Members who were asked to stand in the picture at left, you were lied to.
How does that make you feel?
This was not just that a preacher saying something untrue and hurtful during a sermon about someone, like Mac did with Sheri Klouda.
This is worse. This was a carefully crafted, legal, official statement of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Inc. that was officially adopted by the church leaders, and then ratified by the members. And they lied in it. That would technically, make everyone who stood, a party to the lie. That hurts.
This means that Mac Brunson, A.C. ("Anti Criticism") Soud, and the other trustees and deacons violated the trust of the congregation that night. The congregation stood in affirmation of this motion sight unseen and with no discussion or questions for no other reason than because they TRUSTED these men. If the good people of FBC Jax thought for one minute that these guys didn't do their homework, or purposely lied in the motion, many would NOT have stood up.
All of you present and were visibly seen standing on the live Internet feed that took a wide camera shot at the time of the vote: Jim Whitmire, Jim Smyrl, Jarred McConnel, the Pianist, the Organist, even you [insert YOUR name here] that stood up to ratify Judge Soud's edict....you listened to arguably the most respected man in all of Northeast Florida stand and read a motion. He even had our media guys put his motion up on the I-mags so you could follow along as he read his beautifully crafted paragraphs and could appreciate them fully, word for word in all of their glory. This was a big day...the day his committee's motion would fix the problems plaguing Mac once and for all, and put the Watchdog in his place, show everyone what a coward he was, and then warn that anyone else following in his footsteps would suffer the same terrible fate as he. Problem solved, right? Wrong.
Only one problem.
They chose to lie to you.
Yes, you were lied to.
They asked you to stand and ratify a document that contains a "Whereas" statement of fact that was a bald-faced lie.
Makes one feel a little bit like Ralphie in the "Christmas Story" after he decoded the secret message in Little Orphan Annie only to find the secret message was a bogus "Drink Ovaltine" ad.
Deacons who voted Monday night February 23 unanimously to approve Anti-Criticism Soud's wonderfully crafted motion, you were lied to. Even some of you Trustees that voted on Febraury 18, you were lied to as well, since its safe to assume you would never voted to bring a motion to the deacons and then the church that told a lie about a member or former member.
But should this surprise any of us? The Watchdog has tried to warn you.
These are the same cast of characters that brought you "The Bylaw Changes of 2007", a church administration horror flick where a motion was made to approve bylaw changes without even so much as charactering the nature and purpose of the changes. Not a single peep about the bylaw changes that took church members' rights away to call a special business meeting, granted the pastor expanded authority, and created a discipline committee and discipline process that begins with the Pastor. Oh, and a little tiny clause stating members "forfeit their right" to ever bring legal action against the church. Almost forgot that last one.
But this vote was worse.
Because they lied.
About a former member.
Did I just say that?
Yes, I did. You better believe I did.
Judge Soud, which part of the A.C. Doctrine did I just violate in saying "They lied"? Would that fall under the "harmful opinion" clause? Or would that be a "false statement"? To claim "they lied", would that possibly cause "financial and spiritual risk" to the church? Was its intent to be "divisive and cause strife and disgruntlement"? Or maybe I just violated the Judge's "unjust criticism" clause? In what manner will I be "confronted aggressively"?
Are you shook up enough FBC Jax? GOOD! (to quote Mac).
OK, what was the lie?
Obviously it was Soud's intent in this motion to do several things. The crafty Judge sought to accomplish three things in a skillfully written lawyerly prose:
1. They wanted you to know that they caught the Watchdog;
2. They wanted you to know the accused left in a cowardly way to hurriedly join another church before A.C. Soud and his band of Merry Trustees and Discipline Committee members could get their hands on him ("that 'wascally wabbit', we almost had him and he got away!"); and
3. If any of you other plebe decide to follow in the accused's footsteps and you engage in any of the sinful conduct of the accused, they will aggressively hunt you down and do the same thing to YOU and your wife that they did to him and his wife.
I'll address #1 in a later post. They obviously believe they caught the Watchdog, and they believe they have proof. Good for them. So I'll grant them that they acted in good faith based on the evidence they have (which they still have not provided to the accused despite repeated requests for it - more to come on this later) making it impossible for the accused to answer their claim.
I want to address the second of the three main points of Judge Soud's A.C. Doctrine. What he said was a lie. He could have said any number of facts about the accused. Perhaps it would have been most helpful to those voting to state what the nature of the EVIDENCE was against him. Even a vague description of the nature of the evidence, or even a statement that they know beyond a shadow of a doubt they got him. No, they decided to tell you the circumstances of him leaving to show him to be a coward and call into question the family's sincerity in joining another church - as though the accused's new church was a snap decision not out of the Lord's leading but a cowardly move to avoid the discipline that they deserved at the hands of Anti Criticism Soud and his discipline committee.
But Soud got it completely wrong.
Judge Soud's grand edict says the following:
"And whereas said member within the last three weeks has requested his letter be transferred to a sister church in Jacksonville, Florida but only after being advised that the discipline committee of the deacons would recommend to the deacon body that disciplinary action be taken against him for such conduct which the deacons find is contrary to Scripture and the bylaws of the church."
They could have said the member has already left, or the member has changed churches and is not therefore subject to any further discipline, but no, they wanted you to know he RAN like a coward after they said discipline would be taken.
Here's the truth. Here's what Anti-Criticism Soud should have told you:
The discipline process started November 28 with trespass warnings being issued against the man AND his wife. Anti-Criticism Soud didn't tell you that. There was no Matt 18 biblical process initiated whatsoever. None. Period. Minor detail, huh?
The accused and A.C. Soud's committee were at an impasse since December 13, 2008. The Committee demanded that the accused meet with them, the accused said he would as soon as the bylaws describing the process were given, that the basis of the accusations were stated, and that he be allowed representation. A.C. Soud and his committee declined all three of those reasonable requests, thus no meeting took place.
As the holidays drew near, being barred from their church of 20 years by threat of arrest, the family was forced in late December to start looking at other churches. After visiting a handful of churches, the family found a very loving church, where the preacher preaches expositorially, with power and conviction but in a loving, humble manner. For most of January they visited the church, and after seeking the Lord's will and meeting with church staff members at their new church, they decided to join fellowship with this church on February 1, 2009.
After nearly 1 and 1/2 months of no word WHATSOEVER from Blount or A.C. Soud's committee, they joined another church they had visited for OVER A MONTH.
Did you read what I just wrote? Not that the man ran like a coward with his tail between his legs to quickly join a church to avoid the discipline he had coming. They visited their new church for more than a month before decided to join, while he waited for the discipline committee to send him the bylaws and tell him the basis of the accusations.
THEN, and ONLY THEN, after they joined this church on February 1st, and their letters were requested by the new church, did John Blount call the accused at 12:30 pm on February 10th to tell the accused that the discipline process was going to be started again, and the committee wanted to meet with him.
So Anti-Criticism Soud decided to mis-characterize the decision process by which this family joined another church to hurt their reputation and make him look cowardly. The family, and the staff at the new church will testify that this family sought the Lord's will during this time, and although they love FBC Jax and its people they knew the Lord wanted them to join another church. Souds remark calls into question the integrity of the new church, that they would accept a "scoundrel" like the accused to allow him to escape his due penalty at the hands of the "bishops" of the FBC Jax discipline committee.
That's fine, take a final swipe at the accused by saying something as ridiculous as Soud did...but for the Lord's sake A.C. Soud, why get the people of FBC Jax to GO ALONG WITH YOU AND RATIFY THE LIE? You could have taken the swipe in your comments, but you PUT IT IN THE MOTION WITH A WHEREAS, as though it was a finding of fact, and had Keith Hill ask the sweet people of FBC Jax to stand.
And another lie throughout the document is that they desire to use "biblical church discipline".
What A.C. Soud didn't tell you is the process used against the accused was no where close to biblical church discipline. It STARTED with Rev. King and Rev. Blount delivering trespass warnings. There was never, ever, EVEN TO THIS DAY, an attempt by ANYONE AT THE CHURCH....not Brunson, not Mrs. Brunson, not A.C. Soud, not John Blount, not anyone ever contacted this family to explain the charges against them in accordance with Matthew 18 as Mac has preached. Just trespass warnings to both the man and the wife to force them to meet with six men. We're all waiting for the explanation of how this process was anything close to "biblical church discipline". Perhaps its in the Greek text, right next to where Mac found that the churches in Rome were all "satellite churches".
And then A.C. Soud has the audacity to characterize the leaving as being only after the threat of discipline.
Anti Criticism should be ashamed of himself.
And the FBC Jax leadership: from pastor to Trustees, to Deacons...should all be ashamed of themselves because they didn't do their due diligence on the motion - but who can blame them, if it was written by A.C. Soud himself, right?
And I hope the good people of FBC Jax, after being fooled twice by this leadership, has learned their lesson.
Isn't it ironic...a Judge reads an edict warning people that they better not lie, tell hurtful opinions or false statements in the church...but one of the findings of facts IN THE EDICT ITSELF is a lie.