Connie W. Adams: Then vs. Now
By Jeff Belknap
With all due respect, I have been encouraged in many wonderful ways by older preachers. Unfortunately, I have also experienced discouragement in witnessing the inconsistencies of some of these men. The ultimate lesson to be learned is that I must put my faith in Him who changes not, for men are weak (Psalm 118:8).
Through the years, although brother Connie Adams may not have had much regard for me, I have considered him to be somewhat of a mentor. I have frequently benefited from, and admired his courageous written words of “NO COMPROMISE” regarding false doctrine (examples cited below).
The disappointment then, comes from his recent contradictory teaching and practice which involves his close friends and colleagues (Matthew 7:1-2; 12:37; Romans 2:1-3, 21-22).
First, note what brother Adams unequivocally stated about maintaining fellowship with those who were advocating “adultery” in the past MDR controversy:
“Whether we used good judgment in such identification is now a moot point. The fact is, the pernicious doctrine is being taught, souls are being encouraged to remain in adultery, the peace of local churches is being disrupted. When you fellows get your noses back in joint, would you please take up the sword of the Spirit and help to expose this doctrine for what it is and warn of the devastating moral consequences? Do you really believe that adultery is a matter of indifference with God? That one may, or may not, practice it without divine approval or disapproval? I know how you will answer it. And when you do, you will have to remove it from the realm of things considered in Romans 14. If you know a better way to approach the problem, then by all means do it, but please approach the problem. ‘Speak thou the things which become sound doctrine’ (Tit. 2:11).” Connie W. Adams, [Searching The Scriptures (November, 1989), Volume 30, Number 11]
Secondly, take notice of how brother Adams (in his very own words) has recently described the erroneous teaching of the present MDR controversy:
“It is just as wrong to loose where the Lord has bound as it is to bind where he has not bound. When it comes to the issue of divorce and remarriage, we must be careful to respect exactly what the Lord has said. There is a good deal of tension now over what is being called ‘mental divorce’ in which a party who was put away for some other cause than fornication may later put away a mate who either marries again or else commits adultery after the fact of the divorce. Jesus said, ‘And whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery’ (Matt. 5:32). The same thing is stated in Matthew 19:9. When we have exhausted all the emotional arguments about fairness, and the intricacies of what constitutes ‘putting away,’ these passages will still say what they have always said. We can minimize the matter all we want to and call this an invention of man, but it still is what the Lord said. We can quibble about ‘who gets to the courthouse first’ and the like, but the Lord still said, ‘Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.’ It is not binding where Jesus did not bind to say that one who has been divorced is not free to marry for that is precisely what Jesus said. If what is described here does not constitute a mental dismissal, or a second putting away, after the marriage has ended legally and in fact, then I am at a loss as to what to call it. Our own personal experiences in dealing with difficult marital tangles may be interesting, but they do not set aside what the Lord has plainly said.” Connie W. Adams, [Editorial Left-overs; Truth Magazine (August 19, 2004), Volume XLVIII, Number 16]
In the above quote, Connie acknowledged that the present advocacy of “a mental dismissal or a second putting away” and subsequent marriage to another is what the Master “plainly said” is “adultery.”
Moreover, in brother Adams’ prior quote, he affirmed that adultery is obviously NOT “a matter of indifference with God” (cf. Romans 14).
When adulterous doctrine was being pressed by other brethren in the past, brother Adams admonished brethren who recognized it as false doctrine “to approach the problem,” and called upon them to “help to expose” the teaching that led to adultery. Please note another example of his sound teaching regarding the Ketcherside “unity in diversity” doctrine:
“There are times when the kingdom is on fire. Surging issues swirl about us and some know not which way to turn. When such times arise and storm clouds begin to gather, it is time for every faithful servant of Christ to get down The Book and decide what the truth of God is on that subject and then face up to the problem, whatever it is. Then when error begins to spread to first one congregation and then another, everybody with a water bucket needs to use it and help put out the flame. It will not do then to sit around and ‘preach the principles’ or philosophize on the correct movement of the arms and body in applying the water. Everyone who truly loves the kingdom has one objective in mind and that is to put out the fire.
During the 1950’s and early 60’s when the institutional virus was spreading throughout the nation and the world, there were some who said they agreed with principles of truth, but they settled themselves definitely a-stradle the fence and dangled their feet on both sides. They were above the battle and from their dignified vantage point were thus able to tell all concerned how they really should conduct the battle. Others elected to get in the middle of the road and play in the traffic. Some languished in the valley of indecision and claimed they were ‘studying the issues’ when in reality they were simply stalling and trying to keep from really studying. The truth was not that hard to discover. Now we have some who are conducting post mortems and trying to say that we bungled the job and that if we had manned our buckets with greater finesse, then things would have turned out better.
We are faced today with that problem and many others besides, not the least of which is the Ketcherside unity faction which is appealing to a number of younger men and which has some admirers which are not quite so young. It is not a time for silence, but for ‘sound speech.’ The names of some brethren, prominently known, have been linked with these views. Concerned brethren have asked questions imploring these men to declare themselves. If they are being misrepresented or misunderstood, then what is the harm in saying so, once and for all? When writers attempt two or three times to clear the air, or set the record straight, and still leave the air fogged and the record crooked, then the reason for concern becomes all the more apparent. If brethren were using my name as the advocate of a view which is as compromising and devastating to the truth as is the Ketcherside fallacy then it would not take me long to decide to set the record straight with all deliberate speed. The sooner brethren are alerted to this rising threat to the truth and speak out clearly, in language everyone will understand, then the sooner this false teaching and its proponents can be isolated. Then we can get on with the work at hand.
We long for unity among believers as fervently as anyone. We are for peace, but not at any price. We love our brethren and would like to see every preacher salvaged and standing in the way and asking for the old paths. But we are not going to keep silent while a corps of intellectual elites subvert whole houses and / or whole congregations by quiet maneuvers to capture the minds of the young and impressionable with doctrines of devils. It is unthinkable that men who love the truth could, like Edom of old when Judah was aflame with destruction, stand by on the other side. ‘In the day that thou stoodest on the other side. in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them’ (Obadiah 11). Get your bucket, brother, and help put out the fire!” Connie W. Adams, [When Silence Is Not Golden, Searching The Scriptures (July, 1973), Volume XIV, Number 7, Editorial]
However, more recently, during this present controversy, notice how brother Adams has inconsistently encouraged acceptance / toleration towards those whose teaching he has admitted is advocating “adultery.” If advocacy of continued fellowship with those who teach a doctrine which plainly leads to “adultery” is not a prime example of Ketcherside’s “unity in diversity,” then I humbly ask, what is?
Moreover, please note how brother Adams condemns those who draw lines in the present controversy over adultery, when he himself called for lines to be drawn in previous controversies. Note how he vilifies those who are helping to “put out the fire” of this current adulterous teaching, which is undeniably corrupting the Lord’s church (cf. I Corinthians 5:6-9; Galatians 5:9, 19-21; Revelation 2:14, 20-22):
“I concur in the warnings Weldon has sounded about factionalism. The tendency to splinter and then splinter the splinter, over every point of difference is much in evidence these days. The drawing of lines and choosing of sides early in any controversy, does a disservice to the cause of Christ. It does not become any of us to develop tunnel vision and focus on one issue to the neglect of other needed things. Neither is it helpful to array brethren against one another and seek to drive wedges. None of us reacts very well to attempts to treat us as puppets on a string who jump when the string is pulled by some nervous brother who seems to know exactly what you need to say, to whom, when to say it, and how to go about it. This is not the first time Weldon and I have openly differed over this issue of divorce and remarriage. In 1985, when Weldon was writing the question and answer column in Searching the Scriptures, his reply to a question on this subject prompted a response from me (so I guess turn about is fair play) and led to an exchange between Weldon and Jim Deason. Each of us said what we had to say and then moved on to other things.” Connie W. Adams, [Reply to “Some Thoughts on Divorce and Remarriage,” Truth Magazine (Volume XLIX, Number 9), May 5, 2005]
“‘Strife, seditions and heresies’ are all works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). Strife is friction and it begins within the heart. It then seeks company and then those of like mind begin to pull apart from the rest. That is division in motion. That is ‘sedition.’ ‘Heresies’ involves the crystallizing of tenets to give legitimacy to the division. That becomes ‘the horse they rode out on.’ We must not become one issue people. Hobby horses are dangerous critters to ride. It is hard to escape the conclusion that some have become hobby riders when we have websites devoted entirely to this one issue. Papers can become unbalanced the same way. In the minds of some this issue has become a litmus test as to whether or not some of us can work together in a private publishing business which is not the church, is not supported by contributions from churches, and which does not attempt to do the work of the church.” Connie W. Adams, [Reply to “Some Thoughts on Divorce and Remarriage,” Truth Magazine (Volume XLIX, Number 9), May 5, 2005]
“Over the years. we have been as close as any brothers in the flesh could ever be. He is a good student of the word and an able preacher of it as well. Our lives have been brought together as entertainers, preachers, in debates, in publishing work (both with Searching the Scriptures and Truth Magazine), and now we are grandpas-in-law! We don’t intend to stop being friends.” Connie W. Adams, [Reply to “Some Thoughts on Divorce and Remarriage,” Truth Magazine (Volume XLIX, Number 9), May 5, 2005]
It is sad to note that in the above (most recent) quotes, brother Adams clearly describes and condemns his own, earlier actions. When brother Adams had called on brethren to “put out the fire” of error in the past, was he not (by his own, recent definition) treating them as “puppets on a string” and trying to get them to “jump”? Was he not seeking to “array brethren against one another,” and to “drive wedges” when he said, “The sooner brethren are alerted to this rising threat to the truth and speak out clearly, in language everyone will understand, then the sooner this false teaching and its proponents can be isolated?” Was he not seeking company, so that those of like mind would begin to pull apart (isolate) from the rest who taught false doctrine?
Connie says that “the drawing of lines and choosing of sides early in any controversy, does a disservice to the cause of Christ.” Yet, in the very same paragraph, Connie admits that he has maintained fellowship with brother Warnock since 1985 when they first “openly differed over this issue” that results in adultery. Yet, how long did he wait to draw lines with the Ketcherside error and discourage fellowship with it (isolate it)? How long did he wait to draw lines with FC for its failure to fully address the error that was taught within its corridors [see The Days of Creation, Truth Magazine (July 6, 2000)]? How long did he wait to draw lines with those defending brother Hailey’s doctrine and the ensuing contention that adultery can be placed under the umbrella of Romans 14? Would brother Adams have advocated unending fellowship (20 years and counting) with “proponents” of the alien sinner is not amenable false doctrine, for those who were close friends and grandpas-in-law?
Brother Adams has indisputably taught that the post-divorce “putting away” and marriage to another doctrine is in violation of Jesus’ ruling that “he who marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Considering this admission, why does he not encourage others to expose it (as he did in previous controversies) by saying such things as: “If you know a better way to approach the problem, then by all means do it, but please approach the problem.”…“When you fellows get your noses back in joint, would you please take up the sword of the Spirit and help to expose this doctrine for what it is and warn of the devastating moral consequences?”…“It is not a time for silence, but for ‘sound speech.’”…“But we are not going to keep silent while a corps of intellectual elites subvert whole houses and / or whole congregations by quiet maneuvers to capture the minds of the young and impressionable with doctrines of devils.”… “Get your bucket, brother, and help put out the fire!”
Instead, he inconsistently labels those who expose the current admittedly adulterous doctrine as one issue, hobby-riding, wedge-driving, litmus testing, puppeteers with tunnel vision. Amazing!
Regarding those who were promoting brother Hailey’s teaching, brother Adams stated, “The fact is, the pernicious doctrine is being taught, souls are being encouraged to remain in adultery, the peace of local churches is being disrupted.” However, he now implies that promoters of the present “pernicious doctrine” that results in “souls (who) are being encouraged to remain in adultery,” are peace-loving brethren. Moreover, he portrays those who expose this soul-condemning error as the ones who are responsible for disrupting “the peace of local churches” (cf. James 3:17; I Peter 4:4).
I think it is sadly remarkable that brother Adams would publicly assert that the doctrine which he himself has judged as advocating “adultery” should not be “a litmus test” of working “together” with one whom he describes as “close.” Consider how the misuse of the expression “a litmus test” was exposed as irrational by brother Adams’ colleagues in the previous MDR controversy:
“In a sermon on ‘Fellowship’ at Concord, NC, brother Owen was asked about those who would make the divorce and remarriage issue a test of fellowship. Brother Owen responded, “But that of course, is what I had in mind a moment ago when I used the expression, ‘a litmus test.’ In the last several years, some brethren have focused on the divorce and remarriage issues. And have pushed it to the point that if anybody differs with them on that point, they not only say I don’t agree with you, or I teach something different, but they’re using this label, ‘You become a false teacher.’” Donnie Rader, (A Response to Bob Owen’s Statement About My Lecture)
“The doctrine of Christ does not allow judgments – either we obey or we do not obey the doctrine of Christ. The expression ‘litmus test’ has been used. Brother Pickup used the word ‘case law.’ When you use the word ‘case law’ and apply that to the music question or the Lord’s Supper or institutionalism, the doctrine of Christ is clear. The doctrine of Christ is clear on the matter of the Lord’s Supper. Now call that ‘case law’ if you want to, call that a ‘litmus test’ if you want. The doctrine of Christ is understandable, the doctrine of Christ is teachable.” Tom Roberts, [Fellowship, Tom Roberts Rebuttal to Harry Pickup, Jr. (February, 2000)]
If brother Adams is willing to explain his reasoning as to why the consequences of the previous adulterous doctrine are different from the present adulterous doctrine, I offer him space on the MentalDivorce.com website to do so (Proverbs 28:4; cf. Jude 3-4).
I would welcome some insight that could rectify the apparent inconsistency (cf. Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 13:22). However, if brother Adams cannot explain the difference, then with all due respect, I sincerely and humbly ask him to heed his own previous plea made to those brethren who understood that adultery was at stake in the previous controversy (Proverbs 23:23):
“Whether we used good judgment in such identification (or in a ‘one issue’ website, jhb) is now a moot point. The fact is, the pernicious doctrine is being taught, souls are being encouraged to remain in adultery, the peace of local churches is being disrupted. When you fellows get your noses back in joint, would you please take up the sword of the Spirit and help to expose this doctrine for what it is and warn of the devastating moral consequences? Do you really believe that adultery is a matter of indifference with God? That one may, or may not, practice it without divine approval or disapproval? I know how you will answer it. And when you do, you will have to remove it from the realm of things considered in Romans 14. If you know a better way to approach the problem, then by all means do it, but please approach the problem. ‘Speak thou the things which become sound doctrine’ (Tit. 2:11).” Connie W. Adams, [Searching The Scriptures (November, 1989), Volume 30, Number 11]