Re: "Jesus Christians," "Australian cult," Dave McKay
Date: March 21, 2008 06:07AM
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Split in the JC community, so I thought to post one of the MANY emails that led to it. By the way Malcolm you get a mention... even though you were not there. I will try and highlight the funny outlandish bits. It is LONG, so if you do not want to read it just skip over it, but for the sake of posterity here it is:
THIS LETTER REPRESENTS MANY HOURS OF WORK ON THE PART OF SEVERAL INDIVIDUALS (mostly Ross, Sue, Chris and Rob) WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO AND EDITED THIS LETTER. IT REPRESENTS THE CONCLUSIONS OF THIS BASE.
Dear All Ross here, Thurs April 2nd,
(This letter has been on hold fro some time. Also, in our editing and checking process, Chris, Rob and Sue have all made additions and alterations to Ross's original letter, with Ross's approval.)
Some of you might think it coincidental that God seems to be allowing us to speak now when Dave has also asked us to respond. just to make it clear, we received direction from God to start writing before Dave's request arrived. I take it as evidence that the Holy Spirit is quite able to speak to them and us independently and yet we are coming to much the same conclusions.
Craig asks why we changed our minds about the puja issue on advice from Dave when our listening time seemed to be saying that it was OK, and yet do not doubt that God has told us in listening times to be quiet in the grievance, even if he feels the Bible says otherwise. We have had about six listening times about whether or not to be quiet, and the evidence has largely been in favour of not saying anything. I figure also that God was wanting Dave to to conduct the grievance and state the case before it was our turn, and therefore our silence was not insolence, but merely awaiting our correct turn on the witness stand. The issue about the puja was not so clear.
Once we realised (via Dave) that we had erred in being soft about idolatry, then the interpretation of the messages were viewed in a new light. A dream that Franz had about showing love to a girl who was possessed by a devil, did not mean it was OK to worship an idol, but rather may have meant for Rebecca to love her family despite how horrible they were being to her.
The I Peter 2 chapter that Boop got was very good advice to Rebecca about submitting to her parents on things that are NOT matters of conscience, but we overlooked that it also says that one must suffer for doing good (e.g. not worshipping the idol) because of our false premise. Jesus indeed does want Rebecca to worship him as the "Living Stone" and not worship some piece of rock.
I confess that although I think it is wrong to deny Jesus, a lesson I learned in Kerala a long time back, I was wishy washy when it came to seeing where idolatry starts. I was the one who theorised that maybe Rebecca was covered from sinning if she was forced to do so by her parents. I can see though that this is wrong, and how none of us are immune from being carried away by false doctrine.
Furthermore I confess to being indifferent to the problems with Kevin before I left Australia. Kevin was distressed about the rising tensions during the Solomon saga and sought Craig's and my intervention. Because I had already got the impression that this was going to be long and messy, and because I was on an outreach team, I didn't want to make time to sit down and carefully study the issues. The result was a curt observation that to Rob that maybe he had a beam in his eye while trying to get at Kevin's speck, and that he should remove it first. This was not an adequate response for a real witness, based as it was on a less than full analysis of the facts. But I was "busy" and just wanted to get out the door. Being busy is no excuse if we really love each other, and I failed there.
Another thing I think that needs to be clearly understood is that the problem that exists between Kevin and Dave is not a private matter any longer. It has been at third stage since January and since it was never resolved it remains a PUBLIC matter which anyone in the community is free to publicly comment on. That some people chose to speak to Kevin privately about it was an act of grace toward him in order to spare him full public embarrassment.
Some might think that attempts to suppress or discourage open discussion of the problem is therefore preventing murmuring. It's impossible when conducting a grievance from 3 countries to have Kevin present, which would be the ideal if we were all in Oz.
The main thing that makes something murmuring is that you are not prepared to bring your complaining directly to the person concerned. I think everyone, who has a grievance with Kevin, has tried to do this (as far as I know). Its impossible not to talk about the issues amoungst ourselves here before writing, but the aim is to eventually commit whatever was discussed to paper and send it to Kev.
It seems that some people feel it is better to ignore the problem or try to forget the unresolved grievance. hoping to prevent further disunity, but I feel this approach only serves to impede the whole process of resolving the differences between Kev and Dave. People who can't see Kevin's problem will therefore blame parties who challenge or question Kevin, because of the resulting disunity that explodes from such an action.
While it may be tempting to say "If Kevin can live harmoniously with us, then the problem must be coming from the other guys." as Donna appears to be saying in her 26/3 letter) it is not really an objective approach which takes into account the arguments coming from both sides.
Someone said that people have been "bending" the grievance system to suit themselves, but I have not seen any evidence of this. I believe this argument is a "red herring" which is diverting people's attention from the original problem and from doing something about it. That is, instead of of people focusing on the unresolved grievance between Kevin and Dave, people are worried that the guidelines of the grievance system are being abused, forgetting the seriousness of the unresolved THIRD STAGE grievance at hand.
Donna writes 26/3; ""Dave asked the India team, "if people saw problems with Kev, including problems with Kevin and myself, the loving thing would be to approach Kevin personally about them." I understand that this has been explained as an alteration to the grievance process, but I believe that it is wrong." I feel that it is important to point out that the alterations being made are in Kev's FAVOUR and that if you insist that the grievance system be strictly adhered to it actually means that we should kick Kev out now.
I feel that some people do not fully understand the nature of Kevin's problem, other than thinking it is a unique private disagreement that only exists between Kev and Dave because of their "personalities" (I confess I was one of those people until recently). e.g. Craig 5/4 "I don't feel too good about the idea of someone else sorting out the grievance for him (Dave). I think that the problem between Dave and Kevin is unique to Dave and him and that for others to carry it would not be correct."
I think this view fails to grasp the significance of everything that has taken place between Chris and Kevin and misses the crux of this whole disunity crisis.
Dave had in effect announced publicly his withdrawal from counselling Kevin on his problem when he walked out on an unresolved third stage grievance. The witnesses present agreed that Kevin was the one most at fault, and even Kevin agrees "...I was the one with the biggest problem" 26/3
Because Dave had withdrawn, the burden of responsibility to counsel Kevin and get to the bottom of his problem, clearly shifted to the rest of us. Unless of course, we decided as a community that we did not want to find a solution to this grievance. It is our duty as witnesses to the grievance, as a church body, to try to help Kevin fix his problem. If we do not want to fix Kevin's problem, we are agreeing that it is OK for kevin and Dave to remain disunited spiritually. Without our help their disunity will not fix itself. Is this what we ant? Did we decide as a community to drop attempts to resolve the third stage grievance?
Dave warned us that the problem had the potential to divide the community. It was difficult for us to know how to proceed at the time with many of us unsure about what to do.
What in effect happened was that Christine in particular, and a couple of others, attempted to pick up where Dave had left off seeking to understand Kevin's problem better. It slowly became clear to us in India that it didn't really matter WHO it was that tried to talk to Kevin about his problems, whether it was Rob, Chris, or myself, they would experience exactly the same difficulties that Dave experienced. Kevin would behave in much the same way, but possibly even worse, because others of us are not as clever at seeing at how subtly Kevin can twist an argument to his advatntage in any attempt to defend himself.
The following quotes are prime examples of what I am talking about. Kev 26/3: "Craig warned that infighting would take its toll on new disciples and lead to polarising within the community. ... India's reaction has made the dispute public and Big Josh left this morning, saying that he was fed up with the tension...." I really think its time to step back... This has nothing to do with problems in my relationship with Dave."
To make matters worse, it seems that Craig had picked up the same spirit in defending Kevin from criticism or questioning. Because Kevin is so good at arguing he often succeeds in gathering people to come to his defence against the very people who are trying to help him. And this was where the division began.
As shocking as the truth may be, it appears that kevin is a divisive force in the community because he is so defensive of himself, because of his reluctance to admit to any major faults in himself, and because he is such a good speaker and writer. Other weaker members and even leaders can be bamboozled by his twisted arguments even though we still feel that there is something there that is not right.
It seems that rather than face his sins, Kevin will inexorably draw others into the dispute with him and cause them to to choose sides by framing himself as the innocent victim (for he could never be guilty of anything as bad as they say) and his critics as the cruel prosecutors. e.g. Kev 26/3 "the presumption that if I am proved wrong in a dispute with Dave that this proves them right in their dispute with me is irrational. If THEY have written me off then THEY have a responsibility to identify the issue and reserve judgement until I have responded and the body as a whole can judge."
The critics of him (e.g. Dave, Chris, and Rob) therefore will be identified by him as the real source of the division, because they are creating problems that don't exist, or that they are making a grab for political power in the group e.g. Kevin 26/3 "Craig's concern was mostly in judging whether Christine or Robin's input was helping me with my problem or becoming a distraction... tackling personal issues publicly, or worse behind a person's back, is just plain wrong." Kevin 19/3 "sometimes I feel like the tensions between us are generated by the same spirit that saw the disciples dispute over who was the greates. Hopefully we can all rise above the strife of human politics." These arguments have been tried by Kevin in the latest round of letters and are false.
Thus the community is divided and destroyed. The hard thing is whether or not Kevin himself knows he is doing this. While Kevin may assert that he does not desire to lead the community, he imposes his unappointed and unnecessary right to be its critic, thus dividing himself off into a different camp (as Malcolm did). It is no wonder that Kevin becomes alienated from us as a result of his mindset. This leads me on to a discussion about what I call "the Malcolm Wrest heresy".
I had a dream some time ago that Malcolm Wrest had returned and had set himself up as a teacher. Ithink this may well be coming true now. If you start critically examining some of the things Kev has said about the future of the group combined with Craig's gaffe on Feb 11, and you will find some theorising going on that smacks of the Malcolm doctrine.
Thos of us who were in Adelaide with Malcolm, ought to know better by now, but it seems that God is allowing this all to surface again in order that we get things clear before we take on any more new disciples, and confuse them with messy division.
What is the Malcolm doctrine? Malcolm believed that there should be no leaders in the name of equal brotherhood. Sounds nice in theory? What it meant in practice was that Malcolm could assert his own influence over the group and act as its defacto leader, ahead of less ambitious easy going disciples who were less pushy about their opinions. A group which has decided to have no leaders for fear of abuse of power inevitably means that someone, who is usually the least humble, least qualified, and most ambitious will try to take on that role in the absence of protest from anyone else.
Now lets look at what Kevin said in his March 19 letter on the subject of leadership. "We should all remember we are equal partners and brothers under one Father.... (and that) "it is the only ideal that will stop the rot that has destroyed every movement before before us." He continues... "I'm not sure that Dave took a step back so that someone else could take over the job, imitating his old style. I think he is trying to apply a more gracious style of leadership by example. I had some reservations... that this liberty could be taken as licence for some to dominate others. I still think (autonomy) ... will be compromised if we all compete for the job of telling everyone what to do. I think we could learn from the Old Testament example, God wanted to govern through a council of wise men, but the people demanded a king."
Doesn't it sound like Kevin is saying here that he fears that the community will set someone up as a "King" in Dave's place, as Dave is now "trying to apply a more gracious style of leadership by example"? Is Kevin implying that Dave's old leadership style was that of a king, and fears that the community will make the same mistake? If so this is slanderous and highly insulting to Dave in the least.
But the most disturbing comment implies that the community will be compromised "if we compete for the job of telling everyone what to do." In other words is Kevin saying that criticising one another is wrong, and that that if we just leave each other alone we can build a better community? Is he implying that anyone who criticises a brother is making himself a KING? Or is it just the competitiveness to do so that he is concerned about?
Whatever I make of his comments here, there is also the following statement he made to Christine on that he has "fundamental differences" with her.
Kev 28/3 says "It is true that Christine was sincerely looking for something. She tried hard to pass on some of her experiences... that she felt would help me understand areas where she fundamentally differs with me." What are these fundamentals on which he differs? Are they doctrinal issues? And what is the "something" that Kev thinks Chris was looking for? Does he think it is something apart from the truth? (power perhaps?!)
Kev says on 27/3 "Dave was constantly irritated with me, resulting in misunderstandings. Yes, there was quite a bit of tension surrounding my comments on the move toward autonomy. I'm not sure if there is a core issue involved here or not, but there was hardly a relaxed moment between us after that time."
May I suggest that the core issue is how Kevin views leadership in the community and that this is the fundamental difference that he was alluding to.
Kev reinforces this perception on 28/3 with the following statement. "I think the I Cor 7 dispute [NOTE: this involved Rob advising him to put conditions on to his wife such that she would leave and he would be free to divorce her.], has revealed a bit of a shift in my perspective between my understanding of leadership responsibility and that of Dave, Chris and Rob which is probably linked to a different perspective on the responsibility associated with resolving other people's problems. I don't think its necessary for us all to have the same perspective, and I will try hard not to make my opinion a rile for others."
Kevin admits to having a different perspective on leadership, but doesn't explain. It seems to have something to do with the amount of "grace" shown in "resolving other people's problems. What he fails to acknowledge is that he HAS been pushing for his opinions to become the standard which he believes others should follow. The fruit of this is the division where the Oz base appears to be united with Kevin against the rest of the community. Has Kevin been forming these opinions/revelations as a result of his difficult relationship with Liz?, and as a result of trying to apply this to relationships with the rest of the community? It seems so, but I think it is extremely dangerous for community to apply the same methods Kevin is applying with Liz (and other unbelievers) to relationships with believers. If this is the main source of the confusion in Australia (i.e. a distorted view of application of "grace") then perhaps an acknowledgement by the Oz base of this false doctrine will help clear up matters.
If there is more to it than this, then I am afraid we are dealing with the Malcolm Wrest syndrome", which is much more serious.
Kev later says (5/4) "I also feel responsible for the failings in my personality and for the fact that I didn't do more to reconcile with Dave which is where all this strife started from. Regarding the details of where I feel differently, I would rather not comment further. I hope this decision can be tolerated and viewed in a positive light."
It is good Kev that you are now recognising that your personality is YOUR responsibility, however I do not feel that we can tolerate you holding on to your pride and witholding your true feelings, both of which appears to be the source of the division between you and the community at large and individuals within the community. As long as Kev holds to his "no leader" stance he will continue to be a constant source of division.
Kevin advocates a council of elders as the way the community should go with regard to leadership, but the the way he words things implies that he views Dave's position within the group as "Rabbi" and that it is a position, title or no tile, which the community should (if it is to be doctrinally correct) do without. It sems that Kev is saying that even without the title, which of course Jesus forbids, that Dave figuratively represents a dangerous threat (i.e." the rot") to the future of the community. Isn't this just the sort of thing that Malcolm would have said?
What came to a head in Adelaide after the Nullarbor walk in a three day meeting was that Dave managed to expose Malcolm's spirit, and the fact that Malcolm was mounting at first a subtle, then a direct leadership challenge (when he could no longer hide his rebellion).
I am concewrned that the cause of the division runs deeper than just an ignorant error in applying grace, but is sounding more like a serious act of pride along the same lines of Malcolm.
What will stop the ROT in the community is not sdo much the lack of hierarchy, but that the leaders within the community are sufficiently free of greed, pride, dishonesty, and hypocrisy, and are diligent to spot these in others while applying mercy when necessary.
To be honest the extracts I have compiled from Kevin's statements are not blatant enough to prove my theory, and I am pretty sure kevin will rephrase them to deny any such spirit, but I feel there is enough there to put everyone on alert for such possibility, and time will tell all.
I don't view Dave as a Rabbi, title or not, but rather as an elder brother who has sought to bring us all up to his level of spiritual understanding. While there may have been a kind of parent/child relationship with Dave in the early years of the community because we were all such spiritual babes, I think the evidence is overwhelming that he has encouraged us to grow up and take our places of responsibility in jointly managing various aspects of the family business. His reputation as a wise counsellor merely improves with time, and he is still well ahead of us in that regard. BUT attempts by anyone to demand spiritual equality with Dave at this stage are proud and arrogant, and an attempt to take over the farm before God has directed it to be so. Circumstances are such that the community grew up with Dave in his current role as overseer. The gift made way for itself, ordained by God for our blessing and benefit, and there is scant evidence to prove that Dave has ever abused this position for selfish ends, despite the paranpia of some to the contrary.
I recently had a strong dream. I was invited by the captain of a ship to become a steward on board. I felt immensley privileged to be called on board. But I noticed that the Captain himself never took shore leave, he was always busy concerned with the affairs of the ship. So I asked the Captain when was it that he would leave the ship. He said he would not leave it until he had signed over the papers to it once and for all.
My interpretation: It was God's ship, but Dave's role on it as Captain seems clear. God has given this task to Dave and it will remain his till the ship is ready in God's plan to be handed over. But there will be no mutinies in an attempt to hurry that along.
It remains to be seen what shape the community will take after Dave is taken from us one day. Perhaps one day we might be able to function as a council of elders without a seniour figurehead, but in the light of recent events I wonder if we will become mature enough for that if too many of us are over opinionated and are not self critical.
But I think there is an abundance of evidence already tabled by others to reveal that Kevin has been acting hypocritically. He is undercritical of himself, and will shift the blame and responsibility for his sins on to someone or something else other than himself, IF he can get away with it.
If totally cornered with a truth he has been known under those circumstances just to refuse to believe it outright. And so Kevin is unable and unwilling to change as long as he continues to justify this argumentative and divisive spirit. The shocking thing about the Pharisees is that although they were hypocrites, the nature of their hypocrisy meant that they could never admit they were blind, unable to see that they WERE hypocrites.
From my own experience it was not until I came to a deep realisation that I was capable of committing and had indeed committed serious sins such as dishonesty and pride, that I became willing to change. Because I could, through these sins, be a dangerous menace to babes of the faith and worthy of being drowned in the sea for it. But it wasn't until I stopped fearing that confessing such sins would destroy my "reputation" and standing in the community, that I began to become free of my own hypocrisy.
I feel sad having to say such hard things about Kevin, however I believe that Kevin is on a destructive path and that he will destroy himself, his reputation, the community, and possibly the his own marriage if he continues on it for much longer.
Sound judgement is absolutely necessary if we are to understand and deal with Kevin or any other serious problem. It is the most loving thing we can do for Kevin under the circumstances. BUT, now that I KNOW what the problem is , we are now at liberty to apply MERCY to it, if God is telling us to. But mercy is given to humble,not the proud.
We all love Kevin. NO ONE wants to kick him out of the group, but we will if we have to.
For our own sakes and in order to clarify people's thinking, we have had to push this issue to a head, so its exposed for ALL to see, just as we did to Malcolm. It is Kevin himself who has created this mess by his own stubbornness, first with Dave, and now with the rest of us..
Kevin may just leave as his escape from us and his inability to face himself. But I am concerned that if we were to continue with such pressure that he may become suicidal.
We must be united and AWARE of the problem, just as we are all aware of the chronic problems that Robert Wise has, then we will be united in being able to handle Kevin when he is out of it, without allowing his problem to divide us. Robert's problem is easy for an amateur to spot , but Kevin's problem requires expert skill, and I confess that I have not been up to the task, until now. Dave, Robin and Chris have initiated an enormous task for us, and a significant one. We owe them respect for not being complacent. If we can successfully deal with this unitedly, then the peace and stability of the community will be assured. I know what it is like to feel the whole community is against me when I have been hypocritical and out of it. I was blinded to my own condition for a long time, but I had to smash the idol I had made of my false righteousness and pride. I thank others for showing MERCY to me, but I also understand why they had to exercise judgement of me first.
After this is over, maybe then God will see fit to add to our fellowship. If He were to add to our fellowship too much now, I think you can imagine what enormous damage and stumbling the division could cause to the flock.
How much ground we have lost to the enemy over the years already by failing to deal with this problem is debatable, but its clear that now is the time to deal with it.
I'm hoping and praying that Kevin's problem can be successfully contained by UNITED awareness and possibly even CURED if Kevin was willing. But if we cannot get our act together, we have no alternative but to expell Kevin from the group, that the rest of it may be saved. If we must do so we are kind of admitting that we are probably too immature to successfully save Kevin and must save ourselves in that case. We also have a responsibility to protect new disciples from his bad example.