Jeff Belknap's Response to this Material

Tom O=Neal

(813) 908-5320 - Fax (813) 908-6370 - Cell (813) 625-5651

P. O. Box 271407

Tampa, Florida 33688-1407


February 4, 2004                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Mr. Jeff Belknap

100 Carriage Drive

Beckley, WV 25801                                                   


Dear brother Belknap:


With this I will acknowledge your email of October 28, 2003 at 4:26 PM (EST) which says:


The men met for our monthly business meting last night.  Since you would not answer our specific question, we made the unanimous decision to withdraw our request for you to come and hold a meeting in Beckley. I=m sorry that it has come to this.


Since this did not demand an immediate reply, and other things were more pressing, I have waited until now to answer.


Brother Belknap, I am sorry that you have chosen to make your views upon what you choose to call Amental divorce@ a test of fellowship.  Therefore, you should not object to my making this known to brethren.  In view of your making your views upon this question a test of fellowship, plus the fact that you have absolutely refused to sit down and discuss this matter with me when I offered to come to Beckley, I challenge you to a public debate without propositions.  Since you think that I am in error, I will first present what I believe the Bible teaches and then you can have the opportunity to refute it by the Scriptures.  If I am so wrong, you should have no difficulty showing my error.  Now, we will see just now much confidence that you have in what you are teaching.  It is one thing to sit behind a key board on a computer and write all kinds of things when others have no chance to reply, and it is another thing to meet a live opponent in open discussion.  We will now see how much courage you have about your position.  Could it just be that you are not the great power of God that is keeping the church from going into apostasy that you seem to want to portray on your web site?  Are you afraid for those to whom you preach from week to week to hear you try and defend your views?  It would be a pity for the members there to see how weak you really are when you have to come out in the open.


When I wrote to brother Leonard Bragg on November 29, 2000, seeking some support for  my work in the Tampa Bay area, I realized that he might have some questions about my teaching and that the brethren there might want to meet with me face to face and even hear me preach.  In that letter I said, AI know that you probably have questions and I would be happy to answer them.@ He responded on December 8 asking my position on Amarriage, divorce and remarriage@

as well as Acreation.@  To his request, I sent him some material that I had written upon said subjects.  On December 18 I wrote brother Bragg indicating that I had already sent him the material he requested, gave him some references that he requested and said, AIf you have any specific questions, I would be happy to answer them for you.  I would be glad to visit with you, preach a few nights and let you get to know me first hand.@  What I had to say and the material I sent brother Bragg evidently was sufficient for that was the end of that matter.  I put him on the mailing list of Walking In Truth and he has received each issue since.  When I said, AI would be glad to visit with you, preach a few nights and let you get to know me first hand@ I thought that the church would be supporting me.  Had I known that the funds left by brother and sister Toothman and administered by brother Leonard Bragg would be the support, I would not have suggested coming and preaching for the church.


In brother Bragg=s email to me on December 21, 2000 he said in regard to references Abrother Jeff Belknap who preaches for us at the Carriage Drive church in Beckley, WV.,...spoke highly of you.@  At the time I thought how could he speak highly of me when I have never met him so far as I know, have never worked with him in a meeting and he has never worked with me in a meeting.  How could he know me so well as to speak Ahighly@ of me?  You sure have changed your attitude toward me in a short time.  Now you think I am a false teacher but you still do not have enough courage to test what I teach by the Scriptures in open discussion.


I find it very interesting that in brother Bragg=s letter of December 21, 2000, he says that you Aspoke highly@ of me, yet you write to me on September 29, 2003, AI do not know you Tom.@  How can you in good conscience speak Ahighly@ of someone you Ado not know?@  Or does your conscience not bother you to tell such?  Which time were you telling the truth, brother Belknap?  Which ever is the truth, the other is your lie!   I am sure you will want to ignore this just like you have the other things I have said that you could not answer without putting yourself in a predicament.


In your email of October 28, 2003, you said, Ayou [Tom O=Neal] would not answer our specific question.@  Brother Belknap, that is not the truth. My answer was not pleasing to you.  Your question in your email of August 23, 2003 was:


Without exception, when an unlawful divorce has been finalized via compliance with one=s respective

civil (or socially-recognized) laws, the one who was put away (repudiated) commits adultery upon remarriage to another (Matthew 5:32b; Matthew 19:9b; Luke 16:18b) for as long as their bound mate still lives (Romans 7:3).


You said, Aspecifically, we need a straightforward, >I agree= or >I disagree= answer.@


I answered your question, but it did not please you, so you rejected my answer, which was: I believe that God=s law of marriage is: one man for one woman for life with one exception, that exception being if fornication is committed, the innocent of fornication has the right to put away the guilty fornicator and remarry; if the guilty fornicator remarries, they commit adultery.  What was there about that answer that was difficult for you to understand?


Since I did not give you what you wanted, you came back a second time with quotes from brother Ron Halbrook and then wanted to know:


Regarding the scenario in the above quotes, do you believe that if the woman described were to remarry another [after she Aput her mate away@ for her husband=s post-unscriptural divorce fornication], that her remarriage would constitute a lawful union or an adulterous one?


When I saw that nothing that I said would please you, I wrote you in an effort to get you to see what a mistake you were making in making your views on this question a test of fellowship.  My taking the time and trying to be very patient with you fell upon deaf ears.  However, here is what I wrote to you on September 28, 2003:


AWith this letter I will reply to your=s of September 6 and 23.  I am sorry that I did not get your original letter to me but as I explained to brother Bragg I never received it. Why I do not know.


AI will take my time in replying but I want you to know up front that I have nothing but good will toward a brother in Christ and don=t want you to think otherwise. I hope you will receive this in the same manner in which I am sending it.


ATo me, your request is rather strange.  Since I started preaching in June of 1954, which included the time that the institutional controversy was raging, I have never received a letter asking that I state my position on any subject.  I have not preached in as many meetings as some brethren have, but over those years I have preached in enough to know how to preach and conduct myself in a Gospel Meeting.  I have never cause any trouble for a church during a Gospel Meeting.  I have known of preachers stirring up problems during a meeting and the local preacher and the elders having to spend several months cleaning up the mess some preacher made during a meeting.  I have been on the cleaning up end a few times.


AHowever, the brethren anywhere have the right to know the convictions of any man they bring to their pulpit.  In fact, they not only have the right to know, but they should know.  I have no problem answering the question that you sent or any other question.  In fact, to show you and the brethren there at Beckley, WV, how open and honest I am to answering questions, I am will to come to Beckley at my expense and sit down with the brethren and let them ask me any question they desire.  The question that you asked was:


AWithout exception, when an unlawful divorce has been finalized via compliance with one=s respective civil (or socially-recognized) laws, the one who was put away (repudiated) commits adultery upon remarriage to another (Matthew 5:32b; Matthew 19:9b; Luke 16:18b) for as long as their bound mate still lives (Romans 7:3). [E-mail to me, Aug. 23, 2003; 8:18 P.M.]


AYou then gave me two options with which to answer the question: (1) AI agree,@ and (2) I disagree.@  Brother Belknap, I will not permit you or anyone else to both ask me a question and then supply the answer I must use.  I will not allow you to be judge, jury and prosecuting attorney in this case.  As I told brother Bragg, this question is very poorly worded.  It is not clear to me exactly what you are asking.  I just wanted to be sure that I understood what you were asking before I answered.  In your response, you did not try to restate the question, explain the question or clarify the question.  You abandoned the question completely.  Why?  The second thing I had a problem with was that the question contain a contradiction.  How could a divorce be Aunlawful@ when it was done in Acompliance@ with Acivil law?@


AIn an open and honest effort to give you and the brethren at Beckley my position, I stated to brother Leonard Bragg exactly what I believe: I believe that God=s law of marriage is: one man for one woman for life with one exception, that exception being if fornication is committed, the innocent of fornication has the right to put away the guilty fornicator and remarry; if the guilty fornicator remarries, they commit adultery (E-mail to brother Leonard Bragg, 9/7/2003, 14:59 PM).  Your response to that was it AIs too generic and obviously does not specifically address the unscripturally divorced.@  That is what you say.  But I thought I was being rather specific in my answer.  I stated openly my position but you did not like the way I answered.  Must I answer the way you want me to before you will be satisfied?


AAnother thing I thought strange about your question was, you did not ask about a number of other issues.  You did not ask about: (1) what I thought about the Deity of Christ on earth, (2) the Sunday evening Lord=s Supper, (3) the covering of 1 Cor. 11, (4) the AD 70 doctrine, (5) church support of benevolent institutions and colleges, (6) the sponsoring church, (7) the number of cups in the Lord=s Supper, (8) women teachers, (9) women in the business meetings, (10) if a church could have Bible classes, (11) the located preacher question, (12) premillennialism and (13) unity-in-diversity.  Are these questions not important?  Do you and the brethren there not want to know what a preacher that comes to conduct a Gospel Meeting believes on these questions?  Are they not important?  Why ask about marriage and not all these other issues that have troubled brethren over the years?  Another question I might ask is: have you and do you ask all the preachers that conduct meetings there at Beckley their views on marriage or is it just me?  An interesting observation to me is that you have a web site devoted exclusively to the marriage question, that is, what you term Amental divorce@ but you do not have a web site devoted to any of the above questions.  Some of the above questions have caused a whole lot more concern to brethren over the years than what you term Amental divorce.@


AThere are brethren who have done with the covering question what you have done with the so-called Amental divorce@ question.  They take that one issue and that is about all they talk about it seems to me.  When their name is mentioned the covering is associated with their name.  They get all excited about it but seem not to be concerned very much with other issues that have caused brethren problems over the years.  One of these preachers has written four different tracts in regard to the covering.  When some preacher=s name is mentioned, they want to know if he is sound on the Aauthority question@ which is their way of asking about his position on the covering.  You seem to be doing the same thing with the Amental divorce@ question.


AWhen I preached at the Azalea Park congregation in Orlando, Florida, in the 1960s we were having 140-160 in attendance and growing.  A preacher followed me and began pressing his views on the covering.  When I was back there for a Gospel Meeting I had sessions with brethren at their request for breakfast, lunch, supper and after church at night trying to settle the brethren down due to this preacher=s stirring the covering question.  He was followed by another preacher with all his foolishness, and the result of these two preachers was that a number of brethren got tired of their harping on such matters and most of the congregation left.  Brother Wayne Sullivan then spent several years of his life trying to build the congregation back up, with little success.  Brother James P. Needham is there now doing the same good job of trying to build up the work.  I was there and preached for them recently and they had maybe 30-40 in attendance.


AWith several brethren I helped get a new work started in Winchester, VA, a number of years ago.  I conducted several Gospel Meetings with them, preached on the radio for several years, and the last time I was there they had 50-60 in attendance, all of this without a full time preacher.  The men took turns doing the best job they could preaching. They finally got large enough that they could get a full time preacher. 


“He came, and guess what?  He began to press the covering question.  The brethren finally got tired of his harping on it and such related matters and they left.  Today, there is no sound church in Winchester, VA.


AWill the same thing happen in Beckley, WV?  I don=t know.  I have never been to Beckley and don=t know any of the brethren there except brother Leonard Bragg and only him through correspondence.  A Aone issue preacher,@ whether it be the covering, Amental divorce,@ Sunday night communion or whatever, usually has a way of spending a large part of his time preaching on whatever his hobby is.  In time, brethren get tired of hearing such and usually leave.  If he is preaching on creation, baptism or Abraham he  usually has a way of getting his hobby in somewhere in his sermon.  Paul preached the whole counsel of God (Act 20:26-27). Paul did not preach one thing to the exclusion of other themes.  Brother Belknap, just as when certain preacher=s names are mentioned, the covering comes up, what I am hearing is when your name comes up among brethren the Amental divorce@ issue comes up.  I perceive that for some unknown reason known to me, your web site is not just about Amental divorce@ but has an under lying effort to destroy Ron Halbrook. I could be wrong in this, but that is the perception that I have gotten from what little I have seen of your web site.  Look at the number of articles you have on your web site that target Ron Halbrook by name.  Why not some other preacher?


AAs I have said, instead of rewording your question, clarifying your question, you give me two excerpts from the pen of Ron Halbrook.  You see why I think you are after brother Halbrook.


AYour quotations are from two larger documents.  I would not answer without having the fulll document from which these are taken.  Again, I am not opposed to answering questions and that is the reason why I am willing to come at my expense to Beckley and sit down with you and the brethren and let you ask any question you desire.  I would also be glad to study with you and/or the brethren and even let the brethren sit in on our study together.  Would you be willing to do that?  If not, why not?  Truth has no fear of an honest investigation.


AYou state in your E-mail to me on 9/23/03 11:09.08 PM that brother J. T. Smith denies what you represent brother Ron Halbrook as saying.  You may be right and you may be wrong.  It makes little difference to me what any man says about this or any other issue.  All I am concerned with is what the word of God has to say.  The Bible is right and cannot be wrong!  I am only interested in truth.  When this issue came to the front of the attention of brethren, everyone was asking questions that I have never thought of. I have not changed my basic thinking on the subject of marriage but on some points I have modified my thinking.  That only means that I have learned some truth that I did not know before.  I am still willing to do that.  I am opened minded on this and any other question.  I will not accept what some man says unless he shows me from the Bible what I believe is in error.


AI have seen your up-dates to your web site from time to time but do not have the time to read all of them.  In fact, I have read little of what is there.  I do not have the time. I do not see how you have the time to spend on such and do the work of gospel preaching.  However, from one that I did read you quoted Ron Halbrook from a sermon he preached in Wilkesville, OH on 6/14/90, in which he says:


AAnd so, in conclusion from this (1 Cor. 7:11, 15 jhb) we learn that unscriptural divorce releases neither party from marriage.  When you have an unscriptural divorce, as men count it, it=s not so with God.  That bond is still in tact.  And that little piece of paper is nothing in the sight of God.  Just as well use it as Kleenex and blow your nose and drop it in the toilet.  It doesn=t mean a thing to God. God=s law  rules over the laws of men.@


AWhen I read that, I may be dense, but I couldn=t believe anyone would disagree with that.  I wondered why you would take exception to it.  Questions: (1) Do you believe that when two people unscripturally divorce that God recognizes their sinful action [as valid]?  The flip side of that coin would be - do you believe when two people unscripturally marry that God recognizes their piece of paper [as valid]?  If God recognizes it [as valid], how could they be living in adultery?  (2) Do you believe that AGod=s law rules over the laws of men?@ or Do you believe that Aman=s law rules over the laws of God?@  Which is it?  Again, do you see why I perceive that you are after Ron Halbrook?


AYou say AIn spite of your relationship to brother [Harry, TGO] Osborne, we want to give you the opportunity to define your own convictions.@  My relationship to Harry is that he is my brother, my brother-in-law (I married his sister, Carolyn) and my brother in Christ.  I personally resent the implication.  From the time I started preaching in 1954, I have made up my mind on the basis of what I believe the Scriptures teach on any question.  If I were going to be influenced by family or friends, I would have made that decision years ago during the institutional question.  I had/have three family members who are/were institutional preachers and it would have avoided a lot of conflict within our family if I had sold out to the institutional idols.  Today I still have friends among the institutional brethren who are well respected preachers, but they know that I would quickly debate them today if they were willing.  You mention Ron Halbrook, Harry Osborne and Tim Haile as well as others.  If I learned that they were in error or in sin, I will just as quickly have my say with them as I would with any others.


ABrother Belknap, my perception at this point is that you want to ask questions and post things on your web site, but that you do not want to discuss and study these issues.  You have refused to discuss these matters with Harry Osborne.  You refused to post Harry=s written debate with brother Terence Sheridan on your web site and let the readers make up their mind after having read it.  You added your comments which were designed to slant the debate in favor of brother Sheridan.  This was a slap in the face to brother Sheridan.  When you got complaints, you took the entire debate off your web site, instead of just taking your comments off. You were not willing to have a fair reading of the debate without your input.  Seems like you didn=t think brother Sheridan did a very good job defending his position.  When brother Mike Willis was with the church in Beckley in a Gospel Meeting, you said nothing to him all week long about these matters, but waited until you were on the way to the airport after the meeting was over, and then you brought these matters up.  Why did you not discuss these issues with him during the week when you could have had sufficient time to do so?  It appears to me that you might have thought that brother Willis might have shown you that you were the one in error.


AI would suggest that you and the brethren there ask brother Weldon Warnock about me.  We have known each other for over 40 years.  He preached at one time in my home town.  I think that he will tell you and the brethren that I am no trouble maker, radical, hobby-rider or unreasonable person.


ABrother Belknap, I look forward to meeting you, being with you and the brethren at Beckley in a Gospel Meeting next spring to the end of saving souls and edifying the saved, unless you are making the marriage question and agreeing fully with you a test of fellowship.  Is this what you are trying to do?  I look forward to hearing from you as to when I can come and sit down with you and the brethren there so they can ask me any question that is on their mind.  Again, I will be glad to sit down and study with you, with the brethren, with you and the brethren or with you and let the brethren listen in on our study.


AMay God bless both you and yours and the brethren at Beckley in any and every righteous endeavor.




ATom O=Neal


ANOTE: Brother Belknap, You do NOT have my permission to post this letter on your web site unless you post it in its entirety, with no comments from you.@


Then on October 14, 2003, I responded to your email of September 29, 2003 as follows:


ADear brother Belknap:


AThis is a reply to your email of 9/29/03 and since there were other matters that had a priority with me, I have delayed answering your letter until now.


AI believe that Jesus gave the innocent of fornication the right to put away their fornicating mate and to marry again per Matt. 19:9.  Is that not what you believe?  Or do you believe something different?  I find it hard to understand why you are having such great difficulty understanding what I believe.


ABrother Belknap, do you intend to make this issue a  test of fellowship?  Are only preachers who agree wholly with you going to be allowed to conduct Gospel Meetings at Beckley?  Can one who believes Jesus was a man on earth just like every other man going to be able to preach in a Gospel Meeting in Beckley?


AYou say that you will decline to respond to the points that I made about the covering because such is not at issue.  I agree the covering is not the issue.  I was only using it as an illustration of becoming obsessed with one issue to the exclusion of other issues.  Some covering advocates see that as the all important issue that must be defended, but where has their voice been in opposition to those who teach that Jesus on earth was a man like every other man?  In fact, I have not seen anything from you in regard to the false teaching that Jesus gave up his divinity when he came to earth and lived upon this earth like all other men.  This is why I say that you are obsessed with and are a one issue preacher - only marriage seems to matter.  All other issues seem unimportant to you.


AYou charge me with Aunbrotherly sumisings@ in my letter.  I tried to be as kind and gentle as I knew how to be, yet, at the same time to say plainly what was on my mind.  Could it be that you feel that I am guilty of Aunbrotherly surmisings@ because either (1) I have hit closer to home than you want to admit, or (2) you cannot answer what I have said?  I feel that it maybe some of both and a whole lot of each.


AWhen I say as kindly as I can what I think, you charge me with Aunbrotherly surmisings@ but you don=t see anything wrong with what you say that I object to.  You seem to be the one who is right all of the time and others are wrong because they don=t agree with your say so.


ABrother Belknap, You write, AI do not know you Tom, but as the Bible teaches, there is potential for all of us to become >respectors of persons.=  (If you doubt this, review James 2, which warns us all against it, as well as the numerous passages that point out that God is not a respector of persons.)  It is obvious that family (those whom we are the closest to, on this earth) would head the list of those who are usually respected above others.  Even if we have stood - and still >stand= in this area, we are well advised to >take heed lest (we-jhb) fall=.@  You should just be a man enough to say that I respect my brother (or brother-in-law) Harry Osborne above what is written (1 Cor. 4:6) for that is the clear implication of what you have said.  Otherwise, your words have no meaning.  I told you in a previous letter that I do not let either family or friends determine what I believe and preach.  Your words are not very conciliatory.  I would expect better of you but from what you say, maybe I don=t have that right.


AI have stated to you: (1) I believe that God=s law on marriage is: one man for one woman for life with one exception, that exception being if fornication is committed, the innocent of fornication has the right to put away the guilty fornicator and remarry; if the guilty fornicator remarries, they commit adultery@ and (2) I believe Jesus gave the innocent of fornication the right to put away their fornicating mate and to marry again per Mt. 19:9.   Brother Belknap, what is there about those two statements that you do not understand?  Do those statements contradict whatever your position is on the question?


AYou failed to tell me when I could come to Beckley at my expense and meet with the brethren.  Does this mean that you are not going to let me come?   Would you be willing to sit down and study with me if I came?  Are you going to give me a time I can come up there, or are you going to refuse to meet in a study of the Scriptures?  That would really be something, a gospel preacher refusing to sit down and discuss the Scriptures with another individual.  Personally, I would not want to be in that situation.


AI close waiting for you to (1) set the date for the meeting next spring, (2) accept my statements of what I believe on the marriage question, or (3) allow me to come up there and meet with the brethren and face to face answer their questions and study with you.  Which will it be?




ATom O=Neal



AAgain, brother Belknap, you do NOT have my permission to post this letter on you website unless you post it in its entirety, with no comments from you.


AP. S. I would appreciate it if you would share this letter as well as the previous letter with all the men of the congregation at Beckley.@


Brother Belknap, in an E-mail to me on October 20, 2003, you said, A(Copies of all of our correspondences were offered to all who attended).@  Observe that you said copies were Aoffered@ which is a great difference in saying they were given.  My personal opinion is that you did not give a copy of each of my letters to all the brethren for them to have the opportunity to read them at their leisure.  How far am I from being correct?


(1) While you deny that I have answered your question, the above letters contain three different efforts to answer your question.  You were not satisfied with my answer.


(2) You will observe that in these two letters I conclude them by saying, ABrother Belknap, you do NOT have my permission to post this letter on your web site unless you post it in its entirely, with no comments from you.@  However, you show your true colors when in violation of what I said in private correspondence to you, you quoted excerpts from my letters on your website in your article AThe MDR Creed.@  This shows that you are unethical, dishonest and cannot be trusted to deal with a brother fairly.


(3) You have violated my trust by posting on your web site that which you did not have my permission to do so.  Now, I challenge you to publish this letter in its entirety which contains the two previous letters.  Now we will see how honest you are.


(4) You say on your web site concerning the first quotation from me that it was an Ae-mail letter addressed to Jeff Belknap@ on September 7, 2003.  Again, this shows how reckless and inaccurate you are.  I can not check all the things that you have posted on your web site and I have no desire to do so.  However, when I can check behind you, I find out how inaccurate you are.  This letter that you say was written to you, was written to brother Leonard Bragg!  When I see how inaccurate you are when I can check your documentation, it makes me wonder how inaccurate you are in other places where I can not check your sources.


(5) I had a feeling when you first wrote me that you were going to make this matter a test of fellowship and that in time you would cancel the meeting.  Naturally, I was not surprised when you did.  I have been around long enough to know how a preacher can influence brethren to do what he wants them to do if he is not honorable.  I do not believe for one moment that the brethren in Beckley would have come up on their own wanting your question answered without your influencing them.  Brother Belknap, I was not born or started preaching yesterday


Brother Belknap, I wrote to you in good faith with the hope that we could communicate as brethren in Christ, trying to approach you according to the Golden Rule of Jesus in Matthew 7:12, treating you as I would want to be treated.  My letters expressly stated you did not have my permission to post anything but my full and complete letter, without any comment from you.  It was my hope that you would grant me the courtesy and fairness to post the entire letter so that your readers would have the full context of my letter.


Rather than comply with my request you ran roughshod over my express statement.  Why did you brake my trust and violate the Golden Rule in this way?  Why did you find it necessary to destroy my efforts to engage in good faith communications with you as brethren?.  If we disagree does this demand that you treat me as a reprobate and an infidel unworthy of courtesy and fairness?  It appears to me that my efforts to communicate with you as a brother in Christ has been met by the spirit of the Muslim religion which says Adestroy at all costs@ regardless of the tactics.


You need to wake up to the fact that you have become obsessed with certain technicalities and minutiae related to divorce and remarriage.  Paul warns against such in 1 Timothy 6:4 and 2 Timothy 2:23.  Webster says the word Aobsess@ originated in a Latin term which meant to Abesiege,@ and obsession meant Aoriginally, the act of an evil spirit in possessing or ruling a person.@  The dictionary goes on to explain that being obsessed means a state of mind Abeing obsessed with an idea..@  In 1 Samuel the mind of King Saul was filled with an evil spirit so that he was obsessed by the idea that David was his enemy.  Actually, David was his friend and brother in Israel and in serving God.  Saul=s obsession knew no bounds.  I do not believe people are demon possessed today and I am not accusing you of such a thing.  The parallel is simply this: Saul=s obsession caused him to see his brother in Israel as an enemy, and caused him to know no bounds of honor or fairness in his determination to destroy David.  Even so, you seem to have an obsession which causes you to see your brethren in Christ as enemies, and this obsession causes you to know no bounds of honor or fairness in your determination to destroy your brethren.


Several other brethren have called this obsession to your attention, but it seems you only press on harder and harder as though possessed by a spirit of bitterness and strife.  Brother Weldon Warnock wrote a letter on June 25, 2002, to the brethren at Beckley pointing out that you posted certain quotations without the full context from a brotherly exchange between him and brother Jim Deason.  You see, you have not only treated me this way, but you have treated others the same way.  Harry Osborne offered to come to Beckley and discuss your accusations and differences with him, but you refused his offer.  I offered to come to Beckley and study with you so as to resolve any differences we might have, but you refused this.  When a man writes article after article after article, and makes accusation after accusation after accusation, and posts selective quotation without the full context again and again and again, he is obsessed whether he realizes it or not.  Many other brethren see this in you, but you are so obsessed pursuing your obsession that you do not see it.


Brother Belknap, as a brother I want to offer some friendly advice to you which I hope you will not reject.  Your obsession has hurt the work and reputation of the Beckley Church.  Your obsession is hurting the cause of Christ in other places as the spirit of strife and bitterness causes brethren to be suspicious of each other, to cancel each other=s meetings, and to become alienated from each other.  Your obsession has hurt your own reputation and work as a gospel preacher.  If you cannot get this obsession off your mind and take it off your computer, my brotherly advice is that you resign from preaching until you can free yourself from this obsession.  If you will do this, in time you may see this will be a blessing to all concerned.


I have not written in an effort to bring harm, strife, and division into your life as a Christian.  This is an effort to help you overcome the harm, strife, division you are generating in your own life and in the lives of other brethren.  The sheer volume of writing and posting you do on this one topic, and the unjust and unfair tactics you use, make it clear that you are truly obsessed.  Whether or not you realize it, I am speaking as your friend and not your enemy in an attempt to open your eyes.  Paul asked in Galatians 4:16, AAm I become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?@ If you persist in this obsession, you will only further harm yourself, the brethren in Beckley, and brethren in general.


I give you permission to post this letter in its entirely on your web site.  Of course, since you ran roughshod over my previous request, broke my trust, and violated the Golden Rule, perhaps you will only persist in the same conduct again.  If that happens, I can only say it will further confirm your obsession.  For your own spiritual health and for the good of our brethren , I hope and pray you somehow will break free of this obsession and begin to heal


Brother Raymond E. Harris had an excellent article in the January 1, 2004 issue of Truth Magazine on page 19, which follows:


The Hobby Riders -- Continue to Ride!


As far back as I can remember, there have always been hobby riders in the church.  For any who might ask, AWhat is a hobby rider?@ The answer is this: AHobby Rider@ is a term used to describe a AOne Issue Preacher.@ In other words, he is a preacher who become so totally obsessed with a particular doctrine or problem, that he cannot preach, teach, or write about anything else.  He becomes so preoccupied with some Adanger facing the church,@ that he neglects all other matters.

Through the years countless brethren have become consumed, controlled, and dominated in a crusade to slay one dragon or another, real or imagined!  Even if the brother is right in his assessment of a false doctrine, his persistent and excessive attention to one issue will cause him to become ineffective in his work as an evangelist.  Not only that, after awhile his incessant carping can cause people to Aturn him out,@ as they tire of his never ending and unrelenting preaching and writing on the one monumental concern!

Back through the years, some brethren plunged head long into a life time campaign regarding Athe clergy system,@ the Aone cup@ issue, or the Aanti-Bible class@ question.   Others, portrayed a bulldog, snapping turtle mentality against Bible class literature, women teachers, or the ASunday School.@  Even when their concerns were justified, some neglected all else, committing themselves to exposing the evils of Masonry, Catholicism, and countless other Aisms.@

Today, we have some, very real, serious matters troubling Israel! However, this should promote a time of prayer for our brethren that we believe to be in error.  Experience has taught me that I have a hard time being ugly or sarcastic with a brother that I am earnestly praying for.  It is a time for serious Bible study.  It is a time for level heads and a Christ-like spirit.  It is not a time for overly zealous young@ gun slingers@ to be maliciously ripping, biting, and gouging seasoned brethren who have spent a lifetime in the trenches holding the line against premillennialism, instituitionalism, denominationalism, and sin of every kind!  I am not saying we should look the other way or give a pass, regardless of their age or faithfulness of the past.  We remember all too well the agony of the apostasy of brother Hailey.  When there is a clear, easily identifiable swing away from the truth, by anyone, a line must be drawn in the sand!  However, history should teach us that the chronic grousing of the Hobby Rider, out to make a name for himself, will not solve the problems or bring peace to Zion.  When we receive a ceaseless flood of e-mails that goes on and on for months and months with articles dealing with one subject, it is obvious we have another hobby rider.  When we are directed to web sights featuring countless articles on one subject, it is obvious we have another one issue, hobby rider out to rescue the brotherhood!


Brother Belknap, when you read this article you felt the pressure so much that you called complaining to brother Harris.  He identified you so well without calling your name that you knew who was being described and so will others who read the article.  By your complaints you admit to what he said.  Thus, you should repent and pray God that you might be forgiven of your sin of hobby riding and causing strife and dissension within the body of Christ.




Tom O=Neal