On August 24th, I
wrote the following letter to enquire about an accusation by another brother,
[Since several brethren are referenced in this correspondence, I have removed names and replaced them with letters for differentiation and the sake of continuity and understanding. I realize that (with the letters) the exchanges are difficult to decipher, but it may help to know that all of these lettered brethren (except brother F) were those involved in the three previously posted rumors. If nothing else, I hope you can at least glean the substance of this rumor, and that these rumors have been circulated by the very brethren whose beliefs and teaching (related to this subject) I oppose.]
Brother A’s reply:
My reply and answer to brother A’s charge (above):
Dear brother A,
I absolutely deny that I ever told C (or anybody at any time) that "some of your (my jhb) opponents concocted the list." I find it interesting that the only unverifiable venue of exchange that C and I had on the subject (phone calls) is the one in which he claims I said such a thing in. I have plenty of e-mails which indicate that such a claim is not true.
For example, on the very same day that I had my last phone conversation with C and he had his conversation with you (7-25), C wrote the following apology, after our conversation:
"In earlier letters to Jeff, I inquired about a 'sound preachers list' which I had somehow assumed he had part in creating. Primarily, I was actually concerned with the establishment of such a list period. Jeff has informed me that he had no part in creating or sending of such a list. I take his word on that. He did say that he may have indirectly had a part, in that he may have given the names out names [sic] who commended his articles (Jeff can correct this if this isn't quite the case, but said something to that effect in our phone conversation of 7-25) but never was intended to be part of a 'sound preachers list.' I have also found that I was mistaken in thinking that the list had been somehow been attributed to him and have apologized to him for thinking this and this is why I went to Jeff directly about it. This note may be shared to any who might inquire about this. I have asked Jeff's permission to share this with you bro F, as I had asked your advice in the matter." (emp. jhb)
Such an apology and vote of confidence in my word (offered after the phone call I had with C) contradicts his claim that I could be so dishonest and calculating as to say the following:
"Belknap told C that D, E and me had assembled and circulated the 'sound preacher list' in an effort to make people think that it originated with Belknap. When C challenged him on this, he admitted that he did send out names of men that he considered sound on this subject and that he may have "inadvertently" contributed to the compiling of that list! He judged himself out of his own slanderous mouth. His conduct has been both dishonest and unethical."
How could C express belief in my word if I told him two conflicting stories about where I believed the so-called list" originated?
Your charge that I told C that D, E and you "assembled" the list is absolutely ludicrous and false. It doesn't even make sense. Why would I tell C that D, E and A "assembled" it, when I had already conveyed (to both C and B) my suspicions that the list of e-mail addresses with names (which you, D, B and C subsequently labeled a "sound preacher list") may have partially been derived from an instance in which I had shared the addresses with a brother - for the sole purpose that he could send interested brethren updates on this issue?
The first time that C contacted me about the supposed "list" was via e-mail, when he questioned me about it (what you called C’s "challenge"). Your account implies that we had contact before that letter, in which I was supposed to have told him "that D, E and me had assembled and circulated the 'sound preacher list' in an effort to make people think that it originated with Belknap." Then, you said, C (supposedly) "challenged" that (prior) claim, and I "admitted" to another version of the story. That is ludicrous. The only version of the story I have ever given to C, B or anyone else about the "list" rumor is the truth.
C initially seemed to verify that your account (sent by B) was an accurate synopsis of what he had told you of our conversation and expressed no disagreement with what you wrote to B. However, in a more recent e-mail to me he said, "You are also accusing me of things which someone else has written (ie, "challenge"), you need to write them if that is the case." So if you remember what he said clearly, either he gave the account as you relayed it to B, or you are not remembering it clearly. Which is the case?
Here is a copy of what I wrote in response to C's and B's e-mail inquiries about the "list" which I also posted to the website, and which I stand by today:
It seems that you have been
misinformed as to a so-called "sound preacher list." A few months ago, I
corresponded with another brother who was dealing with this
issue. He was sending out information about this topic that I (and
others) call "mental divorce" to many other brethren, and asked if I
knew of any more fellows who would be interested in such. I sent him some names
and e-mail addresses of other brothers with whom I have either
spoken or corresponded on the subject, those who had expressed disagreement with
the "mental divorce" doctrine, in one aspect or another, so that he could
add them to his mailing list.
The dissimilarities between your (and C's) account and mine are striking in that one (mine) describes something totally innocent—the sharing of e-mail addresses sent to a brother for adding to his mailing list on this subject—some of which names (on the list B sent) were names which I don't even know. (This is supported by one of C's letters to me which states that at least one of the brothers on the "list" was in disagreement with me.) When B e-mailed me the "list" to inquire if I had been responsible for making it, it contained e-mail addresses with names, not just a list of names. This also supports the truth of my account.
Your account (via C) casts aspersions on a brother without the benefit of proof.
The recent article on my web site which I wrote in reply to brothers A and D makes the following statement, which I stand by today:
"So, as you can see, there was indeed a 'list' circulating that I was accused of involvement with, but it certainly was not being circulated as a 'list of approved preachers' by anyone that has been supporting my efforts in this doctrinal dilemma."
Surely you wouldn't disagree with that statement, A. The only ones that I have heard this rumor from have been close associates of E, or, as in the case of F, told of it by a close associate of yours (C).
I do remember C asking the question of whether or not I thought you and your associates were capable of circulating the so-called "sound preacher list" and making it look as if I initiated it as such (a "sound preacher's list"). I told him that because of the evidence of e-mails from C and B about it, and because of D's article (posted on GA) that describes it as such, that yes, I did believe that it was possible.
But I have never claimed that you or anyone else "assembled" or "concocted" it - just that you all circulated it as something it was not, making it appear that I had actually had the audacity to put together a list of "sound preachers" on the mental divorce issue.
Isn't it obvious that if I ever had "evidence" (as you said C told you) of others actually compiling the "list" that I would have put it on the web site? When have I ever held back from showing "evidence" of such things on my web site?
Now, since I have never said (nor even thought) that you, E and D "assembled" that so-called "list," I never contacted you about it. Your inference to Mt. 18:15 does not apply in a circumstance where one does not have a charge against his brother. (I did, however, address those whom I knew had circulated the rumor in the same venues that they used to "circulate" the false charge, for I did have a charge against them.)
Now, however, you say you received a charge against me (from another person - C) that I had done what was (in your words) "slanderous," "dishonest" and "unethical." However, instead of coming to me (which Mt. 18:15 actually does command of a brother who has a charge against another), you took the charge to B (and possibly others??). Even if I had been guilty of saying to C what you told B I did, where is the scripture that would authorize you to go to B with what amounts to a "whispering," and not come to me?
I pray that you will rectify this and
clear up the unverifiable charge with B,
and if you have spread it to anyone else, to them as well.
(Brother A never responded to the above letter.)