Rebecca West: Words & Music

In the Midst of Two

by Bob West

Like Sketch Drawings in the autobiographical episodes of my Theophilus comic strip, I was wondering why church members got upset when I expressed my concerns about some of our doctrines. Was I the only one who had a problem with those things?

Then one day Suzanne handed me a publication and said, "Dad, here is a magazine we received in the mail. I don't know who is having it sent to us. I believe you would enjoy it. It sounds a lot like you."

It was The Examiner, a bimonthly 32-page international journal edited by Charles A. Holt and published by the Truth and Freedom Ministry, Inc. I immediately sat down and read every word. Then I got in touch with Charles and ordered all of the back issues. How exciting it was to discover that there were so many brethren in my "one true Church" who shared the same thoughts and questions that I had. I was not alone!

During church services we had heard lessons for several weeks on reaching out to others with the Word of God. A few of us suggested to the Elders that we have a seminar on Secular Humanism, a growing menace which many believed to be the most dangerous religion and organized militant movement in America, and invite the public. The Elders said that they did not wish to pursue that, but if some of us wanted to do it, then go ahead and do it. Sylvia and I and two other couples accepted what was said at face value and started working on the project.

We began to publish a newsletter to alert our neighbors to the threat of Humanism, to present evidence for the one true God, and to generate interest for the seminar. It was agreed that I would be the editor and handle typesetting, art work, printing, and mailing with the help of some postage money from the other two couples.

With 1 Peter 3:15 in mind ("Always be prepared to give an answer... for the hope you have") we named the publication The Answer and included a drawing of a Bible in the masthead.

In the first issue I stated our purpose: "This paper is published by a few concerned Christians who want to share what we've learned.

"This is not an organization, or business. We're doing this as individuals in a joint effort. As stewards of the time, talents, and resources God gave us, we believe this is one way Christ would like us to use them to expose the deceitfulness and dangers of what is commonly called Secular Humanism. We have jobs and will use part of our income to pay expenses, so you won't hear us begging for money. We plan to take on only what we can pay for ourselves.

"If you want to help us spread the word, you have our permission to make copies of this paper (using your own office copier or local printer) and distribute them free to your own brethren and neighbors.

"If you want to help, but have no way to duplicate copies, let us know how many you can use. We'll send you a bundle to distribute.

"We welcome feedback. Hopefully, this paper will provide a forum to exchange ideas and information. Readers' comments will be printed as space permits."

The Answer newsletter issue one
THE ANSWER, issue number one, page one

Our mailings began to people in our community, but interest spread and soon the paper was mailed to over a thousand homes nationwide. According to reports, readers reprinted and distributed thousands of additional copies in their own hometowns. We began getting encouraging feedback to the publication. I shared some of this with the Elders, but they didn't seem to be impressed or interested.

During the next few months, it became clear to me that though Sylvia and I had been "members" of the local Church for three years, I was still considered "an outsider," one that needed to be watched very carefully.

The man in Psalm 73 went to the house of God with a problem and had his burden lifted. To the contrary, I could leave home feeling pretty good, but I left some of our assemblies emotionally drained and physically exhausted. I shared my concerns with the preacher and Elders. It was frustrating as I faced the dilemma of what to do.

Theophilus comic strip

Theophilus comic strip

My conscience demanded that I do something. Then on December 17, 1987, in a letter to the Elders telling of our decision, I wrote:

"...I hope you won't think this letter is designed to cut off communication. I'm not mad at anyone. I wish so much that I could work with you, but I don't feel we're working toward the same goals. I will be happy to seek to resolve our differences through careful Bible study if anyone is interested. In the meantime, please remove my name and Sylvia's from your membership list."

I learned later that many in this congregation and in "sister congregations" were concerned that we were trying to take over and turn this into an "anti" church. But this was not true.

These were some of the most loving and caring people we have ever known, but suspicion had created a wall of separation between us. Satan must have been pleased.

The first Sunday morning that Sylvia and I sat alone at our dining room table and began our "worship service" was traumatic for both of us. She was there with me, but I knew she did not fully understand why we were doing this. I did not feel her support and that weakened my confidence.

Theophilus comic strip

We were both so emotional that we had trouble speaking. We started to sing a hymn, but began to weep and never finished it. And we were so conditioned by modern organized religion to someone "bringing the lesson" that we put a video into our VCR and watched a preacher deliver a sermon.

To be continued

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