Panama Street Church of Christ
444 South Panama Street
Montgomery, AL 36107
June 17, 2005
908 Imperial Dr.
Denton, TX 76209
Dear brother McClish:
On June 11, 2005, I received a copy of an e-mail that you had penned entitled, “Summation of Information Relating to Apologetics Press Scandal.” This document contained information from conversations that you had with Darrell Conley, Dan Jenkins, Wayne Jackson, and myself. To say that I was shocked to see that you had taken our personal conversation into the public arena is a major understatement. You state, regarding your conversation with me, “I assured him that it was not my intent to publicize it in the GOSPEL JOURNAL.” However, it appears that at least part of your objective in initiating the conversation with me was to post is on public display. You appeared to be grossly offended that those of us whom you contacted did not reveal every lurid and salacious detail of Bert’s sin. We have detected ten lies and eleven misrepresentations (whether intentional or unintentional) in your treatise. One of those involves my very brief conversation with brother Weir and another my statement regarding brother Brad Harrub. All others can be substantiated and verified. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is a folly and shame unto him” (Pro. 18:13). “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him” (Pro. 29:20).
The very title of your invective is incorrect. The sin lay with brother Thompson, not Apologetics Press. It was the staff at Apologetics Press (along with others) who confronted brother Thompson about his sin, especially brethren Dave Miller, Brad Harrub, Eric Lyons and Kyle Butt.
Sadly, you have shunned the spirit of the publican and adopted the spirit of the Pharisee (Luke 18:9 – 14). In reading your treatise, one would be led to conclude that you are blessed with perfect vision regarding the faults of another while wholly blind to any imperfections you may have.
A man’s public confession of sin should not be fodder for Internet talebearing and gossip. In just two weeks this side of being confronted with his sin, Bert has made public confessions at seven different congregations. At this point, what else would you have him do? Are more fruits of penitence demanded by you than those required of God? Must he crawl over shattered glass, bathe your feet in tears and beg for your personal forgiveness? I have read your e-mail several times, and I found no expressions of anguish of heart over this human tragedy of incalculable proportions or demonstration of a spirit of kindness, forgiveness, mercy or grief. Did you not reflect upon the devastating effects this tragedy has had upon Rhonda and the family before firing off your missive? Why could you not at least have ended your vituperative with just one tender statement such as, “Brethren, let us pray for Bert, Rhonda and their family”? You would perhaps do well to ponder, “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy, and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:13).
My phone has rung incessantly for three weeks. Every single call has pulsated with expressions of sorrow, grief, and concern for Bert and his family, the devastating consequences this could have upon the church and the great work at Apologetics Press. Questions such as, “What can I do?” and “How can I help?” have been uttered repetitiously. Yours and brother Weir’s have been the lone exceptions.
Striking indeed is the contrast in your ignoble conduct and that of Paul in a kindred situation. Regarding the adulterous man in Corinth and the attitude of the church toward it, Paul said, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears” (II Cor. 2:4). In heart, attitude and spirit, you and Paul appear to live in two different worlds. In your conversation with me, your words were clothed in ice. Not one shred of compassion did you express for Bert and his family. Why could you not have borrowed one tear from Paul’s eye for this fallen brother and his godly wife and family? Brother Jenkins had already informed you of Bert’s confession before you called others and me. What else did you need to know? The matter should have ended right there. Yet, you ploughed on down your furrow of shame, endeavoring to gather every sordid detail you could find with the full intent of broadcasting them to the brotherhood. I did not realize that the Lord had authorized an earthly clearinghouse in the penitence process. “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people” (Lev. 19:16). “A talebearer revealeth secrets, but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter” (Pro. 11:13). “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” (Pro. 18:8). “There is he that speaketh like the piercings of a sword; but the tongue of the wise is health” (Pro. 12:18). “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life; but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction” (Pro. 13:3). “A fool uttereth all his mind; but a wise man keepeth it till afterwards” (Pro. 29:11).
Have I missed the great good for the kingdom that you were endeavoring to accomplish by your action? Was it your aim to “provoke unto love and to good works”? (Heb. 10:24). Was it an act of love for Bert and his family and support for the unique work of Apologetics Press? Was it an act of kindness, tenderheartedness, and a forgiving spirit toward one who had confessed sin? (Eph. 4:32). Were your words full of “grace and seasoned with salt”? (Col. 4:6). Were they “Words fitly spoken like apples of gold in pictures of silver”? (Prov. 25:11). Were you “following after the things which make for peace and things wherewith one may edify another”? (Rom. 14:19). I am confident that if each of us would go on a mental journey across the years of our lives in serious, somber meditation upon our own sins, mistakes and failures we would be less censorious of others—most especially of a brother who has made public confession of sin.
Paul’s instructions to the church in Corinth regarding the adulterous brother who had repented was a call “to forgive him and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him” (II Cor. 2:7-8). Forgive, comfort, confirm your love toward him! I ask you, brother McClish, is this what you have done? I come to you in the spirit of Galatians 6:1, in full recognition of my own sins and frailties, hoping and praying that you will come to realize the serious nature of your conduct (which was unethical, shameful and at variance with many fundamental principles of the gospel) and take the necessary steps to rectify this wrong.
On the Thursday morning following Bert’s confession of the previous evening, he sat in my office, enumerated some of the consequences of his sin and said, “I have no one to blame but myself.” He and I were both weeping and in great anguish of heart. Scarcely had Bert left than a young man, a recent college graduate, who had been present at the Wednesday evening service entered my office. He immediately discerned my state of deep consternation and asked, “Something is bad wrong, isn’t it?” I answered in the affirmative. He then expressed concern for Apologetics Press and stated, “Tell me what I should pray for.” I replied, “Pray for Bert, Rhonda and their family.” I received another note from a young wife and mother who was converted from denominationalism only a few years ago stating, “We just have to go through a grieving process while continuing to pray for the health of the church and for all of those personally affected.” Oh, how I wish that your conduct, a seasoned veteran, had matched that of these two fine young Christians.
There is no way to know how many people have received your e-mail—perhaps hundreds. No doubt, some are making copies and passing it on to others. Though I loathe and detest this kind of action, I feel compelled to pass on this response I have made to you to at least some who likely have been recipients of your document.
With brotherly love and concern,