Nov 21, 1978
Dear Hershel [Martindale],
Greetings in the exalted name of the Lord Jesus Christ! The One whose Life causes everyone else's to fade.
I listened to a tape of yours that was recorded in Albuquerque in Sept of 77. It was a question and answer session in which you expressed your views of Titus 3:9. It concerned me greatly because of its cultish concept. It is the same kind (although definitely not the degree) an attitude of Jim Jones. It concerned me because primarily it is opposed to what is said in other parts of the N.T. -- and this is the main problem, and also because it is a creation of an atmosphere where you can move down the prim-rose path without any checks -- checks which are there normally under the balance of scripture and headship of Jesus Christ.
Your basic position, as I understand it and which was definitely set against a previous held view was stated to be one that says the primary problem is the controversy, strife, and dispute itself without regard to content. You indicated the issue primarily here is not one of a diluting or polluting of the truth of the Gospel message (content) but one of method -- ie controversy, strife, dispute that in itself, irregardless of content, is the primary problem. No controversy, strife, or dispute can be right. You mentioned your previously held view that when a controversy, etc, arose you would think basically content -- what is the question? What view is right/wrong etc. You continued to say now you understand that it is the controversy itself, dispute itself that is wrong irregardless of content. Any dispute must be turned away from... must be warned against etc. This shift from content to method (for want of a better word) is cultic in direction and super-dangerous.
Acts 15 does not fit into this view of scripture. And Acts 15 to my knowledge is the only place in the N.T. where a very clear controversy/dispute is worked with and brought to a conclusion for an example to see. The Apostle Paul is the key person in this as well as Peter and James -- very interesting isn't it. The "great dissension" and "debate" (or dispute or questioning -- same word used in Titus 3:9) mentioned in 15:2 and 7 was not turned away from by he one who wrote Titus 3:9. And content was the issue -- 15:2 and 6. The problem of content was examined openly, very interesting enough, with more debate (or dispute/questioning vines -- same word as Titus 3:10.) And upon reaching a conclusion it was said the Holy Spirit was there involved in the process. No sense of wrongness is seen. Your conclusions, it seems, do not fit with the flow and balance of the N.T. as seen here.
Hershel, the second problem I see is the drift toward a very cultic attitude of uniformity (and this coupled with a strong -- overly strong emphasis on authority locked on the elders) which allows no questioning of issues -- truth. Again this coupled with a strong "family" sence of oneness around a special insight "we have" with the attitude that by God's grace we are the "100-folders" and everyone is 30 or 60-folders and if you leave us you will be leaving God's best -- and if God put you here you need to stay but don't get into "questionings" just "submit to the elders" and be united. Psychological guilt and group pressure to keep ones in the group (we love you -- if you are one of us -- but if you leave you [were] a dead-wood anyway) -- and unity and submission to the authority-leader's view of things -- unity and the responsibility to submit to God's elders is paramount. One must submit even if the elder is wrong. Right or wrong, what counts is submission and unity (uniformity) -- or leave, but as you know if you leave you are leaving God's best. Hem and herd. Hem, by creating psychological guilt ... herd by emphasizing unity over truth and submission to the elders right or wrong (which is of God) doing it without controversy or dispute.
As the mechanics of this moves further down the track and gains momentum, the harder it is to establish objective truth and the easier it is to move into cultic views of truth itself. Ephesians 4 gives a right balance to all this as I see it with its two unities and contrast of diversity and holding directly to the head -- Christ Himself.
Observe the attitudes that were created by Jim Jones (exclude content) and see how many ones you hold to in seed-form. Compare the same with the Herbert W. Armstrong (HWA) attitudes that are expressed in the enclosed printed letter.
The wounds of a friend (fellow-believer) are better than the kisses
of an enemy. May you have grace to "listen" to this letter and be open
to our Lord and what He says to you.
Your fellow sharer in Our Lord Jesus Christ