Florida School of Preaching Board of Directors and/or To Whom It May Concern

David Watson

A published piece (of junk) ap­peared in the April 2009 issue of The Harvester, the official publication of the Florida School of Preaching in Lakeland, FL, titled “To Whom It May Concern.” The piece began by stating: “Occasionally the Florida School of Preaching receives requests for infor­mation regarding the policy or position of the school on a given issue. The ques­tions may come to a faculty member or a member of the Board of Directors.”

I would certainly hope that the school would receive requests for infor­mation regarding the policy or position of the school since the school solicits the support of the brotherhood. In that very same issue of The Harvester Brian R. Kenyon published an article in which he solicited support for the school saying:

Since 1969, the Lord’s work through us has faithfully involved training men to preach the Gospel and preparing souls to better serve the Lord. We thank our supporters for making this possible. If you are not familiar with this work and would like to know more, feel free to contact the school. Gene Burgett or I would be happy to visit and inform you or your congregation. A published piece (of junk) ap­peared in the April 2009 issue of The Harvester, the official publication of the Florida School of Preaching in Lakeland, FL, titled “To Whom It May Concern.” The piece began by stating: “Occasionally the Florida School of Preaching receives requests for infor­mation regarding the policy or position of the school on a given issue. The ques­tions may come to a faculty member or a member of the Board of Directors.”

I would certainly hope that the school would receive requests for infor­mation regarding the policy or position of the school since the school solicits the support of the brotherhood. In that very same issue of The Harvester Brian R. Kenyon published an article in which he solicited support for the school saying:

Since 1969, the Lord’s work through us has faithfully involved training men to preach the Gospel and preparing souls to better serve the Lord. We thank our supporters for making thiswhich he solicited support for the school saying:

Since 1969, the Lord’s work through us has faithfully involved training men to preach the Gospel and preparing souls to better serve the Lord. We thank our supporters for making this possible. If you are not familiar with this work and would like to know more, feel free to contact the school. Gene Burgett or I would be happy to visit and inform you or your congregation.

Also, that very same issue of The Harvester printed, “Special Thanks To Our Wonderful Supporters in Febru­ary 2009” naming “Florida Churches of Christ,” “Out of State Churches of Christ,” Individuals,” “Memorials,” and “Special Gifts” that were contribu­tors to the school.

The published piece (of junk) continued: “One dismissed faculty member of years gone by addresses us through publications that we do not receive. However, others send it to us desiring that we see the great love and concern our former traveler has for us.”

Would the “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by” happen to be brother Terry Hightower? Would “the publications that we do not receive” happen to include Defender? Would the address happen to be brother Terry Hightower’s, “Open Letter to Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board” which was published in the September 2008 issue of De­fender?

If so, the reference to brother Hightower as “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by” sounds very much like the attempts made by the Pharisees and lawyers who rejected the council of God against themselves (Luke 7:30) when they tried to discredit what John said by saying “He hath a devil” (Mat. 11:18; Luke 7:33). This snide remark concerning brother High­tower also sounds very much like the attempts made by those same Pharisees and lawyers who rejected the council of God against themselves (Luke 7:30) when they tried to discredit what Jesus said by saying that He was “a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Mat. 11:19; Luke 7:34).

Would Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board be willing to publish a full and complete account concerning the “one dis­missed faculty member of years gone by”? Would Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board be willing to make it known that the “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by” was dismissed simply because he was ready to give an answer (1 Pet. 3:15) to every man that asked him a reason concerning his position on the subject of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

Would Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preach­ing Board also be willing to make it known that Jackie Stearsman holds and teaches the same position on the same subject, as does the “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by”? Would Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board further be willing to make it known that the “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by” who was dismissed by the former Director of the school has since then been employed by the current Director of the school (Jackie Stearsman) to do “the Lord’s work” by “faithfully…training men to preach the Gospel and preparing souls to better serve the Lord.” Would Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board be willing to tell people that the “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by” has since then been repeatedly invited to write and speak for and on the Florida School of Preaching Lectureship? Would Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board be willing to document the fact that the “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by” has since then been used repeatedly to substitute teach for Brian Kenyon? Would the Florida School of Preaching Board members who are also elders of the South Florida Avenue congregation be willing to reveal the fact that they have repeatedly used the “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by” since then in a few VBS series for the South Florida Avenue congregation? How hypocritical they are!

Several years ago when I was serving as the Associate Editor of the original Gospel Journal, I received a published piece from Jackie Stearsman. The published piece was Stan Crowley’s Beeville, TX, lecture wherein he set forth his er­rors on the subject of marriage and divorce and remarriage. Jackie Stearsman called this published piece a “masterpiece.” Jackie Stearsman suggested that this piece be published in the original Gospel Journal. Now, if I were to stop right here and say no more concerning this incident I would be doing Jackie Stearsman a great disservice. It is true that I received a copy of Stan Crowley’s Beeville, TX, lecture from Jackie Stearsman. Further, it is true that Jackie Stearsman called this published piece a “masterpiece.” It is also true that Jackie Stearsman suggested that this piece be published in the original Gospel Journal. But, it is not true that Jackie Stearsman agreed with the material. Jackie Stearsman did all of this with sarcasm. Jackie Stearsman actually viewed the published piece of Stan Crowley as error. I am sure that Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board would not want to be done such a disservice. Yet, they now do such a disservice to “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by.” How despicable!

The published piece (of junk) went on to say: “However, others send it to us desiring that we see the great love and concern our former traveler has for us.” I believe that this statement is saturated with sarcasm. But whether it is or not, it is still the case that brother Hightower’s address did in­deed express great love and concern for Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board. I quote from brother Hightower’s opening remarks:

Beloved Jackie and Board of the Florida School of Preaching: I pray that this Open Letter will be received with the recogni­tion of my love for you and the school not as some hostile critic, but as one who has been privileged to teach for eight years part-time and two wonderful years (84-86) full-time at Florida School Of Preaching (hereafter FSOP), as one who has encour­aged many persons over the years to contribute financially to this much-loved and valuable institution begun so many years ago by brother B. C. Carr, and as one who has even fairly re­cently encouraged a young man to move from Texas to central Florida to attend classes with you. Surely through your request that I write chapters for and return to speak at numerous FSOP lectureships you have implied and recognized my high regard for you and the school you oversee. Thus, you know that my attitude toward you is that of Paul’s when he wrote to the Gala­tian brethren: “So then am I become your enemy, by telling you the truth?” (Gal. 4:16).

Is this published piece (of junk) in The Harvester a display of the great love and concern that Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board of Directors have for brother Hightower? To say that the person who wrote this published piece (of junk) was/is lower than a snake’s belly might seem too harsh to some so instead I will quote the words of Jesus who said: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers” (Mat. 23:33).

Notice also that this published piece (of junk) called brother Hightower their “former traveler.” The Bible says that two cannot walk together except they be agreed (Amos 3:3). Obviously, Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board are admitting that they are no longer in agreement with brother Terry Hightower as they once were. The fact is that Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board have changed from the path that they once walked concerning fellowship of false teachers (like Dave Miller). That change of path is what prompted brother Hightower’s open letter.

The published piece (of junk) went on to state: “Each year at the annual lectureship, time is spent studying topics and responding to written questions on these topics.” Does this mean that “requests for information regarding the policy or position of the school on a given issue” will be addressed at the annual lectureship? Would Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board be willing to publish a full and complete account of the time a prospective stu­dent from Texas traveled to the Florida School of Preaching annual lectureship to request information regarding the policy and position of the school of the given subject of fellowship of false teachers (like Dave Miller)? Would they be willing to reveal that the prospective student was, in a very unchristian like manner, told that his questions would not be answered at all? So much for Jackie Stearsman and/or the Florida School of Preaching Board responding biblically to requests for information regarding the policy or position of the school on any given subject.

The published piece (of junk) next stated: “Those who are truly interested in the position of the school on a given issue may consult the school publica­tion, The Harvester, for insight into such matters.” Would Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board be willing to publish a full and complete response in The Harvester to requests for informa­tion regarding the policy or position of the school on a given issue? The fact is that if they had done so there would have been no need for brother Hightower to write and publish his open letter. It is also a fact that since brother Hightower published his open letter, Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board have made at least three attempts to answer brother Hightower in The Har­vester. The first attempt was when they published an article by Wayne Jackson on “Church Controversies” in October 2008. That article had already received a review by brother Bruce Stulting in the September 2008 issue of Contend­ing For The Faith. A second attempt was made when Jackie Stearsman published “Some Reflections On The Interrogation Of Jesus” in the same October 2008 issue. Obviously they were not satisfied with their first or second attempts, so a third attempt was made when Jackie Stearsman published his article “Is the Bible Vague? Can We Learn by Logical Implication?” in the November 2008 issue. Notice that all three of these articles are referenced in the published piece (of junk) under review.

The published piece (of junk) made the following claim: “It has been a principle of the school to avoid, as much as possible, the controversies that may arise from those whom the Board considers to be sowing discord among brethren.” This claim is known to be false to anyone who has any knowl­edge of the school since its beginning in 1969 under its original Director, brother B. C. Carr. Do the publishers of this piece (of junk) not know the history of the school they work for and with, or are they purposely ignoring the facts of history? A refresher course can be provided to them if needed.

This published piece (of junk) stated: “Men have been dismissed in the past from being faculty members whom the Board considered lacking in wisdom and unwilling to comply with the judg­ments of the Board and Director of the school.” Is this another reference to the “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by” in an attempt to discredit his open letter without even identifying him by name or having to deal with his request for information regarding the policy or position of the school on a given subject (such as fellowship of the false teacher Dave Miller)? What a smear tactic!

This published piece (of junk) continued: “Some who have spoken on lectures and even taught classes for the school would not be used today. Why? Because the Board does not have confidence in them.” I can certainly understand why they do not want brother Terry Hightower or a number of other faithful brethren speaking on their lectureship or teaching classes for the school now since they know that he/they would expose their fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness as the Bible demands (Eph. 5:11). The fact is they do indeed have confidence that brother Hightower and other faithful brethren would obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). They do in fact have confidence that brother Hightower and other faithful brethren would be unwilling to comply with the judgments of the Board and Director of the school to extend fellowship to false teachers (like Dave Miller). They have not lost confi­dence in brother Hightower or in other faithful brethren. They have lost confidence in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9-11).

This published piece (of junk) further stated: “The Board will not be dominated by any individual or group of individuals whether near or from afar in whom the Board has no confidence.” Since when do “requests for informa­tion regarding the policy or position of the school on a given issue” constitute an attempt to “dominate”? The fact is that they cannot respond truthfully to requests for information regarding the policy or position of the school on the given issue of fellowship of false teach­ers (like Dave Miller) without involving themselves in obvious inconsisten­cies concerning their preaching and practice. Thus they claim that such requests coming from faithful former and prospective students, and from faithful former faculty members, and from faithful truly concerned brethren constitute an attempt to “dominate.” How pathetic!

The published piece (of junk) proclaimed: “When asked questions, we must make a judgment as to the purpose and objective of the questioner.” Jesus commanded that such a judg­ment be righteous and not be accord­ing to appearance (John 7:24). Yet, they have made an unrighteous judg­ment concerning the “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by” and they have at­tempted to mislead the readers of their published piece (of junk) into making a judgment according to appearance concerning the “one dismissed faculty member of years gone by.” When they receive a request for information regarding the policy or position of the school on a given issue why not just answer the question and then cite Bible to back it up? How hard is that for the Director and/or the Board and/or a fac­ulty member of a school of preaching?

The published piece (of junk) de­clared: “However, we will not violate our conscience (Rom. 14:23; 1 John 3:20-22) in order to provide a momen­tary acceptance to those whom we do not trust or with whom we may have lost confidence.” This is an amazing statement! Are they now saying that if they respond to a request for informa­tion regarding the policy or position of the school on a given issue (such as fellowship of false teachers like Dave Miller) that such a response will violate their conscience and damn or condemn their souls (Rom. 14:23; 1 John 3:20-21)? Are they now saying that if they respond to a request for information regarding the policy or position of the school on a given subject (such as fel­lowship of false teachers like Dave Mill­er) that a refusal to respond is actually according to God’s commandments and is actually pleasing to God (1 John 3:22)? If that is what they are now say­ing then they have departed from the faith, they have given heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, they have started speaking lies in hypocrisy, and their conscience has been seared with a hot iron (1 Tim. 4:1-2).

The published piece (of junk) contin­ued: “Therefore, when questions are ignored from the school administration or Board it should not be considered as cowardice, fearfulness, or ignorance.” The questions of brother Hightower and others are obviously not being ignored. This is now the fourth time an attempt has been made to deal with them but not in the way that the Bible would demand. These men are not ig­norant of what the Bible teaches. Their knowledge of what the Bible teaches is, in fact, the very reason they will not deal with the questions, as they should. But their actions do indicate cowardice and fearfulness.

The published piece (of junk) claimed: “Only one reason would keep the Board from responding to ques­tions from any inquirer, ‘The Board does not trust nor have confidence in the questioner.’ ” What difference does it really make as to whether the Board trusts the inquirer? What difference does it really make as to whether the Board has confidence in the person or persons making the request for information? Are Jackie Stearsman and the Florida School of Preaching Board claim­ing omniscience when it comes to making “a judgment as to the purpose and objective of the questioner”? The apostle Peter said: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).

The published piece (of junk) con­cludes: “This is not a new policy, and it has characterized the school for forty years.” This is not true! Their present policy is in fact a new policy. Their policy has not characterized the school for forty years. I know this from the following facts: I have been a student of the school; I am a graduate of the school; I am a former instructor for the school; I am a former director of an extension branch of the school; I am a former supporter of the school; I am a former speaker on the school lecture­ship program. I have been associated with the school since 1973 and thus go back to within just a few years of the schools beginning.

2490 Larkspur Ave; Middleburg, FL 32068

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