Monday, June 04, 2007

More on 'Chinese whispers'

Rumours are rarely true.

I mentioned in my previous post that over recent weeks I have heard some rumours which are so bizarre it surprises me that intelligent people could be instrumental in passing them on.

For example, I heard one rumour which said that on a missionary trip to China I spoke in Chinese by the power of the Holy Spirit!! As the rumour goes, as a result of this incident the brother who was with me refused to do any more missionary work with me. Well, not only is the story so utterly untrue, it is actually beyond belief. IF I could speak Chinese without learning it (and I certainly can't and don't speak Chinese, either with or without the Holy Spirit), then any 'miraculous' ability to speak it would surely be a sign that God was doing something wonderful, and it would be sheer madness for anyone to refuse to work with someone who was demonstrably working under the power of God. In fact, I'd think it would be a definite advantage in a mission field to have someone who could speak the local language, especially if he could do it without learning it! But it never happened, and nothing even remotely like it ever happened. I have no idea how absurd rumours like this start, but it seems quite malicious to me.

I generally try to ignore rumours, and the more absurd they become the more justified I feel in taking this approach. However, the recent scurrilous attacks by North Oaks (Qld) ecclesia on the Pine Rivers ecclesia, are not simply unsubstantiated rumours - they include complete fabrications of a malicious nature and it's about time people stood up to the intimidation and bullying from ecclesias like North Oaks. The Lord hates a sower of discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16, 19), and the Arranging Brethren of the North Oaks ecclesia will one day have to give an account for their actions.

One has to wonder about the reasons North Oaks ecclesia has mounted their assault on the Pine Rivers ecclesia. We recently visited Pine Rivers and noted that the ecclesia seemed to be a particularly happy place. Their meeting room was packed to capacity, the youth group is growing, the worship was joyful and vibrant, and everyone we spoke with was positive and grateful for a place like this where they could worship, study the Word of God, fellowship and grow in grace. I understand that people who have not been to Christadelphian meetings for years are now finding a spiritual home at Pine Rivers. Others who have been bullied in the hardline ecclesias, or who find their stifling legalism just too much to bear, are also discovering that Pine Rivers is a place where they can learn about the way of grace, and where they find grace and acceptance. Now pressure is being put on some of these folks to return to the graceless ecclesias from which they'd escaped, and some are reporting intimidation and threats of exclusion from families if they don't.

Perhaps the hardline Brisbane ecclesias, like North Oaks, are themselves feeling threatened by the steady drift of their members towards a grace-based way of faith and away from their legalism. Perhaps their ecclesial rulers feel threatened that they will lose their power base if this drift turns into an exodus.

For years the hardline neo-conservative Brisbane ecclesias relentlessly attacked the Brisbane (Petrie Terrace) ecclesia, and refused to fellowship with them. Their campaign targeted one brother in particular, and they managed to divide the ecclesias across an entire continent as a result. When they finally resumed fellowship with Petrie Terrace ecclesia I predicted it wouldn't be long and they'd find a new target to bully (a leopard doesn't change its spots). It seems I was right and they've now identified their next victim.