Dear beloved brethren,
Many of you have asked what happened to cause us to leave the church we loved so much. I’ve asked Vivian to express my thoughts in her words, so we can share our story with you in an earnest, love-filled plea. Please put your fear aside and consider this in an honest desire for truth. And dear souls, please realize that these convictions are not private interpretation, nor is this love letter just from us two alone, for we are confident that the millions of born-again Christians who share these convictions would join with us in this heartfelt plea.
You know we have written books extolling the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. In the seventeen years since our rebaptism, we have been staunch supporters of the teaching that you are the One True Church. By telephone and personal visits, we have strengthened this doctrine in the minds of those who were doubting. Why did we abandon it as false? Why do we now plead with you, pray for you, and yearn that God may open your eyes also?
Vivian and I each came to the same conclusion from different starting points. Vivian had been writing a book to prove the One True Church. This book was to replace the last chapter in her first book, Whether it be of God, because that hard-to-explain doctrine of the one true church is often too abrupt for casual visitors. The idea discussed with Gospel Publishers was that we could remove the chapter on the one true church from the first book and write a separate, larger book on the subject. This way visitors could be handed the first book and, when they were ready, the second book. Gospel Publishers was awaiting the manuscript, which reached 52 pages and was the product of several years of research. As far as we knew, we were in harmony with Gospel Publishers on this.
During this study, however, she became troubled with the Bible’s portrayal of the One True Church—that every born-again believer was a part of it. She also failed to find historical support for the “Holdeman” lineage. In fact, she found absolute proof against it. Questions began to form, and she brought those questions to me as her husband.
My perspective is not scholarly, but practical. I began to doubt this was the One True Church simply because I had seen it fail in correcting long-standing congregational problems. (I knew all churches have problems, but I felt the One True Church should be head and shoulders above other churches.) It seemed there was a fear among the visiting ministry to correct the problem, but I comforted other distressed brethren, assuring them the problem would be taken care of. I knew God’s church would not fail.
When the root of the problem, which some told us went back a generation or two, emerged again and again, I became disillusioned. I even began to doubt God. But soon I realized the reason I was doubting God was that all these years I had loved the church so much I equated worship of God with the church. I had painted the face of God on the church. I had come close to idolatry.
As I began to study, I also became very concerned with what the Bible says about commandments of men. None of the decisions of our church had ever been hard for me, and I wasn’t seeking release from them. But I found that God gives a tremendously harsh indictment of making commandments of men—touch not, taste not, handle not—calling them doctrines of devils and seducing spirits. The Bible itself claims to be all that’s needed for reproof, for correction, for instruction that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto good works. I began to see that making and enforcing commandments of men shows a lack of faith in three things: (1) The Scriptures as being enough for our instruction (2) The Holy Spirit as being able to teach us all things and open our understanding to those Scriptures (3) The Christian as being able or willing to heed the Holy Spirit and obey those Scriptures.
The most serious part of this was the denial of the power of the Holy Spirit in the individual’s life. This seemed to me to be the sin of quenching the Spirit. I was also concerned that our young people, instead of having true born-again experiences through faith in the shed blood of Christ, were being converted to the rules of the church. Because they had not been taught to walk by the Holy Spirit, they had no discerning power.
I brought this concern to our ministry. Some argued that the rules are necessary to keep the weak propped up. I thought of a hospital room with ten beds holding five dead people and five healthy people. The life support system is on them all, and all chests are rising and falling. One can’t tell which are living or which are dead.
Someone protests that the life support system is unnecessary. But the doctors answer that if they were to unhook that support system, people would stop breathing. And they would be right. The dead would cease to breathe and the living would go on.
The false life-support system of commandments of men hides the serious condition of the dead and weakens the lungs of the living.
I had talked openly about legalism, but I realized the impact on our lives that any disclosure of our discovery on the One True Church could make. We decided together to just be quiet about it. We enjoyed our life together with our children and grandchildren. We enjoyed our brothers and sisters and the lifestyle, in spite of the troubles here.
Then one day God brought to our minds the books we had published. We knew with sinking hearts that our responsibility to undo what we had done would ruin us with the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. We would lose our friends, our way of life, our children, our grandchildren….everything. We knew that we could either willingly, knowingly, and deliberately relinquish all those things—or turn our backs on God. It seemed too hard, and we argued with God about losing all that was dear to us. Then the verse came to our mind, “whosoever...forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Through much sorrow, we became willing. The Lord gave grace to endure.
We had spent many weeks composing a letter, one desperate attempt to be shown that we erred. Finally the letter evolved into a 15 page pamphlet containing about 200 scripture references. Because our original books had been distributed widely, we felt our retraction must be public also. Still, we were loathe to “cut our throats” with you.
We decided to “lay out the fleece.” About ten months earlier, a man had called with many convincing arguments against belief in the One True Church. We argued back vigorously and stood firmly against him. The conversation ended with no expectation that he would ever call again, and we didn’t know his name. So now, in our desire to know God’s will, we prayed that if God wanted us to mail these pamphlets, He would move that man to contact us again. Then we waited on God.
Finally one day, God performed our requested test and this man called us! How stunned he was to hear that God had opened our eyes—he had been hesitant to call for fear of stern rejection.
Shocking to Holdeman protocol, we immediately mailed the pamphlet to 2000 addresses. More than 200 replies came in, and we were very dismayed. The answers were mostly appeals to emotion or logic. Where the scriptures were quoted, they had been read as if through a grid—a Holdeman perspective grid. Instead of accepting the Bible definition of the One True Church (all believers), the scriptures quoted might have read thus:
“God loved the Holdemans and gave Himself for them”
“Now ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the Holdemans”
“Now this is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Holdemans”
Not one plain scripture was offered that validates such a position which is opposed and considered cultic by the rest of Christianity.
Some insisted there was a complete unity within early Christianity and no false groups while the New Testament was being written, but this is not true history. The scriptures testify of false apostles, false brethren who went out from among them, false doctrine, synagogue of Satan. The first century, according to history, was a hotbed of pagan thought constantly trying to infiltrate the church. Of course the New Testament wasn’t written to these Gnostics or false groups, any more than it is written to false churches today! It was written then, as now, to the One True Visible Church, which God defines as “all who call upon the name of the Lord” as they gather into their congregations. How utterly wrong to divide the true body of Christ into two classes of Christians!
KINGDOM AND CHURCH
Brethren, there is no such thing as Kingdom Christians and Church Christians. Christ is not divided. We Gentiles were the other sheep who Jesus grafted into one body with the Jews, the rootstock. As for claiming other Christians are merely friends of the bridegroom, if this word in a parable proves two classes of Christians, then the term “children of the bridechamber,” referring to Jesus’ disciples, proves that the twelve apostles won’t be part of the Bride, either. We know this is not true.
We received several drawings of a circle within a circle (which none of the “supporting” verses supports). Even Holdeman understanding of the keys of the kingdom makes the idea self-contradictory: How can the church use the keys to lock or unlock entrance into the kingdom if, by the circle theory, every person who is ever born again or apostates enters or exists the kingdom completely outside the realm and authority of the church? The idea of separating the church and the kingdom into two circles makes the church’s use of the keys void, for by your teaching, what happens in the kingdom is outside the church’s jurisdiction.
Some tried to defend the kingdom/church theory because tares are not to be uprooted in the kingdom, but are to be expelled from the church. Brethren, it is the angels who are restrained until the last day from totally destroying the tares! This verse is not about restraining human ministers from expelling erring church members!
DIVIDING THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
Some say, “But if we’re not the Church, what group is?” That’s like saying, “If the Germans are not the One True Human Race, then is it the Italians? The French? Surely not the Aborigines?” Like dividing humanity into two groups called the One True Human Race and Homosapiens, the Bride of Christ is divided into false categories.
God calls sects sin and doesn’t recognize them. Every born-again believer is part of the bride. Every true child of God bears His spiritual DNA. Where two or three of those true Christians gather, there is the One True Church! This is not a mystery, invisible church, but a living organism, compatible with all aspects of the New Testament Church. Different administrations, diverse operations, but the same Spirit, the same Lord. The Bible teaches unity within allowable diversity. It never teaches an enforced outward uniformity.
UNITY OF THE SPIRIT
The “unity” in the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, is often pointed to as proof that it is the One True Church. However, the belief that this is the One True Church is exactly what produces that enforced unity! Is it not a circular support system?
If Holdeman unity really is deeper than adherence to the same manmade, extra-Biblical rules and the fear of losing family and salvation—if it really is unity of the Spirit, then the conference decision book could be thrown out, the bars of unscriptural excommunication that keep people in by fear could be discarded—and the Holy Spirit could be trusted to continue to give the same level of unity.
Free countries don’t need iron curtains and machine guns for deserters. True unity of the Spirit doesn’t either. However, preservation of a denomination can’t afford to take down the walls of rules or remove the machine guns of excommunication for breaching those manmade walls.
The Bible says true unity has already been achieved for us by the magnificent power of the Holy Spirit. God Himself joins all believers in union with Him and with Christ and with each other, through the salvation wrought by Christ on the cross. We are baptized by the Spirit into this spiritually organic body the moment we believe in Christ. Later, as a testimony, we are water baptized. This union is much greater than the pathetically shallow wearing of the same color shoes or parting the hair in the same way. How we should tremble to reduce the unity of the Spirit to such a level!
Dear beloved, true unity is not the observance of a few things lifted out as more important than others. True unity is not accomplished by adhering to the same conference decisions, thus proving superiority. Did not the Pharisees conform down to the last jot and tittle? Did they not tithe mint and cummin and leave no law undone? Did they not even add hundreds of their own laws to which they were obedient? In this way, they made sure the general populace could not or would not attain to their level, thus securing themselves spiritual superiority. And Jesus condemned them harshly.
MARKS OF THE TRUE CHURCH
For the sake of discussion, let’s say here is another church group. Their “Marks of a True Christian” list includes women being silent in church (1 Cor. 14:34), men praying with holy hands uplifted (1 Tim. 2:8), converts falling on their face when they come under conviction 1 Cor. 14:24,25), paying the ministry (1 Cor. 9:11-14), not forbidding to speak in tongues (1 Cor. 14:39), inviting the poor, halt, and lame to dinner instead of friends and relatives (Luke 14:12, 13), worshipping in homes instead of church buildings, fasting often (Matt. 6:16), and having all things common (Acts 2:44). They cite those things to prove they alone are keeping the “all things” that Jesus commanded.
Were you Holdemans to defend why you don’t do those things, you might spiritualize the lifting of hands, the paying of ministers, the entertaining of the homeless, and fasting. You might adjust the women’s silence to include poetry and children’s stories. You might dismiss as custom the prostrate posture. You might list as impractical having all things common or worshipping in homes.
They would probably not accept your excuses.
Do Holdemans accept the convictions of other Christians when they understand the head covering to be long hair or ancient custom, the beard to be Mosaic law, foot washing to be figurative, and the charity of the holy kiss to serve just as well with a holy hug? (By the way, the most often cited location for a kiss is while “falling on” the neck.) You say nonconformity is how you dress or decorate your homes. They say nonconformity is a heart issue against the goals, interests, and excesses of Satan’s world. You say a person is known by his fruits—by not having pictures, not playing a piano, or not buying two-toned vehicles. They say that the only fruits mentioned in the Bible are love, joy, peace...
As for differing convictions, even in the New Testament, Christians had different opinions on peripheral issues. The Bible says “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” We are not to disdain those who abstain from lawful things and we are not to judge those who indulge in lawful things. (And the apostle Paul says “all things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient.”)
Church history shows there has never been complete agreement in all details and practice of doctrine, but there has always been agreement on the basic elements of Christianity.
The Apostles Creed was the earliest definition as to what constitutes Christian belief and the teaching of the One True Church. Some in history have taken that creed and defined it and added their own laws until it became vastly more restrictive than our church fathers meant it to be—just as the Pharisees defined God’s Law and made it vastly more restrictive than God meant it to be. They finally had God’s “true path” so garbled and bound up that they alone, who fastidiously followed their own rules, were the only holy ones.
THERE IS ONLY ONE BODY
Someone asked how Christians with different convictions could compose one body working toward a common goal. It depends on the goal—to preserve a denomination or to live a Christian life honoring Christ and spreading the gospel? Preserving a denomination requires enforced obedience to a code. One minister said, “If we allow people to marry Christians outside of our group, we have lost it.” Lost what? A distinctive cultural denomination, perhaps. Christianity? Never!
Living a Christian life honoring Christ and spreading the gospel is exactly what every single true Christian on the face of the earth has as the goal. The members of the Body of Christ are working together! Brethren, all true Christians are pressing toward the same mark! The sermons have virtually the same emphasis, the heart matters the same! Knowing, growing to be like, and worshipping Jesus Christ is their goal! The methods may be different, but it is the same Spirit. When Christ looks down on His followers, He accepts the kernels of true worship and blows away the chaff. He sees His spotless Bride, cleansed by His blood.
Could it be that God who created different environments (like the mountains, the beach, the desert) could also have provided different church environments to match the individual and culture, all within the bounds of His Word? Austere Europeans may appreciate solemnity, but what about the Christian black man in Harlem? “Clap your hands, all you people, shout to the Lord with the voice of praise!” If no Scripture is violated, why not? To the Lord he claps, and to the Lord we clap not.
At this very moment, there could be three Chinese sneaking into the jungle to be baptized at peril to their lives. There could be a mission effort to reach prostitutes in Brazil. There could be an organization called Jews For Jesus who risk a beating as they witness to Jews on the streets of Manhattan and risk their lives as they witness on the streets of Jerusalem. There could be thousands of churches over the earth spreading the gospel of salvation by faith, and the Christian walk in Christ.
We also think of all the great men of God, the evangelists, missionaries, translators, and song writers. (Have you ever considered that all but one or two song writers in your hymnal were from other churches—and when they wrote beautiful hymns about the spotless Church, they were not writing about John Holdeman’s new denomination!)
The scope and magnificence of the hand of the Lord in furthering His Church is breathtaking! One said of those who claimed to be the only church, “The clouds roll with thunder that the House of the Lord shall be built throughout the earth; and these frogs sit in their marsh and croak—‘We are the only Christians!’” Or rather, only Church!
WORSHIPPING WITH THE SAINTS
We attended my mom’s church some time ago. It was a culture shock, we standing stiff as pokers with full Mennonite regalia. They were dressed, not immodestly, but in American garb. The ways they had of doing things were different, more spontaneous and less formal, but their goals were the same as those of Christians everywhere..
They sang, worshipped, and exalted the Lord. They prayed for one another and for lost neighbors and friends. They preached about committing wholeheartedly to the Lord and walking obediently in His light, being a testimony to the world. They acknowledged their faults. They loved one another, greeted one another with hugs and kisses, prayed together, shared the Word together, comforted and encouraged one another—and then went out to meet another week as ambassadors for Christ.
It was a beautiful example of the Church of Christ. They are brothers and sisters with all other Christians. They are part of that “whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
Had we still believed in the doctrine of the One True Denomination, we should have warned them that their minister wasn’t really a true minister of the church, none of them had been truly baptized, all the verses in the Bible referring to the church didn’t include them, they shouldn’t sing songs about being the church, they had no right to expel that man they had expelled last month, their communion table was false, and they really had no authority to be sending missionaries. I know this sounds facetious, but I write this way to plead with you to understand the impossibility of such a belief. If that were true, what part of Christian life is left for those poor “kingdom Christians”?
THE VERY VISIBLE TRUE CHURCH
Some think we are talking about an invisible church. That’s impossible, because humans cannot be invisible. Consider this: When all Holdemans are in bed asleep, where is the visible church? When all the true Christians around the world are in bed asleep, the true visible church is still there. When Christians congregate, the neighbors can see them; when they disperse, they are still the church.
Some think we are talking about all denominations and churches being part of the Bride. Not at all, for there are many “churches” that are preaching another Jesus and another gospel. There are sheep in wolves clothing. True Christians within a false organization are indeed members of the One True Church, but their presence doesn’t sanctify that false church.
Real Christian life is like paddling a canoe through rapids—you watch keenly for rocks and learn to veer around them, developing sharp eyes and skill with the paddle. This watchfulness is spoken of in the New Testament, which is full of warnings to watch for false doctrine and false prophets and false teachers—right in the church! Nowhere does the Bible say we can lie half-asleep in the bottom of the canoe with flaccid muscles, completely unskilled with the paddle, trusting while the canoe gently bobs around in a still pond.
Notwithstanding tares present in every church, when we walk into a group of true, born-again Christians in whom dwells the Godhead, we are indeed among the One True Visible Church. What God has called clean through the precious blood of Christ, let us not call unclean lest we offend God!
THE AWESOME GROWING KINGDOM
The vision we have glimpsed of the awesome kingdom of God (of which the church is the visible manifestation) growing from a mustard seed to a large tree does not violate the statement “few there be that find it.” Compared to the world population, the number of saints is a drop in the bucket.
All the kingdom parables speak of continuous growth. The kingdom of God numbered almost ten thousand people in the first months. After 1,858 years there must have been tens of thousands, perhaps millions, of Christians worldwide by the time John Holdeman and his 3 relatives separated from the Mennonite church in Ohio. Tens of thousands in the kingdom and only 4 in the Church? And one true minister on earth? Surely the gates of hell had prevailed had such a sad thing really happened!
Precious souls, why desperately cling to this false one true church doctrine? God says every born-again person in whom dwells the Spirit of God is in union with Him and in union with Christ and has been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, which is His Church. Why protest?
“PORTRAIT” OF A CHRISTIAN
Another barrier between Holdemans and other Christians is the Holdeman definition of Christian life. A picture is painted and everyone is compared against that picture. Our little grandson said of a waitress, “ She doesn’t love Jesus.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because she’s not wearing a headcovering.”
This is what we’ve learned, and it’s extremely difficult not to evaluate Christians on the basis of their outward appearance. All of us humans are prone to this. The Pharisees loved to enlarge the borders of their garments to appear more holy. But Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”
Dear brethren, outward dress codes and compliance to rules is a flimsy standard of spirituality, for any unbeliever can comply. The Bible defines the fruits of a Christian as love, joy, peace, etc., which can only come through the Holy Spirit. The Bible says we are to be non-conformed and transformed in the mind, not the wardrobe. The Bible is plain about what is sin and worldliness—it is men who have added their own opinions on the details and created a standard the Bible has not created.
As much as we love and admire you in many ways, we must sadly admit that we did not find a higher level of Christ-honoring spirituality in your fellowships than in the ones we left seventeen years ago and the ones with whom we fellowship now. With tears, we must admit that you are not “closer.”
MARRY AN OUTSIDER?
Some people argue there must be one true denomination because of difficulties involved with marriage. It is indeed a sin to marry an unbeliever. But the Bible says we are free to marry in the Lord. It does not say, in the Holdemans or within any denomination. This is adding to the Word of God. Marriage of true Christians within true churches poses no problem. It is wrong (and it has forced many people to remain unmarried) to refuse young Christians to marry another who is “in the Lord.” The Bible says those who enforce such commandments of men such as "forbidding to marry" have departed from the faith and given heed to seducing spirits (1 Tim. 4:1)
LABORING IN DIVISION
Brethren, is it not laboring in division to remain aloof from other true Christian churches? They do not reject you. In Christian churches truly preaching Christ and Him crucified (which rules out ecumenism), there is a free-flowing interchange in attendance, literature, speakers, organizing large function such as revivals and evangelistic efforts. They realize they understand some issues differently, but this does not damage their agreement on the basic fundamentals of Christianity. Sometimes for the sake of harmony, Christians move to a different part of The Pasture where they can work more effectively. Sometimes they get offended and sinfully part from one another. This happens also in the Holdeman church in the form of moving to other congregations. May God continue to correct and sanctify us all.
But to say worshipping with other Christian churches is spiritual fornication? Holdemans acknowledge that Jesus is present wherever two or three of these supposed “other sheep” gather. If it’s fornication to mingle with them, what is Jesus doing in their midst? Does He have a Bride and another? (God forbid!) No, Christ has but One Bride. What must He think when she is treated as if she were a concubine? We shudder!
CAN EXCOMMUNICATION WORK?
As for church discipline, the teaching of one true denomination does not impart any strength to excommunication, except through the fear instilled from childhood. Vivian and I can just as easily shrug and walk off because this excommunication is unscriptural as someone expelled from the Amish for driving a car can shrug and join the Holdemans. Churches are made up of fallible humans who sometimes perform their duties as a church properly and sometimes not. Diotrophes in 3 John wrongly expelled people. Did God honor this?
The strength and validity of excommunication rests with God. A person expelled from any church for scriptural reasons stands expelled before God. A person expelled wrongly is free before God. Incidentally, it is proper to honor other churches’ excommunications, if they are valid. Does the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite do this?
LOSING FIRST LOVE
Dear sincere brethren, we fear that the doctrine of the one true denomination replaces adoration due Christ with adoration toward the Church. But we Christians are the Church, the bride! We are the worshippers, not the receivers of worship! Does a bride promise to love and obey herself? Of course we’ll have gratitude that God has grouped us together for warmth, but our communal eyes should be focused on our Bridegroom, our Hero, our Lord!
For seventeen years, we publicly recited the pre-communion formula: “I love the Church and her doctrines.” Jesus Christ, who should be the reigning hero in all our speech, was not even mentioned. Has He become no more than a mascot?
Many, thousands perhaps, have been excommunicated for not believing the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite, is the One True Visible Church. Some were expelled for finding Jesus. Many of these “casualties” have contacted us. They are not lost or deceived. Their fruits testify to a vibrant relationship with Jesus. They love and pray for you.
But most have endured the searing pain of separation from their loved ones, which is a far greater hurt than the torture and murder perpetuated by religious authorities in the middle ages. God pronounces a woe on those who have “made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad” (Eze. 13: 22). We shudder to think of the accountability before God…
AN IMPOSSIBLE LINEAGE THEORY
Then there’s history. Dear ones, the lineage taught to our children in This is My Heritage is false. All the early church fathers supposedly supporting the Holdeman “lineage” believed in a 1000 year reign of Christ on earth—which Holdemans call blasphemy. Holdemans believe Christ was not made of the flesh of Mary—which all of the church fathers called heresy of antichrist.
HOLDEMANS VS THEIR FOREFATHERS
The early church fathers claimed apostolic succession in their doctrines, as This is My Heritage records. Yet Holdemans and their own “forefathers” are in complete disagreement! Because Holdemans insist on harmony of doctrine in an unbroken lineage of unchanged faith (Bible Doctrine and Practice pg 181), you either must confess that you are not part of the lineage of the true apostolic church, or that your forefathers were not. The problem is inescapable. Will you correct it, or ignore it? Or will you confine your study to a small circle of books published by the same company, all taking misinformation from each other?
The early fathers did not insist that all believe alike in a 1000-year literal earthly millennium.
The apostolic fathers, however, did indeed insist that all Christians believe that Jesus Christ was made of the flesh, the genetic seed of Mary—or they weren’t Christians, but heretics. Apostolic Christianity believes Jesus was God in human flesh derived from the literal seed of Mary. Believing in a Christ without human flesh, who is not the Christ of the Bible, avails nothing. The early church fathers said those who taught this were preaching another gospel with another Jesus whose death on the cross is useless. The church fathers quoted 2 John 7: “Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an Antichrist.” Holdeman doctrine flatly contradicts the Bible by saying Jesus was made in Mary, not of Mary.
The fathers quoted some of these scriptures about the genetically human origin of Jesus Christ:
“made OF the seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom 1:3)
“made OF a woman(Gal. 4:4)
“Mary, OF whom was born Jesus” (Matt 1:16)
“that holy thing that shall be born OF thee’(Luke 1:35)
“as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of THE SAME”(Heb. 2:14-15)
“fruit of his loins, according to the flesh”(Acts. 2:29-30)
“fruit of thy body”(Psa. 132:11)
“He shall come forth out of thine own bowels (Gen. 15:1-4)
“he took on him the seed of Abraham”(Heb. 2;16-17).
“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one. And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16)
“Jesus Christ, of the seed of David”(2 Tim. 2:8)
“Christ cometh of the seed of David” (John 7:42)
Dear souls, the charge of deception and the spirit of Antichrist is extremely serious. Doesn’t it warrant a careful, prayerful search of the Word of God? Individual belief and confession about the flesh of Christ affects eternal destiny.
WITHDRAWAL FROM MEMBERSHIP
Because of the magnitude of sin and pride in the doctrine of the one true church, and the “spirit of antichrist” in the celestial flesh view of the incarnation, we asked that our names be removed from church membership. We were expelled for “heresy” on September 18, 2002.
The apostle Paul said he was almost willing to be accursed for his people, the Jews. We can in no way compare ourselves to that mighty man, but in our tiny way, we are willing to be thought accursed if it will only cause our beloved Holdemans to turn to their Bibles with unveiled eyes…
ONE MAN’S DREAMS
We are convinced that John Holdeman was a deluded man who deluded thousands into believing a completely unfounded and spiritually dangerous doctrine. He was not alone in his time, for in that era Joseph Smith inferred through dreams and visions that he alone was to reorganize the one true Church—and he founded the Mormon church; Charles Russell thought he alone was to reestablish the One True Church—and he founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses church; Ellen White with her visions founded the One True Church of the Seventh Day Adventists. All these received quite a bit of criticism from genuine Christianity around them. All claimed they were patiently enduring persecution (as their followers do today when Christians try to point out their deviations from truth).
We do not lift these things out to destroy, but to heal. Please accept this, not as persecution, but as concerns lifted out in love. We were one of you; we have empathy for how this sounds to you. We know how compelling, how magnetic, how appealing, how intoxicating your cloistered religion is. And beloved, the false doctrine of the One True Church is toxic, quenching the Spirit, diverting worship away from Christ, separating families, causing much pain to thousands.
It brings bondage to commandments of men, and it clouds the true gospel of salvation by faith in the shed blood of Christ on the cross. The “conversion” experiences degenerate into surrendering to God, burning some pictures or radios, and making confessions. Instead of receiving the free gift of salvation, converts try to give God something. Where is saving faith in the cross of Christ? Where is Jesus, the way, the truth, the life?
Brethren, we fear Holdeman conversions are simply surrendering all, totally yielding, emptying the mind, and becoming malleable—to the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. Not to Christ.
Is it safe to say “We’re the Church and we believe this, so it must be right”? Will that stand before God? Will you trust a man’s teaching enough to risk your soul? Is anything worth that?
We long with urgent love for those so mesmerized by a lovely lifestyle (or so paralyzed with fear) that they refuse to even question The Church.
Dear Holdemans, won’t you reconsider? Can you not put the Bible higher than the dusty writings of your “forefathers”? Can there not be a tremendous revival among you? You don’t have to give up your type of worship, your lifestyle, your potlucks and weddings. You don’t have to give up your family circles. Returning to true apostolic Christianity will restore to you your estranged loved ones! It will erase your shame of standing proudly aloof from other Christians. It will rid you of the label of a cult. Your Christian lives can then be filled with joy of the Holy Spirit rather than doubts and fears.
How beautiful would be your congregations if you would again embrace the apostolic faith that Jesus Christ humbled Himself to take on our same flesh, made of the seed of a woman, and become a sinless man, so that as the God-man he could redeem us!
How beautiful would be your congregations if you would focus on and adore the King, the pivot of the universe, the Savior of all who believe that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for their sins! If you would cease trying to reform your behavior in order to find peace, but would know that lost man can give or surrender nothing to Christ—we must helplessly receive His free gift of salvation by faith through grace. Then, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, He changes us.
How beautiful would be your congregations if you would trust the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth, instead of relying on commandments of men! The Bible calls commandments of men "elements of the world"-- worldliness! For “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” How sweet you would find your birthright, “the glorious liberty of the children of God!” How genuine would be your obedience to Jesus, instead of enforced through tradition or fear.
How beautiful would be your congregations if you would bring yourself back into alliance with the Bride of Christ and rejoice in the beautiful vision of true Zion, of every nation, tribe and tongue!
And how beautiful would be your congregations if you would lay down that very, very false doctrine of the One True Denomination and restore again the families you have separated by it. Imagine the rejoicing in heaven when husbands and wives, children and parents, friends and relatives could once again fellowship in unmarred joy! Oh precious, beloved Holdemans, won’t you humble yourselves and allow God to cleanse and free you?
We have sent this letter with a plea for prayer to hundreds of Christian churches in your communities. These Christians are praying for you. So are we, with fervent love.
We are concerned that if you shut your ears to all truth and steadfastly continue worshipping your method of worship instead of Christ, the entire fellowship will gradually lose whatever is left and become more religious—but totally void of Christ. The price is extremely high, but will you continue to honestly search the Scriptures? Are you willing to surrender all for Christ instead of loving and obeying one man’s creation of an outwardly beautiful, inwardly erring denomination?
We can testify from personal experience that the joy of being set free by the truth makes our hearts say: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”
Love letter to the Holdemans:
Whether it be of God and No Proselytes in Zion--a Re-examination: (this is the original pamphlet sent to 2,000 members of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite)
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