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Arkansas Confessing Leaders Disassociate From Minister's Complaints Regarding Bishop

From: Michael D. Hinton <mdhinton@mindspring.com>
To: John Warrener <jwarrene@surfsouth.com>
Cc: John Miles <smiles@ipa.net>
Date: Thursday, July 13, 2000 2:09 PM
Subject: Response to Confessing Members of Arkansas


Please, post this response to the letter from John Miles and some of the Confessing "leaders" of Arkansas.

I suppose that in 25 years of ministry I have been "intemperate" a few times. I hope it is because I love God and the Church more than myself, not always counting my appointive prospects as being greater than the truth of Christ. I recall that Jesus was intemperate a few times himself, entering the Temple with a whip, overturning the tables of the money-changers, pronouncing "woes" on the Pharisees, showing indignation with his disciples and some of those attending synagogue. I see nothing wrong with emotional involvement in religion. The analogy applies here in that I have long criticized Confessing "leadership" for political strategies that are not informed by the Gospel or human nature. It is too easy to trade in one's moral outrage for a better appointment, temporizing heart-felt conviction for more money. There is a kind of money-changing going on among some Evangelicals in the Church today.

I am originally from the Northwest Texas Conference, where the Evangelicals have established a wonderful presence and ministry. I helped Jim Terry and Wes Putnam develop a One Way children's camp that serves hundreds of 5-6th graders each Summer. I've seen the sacrifices that R.L. Kirk, Jim Terry, Jim Smith and many of my generation endure for the Cause in that Conference. The Evangelicals in Arkansas are extremely weak by comparison. It is nothing for a politically savvy Bishop in Arkansas, like Janice Huie, to buy off effective opposition.

Yeas ago I was on site at Sacramento Camp in New Mexico when Tex (not really a Texan) Sample was instructing Bishop Schoengeardt and his Cabinet in "power brokering" through the appointment system. Sample explained that one can weaken the chain of an opposition coalition by turning one member (link) of the chain against the other. This was Sample's specific recommendation: reward the weaker, more conciliatory members of the opposition, who are willing to compromise, while at the same time punishing the more conscientious, out-spoken ones. Sample made these comments, that such a strategy works because Evangelicals are more deferential to authority, guilt-ridden and idealistic (tending to believe good things would happen to them if they "behaved" themselves). Conversely, Sample said that Liberals were more "practical" in their political goals owing to the influence of situation ethics, moral pragmatism and the realpolitik of change.

One can see how these dynamics of coalition politics is playing out in the Arkansas situation. Chris Bounds, Ben Anderson and John Miles probably believe that the world is as it should be, since they have nice appointments. What is of greater consequence than what happens to them personally? (But notice that the disclaimer against me is not an official statement of the whole Confessing Board. Some Evangelicals, including one, like myself, on the original Arkansas Renewal Board, have been completely driven out of the Church. I enjoy support with others who remain and are active.) The strategy of being "temperate," which these younger Turks named above have assumed, has played out to their appointive benefit. But who is playing whom? Conversely, I have a political strategy that takes one HUGE dynamic into account, that figures into the equation. I believe with all my heart that God is with me, that God is a political factor for the ultimate triumph of truth, justice and righteousness in HIS Kingdom. Ben Anderson once told me I was not very good at church politics. Well, praise God, I hope that is the case. I hope that I may always trust in God rather than people.

Love in Christ,

Michael D. Hinton, M.Div.
255 Pine St.
Bangor, Maine 04401
(207) 990-2819

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