- This short introductory article replaces prior versions of this article. The initial article indicated that this is a work in progress. As the author learns more as he studies to prepare the articles which discuss Chapter 18 of Betrayed by Man, he makes modifications. This article narrows the most important issues down much more than prior versions.
Much of the vitriol has been removed from this document, thankfully. To slander fellow Christians in the way attorney Finney did is unconscionable. I believe I now understand why he did it He holds his "doctrine of the Declaration of Trust" to be equal to scripture. Unfortunately, however, he has also removed his apology to the pastor he accused of asking an unlearned question. I believe the question was "does the Declaration of Trust create an entity." Although his initial knee-jerk reaction was to rub some poor dumb pastor's nose in his own ignorance, he has now spent the last month and 9 chapters to address this issue. It wasn't the unlearned question that was at issue. It was the esteem with which attorney Finney holds his own teaching that was the issue. I believe the poor ignorant pastor (he is not ignorant, by the way, and asked a reasonable question) still deserves the apology to be included. After all, he was castigated by the attorney publicly on a social media network and on his own blog.
It seems the attorney still reserves the right to change his mind on things we point out that are incorrect. I am fine with this, but it does make addressing his writings difficult. Due to the instability made obvious by such major changes in his document in such a short period of time, one has to assume he is learning as he goes. I am fine with this as well. It does make me ask the question though, didn't he have this figured out before he started telling pastors of his "beyond question" and "flawless both legally and biblically" teachings? Could it be that he is not used to being contradicted but merely obeyed as the final authority on church organization? I could not imagine any pastors that consider themselves "ELC" pastors following us unquestioningly. As a matter of fact, I laugh as I read this when thinking of certain "ELC" pastors. There would be nobody to follow. We are merely pastors helping pastors.
- For many years, the Ecclesiastical Law Center (“ELC”) has publicly attacked the Biblical Law Center (“BLC”) and the BLC method whereby churches establish an ordinary trust by adopting a Declaration of Trust (“DOT”). The position of this author for many years has been that people should look at all points of view and decide how they want to organize their churches. He had been asked to respond to ELC misinformation and attacks several times over the years, most recently by his pastor, Pastor Jason Cooley after he read Chapter 18 of Betrayed by Man, a book by Robin Wright and Ben Townsend of the ELC. Motivated by the obvious falsehoods in ELC writings which were being disseminated to many sincere and good men of God and which attacked and misrepresented the DOT and the ordinary trust thereby created while promoting a very ill-advised method for a church to hold property in trust for the Lord Jesus by the pastor for the church, this author finally decided to take on the task.
For many years, the ELC has not attacked the BLC and DOT. We do have a chapter in our book about the Declaration of Trust and how it puts churches and pastors in danger. Also, it is Chapter 18 of Approved by Man. Not Betrayed by Man. Seriously, he's responding to a book of which he did not read the title? How can we be sure of his interpretation of the contents when he gets the title so wrong? We disagree that our way for a church to hold property is ill-advised.
- This is not about the ELC, the BLC, or this ‘Separation of Church and State Law’ ministry. This is about the Lord Jesus Christ and his churches and the truth. That is why believers should be concerned about these matters, even though the issues and answers may initially seem complex. You may be a pastor of a church who has organized according to the recommendations of the ELC or according those of the BLC or this ‘Separation of Church and State Law’ ministry. You may believe the literature and teachings of your particular leaders.
Here we see the first half of the problem. Finney sees himself as a leader of pastors. This is completely foreign to our thinking and it took some time of discussion with Assistant Director Keith Hoover for me to understand the mindset. Which ELC pastor would say the ELC is their leader? This is a fundamental disagreement as to what helping churches is about. We have not set out to have a following and we do not to my knowledge have a following. Apparently the BLC and Jerald Finney do. Proper authority is at issue here.
- However, the ELC teaching are so different from those of this ministry that only one of the teachings can be valid legally and biblically.
Issue number two, and that which truly separates us from 'Separation of Church and State Law' ministry. We view scripture as being our sole authority. Are our teachings illegal? We don't really care. Paul's teachings were illegal. John the Baptist's teachings were illegal. William Tyndale's teachings were illegal. John Clarke's teachings were illegal. One thing about the above? They were biblical. If the 'Separation of Church and State Law' ministry is worried about legality first of all or even on par with being biblical, run from this group and do so quickly. An Independent Baptist Lordship pastor and church does not recognize any other authority than the Lord Jesus Christ and his revealed word.
- For that reason, churches and pastors who are concerned about the biblical doctrine of the church need to find out which one is right. The author humbly submits that there is nothing more important than keeping the bride and wife of Christ pure and chaste and that all sides of this controversy must set aside their pride and diligently seek the truth in order that the church you are a member of may be prepared in the matter of church organization for His coming.”
I agree, and encourage attorney Finney to reexamine his "flawless" teaching and "beyond question" doctrine. Anyone who holds legality issues to be equal with biblical issues has an issue.
The rest of the introduction will be addressed in further blog posts.