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Saturday
Mar032012

My Appeal to Ted Kober (and the SGM World) for Righteous Indignation

Ted Kober and I talked on January 25 for two hours.  I followed up on that discussion with two emails on January 26 and 28.  Ted responded to me on February 4.  I followed up with him on February 26 but he was unwilling to answer three critical questions.  As a result, I posted “My Appeal for Ted Kober to Expose Dave Harvey” on February 28.

In that post, I did not respond to everything about which Ted wrote me.   My appeal to Ted continues in this second post but this is also an appeal to everyone in SGM.  The indifference to evil that has characterized the last 8 months is offensive to God.  There are far too many fence sitters in SGM who are lukewarm in their commitment to righteousness.  The need for righteous indignation from all SGM pastors and churches is great. 

##

Dear Ted,

I appreciate the time it took to write me on February 4.  I know you wrote out of a sincere and loving concern for me.  On the other hand, I was sorely disappointed you did not respond to my three questions from February 28.  Is so doing, you followed the example of SGM not to be open, honest and accountable.        

I have not dismissed out of hand all you wrote but I want to provide you some extensive feedback.  I mean no disrespect.  I am writing because I hope mediation services like Ambassadors of Reconciliation and Peacemakers will change certain policies and procedures so you are unhindered by self-imposed limitations that are unbiblical (e.g. strict confidentiality) or impede biblical justice (e.g. allowing the three panel approach).  I am also writing to address limitations in your theology (e.g. the need for righteous indignation).  I hope to provide a fuller and more complete knowledge of Scripture so error can be avoided when giving counsel in these kinds of situations.  Again, I mean no offense.

What I convey in this correspondence brings a perspective I think you are missing.  This perspective is not the whole story of Scripture but it is a sizable part of Scripture that has not been taught.  “The days are evil” in SGM.  It is time for all those who are asleep to wake up and expose deeds of darkness as commanded in the following passage.  That includes you, Ed Keinath, Bryce Thomas, Ken Sande, Chip Grange, the CLC pastors, SGM Board Members who know the truth, SGM staff personnel, SGM pastors and church members.

Eph 5:6-16 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. [7] Therefore do not be partakers with them; [8] for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [9] (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), [10] trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. [11] Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; [12] for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. [13] But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. [14] For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” [15] Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, [16] making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

I pick up where I left off in my previous response to your February 4 correspondence.  I’ll quote you in blue lettering and then provide comments. 

From: Ted Kober 
Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2012 3:49 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Edgar Keinath
Subject: Re: Edit Statement
Importance: High

…Better yet, ask Dave yourself what he meant.  Scripture directs us to first speak directly to the person with whom we disagree (e.g., Matthew 18:15; Galatians 6:1-2). 

I already answered this in My Appeal to Ted Kober to Expose Dave Harvey but include it for context.

Note how one should address disagreements in 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”  Also review who is responsible for granting people repentance in verses 25-26.  Then ask yourself, “Is posting a blog accusing another Christian before speaking directly to him how God instructs me to deal with this?”

Of course the Lord ultimately grants repentance but this does not minimize the need to command repentance (e.g., Luke 24:47; Acts 17:30) and require obedience (e.g. Matt 28:20; James 4:7-10).  That is what needs to be done with C.J., Dave and the SGM Board.  Sinners are not told to wait for special inspiration (e.g., Matt 11:20).  No, today is the day of salvation (e.g. 2 Cor 6:2; Heb 3:14; 4:7). 

Dave’s comments regarding your endorsement of the three panel process were repeated and unambiguous.  I am not accusing him, I am quoting him.  He was not unclear in his meaning.  I didn’t need to talk to him; I needed to talk to you which I did.  I also wrote you.  I tried to confirm every fact.  Your oral and written testimony was in direct contradiction to Dave’s blog posts.    

Furthermore, Dave already lied about Bryce Thomas’ involvement in the three panel approach.  Bryce had nothing to do with creating the questions given to the panels.  Yet, Dave said they were “established” by Bryce.  Bryce denied this in writing and in person.  I confronted Dave in writing and Mark Prater in person.  They never responded.  That is always the case.    

Bottom line, I don’t post accusations I have not brought up in private.  I don’t go public unless all other remedies have been pursued.  Please read “Eight Reasons Why Sending Out ‘The Documents’ Was Not Slanderous but Necessary.”  I’d also add that time after time, I’ve contacted C.J., Dave and the SGM Board to get their version of events, verify facts, answer hard questions or clarify their statements.  They don’t respond.  That’s why they killed the original five person adjudication hearing and came up with the bogus three panel approach.  They did not want to face me or allow me to press my charges.

##

You quote 2 Tim 2:24, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”  Here is where I carry my greatest concern for you.  I am concerned for how you interpret and apply this verse and other verses of a similar nature.

For instance, Jesus is constantly rebuking, reproving and warning the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees who were his opponents using the strongest possible language.  These were not sinful quarrels but they were intense, direct, and uncompromising confrontations.  They don’t conform to a superficial reading of this text.  Jesus was a radical reformer, a controversial Christ and a rock of offense.  These verbal battles over theology and ethics were life threatening.  People wanted to kill him.  He was no push over.  He stood his ground.  He expected the same of his disciples.  

That is why gentle Jesus, meek and mild, is a caricature.  He clears out the temple area with physical force at the beginning (John 2:13-17) and end of his ministry (Mark 11:15-17).  He referred to people as “dogs” and “pigs” (Matt 7:6).  He called the religious elite “sons of hell,” “blind guides,” “fools,” “whitewashed tombs,” “serpents,” and “vipers.”  So much for treating his opponents with “gentleness.”

Before his death our Lord pronounced eight woes of judgment upon the hypocritical leaders of Judaism (Matt 23:13-33) and Judaism itself (Matt 23:37-38).  As the ascended Christ, he sternly rebuked five of the seven churches in the book of Revelation (chapters 2-3).  In all this, he was not unkind, insulting, quarrelsome, or lacking in gentleness as HE would define those words.

In the same way, the NT writers contend and fight for the faith (Jude 3) in dealing with their opponents.  They are constantly beating back heresy and heretics.  They also correct churches and discipline saints.  They turn people over to Satan for bodily destruction (1 Cor 5:4-5).  They call down curses on false teachers and prophets (Gal 1:8-9: 2 Peter 2; Jude).  They use derisive names in describing their enemies.  They refer to them as “dogs” (Philip 3:2), “unreasoning animals” (2 Pet 2:12), “stains and blemishes” (2:13), “springs without water” (2:17), “slaves of corruption” (2:19), “hidden reefs” (Jude 12), “clouds without water” (12), “autumn trees without fruit” (12), “wild waves of the sea (13), “wandering stars” (13). 

Here is a sampling from Paul’s ministry in how he deals with error.  He hopes the Judaizes who preached Christ and circumcision (i.e., faith and works) cut themselves off.  He chides the churches throughout Galatia for being terribly foolish and asks who has “bewitched you.” In our day, the same type of polemical language should be applied to all of Roman Catholicism and much of Protestantism.

Gal 3:1-3 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? [2] This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? [3] Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Gal 5:12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate [castrate] themselves.

How about the churches on the island of Crete.  Paul orders Titus to silence false teachers and reprove them severely.  He refers to them as liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons.

Titus 1:10-13 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, [11] who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. [12] One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” [13] This testimony is true.  For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith.

He uses shame as a motivation to bring repentance for busybodies in Thessalonica.

2 Thess 3:6, 11-12, 14-15 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us….. [11] For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. [12] Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread….. [14] If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. [15] Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

He uses biting sarcasm to confront the Corinthians. 

1 Cor 4:8, 10 You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you…. [10] We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. all things, even until now.

He desires to come with love and gentleness if the Corinthians repent but he is determined to come with a rod if they do not repent.      

1 Cor 4:18-21 Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. [19] But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. [20] For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. [21] What do you desire?  Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?

He calls for the judgment of wicked men in the church.

1 Cor 5:11-13 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler — not even to eat with such a one. [12] For what have I to do with judging outsiders?  Do you not judge those who are within the church? [13] But those who are outside, God judges.  REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

He never confuses “meekness and gentleness” with timidity.  He is bold and that boldness is required for destroying “fortresses” and punishing disobedience.

2 Cor 10:1-6 Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ — I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! [2] I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh. [3] For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, [4] for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

He warns and threatens that he will spare no one who remains unrepentant because Christ in him is not a weakling.

2 Cor 13:1-3 This is the third time I am coming to you. EVERY FACT IS TO BE CONFIRMED BY THE TESTIMONY OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES. [2] I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone, [3] since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, and who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.

##

No doubt 2 Tim 2:24-26 is important in knowing how to deal with opponents but these verses must be understood in the context of the book and the rest of Paul’s epistles.  For that matter, they need to be understood in light of NT and OT teaching dealing with opponents, the wicked or unrepentant. 

For instance, the wider context of the 2 Timothy instructs us not to “quarrel” with heretics (2:14) regarding “worldly and empty chatter” (2:16) and “foolish and ignorant speculations” (2:23).  That doesn’t mean we should not expose heretics like Hymenaeus and Philetus (2:17) or oppose their false doctrine with great force (4:1-4).  We must never confuse polemical theology with a worthless quarrel.  The church must be willing to fight for orthodoxy and orthopraxy.  That is why so much of the “church” has been overtaken by gangrene (2:17).  Here is the remedy.

2 Tim 4:1-4 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: [2] preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. [3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, [4] and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Paul mentions a third individual by name in 2 Timothy that had to be opposed even though Paul was confident God would judge him.  Was Paul being kind, patient and gentle with his opponents?  Yes!  Was Paul bitter, resentful, or vindictive?  No! 

2 Tim 4:14-15 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. [15] Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

Here is an important example from the Book of Acts.  Once again ask yourself, “Is Paul being kind, patient and gentle with Elymas?”  Note that divine anger is the result of Paul being filled with the Holy Spirit.  That is what is lacking in dealing with C.J., Dave and the SGM Board.  There is little courage to speak because there are few fillings of the Holy Spirit in relation to their corruption.  Human sentimentality and the Holy Spirit don’t get along with each other. 

Acts 13:6-12 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, [7] who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. [8] But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. [9] But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, [10] and said, "You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? [11] “Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.”  And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. [12] Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.

##

Next you proceed to question me about “corrupting talk.”  This is a familiar refrain in mediation services and SGM when addressing dissent or truth telling.  It easily becomes a form of manipulation.  By your definition, I’m afraid all the writers of the NT and all the apostles and prophets in Scripture are corrupt.  Please read “A Tough Wedge and a Heavy Pike.”  So are the great Reformers in church history.  I’d encourage you to read Martin Luther’s writings since you are a Lutheran.  I’d suggest you start with The Babylonian Captivity of the Church.

Another verse that may be helpful as you consider your action: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29-32). 

Ask yourself these questions out loud (out loud helps me think more clearly): Are my words good for building up and giving grace to those who hear?  Has bitterness or anger allowed me to justify accusing a brother quickly and publicly without giving him a private chance to respond?  Are my intended actions showing kindness, tenderheartedness, and the same forgiveness that God has shown me?

Slander and malice have no place in the Christian life but that is not what I am doing.  You seem to equate “corrupting talk” with reproof, rebuke and confrontation.  Eph 4:29  is not about “positive thinking” or “positive confessions.”  “Giving grace” and “building up” is provided “as fits the occasion.”  The occasion in which we find ourselves with SGM requires grace in the form of correction and building up in the form of tearing down evil strongholds.  This is especially true given the long term lying, deceit, hypocrisy, intimidation, lack of accountability, independence, favoritism, etc.

Ted, I believe in encouragement but I don’t believe in covering up sin.  They way you and SGM define corrupting talk results in sin being brushed under the rug.  When evil is exposed that is not corrupting talk.  That is godly talk.  It is obedience to Scripture, pleasing to God and an expression of love.  You must read Eph 4:25-32 in conjunction with the verses that immediately follow about exposing evil in Eph 5:1-14.    

Furthermore, you must not equate righteous indignation with bitterness and anger.  That is so dangerous.  The people of God should always be outraged by evil.  Emotion should be encouraged with proper biblical boundaries.  The NT church sang the OT Psalms in worship including those that appealed to God for the righteous judgment of the wicked and those who forsake His law.  We need worship songs that include that aspect of biblical theology.

People in SGM have been silenced time and again by this kind of bad theology.  If they show any kind of emotion in relation to wrong doing they are labeled bitter, resentful, and angry.  This is harmful to the human soul.  It also produces a passive, docile and timid people.  They are afraid to speak up or they think it is wrong to speak up.  Therefore, people in SGM don’t get “mad” when leaders deceive them.  They are nicer than God. 

Yes we must be gentle but that word means the avoidance of self-righteousness which results in sinful anger.  When we correct others we must be aware of our own propensity to sin.  “There goes I but for the grace of God” (Gal 6:1).  But gentleness does not mean soft spokenness, moral indifference, passivity, or phony positivism.  Here is what we must remember.

Psalm 55:11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.

Created in his image, the same must be true of the Christian.  Remember, gentleness and righteous indignation are not mutually exclusive.  The OT prophets were both gentle and angry.  So was John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul.  We must study the Gospels and read epistles like 1 & 2 Corinthians and Galatians to understand how biblical gentleness and anger.  Consider the following verses from Psalm 119.

Psalm 119:51-54 The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law. [52] When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord. [53] Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.

Psalm 119:103-104 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! [104] Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

Psalm 119:127-129 Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. [128] Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way.

Psalm 119:113-115 I hate the double-minded, but I love your law. [114] You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. [115] Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God.

Psalm 119:135-136 Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes. [136] My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.

Psalm 119:139 My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words.

Psalm 119:157-159  Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies. [158] I look at the faithless with disgust, because they do not keep your commands. [159] Consider how I love your precepts!  Give me life according to your steadfast love.

Psalm 119:162-164 I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil. [163] I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law. [164] Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.

And here are a few verses from Proverbs about lying, falsehood, and treachery.  People in SGM must “detest” and “hate” these things. 

Prov 12:22 The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

Prov 13:5 The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace.

Prov 11:3 The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

Consider also.

Psalm 139:19-24.  Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart.  To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

[19] Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!  O men of blood, depart from me! [20] They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! [21] Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?  And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? [22] I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. [23] Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  [24] And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 69:16-28.  Save Me, O God.  To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David.

[16] Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. [17] Hide not your face from your servant; for I am in distress; make haste to answer me. [18] Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my enemies!

[19] You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you. [20] Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I  looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none. [21] They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.

[22] Let their own table before them become a snare; and when they are at peace, let it become a trap. [23] Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually. [24] Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them. [25] May their camp be a desolation; let no one dwell in their tents. [26] For they persecute him whom you have struck down, and they recount the pain of those you have wounded. [27] Add to them punishment upon punishment; may they have no acquittal from you. [28] Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.

##

You continue.

Brent, I understand that you have been hurt deeply in your relationships with C.J., Dave, Steve, and others.  I realize that as a result of many experiences over several years, you have lost trust with these brothers.  I know that you are passionate to help correct what you see as long-term patterns of sin in the lives of leaders of SGM.  (You too were part of the SGM leadership over many years, but I haven’t heard nearly as much from you about your own role in those areas as you have focused on others.)  You also appear to me to be weary, beaten down, discouraged and disheartened. 

Is it possible that your own hurts and discouragements have led you to become anger and bitter deep in your soul?  (Because of your knowledge of Scripture, you know that acting out of bitterness and anger is not right.  You have told me that you are not bitter and angry, but is it possible that you are not fully aware of how these feelings may be affecting you?)  Could it be that in your discouraged state that you put the worst construction on things coming from SGM, looking for things to pick apart to prove your case and to justify your positions? 

Yes, I’ve been “hurt” but that is not the issue.  You appear to dismiss my concerns.  Are they not your concerns?  The long term patterns of sin with C.J. and Dave are evident.  I hope you have been confronting them in private over the last 8 months and are committed to openly address them in your report this month.  An “independent prosecutor” is worthless if he does not cite “ethics violations” when they exists.  Please don’t shirk this responsibility.

Ted, I am not guilty of lying, deceit, manipulation, hypocrisy, partiality, favoritism, abuse, intimidation, cover up, etc.  Those are the kinds of sins I’ve been confronting since December 2000 and especially since August 2004.  I’ve paid a huge price in so doing.  Please read “What About My Own Sins.”

In our conversations and in our correspondence over the past 8 months, you have yet to take a stand on any ethical issue related to CJ., Dave, Steve, Mickey, Bob, Gene, et al.  This concerns me greatly.

I hope you realize how much you sound like SGM.  Playing the “anger and bitterness” card is an entrenched part of its culture.  Having done 150 interviews, you must realize how often people in SGM have been told they are angry, bitter and proud whenever they’ve brought observations or correction to leaders.  Sharing hurts and offenses are equated with resentment.  This is a form of spiritual abuse.  Instead of being taken seriously they are quickly silenced with judgments.  You seem to be doing the same.  If you are interested in hearing my story I’m glad to tell you it.  Here is what I wrote a friend.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2011 2:13 PM
To: John
Subject: RE: Appeal

Let me share an analogy.  How would you respond if you came upon the man in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 and asked him to tell you his story?  I am afraid you’d look for bitterness, point out how he must forgive, and warn him not to be vindictive instead of listening with compassion, taking care of his wounds, and pursuing justice on his behalf. 

Your “appeal” underscores one of the most serious problems in SGM.  People don’t try to understand those who have been abused or sinned against.  They are quick to correct them and dismiss them.  I’ve done this.  That’s one reason thousands of people have raised concerns for SGM and left our churches.

Here’s the idea.  After you’ve identified with Jenny and my pain, been horrified by the gravity of sins committed against me, empathized with what we’ve experienced, worked hard at correcting those who have abused us, and sought to secure restitution on my behalf; you are very welcome to raise concerns for any bitterness you perceive.  In fact, you can do it during such a process provided the other ingredients are present.  But if you only criticize than you are acting like the priest or Levite “who passed by on the other side” and were not willing to really care.  Remember, “they will know you are Christians by your love.”  It is easy to correct me.  It is easy to correct others.  But in so doing we often abuse those who are raising vital concerns.    

Furthermore, if you engaged in the process and sought to understand the issues, you might discover my “tone” is warranted and not that of a bitter man.  You might even conclude I’ve spoken with restraint.    Here’s my concern.  After reading Matthew 23 would you also conclude that Jesus was spewing bitterness?  How about John the Baptist?  Or Paul with the Galatians or Corinthians?  Or just about anyone in the Bible who ever spoke against serious injustice or entrenched wrongdoing. 

I don’t know my heart fully, but I don’t believe I am driven by bitterness and resentment.  Love rejoices when the truth wins out.  That’s why I am fighting this fight.  So much has been covered up and hidden.  So many errors have gone unacknowledged.  C.J. and the SGM Board have been unaccountable.  People’s wrongs have not been righted.  I hope you will make that your focus. 

No man is fully aware of his heart but I am confident sinful anger and bitterness are not my primary motivations.  I’ve been concerned for the glory of God, the gospel and the good of former friends. 

Please know I am not “weary, beaten down, discouraged and disheartened.” I don’t know why you would think that at this point.  That doesn’t mean it has been easy.  It has been hard but 2 Cor 4:7-9 has been my consistent experience. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

##

Moving on.  This question is alarming to me.  “Could it be that in your discouraged state that you put the worst construction on things coming from SGM, looking for things to pick apart to prove your case and to justify your positions? 

First, I am in a blessed state not a discouraged state.  I don’t know what sources you are using.

Second, I am “looking for things to pick apart” but NOT with the evil motive or goal you suggest.  I’ve had to ask hard questions, do research, and investigate.  It’s been my Watergate.  And I’ve had to write at length and in detail.  Why?  Because of the stubborn resistance I’ve encountered at every turn.  For over two years, C.J., Dave, the Board have refused to be open, honest and accountable.  The cover up by SGM has been nonstop. 

Ted, I am not putting a worse case construction on illustrations.  I’m letting the facts  speak for themselves.  But I am not going to soft pedal the truth.  I will not put a pretty face on evil.  “Believing the best” has been invoked by the SGM Board to cover up evil.  Horrible things have been allowed to continue because people have been told to believe the best when they should be looking into matters and exercising discernment.  This is cult like.

Believing the best is encouraged in Scripture but it has been abused in SGM.  SGM people need to be wise as serpents in this season.  Lastly, I am not picking things apart or majoring on minors.  I am going after fundamental issues and I don’t make things up.

I am however trying to prove my case and justify my positions for the sake of righteousness.  Not the evil reasons you imply.  I’m trying to be as accurate as possible.  If make a mistake I acknowledged it.  That’s why I still hope you respond to my three questions.  I am simply dealing with the facts as best I can in order to hold the SGM Board and their agents accountable for their duplicities and spin.  These are not worse case constructions.  These are realities.  You on the other hand appear to be turning a blind eye.

C.J., Dave, Mickey, and other SGM leaders have lied in ways more serious than Ananias and Sapphira.  Study Peter’s approach in Acts 5.  Peter tested Ananias by asking a question he already knew the answer to.  He wanted to get to the bottom of things.  It was a set up and resulted in Ananias’ execution by God. 

Peter did the same thing with Sapphira.  He called her in and cross exanimated her without revealing the circumstances of her husband’s death.  When she lied, he effectively pronounced the judgment of God over her and she dropped dead too.  Way to go Peter!  Was he being kind, patient and gentle? 

Please hear me.  Peter was concerned for honestly in the Jerusalem church.  He was not concerned about offending people.  He was extremely concerned about offending Yahweh.  As a result he was determined to expose lying.  The Sovereign Grace Board has repeatedly lied to God.  Rather than great fear there is great indifference.  You need to adopt Peter’s approach and expose all lying and concealment of sin.      

Acts 5:1-11 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, [2] and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. [3] But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? [4] While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart?  You have not lied to men but to God.” [5] When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last.  And  great fear came upon all who heard of it. [6] The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

[7] After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. [8] And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” [9] But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?  Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” [10] Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last.  When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. [11] And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

Peter was also tough on Simon in Samaria.  He wished for Simon to perish unless he repented.  He threatened him with judgment.  He rebuked him in public and spelled out his sins before all. 

Acts 8:18-24 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, [19] saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” [20] But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! [21] “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. [22] Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. [23] For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.” [24] But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Was Peter following his own teaching?  Of course he was but there are times when individuals need to be sternly and publicly rebuked.  Peter was not exchanging “evil for evil or insult for insult.”  He was speaking the truth.  Peter curses Simon, he does not bless him.  This was an expression of divine judgment not personal revenge.  Peter’s actions are in keeping with the imprecatory Psalms.  I’d recommend you study Psalm 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 119, 137, 139.

I don’t know you that well (we have only talked twice).  But I have read much that you have written, and I perceive that you are a man that knows the Scriptures well and holds them in high regard.  You are well informed and intelligent.  You know how to put together strong arguments.  God has gifted you in many ways.  We at AoR have heard from people who were blessed by you and who benefited from your ministry over the years.  Even those you have accused have shared with me how they benefited from their relationship with you over the years.

But I am concerned for you that your painful experiences and discouragement are clouding your godly judgment at times.  You have worked hard to try to make right those things you believe to be unjust.  Some of what you have done is godly, but some of what you have done appears to me to be contrary to God’s teaching, especially in how we are to gently instruct and restore in a spirit of gentleness.  Moreover, I don’t often see the love and forgiving heart in you that your Lord Jesus has shown you.  At some point, for your own sake of peace and relationship to God, I think you need to commend the rest of the work for correcting SGM’s errors to God and others that God uses.  As we talked last time, Christ is still the head of the Church, and he will bring about needed correction or allow earthly organizations to fail for the sake of his kingdom. 

I don’t think “painful experiences and discouragement” have clouded my judgment but I know they have made me far more discerning.  What I have walked through has been eye opening.  Furthermore, where my judgment may be clouded, I have repeatedly asked to be corrected and appealed for a just evaluation of my charges.  I am glad to be shown where I have erred.  But there is no willingness on the part of the SGM Board to hold a hearing or supply answers to hard questions. 

Moreover, you did not design a process to make sure this happened.  That was the  most important part of your assignment.  Though you meant no evil, your proposal last August made certain an adjudication hearing was biased.  You recommended a jury comprised of one Board member and four SGM pastors.  The most important aspect of due process is securing neutral judges.  That was a huge mistake and SGM took advantage of your naiveté.  They felt perfect freedom to break 12 months of promises and then put together the three panel approach.

I love these men dearly.  That is why I detest their lies and deception.  Love only rejoices when the truth wins out.  It fights for justice.  It opposes duplicity.  You are not defining love in the full biblical sense.  Likewise, I can’t wait to forgive but forgiveness is predicated upon repentance and confession.  No one has confessed any sin to me except for C.J. in some respects.  I have forgiven him those sins. 

Holding men accountable for their unrepentant sins is not a sign of an unforgiving heart.  It is a sign of righteousness.  We are called to “bind” their sins (Matt 18:18).  Forgiveness must be withheld from those who are unrepentant (John 20:23, ESV).  I think your theology of love and forgiveness is errant.  I can’t wait to forgive but first there must be contrition and remorse (Luke 17:3).

Let me further address your concern that I have shown a lack of gentleness.  You refer to Gal 6:1 but fail to understand the meaning of the gentle in context.  Consider the entire book.  Paul is NOT gentle with the churches throughout Galatia in the way you seem to understand the word.  Gentleness is not softness.  Further, read Luther’s commentary on the passage.  He maintains such gentleness is reserved for those who are responding to correction.  Whatever the case, we must define our words in context. 

For example, consider Paul’s rebuke of Peter as recording in the book of Galatians.  Was he being gentle with Peter?  Why didn’t he follow the teaching of AoR?  He didn’t attempt reconciliation in private.  He certainly didn’t believe the best of Peter.  Instead Paul rebuked him publically in front of all his friends and then wrote about the episode in his epistle.  Is that being kind?  Forgiving?  Was Paul trying to justify himself?  All silly questions of course.      

Gal 2:11-14 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. [12] Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.  But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. [13] The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. [14] When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew.  How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”

Here is what the ESV Study Bible says about Gal 2:14 in the footnotes.  “Peter was guilty of hypocrisy (v. 13) because, though he had been happily living like a Gentile (i.e. not observing food laws), he was now requiring Gentile Christians to observe Jewish table regulations if they wanted to eat with him…. Because Peters’ sin was a public sin that was setting an example for all the church, Paul confronted him publically (compare the different procedure that Jesus commands regarding private sin against an individual person, which hopefully can be corrected privately.” 

Furthermore, God is not mocked.

Gal 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. [8] For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

This is a familiar verse so it tends to lose its moral punch.  Nevertheless, Paul is not being “gentle” by humanistic standards.  He warns specific sinners in the churches that God will not be mocked!  He confronts their deception head on.  They believe no consequences will follow their sowing of sin.  Paul gives them a wakeup call and threatens God’s judgment in the form of destruction and corruption.  That is strong medicine.  It’s what I’ve done with SGM.

You state, “I think you need to commend the rest of the work for correcting SGM’s errors to God and others that God uses.”  I’d being sinning against God and Scripture if I stopped correcting SGM but I hope you will join me and commit to correcting men like C.J., Dave, Mickey Connolly, Steve Shank, Mark Prater, Bob Kauflin, and Gene Emerson in your report this month.  Unless they repent quickly, you also need to tell their sins to the churches and ask everyone to appeal for their repentance. 

Here’s an idea for starters.  The SGM Board and Bryce Thomas were quite happy for Mark Prater, Warren Boettcher, and Ron Boomsma to write a panel report unrelated to the question under consideration in which they condemned me with no opportunity for a defense.  I was totally blind sided again.  That hurt.  Could you do me a favor?  Expose this grave miscarriage of injustice and point out that SGM has not changed one wit in their abusive and coercive tactics.  Then request a true adjudication hearing be granted so I can defend against false witnesses and prosecute charges against C.J. and others.     

Anyway, I hope others will speak up but I can’t remain silent.  The church triumphs when she perseveres against adversity.  Sometimes the wicked prosper (Ps 37) but we can’t use that as an excuse to sit back on our laurels and do nothing.  Righteous results rarely occur over night and the church has often erred because it has not preserved with courage.  Only through perseverance was slavery overturned and civil rights secured.  We cannot fall prey to a form of pacifism that allows evil to triumph.   

Back to the subject of righteous indignation.  Eph 4:26a does not forbid all anger, it forbids sinful anger.  In the NASU and ESV righteous anger is commanded.  In the NIV righteous anger is assumed.  There are many passages that commend righteous anger and there are many passages that forbid sinful anger.  The NASU translates Eph 4:26a “Be angry, and yet do not sin.” The NIV translates Eph 4:26a “In your anger do not sin.” 

Therefore, we must steer clear of anger that pursues personal revenge but we must embrace anger that exposes evil.  There is a great need for the later in relation to SGM.  Peter was angry with Ananias, Sapphira and Simon.  Paul was angry with Elymas, Hynmeneus, Philetus, and Alexander.  Why?  Because God was angry.  Peter and Paul were a reflection of the nature and character of God.  Listen to Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  

“There is a right kind of anger.  In and of itself anger is not sinful.  It is a capacity which is innate in everyone one of us, and clearly put into us by God…. The capacity for anger against that which is evil and wrong is something which is essentially right and good…. Anger is something which is placed in us by God; it is a capacity within man which results in his being roused by the sight of certain things.  And the result is that it is a priceless and precious thing.“ (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Darkness and Light: An Exposition of Ephesians 4:17-5:17, p. 226-227)

Have you ever thought of anger as “a priceless and precious thing?”  Let the good Doctor school you. 

In his first epistle, Paul confronts the Corinthians for their arrogant indifference to evil.   They are apathetic and refuse to take action against an immoral man.  They are willing to tolerate evil in their midst and care little about the righteousness of God.  They  ignore the sin.  Paul confronts them.

1 Cor 5:1-5 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife. [2] You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. [3] For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. [4] In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, [5] I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

A little later Paul continues.

1 Cor 5:9-13 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; [10] I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. [11] But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler — not even to eat with such a one. [12] For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? [13] But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

Paul’s painful letters and painful visits finally aroused the Corinthians and brought about authentic repentance.  They would no longer tolerated compromise in their midst.  They became anger at themselves for their moral indifference.  This is exactly what needs to happen throughout SGM.

2 Cor 7:10-12 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. [11] For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. [12] So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the offender nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones comments on these verses. 

“Indignation!  Anger!  They were angry with themselves and the cause of the trouble, with the man who had sinned and with their own failure to recognize the sin, and with their failure to react to it as they should have done.  The lesson for us is that we should always be angry against and about sin and evil…. If you really love the Lord you must hate evil; evil and sin are definitely to be hated…. They [the Corinthians] were past feeling! – they had become morally indifferent, they had become supine.  This is always characteristic of godlessness and irreligion.  It is one of the terrible aspects of paganism, that men and women become so steeped in sin that they are not aware of the fact that they are sinning, they cannot react at all, they never feels any sense of indignation or horror; they never become angry at all; they are past felling.  A failure to react with indignation and anger against sin and evil is always a sign of moral decadence and of godlessness and irreligion.” (Lloyd-Jones, pp. 228 -229)

I am praying more for you Brent after our last conversation.  For your personal comfort, could I recommend a psalm for your personal meditation?  Psalm 103 comforts me when I am discouraged and beat down.  It reminds me of the great love and forgiveness that my God has shown me in Christ.  It praises God for all his benefits, beginning with forgiveness which leads to healing, being redeemed from the pit, and renewing our youth like the eagle’s.

I appreciate your prayers and recommendation.  Psalm 103 is a wonderful reminder of God’s blessings in our lives.  Psalm 145 is also a favorite.  Over the last 8 years many passages have comforted me.  2 Cor 4:7-12 has been particularly dear along with other selections from 2 Corinthians.  God has most certainly sustained me by his grace and I give thanks for the trials he has ordained for me.      

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Let me close by appealing to you again.  You cannot be silent and present a morally neutral report this month.  Show the kind of moral outrage described in 2 Cor 7:10-12.  There is a need for godly aggressiveness.  Let the teaching of God’s word arouse you to righteous anger.  It may cost Ambassadors of Reconciliation their reputation in some circles.  Business could decrease.  Revenue streams could dry up but that must not be your concern.  Please apply Matthew 6:33 to the abuses in SGM. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.   Here is one final quote from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

“How greatly this exhortation to anger is needed in the world today!  Is not one of the greatest tragedies in the world at this hour the failure to feel moral indignation and wrath…. We seem to have lost the capacity to be roused morally by a sense of indignation…. We merely shrug our shoulders and allow sin to go unrebuked…. Any absence of a sense of shame and of anger and of righteous indignation is always the hallmark of deep degradation and sinfulness, and of a loss of the sense of God.  Our Lord was angry when He observed manifestations of sin.  And what measures our approximation to Him is that we manifest a similar reaction when confronted by similar things.  It is our duty to be angry at certain points and with respect to certain matters.” (Lloyd-Jones, pp. 230-231)

Never forget how much God loves you:  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1 niv).  Brent, you are God’s precious child.

I am reminded of that truth every day.  As J.I. Packer says, “Were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 214)

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16 esv).

In His service,

Ted Kober

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