DAVID P. BROWN
P.O. Box 2357, Spring, TX 77383
H.W. (DUB) MCCLISH
908 Imperial Drive, Denton, TX 76209
December 10, 2009
Forest Hill Church of Christ
3950 Forest Hill Irene Road
Memphis, TN 38125
We are in receipt of your December 1, 2009, edition of The Forest Hill News (TFHN) in which you announced you have “marked” us as unworthy of fellowship on the basis of Romans 16:17. We assure you that we believe in following and count very important what the New Testament teaches regarding the marking and withdrawing of fellowship. You accused us of two things in your announcement: “sowing discord” among brethren and telling “outright lies” concerning yourselves, your evangelist, MSOP, and Forest Hill, serious allegations indeed. While granting for the moment that our words/deeds may have caused discord, as you brethren know, doing so is not inherently evil (Mat. 10:34–39; Luke 12:51–53).
We are truly thankful that you have clarified your position regarding your past, present and continued support of brother Barry Grider. Your public statement of implied support for brother Grider’s doctrine and conduct dispels any idea on our part (and should do so on anyone else’s part) that any one of you disagrees with and/or opposes him. Contrariwise, your statement implies to all that the Forest Hill eldership, the Forest Hill church and MSOP faculty are in full support of brother Grider’s doctrine and conduct. We assure you that any suggestions to the contrary we have made regarding the same were based on information at hand (which we believed to be reliable) and with no intent to deceive.
We will publicly correct our misconceptions of this matter on the pages of Contending for the Faith and trust that you will forgive our erroneous suggestion. It has always been the policy of Contending for the Faith to make appropriate acknowledgments and corrections when we become aware of any misstatement. Regarding such matters, we have expected that same Scriptural attitude in and conduct from others, but have sadly found that, all too often, others are unwilling to make necessary corrections when they have not only been charged with error, but have been proven guilty of said charges. Lamentably, many who are guilty of sin and/or error seem to be far more interested in attempting to justify their erroneous conduct than repenting of it.
You did not specify the “lies” of which you accused us, making it difficult for us to repent of unspecified offenses and leaving us to guess at what they might be. In brother Grider’s article that accompanied your announcement, he pointedly expressed his frustrations with us, but in the venting of his spleen, he was no more specific in his charges against us than were you men. To simply throw out invectives as brother Grider did only proves (if it proves anything at all) that he can throw out invectives without specificity. It is strange that he did not deal with specifics, but chose rather to deal only in caustic generalities.
From reading brother Grider’s recent article, it appears that you and he were most disturbed by the following (which he termed a “lie”): Our suggestion that one or more of you men and/or one or more of the MSOP faculty members may have sorely disagreed with brethren Grider’s and Young’s February 10, 2009, TFHN articles. Brother Grider stated in his December 1 article:
The truth is our elders, this preacher, along with our faculty, have operated in peace and harmony to this present hour.
We accept brother Grider’s claim, and stand corrected as previously noted. We are in brother Grider’s debt for setting us straight. Taking him at his word in writing, you and the entire MSOP faculty “have operated in peace and harmony to this present hour.” Simply put, we did not think that any (much less, all) of you men could ever approve of the February 10 articles. While we have apparently misstated the case in this regard, this hardly makes us liars, for a liar is one who makes “a false statement with deliberate intent to deceive.” We ask your forgiveness for suggesting that there may have been disagreement within the eldership and that some of you and some of the faculty may have been displeased with brother Grider because of his February 10 articles.
We must therefore regretfully accept the fact that all of the Forest Hill elders and all of the MSOP faculty are now on record as being in full agreement with and as having no objections whatsoever to the following things advocated in the Grider and Young articles: (1) Singing the song, “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” in your assemblies (which song directly addresses and prays to the Holy Spirit for his direct impact upon the singer), (2) allowing teachers, preachers, and preacher students to use whatever Bible version(s) they choose in your pulpit and classrooms (including MSOP), (3) dismissing your Sunday evening worship assemblies in favor of small group meetings in homes, (4) moving or canceling your Sunday evening worship period on “Super Bowl Sunday,” (5) serving coffee and doughnuts during your Bible classes, (6) teaching your members and preacher students that they may forsake the assembly in order to participate in sports activities, (7) enlarging your fellowship “circle,” and (by implication) (8) teaching in the classes at MSOP that the foregoing practices and teachings are mere incidental and optional matters.
With your official public statement, along with brother Grider’s December 1 article, we now know exactly where you stand and what you advocate concerning some of the things brother Grider advocated himself and that he defended in brother Tyler Young’s teaching in the February 10 articles. Your statement also gives us greater insight concerning your attitude toward brother Dave Miller’s errors and toward those who fellowship him.
While we continue to have difficulty believing that you brethren countenance such things, brother Grider’s declaration of your perpetual “peace and harmony” leaves us no alternative but to believe that you do. So that brethren may know of our admission of mischaracterizing you brethren as defined and set out in this letter, please distribute our admission in this regard as widely as you have distributed your statement of marking. This distribution, however, must include this letter in its entirety.
David P. Brown H.W. (Dub) McClish
P.S. We were a bit surprised that you took more than four years to mark us as unworthy of your fellowship. Because of your fellowship compromises, we have not been in fellowship with you since you began (in 2005) defending, endorsing, and extending fellowship to brother Dave Miller in spite of his errors and of his steadfast refusal to repent of the same. We know of nothing that proves brother Miller’s repentance, confession of sin, and/or his request for brethren to pray for his forgiveness. If you do know of such precise and specific evidence, please make that evidence available to us. We would greatly rejoice in his repentance as we would rejoice in your repentance as well for extending your fellowship to him and to those who fellowship him in his unrepented-of errors. Until such a time, even if you should “unmark” us, you will remain “marked” by us and by all who refuse to show “respect of persons for the sake of advantage” (Jude 16).