SUMMATION OF INFORMATION RELATING TO TGJ RESIGNATIONS
On May 24, 2005 brother Bert Thompson was fired from Apologetics Press (AP). Brother Dub McClish wrote a “Summation of Information Relating to Apologetics Press Scandal” (see Item 1) after having phone conversations with brethren Darrell Conley, Dan Jenkins, Frank Chesser and Wayne Jackson. Brother McClish had also received a packet of material that had been mailed out by the Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ (PBLCOC) in West Palm Beach, Florida, the congregation having oversight of AP. It contained: (1) an “Open Letter to Contributors and Friends of AP” from the elders of the PBLCOC (see Item 2); (2) an “Open Letter to the Brotherhood” by brother Bert Thompson (see Item 3); (3) an “Open Letter to Friends of AP” by brother Dave Miller, listing “Dave Miller, Ph.D.” as “Executive Director” (see Item 4); and (4) a “Statement of Support” for AP (see Item 5). By the time the “Statement of Support” was mailed, brother Dave Miller had been appointed the new “Executive Director” of AP. The “Statement of Support” was signed by many brethren, two of whom were brethren Curtis Cates (President of the Board of The Gospel Journal, Inc., [TGJ]) and Joseph Meador (Vice-President of TGJ Board).
On June 8, 2005 brother McClish sent his “Summation” to twenty-three persons (including all TGJ Board members and other interested brethren, some of whom had requested information concerning the AP scandal). He sent a cover sheet asking the recipients not to circulate the “Summation” without his permission. To TGJ principals he said, “I request that this attachment not be circulated, except with great discretion on your part.” On page 1 of his “Summation” brother McClish stated:
I have known brother Thompson for twenty-three years. We have spoken on the same lectureships. Our publications company likely sold thousands of dollars worth of AP books through the years. I have admired his scholarship, his ability, and his accomplishments. I have attended Bert’s seminars. I have learned from him. I will continue to learn from him through the books he has written. I certainly am not his enemy and it brings me only profound sorrow to learn of his “personal sins.” I have been praying and will continue to pray for him and his family.
Nor am I the enemy of Apologetics Press. Without question, this vital work needs to continue and grow. I would rejoice to be able to endorse and encourage it without reservation, as I was able to do for many years. I deeply regret that, however, under its present leadership, I cannot do so.
On June 10, 2005, brother Michael Hatcher (Secretary of TGJ Board) also responded to the AP “Statement of Support” and to the letters the PBLCOC and AP mailed requesting continued financial support by writing the following statement and sending it to the elders of the PBLCOC and to several others:
Apologetics Press has been a great work which needs to continue. However, it must have the right people associated with it to be worthy of faithful brethren’s support. When Apologetics Press began, I supported it a little bit financially and also by prayers and encouragement. This support continued until Bert Thompson hired Dave Miller. It has been documented that brother Miller teaches the false doctrine of reevaluation/reaffirmation of elders (which destroys any oversight the eldership might possess) and that he teaches error regarding marriage, divorce, and remarriage (that one can claim there was no intent of marriage for the correct reason and, therefore, God did not join the two in a Matthew 19:6 marriage; thus, following a civil divorce, either party is free to remarry with God’s approval). Because of Dave Miller being associated with Apologetics Press, I, unfortunately, had to end my support of this good work. As long as brother Miller holds these positions and does not repent for publicly teaching and practicing them, faithful brethren should not support a work which is good within itself. It is my prayer that brother Miller will repent of his false doctrines which he [h]as taught, but if not that he will be removed from Apologetics Press.
Also, on June 10, 2005 brother McClish wrote an e-mail message to brother Cates stating in part:
I know you are aware of all of the stir about the AP/Bert Thompson scandal. I have sent you and the other TGJ Board Members a summary of the information that has come to me, along with some of my reactions to that information. I did not put this together for distribution, but to make notes on these sad events while they were fresh. I have sent my summary to only a very few, with the request that they not distribute it. I am not on any sort of crusade to hurt AP. In fact, I believe it to be a good and necessary work. However, there is no way that I can support AP under the present circumstances, for with Dave Miller at its head, “there is death in the pot” as far as I am concerned. I note in the “explanation packet” that AP has mailed to supporters (past and present) that your name and the name of Joseph Meador appear on the “Statement of Support” list....
I am confident that you are aware that Miller was one of the principals (he was Brown Trail preacher at the time) who pushed Brown Trail’s first elder reaffirmation debacle in 1990, which I documented fully in my chapter in the 1997 Bellview book. He was still there when Brown Trail did its second elder reaffirmation in 2002, and although he was not the Brown Trail preacher by this time (he was Director of the SOP), Dave defended its recurrence. (Marvin Weir documents Dave’s involvement in his article in TGJ, October 2002, pp. 25-26.) If Dave has changed his tune concerning these procedures, he has kept it very quiet. He has now had several years in which to do so. Yet he did not keep his support of them quiet at all. Further, Dave defended the mock marriage of a Jamaican student to a cousin, the purpose of which was to gain entry to and residency privileges in the U.S., fully intending to legally dissolve the marriage upon gaining entry and resident status, which he did (D. Brown wrote a lengthy article in CFTF, April 2004, pp. 7-10, describing and exposing that which Everett Chambers did and which Dave defended, even in BTSOP classes, among other places). Miller even promoted Chambers to be his assistant director of the school, which act produced all kinds of turmoil and almost destroyed the school altogether....Before he moved on and became Bert’s great prize catch for AP, Dave ended up having secret meetings with only a few of the elders and engineering the ouster of those who dared question him. These form the “legacy” of Dave’s work in our area that hang as a heavy cloud over what good he did in the twelve or thirteen years he was at Brown Trail. I know that Joseph was well aware of Dave’s behavior near the close of his tenure at Brown Trail, because some of the Brown Trail folk (including at least one BTSOP instructor) talked to him about it, and Joseph discussed these matters freely with me at the time they were occurring.…
Now I am in a bit of a quandary. TGJ has carried an expose of some of Dave Miller’s serious doctrinal problems. As editor, I stand behind this expose because I know it to be factual. All kinds of pressure was put on me by some of my then fellow-elders to write a statement of disclaimer concerning the article, which I steadfastly refused. The Brown Trail elders also hounded me, with more than one phone call from one of them, both to me and to Joe Chism, demanding a meeting of the elderships or at least with me, in attempts to force a retraction. Again, I withstood them all because I knew that what Marvin wrote was the truth. While the material exposing Dave Miller’s weird (and convenient) MDR position relative to Everett Chambers did not appear in TGJ, nonetheless, it is a part of the public record in CFTF. I have not kept it a secret that I believe Dave Miller is a false teacher. So, on one hand, we have the editor of TGJ involved in opposing Miller and unable to support AP under his direction, but on the other hand we have the President and Vice-President of TGJ’s Board appearing to endorse Miller by signing the “Statement of Support.” This circumstance is one of apparent contradiction, as you can see, and it will doubtless become apparent to others, if it has not already. In fact, if one thinks about it very much, the appearance of your and Joseph’s names on the “support” statement implies that brethren should ignore what TGJ’s editor has printed about Dave Miller’s conduct and doctrine. I have not discussed this seeming contradiction with other Board members, except Ken. When the news of the AP scandal first broke, several days before Miller’s appointment was known, Ken talked with me about it and indicated that he does not favor even handling any more AP books when the present stock is sold out. AP sent Schertz elders a packet because the church was supporting AP on a monthly basis. Upon learning of the appointment of Dave Miller and its oblique descriptions of what had occurred involving Bert, the Schertz treasurer was instructed to cease any further support immediately. I therefore know that he cannot support AP or urge others to with Miller at its head. In the packet Ken saw your and Joseph’s names on the support statement, of course. Ken is aware that I am writing you about these matters. What shall we do about this apparent difference of opinion in our ranks?
On June 11, 2005 brother Cates responded to brother McClish in part, saying:
Brother Dub, several of our former students are connected with AP, Eric Lyons and Michael Cortez, men in whom I have great confidence. Relative to Dave, I cannot defend anything in which he has been involved which is wrong; I cannot do that in myself. I had been told by brother Keith Mosher that he asked brother Dave at Pulaski this year at the lectures about the re-affirmation of elders, and that Dave told him that was a “mistake.” So, I take it that he would not now sanction such. (Perhaps it would be very helpful for him to make that known.). Incidentally, several times, brother Dave has written or talked to me since he got to Montgomery, asking me what my thoughts were on...or how I would answer regarding...or what my position is on...some issue—which I felt was very positive. But, I had no idea what his position would be at AP. I take it (according to their web site) that he is now serving as interim director. I do think that his time in Montgomery has been a growing experience for him; that is my personal impression.
I, like you, see the great need for AP, and I have great confidence in brethren Lyons and Cortez; Brad Harrub has impressed me favorably, as well as have some others connected with AP. I learned that he had been re-hired. I also have confidence in the Palm Beach Lakes elders, who oversee AP, and I have confidence in brother Frank Chesser, a trusted friend, and Panama Street, whom I have know for five decades. These things impacted by desire to help save AP, and I thought the very fact that Dave called me and asked me to sign was positive....
Dear friend, I pray that this matter will not serve to affect adversely the loving, close relationship of those of us who serve on the Board and on the Editorial Staff of THE GOSPEL JOURNAL.
Brother McClish wrote back to brother Cates on June 11, saying in part:
Please be assured that these matters have not affected my esteem and appreciation for you, and, as far as I am concerned, I trust that they will not affect my relationship with other Board Members. I hope that I said nothing in my message to you to leave the impression that they had/will. My great concerns were/are two:
1. Dave Miller’s directorship of AP.
2. More particularly, the questions some will ask about TGJ’s President and Vice-President’s implied endorsement of Dave Miller, whom TGJ has identified as propagating error.
I am glad to hear that Dave has sought your advice and counsel. I hate to appear overly suspicious, but what better way to deflect what was said in the pages of TGJ about him than to seek counsel from the President of TGJ Board? Keith told me at Bristol that he had visited with Dave at Pulaski, and that Dave had said he “made a mistake” regarding the reaffirmation business. I was glad to hear that admission, but, as you know, that which has been shouted from the housetops cannot be corrected in a corner. If possible, Dave’s MDR position relative to Everett Chambers is more damning than his propagation and defense of the elder reevaluation error.... I know not a single reason that I could not wholeheartedly endorse AP, were it not for Dave Miller. He sours the whole operation for me (and for many others) until he comes clean.
I pray for you a safe journey to and a great meeting in Chattanooga.
Your friend and brother in the greatest cause.
On June 17, 2005 brother Frank Chesser, preacher for the Panama Street Church of Christ in Montgomery, Alabama, wrote a slanderous letter of denunciation to brother McClish (see Item 6) after obtaining a copy of brother McClish’s “Summation.” He mailed copies of his letter to apparently hundreds of individuals (including TGJ Board & Editors) and congregations all over the country.
On June 30, 2005 brother David B. Watson wrote a response to brother Chesser’s letter (see Item 7) and mailed copies to all TGJ Board members and to as many others as he knew had received brother Chesser’s letter.
On July 8, 2005 brother Curtis Cates wrote an e-mail message to TGJ Board & Editors stating: “As a result of many statements of concern to me by trustworthy men who are sound in the faith and my own personal concern relative to Apologetics Press and THE GOSPEL JOURNAL, I request that brother Hatcher add the discussion of the JOURNAL’S purpose and reputation to the agenda for the upcoming board meeting.” (The “upcoming board meeting” referred to a two-day meeting of TGJ Board and Editors on July 19 – 20, 2005, at TGJ Business Office in Schertz, Texas. This meeting was planned in TGJ Board-Editor meeting in brother Curtis Cates’ office during MSOP Lectures, March 29. It was intended to be a relaxed, informal, “brain-storming” meeting to discuss various ways of improving the book business and the paper and to discuss future plans in general.)
On July 9, 2005 brother McClish wrote his response to brother Frank Chesser’s letter and mailed copies to all TGJ Board members (see Item 8) and to as many others as he knew had received brother Chesser’s letter.
On July 11, 2005 brother Watson copied the “Statement of Support” for AP signed by brethren Cates and Meador and simply substituted The Gospel Journal for Apologetics Press and then e-mailed it to all of TGJ Board members and Editors, asking them to sign it. It read: “We the undersigned, wish to announce that we have complete confidence that The Gospel Journal is on a firm footing that will insure its continued work of excellence. We commend The Gospel Journal to the brotherhood and recommend that it continue to be the recipient of financial and moral support.” Brethren Watson and McClish signed it. None of TGJ Board members have to this day signed it.
Instead of signing the “Statement of Support” for TGJ, on that same day (July 11, 2005) brother Curtis Cates submitted, in writing, his resignation from the Board of TGJ. On July 12, 2005 brother Joseph Meador submitted, in writing, his resignation as Vice-President of Board of TGJ. At least two of TGJ’s three remaining Board members stated that they were going to try to talk both brother Cates and brother Meador into rescinding their resignations. They were successful.
On Friday, July 15, 2005, brother Michael Hatcher, Secretary of TGJ Board, called brother McClish on behalf of the Board, telling him that he and brother Watson would not be needed for the Schertz meeting on July 19. The Board would meet separately all that day and would then meet with brethren McClish and Watson on July 20.
On Wednesday July 20, 2005 brother Curtis Cates participated in the Board-Editors’ meeting as President of TGJ Board and brother Joseph Meador participated as Vice-President of TGJ Board in the meeting in Schertz, Texas. This meeting began at 9:00 am and by 9:30 am brother Dub McClish was no longer Editor of TGJ and brother Dave Watson was no longer Associate Editor of TGJ.
The meeting began with brother Curtis Cates stating the ground rules. First, brother Cates stated that the meeting would not be a “question and answer” session. Both brother McClish and brother Watson had a list of questions prepared to ask the Board but only managed to ask very few. Second, brother Cates stated that brother Michael Hatcher would be the only spokesman for the Board. Third, brother Cates then asked brother Hatcher to read a unanimous resolution the Board had made the day before. (Board members later stated that the board began meeting at 8:30 am on the previous day and “agonized” all day to reach this resolution. Brother McClish requested a written copy of this resolution on July 21, but none has yet been given.) The resolution stated that by unanimous decision the Board believed it MAY (this word was emphasized) be necessary to make a change in the Editor and Associate Editor of TGJ. The reason given as to why a change of the Editor MAY be needed was because of brother McClish=s AP “Summation” e-mail. The reason given as to why a change of Associate Editor MAY be needed was because of brother Watson’s e-mails to the Board members. Brother McClish later pointed out that if his name was an anathema to TGJ because of his “Summation” e-mail then the names of brethren Curtis Cates and Joseph Meador on the “Statement of Support” for Apologetics Press with brother Dave Miller as Director should also be considered an anathema to TGJ. Since the Board’s opposition to brother McClish revolved around the AP “Summation,” he asked brother Cates if the Board believed he had sinned in writing it. Brother Cates assured brother McClish that they did not so believe, and that they had never discussed what he wrote in those terms. Brother Michael Hatcher then stated to brother McClish that it was not the “rightness or wrongness” of what had been said or written but the “perception” of it. At this point in the meeting brother McClish and brother Watson were told they could say anything they wanted. Since they saw the “handwriting on the wall” brother McClish resigned as Editor of TGJ and brother Watson resigned as Associate Editor of TGJ. Not one of TGJ Board members made any attempt to talk either brother McClish or brother Watson out of resigning as they had done with brother Cates and brother Meador the week before. Not one of TGJ Board members offered any options to either brother McClish or brother Watson. Not one of TGJ Board members suggested that the resignations were premature or should be discussed further. Instead, brethren McClish and Watson were asked to leave the room while TGJ Board members met in closed session.
A few minutes later brethren McClish and Watson were recalled to the meeting of TGJ Board. Brother Michael Hatcher read another unanimous resolution which accepted the resignations of brother McClish as Editor of TGJ and brother Watson as Associate Editor of TGJ. Brother McClish asked if this meant that the Board members were withdrawing fellowship from the two of them. All TGJ Board members assured brethren McClish and Watson that this was not a fellowship issue. Brother McClish asked about the resignations of brethren Cates and Meador the week before the meeting. Brother Meador did not answer and brother Cates claimed that “what he wrote” (he would not call it a “resignation”) was because of his health. Brother McClish asked brother Cates about his implicit endorsement of brother Dave Miller by his signing the AP “Statement of Support” with brother Miller as its Director. Brother Cates said that he did not endorse any of brother Miller’s errors, but he did support the continuation of AP. Brother McClish stated that he did not see how one could support one and not support the other. Brother McClish, knowing that brother Hatcher had written and distributed an e-mail (as quoted earlier) asked him if he had changed his position concerning AP and brother Miller. Brother Hatcher, like brother Cates, stated that he would support AP but that he would not support brother Miller. TGJ Board announced that brother Michael Hatcher would be the interim editor of TGJ.
There was then some discussion of practical matters relating to TGJ. Work on the August issue was briefly discussed. TGJ Board stated that the announcement of the change of Editor and Associate Editor would not be made until the September issue. Brother McClish asked if he and brother Watson would be allowed to see the statement prior to its publication. This request was granted with the assurance by brother Tommy Hicks that any statement would only be complimentary. Brother McClish pointed out that despite any complimentary statement(s) brethren would know that TGJ Board was handing brother McClish’s head to brother Frank Chesser on a silver platter. No member of TGJ Board said anything to this statement. Brother McClish also pointed out that if he could not edit TGJ paper he could not edit TGJ Schertz Lectureship book. TGJ Board members tried to talk brother McClish into editing TGJ Schertz Lectureship book. Brother McClish pointed out that if his name was now a pariah concerning the paper it would also be such concerning the book. Still they pressed him to edit the book but he has declined to do so. Brethren McClish and Watson were excused from the meeting by 10:00 am.
David B. Watson
July 28, 2005