Adelaide, Australia conflict, 1991-1993

35 Sawmill Road
Warren, NJ 07059
May 1, 1993

John Johnson [Adelaide, Australia]

Beloved Brother,

This letter is to confirm that we are walking in Christian fellowship with you and any others available to you in Adelaide who are seeking to "pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace" and who "call upon the Lord out of a pure heart".  2 Timothy 2:22.

We reject, as lawless, the attempts by James Petersen to force saints universally to disregard the stand you have taken in Adelaide on the basis of 2 Timothy 2:19, "Let him who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity".  As taking this stand, and remembering the Lord Jesus in the breaking of bread in Adelaide, your faithfulness has been ratified by the brethren in your nearest meeting, Stawell.

The accompanying transcript of a word given in the ministry meeting on December 29, 1992 makes it clear that this matter has been laid upon him, as our beloved brother James Taylor speaks of in Ministry by J. Taylor, New Series, Volume 64, Pages 211-212:

Ques.  If there is anything to be reviewed it must be something specific, must it not?

J.T.  Yes, quite so, but a specific thing is there; it is spoken of in Leviticus 4.

G.A.  Would this scripture provide for the review by a local assembly of a past history in which specific things were done which are recognised now to have been against the Lord and the truth?  If it has been, in an individual sense, judged, how is the local company to be cleared entirely of the matter?

J.T.  Well, has it been taken up and judged in any sense?

G.A.  The teaching was judged and the teacher refused, but the party conditions were not really recognised for a long period; that is now dawning upon the brethren.  What is the outlet?  Is there any?

J.T.  Well, if there is any particular assembly you are alluding to, or meeting which has had part in it in an active way, I would say they were responsible to express their judgment of it, but, is the person in the midst of that assembly?

G.A.  No.  He is outside.

J.T.  Therefore, it is not a direct responsibility, except in a personal way, that if you had had part in it you would have to judge the thing in your own soul.  Of course, you are saying now that the assembly has had part in it too, which is peculiar, but the question now is whether the whole thing has been dealt with anywhere where the person is.

A.J.G.  If every individual who has had part in it has judged himself would not that clear the assembly?

J.T.  I would think so, if the thing is fastened on to him ...

We are deeply humbled and feel our unfaithfulness before the Lord Jesus in allowing this leaven to remain so long among us.

We also reject, as lawless, Ernest Cary's attempt at Wheaton 3-day meetings on Friday, April 9 to link saints with whom we are walking in Christian fellowship with those in Adelaide who are refusing to judge evil, namely:

  • the withdrawal from Jim Dover on the basis of 2 Corinthians 6:14 without two or three witnesses to establish the matter.  "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every matter be established". 2 Corinthians 13:1.
  • the subsequent withdrawal from Elspeth Dover, also on an unrighteous basis.

"Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark".  Deuteronomy 19:14.

In this exercise, we have been greatly helped by ministries of the recovery, including John Nelson Darby's "A Letter on Separation"1, in which he writes, "There may be evil, and yet the Spirit of God sanction the body (not, of course, its then state), or at least act with the body in putting it away. p But if the Spirit of God, by any faithful person, moves in this, and the evil is not put away, but persisted in, is the Spirit of God with those who continue in the evil, or with him who will not?  Or is the doctrine of the unity of the body to be made a cover for evil?  That is precisely the delusion of Satan in Popery, and the worst form of evil under the sun.  If the matter, instead of being brought to the conscience of the body, is maintained by the authority of a few, and the body of believers despised, it is the additional concomitant evil of the clergy, which is the element also of Popery." (pages 350-351).

He writes further, "Suppose clericalism so strong that the conscience of the body does not act at all, even when appealed to, is a simple saint who has perhaps no influence to set anything right, because of this very evil, therefore to stay with it?  What resource has he?" (page 351).

In "Separation from Evil, God's Principle of Unity"2 Mr. Darby states, "There is a constant tendency in the mind to fall into sectarianism, and to make a basis of union of the opposite of what I have just here alluded to:  that is, of a system of some kind or other to which the mind is attached, and round which saints or others are gathered; and which, assuming itself to be based on a true principle of unity, regards as schism whatever separates from itself—attaching the name of unity to what is not God's centre and plan of unity.  Wherever this is the case, it will be found that the doctrine of unity becomes a sanction for some kind of moral evil, for something contrary to the word of God; and the authority of God Himself, which is attached to the idea of unity, becomes, through the instrumentality of this latter thought, a means of engaging the saints to continue in evil.  Moreover, continuance in this evil is enforced by all the difficulty which unbelief finds to separate from that in which it is settled, and where the natural heart finds its ties, and, generally, temporal interests, the sphere of their support." (page 354).

He states further, "But God will never leave Himself without witness.  He brings home the evil to the body by some testimony or other—by the word or by judgments, or both in succession—to recall it to its spiritual energy, and lead it to maintain His glory and its place.  If it refuse to answer to the very nature and character of God, and to the incompatibility of that nature with evil (so that it becomes really a false witness for God), then the first and immutable principle recurs, the evil must be separated from." (page 363).

In Ministry by J. Taylor, New Series, volume 59, page 91, Mr. Taylor states, "the action was wrong, but the claim that was made was that the assembly had acted and, therefore, the saints generally must bow.  But that was wrong.  How can we bow to what is wrong?  But many accepted it and became lost to the testimony."

Surely, the Lord Jesus is pointing to the importance of "pursuing righteousness" in our assembly administration.  David writes in Psalm 125: 3 "For the sceptre of wickedness shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity".

In pursuing righteousness, matters must be established by two or three witnesses.  Both Paul's ministry in 2 Corinthians 13:1, and the words of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 18:16 show that every matter must stand on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Facts are not established based on supposition.

Luke writes in Acts 29:9-10, "And a certain youth, by name Eutychus, sitting at the window opening, overpowered by deep sleep, while Paul discoursed very much at length, having been overpowered by the sleep, fell from the third story down to the bottom, and was taken up dead.  But Paul descending fell upon him, and enfolding him in his arms, said, Be not troubled, for his life is in him."

Much has been made of the brethren in Stawell not going to Adelaide to investigate, although they have been in close touch with brethren in Adelaide throughout the course of the exercise.

However, James Petersen and other brothers from thousands of miles away quickly took it upon themselves to press their judgments (and the supposed judgments of the brethren in North America) upon brethren in Australia—before going to Adelaide to inquire themselves!

The Lord says in Luke 6:41 "But why lookest thou on the mote that is in the eye of thy brother, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? or how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, allow me, I will cast out the mote that is in thine eye, thyself not seeing the beam that is in thine eye?"

Some have suggested that the current issue is similar to the "Glanton" matter.  However, in Recovery and Maintenance of the Truth, A. J. Gardiner states as to that matter, "It was not a case of one party being committed to some error of truth, or wrong principle, from which the other party withdrew in faithfulness to the name of the Lord, but simply of disunity, resulting from personal differences, of so serious a character that it was impossible for the brethren to go on together". (page 151 in 1951 edition).

C. A. Coates states, "In a case where principles contrary to the truth are the cause of local division, and this is fully ascertained, it is the responsibility and privilege of the brethren to identify with those who are seeking to maintain what is due to the Lord, and to repudiate what is contrary.  There is no interference with local responsiblity in either case.  If the nearest meeting has no special responsibility in such cases, who has?  To leave such matters altogether undetermined would be fatal to true fellowship either locally or generally." (page 157 in 1951 edition).

In stating these exercises, it is our desire to be in the good of what God says to Jeremiah in chapter 7:2-7.  "Stand in the gate of Jehovah's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear ye the word of Jehovah, all Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship Jehovah.  Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel:  Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.  Confide ye not in words of falsehood, saying, Jehovah's temple, Jehovah's temple, Jehovah's temple is this.  But if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if ye really do justice between a man and his neighbor, if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed no innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt; then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers from of old even for ever."

In 2 Timothy 3:5, the last feature marking the difficult times of the last days is:  "having a form of piety but denying the power thereof".  Paul writes "from these turn away".

There may be some amongst us who, having real affection for our Lord Jesus, are not clear as to current exercises, but we count on Him who, after the disciples went off to fish in John 21 "and that night took nothing", stands on the shore and says simply "Children, have ye anything to eat?", and, in response to their "No", says "Cast the net at the right side of the ship and ye will find". He is able to bring in adjustment (how graciously He has done it with each of us).

Does not the solution to this difficulty begin with all of us entering into the matter "in every province", as Mordecai and the Jews did in Esther 4?  The turning point there is at the end of chapter 3.  "And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city of Shushan was in consternation".

Joseph says at the end of a prolonged exercise in Genesis 50:20:  "Ye indeed meant evil against me: God meant it for good, in order that he might do as it is this day, to save a great people alive".

We have had blessed confirmation from the Lord in having a young sister (age 11) ask to break bread following the care meeting last evening.

The Lord Jesus (the true Joseph) would say to us as we desire to be faithful to Him:  "And now, fear not:  I will maintain you and your little ones".  Genesis 50: 21.

With love in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Your brothers in Him,

(signed)

Stephen Hesterman
Ted Druckenmiller
Garth Druckenmiller
Eric Hesterman
Gunnar Hesterman

cc:  Ken Clark (Stawell, Australia), Bill Chellberg (Wheaton, Illinois)

1 The Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, Volume 1, pages 350-352.
2 Ibid, pages 353-365.


Adelaide, 1991-1993