Just as background: a man and his wife, longtime members of FBC Jacksonville, were served with a letter and trespass warnings on the eve of Thanksgiving in November 26, 2008 as the pastor and trustees wrongly believe these two people are owning and controlling the blog. The letter was served by two ministers of the church - one of which was the man's Sunday School teacher for many years. According to the accused, the men gave no explanation, just presented a sealed envelope and told the man to read the letter and contact them the following week - and no prior contact was made about the blog prior to the issuance of the letter. The letter bans this family from the church until they meet with 6 men on a "discipline committee".
First their overall indictment of the entire blog given before the "A" through "P" charges:
"Your content, statements, opinions, advocacy, and editorial commentaries and arguments are in violation of Scripture and the spirit and letter of the Bylaws of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Inc....Your blog postings have been intended by you to be derogatory, divisive, destructive, and demeaning to the ministry of First Baptist Church"
Wow. Pretty sweeping, all encompassing indictment of everything said here. Perhaps they are claiming that this blog's existence itself is in violation of Scripture. Can't say much about the bylaws, since members are not given copies of the bylaws, and the bylaw changes of December 2007 were never explained so maybe the bylaws state that members shall not blog. The blog postings have been made to be informative and thought-provoking - trying to get members to open their eyes to important issues occuring at their church since a change of leadership in March 2006. If there is anything about this blog that is derogatory or divisive or destructive or demeaning to the ministry of FBC...it is the actions and words of the pastor and lay leaders themselves that have been blogged about. Looks like a standard operating procedure in the SBC: accuse those who call out the wrongs at a church or SBC agency, in a medium not approved by the church or agency, as being "divisive" and "demeaning" and worthy of expulsion.
"A. You have demonstrated and advocated to your readers a defiance of Biblical Authority believed by Baptists generally and First Baptist Church specifically;
B. You have encouraged First Baptist Church members to follow that same defiance to Biblical Authority to the local church."
Quite interesting. Very vague. Just what sort of "Biblical Authority" (notice its capital "B" and capital "A") are they accusing the Watchdog of defying, and recommending others to defy? Could it be the matter of tithing? Or is it that they believe the blog in and of itself defies their definition of "Biblical Authority" because the Watchdog has not done what they want, and has found a way to communicate with Christians at their church that Mac and Honey and Trey and Maurilio and the trustees can't control? Or are there so many sins in this blog: lying, slandering, gossiping, etc that they all fall under "defying Biblical Authority". Interesting, because those are things the Watchdog has pointed out that Mac Brunson himself has done, all from the pulpit of FBC Jacksonville and at Southwestern Seminary and Criswell College and at other preaching gigs. There the Watchdog goes again, defying "Biblical Authority". But seriously, perhaps someone reading this will comment on how this blog defies "Biblical Authority", with a capital "B" and capital "A".
Now the third charge:
C. You have accused First Baptist Church members of dishonesty and lack of good character, without factual substantiation.
Hmmm....which members has the Watchdog accused of "dishonesty and lack of good character". The Watchdog has said that Mac Brunson has lied from his pulpit. The Watchdog has said that Mac has displayed a "lack of good character" in accepting a $300,000 land gift and then telling us "I'm paying for that house" as an explanation while his pastoral guidebook cautions pastors against accepting gifts...and other general things about Mac that display "lack of good character". That is true, the Watchdog HAS done that. But as far as "factual substantiation" (sure sounds like lawyer-speak, and not very "ecclesiastical") this site has provided "factual substantiation" through the words of Mac Brunson himself, and publically available documents. Are there other FBC Jax members that have been accused by the Watchdog as being dishonest without factual substantiation?
D. You have accused First Baptist Church members of ignorance because they did not and do not adhere to your view of things.
Help us out here, readers...what does this mean? That heated debate on a blog is sinful? Mac himself from the pulpit regularly accuses HIS OWN MEMBERS of being ill-informed and ignorant, not knowing when to "amen", too stupid to be able to handle a raise...he even said we were a "hotbed of legalism" - even suggests that we shouldn't read many of the books he himself reads because they get us scared. For Mac and his discipline committee to bring a charge against the Watchdog for demeaning things said about FBC Jax church members is absolutely laughable, when taking into considering the things Mac himself has said about his own sheep from the megachurch pulpit heard around the world on TV and the Internet - and when Mac preaches out of town when he THINKS we aren't listening.
That's a starter. We'll look at the rest over this weekend and hit the ground running next week as we discuss the FBC Jax bylaw changes of December 2007.
Happy New Year Everyone!