Problems At Solid Rock - Follow-Up
Problems At Solid Rock - Follow-Up
Amsterdam, June 3, 1997 Dick Flores, Even though you have never seen fit to reply to my letter of February 12, 1997, I nevertheless think it's prudent to write you once again. I continue to receive reports from current and past members of Solid Rock. Those reports clearly show a pattern of abusive behavior on the part of Solid Rock's leadership - namely you and Suyapa. [...Paragraph witheld to protect identity...] As Ken Blue writes in his book "Healing Spiritual Abuse,"
In Ezekiel 34, a passage I examined in chapter three, God judges the abusive shepherds in Israel because they took care of themselves rather than devoting themselves to the care of the flock (v. 3). Here and elsewhere in Scripture, God makes it clear that shepherds are supposed to be there for the sheep, not the sheep for the shepherd. Woe to the shepherd who abuses the sheep by acting to the contrary! Abusive shepherds tie up various heavy loads and lay them on people's shoulders. Good shepherds take off those loads.
Those who are familiar with what is known as "abusive churches" offer much insight into Solid Rock's current state of affairs - as well as your behavior. The back cover of Ken Blue's "Healing Spiritual Abuse" starts out with the question "Are You A Victim Of Spiritual Abuse?" The very next question, helpful in answering the first, is "Are You Discouraged From Questioning The Decisions And Teachings Church Leaders Make?" In his highly-regarded and often-quoted book "Churches That Abuse" Ronald Enroth addresses the various trademarks of abusive churches. Among them are chapters subtitled with:
James 3:9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. James 3:10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. James 3:11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? James 3:12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. James 3:15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. James 3:16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? James 4:2 You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. James 4:3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:4 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. James 4:5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? James 4:6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.
Dick, I have good insight into how you try and explain the continuing exodus from Solid Rock. Authorities like Ken Blue, Ronald Enroth, Philip Keller ("Predators in Our Pulpits"), and David Johnson & Jeff Van Vonderen ("The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse") address those issues as well. Too, the Internet has made the world a mighty small place. Pensacola, Toronto, England, as well as all of the spiritual leaders you so desperately want to emulate are mere key-strokes away. Claims made in newsletters and conversations (nor, as you notice, your private attempts at character assassination) seldom remain hidden. I have called for you to develop relationships of accountability with local spiritual leaders - not with people halfway around the world in Louisiana, nor in Southern England, nor in Germany. You and Suyapa need spiritual people who can watch your daily walk, and to whose authority you will submit. That is a difficult thing for you to do, as you fear the loss of power, authority and influence. (Do you realize that this is evident even to people who visit Solid Rock for the first time? It is not something I bring up. It is many of your visitors who make these astute observations - indepent of each other's or my input). Developing relationships of accountability (notice, not mutual accountability) is also difficult for you because ex-members of Solid Rock can be found in churches all over Amsterdam. While some of them were strong enough to deal with your control and manipulation themselves, many others have needed counseling and other ministry to have the bondage you have placed them in broken. Solid Rock's reputation as a fringe church led by power-hungry people has preceded you far beyond the borders of this city. Dick , James 4:8-10 offers you a way out of this mess. Pray about it. Read some of the books I have mentioned. And stop lashing out at people. Instead of writing abusive, spiteful letters, you would do well to heed these warnings. After all, you know what the Bible says about those who will not listen:
Mat 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Mat 18:16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' Mat 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Incidentally, as I receive many email inquiries about Solid Rock, from Amsterdam locals to people planning to visit the city, as well as from people who you may have met on your trips to the States, I have added my previous letter to you to my Web site. Later this week, this letter will be added as well. For well over a year many people have warned you about the serious problems addressed in both letters. You have chosen not to listen. Now the church is being told. I pray that you will be able to set aside your anger toward me and others, and that you will make wise, prayerful decisions while heeding the counsel of those who have been sent to warn you. Sincerely, Anton