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Hodeuon: Response to Laird Bean

"I am writing this letter today with the hope that I may be able to provide a little more balance to the very biased and erroneous blogs being published consistently by various web-sites on the internet regarding GGWO and Pastor Stevens.”

Hodeuon: Good. Interaction is a good thing.

"First, let me say that I am greatly honored to have been a part of Pastor Stevens ministry since 1974. I consider him to be one of the great Bible teachers of our time and a very dear friend, who has also been my pastor for all these years.”

H: I guess that’s a matter of opinion.

“This man has served God faithfully and sacrificially for over 50 years despite numerous public attacks against him and his ministry. Unfortunately, most of these attacks have been from within the Christian realm, not as much from without.”

H: I believe we can objectively say that Carl Stevens has not served God faithfully.

1. He has falsely taught that God will judge people who leave Greater Grace.

2. He has falsely taught that our sins don’t exist in the past once they are forgiven and that we can rebound with no consequences.

3. He has had several affairs which can be verified by two or more witnesses.

4. He has abused prescription drugs. This has been verified by two or more trained medical personnel.

5. He has used people’s former sins to control them in spite of his false teaching under point #1.

“My defense of Pastor Stevens and GGWO is primarily directed toward those who should know better, ie: the Church.”

H: For once, the Church is trying to self-correct before the media picks up on the scandal.

“As such, this is a Biblical defense which doctrinally applies to any and all believers, small or great, in any church anywhere in the world. Indeed, Pastor Stevens is one of many Christian leaders who are the target of slander and lies, as a result of their laid down lives for Christ.”

H: This is innocence by association. Without knowing which other Christian leaders are being referenced, we can’t assess the accuracy of this statement.

“In Mt.7:16 the Word of God says," By their fruit you shall know them." And in vs.18, "an evil tree cannot bear good fruit." GGWO under Pastor Stevens, and now under Pastor Tom Schaller has been used by God to win a multitude of souls to Jesus Christ, transformed hearts and lives, brought about reconciliation in marriages, and healings through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. All of this is good fruit in anyone's book, and is well documented.”

H: But TBS and GGWO under Carl Stevens and Tom Schaller have also led some to abandon the faith. Others haven’t been transformed but have continued in habitual sin which has been excused by the leadership. *Many* marriages have collapsed. The first half of Matthew 7:18 says, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit…”

“Accusations to the opposite are idle accusations with little or no evidence or corroboration. Hearsay and innuendo that can not bear objective scrutiny.”

H: 1. Carl’s dual affairs over many years in Lenox have been testified to by multiple people. I’ve heard two witness accounts in person. This satisfies the biblical standard for evidence.

2. It is also documentable from sermon tapes that Carl Stevens taught that sometimes what you think you see isn’t real but rather satanic projections. He was laying the groundwork for discrediting eyewitness testimony.

3. With respect to Carl’s substance abuse, there are witnesses who saw him buying alcohol, there are witnesses who heard him ask for leftover prescription medication, and there are medical personnel who treat patients treated with opiates and therefore knew what opiate use looks like.

4. The CRI report documented Carl’s doctrinal aberrations as of the early 1980s. Gospel Truth Ministries’ report concurs. The Billy Graham Telephone Answering Center concurred when it declined TBS’s assistance.

These accusations are not idle. There is evidence, and it can bear objective scrutiny.

“We are allowed to examine fruit, but are we allowed to examine the sins and failures of others and present them publically? Is there ever any scriptural justification for doing this? The answer to both questions is an emphatic no. (Mt.7:1, Rom.2:1)”

H: You are incorrect.

John 7:24 "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

1 Cor 5:12 “For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?”

Obviously “judge” is used in Scripture with more than one nuance, and to say “don’t judge at all, ever” is an oversimplification to the point of inaccuracy.

"This leads to the question of the scriptural legitimacy of organizations like C.R.I. (The Christian Research Institute), Factnet, and other similar groups. They present a Christian facade while engaging in absolutely non-Christian, un-Biblical, negative attacks on believers in Christ.”

H: Having just stated that we aren’t allowed to judge or examine the failure of others, you immediately do just that. This is what Romans 2:1-3 is actually talking about. “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?”

Second, whether you realize it or not, you are questioning the validity of parachurch organizations. I realize that doing so is popular in some circles, especially those that put the local church above all else. But that’s not what we see in the New Testament. We see the Church – the universal Church, with local churches helping each other out. Moreover, Christ said He will build His kingdom. And he gave gifts to the Church like apostles, prophets, and evangelists who weren’t assigned to a specific local church. So we see that the kingdom is more than the sum total of local churches. Therefore parachurches are not unbiblical. They are, however, outside the control of the local church – which is probably why they’re attacked in the first place.

Third, you talk about “a Christian fa├žade”. While you never actually say that the people in these organization aren’t saved, you strongly imply it. It’s the sort of giving the impression while still being able to deny you actually said it style of attack that I’ve come to expect from Carl Stevens and people trained by him. Moreover, you used loaded language – “non-Christian, un-Biblical, negative attacks”. In GGWO, a negative attack is any questioning at all. And you use guilt by association by grouping CRI with Factnet. It is dishonest to portray all your opponents as equal to the worst.

“Their handling of fruit-bearing believers is quite similar to the tactics of the liberal media and supermarket tabloids. Their content bears the same comparison.”

H: This is simply character assassination by comparing CRI and Factnet to the worst people you can think of. You make no attempt to justify in what way the tactics are similar.

“They are outlets for disgruntled ex-members who have a vindictive agenda to destroy other believers whom s they disagree with.Despite whatever disagreements anyone may have with Pastor Stevens, there can be no disputing his clear adherence to the cardinal doctrines of the faith. This makes him a brother in Christ.”

H: You begin from an assumption taught to you by Carl Stevens that all ex-members are vindictive, unspiritual, and out to destroy men of God. This is simply not true.

Second, I wholehearted dispute that Carl Stevens adheres to the cardinal doctrines of the faith.

1. Carl Stevens teaches that grace is not an attribute of God. Exodus 34:6-7 says differently: “And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation."” This is a difference in theology proper. How is it not a cardinal doctrine of the faith?

2. Carl Stevens teaches that people don’t have a deeper walk with God, haven’t broken the spiritual maturity barrier, etc. because of their own problems. This is nothing other than sanctification by works. This is what Paul confronted the Galatians about: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:1-3) How is this not a cardinal doctrine of the faith?

“On that basis and on the basis of fruit, the Bible is very clear that you do not engage in gossip and evil speaking against a brother in Christ or his ministry. (1Pet.2:1 , Eph.4:31 , James 4:11 , Tit.3:2). My challenge to anyone reading this letter to try to Biblically justify the actions of these organizations or their participants.”

H: That’s actually pretty easy. Carl Stevens has been teaching heresy, and it’s our duty to warn the Church. You and Carl confuse evil speaking with any questioning or criticism at all.

“Let me expand on this subject a little more. In Prov 6:16-19 we see in black and white the things that God has listed in His Word that He specifically hates. And for added emphasis He calls them abominations to Him. Yet these 7 things that God hates and calls abominations are precisely what groups like C.R.I., Factnet, and others engage in with impunity. Please follow this line of reasoning: As believers in Christ we have been declared innocent through the shed Blood of Jesus Christ. And in conjunction with 1John 3:15 ( ..whosoever hates his brother is a murderer.), can there be any doubt as to the meaning of "...hands that are swift to shed innocent blood."? Yet this is the operational function of these groups and the individuals who participate with them. This is a very serious issue in God's eyes. Read 1Jn.3 & 4 and tell me that this is not accurate and pertinent to this subject of gossip and evil speaking!”

H: Proverbs 6:16-19 reads, “These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.” Since you brought it up, these are almost all characteristics of Greater Grace World Outreach. Pride – The pastors on The Grace Hour talk about what the ministry is doing all over the world and how it’s unique, and they encourage the callers who regard the program as a lifeline. And Carl accepted being characterized as an apostle in the 1970s and taught that he was “God’s man for this age”. He wasn’t. Lies – Just this morning I caught John Love in a lie, saying that they would play the entire taped sermon. On a much grander scale are the lies told about those who leave GGWO. Shedding innocent blood – So far as I know, GGWO hasn’t actually killed anybody. A heart making wicked plans – How else can you construe Carl’s remarks about having enough on certain pastors to bring them down? Swift to evil – It took how long after IAGM organized before GGWO started setting up rival churches nearby those local churches which had left? It took how long to offer elders and deacons promotions if they’d return to head up the new splinter churches. False witness – I’ve seen plenty of that myself online as those who continue to attend GGWO come on the chatboards and post lies about people trying to blackmail them into not posting. And discord among brethren – That’s what the attacks on particular posters are all about, to sow discord by discrediting them in the eyes of the others.

Again, you lump CRI in with Factnet. I think you should actually read CRI’s report and note how different the tone is. As far as engaging in attacks on GGWO with impunity, that’s sheer nonsense. These groups have been demonized within GGWO’s circles.

"Finally, there are some that say that this type of defense is meant to insulate or sheild Pastor Stevens and other GGWO leaders from criticism regarding past wrongs and abuses. It is not! There are scriptural avenues that are given to us in the Word of God when a brother sins, such as Gal.6:1, going alone with a heart attitude of love and restoration. Not of vindictiveness and judgement. What I am outlining in this letter is normal, mainstream theology. Unfortunately it is neglected by too many believers and churches. This ought not to be and needs to be strongly addressed! Rom.14:4 - "Who art thou who judges another man's servant, to his own master he stands or falls.Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand." This needs to be heeded by all of the self-appointed judges, sitting upon their little pharasaical thrones, in front of their computer keyboards spewing out their venom on the internet. God says, "Who are you...?!!!"

H: Matthew 18:15-17 reads in full, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” People have gone alone. *It didn’t work.* So they went with witnesses. That didn’t work, either. So now it’s being told to the church.

Don’t bother fuming about venom unless you are going to actually going to interact with my arguments. Without responding to my points, it’s just name calling on your part.

"In conclusion, I feel that I should make note of the fact that I am writing and publishing this letter without the knowledge or endorsement of Pastor Stevens or the leadership of GGWO. I've done this entirely on my own and take complete responsibility for it's content. I've grown weary of all the evil-speaking against my pastor and my church. Especially after all these years of seeing Christ revealed, love manifested, souls saved, and lives transformed. Of course mistakes have been made along the way. As apparent as they may be to many, the real truth is that God has dismissed all of them. The same is true for all of us. Thank God for our Saviour and His finished work!”

H: You seem convinced that God is willing to overlook sin as long as people are being saved. I think God is concerned with both the means and the ends.

"In Christ,
Laird Bean”

H: Look, we’re not out to destroy GGWO. I don’t think we could destroy it if we wanted to. But there is a lot of wrongdoing that shouldn’t be allowed to continue. GGWO could reform and keep leading people to God. But it won’t happen unless you can overcome the heresy that GGWO has a special relationship with God that the rest of the Church lacks.