Pastor Charles Wetherbee of Victory Baptist Church of Weatherford, Texas — The Betrayal of a Christian Friendship

The Betrayal of a Close Christian Friendship

When we moved from Indiana to Weatherford, Texas in 2010, one of the principal reasons was Victory Baptist Church and pastor Charles Wetherbee. We had been visiting this church on our family visits to the area for fifteen years.

We felt that it was enormously providential that after looking at houses for three months, the one with the greatest appeal to us happened to be just few doors from the Wetherbee’s home on the very same street. We did not know this when we bought the house.

It was not long before I began spending a lot of time with Pastor Wetherbee. There were several reasons for this. I had pastored two churches, and so being a fellow pastor, there is always a unique bond that can quickly develop between preachers. Secondly, with an earned Ph.D. in theology (Philosophy in Religion) and two other degrees in Pastoral Theology (B.S., Th.M.), Wetherbee welcomed spending time with someone with whom he could engage on doctrinal and church issues. Additionally, this man did not know one end of a wrench from the other and was incapable of even the slightest repairs. I was always more than willing to come to his house with a trunkfull of tools and constantly help him with repair projects, building projects, and a host of other tasks which his mechanical ineptitude kept him from tackling. This was a weekly occurrence for the fourteen months we spent at Victory. (He once called me over because his riding mower would not move, only to find out that the gear lever was in neutral.)

We also both owned Harley Davidson Motorcycles and often rode together. On these rides we would always stop for lunch and engage in lengthy conversations on church matters, church people, and the many church problems that he brought up that seem to have been bottled up in the man for some time. It was in the course of these conversations that I was able over time to detail for him the unimaginable levels of abuse that we had endured in churches. These were church experiences in which we had dared to point out the failures of leadership to hold accountable those member who had preyed on the innocent, particularly children. He was shocked and horrified as I recounted story after story that had concluded with guilty jury verdicts and long prison sentences for church leaders, and my role as member-whistle blower. (These experiences resulted in three books, two TV documentaries, and dozens of newspaper articles from major media outlets nationwide.)

It was only as these stories unfolded one by one in our time together that he began to understand the damage that this had all done over the years to my wife and I, and the extant miracle in our lives that we were in fact inexplicably ready to place our trust in yet another church. I remember one statement that I made to Wetherbee that he later told me finally helped him to understand the level of distress that had been inflicted upon our Christian lives: “Once you have been in a train wreck, there are no completely enjoyable train rides.” That statement, by his own admission to me, helped him to finally understand what an extraordinary thing it was for us to be in any church given the record of our past experiences in churches stretching over twenty-five years. My wife became very close friends with Wetherbee’s wife, Shelley, and shared with her many of the same stories about our past church experiences. What she did not share was that her faith in their church and in her husband pastor was not anywhere close to the level of faith that I had forged with this man and his institution through our personal friendship. Call it a woman’s intuition, call it innate suspicion, call it a matter of a lesser level of ecclesiastical idealism, or anything else that you may choose to call it, my wife was 100% correct and I was as wrong as I have ever been in my life about any church. Please do trust me when I say that, that in fact this is really saying something for me. I have more former pastors, Bible professors, and deacons that have gone to prison for their crimes in churches than I can count on both hands.

Without a doubt, the most untenable insensitive, callous and difficult demand that Pastor Charles Wetherbee made of me and my wife in our fourteen months at Victory had to do with an evangelist and church member who occasionally preached at Victory Baptist Church. This man displayed what I have come to call the “Fundamentalist Swagger.” I saw in him an inordinate expression of self, a boastful spirit, and a complete lack of humility. All these things were a monumental flashback for me to my days at the heart of the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement under my former pastor and once mentor, Jack Hyles. The first time I heard the evangelist preach in one of Wetherbee’s frequent absences, I almost walked out. I will just say that the spirit in me did not testify to the spirit in him.  Moreover, his preaching was ever so shallow.   I was inexpressibly grateful that my wife was in the nursery that night, as exposure to this boastful, prideful man would have set her spiritual healing back months, and perhaps years. It could even have marked her last foray into the church world.

I did the best I could to carefully explain all of this to Wetherbee. He would hear none of it. He told me that I was by virtue of my position or role in “HIS” church   fully expected  to attend all of the services, including the times when this offensive evangelist preached. That said, Wetherbee added in passing, “I have never personally cared for the guy’s preaching myself.” I could certainly understand that. This was one of these old-school evangelists whose Systematic Theology (a term he had probably never heard) was what I have called, “a mile wide and an inch deep.” I have also used another terms to describe it: “Bumper Sticker Theology.” In the end, nothing mattered to my pastor except Charles Wetherbee imposing his will upon us regarding our lack of Christian liberty that I strongly believed was our biblical prerogative in matters such as these. I did not budge, and thus began to see the handwriting on the wall. I was not willing to sacrifice my wife’s fragile spiritual health to any man’s arrogance or blather, or to any pastor’s compulsion to crush my freedom under a juggernaut of dictatorial demands on a church member that a pastor was not entitled to make. The irresistible force had met the immovable object. There was no question in my mind as to what would be the outcome.

So the unmistakable fact in all of this for us is that Pastor Charles Wetherbee fully knew in almost every detail that the faith that I had placed in him and in his church was a very fragile entity with a weak pulse and on a complex regimen of life support. The man KNEW. He knew that my faith in the institution of the church was hanging by a cobweb. He also knew that I had written twelve Christian books, and that my testimony had been made into a radio drama and heard by four million people in thirty-seven countries and was a compelling and riveting account of one man’s journey to faith. He also knew full well that by the grace of God Almighty I had the ability to bring the kinds of results from the pulpit that churches pray for. In the end, NONE OF THIS MATTERED. What mattered was that I did not have the level of compliance and malleability as a church or staff member that Charles Wetherbee required in his church as the price to be paid for the privilege of serving under him. In fact once while sitting on my back patio and trying to iron out our differences, he was even so bold as to put it in plain and unmistakable terms for me: he looked me in the eye through dark aviator sunglasses and in a stunning expression of unbridled human pride, with his hands folded over his expansive stomach said these words to me: “JERRY, THE MEN IN MY PULPIT HAVE TO REFLECT ME.” After having heard those words, I understood fully that I could not serve with a man like that under any circumstances. I did not immediately tell him so, but I did seal my fate at Victory Baptist Church of Weatherford Texas by responding with these words: “Well, preacher, you and I are going to have to disagree on that one. You see, I have this crazy notion that when I step into a pulpit and open my Bible before God’s people, that I am supposed to reflect the Lord Jesus Christ.” What Wetherbee was in fact telling me in shockingly plain terms was that the sentiment of the church was not, “Sirs, we would see Jesus,” but in fact, “Sirs, we would see Charles Wetherbee.” It is my belief that any Christian who participates or lends themselves in any way to that kind of usurpation of God’s glory is dishonoring the Lord Jesus Christ in ways that are close to being quite simply blasphemous.

After we left, we were of course shunned by the entire church in typical Baptist fashion. All the folks that had hugged me and pumped my hand every week for fourteen months and told me how much they loved me and how God had blessed them the few times that I had taught or preached there now disappeared from the radar of our lives. I could have been face down in a skid row bar for all they cared, or in intensive care, or rehab. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I was no longer a part of their religious social club, and they had heard that I had disagreed with their pastor. Those were the qualifications for Christian fellowship in their minds and in their church. My own belief is that having Jesus Christ in common was what is required for Christian Fellowship. That is not the case at Victory Baptist Church regardless of their words to the contrary.  We judge by actions.

What followed were subtle comments about Jerry Kaifetz not being a “team player.” Strangely, I have never found that term in the Bible. I suppose its expression may have been the province of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, as it was certainly how they thought and governed. I derive great satisfaction that this accusation of Wetherbee’s accusation was, at least in spirit, applied to every one of the Old Testament Prophets.

Now, several years after all of this, one thing stands out for me: THE BETRAYAL OF A CLOSE CHRISTIAN FRIENDSHIP. Wetherbee knew that we had many wounds inflicted upon our family in the battles for righteousness that had characterized my ministry and our Christian lives, and in advocating and caring for many, many victims of sexual abuse , in churches.and that these wounds had not all fully healed. He knew that we came to him and to Victory Baptist Church in a fragile condition, especially my wife. In the end, NONE OF THOSE THINGS MATTERED AT ALL. All that mattered was that he had seen me as a man who was unwilling to pledge complete loyalty to a pastor on the level that he demanded. Then, ultimately , rather than walk down into the ditch as did the Samaritan with bandages and expressions of compassion, he came with his sword. It mattered far more to Charles Wetherbee that I had expressed an inability or an unwillingness to be molded into the form of another one of his staff “Yes Men,” and that I thus posed some kind of existential threat to his most lucrative pastoral career ($100,000 a year salary & luxurious mansion, luxury cars, frequent vacations) than it did that I had been given by God the ability to be instrumental in a significant way regarding something that they prayed for every week: REVIVAL. (It has not happened at Victory Baptist Church, and I do not see how it ever could.  I am not alone in that belief.  A man on staff came to that conclusion before I did and gave me his reasons.)

In the end, it was the willingness to betray a friendship that I, at one time, considered one of the greatest spiritual assets of my life, humanly speaking, that impacted me the most. Of course God always can and in my case has unquestionably compensated for that human betrayal in ways that only God could. As I look back now, however, and see those days and that person for what and whom they were, the realization of what in fact took place is actually quite stark and powerful for me. Then when I think that this dagger into our lives was deliberately wielded in a highly calculated and precise manner by a “man of God,” a , a Pastor, a shepherd of God’s people and one whom 300 people call “Preacher,” the hurt gives way to first revulsion and then sheer amazement, and then a desire to expose this charlatan for who he is regardless of how many good people he has managed to dupe.

God has since surely blessed us. I am reaching more people for the Lord Jesus Christ than at most any time in any church ministry (over 10,000 a month). I am talking about seeing lives transformed by the power and mercy of God on a weekly basis. I have seen reinforced what I have heard since childhood: God is good, and it matters not how poorly, inadequately or despicably He is misrepresented by religious careerists and ecclesiastical professionals and impostors. He is fully capable of making it all right, of compensating for the damage done in His name in compelling and often completely unexpected ways. God is regularly wrapping His arms around those who are hurting in ways that give full evidence that there is healing love in the divine hugs that He has in great abundance for those who will open their arms and extend them upward toward Him. It is only in that embrace that the wounds heal.  That is where I live today.  I have managed by the grace of God to lead many others to that embrace from some of the darkest places and tortured lives that a person could live.  I am now blessed in my ministry in ways that I will not even try to describe.

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My Experience with Westwood Christian Fellowship of Weatherford, Texas

My Experience With Westwood Christian Fellowship of Weatherford Texas
and Pastor Curtis Tucker

I am writing my account of an experience with Westwood Christian Fellowship of Weatherford, Texas and its pastor, Curtis Tucker because I that this is a story that should be told. On a scale of one to ten, how much this has to do with personal offense on my part is very close to zero. (Please read this account before you make a judgement in that area.)
There was a group of men in the Old Testament we call the prophets. Theirs was a ministry of judgement. Yes, we are told not to judge (in my opinion, THE most misunderstood verse in all the Bible), but theirs was a ministry and lives dedicated to not their personal judgment, but to applying God’s judgment. That is how I have tried to live as a Christian for over thirty years. My life is an open book; in fact, about twelve of them. If you want to know who I am, just Google my name: Jerry Kaifetz. I have nothing to hide.

You will hear from some of my detractors that, “Jerry Kaifetz has never gotten along with any church.” First of all, that is not truthful. Secondly, I have doggedly gone after pedophile pastors, adulterous pastors, immoral men in Christian leadership, and a host of other men in churches guilty of incest, rape, torture, kidnaping, heresy, and on and on that sordid list goes. The most recent of these men, a once close friend and pastor of a church of 20,000, now languishes in a federal prison for twelve years for raping a sixteen year old girl in his church. (Google Jack Schaap) The Christian world abounds with pastors who believe I should have kept my mouth shut. I disagree. I believe that God does as well.

I have given this church and its pastor, Curtis Tucker, every chance to reconcile with me. I have apparently said something online that has offended them. What that is, I do not know to this day, as they have steadfastly refused to tell me. While this may not seem like something that rises to the level of this investment of anyone’s time to pursue, I believe that in fact it does. What all this reveals is a church that thinks nothing of treating someone whose only “sin” is disagreeing with them in a manner wholly opposite to the way in which all Christians are seen by the Lord Jesus Christ: “Accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)

A church like this, as I will address farther along, poses a genuine danger to well-meaning, trusting Christians who may join only to find that the church’s acceptance is highly conditional. The ensuing experiences, revelations and realizations can leave good people devastated, confused, and often tear at the fabric of their faith. My ONLY purpose (nobody knows my heart but me and God) is to warn good Christian people before they make themselves vulnerable to this kind of experience at the hands of a church that is not, in my opinion, what it presents itself to be.

Surely there will be support for the church, and that is fine. The edges of a bowl of soup may in fact be tasty, delectable, sweet and even nutritious. But when I see glob of spit on the other edge, I believe that it is incumbent upon me before God to caution people about drinking deeply, or even at all. This pastoral counsel is about a church that I believe is demonstrably inclined to disrespecting the rights and liberties given by God to Christians that they might protect the institution of the church at any costs. Here is the narrative of my experience with Westwood Christian fellowship, 1010 S. Bowie Drive, Weatherford, Texas, and their pastor, Pastor Curtis Tucker.

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In the summer of 2014 I began to develop a relationship with Westwood Christian Fellowship through their motorcycle club, Iron Faith Riders. This group is a part of Honor Bound Motorcycle Ministry (MM) , the national motorcycle ministry of the Church of God. My involvement with them consisted of attending one event at Westwood Christian Fellowship in April of 2014, where I was recruited to become a member. I knew far too little about this group or about the church, and I was not a Christian who was much inclined in the direction of the beliefs and doctrine of the Church of God, but I did join their Facebook Group and received regular posts from them.

Like I did a couple of times a week or more, one day I went to their homepage on Facebook. I found that it was no longer accessible to me. I knew what that meant: I had been removed from the group. I have my own Facebook group (Profaned Pulpit, named after one of my books), and I am not unaccustomed to occasionally finding it necessary to remove someone from the group. That sometimes occurs when their postings are such that I deem them an offense to the group and not compatible with our stated purpose. Something I had said was obviously deemed to have been of that nature and I was summarily kicked out of the Iron Faith Riders Facebook Group. This left me with very bad feeling, primarily because I had no idea why.

I found a business card from the group. It had no name on it, but it had an e-mail address: WESTWOODMM@YAHOO.COM, so I sent off this e-mail to them:

Hey brother, just wondering why you kicked me off your Facebook group. I have always thought fellowship was supposed to be based on Jesus Christ, so this is a little puzzling to me, not to mention hurtful.

Can you please be specific? I would sure appreciate it. Please try to not be too general, as this will help me to understand what I may have done wrong, or what specifically I may have said that would cause another Christian to break fellowship with me.

Again, I would ask you to please be specific.

Thanks!
Jerry K.”

There was no reply. It was clear to me that I had not only been disfellowshipped, but now I was being shunned. I knew that somehow I had posted something that was not compatible with the group’s beliefs, but I had no idea what. Moreover, as a Christian of 31 years, I really did want to know, as I had no desire to be crossways with a Christian group with whom I had riding motorcycles in common. I sent off another memo to the anonymous group leader who had handed me their business card. It was absent any name, but he had written the group’s e-mail address on the back. Again, there was no response. I decided to forget about it.

Then about five months later, this situation began to trouble me, so I began to pray and to seek God’s will in this matter. There were Christian principles, protocols, and biblical principles involved that though at first seeming not to be terribly significant, I began slowly to conclude otherwise. I continued to pray. I e-mailed the mystery group leader once again and wrote that I believed that he and the group were in violation of one of the biblical protocols for dealing with a Christian brother with whom one had a disagreement (never mind that they had steadfastly refused to so much as even tell me what that disagreement was). Here is the verse I quoted him:

“And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man,
and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15
Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
(2 Thes. 3:15)

Again there was no response and the shunning continued. That was when I decided to see if the pastor, Curtis Tucker, would try to make this rift right between brothers in Christ in the biblically prescribed Christian manner, or if he would justify the shunning, or perhaps even participate in it. My worst fears were soon confirmed. I politely asked pastor Tucker if he knew what I had done, and if he could help to find a reconciliation. Here was his reply: .

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Jerry,
I am responding to the email you sent concerning our Honorbound Motorcycle Ministry. My response is sent as a courtesy to you and to explain my thoughts about this wonderful ministry. Our honorbound ministry is made up of some of the most loving, committed, and servant-oriented people that I have ever had the opportunity to pastor. Since forming this ministry about 3 years ago, this group has raised thousands of dollars for missions’ endeavors, they have done multiple toy runs at Christmas for underprivileged children, they have helped families who were struggling financially, they have gone into inner city neighborhoods of Fort Worth and Dallas helping with special projects and outreaches in those areas, and, most recently, they have adopted the family of Toby and Holly Turner, who have taken several children whose families could not care for them, and our group is providing clothes, food, and financial support.
These men and women are also wonderful evangelists. When they are out on “rides” or participating in special events they almost always find people to pray with, witness to, and influence toward Christ. And, the people who make up Westwood’s HonorBound ministry are not just motorcycle riders. They serve in several leadership roles in our church: some of them are part of our prayer ministry; some are part of our worship team; some serve in our children’s ministry. They are ushers, nursery workers, and greeters…in other words they are everything the church should be. They continually work at presenting a positive Christian example to the community they live in and the motorcycle culture that they enjoy fellowship with. One way they do this is through social media where they give an opportunity for their group and others to be encouraged by a devotional thought, an uplifting scripture passage, or just some encouraging words to lift up those who may be struggling.
Words cannot adequately express how much I love, respect, and admire these folks. Their commitment to Christ, His Church, and the world in which they live can be seen in all that they do. I always appreciate the opportunity to share my feelings about these wonderful people and this very worthwhile ministry.
In Christ Service,
Curtis
******************************

Now on Pastor Tucker’s bio on the church’s website, there is no mention of a formal biblical education or any pastoral degree, but still, I expected better than a response like this. Here is what I find wrong with it.

1.) There is the clear assumption that the good deeds done by the motorcylcle group place them beyond the reach of any legitimate criticism.
2.) The clear and deliberate circumvention of my stated points and direct questions, and biblical verses.
3.) The fact that a brother in Christ had been offended by their actions did not rise to the level of a direct and focused response.
4.) The old, worn out tactic of defending the church institutions rather than taking the documented grievances, and hurt of another Christian seriously.
5.) Responding to legitimate, documented criticism on the basis of institutional and personal loyalties rather than biblical principles.
6.) The immediate removal from the group of anyone who expresses dissent or criticism, (although I am only assuming that was the case in the absence of their desire to directly tell my “sin.”)

The above five things that I have enumerated are what will eventually make any church a place that is dangerous to personal Christian liberties. While one person being kicked out of an online church group may not seem terribly significant, I believe strongly that it has provided a window into the inner workings of this, like many other churches. It is a clear and distinct harbinger of what any person should expect should they align themselves with Westwood Christian Fellowship and then find themselves in a position of disagreement on any issue, no matter how small. This church and its pastor, Curtis Tucker adhere rigidly to a longstanding rule of policy common to many churches: “DON’T STAND UP IN THE CANOE!”

Another reason why Westwood Christian Fellowship is a potentially dangerous church has to do with a word they use to describe themselves, as many churches do: “Family.” (Their website is even WCFFAMILY.COM) All churches portend to offer, among other things, refuge and solace from the world. The message is, “You are safe here.” “You are loved here.” “You are understood here.” In fact, that perhaps somewhat true in a lot of churches . . . up to the time when you disagree with the leadership. Then you will find, as I did at Westwood Christian Fellowship, that the way they deal with a member of the body that seems to them not in harmony with the rest of the body is very simple: they cut it off! That is how churches operate.

I pointed out to Pastor Curtis that Christians are given by God, “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). I pointed out to him that two Christians at odds with one another should seek restoration “in the spirit of meekness” (Galatians 6:1). I pointed out to him that God takes rifts between His children so seriously that He says for us to “Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come an offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:24). God makes it plain that He does not care to even hear from the Christian who is content with an ongoing breach in fellowship with a fellow believer. Would it not be offensive to God for such a brother to not only ignore this injunction from God by themselves praying, but to themselves lead a church full of believers in prayer? But no one need take my word for it. Read that last Scripture again, and ask God for yourself. I think you will find that He has not changed His mind.

So fellow-Christian, or non-Christian seeking God, ask yourself if you want to be a part of a church characterized by what I believe I have experienced as highly conditional acceptance –- a church that will look you in the eye and tell you, “We are here for you.” Their actions, at least to me, have said something quite different: “You are there for us. And when we detect the slightest hint to the contrary, we will show you the door in very short order. Then we will break all ties with you and pretend that you do not exist. We don’t care if you are face down in a bar in the middle of the night, we will not reach out to you. We will be the priest who walks by you as you lay in the ditch, not the Samaritan.” This is the way of the church, at least as I have experienced it often and witnessed it again and again in my three decades as a Christian. (You can join the 3 million people who have been blessed by a radio drama of my testimony heard in 27 countries on 2,600 radio stations: YouTube.com + KAIFETZ UNSHACKLED).

Surely this church will respond, if they respond at all, by attacking me personally. That is what churches to. (An adulterous pastor once stood before his congregation of 5,000 and lambasted me for forty minutes when I joined the cadre of principled Christian men who exposed him.) I believe in light. Light illumines. Light reveals. Light evidences danger. Light cleanses. Light warns. Light heals. Light soothes. The only people who fear light and attack the source are those who have something to hide. Unfortunately, that often includes churches and pastors. (You can see my list of the ones in my Christian life below)

I have told the truth here. I am producing the documents below. Beyond that, everyone is free to make their own decision and establish their own judgments regarding Westwood Christian Fellowship and pastor Curtis Tucker. I am sure that in many ways Curtis is a good man. I am sure that he has the calling of God upon his ministry. Sadly, that is neither pleasing nor honoring to God. To “offend one of my little ones” carries severe consequences in the Bible. Pastor Curtis Tucker has come to the place where he is willing to do anything to protect the corporate institution of the church. I am sure that many will have good things to say, and legitimately so. No church is all bad, or all good. All that being said, I have recognized a disturbing and dark pattern of institutional loyalty in this church that always eventually leads to good people being hurt, marginalized, abused and offended. Often the very faith that churches work so hard to build up is destroyed.

All that I would ask of anyone is that you make your efforts to balance these two perceptions an effort involving honesty and prayer. If anyone from Westwood would like to sit down with me with an open Bible between us, as I have indicated is always God’s prescribed preference for His people, I will be there. (My condition for such a meeting is that I be allowed to record it.)

“I have believed, and I have spoken.”

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E-MAILS

My Experience With Westwood Christian Fellowship of Weatherford Texas
and Pastor Curtis Tucker

I am writing my account of an experience with Westwood Christian Fellowship of Weatherford, Texas and its pastor, Curtis Tucker, believe I believe it should be told. On a scale of one to ten, how much this has to do with personal offense on my part is very close to zero. Please read this account before you make a judgement in that area. There was a group of men in the Old Testament we call the prophets. Theirs was a ministry of judgement. Yes, we are told not to judge (in my opinion, THE most misunderstood verse in all the Bible), but their was a ministry and lives dedicated to not their personal judgment, but to applying God’s judgment. That is how I have tried to live as a Christian fro over thirty years. My life is an open book; in fact, about twelve of them. If you want to know who I am, just Google my name: Jerry Kaifetz. I have nothing to hide.

You will hear from some of my detractors that, “Jerry kaifetz has never gotten along with any church.” First of all, that is not truthful. Secondly, I have doggedly gone after pedophile pastors, adulterous pastors, immoral men in Christian leadership, and a host of other men in churches guilty of incest, rape, torture, kidnaping, heresy, and on and on that sordid list goes. The most recent of these men, a once close friend and pastor of a church of 20,000 now languishes in a federal prison for twelve years for raping a sixteen year old church. (Google Jack Schaap) The Christian world abounds with pastors who believe I should have kept my mouth shut. I disagree. I believe that God does as well.

I have given this church and its pastor, Curtis Tucker, every chance to reconcile with me. I have apparently said something online that has offended them. What that is, I do not know to this day, as they have steadfastly refused to tell me. While this may not seem like something that rises to the level of this investment of anyone’s time to pursue, I believe that in fact it does. What all this reveals is a church that thinks nothing treating someone whose only “sin” is disagreeing with them in a manner wholly opposite to the way in which all Christians are seen by the Lord Jesus Christ: “Accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)

A church like this, as I will address farther along, poses a genuine danger to well-meaning Christians who join only to find that this acceptance is highly conditional. The ensuing experiences, revelations and realizations can leave good people devastated, confused, and often tear at the fabric of their faith. My ONLY purpose (nobody knows my heart but me and God) is to warn people before they make themselves vulnerable to this kind of experience at the hands of a church that is not, in my opinion, what it pretends to be.

Surely there will be support for the church, and that is fine. The edges of a bowl of soup may in fact be tasty, delectable, sweet and even nutritious. But when I see glob of spit on the other edge, I believe that it is incumbent upon me before God to caution people about a church that I believe is demonstrably inclined to disrespecting the rights and liberties given by God to Christians that they might protect the institution of the church at any costs. Here is the narrative of my experience with Westwood Christian fellowship, 1010 S. Bowie Drive, Weatherford, Texas, and their pastor, Pastor Curtis Tucker.

******************************

In the summer of 2014 I began to develop a relationship with Westwood Christian fellowship through their motorcycle club, Iron Faith Riders, a part of Honor Bound Motorcycle , the national motorcycle ministry of the Church of God. My involvement with them consisted of attending one even at Westwood where I was recruited to become a member. I knew far too little about this group or about the church, and I was not a Christian who was much inclined in the direction of the beliefs and doctrine of the Church of God, but I did join their Facebook Group and received regular posts from them.

Like I did a couple of times a week or more, one day I went to their homepage on Facebook. I found that it was no longer accessible to me. I knew what that meant: I had been removed from the group. I have my own Facebook group (Profaned Pulpit, named after one of my books), and I am not unaccustomed to occasionally finding it necessary to remove someone from the group. That is always when their postings are such that I deem them an offense of some kind to the group and not compatible with our stated purpose. Something I had said was obviously deemed to have been of that nature and I was summarily kicked out of the Iron Faith Riders Facebook Group. This left me with very bad feeling, primarily because I had no idea why.

I found a business card from the group. It had no name on it, but it had an e-mail address: WESTWOODMM@YAHOO.COM, so I sent off this e-mail to them:

Hey brother, just wondering why you kicked me off your Facebook group. I have always thought fellowship was supposed to be based on Jesus Christ, so this is a little puzzling to me, not to mention hurtful.

Can you please be specific? I would sure appreciate it. Please try to not be too general, as this will help me to understand what I may have done wrong, or what specifically I may have said that would cause another Christian to break fellowship with me.

Again, I would ask you to please be specific.

Thanks!
Jerry K.

There was no reply. It was clear to me that I had not only been disfellowshipped, but now I was being shunned. I knew that somehow I had posted something that was not compatible with the group’s beliefs, but I had no idea what. Moreover, as a Christian of 31 years, I really did want to know, as I had no desire to be crossways with a Christian group with whom I had riding motorcycles in common. I sent off another memo to the anonymous group leader who had handed me their business card. It was absent any name, but he had written the group’s e-mail address on the back. Again, there was no response. I decided to forget about it.

Then about five months later, this situation began to trouble me. There were Christian principles, protocols, and biblical principles involved that though at first seeming not to be terribly significant, I began slowly to feel otherwise. I e-mailed the mystery group leader once again and wrote that I believed that he and the group were in violation of one of the biblical protocols for dealing with a Christian brother with whom they had a disagreement (never mind that they had steadfastly refused to so much as even tell me what that disagreement was). Here is the verse I quoted him:

“And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man,
and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15
Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thes. 3:15)

Again there was no response and the shunning continued. That was when I decided to see if the pastor, Curtis Tucker, would try to make this right between brothers in Christ in the biblically prescribed Christian manner, or if he would justify the shunning, or perhaps even participate in it. My worst fears were soon confirmed. Here is my e-mail to Pastor Tucker and his response.

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Jerry,
I am responding to the email you sent concerning our Honorbound Motorcycle Ministry. My response is sent as a courtesy to you and to explain my thoughts about this wonderful ministry. Our honorbound ministry is made up of some of the most loving, committed, and servant-oriented people that I have ever had the opportunity to pastor. Since forming this ministry about 3 years ago, this group has raised thousands of dollars for missions’ endeavors, they have done multiple toy runs at Christmas for underprivileged children, they have helped families who were struggling financially, they have gone into inner city neighborhoods of Fort Worth and Dallas helping with special projects and outreaches in those areas, and, most recently, they have adopted the family of Toby and Holly Turner, who have taken several children whose families could not care for them, and our group is providing clothes, food, and financial support.
These men and women are also wonderful evangelists. When they are out on “rides” or participating in special events they almost always find people to pray with, witness to, and influence toward Christ. And, the people who make up Westwood’s HonorBound ministry are not just motorcycle riders. They serve in several leadership roles in our church: some of them are part of our prayer ministry; some are part of our worship team; some serve in our children’s ministry. They are ushers, nursery workers, and greeters…in other words they are everything the church should be. They continually work at presenting a positive Christian example to the community they live in and the motorcycle culture that they enjoy fellowship with. One way they do this is through social media where they give an opportunity for their group and others to be encouraged by a devotional thought, an uplifting scripture passage, or just some encouraging words to lift up those who may be struggling.
Words cannot adequately express how much I love, respect, and admire these folks. Their commitment to Christ, His Church, and the world in which they live can be seen in all that they do. I always appreciate the opportunity to share my feelings about these wonderful people and this very worthwhile ministry.
In Christ Service,
Curtis
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Now on Pastor Tucker’s bio on the church’s website, there is no mention of a former biblical education or any pastor degree, but still, I expected better than a response like this. Here is what I find wrong with it.

1.) The clear assumption that the good deeds done by the motorcycle group place them beyond the reach of any legitimate criticism.
2.) The clear and deliberate circumvention of my stated points.
3.) The fact that a brother in Christ had been offended by their actions did not rise to the level of a direct and focused response.
4.) The old, worn out tactic of defending the church institutions rather than taking the documented grievances of another Christian seriously.
5.) Responding to legitimate, documented criticism on the basis of institutional and personal loyalties rather than biblical principles.
6.) The immediate removal from the group of anyone who brings dissent or criticism.

The above five things that I have enumerated are what will eventually make any church a place that is dangerous to personal Christian liberties. While one person being kicked out of an online church group may not seem terribly significant, I believe strongly that it has provided a window into the inner workings of this church. It is a clear and distinct harbinger of what any person should expect should they align themselves with Westwood Christian Fellowship and then find themselves in a position of disagreement on any issue, no matter how small. This church and its pastor, Curtis Tucker adhere rigidly to a longstanding rule of policy common to many churches: “DON’T STAND UP IN THE CANOE!”

Another reason why Westwood Christian Fellowship is a dangerous church has to do with a word they use to describe themselves, as many churches do: “Family.” All churches portend to offer, among other things, refuge and solace from the world. The message is, “You are safe here.” You are loved here. You are understood here.” In fact, that is true in a lot of churches . . . up to the time when you disagree with the leadership. Then you will find, as I did at Westwood Christian Fellowship, that the way they deal with an member of the body that seems to them not in harmony with the rest of the body is very simple: they cut it off. That is how churches operate.

I pointed out to Pastor Curtis that Christians are given by God, “the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). I pointed out to him that two Christians at odds with one another should seek restoration “in the spirit of meekness” (Galatians 6:1). I pointed out to him that God takes rifts between His children so seriously that he says for us to “Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come an offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:24). God makes it plain that he does not care to even hear from the Christian who is content with an ongoing breach in fellowship with a fellow believer. Would it not be offensive to God for such a brother to not only ignore this injunction from God by themselves praying, but to themselves lead a church full of believers in prayer? But no one need take my word for it. Read that last Scripture again, and ask God.

So fellow-Christian, or non-Christian perhaps seeking God, ask yourself if you want to be a part of a church characterized by what I believe I have experienced as highly conditional acceptance – a church that will look you in the eye and tell you, “We are here for you.” Their actions, at least to me have said something quite different: “You are there for us. And when we detect the slightest hint to the contrary, we will show you the door in very short order. Then we will break all ties with you and pretend that you do not exist.” This is the way of the church, at least as I have experienced it often and witnessed it again and again in my three decades as a Christian. (You can join the 3 million people who have been blessed by a radio drama of my testimony heard in 27 countries on 2,600 radio stations: YouTube.Com + UNSHACKLED).

Surely this church will respond, if they respond at all, by attacking me personally. That is what churches to. (An adulterous pastor once stood before his congregation of 5,00 and lambasted me for forty minutes when I joined the cadre of principled Christian men who exposed him.) I believe in light. Light illumines. Light reveals. Light evidences danger. Light cleanses. Light warns. Light heals. Light soothes. The only people who fear light and those who have something to hide. Unfortunately, that often includes churches and pastors.

I have told the truth here. I am producing the documents below. Beyond that, everyone is free to make their own decision and establish their own judgments regarding Westwood Christian fellowship. I am sure that many will have good things to say, and legitimately so. No church is all bad, or all good. All that being said, I have recognized a disturbing and dark pattern of institutional loyalty in this church that always leads to good people being hurt, marginalized, abused and offended. All that I would ask of anyone is that you make your efforts to balance these two perceptions an honest effort. If anyone from Westwood would like to sit down with me with an open Bible between us, as I have indicated is always God’s prescribed preference for His people, I will be there. (My condition for such a meeting is that I be allowed to record it.)

“I have believed, and I have spoken.” Jerry D. Kaifetz, Ph.D.

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E-MAILS

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Some of my Other Church Experiences

1. A pastor of a large church I attended (5,000) had an affair for years with his secretary. Books were written about him (“Fundamental Seduction,” & “The Wizard of God,”) and a television documentary was produced: “Preying From the Pulpit.”

2. A deacon from that church (A.V. ballenger) was arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned for molesting an 11 year old girl in a Sunday School Class.

3. A former pastor of mine, William Beith, was arrested for soliciting a male undercover policeman for oral sex in a public park.

4. A pastor of mine’s son and himself also a pastor was caught in his Texas church with a briefcase full of nude photos of over 20 women from his church with whom he had sex.

5. The premier Bible professor at my old seminary, Joe Combs, is in prison for life along with his wife for incest and torture of their adopted daughter.

6. The son os a former pastor mine was the prime suspect in the murder trial of a child and, at his father’s advice (Jack Hyles) took the 5th Amendment when questioned. He remains the prime suspect today. His name is Dave Hyles.

7. The principal of a Christian High School in a church we attended was arrested, tried and sent to prison for kidnaping and repeatedly raping an 11 year old female student from the church’s Christian school.

8. The son of the pastor of the Baptist church we moved to Weatherford Texas to join lost his wife over an affair he allegedly had while himself a pastor, which he later confessed in a sermon. His father lied to our church about it.

9. A former pastor of ours embezzled $200,000 from a church insurance settlement, threw me out when I asked about it, and then left the state.

10. A deacon whom I knew from a former Baptist church was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for operating a Ponzi Scheme and with the support of many pastors bilking dozens of elderly Christian couples out of millions of dollars in life savings.

11. Another pastor of a large church we attended made a good sum of money publishing books on marriage that sold exceedingly well. His wife divorced him this year for having an affair.

Of course, those with a vested interest (financial & otherwise) in maintaining the status of the corporate institution of the church (There are two churches in my town whose combine published weekly take is around $100,000) will read the above and of course conclude that I am “bitter,” angry”, and desirous only of revenge for past wrongs. That is convenient, but simply not the case. I have found Jesus right where he said he would be found: “OUTSIDE THE CAMP” (Hebrews 13:12). I am blessed Christian; in fact so much so that I have long ago stopped trying to describe those blessings to people. Our family is a source of joy, our business has prospered and grows beyond expectation, and my ministry has reached more people independently of churches than I ever reached in any church, and that despite having taught my evangelism program to 3,000 pastors through the church.

You see, the church hierarchists and professional clergy cannot accept that I have been as critical of the sins of their institutions and also been blessed of God. The facts and truths of this matter will just have to continue to confound and frustrate them. They are not going away, and neither am I. I will always be an advocate of the abuse, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, and those who have been tossed aside after their usefulness to the church has been depleted. If you are one of those “little people,” God is on your side. Jesus had NOTHING good to say about organized religion. He spent much of His ministry detailing and exposing their corruption. Jesus never said to tithe to any church. That is nowhere in the New or Old Testament. (See the book, “Sunday Morning Stickup” by David Lee, and “The Tithing Hoax” by R. Renee). He was finally executed by organized religion in league with big government.

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For a broader, biblically based view of my writings on Ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church), see my other blog posts on this subject, or my many videos on this and other Christian and political topics: YouTube.com + JERRY KAIFETZ

Posted in Abuses of Church Authority, Church | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Unworthy Vessels That Stay Afloat

Occasionally I hear someone say that I have unfairly slandered all IFB churches and painted them all with the broad brush of criticism. When I hear that, I know that they have probably not read “Profaned Pulpit,” for there I make it clear that this is not my view. However, it is in all honesty probably not that far from what I personally believe. Here is why:

All I.F.B. are structurally flawed. They are based upon an unbiblical and corrupt understanding of pastoral authority. You can see my video on this subject on YouTube (link below) and the corresponding article on my blog, JERRYKAIFETZ.COM.

There have been in the history of shipbuilding and maritime engineering flawed models of shipbuilding. Many of these ships before the advent of steel hulls went to the bottom because they ignored the principle of torsional flexing. The larger the wooden ship, the more it would twist and bow, and the more water it would take on, eventually overcoming the ability of the ship to remain afloat.

It would be possible, I suppose, to build a ship that violated the rules of torsional movement and install in that ship some massive pumps that could pump out most any volume of water. One should not, however, point to such a ship on the water as an example of a viable craft structured under sound principles of maritime engineering and architecture.

Today’s IFB churches remain afloat very often because of the apathy, ignorance, and misguided biblical expectations of their parishioners. They twist, creak, buckle and bend, taking on constant water, but they have the capacity to pump that water out and so stay afloat. I have often put this another way: the church is front and center on the altar, not Jesus Christ and His impeccable standards for morality, personal holiness, and proper pastoral authority built on trust and respecting the Priesthood of the Believer. In these churches, scandal after scandal is swept under the rug. So much so in fact that I have often quipped, those auditoriums would make great skateboard parks.

It is the IFB M-O-D-EL that is flawed and corrupt. The proof that it is not can never be found in the number of buses the church runs, the number of baptisms the previous year, the number of missionaries the church supports, and certainly not the old unspoken adage of this fraternity: “If You Say It Loud Enough, It Must Be So.”
Video:
Pastoral Authority

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The Church Seatbelt Checkers

The Seatbelt Checkers

I once joked about a fictitious church announcement: “The same rules for the church camping trip will apply to everyone in church: DON’T STAND UP IN THE CANOE!”

We all have a lot of acquaintances, friends and relatives in quite a variety of professions. Most of them work hard and have a boss over them. Often those at the top who do not have a boss are those who work the hardest. This has been my observation everywhere for a number of decades. Well . . . . . not quite everywhere. I have never seen it work that way in church.

Let me tell you about my last pastor. That church in Weatherford, Texas ran about 300-350 in attendance most Sundays. The church offerings were in the range of $25,000 a week. The pastor’s salary was in the $100,000 range, not counting a number of perks such as a yearly clothing allowance of several thousand dollars, a new luxury car (he went through three in the fourteen months I was there), paid vacations every 6-8 weeks, and extraordinarily generous offerings for any conceivable occasion: birthdays, Christmas, anniversary, anniversary of his arrival, and some other occasions I can’t think of. He had a staff whose salaries averaged $75,000 a year who did most of his actual work as he came and went as he pleased and had no official office hours. His sermons were devotional fluff—usually some variation of his weekly (or “weakly”) central theme: “Give Your heart to Jesus.”

It is hard for me to contemplate this man, my former pastor and a good number of others like him who have stood before me every Sunday in their pulpit and not think of the dire warnings against pastors sounded by the prophet Ezekiel: “ And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them.”
“ Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.”

Now all that being said, something should become rather apparent to the average person contemplating such a professional church man: anyone you and I know would go to extraordinary means to keep that gig going, would they not? The “Don’t-Stand-Up-In-The-Canoe” rule becomes the unofficial yet inviolable mantra of the church, as well as the principal foundation of church polity. Biblical rules and protocols for dealing with dissenters in churches like these went out the window so long ago that few remember them. But it is worse than even this . . . . much worse.

These pastors have developed a great skill. Their church “canoes” have a distinguishing feature that we never see in a canoe: SEAT BELTS! Yes, seat belts! And make no mistake about it, THEY ARE REQUIRED TO BE KEPT FASTENED AT ALL TIMES! Individualism, critical thinking, a Berean attitude toward the Scriptures, divergent and doctrinal views are NOT welcome. In other words, keep that seatbelt on and just enjoy the ride down the lazy river of devotional preaching, platitudes, and the expression of what I call “Bumper Sticker Theology.” But it is even worse than this.

These career church men whom I see far more as “Church C.E.O.’s” and not the kinds of shepherds Jesus spoke of, or Paul exhorted Timothy to be have honed yet another skill. They can spot an “unbuckled seat belt” a mile away. I remember my last pastor actually saying to me once, “The men in my pulpit have to reflect me.” I must have failed to suitably disguise my astonished and disturbed look at hearing that statement, for my reaction seemed to precipitate the decline of my status in that church. You see, I had always thought that a man in a Christian pulpit ought to reflect Jesus Christ. Silly me.

They make T-shirts with the image of a seatbelt imprinted upon them for those foolishly inclined to avoid wearing them while driving. Maybe I’ll try to remember where I saw them advertised. I think one may come in handy the next time I visit a Baptist church.

We have a pattern for the church found throughout the New testament. This prototypical institution does not include a number of things that we take for common in our assemblies today: church buildings, and pastoral salaries are two that come to mind. Tithes that were directed toward supporting the well-being of the LOCAL community are another. While not a pastor, the Apostle Paul made it clear: “I would not be chargeable to any of you.” He managed to write most of the New Testament, take numerous missionary journeys, and curiously to LISTEN to those in the Corinthian and other churches who “stood up in the canoe. The Corinthian Epistles, in fact, were written on the pure basis of many Baptists would today call “gossip:” “things reported commonly among you.”

Paul, John the Baptist, pretty much every one of the Old Testament prophets, and ah yes . . . Jesus Himself regularly did something that is entirely anathema in our churches today: THEY NAMED NAMES! Imagine the nerve. Do I hear the sizzle of sacred cows? I’ll get the barbeque sauce . . . .while others run for their fire extinguishers.

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Why I Left Victory Baptist Church of Weatherford, Texas

http://jerrykbooks.com/VBCletters.htm

Introduction to “An Open Letter to Pastor Charles Wetherbee.”
Jerry D. Kaifetz, Ph.D., Weatherford, Texas

March 30, 2013

Dear friends,

On Saturday November 3, 2012 Pastor Wetherbee came to our house and made it very clear to me that he would rather we found another church. He was my pastor, a close friend and fellow preacher. Gwen and I have not been to Victory since, and we have no intention of ever returning. We were devastated by our pastor’s actions toward us, and also very confused as to the reasons that we have been given for them. This the account of the events of that day, what led to it, and what they have wrought in our lives. This letter is designed to introduce the letter I wrote Pastor Wetherbee concerning these events and others in the church which I am presenting below as an open letter.

We came to Victory badly needing a loving church. Although we were graciously welcomed by the people, that was all overturned for us on November 3rd. In the end, it was made clear to us that we were not welcome at Victory. I am neither naïve nor stupid. I know what Pastor Wetherbee communicated to me on that day in clear and unmistakable terms. For him or anyone else to pretend otherwise is both an insult to my intelligence and a moral travesty of significant proportion for any Christian, let alone a pastor. The following open letter to Pastor Wetherbee is an account of what transpired in that meeting, and my case for the personal responsibility that Pastor Charles Wetherbee bore in the events surrounding his making known to us that it was his desire that we leave Victory Baptist Church. Any denials of that intention by Pastor Wetherbee or anyone else are patently and demonstrably false. I did not misunderstand anything or anyone. I have never been more certain of anything in my life.

The letter that follows was sent by registered mail to Pastor Wetherbee on March 18, 2013. He has not responded, and I do not believe he has any intention of responding. He is the pastor. He is the man who stands in the pulpit. He has total authority at Victory, and I am convinced that he does not believe that any member or former member’s biblical grievances are worthy of holding him accountable in any way. he is, in my opinion (and I hold two degrees in Pastoral Theology) a hireling and a careerist, not a new testament shepherd. This goes for some former staff as well who now see the man as I do. I went from a position of complete faith, love, trust and respect for this man to mistrust, disrespect and a feeling of personal betrayal unprecedented in my thirty years as a Christian; this took place in a matter of fourteen months and culminated on November 3rd, 2012. None of this is imagined or misconstrued in any way. Some have and will call it “gossip,” but when challenged, none of them can define “gossip” biblically or tell me why I am not entitled to take my grievances “to the church,” as I am entitled to do under Matthew 18. Charles Wetherbee would have none of this, hence these actions.

The open letter that follows is being sent to you for the following reasons: It is my attempt following much prayer and counsel with several pastors over a five month period to turn up the light on a man whom I believe has portrayed himself to the church as someone other than whom I have found him to be in my personal and professional judgment as an ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for thirty years.

· I have found a significant number of former church members, including former staff members who have greatly helped to shed light on these sad observations while at Victory and who concur completely that my former, once beloved pastor has and will push anyone under the bus who does not present themselves as 100% supportive and compliant to his authority. The length of one’s friendship, the support that the Wetherbees have received (financial and otherwise) and even family ties have not risen to the level of safeguarding anyone who challenges the authority of Pastor Charles Wetherbe consciously or otherwise. Apparently making constructive suggestions on how to improve the church, having been asked to do so, was seen as a challenge to the pastor’s authority.

· I have written three books on churches and studied church management, church polity and biblical pastoral authority on the highest academic levels, produced blog articles and videos on the subject, and I can unequivocally state that Victory Baptist Church has not and does not reflect the biblical model of New Testament church governance in several important ways. (See the links below)

· I have no present intention of going beyond this letter. My options, however, will remain open. Victory Baptist Church is an Independent New Testament Church, and as such it is not my desire to do anything else other than to present the church with the facts of a very important matter concerning the church’s pastor. What course of action the church decides to take beyond that, if any, in light of the sovereignty of the church, is of little interest to me. What is of interest to me is the truth, and I do not believe that Pastor Wetherbee has presented himself truthfully to Victory Baptist Church, highly skilled and polished as he is in that presentation. Do not be fooled. This man runs the church and has compelling personal incentive to maintain his complete authority in that endeavor. This is the time to examine evidence, not to choose up sides. (Sadly, Baptist churches seem perpetually inclined toward the later.) I have a biblical obligation to “pursue righteousness;” I have studied that term most carefully, and I believe that I am 100% biblically justified in my public efforts to hold Charles Wetherbee and his church accountable to that standard. Not one person from VBC or elsewhere has demonstrated anything to the contrary to me.

· This letter is not an “attack,” as some will surely characterize it. It is not an attempt to “sow discord among the brethren.” It is simply an expression of my right under clear and compelling biblical protocols to challenge another Christian on the basis of my honest perceptions of his biblical qualifications for the office of pastor pursuant to the manner in which he has treated other Christians in the church. Read and you will see, unless you are “a respecter of persons” and place any and all pastoral criticism beyond the scope of acceptable Christian behavior.  (This in fact describes Victory Baptist Church quite accurately.)  If you are guided by pastoral loyalty rather than biblical admonition, you should stop reading now.

· Over twenty families and members have left the church in the last two years, (2010, 2011) and perhaps as many as thirty. Many have serious issues with Pastor Wetherbee and remain unreconciled with him to this day. This, is in my personal view untenable for any Christian, much less a pastor. God has made it plain to us all that we have been entrusted with “the ministry of reconciliation.” (II Co. 5:18). How shall we reconcile a lost world to the Savior when we fail daily in reconciling with each other? Again, the church is a sovereign body and the ultimate call on this and other issues is yours. God’s agenda for His people is reconciliation. Pastor Wetherbee has rejected that biblical directive here.

Pursuant to having it made plainly known to me that Pastor Wetherbee wanted me out of Victory (I will always maintain that his claims to the contrary are patently and demonstrably false, a part of his ruse to maintain power and protect his lucrative retirement) other things have come to my attention that would have disqualified Pastor Wetherbee as a pastor for me personally. Chief among these is the handling of an alleged adulterous affair by Jason Wetherbee, and Pastor Wetherbee subsequently putting him in the pulpit to preach and on the platform to sing. Following months of research, I have gathered compelling information provided to me by knowledgeable sources close to Jason detailing this issue based on their dealings with the parties involved, including a sermon by Jason referencing this issue repeatedly. I will provide that information only to representative members of the deacon board, should they wish to know for the right reasons. In addition, I have a link to a sermon Jason preached where he clearly and unmistakably blames God for his past. I know this is nearly impossible to believe, but anyone is free to listen for themselves and draw their own conclusions. (Link provided below.)

Since leaving, I have also come to the understanding that the total compensation packages of the pastor and staff are twice the national average for churches the size of Victory. Pastor Wetherbee, from what I have been told by sources close to the church, receives a total compensation package of over $100,000 yearly. I know the hours he keeps, because we are neighbors. They are not impressive. I believe that the pastor should be the hardest working man in any church. From what I have seen, the opposite of that is far closer to the truth. This man comes and goes as he pleases and takes a vacation every few weeks. I do not believe that any pastor should live far above the lifestyle of church members. The office of pastor was never intended by God to enable a lavish lifestyle for any man, or to enrich those holding that office. I have been in his home many times and can attest to that lifestyle and personal schedule. Once again, this is the church’s call, of course. The staff receives exceedingly generous compensation packages as well (like the pastor, around twice the national average.) They have much to risk by giving any credibility to a position such as mine regarding their boss, and as such I do not expect a fair and biblical arbitration of from them. That is human nature. I support that view by simply pointing out that they have been part and parcel of my shunning (a practice that absent biblical ground as in my case is patently contrary to the Bible) since leaving the church (Galatians 6:1). It is human nature for people to protect their livelihood. The high salaries of the church pastoral staff has a lot to do with the heavy emphasis on stewardship, which at Victory is FAR out of all proportion that Bible establishes for this concept. Look for yourselves. The missions and educational emphases of the church remain commendable, even though they give a mere $100 a month to the missionaries they support.

Then there was the inexplicable issue of the Jewish Heritage Ministry at Victory. As most of you know I was born and raised in the Jewish faith. I was Bar Mitzvah’d on September 2, 1961 at Temple Beth Israel and trained by a great Rabbi, Rabbi Sol Oster. I studied Hebrew and Judaism for many years. I have been to Israel. I looked forward to having a meaningful role in this ministry at Victory. I soon became puzzled to hear that in all the years of this ministry at the church, there had not been ONE convert! I have always been a results oriented person, and so I came to the belief that one of the reasons God had led me to Victory was to network with the Jewish community in Ft. Worth and bring some of these people into the orbit of the church through the Jewish ministry. Instead, I found that the leadership of the group was perfectly content to be 100% fruitless year after year after year and to use me to “put a Jewish faith on the ministry(their words).” I spoke at a few of these meetings and tried to bring the Spirit of God to bear on the status quo with some impassioned preaching, which I was pleased to find very well received by the people. My efforts, however, were ultimately seen as meddling. I was viewed as not being a “team player,” and ultimately a very critical and demeaning letter was sent to me condemning my spirit and my contributions to the group by a member of the church staff. I thought that without a doubt, Pastor Wetherbee would share my view and ask me how we could get Jewish converts. He did not. Instead he came down squarely in favor of the fruitless status quo and told me that like the church itself , the Jewish Ministry was “not a good fit for you.” I was dumbfounded. I have always had a passion for witnessing to Jews. I AM a Jew.   Jews relate to other Jews and greatly value formal education, so the fact that there happens to be a “Ph.D.” after my name has always given me opportunity and credibility in witnessing to Jews. I have spent many years honing a Gospel presentation just for Jews. It works! You can see it on my YouTube channel. Sadly, none of that mattered. My crime was being unwilling to accept fruitlessness and that was seen as an unacceptable challenge to the status quo at Victory, and apparently to Wetherbee’s authority and control . I have found this to be the GREAT sin at Victory Baptist Church. Pastor Wetherbee told me to my face once: “The men in my pulpit have to reflect me.” (I was always under the impression that a man in the pulpit was supposed to reflect Jesus Christ.)

I am also the author of a successful book for Christian teens: “World Class Truth—Bible Principles in Sports and Adventure.”(See video link below) I was a professional skier before coming to Christ in 1983 and raced all over the world. I competed for 15 years as an amateur and three years as a professional. I trained with several national teams in Europe as well as  top professionals under Henri Duvilar. This part of my life along with this book has led to success in reaching Christian young people since it was first published in 1989. After fourteen months at Victory, I was at a loss to understand why this successful book was not used in the youth ministry of the church. Neither was I able to come to an understanding as to why I was not ever used in that ministry. I have never seen the inside of the youth building. I have a good track record with Christian youth and once was featured in a national youth conference with 3,000 teens in attendance.

The other issue that I have with Pastor Wetherbee concerns a phrase that I have heard him use again and again. It is a phrase that I had never heard before coming from a pastor. I have even heard it in the expression of his prayers. He often prays for “the liberty to preach.” I was very confused when I first heard him use that term. I honestly did not know what he meant, so I asked him. What he told me stopped me in my tracks: he said it was all about the church “allowing” him to preach on subjects that may be offensive or challenging to some of them. I was stunned! I didn’t remember Elijah ever praying that prayer, or John the Baptist, or Daniel, or Jeremiah, or Isaiah. I simply didn’t know what to say. Only the respect I had for his office and our personal friendship kept me from saying what was burning in my heart: “Maybe you ought to just have the courage preach against all sins and worry about pleasing God instead of ruffling feathers in the church.”

I have nothing to hide in all of this. My life is an open book, literally thirteen of them.   I was committed to conducting myself in a Christ-honoring way at Victory since we joined the first Sunday we came in September of 2011, and in fact since I was saved in 1983. I believe that my conduct, service, and participation as a church member were without reproach, something that the pastor confirmed to me when he visited me that Saturday, November 3rd. You will see much of this in the open letter letting him know how Gwen and I have been devastated by his actions toward us, and how this experience has impacted us in such a profound and painful way to the point of even our health being affected for a time. We never expected this from our church, and I certainly never, ever, ever expected that from a man whom I considered to be such a close and trusted friend and fellow preacher.

Now Pastor Wetherbee has said from the pulpit, I am told, that “there are two sides to every story.” In the context of that expression, it is clear that he was speaking of me. If he has a side to this story that is different from what I have attributed to him, I believe that I am entitled to hear it. I think that the enclosed letter of recommendation that he wrote for me days before the Nov. 3rd incident attests to my standing with him, with the church, and with the Lord Jesus Christ. (See link below) I believe that as a Christian, I have the right to defend my name. I also am not naive enough to fail to understand that when I do, he and probably his staff will paint me as a person “sowing discord among the brethren.” When a pastor paints a church member in this way, that has always meant to me that the individual is being labeled intentionally for less than honorable or biblical purposes. Other common, defensive and unsupportable labels often used are, “bitter,” “angry,” and the like. No man can look into my heart. If anyone could, they would see no bitterness or anger there; just a desire to shine the light of Jesus Christ and bring out His truth. Please do not listen to gossip about me. If you Google my name, you will find many hours of reading and viewing available to you that will allow you to decide for yourself who I am. There is no lack of information about me all over the Internet.

This letter is then about one thing: shining the light and letting the light reveal what is there. It is written from a very sincere heart in the spirit of truth and rests upon the foundation Matthew 18: the Christian’s right to “take it to the church.” I am 100% certain that one of two things will now happen: either my shunning by Victory Baptist Church will continue, or I will be labeled, vilified and personal motives will be attributed to me that nobody but God and I could possibly know; probably all of the above. My conscience is clear and my motives are pure. This church dynamic is something that is often subtly expressed by experienced pastors unused to being challenged: “Pray for Brother Kaifetz. He has had problems in churches before . . . . etc. etc.” For the record, I have challenged the very worst of sins and their cover-up in several churches: adultery, fornication, homosexuality, incest, child molestation, brawling, the public betrayal of pastoral confidentiality, embezzlement, child rape, participation in pornography, Christians going to court against one another, and even murder, just to name a few. I have never apologized for my actions, and I never will. This has not, however, stopped some pastors from attempting to marginalize me to justify themselves. If your pastor chooses to ally himself with those men, as Charles Wetherbee has done, that is their choice. That is a dark place to live.

Pastor Wetherbee has been around long enough to know how to deal with this letter. He will likely make this a referendum about himself and play on the sympathies and loyalty of the church. By that I mean that he will exaggerate and recast my charges against him to be a complete personal indictment. People in the position in which he will find himself will defend themselves against charges that have not been made and characterize the rest of them as an “attack” by a “disgruntled” former church member. He will deny everything that I have said, and try to make the issue about me while obscuring the facts under a swirl of emotions as he solicits the sympathy and support of the church. Often others join in and publicly support the man accused under a flood of praise that is only designed to obscure the individual charges that I do not believe he can meet head on. He may also try to ignore the entire matter.

If you choose to read what follows, I hope that you will do so in the spirit of honesty, not being a respecter of persons, and hopefully trusting in the honesty of my motives until they are openly proven to be untrustworthy. I love the Lord Jesus Christ with every fiber of my being, and have dedicated thirty years of my life to the study of His word, His church, and to winning precious souls to Jesus Christ. My testimony has gone all over the world, and I am still blessed and inexpressibly honored to be sharing it in churches and with many thousands of people around the world every month. I have taught my personal method and style of soul winning to over a thousand pastors, something I was never asked to do at Victory.

If you are of the belief that loyalty to your pastor precludes any criticism directed toward him or the church, then the open letter below is NOT for you. You should not read it. Feel free to give your pastor whatever authority over you he desires to have, regardless of what you decide to call it. Let him think for you.

Thank you, some of you, for your love and friendship in our fourteen months at Victory. Gwen and I know that we still have a few friends there who have not been a part of our shunning, and who have reached out to us through this painful and confusing episode in our lives. We are doing much better now. God has blessed us in many, many ways, and we thank Him often from a heart overflowing with inexpressible gratitude and love. God has seen fit in His great mercy and outpouring of divine grace to always compensate us for the many hurtful things that have come into our lives over the years at the hands of Christians and churches. No amount of thanks toward God expressed often and with tears can adequately express how blessed we feel today. Sadly, this has all come about not through our pastor, but in spite of him; not through our church but in spite of our church. Three area pastors and their churches have reached out to us in the last few months and been used of God in our healing. God is good. We will never attend a corporate church again, but God is using us in ways that are pervasive and powerful.  We are in the midst of GENUINE revival and reaching upwards of 10,000 people a month beyond that.

Sincerely,

Jerry Kaifetz

Links & References:

Jason’s Sermon:

Pastor Wetherbee’s letter of recommendation:

http://jerrykbooks.com/VBC/CW-JK-ltr%20%282%29.JPG

Video on Pastoral Authority:

When Church Authority is Abused

World Class Truth

Video on “How to Disagree in Church:”

Blog articles on Pastoral Authority:

When Christian Leaders Abuse Their Authority

When Church Authority is Abused

YouTube Video “Profaned Pulpit:”

Profaned Pulpit on Amazon Books

http://www.amazon.com/Profaned-Pulpit-Jack-Schaap-Story/dp/1479180297

My Testimony on Unshackled:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brc0rrQ87KM

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LR2d5YEO8vQ

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CERTIFIED MAIL: No. 7011 0470 0003 0770 4052

Dr. Jerry Kaifetz

Weatherford, Texas

March 18, 2013

Pastor Wetherbee,

I am providing you with this letter in order to establish exactly what I have against you (“thy brother hath ought against thee;”) and to give you the opportunity to address these issues and give an account for you actions with respect to us leaving Victory Baptist Church and your role in that event. These are the facts concerning the deterioration and ultimate collapse of our relationship. You and I are unreconciled, yet several times each week you stand in a pulpit and present yourself as a man who leads a church commissioned by God as a “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). You pray often in spite of God’s injunction against your prayers when you have unresolved issues with another brother concerning which you have not sought redress.

More for the record than for any other reason, I will here set in order the issues that I have against you, and the details of your failure as the pastor of a New testament church. It is unlikely that you will accept this, but my cause against you is biblical and not personal. I will make that case here for you now in a clear, factual, biblical and objective manner based on the Matthew 18 principle in our Bibles. I do this this in spite of the fact that I have never know you to follow this important scriptural protocol for dealing with conflict among Christians in church, especially the many, many conflicts in which you have been personally involved. You have consistently wielded unilateral, political church influence to frame the dozens of instances of good people leaving Victory Baptist Church and failed to honor the biblical protocols for dealing with interpersonal issues with these church members. (Some 20+ families in recent months alone.)

Please understand as well that as Christians, we are impinged upon by God to not come to Him in prayer with unresolved conflict with another Christian looming in the background of our lives (See Matthew Henry’s commentary on Matthew 5 at the conclusion of this letter.)

Let us understand as well that every Christian is solidly within his or her rights to lay claim to the directive of Matthew 18. I am choosing here in accord to that biblical protocol to come to you first, but I in no way have any intention to take the Matthew 18 option off the table, nor should I. For now, that decision is more in your hands than mine. You have undoubtedly been able to handle situations such as ours in the past through a political process within the church over which you have maintained 100% control, thereby presenting your version alone. I have heard some of these stories from another perspective, and that picture has at times not been a flattering one to you, let alone a reflection of an honest presentation on your part. My belief is that God wants all Christians to be accountable, especially Christian leaders. You would be quite wrong to view this as a threat, although I do not personally believe that you know of any other way to view anyone who disagrees with you. That is just the kind of pastor that I have sadly come to believe you are. Those who support your style of church governance are most always those who have the most to gain.

I have decided upon six individuals to whom I will go for advice and perspective in this matter of my issues with you. Two are out of state and four are local. Most are pastors. I will take what they have to say seriously, although I require from them a solid, detailed and specific biblical underpinning for their positions, regardless of what they may be. Please understand that I will do anything and everything necessary to assure that when God looks upon our broken relationship that He will understand that I have done everything within my power to seek and achieve the reconciliation and the peace that He has made abundantly clear that He desires (II Co. 5:18). There is no bitterness on my part, no desire to “sow discord among the brethren,” and no desire to do anything other than to give an accurate account of what I have seen transpire between us and can fully document. This effort will not fail for a lack of effort on my part. I am fully within the dictates of Scripture here, but I will remain open to any well supported thoughts to the contrary.

We had come to VBC as visitors for around 15 years. We had been making regular visits to the area during those years to visit family. We had come out of the most abusive church in the history of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement, First Baptist Church of Hammond. Three books, two documentaries, and countless published articles, indictments, convictions and prison sentences bear testimony to this.

It was always refreshing to come to Weatherford and visit Victory. We had immense faith in Victory, in the leadership, and in the people. We had been at ground zero of a historic war in Fundamentalism, as you well know. My wife had been experiencing nightmares for 24 years as a result of the abuse, control, manipulation and life-crushing expectations of Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches. Here is a partial list of what we have endured in churches since 1989:

· My second pastor of seven years had an affair with his secretary and was devoid of any aspect of a marital relationship with his wife for twenty-five years. Neither loved the other. His name was Jack Hyles.

· My favorite professor in Bible college is serving a life sentence in a Tennessee prison for indescribable physical and sexual abuse of his adopted daughter. So is his wife. His name is Joe Combs.

· A deacon in a former church was convicted of child molestation in the church. That church stood by him in spite of his conviction and imprisonment, refusing all support for the victim or her family. He was kept on the deacon board and the Board of Trustees of the church’s schools the whole time he was in prison. That Deacon was A.V. Ballenger.

· In my next church, the pastor’s son was arrested on a sex charge with an underage girl. When I went to the pastor with another man and put the son’s police report on his desk, we were thrown out of the church. The son’s name was Andy Beith. The pastor was his father, William Beith who himself would later be arrested on sex charges making the front page of the paper. That same man was later confronted leaving an X-rated movie theater by a local evangelist.

· One pastor of mine was arrested for soliciting a male undercover policeman for oral sex in a public park.

· In one church to which we belonged, the pastor’s son became the principal of the church’s Christian School, and in that capacity kidnapped an eleven year old female student and fled. He was captured by the FBI many states away and arrested, convicted of sex crimes, and sentenced to fifteen years in federal prison.

· One former church had a full-length documentary produced by a major television network detailing their legacy of abuse and cultish nature. That film was called “Preying From the Pulpit.”

· Another pastor of mine was featured nationally in a documentary on the ABC 20/20 Program dedicated to abusive pastors. This was the second pastor from that church to be featured on a national broadcast on the topic of abuse in the church. His name was Jack Schaap. The previous pastor, Jack Hyles, was featured on the network news show, “A Current Affair” where he was interviewed by Maury Pauvich after the disclosure of a well known affair.

· Yet another pastor of mine was excommunicated from the church he had founded and sacrificed to build when he chose to expose an adulterous member of the staff. The man leading that charge was the new pastor, Phillip Owens of Santee, California, the former pastor’s son.

· This son had a brother who was also a pastor, Paul Owens of Ramona, California. When his pastor-father came to him to ask him why he supported his brother in excommunicating his father, this retired eighty year old pastor was physically assaulted by his son in the son’s church after a Sunday service.

· One of my former pastor’s grown sons was known to advertise in a porn magazine for group sex involving with his wife. These ads included photos of his wife performing sex acts. That man was Dave Hyles.

· One associate pastor in a large church we were in had an adulterous affair with my best friend’s wife. He was sent off to another church in another state, where he did the same thing. He then left for yet another state to pastor where he has continued this lifestyle, which I believe continues to this day almost thirty years later.

· Several teachers in the Bible college I attended were caught in affairs. None were dismissed or underwent church disciple in any way. When their wives came to the pastor for counseling, they were all asked the same question: “What do you suppose you did to drive your husband to that?”

· A woman came to me in 2010 and told me that in her Sunday School class in which she taught the wives of staff men in a large church, 90% came to her and told her that their husbands had had affairs.

· Another pastor came to my door late one night as I was in my living room with several of my close friends from his church. Behind him was a line of over twenty deacons lined up to the sidewalk. The pastor told me that he had heard that my friends and I were there to talk about the church and that they wanted to know what was being said, demanding to be let in.

· One Sunday in another church we attended, a knock-down, drag-out brawl erupted during the auditorium Sunday School class between the pastor and his son-in-law after the son-in-law called his wife “a whore” in front of her father. The men in the class had to separate the two bloodied men.

· We left two other churches over less egregious matters involving simply the clear domination of church politics over principles of righteousness and biblical church polity.

When we came to Victory in September of 2011, our faith in the church had already been established. This was in itself a miracle of inexpressible proportion. I drew immeasurable comfort from you the day that you said to me that you felt a duty to show us that Victory could be an experience of healing and comfort for Gwen and for me in atmosphere of love. Those words of yours were refreshing waters on parched ground. Fourteen months later, you had not only failed to deliver on that promise personally and as a church, but you had added abuse, disrespect, injury, pain and betrayal of trust on a level that Gwen and I had never before known in spite of our tragic church experiences of 22 years. This inexpressibly painful episode, engineered and carried out by you, left us crushed, and for the first time, our health began to be affected. We considered giving up on church altogether. It is truly a miracle of the Lord that we have not.

We had sold our home in Indiana and moved to Weatherford, principally to be a part of Victory Baptist Church. We had a sizable property which was difficult to sell in the market of that time. Wanting more and more to be a part of Victory, we made the decision to leave a six figure sum on the table in order to make possible the relocation of a thousand miles to Weatherford. We joined Victory the first Sunday we were there. We felt on that day as if we were in the epicenter of God’s will for our lives. Again and again and again I was told by you, the entire church staff, and many others that Victory was going to be a wonderful church home and that there was every intention for me to be greatly used there. You yourself told me repeatedly that you were only waiting for us to finish the process of settling in so that I could be free to concentrate on being greatly used by the church. That never came to pass. The reasons that personally gave me when questioned as to why were the following:

· “You have too much energy.”

· “The people here will never accept you.”

· “The men in my pulpit have to reflect me.”

· “Brother Kaifetz, you are a race horse, and you can’t hook a race horse up to a plow.” (Bro. Stewart)

We bought a house on the same street as you and Shelley, just a few doors down. I personally believed this to be providential. We began to enjoy the church greatly. My wife and I had not been in church together in a long time. I had all but stopped going, maintaining only my bare responsibility as a Christian to “not [permanently] forsake” assembling myself with other Christians (Hebrews 10:25, implications of Greek tense added) .

You and I became very good friends. We rode motorcycles together most every week. We were in your home regularly and you in ours. I felt like I had been greatly blessed to have found not just a wonderful pastor, but a very dear friend and fellow preacher as well. Again, and again, and again, I was told how wonderful it was to have us at Victory and how much I would be used of God there. Brother Stuart regularly chimed in on a weekly basis with that refrain, as did Bro. Hamilton. This was repeated to me often throughout late 2011 and well into 2012.

You asked me to give my testimony in the church’s biggest event of the year, the Stewardship Banquet just a month or so after our arrival. You and countless others related to me that I had done an excellent job. I was later asked to speak in the Jewish Heritage Group, the High School Chapel, the grade school chapel, a men’s Breakfast and on at least two occasions you asked me to teach your auditorium Sunday School Class in your absence. In each and every case, the many comments that you and I both heard went substantially beyond a simply modest and courteous praise.

Before long, I began to get restless in what had seemed to be my ongoing church role as a pew-warmer. I also began to observe that the steady diet of devotional preaching at Victory was not feeding me, my wife, or other seasoned Christians who pointed out to me that they sure would like to see less of it and more expository preaching with core Bible teaching and not just biblical flavoring.

Once on a motorcycle ride to Granbury, you asked me if there was anything that I saw in the church that I thought could be improved. We had only been there a few months, and so I declined to answer. Nearly a year later I asked you if I could have a conversation with you. I did this for three reasons: 1.) I thought that the door was still open to answer the question that you had asked me in Granbury; 2.) I had heard you lament on several occasions that the church’s response to invitations was disappointing; 3.) I knew exactly why people were not responding to invitations as a pastor would want.

I had already had one conversation with Bro. Stewart in which I had let him know that God had not called me to warm a pew, and that after fourteen months of it, I was beginning to experience some frustration. His response was , “Brother Kaifetz, you are a racehorse! We can’t hook a racehorse up to a plow!” I left with the feeling that I was in the middle of a political game and that what I was getting was church tactics and not honest answers of transparency from those from whom I expected candor and straight answers. I began to strongly suspect that there were personal reasons why you did not want to use me at Victory. Today, I have no doubt as to the accuracy of that initial assumption. My conclusions beyond those estimations would not be personally flattering to you.

Soon I invited you over and we discussed invitations. I told you that in my opinion, invitations that are far too general always elicit a lower level of response. I had written down the phrase of invitation that you had used the last five services: “If God has spoken to you somewhere along the way, you come.” I tried as respectfully as I knew how to share with you that in every Bible College and seminary class that I had ever had, including on the doctoral level, that preachers were always taught to make their invitations specific and focused. I could tell that my advice, put as humbly and respectfully as I possibly knew how, much prayed over, and coming from a friend, fellow-preacher, and a man whom you knew appreciated and respected you, was falling on deaf ears. The meeting ended on what I consider to be a tense note in spite of my having done everything that I new how to do to keep from having that happen. I could see that you were not a man who was in the habit of taking advice seriously from anyone. Others who knew you and have worked for you would later echo that sentiment.

That week, I realized that I would not be able to be faithful to my calling from God while a member of Victory Baptist Church. I also you knew that this was your clear and orchestrated intention. My testimony on the Unshackled Radio Program had been heard in 37 countries by as many as three million people and translated into a number of other languages, yet it was never shared with the people at Victory. I am the author of twelve books, three with major publishers, yet for over a year, none of my books were ever mentioned, promoted, or made available in the church bookstore. I was academically qualified, with a B.S. and a Th.M. in Pastoral Theology, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy in Religion, yet never asked to teach anywhere.

Then I wrote another book while at Victory: “Profaned Pulpit—The Jack Schaap Story.” I pointed out to you that you were in close association with men who had wholeheartedly supported this inexpressibly corrupt and immoral megachurch pastor, Jack Schaap for years. These men had preached at Victory. They taught Victory’s preachers in training. You had gone to these men’s conferences where Jack Schaap was heralded in spite of his heretical and blasphemous teachings (the Lord’s Supper is having sex with Jesus, family demons cause men to be adulterous, etc.). I felt led of the Lord to make reference to this kind of thing in my book, although out of respect for you, I chose not to name the names of your culpable associates. Again, out of respect for my you, I gave you a pre-publication edition of the book and asked you to read it. You read it in less than day and then we met for dinner at The Mesquite Pit. You told me you thought it was “a good book.” You even suggested that I add another chapter to warn good churches on how to avoid becoming like First Baptist Church of Hammond. I did just that. Unfortunately, this book in fact scared you. I have not a shred of doubt concerning that conclusion; it has been reinforced by people who know you and have worked with you in the ministry. Your style of church management and polity has, I am so sorry to say, elements of commonality with what I have described in my books on churches as a “vertical church polity;” that is, from the pulpit down with no consideration of anyone’s Christian liberty to disagree with you without consequence.

If you will read the reviews of “Profaned Pulpit” on Amazon Books by pastors and victims of those abuses, you will see that this book has been blessed of God. Now, brother, your positive comments notwithstanding, it is my considered opinion that you were were ultimately very uncomfortable and even threatened with the publication of this book and that it was instrumental in paving the way for me to be ushered out of Victory Baptist Church. I have not the slightest doubt as to the accuracy of that statement. That was your intention and your doing.

You then wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation upon my request . I reasoned that if I was not going to be used at Victory (and it was abundantly and powerfully clear to me that I was not), then I wanted at least to get out to other churches in order to be faithful to my calling of God to preach the Gospel of Christ and to edify believers through sound doctrine and good, expository Bible preaching. The letter that you wrote on my behalf, as you know, was an unconditional endorsement. That letter will forever keep you from pointing to any shortcoming you may claim to have perceived as the basis of keeping me out of the pulpit at Victory Baptist Church. I am including a copy of that letter as a reminder of your unconditional endorsement just days before our leaving.

The following week I again asked you once again to drop by. You came over and we sat down on our back patio. As you sat reclined in a patio chair, never removing your dark aviator-style sunglasses, what transpired in that meeting ended my friendship with you and led my wife and I to leave Victory Baptist Church. This was a devastating experience for us that led to a major fracture in my relationship with Gwen’s family. You will never know the distress that this has brought to Gwen, nor do I believe that even something like rises for you above the dictates of church politics. I just don’t think that you care. Your actions have made that plain. I have learned that I am not the first close friend and brother in Christ who has been severed from your life and become the victim of your style of pastoral management and church leadership.

Then the subject of xxxxxxxxxxxx came up. Gwen and I could not listen to Bro. xxxxxxxxxxxxx preach. He was what thousands of IFB abuse survivors call a “trigger.” Gwen had decided to trust me and the faith that I had developed in you in the year that we had been at Victory. That was anything but an easy task for her. People with our background will have a visceral and tremendously unsettling response to a man like xxxxxxxxxxxx who exhibits inn the pulpit what we have come to call the “Fundamentalist Swagger.” I had put it to you in another way before, saying, “Once you have been in a train wreck, there is no such things as an enjoyable train ride.” You told me that you understood. As I listened to xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, far too many of these distasteful and unsettling memories of the “Fundamentalist Swagger” surfaced for me. I can only thank God that Gwen was in the nursery that service. She would have surely been greatly unsettled once again by this style of preaching and its total absence of humility.

That day on our patio, however, you made some demands of me that did not reflect anything resembling the understanding you had promised earlier. You said this to me: “I can’t have someone in church who is going to question my authority. I asked him [xxxxxxxxx] to preach, and I will probably do it again.” I was plainly and expressly told that to be a member of the church, or at least to be used there, I could not exercise my right to not support any preacher whom my pastor put in the pulpit, and that the impact on me and my wife were for you inconsequential. You made abundantly clear that I HAD to be there when he was brought to the pulpit. That was wholly unacceptable to me as a Christian and a member of a New Testament Church. That for me violated my Christian liberty, and was an unacceptable intrusion on my God-given duty to protect my wife. That was sadly of no concern to you whatsoever, and you made that plain. I only wanted her nightmares to end and to feel loved and secure in her new church. That seemed not to matter to you, no matter how I tried to get you to see our position and to understand the abuses we had faced in so many previous churches. In the end, you only heaped on more abuse.

I could not imagine my pastor saying anything to me that I would consider as biblically and personally unacceptable as this demand of unfettered support and loyalty that you had just made known to me was a requirement for being used at Victory. But you were not through. You then added the following: “The men in my pulpit have to reflect ME!” I was dumbfounded. I had spent hundreds of hours with you in the last fourteen months. I had befriended you as I had no brother in Christ in decades. I had spent several hundred dollars on a rare 1611 KJV Bible manuscript of the Romans chapter eight page to give you as a Christmas present in 2011. I had spend untold hours helping you around your house with all manner of projects and improvements that you lacked the skills to undertake. We had taken you out to dinner with your wife many times. I had tried in vain to influence you to eat in a more healthy manner and to think about a program of exercise, even inviting you to work out with me each week. You declined repeatedly, much to my disappointment, and your wife’s as well. In an instant, I saw that our friendship and your divinely ordained responsibilities to me as my shepherd and pastor and friend would take an immediate back seat to the dictates of church politics as an expression of your personal agenda for the church. I was dumbfounded. I had trusted, and I had once again seen that trust shattered and betrayed, this time in an even far greater way than all of the previous times because of the trust, friendship and love that I had extended to you. It has been months now, and Gwen and I are still devastated by our experience at Victory. We can only thank God for the small number people from Victory who have reached out, and for the local pastors who know our story through whom we have been blessed since being pushed out of Victory by you. For the most part, the traditional and well known Baptist practice of “shunning” has sadly been a reality for us since leaving the church.

You would think that we had reached the low point of our relationship with you and that things could not possibly get any worse. You would be wrong. I decided to ask you one last question that day on our patio: “You would rather I just left Victory Baptist Church now, wouldn’t you? Of all the things, words, expressions, and disappointment that reared their ugly head in the course of our time together that day, nothing for me will ever rise to the stunning level of offense that was inflicted by your response to that question. I want to be EXCEEDINGLY careful to be fair to the you in describing this. I want to make no assumptions, add no embellishments or frame this in anything other than a perfectly honest and detailed context. I also want to make it clear that I am not accusing you of verbally expressing the answer. All that being said, you made your answer as clear as if you had written a detailed answer in large, bold capital letters above your notarized signature.

When I asked you, Charles Wetherbee, if you would rather I left Victory Baptist Church, you did the following:

· You continued to lean far back in your chair.

· You had been slouched down low the whole time, never removing your dark green, aviator style sunglasses.

· Your hands were folded on your stomach.

· You then turned your wrists and extended your hands outward, keeping your elbows at your side.

· Your demonstrated a slight grin.

· You then noticeably shrugged your shoulders while showing the palms of your hands and then turned them upwards while still shrugging your shoulders.

Your body language was excruciatingly clear! (I hope that you will not further insult my intelligence by continuing to deny the obvious here.) It was then that I knew that there was nothing left to salvage in my relationship with my pastor or my church. Nevertheless, in my confusion, I thought I would still give it a try, as I had had so much faith in the church, and especially in you. We had made many friends there, or so we thought. Shelley and Gwen, as you know, were very close. Then my wife reminded me of two things, (something that in these situations usually works the other way around): 1.) It would be a major and untenable compromise to stay in a church I no longer believed in (a church where the pastor had made it abundantly clear to me that he did not want me there); 2.) The people there whom I thought were my friends would drop me like a hot potato the second I left. (This has turned out to be quite true with the exception of a small handful of people.) This is always the case in every Baptist Church. Baptists employ the same shunning dynamics as the Amish. The difference is that the Amish are honest enough to call it what it is, “shunning” and to tell the victim to their face. Baptists shun most everyone who leaves their church, and their code of silence and isolation toward those leaving precludes entirely any biblical foundation on which such action is supposed to be founded for Christians. In every Baptist church that I have ever been in, church politics and loyalty to the institution or its leader will always, always, always rise to a higher level than Scripture. (One member of V.B.C. did make a very misguided and unsound attempt to justify my shunning from a biblical perspective with some ridiculously general Scriptures, and one staff member wrote me a demeaning personal e-mail.) Everyone else just put it into practice.

In my fourteen months at Victory Baptist Church, as I patiently and anxiously awaited the opportunity to be faithful to my calling of God to minister to Christians, to preach the Word of God, and to put my shoulder to the wheel of church ministry, I made many, many suggestions concerning what I was able to contribute to the church. I will present here a partial list:

· I volunteered to be a substitute Sunday School Teacher. No response.

· I had taught a 16 week Creation Science Course in other churches that had always been very successful and resulted in much church growth. (I had been trained under Henry Morris at the institute for Creation Research.) I volunteered to teach that course at Victory. No response.

· I suggested a “Creation Minute” before every Wednesday or Sunday evening service, in which a list of meaningful and crucial issues concerning Creation would be addressed in 2-3 minutes. No response.

· I offered to lead a field trip in the local area to show people escarpments common to the local geology and to explain the important connection they have to the Genesis Flood. No response.

· I asked if my testimony featured as a radio drama on the Unshackled Radio Program could be played for the church on a Sunday evening. No response.

· I asked if I could be considered at some future point for a Sunday School class. No response.

· I asked if I could share my testimony with the youth group. No response.

· I was asked on a visit to VBC years ago to explain the SEO (search engine optimization) program that my company had implemented resulting in 1,700% growth in sales the first year. I did a presentation for the entire staff, telling them that the church website was a static “catalogue” website and had no traffic. I explained to them how my company had moved from page 25 of Google to page one, and the enormity of what that could mean if a church decided to take the steps that lead there. More recently I showed them the visible results of these efforts on my main ministry site showing over 15,000 hits in one month, and 1,000 of those people listening to my Unshackled testimony. No response.

· I suggested that the church set up a video studio to record the testimonies of church members for inclusion into a separate website that could be promoted locally the way I have done with my site, and how the same powerful results could be achieved. No response.

· I suggested a booth at First Mondays where I would deliver talks on Creation vs. Evolution and challenge the people to bring their best questions and their validations for Evolution. I have never failed to draw a crowd in doing this. This often draws substantial numbers of people, many of who will come to a church teaching on this subject. These are very often people who would not otherwise come to any church for whom Creation provides a valid path to faith. I have never seen less than 20% growth in these programs. No response.

· I have a close friend who is an attorney and a noted Christian author. His name is Voyle Glover. He wrote a book on how to protect a church from child predators. I offered the book to Pastor Wetherbee to read on several occasions. I also told him Mr. Glover would come to Victory if invited. No church is immune from these scandals, and pre-emptive measures and policies offer a tremendous legal bulwark if scandal comes. No response.

· I offered to provide some information on the dynamic and illuminating “Hydroplate Theory” that explains the science and dynamics of the Genesis Flood on a level that nothing ever has in Christian history. No response.

So you see, it became obvious to me that I was not going to be used at Victory. It is of course the pastor’s prerogative to use whom he chooses. My problem lies in the fact that there was never the slightest reason presented to me why there was obviously an orchestrated effort to keep me from fulfilling my calling from God in my church. I was qualified, trained, experienced, called, highly motivated and leading a separated Christian life that was for all intents and purposes beyond any reproach that had come my way from anyone in my church or beyond for thirty years. If there was a valid obstacle to my being used at Victory, it was never once made known to me. I have been in a wonderful Christian marriage for almost thirty years, had raised two children whose lives shined for the Lord. I had taught hundreds if not thousands of churches my evangelism course. (Never was I asked to do this at Victory.) Further, you well knew that I had always given God the fullest measure of praise and honor for the multitude of blessings in my life. We both know that neither you nor anyone in the church ever brought anything in my life contrary to that spirit in me to my attention.

After examining all the possible reasons for my having been sidelined, some reasons did begin to emerge through my counseling and discussions with other pastors. Even though there was a consistent thread throughout what these men shared with me, I will refrain from going into these reasons here as I understand that my framing of this subject is based on circumstantial elements, and this letter is not about personally diminishing you, other than what I believe is warranted in your role as pastor.

So I am giving you the opportunity to pursue a biblical resolution to our conflict. That is your personal choice. Personally, I don’t believe that you can be comfortable in dealing with these issues face to face with anyone with an open Bible between the two parties. I would welcome being proven wrong.

I have a great deal more that could be brought out. I have spent several months in the process of investigation, research and documentation using the considerable resources that are available to me. (I believe that you lied to the church about Jason’s adultery and put him in the pulpit at Victory after that offense.) That being said, I absolutely respect the sovereignty of the New testament Church. My intentions are honorable, sincere, as impersonal as one can from a human perspective make them, and most of all, they are biblical to a “T.” I challenge you or anyone to prove the contrary. I do not seek to make or impose any decision for you or for the church, now or in the future. What I do seek is accountability, respect and integrity. That has and will continue to be a matter of serious prayer for me. As you know, I am very, very bullish on accountability.

Many people have left Victory, and you have not had any difficulty in presenting these accounts to the church in a manner that suits your needs best. My belief is that in the end, God reveals to the world who people are. There is nothing veiled here. I hope you will not do me the further injustice of characterizing me as someone who has an axe to grind, or who has made a threat to you or the church. That characterization will not prevail. I promise you that. In the end, the believer’s right to claim his or her rights under Matthew 18 will prevail for any determined and sincere Christian who will not be marginalized or misrepresented. I reiterate once again: this is not a threat of any kind. It is simply a statement of fact. This is 2013, not 1990.

I now give you the opportunity to establish a path for reconciliation. I will only offer you this once. I have an inexpressibly strong belief that Christian leaders should be accountable for their actions. I am giving you the courtesy of coming to you first in the sincere hope that you will accept that opportunity. If you choose instead to misrepresent my motives or mischaracterize the biblical foundation of my actions as expressed in this letter, you will not succeed in that endeavor. I hope and I will be praying that you do not make the mistake of responding in that spirit. I have every intention of holding you accountable for the way in which you have treated me and my family. I have the resources, experience, and ability to do this on any level that I deem to be appropriate and just before God. The venue of choice and method is for now in your hands. If you choose to respond in a biblical way and leave behind the tactics of political church politics and manipulation, then there will in all probability be an honorable and just conclusion to these matters.

There is a path here that honors God. I hope and pray that together, we can find that path.

Sincerely,

Jerry Kaifetz

Jerry Kaifetz

JK@OMEGACHEMICAL.COM

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Matthew Henry on Matthew 5:21

IV. From all this it is here inferred, that we ought carefully to preserve Christian love and peace with our brethren, and that if at any time a breach happens, we should labour for a reconciliation, by confessing our fault, humbling ourselves to our brother, begging his pardon, and making restitution, or offering satisfaction for wrong done in word or deed, according as the nature of the thing is; and that we should do this quickly for two reasons:

1. Because, till this be done, we are utterly unfit for communion with God in holy ordinances, v. 23, 24. The case supposed is, “That thy brother have somewhat against thee,’’ that thou has injured and offended him, either really or in his apprehension; if thou are the party offended, there needs not this delay; if thou have aught against thy brother, make short work of it; no more is to be done but to forgive him (Mk. 11:25), and forgive the injury; but if the quarrel began on thy side, and the fault was either at first or afterwards thine, so that thy brother has a controversy with thee, go and be reconciled to him before thou offer thy gift at the altar, before thou approach solemnly to God in the gospel-services of prayer and praise, hearing the word or the sacraments. Note, (1.) When we are addressing ourselves to any religious exercises, it is good for us to take that occasion of serious reflection and self-examination: there are many things to be remembered, when we bring our gift to the altar, and this among the rest, whether our brother hath aught against us; then, if ever, we are disposed to be serious, and therefore should then call ourselves to an account. (2.) Religious exercises are not acceptable to God, if they are performed when we are in wrath; envy, malice, and uncharitableness, are sins so displeasing to God, that nothing pleases him which comes from a heart wherein they are predominant, 1 Tim. 2:8. Prayers made in wrath are written in gall, Isa. 1:15; 58:4. (3.) Love or charity is so much better than all burnt-offerings and sacrifice, that God will have reconciliation made with an offended brother before the gift be offered; he is content to stay for the gift, rather than have it offered while we are under guilt and engaged in a quarrel. (4.) Though we are unfitted for communion with God, by a continual quarrel with a brother, yet that can be no excuse for the omission or neglect of our duty: “Leave there thy gift before the altar, lest otherwise, when thou has gone away, thou be tempted not to come again.’’ Many give this as a reason why they do not come to church or to the communion, because they are at variance with some neighbour; and whose fault is that? One sin will never excuse another, but will rather double the guilt. Want of charity cannot justify the want of piety. The difficulty is easily got over; those who have wronged us, we must forgive; and those whom we have wronged, we must make satisfaction to, or at least make a tender of it, and desire a renewal of the friendship, so that if reconciliation be not made, it may not be our fault; and then come, come and welcome, come and offer thy gift, and it shall be accepted. Therefore we must not let the sun go down upon our wrath any day, because we must go to prayer before we go to sleep; much less let the sun rise upon our wrath on a sabbath-day, because it is a day of prayer.1

1Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

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Where the Fundamentalists’ View of Women First Went Wrong


by Jerry D. Kaifetz, Ph.D.

God said He would provide for all the needs of Adam and Eve in the paradisaical Garden of Eden. The responsibilities that He gave to the first couple included being fruitful and multiplying, keeping the garden, and to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Immediately after this divine prohibition, God creates Eve. It is very significant that there is no record of God having a conversation with Eve, so we must assume that the understanding that she soon reveals concerning the prohibition of what has come to be know as “the forbidden fruit,” is something related to her by Adam.

Eve is soon confronted by the serpent whose very first tactic in engaging a human being is to question the Word of God: “Yeah, hath God said?” (Gen. 3:1) Eve’s response is most interesting:

“And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:”

It seems apparent to me that the first realization that came to the serpent was that Adam had misrepresented the directive of God. God never told Adam not to TOUCH the tree, but only not to EAT of it. THIS, as I see it, is the first sin: Adam lied to Eve!

So what does the “subtil” serpent do with this opportunity? The Bible doesn’t specifically make the link. BUT, since he had early on represented his intent to be the questioning and discrediting of God’s Word, I think it is a very safe if not the obvious conclusion that the serpent saw an opportunity to capitalize on Adam’s deception, and said, “Eve, look: you can touch the tree, you can touch the fruit, and I will show you that you will not die.” Taken by the beauty of the fruit, Eve very likely did just that, AND SAW THAT HER HUSBAND HAD DECEIVED HER! Now understanding that the warnings he had shared with her were not true, what would be the logical next step for Eve? Of course . . . She ate the fruit!

The Jewish Midrash, the rabbinic commentaries on the Old Testament suggests that the serpent who was “more subtil than any…” took full advantage of Adam’s deception to lure Eve into disobeying God. But it was ADAM who gave the serpent the perfect opportunity that made Eve’s action possible!

Independent Fundamentalists Christians have long relegated women to an inferior role in life, and withheld trust and respect from the fairer sex largely on the basis of their belief that women were principally responsible for the “original sin.” Unfortunately for them, that is not the way the Bible expresses it.

“Wherefore, as by one MAN sin entered into the world,”
Romans 5:12

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The Woman Taken in Adultery

In the story in John chapter eight of the woman taken in adultery, there is a very specific context, purpose and there are some pointed key elements. It is somewhat unusual to find a Christian who understands any of these and who does not often completely misunderstand the purpose of the story.

Many Christians believe that here Jesus overturned the Old Testament Law. He did not. The Bible is abundantly clear that God has never changed his mind about the Law. (Romans 7: The law is perfect and holy and just.)

Still many others believe that the central theme of this story has to do with Jesus condemning judgement. He never did that. He in fact said the precise opposite: “Judge righteous judgment.” Judgment ought never to be personal, but rather the application of God’s judgment as His appointed ambassadors. The elimination of judgement always results in moral anarchy.

If we look at the story carefully, the reason why God chose to include it in the Bible will emerge in a magnificent and unique brilliance, and our pop culture myths about its purpose will fade in the unmistakable brilliance of that divine light.

“ And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery;
and when they had set her in the midst,
They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery,
in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us,
that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.
But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground,
as though he heard them not.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself,
and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience,
went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last:
and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman,
He said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers?
Hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her,
Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

The Pharisees had a very specific purpose in bringing this woman to Jesus. The narrative reveals that unsavory motive: they wanted to discredit Jesus by showing his disregard for the required penalty for this offense under Old Testament Law: stoning unto death. They cared nothing for the woman or the adjudication of her offense.
When Jesus said “He who is without sin,” this was a direct reference to Deuteronomy 13:9; 17:7, where the witnesses of a crime are to start the execution. Only those who were not guilty of the same sin could participate! This makes the departure of the Pharisees considerably more telling, and may have been a most liberating thought to the woman.
Note here that the woman was on the ground, which we assume because Jesus stooped to write His message there for her. JESUS CAME TO HER THERE! The Pharisees and presumably the rest of the crowd was STANDING. This is noteworthy.
Then in addressing the Pharisees, Jesus STOOD UP. The text says that “He lifted Himself up.” He did not at that point ask the woman to stand up. After his confrontation of the Pharisees using their guilty consciences to leverage their guilt publicly, the text then states that Jesus went back to the woman, and He was left alone with her, AND THAT SHE WAS THEN STANDING!!!
The Pharisees had probably thrown her to the ground in front of Jesus. When Jesus demonstrated to her that her accusers were no less guilty of sin than she was, THE WOMAN STOOD TO HER FEET. I can just see the hand of Jesus extended to her, for I do not believe that her evident contrition would have allowed her to take that action upon herself. This always brings me to the much speculated upon issue of what Jesus wrote on the ground. The truth is that we don’t know. That being said, I tend to lean decidedly toward a question that I believe Jesus asked her: “Are you sorry?” I say this because divine forgiveness of sin never can occur this side of repentance. That means doing our utmost to see our sin as God sees it. I do not believe that Jesus had any other motive or goal with this woman, and I do not believe that He could have forgiven her absent her genuine repentance. Since there is no record of a conversation between the woman and Jesus, I tend to believe that repentance was the subject matter of the words Jesus wrote on the ground.

The glorious and literally uplifting miracle here is that this woman was thrown to the ground in disgust by her religious leaders, and that when the burden of her sin was lifted from her, SHE WAS STANDING UPRIGHT NEXT TO JESUS! Her condemnation was gone! It was gone because JESUS CAME TO HER LOWLY LEVEL TO REACH OUT TO HER while organized religion threw her to the ground and heaped their hypocritical scorn upon her. This is what religion does. Thank God, it is not what Jesus does.

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Exaggerated Attribution — Bad News in Any Marriage

Exaggerated Attribution

You probably have never heard of this term before.  That is because I just invented it.  Now there always exists the possibility that someone else discovered this principle before I did.  Maybe they even gave it a similar name.  But, I did not borrow the concept; I only coined this term one day when it suddenly popped from my brain.  To the best of my knowledge, it is not out there anywhere.

Everyone has done this.  It has initiated or aggravated more arguments in marriage than anything else I can think of.  It goes something like this:

●    Why do you have to leave such a mess in the kitchen just to make a sandwich?
●    You are just never happy with anything I do, are you?
●    I just don’t like walking into the city dump every time you get hungry.

This dynamic is as transparent as the process is destructive.  Two people are intent on blaming each other.  In this case, a bread wrapper and an empty mayonnaise jar being hardly an impeachable offense in a marriage, the tactic on both sides is to exaggerate the offense so as to be able to cast it in  a more offensive light.  We EXAGGERATE the offender’s action & ATTRIBUTE the greater offense to them.  The problem is always, of course, that exaggerated attribution only adds considerably more fuel to the fire of discontent in any conflict. It is an unfair negotiating tool because it is a dishonest tactic.

Here is the problem expressed as a contrasting reactions and what they are most likely to evoke:

Scenario No. 1:
●    Husband cleans up after himself.
●    Wife is happy

Scenario No. 2:
●    Wife: “Wife cleans up after husband & says nothing.”
●    Husband: “Thanks, dear.  I shouldn’t have left such a mess for you.  I’m sorry.”

Scenario No. 3:
●    Wife: “Do you mind cleaning up your mess?”
●    Husband: “O.K..  Sorry.”

Scenario No. 4: (mild Exaggerated Attribution)
●    Wife: “Can you PLEASE try to not be such a pig in the kitchen?
●    “Sorry.   Did you have a bad night’s sleep or something?”

Scenario No. 5: (Destructive Exaggerated Attribution)
●    Wife: “Are you kidding me?  Did those Vikings from that credit card commercial just have lunch here?”
●    Husband: “WHAT?”  I just spent 20 minutes in the bathroom gagging on hairspray and nail polish remover, and you want to call a sandwich wrapper a Viking invasion?”

Solution: If you can’t engage on the level of Scenario 1, 2, or 3, than at least don’t Photoshop the lizard in the terrarium to look like T Rex.

Suggestion: Have a “cuss jar” on the counter.  Every time one person exhibits “Exaggerated Attribution,” they have to put $1 in the jar (or $5).  When it hits a certain amount, go have dinner on it & post a cozy picture of the glorious event on Facebook. . . . but don’t exaggerate the menu in your description . . . .

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Should the Confession of Sin in the Church be Public?

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousnes.”  1 John 1:9

What does it mean to “confess our sins.” There is no shortage of opinions on this.  The one that counts, however, must be 100% biblically based.  This is an attempt to  express that position.

The word “confess” is the Greek word “homologeo”  { hom-ol-og-eh’-o}.  It is a compound word made from the  words “homo”     (together)  & “logos” (word).  We see clearly here that the intent is to suggest an audible speaking together.   One definition given is “to have a discussion.”  This seems surely to preclude simply telling God about it (as if He did not know).  A synonym would be “acknowledge.”  The general use of that term in biblical times was in the context of a public event: “of persons assembled together.”  Often the word “homou” is substituted.  It is the genitive case  of  homos: “an indication of a public event; done out in the open.”   This action refers to an open confession, not a private admission behind closed doors.  This is the condition upon which God’s forgiveness is predicated.  (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon  – 1995)

In my home church in Santee, California,  there has been an epidemic of sexual sins over the years.   (27 people out of the 50-60 to which they have been reduced from several hundred.)  I have always maintained that a major reason for that staggering decline is because there was never the disincentive of public confession attached to any sexual sin committed in that assembly.  That was never a price to be paid for adultery there.  It was evident to all that there had never been the great price to pay for these sins:  standing before church and family and confessing what one had done.  Very, very few churches practice this.  My position is that God requires it, and that once implemented, this policy will act as a monumental deterrent to anyone facing the temptation to commit the sin of adultery or fornication.  This keeps the perpetrator from pretending to be in that church what he is not not.  Confession compels an honest self-evaluation, without which there can be no reconciliation with God, the One most aggrieved by sin.

In the end, God makes all sin visible: “There is nothing hid that shall not be revealed.”  There IS full accountability in God’s economy.  I believe that the world is best served by implementing that accountability immediately following the offense.  By doing so, we help the guilty to take a monumental step in being restored to God.  They MUST agree with God on the nature of their sin, just as in salvation.    This is nothing more than one seeing their sin as God sees it and acting accordingly.  Anyone avoiding accountability and seeking quarter has not come to that point, and their healing, not to mention that of their victims,  cannot properly begin.  They are and will continue to be at odds with God.

Many will now say that if we adopt this method, then we will not have time for anything else in the church.  Nonsense!  This is is just an excuse to continue in the old-school pattern of covering sin and manipulating it politically in the church as we cover for the perpetrators in an effort to minimize the damage in their lives.  We lose sight of the fact that God’s original punishment for adultery was death.  Yes, grace has mitigated that, but Paul said that the OT Law was “holy, and JUST and good!”  (Romans 7:12) Contrary to the rampant pop theology on our religious landscape, there ARE degrees of sin.  Jesus himself clearly spoke of those having “the greater sin” (John 19:11).  We confuse this with the legal categorization of sin, wherein one sin establishes the imperfection required for condemnation:    “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”  (James 2:10)

God has described Himself as Light.  Ask yourself what is better, more light or less light?  More of God, or less of God.  Should God extend Himself into the dark corners of the church?  Should the church cooperate with the guilty believer in trying to obfuscate his or her sin and minimize the damage?

Sexual sin may well be in a class by itself as God sees it.  It is the only sin in all the Bible of which God said that the offender “destroyeth his own soul.”  (Proverbs 6:32) A permissible and better translation would probably be “destroyeth his own life.”  This translation of the the Hebrew word for “soul” (nephesh) is given 117 times in the Old Testament, and does not bring into question the prospect of one losing their salvation over sin.  The writer goes on to express that the corrosive nature of sexual sins must never be underestimated by adding the warning: “His reproach shall not be wiped away.”

So how is this sort of thing handled in your church?  Has the biblical model been followed or the human model?  I would suggest that the recurrence of this sin in your church and the safety of the young, innocent lives that have been brought into the church by parents wanting their children to know God, love God and to have a solid Christian underpinning for their Christian lives is something that many churches are willing to risk by adopting the human, political, protective model of dealing with sexual sins in the church.  Sadly, that protection all too often is extended to the perpetrators and not the victims, past present or future.

Posted in Abuses of Church Authority, The Law, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I Left the DR-HAC Group

I left First Baptist Church of Hammond in 1989.  I had graduated from Hyles-Anderson College in 1986 and from Hyles-Anderson Seminary in 1988.  I was a rather high profile individual in this institution since shortly after my arrival there in 1983.  I had been a professional skier and traveled the world for many years, and  I brought that same level of intensity to my dedication to the Christian life and cause.
Along with my experiences in the business world as the C.E.O. of a California solar company, that all allowed me to fit right in to the ministries of the church and to establish ties and friendships with its leaders.

In 1990 I read the book, Fundamental Seduction, and everything changed for me.  I immediately realized that I could not be a part of a morally corrupt institution.  I had much to lose.  I had won every award they offered for evangelism.  I was best friends with the heir apparent to the Hyles empire, Jack Schaap.  (My wife and I were the first couple he married in 1985.)  I had been the only student to ever be asked to teach at Pastor’s School and taught over 1,000 pastors there my method of evangelism.  I had written a book in 1989 entitled “World Class Truth” and Jack Hyles had written the introduction.  I was speaking in conferences with the full backing of the church.  Once I became convinced that my pastor was an adulterous man, none of that mattered and I left, leaving a promising future behind.

At that time, I was writing a regular newspaper column for the Gary Post Tribune, a paper with a readership in the hundreds of thousands in Northwest Indiana.  I dedicated an entire column to outing Jack Hyles.  The battle lines had been drawn, and the war was on.  I have been a major player in that war ever since.

With the advent of the Internet, the battles took place in a new and different venue: forums.  They were intense, and the participants were exceedingly polarized.  There was no censorship in those days.  Nobody “owned” these venues, and the slugfests were both regular and intense.  These places were not the province of the fragile.  There were no self-appointed censors, and everything and everyone was fair game.  I absolutely do understand the need to protect victms from further abuse, but oh my, how things have changed.

As still more scandals erupted out of Hammond, I seemed to always find myself at their center.  When a church deacon there by the name of A.V. Ballenger molested a young girl in the Sunday School, I found myself closely allied with the victims’s family.  I sat through the three day trial with them.  I counseled with them for untold hours at their kitchen table.  My wife and I befriended their children and we did everything we could for them.  We understood their pain.  We shed many tears for them and with them.

When former Hyles-Anderson student Andy Beith became a Christian high school principal and kidnaped an eleven year old girl and took off with her on a sex filled cross country escapade, I became very close with the girl’s family and spent every day, all day in their home as their media representative and counselor as satellite television trucks lined their street.  I was daily in front of those cameras on their behalf.  We literally prayed together for hours every day, working with the F.B.I. moment by moment until their daughter was safely brought home.  We have remained friends to this day. I was at the mother’s funeral and I believed this ordeal ended her life prematurely.

Around then.  I wrote my book, “Clouds Without Rain” about dysfunctional churches and how to fix them.  I had never stopped being a center of controversy in Independent Fundamental Baptist circles, and my new book fueled that perception, along with helping many churches who wanted to do better.

In the summer of 2012, the man who had once been my best friend and business partner, Jack Schaap, was arrested and pled guilty to having sex with a 16 year old girl from his church.  I had reached out to him since he became the pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond imploring him to come clean on behalf of the church so that the church could be restored after the damage and destruction they experienced under Jack Hyles.  He ignored every one of my letters.

Jack Schaap’s arrest was the impetus for a Facebook Group called “Do Right Hyles-Anderson College” to be launched.  Schaap had been the chancellor of the college.   I welcomed this venue, as it purported to be primarily a victim advocacy group.  I soon learned, however, that this was not an entirely accurate description.  I found that this group was home to many different kinds of individuals who has come out of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Movement.   I was upon joining that group immediately challenged by an atheist who wanted to personally debate atheism and evolution with me.  I told him that this was not what I was there to do and referred him to my many post blogs and video series on that subject.  I was chastised for that.   Before long, I was publicly called “a penis-brain, IFB wannabe” by a woman there.  That comment was left to stand.   When I addressed the moderator concerning this, I made the mistake of using the term “loose monitoring.”  I was summarily banned from the group at that instant because I wanted to “debate theology.”

It was then that I wrote my book, “Profaned Pulpit—The Jack Schaap Story.”   The book was released in November of 2012 and has done well.  Many, many victims and pastors have expressed to me and in reviews and correspondences that the book has been enormously helpful in their healing, as well as in the arduous task of re-balancing  their lives.  Reviews from pastors across the country have been very positive, with only the die hard “Kool Aid drinkers” of the IFB Movement having anything negative to say about the book.  (That will surely change now as the DR advocates see my divergence as an “attack,” their default setting to any expression of criticism).  Nevertheless, quite a number of references to the book did not survive the scalpel of the admins on the Do-Right HAC Facebook Group.  It was only after a peace was brokered between the leadership of the group and a third party that I was allowed back in.  Meanwhile, I had started a Facebook Group under the title of my new book, Profaned Pulpit.  (It was not long before I was warned by Trisha LaCroix that members of the DR Group had gone to Facebook and complained of “cyber bullying.”  Two days later an entire thread critical of Trisha LaCroix was mysteriously removed from the Group.  (There are no admins on the Profaned Pulpit  Group but me, at least for now.)

Even with all of that, this was  yet a manageable situation for me.  I had been in many wars before, and I am fully capable of articulating my views and defending my position.  The matter of chronic censorship on the DR Group, however, surely did impose additional burdens.  When every subtle disagreement is characterized as an “attack” and constant references are made expressing “I own this group,” then I come to the place where I must ask myself a very painful and delicate question: how are we any different than the IFB Movement from whence we all came? Were they not patently intolerant of criticism?  Were they not lightning quick to label anyone expressing the slightest nuance of disagreement with them?    Did they not demand absolute authority and compliance? (“Loyalty.)   Did they not plaster their images and pictures everywhere, including the side of a building?  Was there not the notable absence of a path for divergent views?  The answer to all those questions was for me as startling as it was disturbing.  Those who had “come out from among them” were becoming just like them! Still, I reasoned and knew from the many notes of support and appreciation that I was receiving every week that the cost/benefit analysis of remaining in the DR Group still tilted for me in favor of having a presence there.

Many people expressed to me,  and I respectfully and as graciously as I knew how expressed to Tricia LaCroix that we had handed a gift-wrapped and sizable gift to the leadership of First Baptist Church of Hammond.  We had made it possible and indeed accurate for the DR Group to be described as a haven for homosexuals, atheists, agnostics, gratuitous profanity, and of course the inexpressibly damaging photos of the Trisha LaCroix  groping the genitals of the Hyles statue.  (I admit that at first that humor was not entirely lost on me.)  What I specifically said to her was that all these things by which the DR Group would now forever be known had served the purpose of firebombing the bridge that needs to be in place for future victims to cross over to the Victim Advocacy Movement.  It is my belief that as long a Victim Advocacy Movement remains publicly identified with expressions that are highly offensive to the very people we are trying to reach,  then groups like  DR HAC Group are seriously at odds odds with their own professed mission.   The  flow of victims to such support groups will cease and the group becomes a closed system of mutual support without the ability to reach out to any appreciable number of other victims.

As I write this, I am SURE that my words will be construed as “an attack.”  It is NOT!   They are the “faithful wounds of a friend.” I have read Trisha’s story of abuse and I was repeatedly moved to tears by it.  I understand exceedingly well the compelling desire to throw everything overboard that smacks of IFB.  However, they did not get everything 100% wrong.  They were correct about the deity of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, salvation by grace through faith, the bodily resurrection, and other things.  Now did they live that way?  Positively NOT!   (See the chapter in Profaned Pulpit, “Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bath Water.”) I fully understand that some dishonest people will not be able to resist the temptation to label me as an IFB supporter for saying this.  Thanks the Lord, the temptation to respond to those criticisms has always been beneath me.

Now I come to the principal reason why I am leaving the Do-Right HAC Group.  I CAN tolerate every single thing that I have described above.  The e-mails and personal messages I receive every week leave no doubt in my mind about that.  Yes!  It has been worth it all, up to now.  Tragically, however, something happened on Feb. 7, 2013 that changed all of that for me.

It is one thing to have people express beliefs that I deem to be wrong and contrary to the Christian faith.  That is the right and privilege of every American.  There was a time when I surely could have expressed my opposition to those individuals in a more gracious way.  (I came out of the IFB world just like many of you did, and graciousness 101 was not in the college curriculum, as I recall.)  But, I have learned, and I continue to learn.

There came a point yesterday, however, when I saw a line drawn in the sand that froze me in my tracks.  I stopped what I was doing.  I looked at it again, desperately hoping that I had misread what was before me on the DR Group.  I read it again, and again, and again.  I had not misread.

Before me was a post on the DR-HAC Group; it  was a cartoon.  It was a caricature of God on a psychiatrist’s couch.  Next to Him was presumably his analyst with a notepad and wearing thick glasses.  Here are the words attributed to God in that cartoon: “I ONCE MADE A WHOLE NEW PLANET AND POPULATED IT WITH LITTLE VERSIONS OF ME, BUT THEY WERE NAUGHTY, SO I DROWNED MOST OF THEM AND I HAD SEX WITH ONE OF THEM AND MADE A BABY ME, BUT I KILLED HIM SO THE OTHERS WOULD LOVE ME.”

I sat in stunned silence, realizing that this was an expression blasphemy that had perhaps gone beyond anything I had come across in my lifetime.  God was being mocked here and His actions described as murder and fornication.  Then that big wrecking ball swung back and hit me even harder: THE DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST ON THE CROSS WAS BEING DEPICTED AS THE MURDEROUS ACT OF A JEALOUS FATHER FOR HIS OWN SELFISH PURPOSES.  As I write this, it has been going on 24 hours, and that cartoon is still there.  I simply as a Christian cannot be a part of such an outrageously blasphemous public expression.  How any professing Christian now in an abusive church environment would knowingly come to group capable of something like this is an unthinkable notion to me.  As a Christian (slap any other label of your own choosing on me that that you care to), I come face to face with something God says every believer should incorporate into worshiping Him: FEAR.  (I know . .. . not one of the decals available in “Bumper-Sticker Christianity”…) If someone chooses to create a God after their own image, and fear doesn’t fit into that plan, then I have no cause against that person.  We live in a free country.  For me, however, calling God a murderer, a fornicator, and attributing the death of my Savior on the cross to a capricious and vain expression of divine jealousy is someplace I cannot go . . . nor can I associate myself with those who are comfortable pitching their tent there.  Some dishonest folks will surely contend that that means that I am deep down a repressive IFB type.  Again, that sentiment does not deserve to be dignified.  There is plenty of ground between adhering to the basic tenets of the Christian faith and being another Jack Hyles.

I fully expect to be labeled, vilified, marginalized and hear people say that I was “one of them” all along.  The problem with that characterization is that I have a 24 year history with hundreds of thousands of published words, an appearance in a television documentary about FBC, numerous television interviews on every network TV affiliate in Chicago and a scathing book about an IFB leader with another soon to be released that tells a far different story.  Those of you ready now to put your label machine on full-auto, perhaps you should consider this: will it not bother you at all that you will then have the entire IFB world as your ally in maligning me?  That is a tough question to ask, I know.   I hope you can come up with an honest answer . . . . . . Take your time . . . .

Posted in Fundamentalism And Church Cults, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments