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Thursday
Nov032011

CrossWay Pastors Threaten to Excommunicate Me for Being Divisive

I received a letter today from Mickey, Joe, Nick and Larry via certified mail.  In part it read, “Brent, it grieves us to say that you have clearly become divisive and as a result we are issuing you a first warning and appealing to you to repent.  We take no pleasure in having to do this but believe it to be our sacred duty as shepherds who are charged with protecting the flock of God entrusted to our care.”

They referenced Titus 3:10-11 and Romans 17:17-18 in support of their actions.

Titus 3:10-11 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time.  After that, have nothing to do with him. [11] You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Rom 16:17-18  I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.  Keep away from them. [18] For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.  By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

These are the very verses we used back in the 70’s and 80’s to silence our critics and tell people to stay away from them.  The repercussions of that teaching, and the wrong-headed use of those verses, still effects how people are treated in SGM.  That is one of the reasons leaders who are “disqualified,” or people who leave a SGM church, tend to be shunned or abandoned.  Mickey is stuck in a time warp.  His exegesis has not improved.  These texts are reserved for heretics and false apostles. 

In my case, I resigned from the apostolic team in November 2007.  Though I invited C.J. to visit us anytime in Charlotte, I never heard from him again until January 2010 with the exception of a two sentence email.  I was shunned just like it says in these verses.  This step by the CrossWay pastors is a throwback. 

I’m afraid the CW pastors are deaf, dumb and blind to the dealings of God in SGM and their lives.  I am not intimidated by their threat of excommunication.  They can act like Pope Leo if they want but I will not be silent.  There is too much at stake.  Like Joshua Harris said, “God is disciplining SGM” and he is disciplining the CrossWay pastors but they refuse to be trained by it.  Instead they continue in their heavy-handed and self-righteous ways.  

Mickey, Joe, Nick and Larry may not like my strong words but that is not the issue.  Their threatening’s and claim of perfection are the issue.   As with C.J., I’d be glad to meet with CrossWay over the course of several weeks and talk openly about the past and the present.  The pastors can present their case.  I will present my case but there should be no attempts at censoring and controlling important information that people need to hear.  That amounts to a cover-up.  

Because SGM has done this for so long, websites like Survivors and Refuge sprang up.  People could not get honest answers from their pastors.  There was no court of appeals for abuse.  People who shared criticisms were labeled bitter and resentful.  There was no accountability by the pastors to the church. People's discussions with one another were labeled as slander.  Those who stayed in their church learned to be silent.

In response to the CrossWay pastors, I said in part, “The fact of your letter, and the contents of your letter, demonstrate your ongoing willingness to abuse, intimidate, and  condemn while showing no openness to any wrong-doing.  You once again maintain your sinless perfection and show no evidence of illumination.  You appear oblivious to God’s dealings in SGM and your lives.  You have provided yet another poignant example of hypocrisy and lording for all to see."  

I thank God for the pastors in SGM who are seeing their errors and changing.  It is wonderful.  I don't know how many pastors that includes or what percentage that encompasses.  Unfortunately, that is not the case in Charlotte.  Excommunication is still used as a weapon but a just adjudication hearing is voted down by Mickey and the other members of the SGM Board.  I expect to receive my Exsurge Domine any day by certified mail from the CrossWay pastors followed by one from the SGM Board sometime in the future.  If so, that will make three.  Dave Harvey already forbid involvement in any SGM church (see RRF&D, p. 126).  A second is in the works by the CrossWay pastors.  And I expect a third from SGM Board in the future. We'll see.  

To all my friends in CrossWay, you have been instructed by your pastors to "have nothing to do" with me and "to keep away" from me since I am not repenting.  Ex means "out."  Communication means "fellowship."  That means you are to have no communication or interaction with me or my writings according to the only two Bible verses they cite in their letter.  

Mickey, Joe, Larry and Nick claim to be fulfilling their “sacred duty as shepherds who are charged with protecting the flock of God” from me.  But what none of these pastors or board members will allow is an open hearing of the facts.  Instead they resort to charges of slander, divisiveness and now excommunication.  I have called for Mickey's removal from the SGM Board of Directors since the day Dave Harvey appointed him.  He does not qualify.  That call stands.  But if he's removed, I'll still treat him as a brother unlike his pronouncement over me today.

POST SCRIPT - November 4, 4:15 PM

From: Joseph Lechner
Sent: Friday, November 04, 2011 2:53 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: our letter 

Brent - 

This isn't meant to be a formal defense of the letter we sent you, but the response on your blog to the letter we sent you illustrates why we felt it necessary to send such a letter.  The letter was in no way, shape, or form a threat of excommunication.  No where in the letter was that word used, referenced, or implied.  That is not what the letter was about and calling it a threat of excommunication misrepresents what the letter was about.  However, it is exactly that kind of misrepresentation of us that compelled us to send the letter we sent you.  It's the same kind of misrepresentation of us that has appeared in previous writings and even in recent email exchanges that you've had with someone in CWCC that you passed on to us.  Brent, it's just plain wrong.  It really is divisive.  

Contrary to what some of our blogging brothers and sisters believe, we did study this issue before sending you the letter we sent you.  We understand that not all would agree, but there are those who believe there is a difference between excommunication and being marked as divisive.  Perhaps you are with those who wouldn't separate the two (and some well respected people wouldn't either).  However, we do separate them.  For example, John Stott writes - "whether this refers to formal excommunication or to a social ostracism (as in Romans) is not made plain.  Yet to repudiate him is right."  And commenting on Titus 3 and the phrase 'have nothing more to do with him' Donald Guthrie writes - "it is a vague term that does not convey the idea of excommunication, but means merely to leave out of account."  

Some of our blogging brothers and sisters are right - we're not the sharpest knives in the drawer - but guys like Stott and Guthrie are.  Moreover, we don't believe the NT scriptures that address how to deal with the issue of divisiveness are limited to false teachers and heretics in a way that some would try to narrowly limit or define those things.  For example, John MacArthur writes - "Although false teachers certainly are the most devastatingly factious, Paul is here casting a broader net which includes anyone in the church who is divisive and disruptive."  And The Expositor's Bible Commentary, regarding those who can be marked as divisive, simply says about them that because of "a self-chosen opinion or viewpoint; [and] because of their insistence of their opinions... [they] stir up divisions," and, thus, can appropriately said to be divisive.

Brent, I'm not trying to teach you.  I know you disagree with us.  But if you're going to disagree and critique us, then shouldn't it be done in a way that represents what we've actually said and believe? Perhaps our letter was poorly written and not clear in what we hoped it was communicating, and that's why you represented it in the way you did.  That's why I'm responding - to try and clarify.  Because if I disagree with someone's perspective, I believe I have an obligation to at least speak of and represent that person's perspective in a way that that person could say, "yes, that is exactly what I mean and you have spoken of it in the way that I mean, even though you disagree."  Not only do I believe that to be a mark of common human courtesy, but should be a particular mark of Christian love.  Does that make sense?

I hate the fact that I have this low grade anxiety that my response is only going to serve to inflame more warring and factions when that's the last thing I am hoping to accomplish.  I wish we were all perfectly reconciled and unified and could just go hunting and kill some deer or something... or be hanging out in your living room again listening to you tell some crazy demon or fight stories.   Again, the day will come... if not in this life, then the next.

I still count myself your brother in Christ and grateful to God for all the years you were my pastor.

In Christ, 

Joe

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Friday, November 04, 2011 4:30 PM
To: 'Joseph Lechner'
Subject: RE: our letter

Joe, don’t try to spin you way out of this.  Your communication was not unclear regarding my status.  I would be cut off if I didn’t repent of my divisiveness.  You made it clear you were following the teaching of Tit 3:10-11 and Rom 1:16f.  You were putting them into effect.  They were your divine authority for such extreme action against me.  Simply, you applied these texts to me in no uncertain terms.  You quoted them.  You’re totally deceived my friend, whey you say “nowhere was that word (excommunication) used, referenced, or implied.”  Yikes!  Joe read the Bible texts you quoted. 

Your letter was my first warning.  You said this was your “sacred duty as shepherds who are charged with protecting the flock of God entrusted to you care.”  Protect the flock from whom?  From me!  I’m just like the guys in these verses.  Don’t water down what you said.  The texts command people to “have nothing to do with him.”  To “keep away from them.”  Why?  Because they are divisive, warped, sinful, self-condemned.  Why?  Because they cause divisions, teach false doctrine, serve their own appetites not those of Jesus Christ, and deceive naïve people by smooth talk and flattery.  You applied the totally of these verses to me without any qualification.  No Joe you cannot talk your way out this one.  You, Mickey, Nick and Larry were crystal clear.  These were the only two passages you cited.  You can quibble about the word “excommunication” but these verses mean have absolutely nothing to do with – stay away from – don’t talk to – don’t interact with - that is exactly what these verses teach and you applied them to me.  Don’t try and watered down their obvious meaning or spin your obvious intent.  So what the actual word “excommunication” is not used in the texts but that is exactly what the verses command!  No fellowship.  No communion.  Really Joe, stop the con or drink a stiff cup of coffee.  If the English language means anything, your letter clearly constituted the threat of excommunication.

Please do you “sacred duty” and protect people from me from me by all means!  I’m self-condemned already.  Pile on. 

Titus 3:10-11 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time.  After that, have nothing to do with him. [11] You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Rom 16:17-18  I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.  Keep away from them. [18] For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.  By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

Regarding my “recent email exchanges that you've had with someone in CWCC.”  Tim contacted me.  I answered his questions and copied you.  Here are the facts.  Mickey met with Andy and Lanie behind my back the first time.  The second time I gave him permission if he promised to fill me in.  He promised but then broke his word.  I confronted him strongly but he refused to tell me anything.  It is all in print.  Black and white.  Explicit and clear.  He also met with Karen behind my back.  And with Ann behind my back.  Each time I found out.  Mickey listened to their slanders and I can document his believe in their stories.  He refused to talk to me even once about my experience with them.  Joe, you have no idea what you are talking about and not a clue regarding the facts.  Don’t accuse me of being divisive.  That was Mickey’s doing.  Really, you were a biology major, use the scientific method if you won’t obey the Bible and investigate things justly. 

In your letter you once again charge me with divisiveness because I supposedly misrepresented you.  This time I’m divisive because nothing in your letter remotely implied the threat of excommunication.  Joe do you realize how absurd and irrational you’re being.  Your denial is in complete contradiction of the facts.  I didn’t quote Titus 3 and Rom 16.  You did.  I am simply saying what you said.  Verbatim. 

Let me end with a question.  What could be more divisive than telling people to have nothing to do with me if I don’t repent according to your imperial standards of what constitutes divisiveness?  Please read my current blog post, “A Tough Wedge and a Heavy Pike.”

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