October 7, 2018

A Valuable Lesson Learned – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:00 am by sranderson0103

Shortly after I began to preach, some dear friends, brethren whom I had known growing up, showed up as visitors one Sunday morning. After warm greetings, I heard disheartening news about a congregation I knew well. The story involved immorality being ignored by the elders. “Everybody” knew about it. It was “common knowledge,” but the elders refused to do anything about it.

My father also knew the congregation well and was preaching nearby. I called him, related what I had heard and asked how in the world those elders could allow such.

I heard silence for a moment. Then he asked how the accusations were sustained. “Uh…it was common knowledge,” I stammered. He responded, “That’s not good enough.”

He knew all about the situation. Those elders had asked him to help investigate the matter and they had done so. They did discover a lot of gossip but found that nothing was established scripturally. The elders were proceeding by scripturally disciplining the slanderers.

“Oh. …I see…. I didn’t know that.” He proceeded to drive the point home. “You did not ask the right questions. ‘Common knowledge,’ is a phrase that is often a red flag signaling a lack of scriptural evidence. The right question is, ‘Are there witnesses?’ … ‘Can you sustain the accusation?’”

He said he would send an article that should be helpful. He found it useful in his efforts to teach. Since then I have printed and reprinted it many, many times in my efforts to teach New Testament Christianity. It is a concise, precise statement of essential truths.

 When Accusations Are Made

Frank L. Cox, Gospel Advocate, 1959

When an accusation of wrongdoing is made, an obligation falls upon the accuser. His obligation is to sustain his accusation. He cannot sustain his accusation by rumor or gossip or hearsay or opinion, not even by the testimony of a witness. It can be sustained only by the testimony of a plurality of witnesses. It is written, “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall a matter be established.” (Deut.19:15; Matt.18:16; II Cor.13:1; I Tim.5:19; Heb.10:28.) God’s word is right.

If the accuser can sustain his accusation, an obligation falls upon the person accused: for his guilt is established. In the spirit of gentleness, he should be restored (Gal.6:1, 2); if possible, he should be brought to repentance. If he will not repent, he should be marked and avoided.

If, however, the accusation cannot be sustained, an added obligation falls upon the accuser. By making a charge he cannot prove, an accusation he cannot sustain, he becomes involved in crime. He becomes a false accuser. If possible, he should be brought to repentance. If he will not repent, he should be marked and avoided.

With these things before us, the obligation of the hearer in such matters is obvious. When an accusation of wrongdoing falls upon our ears, let us ask for the proof, for sustaining evidence. If sustaining evidence is given, we should consider the person accused guilty and endeavor to restore him; if sustaining evidence is not supplied, we should consider the accuser guilty and endeavor to restore him. The person accused should be considered innocent, unless the charge is sustained. And the accuser should be considered guilty, unless he can sustain his charge.