"In 1984, representatives (elders and preachers) from several of Central Florida's churches of Christ gathered at the Concord St. Church of Christ in Orlando" to hold a heresy trial for Jack Exum. "The purpose of this meeting was to discuss several doctrinal issues with Brother Exum and to determine, based on his answers, whether or not he should be allowed to be a speaker at the 1984 Spiritual Growth Workshop." (Defender, April 1986, published by the Bellview Church of Christ, Pensacola, FL.) Isn't that interesting? Reminds me of the Roman Catholic Church officials and clergymen who did the same thing to Martin Luther! The same motivation characterized both efforts.
Well, these brethren "ganged up" on Brother Exum, put him on trial and "examined" him to decide if he was aligned with their creed. It is nearly certain that there were more preachers present than elders and that the preachers instigated and largely conducted the whole affair. At least, Brother Exum, like Martin Luther, had the courage to present himself before them and suffer their heresy examination. Whether it is wise or not, even right in God's sight, to subject oneself to such an unholy alliance of men engaged in such unholy action, is open to question. Personally, I would not recognize such a conclave of men by going before them for judgment. They are not my judge! (Rom. 14:4, 10.) They are cheap imitations of the Roman Catholic Church clergy.
It must have been very interesting ecclesiastical doings. Keep in mind now that this was not one church, with its elders, holding this heresy trial. Please note that it was "representatives...from several Central Florida churches." If that is not convening an ecclesiastical council, there is no way to do it. Were these "representatives" elected by the churches or did they elect themselves? Note that only "elders and preachers" can serve in such high and holy work. This was a joint or cooperative synod of church officials from that geographical area, claiming to be "representatives" for these churches. I suspect that 90% of the people had no knowledge whatever of this action. Yet these elders and preachers have the audacity to condemn the Roman Catholic Church, Baptist Churches and others for the same type of district or universal church action.
And what did this "high court" decide about Jack Exurn? Here is an account of the rendered verdict:
"After much deliberation and many questions asked by the area brethren concerning Brother Exum's position on marriage, divorce, and remarriage, his stand on Crossroads and his fellowship with them, and his position on Unity in Diversity movement, it was determined that Brother Exum not be used at the Workshop."
In other words, these presumptuous men took it upon themselves to decide for all the Central Florida churches and pass judgment upon Exum. He was judged a heretic and officially excommunicated by this human council which measured him by its own creed. Shades of Catholicism!
Brethren this practice is growing all over the nation; but as yet is not quite so blatant everywhere; but given time it will only get worse. This is a rather common practice by the preachers in their own "councils" or minister's meetings. They approve or disapprove of one preacher or another; and try to keep them all in line. The action is not as open, but the marking and excommunicating that they do is very effective.
The Defender reports that "many brethren in Central Florida areas thought that was, indeed, a step in the right direction in the defeat of certain liberalistic tendencies that have entered into the church of the Lord." You can count on it that the "many brethren" referred to are mainly preachers. The people in the pews have no voice or vote in such matters. In fact, most of them will never really know about such actions and decisions.
It is reported also that:
"The Highland Church of Christ in Lakeland, FL has been marked and disfellowshipped by sound, faithful brethren because of their fellowship with the Crossroads Church of Christ in Gainesville, FL., their fellowship with the Boston Church of Christ in Boston, Massachusetts, their endorsements of Brothers Rubel Shelly and Joe Beam and their views on fellowship and many more questionable practices to which there has been no repudiation nor denial."
The Highlands Church, with its own elders, can't make its own decisions. Because the church refused to line up as these "representatives" prescribe, then that church is excommunicated! That church actually committed the "sin" of "endorsing" Rubel Shelly and Joe Beam, two preachers who are under the ban of these usurpers of the place of Jesus Christ.
The Roman Catholic Church spirit of the inquisition is upon us in full swing. It is as evil today as it was during the dark ages. Preachers must properly align themselves, teach and preach as approved or prescribed or else be prepared for the heresy trials and excommunication. May God grant them the courage to withstand and to expose this wickedness. That sort of vicious intolerance cannot be allowed to go without exposure for what it is and for what it does.
To the people in the pews: Does it make any difference to you? Do you care? Are you willing to just go along to get along with whomever wins in this struggle for and against freedom and truth? "All that is needed for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."