Tactics of Intimidation and Interference
Brother James P. Needham wrote in a Gospel Truths article entitled “The Fellowship Issue # 2” (June, 2001), “Some have been known to spread rumors, gossip and falsehoods that travel around the world before truth can get its boots on.”
Such is certainly the case in the present controversy with some who are advocating post-divorce “putting away” for post divorce fornication. The latest example involves the ongoing efforts of Tom O'Neal, Weldon Warnock, and Tim Haile. I have been exposing the error brother Warnock has been teaching over the airwaves, as well as his continued involvement with some of the members at the local congregation where I preach. I then received a letter of rebuke from Tom O'Neal, only to find out that he has sent the same letter (addressed to me) to all of the members here, and to numerous brethren elsewhere. (Brother O'Neal was given the addresses he needed for such a mailing from brother Warnock). This letter, containing numerous false accusations, has now been posted on Tim Haile's website, without any effort on brother Haile's part to verify any of the accusations made by brother O'Neal.
As it stands, not only have my personal teaching and conduct been grossly misrepresented at large via the internet (Tim Haile’s website) and the USPS (Tom O’Neal’s letter, mailed to brethren far and wide), but also largely distorted over the public air waves [Weldon Warnock (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) in a broadcast sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV].
The links that I have included on this page will manifest how some are employing extreme tactics of intimidation and interference instead of working towards “open” and “honorable” discussions of the issue in their closed-door magazine. Please pay special attention to who is involved in spreading this maliciousness and how these men are working together. Cf. “Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me” (Acts 24:13).
The intimidation factor started immediately after this controversy began (i.e. when brother Ron Halbrook’s public and private teaching on “mental divorce” started to be exposed). After I sent quotes of brother Halbrook to brother J. T. Smith to be printed in a reply article in Gospel Truths (and Harry received a copy of it from brother Smith), I received an e-mail letter from brother Osborne (4-15-01) which stated:
“Brother Mo Hafley is there in a meeting as I understand it. If you will give me a time to call you by phone with Mo as a witness to the things said, maybe we can resolve some of the matters at issue. If you would prefer, I am prepared to fly up there and address you and let Mo and the brethren at Beckley witness it. Your response took this matter to a level that cannot remain where it is. I am ready to do whatever is necessary to see that the truth is fully shown.
I am taking brother Smith off of the cc line because I intend to be very frank with you in expressing my disappointment in your handling of this matter. I think you would do well to sit down with an older preacher like Mo Hafley and ask him whether he thinks you have acted properly towards your brethren. Until some of these matters are resolved, I cannot have confidence in you.” (emp. jhb). [Note: I forwarded Harry’s letter to brother Smith.]
Since this statement was written, brother Osborne and associates have been very aggressive in advocating the NO “timeframe” in “putting away” theory as well as falsely accusing their dissenters of outrageous beliefs (See: A Review of Harry Osborne’s Sermon). Although such behavior has continued (for almost three years now), the tactics are becoming more extreme. What is worse, the fellow associates of these men who know that error is being pressed and “brethren” are being maligned, pretend to “see no evil” and “hear no evil.” Amazing! See: When Silence Is Not Golden; Making A Present Day Application of McGarvey’s Advice; It is Easier; Accursed or Acquitted?
Sadly, ungodly behavior has become the order of the day for those who have become desperate to justify themselves and their associates. Instead of honorably discussing the issue out in the open before all, some have chosen to use their time and energy to assassinate the character of those who oppose them (cf. Numbers 32:23b)! See also: The Charge of “Hobby-Riding” by the Error-Siding! Cp. w. An Excerpt from Commendation of Gospel Truths’ Open Door Policy (by Ron Halbrook).
[Did you know that the Greek word translated “false accusers” is the same Greek word translated “devil”? (#1228; cp. II Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3 w. Revelation 12:9-10, et al).]
On 2-9-04, brother Don Martin sent an article to Bible Matters entitled, “MDR and Methodology.” In closing, please note brother Martin’s comments regarding the profane methods employed by some brethren:
“In the case of this present MDR issue, as seen in all cases, there is different methodology employed. Some, such as the man mentioned in the immediately above, are willing to be open, overt and up-front in their teaching and take on opponents. Others resort to covert methods that are more political.
I recall a number of years ago that when I challenged and exposed certain elders that were teaching the waiting game, these men began to apply pressure on me. I would have respected them if they had contacted me for further study and/or even public debate, but they did not do this. They contacted the elders where I was preaching and insisted that those men “make me” stop telling about what they taught. This reminds me of a recent incident involving much of the same methodology. A preacher among us who is known for his strong and biblical teaching on MDR has his own Web site that is dedicated to teaching the truth on MDR, especially this latest “the innocent put away retain their right to put away in all circumstances.” One methodology being used, I understand, is for various ones to contact members where he preaches in an effort to get them to make him take his Web site off the World Wide Web.
I have dealt with error and various movements many times in my preaching life, but I never cease to be shocked at the tactics of some. Brethren do differ on occasion, sometimes honest men with good and noble intentions. These men discuss their differences and often work out matters so that truth prevails. However, when underhanded methods are used, the situation turns nasty and reprehensibly disgusting. Let us be noble and forthright even in our differences. The paramount goal is to seek truth and examine various teaching in the light of revealed truth (Acts 17: 11). Men that resort to manipulation such as I have mentioned are evincing the spirit of politics.”
When men are unwilling or unable to openly address the issues at hand, such are the tactics they employ. Rather than addressing what they perceive to be the error that I am teaching, and letting it be seen for such from God's word, they turn their efforts to personal attacks and distortions. I would encourage brethren to continue to study the facts and the clear teaching found in God's word, and not be mislead or discouraged by such carnal efforts. - Jeff