Monday, January 31, 2011

A Brief Defense of Pastor Brian Schwertley against the Lies, Slander and Gossip of and Dr. Frank Smith: Part 3

A Brief Defense of Pastor Brian Schwertley against the Lies, Slander and Gossip of and Dr. Frank Smith: Part 3

by Brian Schwertley

Part 3 Section:
Frank Smith’s Attempts to Circumvent Matthew 18:15ff.

Frank Smith’s Attempts to Circumvent Matthew 18:15ff.

Thus far we have noted the historical circumstances of the controversy (Mrs. Brown’s leaving her husband and then Mr. Brown’s attempts to justify her rebellion by placing the blame on the Manawa session [especially Pastor Schwertley]) and the fact that Frank Smith, the Sheboygan session (and then later the CRPC American Presbytery) refused to follow Matthew 18:15ff., 1 Timothy 5:19 and Proverbs 18:13, 17. Now we will consider the response of Dr. Frank Smith to the accusations that biblical procedures were not followed.

            In the early summer 2005 the Manawa session met with the Sheboygan session to discuss the situation with Mr. and Mrs. Brown. At this meeting Dr. Frank Smith was asked directly, “Why have you not followed Matthew 18:15ff [with respect to the Brown’s accusations]?” Dr. Frank Smith’s response to this question was, “We listened to what was said, but we did not receive it.”(This meeting is on tape.) This response to the question was disingenuous, dishonest and simply irrational for the following reasons.

           First, Matthew 18:15ff. and 1 Timothy 5:19 do not give professing Christians permission to go around the church gossiping and making accusations to different people as long as the listeners do not accept it or act upon it. A major reason that Matthew 18:15ff. and 1 Timothy 5:19 exist is to keep matters private to give people an opportunity to repent without having their reputations publicly drawn through the mud. The directive “between thee and him alone” does not have exceptions. Dr. Frank Smith acted as though Matthew 18:15ff. and 1 Timothy 5:19 do not even exist.

          Second, the main purpose of this meeting indicates that Dr. Frank Smith did receive the accusations and was acting upon them as if they were true. This meeting arose primarily because Mr. and Mrs. Brown had requested a transfer to the Sheboygan church.[1] They claimed they were not being treated fairly by the Manawa session. [This is an odd claim by a woman who at this time refused to meet with the session or attend church.] The pastor supposedly had an ax to grind against Mrs. Brown and the Manawa session had refused to help the Brown’s when they needed it. (These false accusations have already been dealt with above.) Consequently, a transfer would give the Brown’s a safe refuge from all this alleged incompetence and abuse. Dr. Frank Smith and Marty Waltho wanted this transfer to go forward. He promised to give the Brown’s the help they needed and offered Mrs. Brown her own apartment in the Sheboygan area to make the “reconciliation” process smoother during her separation from her husband.

           Third, at this meeting Dr. Frank Smith asked Rev. Schwertley about a number of these accusations, wanting to know if they were true. If Dr. Frank Smith did not receive the accusations, then why did he believe he needed to interrogate Rev. Schwertley? (From the questions it was obvious that Mr. and Mrs. Brown had pulled out a list of offenses months and in some cases years old.) Obviously, Dr. Frank Smith was acting upon the gossip and slander that he heard. Instead of asking the Brown’s if they had followed biblical procedure, which he knew they had not, he was bringing up serious accusations against a minister.[2] Dr. Frank Smith is apparently not aware that listening to gossip and slander is a serious sin. “An evil-doer gives heed to false lips; a liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue” (Prov. 17:4 NKJV). Charles Bridges writes, “There would not be so many open mouths, if there were not so many willing ears to listen to them. But remember that the listening ears share responsibility with the destructive tongue, since they are every bit as much involved in the treason. The liar gladly talks with anybody who countenances his own wickedness. If he did not love a lie, he would not listen to it.”

            Fourth, the biblical procedure in such cases (which is a fundamental aspect of Presbyterian church government) is that accusations of private offenses are to work their way up to the session (the local church court) before they go to the presbytery and are heard by ministers and elders outside the local congregation. Dr. Frank Smith is well aware that this never occurred. He attempts to circumvent this biblical requirement by pretending that the Manawa session simply sought counsel on a difficult matter from another congregation. Dr. Frank Smith writes, “Your pastor has often mentioned the “interference” by the Sheboygan elders as being one of the reasons why he does not trust those of his current affiliation [CRPC-Am. Pres.]. However, we would respectfully note that the Sheboygan elders did not usurp the authority of your court. Rather, they offered counsel in an attempt to assist both you and a family in distress; and furthermore, they referred that family back to you with a view to repentance and reconciliation. Moreover, let it be noted that a willingness to assist other churches is part and parcel of Presbyterian view of the church and its organic unity. It is only an Independent approach or a Congregationalist mindset that would react with hostility to such neighborly gestures” (D-17). This statement is both inaccurate and misleading for a number of reasons. First, it does not say that Mr. and Mrs. Brown were encouraged to violate Mt. 18:15ff. and 1 Tim. 5:19 by Frank Smith and Marty Waltho. Second, it does not say that the original meetings between Mr. and Mrs. Brown and the Sheboygan session occurred without the Manawa session’s knowledge, consent or consultation. Third, it does not say that Mr. and Mrs. Brown were meeting with the Sheboygan session because they had rejected the authority and counsel of the Manawa session. Fourth, it does not say that Frank Smith offered Mrs. Brown an apartment in Sheboygan to be paid for by the Sheboygan church; and that this offer was totally contrary to the ruling of the Manawa session which was that Mrs. Brown had to repent and move back into the family home in Manawa. Fifth, even if the Sheboygan session did refer Mr. and Mrs. Brown back to Manawa with a view to repentance, the outcome was just the opposite. Mr. and Mrs. Brown did not repent and reconcile with the Manawa session; rather, their behavior became worse. Did Dr. Frank Smith and the other elders hold Mr. and Mrs. Brown accountable to their instructions? No, they did the exact opposite. Dr. Frank Smith and the CRPC-Am. Pres. restored Mr. and Mrs. Brown as members in good standing. If the Sheboygan session was truly concerned for their welfare and really wanted them to repent, then why were they restored without biblical repentance? Why were they made members in good standing even though they had not attended church or tithed in several months?[3] Why was Mr. Brown encouraged to seek communion (January 1, 2006) when he had repeatedly phoned church members and others to slander Pastor Schwertley? The answer is simple. The CRPC-Am. Pres. wanted Mr. Brown to be able to vote against the Manawa congregation leaving the CRPC. It was a power play. 

           Fifth, once the American Presbytery of the CRPC learned that the Manawa church was going to withdraw from the CRPC, they decided to retaliate against Rev. Schwertley and drew up a number of charges against him. Issues with the Brown’s were used with the following justification: “The American Presbytery hereby states that since these matters are public in nature, and since Mr. Schwertley has not been repentant in them, proceeding directly to the institution of judicial charges is warrantable” (Dec. 29, 2005). The charges were written by Dr. Dr. Frank Smith and brought to the meeting. Given this statement we see that “we listened but did not receive them” has shifted to “they are public in nature and must be dealt with.” This is a clear mockery of judicial procedure. What it essentially argues is that, if we make a matter public by repeated violations of Matthew 18:15ff. and 1 Timothy 5:19, then we can proceed without these Scriptures being followed. Or, we encouraged gossip, tale-bearing and slander which is unlawful, so now let us exalt such wicked behavior by basing charges on it. If Rev. Schwertley objects we will label it as unrepentance.[4]   

[1] Some of the reasons that the Manawa session refused to transfer the Brown’s to the church in Sheboygan are as follows: (1) The Brown’s were not attending the church in Sheboygan on a regular basis and lived hours away from that congregation. The family home was about five minutes away from the church in Manawa. (2) Although the Brown’s did meet with Dr. Frank Smith and the elders of Sheboygan to complain about the Manawa session, they were not regularly attending that church, nor had they yet agreed to intensive biblical counseling with that session. Subsequent history reveals that they did not receive a continuous program of counseling at Sheboygan nor did they join that congregation. (3) The church at Sheboygan [i.e. Frank Smith. The elders at Sheboygan say they had nothing to do with this offer and were against it on biblical grounds.] was treating Mrs. Brown’s sin as a minor offense and Frank Smith even offered to get her an apartment so she could be near the Sheboygan church while she lived apart from her husband. Such a position is unbiblical and antinomian. (4) Mrs. Brown was under discipline and was unwilling to acknowledge her sin and repent; and (at that time) was unwilling to even meet with the Manawa session. (5) The Manawa session believed that Mrs. Brown with the assistance of her husband was simply attempting to escape biblical justice and personal accountability. Public scandalous sins require a public statement of repentance before the whole church. To this day, this has never occurred.
[2] It is noteworthy that Frank Smith, the Sheboygan session and then later the CRPC American Presbytery under Frank’s direction not only violated the clear teaching of Scripture, but also their own standards. Note the following relevant quotes from the CRPC Book of Discipline, Chapter 7: Section 5. “In the case of public offenses, the court should always seek the least grave effective remedy according to Matthew 18:15-17 or Matthew 5:21-27 or Galatians 6:1.” Section 6. “Due diligence must be taken by all parties concerned in the matter that no discussion of any of the issues occurs between individuals not involved in the judiciary process. Such discussion may be construed as a violation of Matthew 18 (refusal to ‘hedge’ what privacy remains in the matter) and a violation of DCD 2:12 (obstruction of humility).” Section 7. “The following parties may bring a charge of an offense before the court of original jurisdiction: 1) the injured party 2) a person who is not the injured party (see Section 23 below) 3) a court. The offense alleged in the charge should be serious enough to require a trial. A charge against an elder or minister of the Word shall not be admitted unless accompanied by two or more witnesses able and willing to verify their first-hand knowledge of the subject offense.” Section 8. “If the person who has brought the charge requests the court to assume responsibility for prosecuting the case, the court may prosecute the charge if convinced that judicial process is warranted. However, the court should reluctantly assume such responsibility and only in cases of extreme incapacity on the part of the injured party.” Section 9. “In the case of private offense, if the accuser is a member of the court, he must pursue the issues as Matthew 18 specifies and may not do so as a member of the court of judgment.” Section 12. “Every charge of an alleged offense must conform to the following requirements, however the church is encouraged to assist members in forming a proper complaint as necessary: 1) submitted in written form, signed and sworn to under the pains and penalties of perjury; 2) explain the alleged offense, providing specifications, which if proved true, support the charge; 3) explain only one alleged offense; 4) support the charge with references to the Word of God, particularly the law of God; 5) support the charge, when appropriate, with references to the creeds and confessions of the church; 6) explain what damage the complainant suffered and: 7) explain how the one(s) offended has followed the steps of Matthew 18 in order to redeem the situation, to include a list of witnesses who participated in the Matthew 18 procedures.” (Emphasis added) If Dr. Frank Smith and his minions take the position that they did follow Scripture and their own standards then they should be able to produce: (1) The list of witnesses involved in the Matthew 18:15ff. process and the list of independent eye witnesses in obedience to 1 Timothy 5:19. (2) The original charges by the individual and his two eyewitnesses in written form with signatures and the date when it was submitted to the Manawa session, the court of original jurisdiction. (3) There should be an explanation as to how the steps of Matthew 18 were followed in order to redeem the situation, including a list of witnesses who participated in the Matthew 18 process. (4) The original complainant should have written out supports from the Word of God (particularly the law of God). None of this occurred and Dr. Frank Smith, Mr. Brown, Mr. Fleming, et al know it.
[3] The Brown’s had not only stopped attending church in Manawa and tithing for several months, but had made it clear on more than one occasion that they had no intention of coming back to church or recognizing the biblical validity of the original discipline of the Manawa session. Consequently, the logical and biblical thing to do was remove them from the rolls of the church. Moreover, the dishonesty and antinomian streak in Frank Smith’s behavior is revealed in the manner that the Brown’s were “restored” by the CRPC-Am. Pres. to membership in the Manawa church. Mr. and Mrs. Brown were removed from the membership in August 2005. The session was informed that for this to be valid, the session needed to notify the Brown’s of the decision in written form. This letter was composed and was brought to the presbytery meeting (CRPC) at the beginning of November 2005 in Sheboygan. Elder Tauts planned to mail the letter in Sheboygan or give the letter to Mr. Brown if he showed up at this meeting. When Dr. Frank Smith heard that Elder Tauts had this letter, he said he would be seeing Mr. Brown soon and he would be willing to hand deliver the letter. At a presbytery meeting in December 2005, the session of Manawa was informed that Mr. and Mrs. Brown were still members in good standing in Manawa because the session had failed to notify the Brown’s in writing according to the church constitution. Members of the Manawa session questioned Dr. Frank Smith about the letter he promised to hand deliver to Mr. Brown. Dr. Frank Smith replied that it was not his responsibility to deliver the letter to the Browns and that it must have been misplaced. (Keep in mind that he volunteered to hand deliver the letter without being asked and assured the Manawa elders that he would deliver the letter.) Upon further questioning, he admitted that the letter from the Manawa session to the Brown’s was in a file cabinet at his house (this admission is on tape). The fact that Dr. Frank Smith deliberately deceived members of the Manawa session at the November meeting and then lied to cover up his actions at the December meeting did not matter to the CRPC-Am. Pres. because they wanted the Brown’s to be able to vote at the congregational meeting in January 2006 on whether the Manawa congregation should leave the CRPC denomination. This behavior is power politics at its worst and is antinomian. Dr. Frank Smith was more concerned with controlling the denomination and manipulating events in Manawa than he was with the spiritual welfare of the Brown’s.
[4] Given the unbiblical behavior of Dr. Frank Smith and the CRPC Am. Pres., the charges against Rev. Schwertley are hypocritical and absurd. The charges included such things as: (1) A failure to follow proper procedure in disciplinary matters (this precisely what the Brown’s, Dr. Frank Smith and the presbytery did; not the Manawa session). (2) Erasure from the membership roll of a family that requested transfer (this is answered above). (3) Failure to give proper notice of intended erasure [What about Dr. Frank Smith deliberately hiding the letter and then lying to presbytery?] (4)-(5) Refusal to hand over tapes (all the tapes were given to the CRPC presbytery and if there was anything on these tapes that could have been used against Pastor Schwertley, they very likely would have been used). There are accusations of attempting to mislead presbytery and so forth (this is untrue and has been proven). One could go on and on. (The Manawa session produced a 14 page detailed refutation of the charges in preparation for the trial. When the CRPC-Am. Pres. was informed that the whole trial would be filmed and made public and that according to the CRPC Book of Discipline, the presbytery did not have jurisdiction over pastors in accusations of moral misconduct [in the CRPC, at that time, such matters can only be handled by the local session], the CRPC presbytery quietly dropped the charges. The only way that Dr. Frank Smith could attempt to destroy Pastor Schwertley’s reputation was to make up a session and pretend it was the real Manawa session and then bring up new charges. This is precisely what Dr. Frank Smith did. This trial did not occur either. It seems the whole point of bringing up bogus charges against Rev. Schwertley was to publicly damage his reputation.)   


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