Below, Mike Willis informs the GOT staff writers of Donnie Rader’s resignation. Bill Cavender’s response follows.
It’s amazing to witness how brethren can remain within a group where some within it charge other members with the doctrine that leads to ADULTERY, and those members charge the opposing members with “false teaching” and with cleaning one another’s “plow.” All of this, while other fellow associates contend that this issue belongs in Romans 14. – Jeff (cf. Jas. 3:16-18)
From: Mike Willis
It is proper and appropriate that I send out a statement that correctly represents what transpired at the recent Board Meeting for I am confident that you will be hearing gossip about it. Therefore, I thought it best that I prepare a statement and send it to you as soon as possible.
At our recent board meeting, brother Donnie Rader resigned from the Board of the Guardian of Truth Foundation and as a staff writer for the paper. It is with great sadness that I inform you of his decision. It is also proper that I give you some information about our separation.
As Donnie read his letter of resignation, tears welled up in his eyes. His decision was not motivated by anger toward any Board member or staff writer. The reading of his letter evoked tearful responses from several of the board members inasmuch as we have a deep and abiding love for one another.
Both Donnie and the rest of us Board members are doing our best to respect the consciences of each other as we wrestle with various positions which brethren hold about the role of civil government in divorce or “mental divorce” (how this position is described depends upon who is describing it, and I am not trying to enter the argument by this description). Donnie has a conscience with which he must live and we respect his right and responsibility to abide by the dictates of his conscience. At the same time, others on the Board have a different conscience and they too are striving to live by their respective consciences. Sometimes brotherly separation is the only way for God-fearing brethren to continue their respective works with mutual love and respect, just as Paul and Barnabas separated in Acts 15.
Donnie was very clear in his statement that he did not want to be considered the enemy of the Foundation, nor do we consider him our enemy. Nor is he sitting in judgment to condemn the work we are doing.
We bid Donnie Godspeed. He is a godly brother whom we love who is doing much good for the Lord. He will continue to do good. He will submit articles for publication in Truth Magazine from time to time, we will continue to publish his workbooks and perhaps some more in the future, and no doubt he will be asked to participate in our lecture programs from time to time. We parted on Friday, September 10, 2005 with such respect for each other and we both expect that respect to continue.
This statement was read and approved as written by Donnie V. Rader
From: Bill Cavender
Dear brother Mike:
I received your e-mail of September 12 regarding Donnie Rader’s resignation from Truth Magazine, both as a board member and as a staff writer. I’m glad you wrote and expressed yourself. I expect your letter to raise more questions and generate more discussion than it answers and was intended. Already I have been informed by a brother and his wife that “Donnie resigned from Truth Magazine because that paper and most of those brethren are teaching error, and he doesn’t go along with them!” I was away in two gospel meetings when your letter came, and for another week due to various illnesses in the family and other matters, so just now am finding time to write to you.
This is not a matter of Donnie’s conscience or anyone else’s conscience. To me, this not a conscience, Romans 14, matter. It is a matter of Donnie’s teachings, errors, and conduct regarding this so-called “mental divorce” hobby and opinion(s) which he espouses, opinions which are divisive and hurtful, and destructive to the truth of the gospel and the unity of the brethren. It is a matter of Donnie’s duplicity and hypocrisy. This is a “fellowship issue” with Donnie. I know that for sure, first-hand, by personal experience with him. To Donnie, those of us who oppose his theories and ideas, who disagree with him and express ourselves in writing or in lessons, are “false teachers,” and we are in the same classification and category as Homer Hailey, Olen Hicks, the Bassett brothers (Don and Jerry), etc.
The lectureship this past July was hurt and affected by Donnie’s presence in the lectureship, especially by him being designated as the initial, “key-note,” first-night speaker. There were people who did not attend the lectureship because of this fact. The word is fast getting around now that Donnie is divisive, is one of the “five peas in the pod” (as one brother puts it) with Jeff Belknap, J.T. Smith, Greg Gwin, David Watts, Jr.” and others. There are no differences in his doctrine and opinions and those preached and printed by those brethren, and others of their persuasion(s).
Your promises to continue featuring Donnie’s articles and printing his publications will be hurtful to the paper and to all connected with the board and staff. Donnie’s book on MDR now in print teaches several errors, yet it is promoted and pushed as useful in Bible classes. You would not publish Jeff Belknap’s materials. In fact, I doubt Jeff would ever ask that of you or want himself in any way attached to Truth Magazine. Yet, there is not “a dime’s worth of difference” between Belknap’s ideas and opinions and Donnie’s. If so, what are they?
As you know, my meeting with the El Bethel church in Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the fall of 2006, was cancelled in January of this year, at the instigation of and through the influence of Donnie. After eight meetings with that church over the years, and a life-long very favorable friendship and fellowship with a number of those brethren (who were children and young people when I began preaching in that county in 1947-49), I am declared a “false teacher” and “persona-non-grata” by Donnie, and long-time friends have turned away from me. I was asked to meet with the El Bethel elders in early January of this year. I did. Supposedly, my response to David Watts, Jr.’s, attack on me in J.T. Smith’s paper, Gospel Truths, September, 2004, was their excuse. They would allow me to come for the planned meeting in the fall of 2006 (which had been scheduled for 2 1/2 years), if I would preach on MDR one night of the meeting and have a “questions and answer” period afterward. I told them I would do that or, better still, I would preach on MDR every night, or have a “questions and answers” session every night if that was what was needed. I left that meeting, shaking their hands, looking them in the eyes, talking about dates for the meeting in early October, 2006, and two days later I received a letter canceling the meeting. There is no doubt in my mind that they intended to cancel the meeting, and asking me for a meeting with them was a pretense and a hypocritical mockery. Donnie followed that cancellation with an announcement to the congregation the next Sunday and a sermon on “Mental Divorce,” teaching his opinions and misrepresenting those of us who don’t believe his ideas. Some weeks later he and the other elders (who are led by Donnie) called a two hours’ Sunday afternoon meeting, to explain why they cancelled the meeting and to answer questions that the members might have. I was not invited to attend. (I have tapes of those meetings if you would like to hear them.) There are members at El Bethel who do not believe Donnie’s doctrines but for the time being they are saying nothing and biding their time.
MDR was never an issue at El Bethel before Donnie. Andy Alexander did an excellent work there for five years prior to Donnie, and laid the groundwork for Donnie to come there and do a good work. Andy now would not be allowed to preach at El Bethel. Ron Halbrook and I believe and think alike on MDR in just about every detail, he has preached much more and written much more on these matters than I have, yet he was allowed to come but I doubt he will ever be allowed there again. I’m wondering if Donnie will permit Larry Hafley to come there for a scheduled meeting. I wonder if Donnie will go for a scheduled meeting next spring to Parkway church in Bowling Green, where Tim Haile preaches. Donnie operates, evidently, on his self-inspired principle that he preaches the truth on MDR, and Alexander, Haile, Cavender, Warnock, and others teach error on MDR, and he (Donnie) will go and “preach the truth” wherever he can, even to Parkway or Scottsville, Kentucky, but he will not allow Haile, Warnock, Alexander, Cavender and others to come to El Bethel.
I’m guessing that you are finding, Mike, what none of us ever wanted, expected, or imagined, that there is an uncalled for, unnecessary, foolish, fiendish, deep division among many brethren and churches over this ridiculous “mental divorce,” “second-putting away,” “race to the courthouse,” “who gets the civil divorce first,” doctrine and opinion, pushed by Belknap, Donnie, Smith, Watts, Gwin and others. Those brethren are dead serious about their theories. They are not in any compromising mood. Those preachers, elders and congregations who can stay aloof from this foolishness and go on with their constructive work for the Lord in the salvation of lost souls are fortunate indeed. Heretofore, I have greatly appreciated the balanced approach you have taken in the paper to this, and other, “issues” (I appreciated your editorial, and the written exchange between Adams and Warnock, and think Warnock “cleaned his plow”). I hope you will continue to do so. My studied advice to you, which you have not asked for, is that you ease Donnie completely out of the picture and give him no publicity. He “rose up and bit me” viciously, when beforetimes he had always been a mannerly, courteous, and respectful younger man and brother with me, and older brother and preacher. Yet he has played the hypocrite, shows no signs of repentance, and I have lost respect for him completely. I trust you and others connected with Truth Magazine will not suffer the same treatment.