Friday, January 21, 2011

A Brief Defense of Pastor Brian Schwertley against the Lies, Slander and Gossip of reformedonline.org and Dr. Frank Smith: Part 1



A Brief Defense of Pastor Brian Schwertley against the Lies, Slander and Gossip of reformedonline.org and Dr. Frank Smith[1]: Part 1

by Brian Schwertley

Part 1 Sections:
If a Man Does Not Work, Neither Should He Eat
Abandonment
The Session’s Unanimous Decision
Important Considerations

            A number of heretics, racists and antinomians have repeatedly pointed people to a website (reformedonline.org) as a way to damage my reputation. They offer the content of this site as evidence that I am unqualified as a pastor-teacher. Some believers who have been using my materials in their ministries have asked me to write a brief account of my side of the story to clarify matters and expose the fallacious content of these attacks. I have done this using notes, documents and a defense produced four years ago but never published because those making the charges dropped their case. The events that occurred were somewhat complex and are difficult to cover in a relatively short defense. Read this document carefully and slowly and make sure you read all the footnotes. I will give a brief history of the events, make some comments about proper biblical procedure and will attempt to shed light on why what occurred was rooted in: a) an attempt by the Brown’s to escape biblical church discipline; and, b) an attempt to destroy my reputation for not withdrawing the church discipline.

If a Man Does Not Work, Neither Should He Eat

            Before I do so, however, I would like to make a few comments about Fred Fleming, the webmaster of reformedonline.org. He attended our church for well over a year, but never became a member and was never served communion even once. The reasons for this are as follows: (1) As far as our session can tell, Fred Fleming has not been a communicant member of a church for several years, perhaps even decades. (Fred Fleming has made it clear to our elders and to others in the congregation that he does not believe in church membership.) (2) After getting to know Fred over a period of a year, members of the session were convinced that Fred most certainly had the ability to work, but deliberately refused to get a job. He stated “I can’t work” and so collects disability payments. (And yet, he is able to clean a house for 12 hours, cut firewood, move furniture, drive for several hours to Minnesota to retrieve belongings, etc.) Fred Fleming is stealing from American taxpayers and committing fraud and therefore is living in habitual sin (cf. Ex. 20:9; Dt. 5:6; 2 Thess. 3:10). When an elder confronted him for his wicked behavior Fleming replied, “The government owes me!” (3) Fred was “ordained” by paying money to a “Universalist Church” website [They will ordain anyone for a fee, even atheists, women, homosexuals, Unitarians, etc.]. He likes to wear clericals and refers to himself as the pastor of “Antigo Presbyterian Church” even though he has no elders, is not really ordained and does not really belong to a presbytery. Allegedly, he meets with his wife in their house in Antigo. He has never been examined by a body of pastors and elders or lawfully ordained by a presbytery. He has no theological training and has never served as an elder or deacon of a Presbyterian church. He is a man who has a long history of rejecting lawful authority and biblical procedure. If Christians want to accept his word over the word of our church’s session, they are not thinking clearly or biblically. (Recently, Frank Smith [very likely without the knowledge or consent of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, his current affiliation] and allegedly another pastor from Georgia “ordained” Fred Fleming to the ministry and placed him in charge of a few families left behind from the New London CRPC [then RPCGA] work. [This was probably done to keep up the charade of the Reformation Presbytery of the Midwest which was dissolved by the RPCGA.] Frank Smith ordained a man who not a church member, who has never had training and is walking disorderly. The RPCNA needs to ask Frank Smith why he is functioning as a quasi-bishop of his own private denomination while he is a member of an RPCNA Presbytery. How could this “church” be under Frank Smith’s direct care and not under the oversight of the RPCNA? Why wasn’t Fred Fleming examined by the RPCNA?)  

            Regarding a refutation of Fleming’s website, I will relay the events as accurately as possible and then readers can judge if the Brown’s were treated unfairly, if biblical procedures were followed and if the many accusations made against Rev. Schwertley on the part of Fred, the Browns, Frank Smith, etc., are really nothing more than a dishonest smear campaign designed solely to damage Pastor Schwertley’s reputation.

Abandonment

            The story begins in February 2005 when Mrs. Brown took $5,000 from the bank on her husband’s credit card and (along with her two daughters and the family dog) abandoned her husband. (Later on the session would learn that one of her first actions after leaving her husband was to get a tattoo.) Months after abandoning her husband, Mrs. Brown would claim that she never really abandoned her husband but rather went on vacation. This assertion is explicitly contradicted by the following facts: (1) She left a note saying she was leaving her husband. He came home from work and was completely surprised to find out that his wife had left him. (2) Before Mr. Brown decided to submit to his ungodly wife to get her back, Mrs. Brown told him [This is according to statements Mr. Brown made to members of the session.] that she would divorce him and make him pay child support. (3) Mrs. Brown never “came home” from this “vacation,” but rather got an apartment near Milwaukee two and a half hours away from the family home in Manawa. If Mr. Brown wanted his wife back it would be on her terms and one of these terms was for him to move to Milwaukee, near her unsaved friends and relatives. Mrs. Brown’s pagan sister played a pivotal role in her decision to leave her husband.

The Session’s Unanimous Decision

            This takes us to March 2005 where the session of the Manawa church[2] must decide what to do about this serious sin. The session met at Olev Tauts’ house and Mr. Brown was present. (Mr. Brown had been an elder, but had resigned from the session around this time. Mr. Brown was not qualified to be an elder because his family was highly dysfunctional, but he was already an elder when I was called to this church.) The session at this time consisted of Olev Tauts, Marty Waltho and Brian Schwertley. After a lengthy discussion (with questions and comments from Mr. Brown) the session barred Mrs. Brown from the table until she returned to her husband (i.e. moved back into their home in Manawa). She was also required to attend at least 10 weeks of nouthetic counseling with the pastor and an elder. (Keep in mind that Mrs. Brown did not have a biblical reason to leave her husband. He was not committing adultery or physically abusing her in any way. In fact, the evidence indicated that she left her husband because he was beginning to assert his covenant headship in the home. He was making progress in becoming a real Christian leader in the home and this was an unwelcome development for the wife.)

            The decision of the session was unanimous and Mr. Brown agreed that it was the biblical thing to do; that the session really had no other choice. (This point is important because Mr. Brown would change his mind about this decision after a few weeks and vigorously attempted to get the session to void or rescind it when he learned that his wife required him to submit to her demands to get her back. Mrs. Brown would also eventually convince Marty Waltho that the decision of the session was wrong.) The fact that we had a unanimous decision of the session is important because once Jim Brown realized that the session would not rescind their decision until Mrs. Brown actually repented of her sin (as required and defined by Scripture), he rewrote the history of what happened and essentially argued that Rev. Schwertley had an ax to grind against his wife and that she had received unjust, harsh treatment. This argument, which is a pure fabrication of the facts, would be picked up by Marty Waltho and then eventually Fred Fleming. If Mrs. Brown was treated harshly and unjustly, the whole session should have been charged, not only the pastor. (Fred Fleming’s accusation that Rev. Schwertley refused to be reconciled with Mrs. Brown is based on this blatant fabrication. To this day, Mrs. Brown has never come to Rev. Schwertley and accused him of any sin.) When Marty Waltho was asked (this is long after he submitted to Jim Brown’s course of action), “What sin did [Pastor] Brian commit?” his answer was, “Brian was not nice to the Brown’s.” (To give you an idea of what Mr. Waltho considers to be “loving,” biblical counsel, note that after he decided that the session’s decision to bar Mrs. Brown from the Lord’s supper for leaving her husband was harsh and unloving [remember he voted with the session to bar her from the table], he, without the session’s counsel or approval, began to counsel Mr. Brown that he needed to submit to his wife to get her back. He told Mr. Brown to give in to her demands. That is precisely what Mr. Brown did. We were considered to be unloving for insisting that all the parties involved obey the Word of God.)[3]

Important Considerations

            Before we continue this history we should keep a few things in mind. First, being barred from the table for such a serious public, scandalous sin is not unusual for strict Bible-believing Presbyterian churches. If Mrs. Brown had decided to repent and return home, her path to a full reconciliation with her husband and the church would have been smooth and relatively painless. To assert that Mrs. Brown was mistreated or abused in some way is simply absurd. Those who argue that this church discipline was harsh or unjust must take one of the following positions: (1) Mrs. Brown never really left her husband but simply went on vacation. This position (which Mrs. Brown apparently holds to this day.) is not factual; is easily disproved and is simply ridiculous. (2) They could argue that leaving one’s husband or wife is not a serious sin and we must accept a trial separation as a good thing; as an acceptable alternative to biblical counseling and genuine repentance. Such a view (which essentially was adopted by Dr. Frank Smith and Marty Waltho) is antinomian, unbiblical and has more in common with secular humanism than Scripture. (3) One could argue that once Mr. Brown got Mrs. Brown to agree to take him back (albeit on her terms, according to her time table), then the session should drop the matter since it looked as though eventually they will be reconciled. The problem with this view is that biblical repentance in this case would involve moving back home to the husband (this did not occur). Making several demands on the husband, which in our view were either unscriptural or unwise (e.g., no more homeschooling, the wife would work outside the home, dressing in a certain manner, celebrating pagan holy days, rejecting the authority of the session in Manawa, moving to Milwaukee to be near pagan relatives, no more Reformed church, etc.), is contrary to biblical repentance and godly submission. If we simply ignored her sin and dropped the whole matter, then we would be following an unbiblical pragmatism and would be encouraging her sinful behavior. If the session simply ignored her sin and rebellion and caved into this couple’s course of action, then we would be unloving because love fulfills the law and obeys Jesus Christ (cf. Jn. 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 Jn. 2:3, 4; 3:22, 24; 5:2, 3; Rev. 14:12; etc).

            Second, not one person in the church (whether members [e.g., Jim Brown, Marty Waltho] or regular attenders [Fred Fleming]) had a problem with this decision at that time. Moreover, no one accused or stated or even intimated that Rev. Schwertley was harsh or unloving toward the Brown’s at that time. This fabrication would be some months away. In fact, before Jim Brown submitted to his ungodly wife and became an advocate for her rebellious course of action, he was saying the exact opposite. On the first Sunday of March 2005 after our service at the Manawa Nursing Home, in the parking lot, Jim Brown said to Pastor Schwertley, “I thank God that He brought you to our church because you have the capability to help us get through this problem.” (If Mr. Brown wants to lie and rewrite history and deny that he said this, then he must answer for his action before the judgment seat of Christ). The point that is being made here is that all the accusations of harshness and lack of love made later on are nothing more than attempts to justify sinful, unbiblical behavior and are essentially ungodly acts of retribution for the pastor not going along with Jim Brown’s dishonest, antinomian and unwise behavior. (Yes, Mr. Brown got his wife back in the end, but a man should not put on a dress and disobey many biblical teachings to do so.)


[1] The session of our church (which at the time these events took place met in Manawa) knows that (at least in the early days of Fred Fleming’s website) Dr. Frank Smith was actively helping Fleming with the slanderous content of the site because Dr. Frank Smith sent him some of his manufactured dirt on Rev. Schwertley warning him not to post it yet because it was not ready to be used outside of their Presbytery (The Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church, a denomination which at that time had three to four churches and presently has two to three). Fred Fleming posted the material without bothering to remove Frank Smith’s warning. This was proof positive that Dr. Frank Smith was actively attempting to destroy Pastor Schwertley’s reputation. Dr. Frank Smith was asked to resign as pastor of the church in Sheboygan by the elders of that church (this is what is known as a polite way of being fired) and moved to Georgia in October 2008 where he was hired to plant a church for the RPCNA. He has not repented of violating Mt. 18:15ff., 1 Tim. 5:19 and manufacturing false, slanderous and misleading information about Rev. Schwertley to this day.
[2] When these events took place, the Manawa church was called the Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church. In 2006 at a congregational meeting, the name of the church was changed to Westminster Presbyterian Church of Waupaca County to reflect our new denominational affiliation (The Westminster Presbyterian Church in the United States).
[3] If one wants to understand the unsavory character of the people with whom we had to deal, then note when Marty Waltho decided to leave the Manawa church, he wrote a letter to Presbytery accusing Rev. Schwertley and Elder Tauts of a number of things. When Marty Waltho was confronted by the Manawa session about the letter and was asked to provide evidence for his accusations, he retracted all of his accusations, apologized and promised to ask the clerk of Presbytery (Frank Smith) not to distribute the letter to other members of Presbytery. Soon after this meeting, he kept his promise and told Frank Smith that he had retracted the letter and did not want it distributed. (Frank Smith, however, stated that once he received a letter as the clerk, it could not be retracted and he distributed it anyway.) Once Marty Waltho left the Manawa church he adopted the position that everything in the letter was true, even though he could not provide any evidence to support what he had written.
                Moreover, when Marty Waltho left the Manawa congregation he told the session that Reformed churches are unloving, that he did not have a problem with Christmas and that he rejected exclusive psalmody with no musical instruments in public worship. But, when we saw him at the early November 2005 CRPC Presbytery meeting, he made public comments about the CRPC’s need to change their standards to exclusive psalmody. (We believe this was totally insincere; that he was solidifying his relationship with Frank Smith.) Then, after the supposed continuing church (in New London, which was later moved to Menasha) restored his excommunicated, unrepentant, adulterous daughter (Keep in mind, she was still living with the whoremonger she committed adultery with and had never reconciled with her ex-husband or sought forgiveness from him or her former church. What is particularly shocking is that neither Frank Smith nor Justin Stodghill contacted  her Christian ex-husband to see if she had attempted to reconcile or if he had forgiven her in conjunction with a biblical reconciliation. In addition, while the supposed continuing church was restoring Marty’s habitually adulterous daughter to communicate membership, she was using lawyers and secular courts at Marty’s expense to force her innocent, Christian, godly ex-husband to stop homeschooling their daughter.), Marty Waltho (along with his wife and daughter) stopped attending the supposed continuing church. Some of the stated reasons why he left were his rejection of presbyterian church government and acapella psalm-singing. Since he spoke of his rejection of these same things before he left us and even used the exact same proof text for his position (Isa. 38:20; Marty Waltho’s letter as to why he rejected and left the supposed continuing church is posted at http://www.rpmidwest.org/presbytery-minutes/minutes-february-2008; see pp. 7 and 8), we can only conclude that Marty Waltho used the continuing church to restore his excommunicated daughter and to seek revenge against Rev. Schwertley. After his daughter was restored, he left. (Keep in mind that he rejected the Reformed faith openly before he helped organize the continuing church in New London.) He apparently now occasionally attends a large evangelical Arminian church with humanistic, church-growth will-worship. The point of this brief history is to demonstrate that Marty Waltho is dishonest and has no moral integrity whatsoever.  

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2 comments:

Friend for Life said...

Thanks for publishing this... I am appalled at the website reformedonline.org and pray the owner will have the grace to take it down and replace it with something that actually benefits the Church and points the lost to Christ. This type of character assassination does NOT bring glory to God, instead it gives Satan's followers ammunition to use against God's people.

File a complaint to their Presbyteries! said...

Please send a complaint to the Presbytery that Mr. Smith, et al is a member of. Send them a copy of your accusations and petition them to investigate these claims. Is not Mr Schwertley duty bound to inform the court that has oversight over these men?

This is a public scandal involving officers of Christ church! Am I the only one that believes a church court needs to investigate these matters?