|Corruption in the Philippines|
Wallace H. Little
Here are my comments on David’s letter, which I print and distribute with his permission. But first, to establish a proper framework, please understand that David and I have known each other for about 35 years, and before that, I knew his parents, and had some minor privileged opportunities to work with his Dad, Yater. My point:---David is as aware of the substance of my preaching as many, if not most of today preaching brethren in the NI churches of Christ.
A bit of my history in God’s service:---I became a Christian in November 1956, and within three months, the brother who taught me the truth began arranging opportunities for me to preach (if you can call it that) in outlying rural communities. When I was assigned to the Philippines on military duty in 1966, I had nearly ten years experience, most of it with small churches, several of which I had the privilege of helping start. My history in the Philippine work give me four years “jump” on the first preaching visit there by other NI preachers. This included two years of preaching there for a congregation we helped start, and “street-corner preaching” - - Since my 1970 retirement from military service , I have gone back there virtually every year to teach and preach. On many years, I’ve made that trip twice, and in most cases, stayed two to four months. With a single exception of one NI preacher who has lived there since the early 1990s - - having adopted and raised five abandoned Filipino children - - I have more time “boots on the ground” than any other NI preacher. Indeed, I have more than most of them combined. I am not saying this to boast, but to explain my background for writing this, establishing as fact that I am, by far, more familiar and knowledgeable then any of these other NI preachers.
My practice has always been to go to teach only where I am invited, and teach on the subject the inviters requested. I am not in the “business” of trying to run anyone or anything. In my early years, I spent my time traveling from place to place, staying one to four days in each, dividing my efforts between lectureships for older preachers and teaching Gentiles the precious saving grace of our Lord. After my heart attack, which the cardiologist ascribed to stress from preaching, for several years, I returned to that practice. However, I found I was no longer able to endure the extensive travel this required. So I changed, to now holding only two to four lectureships for older preachers each time. Beginning in 1993, I held classes for young men who want to spend their lives serving God in preaching. With my supporters’ agreement, I funded students’ transportation costs, and while living with me, provided them with a place to stay, food, and such materials needed for their studies (Bibles, notebooks, pens, etc). Each class was limited to a small group (9-14). These were ten weeks long, with classes all day and sometimes, into the evenings, plus half a day on Saturday. We - - those who helped me teach - - provided a comprehensive Scriptural background on basics these young men needed in order to help them in the work to which they wanted to devote themselves. I sometimes jokingly refer to the material is “giving them in ten weeks what it took me five years or more to learn by the ‘stumble method.’” The work is hard, and no one get a free pass. As of 2008, we have graduated 207 young men from these classes, plus 88 older preachers in an abbreviated version. For any interested, I will happily provide a list of subjects and the class hours of each. To the best of my knowledge, all but about a small handful are “out there” teaching, and doing so without American support.
As David has pointed out in his letter, I have repeatedly been accused of teaching error in the Philippines, but with no one ever able to cite any examples of what this error is. Specifically, I have been accused of teaching on marriage, divorce, and remarriage (MDR) there, on what the accusers claim is “the covenant,” and on blood eating. In point of fact (as I already mentioned), I have never gone any place there to preach without invitation, and have never preached on any subject other than the one the inviters wanted. The first time I preached on God’s eternal covenant of salvation was 2006 WHEN THOSE WHO INVITERD ME REQUESTED THIS. I had not preached on MDR until 2007, when again those inviting me asked me to do so. David (above) has correctly described what I teach on God’s covenant of salvation. Some have charged me with “setting up the groundwork for teach MDR by my teaching on the covenant.” That is nonsense. Anyone who has ever heard my teaching on that, in the USA or Philippines, if he is honest, will tell you that I make no connection between the two subjects, BECAUSE THERE IS NONE!
This 2007 MDR-teaching request was a “set up.” and I was aware of that, because by a constitutional prohibition, one cannot get a divorce in the Philippines under any conditions, and given the fact it is a nation that has 86% of its people members of the Roman Catholic Church, that won’t change. So effectively, in terms of action, the subject was moot. what I did was to go to all the New Testament texts that dealt with the subject, and explained these in terms of their contexts. In the open forum After the lessons in the open forum, I was asked, “Well, can we get a divorce?” My response was: “In your nation, you know you cannot get a divorce, period! I’ve explained what the texts say, but you have to decide for yourselves.” The second day of the lectureship, my questioners did not return.
The third charge made against me is that I teach that eating blood is OK Scripturally. Brethren, I have never taught anything on blood eating. I have intentionally refrained from stepping into something that is, essentially, a cultural and traditional matter. When I first began there in 1966, I saw that while some did so, also congregations in their individual autonomous capacity were handling it. Thus, to enable me to be free to teach both groups, I stayed out of that dispute, and continue staying out. No Filipino preacher can tell you what I believe on that subject, and I stress again, I have never taught on it.
The fourth charge made against me is that in teaching that God has but one, universal, and never changing moral law, I am teaching error. These pushing this insists that God changed His moral law in Deuteronomy 24:01-04, and in this, either allowed or approved divorce. Bro. Jim McDonald has been prominent in this accusation. I believe he misunderstands that Deuteronomy text. My understanding of it is that God is regulating an existing practice among Jewish men in order to protect the put away woman. In view of Malachi 2:14-16, I do not see how anyone can say God approves divorce, and I certainly so not believe He did or does so now. Further, accepting the premise that God does not have
ONE:---Fails to recognize that moral law defines God, His character (quality) and nature (substance), again demanding He be a changeable and changing God. Prove that one who can.
TWO:---He is a respecter of persons, approving human conduct in some time periods that He classifies as sin in others. That would mean also that He is no longer an unchanging, unchangeable God, denying Scriptures on this.
THREE:---Ignores the purpose of His moral law, which is to regulate the conduct of humans. He administers these by different revealed laws in different time-periods, but His moral principles remain constants.
FOUR:--- Provides man with the principles to which he must conform to be accepted by God in Judgment, thus the standard by which he will be Judged. See John 12:47,48 on this.
These are the most important ones, which explains why I believe the Bible teaches that God has had but a single moral law system since “day one,” and it will remain single until Judgment, and in that, will be the basis of our eternal destiny, depending on our commitment to live according to it.
I am aware from his Emails to me that bro. McDonald denies he has ever said that I teach MDR in the Philippines, but he also adds, “…but then comes Deuteronomy 24:01-04….” Many Filipino preachers have told me they understand from this that I DO teach MDR there.
I want to make a final point here on these charges:---As David Tant wrote in his 29 April 2008 letter to various Filipino preaching brethren. No one has ever provided him with a single example of my “false teaching” on any of these topics, or any other, for that matter. Further, and this rankles me considerably, no one making these charges (excepting an Email exchange between Jim McDonald and myself) has ever contacted me to ask if the charges were true. Unless I misread 2 Corinthians 13:01, charges must be established in the mouths of two or three witnesses. It goes without saying, they should be honest witnesses. So in all this, I ask: what is the evidence? Who are the witnesses?
The whole troubling division among Filipino saints began in 1995. Before that, many American preachers went there to teach who disagreed with each other (and with me) on some doctrinal issues. But this was never a problem in that work until Ron Halbrook came there in 1995, for the first time. On that trip, he used MDR as a club to beat brethren in line - - the carrot being offer or withholding of support. Having had his reputation sullied by putting out his infamous “28-QUESTIONS” creed, I believe he came to reestablish his reputation and prominence. He began this by attacking another American there who disagrees with him on MDR. But this other American has never made it an issue, and particularly, never preached it in the Philippines. Halbrook attacked this man, as it is easier and more effective to have an “enemy” who preaches error than simply to have the error itself. I rebuked Halbrook publicly for this. He then turned on me, not because I agreed with the “enemy brother,” but because I would not submit to his - - Halbrook’s - - insistence that I must denounce that man. In Halbrook’s demand for MDR-conformity, and especially in a nation where one cannot get a divorce, no matter what - - he began a division among brethren in 1995 that has yet to run its course. On my trip there in the spring of 2008, brethren were commenting that Halbrook is now claiming to be “the watchdog of the church in the Philippines.” A better use of the word “dog” here would be prefixed by “attack.” Either way, who made that appointment?
The major effort of my preaching life has been the Philippines. At 84, I plan to continue as long as I am able to serve God there and my supporting wife keeps encouraging me to do so while my health permits. Why do I do this? Where else can I go to serve God in teaching His Word daily to those who want to hear it? ‘Nuff said on my motive.
Over the years of my refusal to bow my knee to Halbrook’s Baal, through the spreading influence of that doctrinal demand, I have been stripped of $1,400.00 month support. I have managed to replace only a portion of it, first requiring reducing my trips there to once yearly, instead of twice. Now I have lost further support recently, this time, due to supporting congregations losing members, and the impact of today’s economic situation in the USA.
So I am sending out this appeal, first to set the record straight, and second, to plead for financial support to enable me to continue serving the Lord as I have in His work in the Philippines. My next preaching/teaching trip there is already scheduled to begin on 28 February 2009. At present, I am $15,000.00 short of the funds I know from previous experience that I know I will need to be able to hold the scheduled lectureships and a new class of preacher-students.
Brethren, please let me hear from you on this.
Wallace H. Little