"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!" 1 Cor 6:1,7-9
This is one of those days when I have to write about something unpleasant. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the details, the Local Church sued Harvest House, John Ankerberg, and John Weldon in December, 2001, claiming they defamed them in the Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions. I'm not going to go into details on this lawsuit
(http://www.harvesthousepublishers.com/about_cstatementfaq.cfm) but recently something new occurred that requires comment.
In August, 2006, Hank Hanegraaff and Gretchen Passantino filed statements with the Texas Court of Appeals in defense of the Local Church--and consequently--in support of the Local Church's position in this lawsuit.
Why is this a problem? In the 1970s my father met with Witness Lee in an effort to discuss the theology of the Local Church before he commented on it publicly. My father felt that the Local Church was dividing the Church of Jesus Christ. They were using methods of evangelizism and biblical interpretation similar to those used by the cults, and my father believed they were in serious error. Bob and Gretchen Passantino did extensive research on Witness Lee and the Local Church at my father's request. They provided him with the primary documentation he needed to challenge them. As a result of this research, my father gave his lecture on the Local Church:
Today, it seems not much has changed in the methodology and beliefs of the Local Church (http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/lc.html#easy ). CRI must agree that not much has changed (http://localchurch.8m.com/cri-dl-075.html ) and yet, Hank Hanegraaff and Gretchen Passantino (Christian Apologists) decided to publicly support the Local Church against John Ankerberg and John Weldon (Christian Apologists) and men with a record for a bold defense of the Christian faith.
Why did they do this? Only God, Hank, Gretchen, and the Local Church know the answer to that.
The Local Church is upset--they reject any link to the word "cult". My answer to the leaders of the Local Church is this: if you are truly Christian brothers, then show the love of Christ. You have no business taking your brother to court. You are acting more like cult members than Christians. Stop it now.
To Hank I would say this: Actions speak louder than words. Either stand by CRI's position on the Local Church, or take it down. Don't say one thing and do another--that makes you a double-minded man (James 1:23). And while you're at it, drop your lawsuit against your brother in Christ, Dr. William Alnor. Where is the love of Christ in your actions?
To Gretchen I would say this: You should be ashamed. You know better.
How foolish are these lawsuits in the light of God's instructions to us? You tell me:
"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Eph 4:32
Who is being kind? Who is tenderhearted? Who is forgiving?
I think my father got it right when he pounded the pulpit and said, "The whole world is going to Hell around us, and we're fighting about nothing!"
Disclaimer: These statements are purely my opinion and no slander, libel or defamation is intended herein.
Want to get involved? Tell people how you feel!
The Local Church
Need more information on this?
Don Veinot- Midwest Christian Outreach:
The Confusing Message of CRIzzzThe Christian Research Institute (CRI) was founded by the late Walter Martin, the Bible Answer Man. It had been an organization dedicated to articulating and defending the essentials of the faith and exposing false teachings outside and inside the church. The recent request by the current CRI President and Bible Answer Man, Hank Hanegraaff to the Texas Supreme Court in the form of an Amicus Curiae or “Friend of the Court Brief” with what reads as a request for the Texas Supreme Court to be the arbiter of essential orthodoxy and allowing what he personally and officially considers a Christian group (The Local Church) to sue another Christian group (Harvest House Publishers and John Ankerberg and John Weldon) is sending very mixed messages. As I mentioned last week I have not been able to make direct contact with Hank and have not had my message returned from CRI V.P., Paul Young. In an email to William M. Alnor, PhD. (the Spiritual Counterfeits Project), Dr. Norman Geisler wrote, "I was shocked when I saw his brief. I have sided with Ankerberg from the beginning. I personally pled with Hank not to side with the Local Church. I believe this was a very unwise and unfounded decision." It is unclear if the version of the Scriptures CRI is currently using contains 1 Corinthians chapter 6 or perhaps it was overlooked. This issue becomes important because, unlike the top down authoritarian leadership of the world, the higher one ascends in leadership in the Church which is the Body of Christ, the more accountable they are to a larger number of people. It is the case that Christian leaders live in glass houses and everyone around them has Windex. Having a clear and understandable message is very important in the process of teaching and accountability.
http://www.lightingtheway.blogspot.com/ (Monday, October 09, 2006)