A statement in a recent issue of The GOOD NEWS was emphatically not intended to reflect distrust of the ministry.
I want ministers and lay brethren alike to know that no longer are communications to me shut off and forbidden to reach me. The office of executive vice-president had demoted or shanghaied to other fields ministers close to the top and they were threatened with being fired if they communicated with me in any way.
When one is forcibly restrained from communicating or reaching anyone higher than any certain office, he is shut off from Christ and from God.
What I had in mind was a case example which occurred many years ago; a member stirring up controversy about praying to "Our Father, which art in heaven," — that is, God the Father. He insisted it was "taking it over Christ's head," and we had no right to go to any higher than Christ. I explained how Jesus' sample prayer was a prayer to God the Father, in Jesus' name. I explained how Jesus said that if we ask the Father anything in his name, the Father will do it. I showed him Acts 4:23-31, how the early Church prayed to God the Father, saying, "Lord, thou art God... for of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, ...and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus." I showed this man how miraculously God answered that prayer. Yet he persisted in saying we cannot contact anyone higher than Jesus — we were forbidden to reach the Father.
I wanted to make plain that no one is forbidden to reach me, as no one is forbidden to go to Jesus Christ or to God the Father.
However, I want to straighten out two points that were not understood — or perhaps I did not make them plain:
1) In ordinary cases of a member having or feeling any criticism against his pastor, he should, first, obey Matthew 18:15 and take it to his local pastor in private. In this regard I am reminded of a case history in my ministry. A member whom I had made a deacon insisted on being ordained an elder. When I did not comply, he became offended. I went to him about it, my wife accompanying me. Later he accused me of not obeying Matthew 18:15. When, in astonishment, I reminded him of how I had come to him privately, he got technical and said, "Yes, but Jesus said go to him alone, and you did not come alone — your wife was with you." Anyway, I explained that he was alone and therefore I had gone to him alone — and not to others — but one whose feelings are hurt will not admit it if he is wrong.
Now 2) if anyone brings to me any accusation about a minister — or if anyone brings a complaint against anyone higher than he in authority, I have always, through the years, adhered to one policy. I uphold the accused in the higher position, and the burden of proof is upon the complainant. The minister, or the accused in the higher office is always innocent in my eyes until proved otherwise.
But as all are free to go to God the Father direct, so on the human level I want our people to understand no one is shut off from me by someone under me who might (as was done) forbid him to contact me. That is all I meant and this will be published also in The GOOD NEWS.