I have decided to go ahead and publish the following “Reply to Weldon” on MentalDivorce.com, since the editors of TRUTH Magazine have not seen fit to dignify the rejoinder (nor the letters that accompanied it) with any type of response. I waited two weeks after submitting the article and wrote another letter to the editors, requesting a reply. That was over a week ago, and I have still received no response from either of them, though it has now been more than three weeks.
Since the editors have been faced with documentation (verified by a host of witnesses) that proves their participation in publishing slander against a brother, their lack of response further manifests the disappointing irony of the magazine’s name.
I have posted my pleas to Mike Willis and Connie W. Adams immediately below, and my “Reply To Weldon” follows these letters, with Weldon’s original article posted just below my reply. – Jeff
NOTE: Although I addressed my second letter to Donnie Rader, as well as Mike Willis and Connie Adams, I subsequently learned that brother Rader had resigned as a board member and staff writer prior to my first letter. I have since apologized to him for having included him in the address of the letter, when he was no longer a part of the organization.
----- Original Message -----
Dear Mike, Connie, and Donnie,
It has been two weeks since I sent you the below letter and attachment, which included documentation that proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the article Truth Magazine published by brother Warnock grievously slandered me. Yet, none of you have replied to my request for publication.
If Mike is unable or unwilling to respond promptly, I request that brother Adams or Rader do so in behalf of the foundation and magazine.
Please put yourselves in my shoes. In a nutshell, here is what happened:
1) Truth Magazine printed a malicious article by Weldon Warnock that personally named me as being responsible for division within the Beckley congregation, offering no proof whatsoever for his charges. Moreover, he wrote half-truths about me that undeniably misled others to believe that I am “afraid” to debate.
2) I possess documentation from the witnesses of the Beckley business meetings, which proves beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the charges Weldon made in his article are blatantly false. I included this documentation in an article to vindicate myself against the false charges and sent it to Mike Willis (with cc’s to several brethren, including Connie Adams and Donnie Rader, board members of the foundation).
3) Two weeks later, I have received absolutely no response from Mike nor the foundation members which I cc’d.
What would you expect to be done if the shoe were on the other foot (Mt. 7:12; Phil. 2:3-4; cf. Mt. 5:44-48)? (What FC did to Donnie Rader pales by comparison!)
Under the circumstances, I believe it is reasonable to conclude that rectification of this matter would include not only a responsible reply, but prompt publication of my rejoinder in the magazine and an apology from the entire foundation for allowing such irresponsible journalism under their jurisdiction.
----- Original Message -----
Dear brother Mike,
Just four days ago, I was notified of Weldon’s article, “Debate Challenge Accepted” (July 21, 2005) and was forwarded a scanned copy. I have attached my reply to his article.
In Weldon’s article, he made very strong and serious accusations against me without any proof whatsoever. It is a very serious matter to publish a man’s name with charges of “dividing the church in Beckley,” especially when the author that you published offered no proof for such a slanderous claim.
Nevertheless, considering the irrefutable, first-hand evidence by many brethren in Beckley included in my reply which proves Weldon’s charges to be false, I trust you will now publish my reply in the interest of fairness and truth.
As acknowledged in my article, since it takes more words to show evidence of one’s innocence than to assert half-truths and make baseless accusations, my reply is longer than Weldon’s. However, it is well within the limits of other articles you frequently publish. And since Truth Magazine is responsible for circulating the untruths that Weldon has written, I believe it is more than reasonable to expect its prompt publication. I will await your reply.
Reply To Weldon
By Jeff Belknap
Brother Weldon Warnock recently wrote an article in Truth Magazine entitled, “Debate Challenge Accepted,” (July 21, 2005, Volume XLIX, Number 14). In it, he made strong personal accusations against me by name, although he offered no proof for his assertions. Proving one’s innocence against misrepresentations takes more space than asserting half-truths and baseless accusations. Therefore, my reply will of necessity, be longer than Weldon’s article. Most of the charges that Weldon made against me have been made in the past and previously answered in another venue.1 Therefore, I invite the readers of Truth Magazine to view the cited documentation that proves his charges to be blatantly false.
The verified facts clearly manifest that it is Weldon’s own, self-directed “prerequisite” that stands in the way of our coming together for debate! Moreover, his allegation that “Jeff has already taken care of” “dividing the church in Beckley,” and “It was not until brother Belknap arrived on the scene and cranked up his computer that confusion and dissension on MDR started,” shall be examined and exposed (Proverbs 18:17)!
When I began the www.MentalDivorce.com website in the Spring of 2001, I notified the brethren in Beckley of the website and its web-address in the Carriage Drive bulletin and no objections or concerns among the members were raised. Absolute harmony reigned among our members! On June 25th of 2002, Weldon wrote a letter to the brethren at Carriage Drive, in which he objected to my website inclusion of his 1985 quote and a portion of a reply to it.2 He also complained that I did not publish the entire exchange he had with brother Deason. Therefore, I obtained permission from all involved, and posted the complete exchange along with brother Connie W. Adams’ editorial.3 However, even after his letter of complaint, the brethren at Carriage Drive were still united on the truth regarding this issue.
After Weldon’s letter, the brethren were becoming aware that other influential preachers (whom many would have never suspected) were pressing the “second ‘putting away’” doctrine and were seeking to malign me for maintaining a website which documented and examined their public teaching of error (Ephesians 5:11; I Peter 4:4).4 Therefore, the men at Carriage Drive unanimously agreed to inquire of men who were scheduled to hold meetings with us regarding this dangerous teaching, lest we inadvertently become partakers of evil and provide an occasion for teachers of a doctrine which advocates adultery to potentially influence our members (Romans 16:17-18; I Corinthians 15:33; Ephesians 5:6-8; I Timothy 5:22b; II John 9-11; Revelation 2:14, 20, 22).
Subsequently, the men of the congregation made the decision to cancel a gospel meeting with a brother in October of 2003, due to his repeated refusal to forthrightly answer specific questions about his stance on this issue. Shortly thereafter (January 25, 2004) on brother Warnock’s weekly radio program which is aired on a Beckley radio station and sponsored by the Beech Creek church in Mingo County, brother Warnock began a weekly tirade in which he repeatedly vilified “the preacher in Southern WV, in Beckley,” whom he calls “JB,” who preaches at the church where he used to preach “for ten years.”5 Furthermore, just as he alleges in his article, Weldon stated on his February 22, 2004 radio program that “he causes dissention in the church, and unrest in the church, and confusion in the church. And you know, brethren, there’s something to think about. When members of the church give on Sunday of their money, and you pay somebody of this kind, you’re having fellowship with him”6 (emp. jhb).
At this time, I had already sent propositions to Weldon, inviting him to have a written exchange with me in two publications that had agreed to host it (Gospel Truths & Preceptor).7 Please note an excerpt of the minutes from the Carriage Drive February 23, 2004 business meeting, which proves that the church was united at the time that Weldon began to step up his “Sunday evening” radio campaign:
“MDR Web site, Sunday Evening Radio Program, Debate Challenge: During a long but very congenial discussion on the above headings Bro. Belknap reported that some things that were said in the Feb. 22 broadcast were not true. With regard to the debate challenge, bro. Belknap said that he is willing to engage in a written debate. Bro. Belknap stated he would post the written debate material on his web site so that all who are engaged in the MDR question could have access to the arguments made by each debater. The men who spoke up during this discussion voiced displeasure for the Sunday evening radio broadcast. Some indicated they had not listened to the program. Those men also voiced support for the work bro. Belknap is doing on his web site and his teaching and preaching as well” (emp. jhb).
On more than 20 radio programs, Weldon continued his efforts to manipulate the “brethren” / “members of the church” and community with his emotional (fictitious)8 scenarios instead of scripture, and repetitive claims that my teaching on this issue was “absurd.” Moreover, he described my teaching that “he who marrieth her which is put away doth commit ADULTERY” as “indefensible,” “ludicrous,” “radical,” “extreme,” “invalid,” “sophistry,” “fallacy,” “nonsense,” and “one of the most irrational, absurd positions that’s come along in a long time.” In fact, I have already published over 100 such audio quotes taken from Weldon’s radio program.9
Additionally, brother Warnock admittedly provided the brother whose meeting had been cancelled in October (2003), with a directory of the congregation’s members (and some non-members). With Weldon’s assistance, this brother sent an eleven-page letter filled with slanderous charges and evil surmising regarding me to everyone in the directory.10 Furthermore, after Weldon’s letters to all those in the church directory, and the letter by the brother whom Weldon provided addresses for, a third advocate of the post-divorce “putting away” doctrine (documented on the MentalDivorce.com website) also sent a letter of the same nature to all in the church directory.
When considering Weldon’s incessant radio assaults, as well as the continued barrage of letters to all the local members from outside sources, is it any wonder that the church was negatively affected by the constant pressure from outside sources? Unfortunately, as everyone knows, casualties are inevitable in spiritual controversies (Jude 3-4; I Corinthians 11:19; cf. Proverbs 28:4).
The effects of Weldon’s carnal actions to incite and influence members at Carriage Drive became evident in Beckley by August of 2004 (cf. Jude 16). Note an excerpt from the September 20, 2004 business meeting minutes, which were approved of and initialed by all of the men who had been present, before it was printed and distributed:
“Web site, Beech Creek Radio Program, etc.: The discussion of unrest and discontent with some was continued (as reported in last month’s minutes) and concluded this month. Almost all of the men continued to express appreciation for the work bro. Belknap has done and continues to do. Additionally, many men spoke up to say that Jeff was only teaching the truth on the topic of controversy. In addition, several men pointed out that the Beech Creek radio program was responsible for inciting the recent problems at Carriage Drive. Bro. Belknap wrote a two page statement to be handed out (with three pages of quotes from the Beech Creek radio program, which reveal the basis for the recent disturbance here). Included within the body of the statement were quotes from the business meeting minutes of Feb. 22, 2004, which acknowledged the same, unopposed agreement among the men at that time (regarding the website and Beech Creek radio program).” (emp. jhb).
Now brethren, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what really happened at Beckley when provided with the evidence instead of brother Warnock’s baseless accusations. Prior to Weldon’s tactics, we had a good thing going in Beckley. During my six years with the congregation, we may have suffered several deaths and losses due to church discipline, but we also enjoyed 39 baptisms and 13 additions through those who denounced institutionalism and identified with us.
When I began the website, I notified the brethren of it via the weekly bulletin. Several expressed appreciation; none expressed concern or dissent. Weldon wrote a letter of objection and sent it to every member in Beckley. The brethren remained united. The preacher to whom Weldon provided the church directory, sent an eleven-page, railing letter to each member at Beckley,10 while Weldon continued his three-year campaign against me and the website. Many other phone calls and e-mails to individual members from outside sources were brought to light as well. After that, “unrest and discontent with some” ensued.
During this time, due to the men’s recognition of the true cause of our congregation’s difficulties, they concluded early-on that a debate within our area would only fan the flames of unrest which Weldon had ignited among our members. Therefore, during one of our business meetings, the men asked me not to have a debate in or near Beckley, which Weldon was notified of by different members. I have honored the men’s request, and believe that their decision was reasonable and perceptive, under the circumstances.
Therefore, I carefully worded my offer to the six men (including brother Warnock) who have publicly advocated the false doctrine of post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication as follows: “Let the record reflect that I am offering the following propositions (which are harmonious with the focus of my website, as well as with the numerous documented examples of their error) for debate (oral or written) in various journals or at a location central to both participants” (emp. jhb).11
In spite of the fact that brother Warnock had been told many times about the men’s decision, he continues to ignore the facts and has again twisted reality by accusing me with being “afraid” to “come up to the lick log.” In his article to which I am replying, he disregards the verified facts and states, “He evidently does not want to be exposed in Beckley. What is he afraid of in Beckley?” and claims that, “Our brother Belknap is most eager to shelter the brethren in Beckley that they not hear both sides on the MDR issue.”
If Weldon believes that my refusal to debate in Beckley is because I “evidently” do “not want to be exposed in Beckley” and because I am “afraid of” debating “in Beckley,” then what does that say about his refusal to debate anywhere and everywhere else in the whole US of A? Amazing!
Moreover, it is incredible to think that Weldon believes that even his 20+ no-holds-barred radio programs in Beckley were not enough to “expose” me in “in Beckley.” Furthermore, he apparently believes that exposure to merely 20+ of his radio programs on the topic are equivalent to a “shelter,” which prevented members from hearing “both sides on the MDR issue.”
Moreover, his above statement reveals the true reason why he will not agree to debate anywhere else but the Beckley area: his interest is not in debating the issue per se, but clearly in exposing me “in Beckley.” This is, and has been transparent to the brethren from the beginning. Nevertheless, when brother Warnock departs from his “city of refuge,” then we can get on with the debate!
Regardless of these facts, brother Warnock continues to claim that I am “afraid of” public discussion because I will not disregard the men’s genuine and reasonable request “in Beckley.” Such thinking is simply beyond my comprehension. The only conclusion that can be drawn from such statements is that Weldon believes that I should violate the joint decision of the men in the business meeting in order to satisfy the unidentified “several ladies” and “other men” whom he has “learned” are not satisfied with the men’s decision. Surely he does not believe that every judgment of expediency by the leadership of a congregation must be approved of by all members (men and women alike), before complying with it. Yet, he asserts that because I will not operate in such a disorderly way, that I am “afraid of” debate.
February 22nd, 2004, when Weldon was speaking on his Beckley
broadcast about my computer, he advised,
“…it’d be a good thing if somebody walked in over there, and stole
the thing. The brotherhood would be a way ahead…”12
Now, he is encouraging me to defy the decision of a congregation’s
leadership, simply because he asserts that “other men and several ladies
would like to have the debate in Beckley.” Sadly, when a preacher resorts to
publicly encouraging such ungodliness, his desperation becomes apparent
to all. I regret his state and pray that he will repent before it is
eternally too late.
18 Jonathan Drive
Truth Magazine (July 21, 2005, Volume XLIX, Number 14)
Debate Challenge Accepted
Recently, brother Jeff Belknap of Beckley, West Virginia issued a challenge to six different men for an oral or written debate. Sounds like he is ready for business. I was the second one on the list. Jeff submitted two propositions, an affirmative and a negative, on the marriage, divorce and remarriage issue. I accepted his challenge, agreeing to debate the propositions he formulated, although they do not cover the entire spectrum of the issue, but do serve as a basis for discussion.
I offered one prerequisite to Jeff’s proposal and that was that we have the debate in Beckley, West Virginia. But lo and behold, he backed right down. He offered the following lame excuse: “The church in Beckley is the same congregation where Weldon was the preacher for ten years, and he still maintains a close relationship with some of our members. Hence, it would be inexpedient to the unity of the Lord’s church in Beckley to hold the debate here, due to the personalities involved and their relationships with the local membership.” He goes on to say that the men of the congregation have urged him not to debate me “in or near Beckley” because of the same concerns. But I learned that this is just some of the men, while other men and several ladies would like to have the debate in Beckley, if we are going to have one. It seems to me that since both Jeff and I have preached in Beckley that Beckley would be the logical place to debate our differences.
Let us draw some implications from what brother Belknap said as quoted above:
1. If you are afraid of disrupting the unity of the church in Beckley if the debate is held there, why don’t you have the same fear of disrupting the unity of the church or churches in some other city where the debate would be conducted? Is it that you do not care to be divisive somewhere else, just not in Beckley? I have a good relationship with many, many brethren all over the country. If I should not debate you in Beckley because of my relationship with the brethren there, then that rules me out about everywhere else because of my relationship with those brethren.
2. Jeff stated he doesn’t want the debate in or near Beckley. How far away would we have to get to be outside of “near Beckley”? You reckon if we just barely got outside Raleigh County (where Beckley is located) that we would qualify as far as distance?
3. In regard to dividing the church in Beckley, Jeff has already taken care of that by himself. I preached there ten years and we had no disturbance. This so-called “mental divorce” (a misnomer) never came up. It was not until brother Belknap arrived on the scene and cranked up his computer that confusion and dissension on MDR started. He began putting on his website every little tidbit of those with whom he disagreed and presenting it in the context of heresy. He set out to poison the minds of some of the members in Beckley that I was a false teacher. He claims he interrogated all preachers who were, and are, scheduled to hold meetings at Beckley as to their position on MDR. If they did not pass the litmus test, the meeting was cancelled. He didn’t ask them about other issues; just MDR. Now, he is concerned about being divisive if we have a debate in Beckley. Pshaw!
4. Jeff said he wanted the debate in a central place. Well, central would be about halfway between Scottsville, Kentucky, my home, and Beckley, West Virginia where Jeff lives. As the crow flies that would be in the mountain region of southeastern Kentucky in the vicinity of a little community called Dwarf. But friends, he is not interested in a central location, but just getting the debate out of Beckley. He even proposed that we have the debate here in Scottsville, Kentucky. What does that tell you? Then I understand he had an offer from one of his sympathizers to have it in Louisville; just anywhere but in or near Beckley. He evidently does not want to be exposed in Beckley. What is he afraid of in Beckley?
5. Since Jeff thinks a debate in Beckley would cause friction in the church there (which he has already done), how is he going to prevent brethren there from attending a debate if we have it somewhere else? We are led to believe that it won’t divide the church in Beckley if they come and listen to the debate outside of Beckley, but if they listen to it in or near Beckley, it will be divisive. What convoluted reasoning. Too, you suppose the brethren in Beckley would want a video tape or audio cassettes of the debate and hear it that way? Why would it divide the church if they hear the debate in Beckley, or near there, but it will not divide the church there if they get the tapes and listen/watch the debate in their homes? Our brother Belknap is most eager to shelter the brethren in Beckley that they not hear both sides on the MDR issue. Wonder why? Of what is he afraid? He is most willing and content to sit behind his computer and “let it rip.” He doesn’t mind the brethren in Beckley logging on to his website and read controlled, voluminous material on MDR, but they must be protected from hearing an open discussion on the same subject, lest they become divided. What a convenient, self-serving way of getting out of a debate in Beckley, West Virginia. Brother Belknap, I am ready for a debate in Beckley!
What doth hinder you? You can no longer pretend to be courageous and bold by challenging for a debate and then “weasel” out. As the old-timers would say, “It is time to come up to the lick log.”
87 Ormond Dr., Scottsville, Kentucky 42164