Note: This article (with debate propositions below) was mailed via USPS to brother Weldon Warnock on 3-18-04.
Brother Warnock’s Seventh & Eighth Weeks in a Row
By Jeff Belknap
The continued conduct by brother Warnock that has been publicized over Southern West Virginia’s local air waves to far more denominational people than brethren, has gone beyond imagination. Before his lesson on March 7th, he stated, “There are some things I want to say before we have another song and get into our lesson this evening.” Then, on March the 14th, during his eighth radio program in a row addressing the same subject, he said, “there’s a couple, three things I want to say that we’ve been on the last two or three weeks...” No, it wasn’t just “the last two or three weeks.” And, to see the things he is referring to, check the links provided at the end of this article.
In June of 2002, brother Warnock wrote the individual church members in Beckley to make a complaint. He thought it was “unfair” for me to have quoted from his public teaching (in 1985) without the complete version of the exchange between himself and brother Jim Deason (See: Public Correspondence With Weldon E. Warnock). Hence, I immediately requested and was granted permission from brethren Deason and Adams to post the entire exchange on my website. I did so to accommodate brother Warnock. That was almost two years ago (See: The Warnock-Deason Exchange).
Brother Warnock has been presenting the Beech Creek-sponsored radio program for two years. After his complaint to the church here, we heard absolutely nothing from him regarding this issue until several months ago. It was only after the men of the Carriage Drive church had questioned brother Tom O’Neal regarding his teaching on divorce and remarriage that his radio broadcasts began to address the controversy. Then, it was shortly after we actually cancelled the meeting with brother O’Neal that Weldon provided him with the names and addresses of all of our members, to whom brother O’Neal sent an 11 page letter of false accusations and evil surmisings against me. At the same point in time, brother Warnock increased the frequency of his addresses on this topic of controversy to every single broadcast for eight weeks in a row (and counting).
From all the previous transcripts of Weldon’s broadcasts, prior to the two mentioned here, the focus of his disapproval surrounded his perception that I am causing “dissention in the church.” He claims that I “led the brethren” to cancel brother O’Neal’s meeting and that I made the current issue of controversy a “test of fellowship.” Notice a few of his prior statements:
“…Some fellows have come along today, and they have become adamant and zealots for it, and ah, they’re right, it’s all black and white, and if you don’t agree with me, you’re a heretic, and that’s nonsense. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s the most absurd thing I ever saw or heard of in all of my life.” (emp. jhb). Weldon E. Warnock, [2-8-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.] Play Clip!
“My, my, my, what have we come to? And he causes dissention in the church, and unrest in the church, and confusion in the church…” (emp. jhb). Weldon E. Warnock, [2-22-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.] Play Clip!
“But you’ve got some who want to make it a test of fellowship. They’ve drawn the line. And, they cancel meetings. If you don’t line up with them, they’ll cancel your meetings.” (emp. jhb). Weldon E. Warnock, [2-22-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.]
“And yet, this preacher in Southern WV, led the brethren to cancel a preacher’s meeting in Tampa. He was from Tampa, FL, that, you can’t come to hold a meeting.” (emp. jhb). Weldon E. Warnock, [2-22-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.]
It is clear that his use of the radio program has been a reaction to the questioning of brother O’Neal and the cancellation of his gospel meeting. The previous transcripts of Weldon’s lessons show that he had knowledge of various details of brother O’Neal’s correspondence with the church here. Weldon also assisted brother O’Neal to send out his infamous 11 page letter. The timing of that letter coincided with the onset of brother Warnock’s continuous usage of the radio program as his “outlet.” The reason for the focus of his broadcasts is self-evident.
However, in spite of the undeniable focus from the outset of his broadcasts, during his last two radio programs, brother Warnock has repeatedly made the claim that I was the one who started this. On 3-7-04, he stated, “this whole issue on this marriage, divorce and remarriage was introduced by him on his website,” and “But just keep in mind that this brother introduced me on the website. I didn’t bring it up, and if he hadn’t introduced me, this would never have been discussed whatsoever.”
Also, on 3-14-04, Weldon stated, “Ha, ha, no, no, na, this man in Southern WV friends, revived it, he brought it up on his website and that’s a fact and you know it,” and “And he introduced this issue and you know it, back there a couple years or more ago, and I simply responded to it and then he refuses to have a public discussion.”
Brother Warnock’s most recent rationalization for why he began to discuss differences over this issue in his radio programs simply does not harmonize with the content of all his other broadcasts on this issue, nor with the timing of his topic-oriented broadcasts’ onset. Regrettably, it is obvious that he is the one who started this recent radio/website exchange, not me.
Additionally, on his 3-7-04 radio program, Weldon made me a proposal. He said, “you just remove my name from that website and all the material and then I won’t have to deal with this, will I?” He also stated, “I think that’s a fair proposition.” And since I did not capitulate to his unreasonable demand, he said in his subsequent radio program of 3-14-04: “And you wonder about the motive of a person that wants to keep this thing going…”
I find it ironic that brother Warnock states, “I’m ready to defend what I preach,” but apparently he only wants to defend it before the brethren in Beckley, WV. This is evident, since he wants me to “remove” his public teaching from my website (that is available throughout the brotherhood), in order to be “fair.” Two years ago, fair to brother Warnock was posting an entire exchange instead of a quote (which I did). NOW, “fair” means to take that exchange - as well as everything else with his “name” on it - off of the website.
He has claimed that he strongly believes his post-divorce “putting away” doctrine. Moreover, he denies that he has misrepresented me in any way. Why then, if he believes he has neither taught nor done any wrong, would he want all the material regarding him removed from my website?
[Weldon has made several complaints recently, that I have charged him with misrepresentation but have not specified what he has misrepresented. Yet, in his broadcasts, he references the very articles which clearly specified them! Please note that his misrepresentations are specifically stated under the self-explanatory sub-headings of “Weldon’s Misrepresentations” (see: Brother Warnock’s 19 Year Progression of Error) and “His Misrepresentation of the Facts and Emotional Cases” (see: Brother Warnock's Fifth & Sixth Weeks in a Row)]
So according to Weldon, his repetitious airing of the church’s “dirty laundry” on a public broadcast is my fault for having started it, which charge I have proven to be false. Further, it is his contention that it is my fault for keeping “this thing going” because I won’t remove the documents which expose his public teaching from my website.
Nevertheless, if brother Warnock really believed that it was his obligation to “deal with” me and my teaching, he couldn’t have made such a “proposition.” So, it is clear that his more than eight weeks of disparaging public broadcasts about “trouble” “in the church of Christ” “in Southern WV” and “in Beckley” is purely voluntary – something that he uses as leverage to serve his own purpose, not the Lord’s. It is indisputable that Weldon’s radio tirades are damaging to the cause of Christ in this area, yet he doesn’t let that get in the way of what he perceives he has to “deal with” to promote his own interests (cf. Philippians 2:21).
Yet ironically, in his 3-14-04 radio program he wonders of others, “where honor is in all of this.”
Contrariwise, the reason I am reproving the post-divorce “putting away” doctrine is that it leads to adultery, making its exposure a matter of necessity (Ephesians 5:11, 13; James 4:17). Not to expose such perilous teaching would render me a “dumb dog” (Isaiah 56:10; 58:1; cf. Obadiah 11). Additionally, failure to expose error that is taught directly before me, as Weldon has done via his Beckley radio program, would involve me in the sin of having “partiality” in my obedience to the Lord’s command to rebuke it (I Timothy 5:20-21; cf. Proverbs 17:15). It would indicate my consent to the error’s “increase” (II Timothy 2:16; James 4:7; I Peter 5:8-9) and would make provision for the error to “eat as doth a canker” (II Timothy 2:17; Titus 1:9-14). Moreover, it would cause the blood of those deceived due to the spread of this false doctrine, to be upon my head (Ezekiel 3:17-19; 33:6-9; Acts 20:26-31).
If I allowed harassment or proposals to deter me from my duty to expose false doctrine, I would not be “set for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:7, 17; cf. James 3:17). In that event, I would not be doing “the work of an evangelist” by preaching the word “out of season” (II Timothy 4:1-5). Furthermore, I would not be faithful “through God to the pulling down of strong holds,” nor in “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” or “having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience” (II Corinthians 10:4-6; Ephesians 6:10-17).
Finally, if I did not fight against this error as “a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (I Timothy 1:18; 6:12; II Timothy 2:3-4) when I have the ability to do so, I would be among the cowardly men pleasers (Galatians 1:10; Revelation 21:8). It is my wish that obedience to our Lord would please all men, but when such is not the case, our choice is clear (cf. Acts 4:19; 5:29).
The only circumstance under which I would be authorized to remove the documentation of brother Warnock’s public propagation of error, is if he publicly renounced it. In such a case, I would be more than happy to remove the material that reveals his propagation of the second “putting away” doctrine (a.k.a. “mental divorce”).
In Weldon’s last broadcast (3-14-04), he also makes reference to a post that was recently added to the Encouraging Reader Responses section of my website, doubting its authenticity since the source was not named (just as none of the other authors of reader responses were named). Weldon stated:
“And I was told that he has some statements from men up there, a few of them, one who claims that he roomed with me in college many years ago and disappointed. Well, I can’t figure out who that one would be. I know one I roomed with, he passed away, back some time ago, so it wouldn’t be him, and then another one, I know real well, a good friend, I’m sure it’s not him. And I don’t know who in the world it would be and some of them, they’ve apostatized, I don’t know who he’s talking about, but no name. And if he was so interested in me, disappointed in me, whoever this man was, who this brother was that wrote him an e-mail and said he was disappointed in me, looks like he would have got in touch with me. Ha, ha, ha, if he’s not interested in me. Sometimes I just wonder whether that’s true or not, what he said that he was my roommate in college. You see what I’m dealing with, ladies and gentlemen, in all of this?” (emp. jhb). Weldon E. Warnock, [3-14-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.]
The reader response that brother Warnock made reference to is stated below:
“Dear Jeff, I just finished studying the 15 page, Fifth & Sixth Weeks. Weldon Warnock was my room mate @ FCC. He has gone on the greater things, and so did Solomon. I am sad and could, and do cry, that he has taken the false position on MDR. Why? Oh! Why? Can’t he listen to my good friend Connie Adams, who was also at FCC with Weldon and myself, and by the way is not a boy! You can use this message anyway you would like. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. I did not have to ask anyone to explain what the bible teaches on MDR. 3-4-04” See Encouraging Reader Responses
Because the above response plainly grants permission for me to reveal the author’s identity, I will answer brother Weldon’s doubts by revealing that the statement was written by a brother named Billy Ray Ford.
Twice in his 3-14-04 lesson, brother Warnock made the statement about me that “he refuses to have a public discussion.” However, I have refused no such thing! In my previous articles, I have been pleading for “a public discussion” but within various publications so that everyone can benefit! The written word is a powerful medium (John 20:30-31; I John 5:13)!
To show you the seriousness of my desire to have this “public discussion,” I have personally called brother J. T. Smith, editor of Gospel Truths and brother Danny Brown, editor of Preceptor magazine to ask if they would be willing to print a written exchange on post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication between brother Weldon Warnock and myself if brother Warnock were to agree, and they both said “yes!” Furthermore, it is the desire of a host of brethren that Truth Magazine also open up the door to an exchange on this issue as well!
For Weldon to say of me, “he refuses to have a public discussion,” and then to repeat that inaccurate statement a second time over the public airwaves, is simply another example of how he has a way of misrepresenting the facts! What brother Warnock really means is that I refused his own personal dictates as to the kind and place of debate he desires. Is not a written debate “a public discussion?” Nevertheless, to Weldon, if I refuse his every stipulation as to what form of debate and where to debate, it is equivalent to a refusal to debate at all. Yet, he wants to tell me what’s “fair” and question “where honor is in all of this.”
Nevertheless, Weldon has not only been told by me, but also by at least one other member here that at our business meeting, the men at Carriage Drive made the decision not to host such a debate and expressed their desire that a debate not take place in Beckley. In contrast, there are countless brethren who do want to see a debate take place within some publication. Gospel Truths and Preceptor have already agreed to host such an exchange. Therefore, if Weldon is really interested in getting “down to the nitty gritty” as he stated on his February 8th broadcast, to “see what the Bible teaches,” I have signed my name below. Will Weldon sign his name?
During the last several weeks, brother Warnock has gone on record teaching the same erroneous doctrine articulated by brother Ron Halbrook and has offered to take Ron’s place in debate. My challenge to brother Halbrook was for a written debate. Weldon stated:
“…And there’s a brother, a preacher in Southern West Virginia, who’s on the computer challenging a brother like Ron Halbrook for debate. Yeah, he’s been brazen. I want, I want a debate, and chided him ‘cause, brother Ron because he won’t debate. Well, Ron decided that’s not the – the best, ha, ha, as far, as far as he’s concerned, but I tell you what, I’ll do it.” (emp. jhb). Weldon E. Warnock, [2-22-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.] Play Clip!
So, if brother Warnock is truly serious about his desire for a “public discussion” of this issue, then let him honor his pledge that “I’ll do it.”
Moreover, the debate proposition that I offered to brother Halbrook involved the scenario of post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication. This is also what brother Warnock has advocated in his recent radio broadcasts as well as in Searching the Scriptures (November 1985). Note two MDR scenarios expressed by brother Warnock on his radio program, which document his agreement with this doctrine:
“Or he doesn’t want to be married anymore, he’s not guilty of adultery, but he’s got his eye on somebody else. And - and this short while after the divorce takes place, now here she is an innocent, faithful wife, he marries somebody else, or he commits adultery, he does the putting away. She can’t remarry because she’s the put away!” (emp. jhb). Play Clip!
“Now that’s it, friends. I told this story some time ago, about a soldier during the Vietnam war, over in TX. He was gone 12, 13 months to Vietnam, he left for Vietnam, a wife behind, and when he returned a year or a little longer, she had divorced him and married somebody else. Now, the question: Could he remarry? He did about two or three years later, brethren thought nothing of it, could he remarry? Not according to the preacher in Southern WV. No, no, no, no. It was post-divorce fornication.” (emp. jhb). Weldon E. Warnock, [2-22-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV] Play Clip!
This is the precise doctrinal teaching which I have exposed as error on my website and that which I “strongly” desire to examine in “a public discussion.” In fact, this post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication doctrine is what motivated me to set up my website to begin with. Therefore, if Weldon will accept the debate challenge that I had initially offered to brother Halbrook, I would expect that any acceptable debate proposition would include that scenario, which Weldon publicly taught of his own initiative – both on the Southern West Virginia airwaves and in his 1985 Searching the Scriptures article.
I have written a proposition that I believe fairly represents Weldon’s own teaching as outlined in his above quotes. It is a rewording of the original proposition I offered to brother Halbrook, due to the different terminology used by each brother to articulate his position. However, if brother Warnock prefers to debate the original one, then that will be agreeable to me, as well. (If Weldon disagrees with any part of the proposition, he is free to clarify which parts he disagrees with and we can work on a mutually agreeable proposition.)
The scriptures teach that when a person is put away against their will and not for fornication, they may later “put away” for post-divorce fornication, and remarry another, while their original spouse lives.
The scriptures teach that when a person is put away against their will, without prior fornication on the part of either party, they must remain celibate as long as they both live or be reconciled, regardless of any post-divorce fornication.
Will Weldon accept this challenge for a written “public discussion” now that two publications have agreed to publish the exchange? The table has been set and all things are ready. Will he come?
[If any readers are interested in contacting brother Weldon or the Beech Street church directly (which sponsors the radio program), I am posting the addresses below (as Weldon mentioned in his latest radio broadcast) for your benefit.]
Weldon E. Warnock
Church of Christ
• For numerous sound clips of Weldon’s recent radio broadcasts, click Audio Clips and scroll down.