferences that he assumed was tied to the ELC, he patiently tried to put forth his research on this subject, thinking that person would bring it back to me. He even wrote, “many times the ELC has been presented with truth about the matters involved. I myself instructed them.” I suppose he already thought that I had rejected both him and his research. I can understand his frustration. I have probably talked to some of those same fellows at other conferences. I do not automatically think they will go and tell him what I said.
Distancing ELC From Radical Beliefs
During the decade of the 90s, Dr. Wright and myself would be invited to churches to give our presentation against incorporation. Invariably, during the question and answer time, a pastor would ask if we believed like the pastor of a large Midwestern church. The discussion centered around whether or not the ELC was “anti-government.” It did not take long to discover that good men of good Baptist churches refused to even consider unincorporation because of the way this pastor treated other pastors who were incorporated. These pastors would ask us if we believed that they pastored “a government church.” Others asked us if we considered their church “a church of Satan.” These phrases and beliefs could be traced back to UBF speakers over the years. We were asked, “Why would you have a Mormon speak at your conference?” We were automatically tied to the UBF. Understand, there was no Biblical Law Center during this time period. There was no “Declaration of Trust” being touted. We very rapidly saw the need for redefining where we stood on the local church. And we consciously decided to distance ourselves from those very divisive terms and people. We outlined our position in our first paperback book in 1999, “A Treatise for Church Unincorporation.” This would become our first hardcover book in 2004. The decision was made to critique the IBT case in Chapter 5 of the book. Even knowing how unpopular that would be personally for me, I also knew it would make many more men look into unincorporation. I personally spent over $2000 in getting copies of all the case files in the IBT case. I met several times with the court clerk, the clerks of the judge, and even the judge herself. Chapter 5 was the result. Yes, I took the heat for that chapter. On the other side however were the dozens of pastors of unincorporated churches that were thanking me behind the scenes (“we can’t make _____ mad.”) for writing the book. One of the most sterling boosters was from one of the founding members of the ACUC who told Dr. Wright in 2006 in California that, “I agree 100% with ELC’s assessment of the IBT case.” This person, whom I admired for many years also, confirmed for us his disagreement with the Declaration of Trust, letting us know that he believed it was there to appease pastors who wanted a bank account. I did not know if he was correct in his assessment, but he did know a pastor who used his own Social Security Number to open a bank account with his “Declaration.” This pastor wrote in the BLC Bulletin in 2006, “We too were able to open an account at the local bank with our trust document, and it was not even necessary for us to show them the document or give them a copy.” We found out later that this pastor used his SS#, which was just fine with the bank. It was comical to me, but I came down much harder on the Falwell case, and never received any flak from that camp. Believe me when I say, I considered what writing the truth about the IBT case would do to complete my personal destruction, but the overall cause of Christ was more important.