A father wrote a note to his daughter last fall and remarked in closing: “Hopefully there will be a change this side of glory.” As she repeated aloud those words in my presence – words which sounded rather despairing – there welled-up within me first sorrow, then anger. I know the daughter, I know the father and I know the situation which they both hope will change. I’m sorrowful because of the separation which has existed in their family relationship for over 22 years. I have experienced that also. Too much time has passed. The damage done is irreparable.  The wounds incurred will never heal completely in spite of forgiving hearts.  My anger surfaces because these dear souls (joint heirs with Christ!) have been victimized by the unscriptural dictates of a few egocentric, authoritative, religious “Pharisees” in the body of Christ.  We were warned about such men over and over again in God’s word, but our naivety left us exposed to their divisive ruling methods.


The father in this case, although an active participant in the criminal activity which this particular religious movement has perpetrated with venomous zeal throughout its brief history, is, himself, a deeply hurt and troubled man. He continues to appeal to his daughter and her husband for the change of heart which will restore their family relationship. The original intent, he was led to believe, was that such action would produce a “clean and quick restoration (II Cor. 2:6-9).” But he continues to remain blind to the fact that he erroneously and foolishly endorsed the marking, censoring and excommunication of those most dear to him. 


Why?  Was it because of immorality, covetousness, religious idolatry, or even drunkenness or any other wickedness?  Did they desert Christ for a different gospel?  Were they lazy and slovenly or busybodies?  Had they fallen away from the faith, following deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons?  Were they “unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good?” Could it really be said of them that they “are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting?”


“The Leaven of the Pharisees”


Were it not for several “official” letters and other written communications documenting the wholesale excommunication of ten or more families in this Tulare, California, assembly, we would be forever floundering in a tempest of bickering, charges, counter charges and denials with no hope of “change” or reconciliation.  Surely, the father who longs for this change will not object to a reexamination of the actions to which he appended his name. Reviewing those so-called “marking letters” after a 22-year interim, I remain aghast at the spiritual immaturity displayed, the shameful lack of scriptural discernment evidenced and the routine misapplication of so-called “proof-texts” from God’s word. Typical of such letters is the tendency to conjure up supporting evidence by using vague undocumented charges such as “worldliness,” “walking disorderly” and “did . . . much evil.”


So, what precipitated this family division?  In actuality it began years before when a new generation of “leaders,” who thought they could manage the church better than their predecessors, assumed control over various assemblies. Soon “the leaven of the Pharisees” began to rear its ugly head.  In a well-balanced assembly of Christians where the Holy Spirit is allowed to lead, the principles laid down in Rom.14 and I Cor.12 & 13 usually suffice to maintain peace.  Alleviated are attitudes that lead to judging one another and holding another in contempt. In pursuing love Christians can learn to accept one another and allow each one to be fully convinced in his own mind, especially on matters of opinion.  An atmosphere of legalistic authoritarianism does not engender dependence on the Holy Spirit for guidance.


Again, what were the issues?  Without getting into women’s hair, adornment or dress, here are a few typical examples which prompted charges of worldliness and spiritual defilement and the cultivation of judgmental attitudes: This father surely remembers the strife that was generated between some who had liberty to go to a Dodger baseball game or Disneyland and those who didn’t.  Nor can he have forgotten about the tension that developed when a few Tulare couples participated in Christian Marriage Counseling sessions with “other” believers.  And I vividly recall him taking me aside one time and telling me that he couldn’t have full fellowship with me because I wasn’t in agreement with Jack Langford on the “second coming.” This struck me as strange because he didn’t have the slightest idea what I believed on the subject. I wonder what he thinks of Jack’s beliefs now.  Participation in Little League sports even caused a stir.


War About “Disputable Matters”


When legalism, authoritarianism and exclusiveness (also known as separatism) saturate and enslave men’s minds, ominous things begin to happen.  Little tolerance is allowed for those who think otherwise, friction increases, men’s meetings proliferate and a perverted concept of  “cleaning house” is implemented to bring peace. Consequently, in August 1985, two men associated with the small Tulare assembly were selected as scapegoats and summarily judged as men “who misunderstood or were dissatisfied with our walk and ministry.” These two men and their wives, incidentally, had already stopped attending meetings several months before, but they were not going to be allowed to fade away quietly.


Why?  One must wonder what would have happened if a different tact had been taken by the leaders of this group. These two men could have been allowed to follow their convictions and leave peacefully. After all, they weren’t separating from the body of Christ, just from a group of believers with teachings and practices they no longer with clear consciences could identify with. Was not this very group started by men and made up of members who for similar reasons separated themselves from other Christian churches? It is always difficult to understand the many ingredients which go into a church conflict. Who can easily trace the complex roots and fiber of a community of Christians that has gone sour? But one thing is certain, you can’t force the conformity with or obedience to certain practices, doctrines and leadership methods that many deem to be unbiblical and expect to maintain unity. It is at this point that things begin to get nasty.


The letter announcing the excommunication of the two men had this to say: 


It is our prayer that this judgment will produce the following: A clean and quick restoration (II Cor. 2:6-9).  Protect those who could be deceived (Rom. 16:17-18). Begin the process of putting leaven out of the Tulare assembly and any other assembly where similar is present.  This will enable us to keep the feast with the ‘unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ (I Cor. 5:6-8).


The confusion reigning in the minds of the 31 men who signed that document is readily evident.  Did any of those men really believe that a “clean and quick restoration” was even a remote possibility?  Priority number one was obviously ridding all the assemblies of any dissenting voices! A subsequent judgment issued in December confirmed that the marking of these two men “began to implement . . . the cleansing (I Cor. 5:7-8) necessary to establish the proper environment for communion among brethren . . . (I Cor. 10:14-17).” The shocking specter of Numbers 16 had already been directly applied to the situation in Tulare as a prelude to the men’s meeting held the previous January. In the eyes of “leadership” one group of attendees at that meeting had been stereotyped as the rebellious camp of Korah, Datham and Abirum. One father took the unconscionable liberty of phoning his two sons in Tulare just days before the meeting, warning them of the consequences of being in that camp! What was he thinking? What was going on?


“The Golden Image”


The August 17, 1985 decree, with no ostentatious fanfare, also introduced and set up the “golden image” that all would be required to “fall down and worship”:


There are several other brethren who because of actions or expressions will need to commit themselves as to whether they are going to stand with this judgement.  Also some have asked time to decide whether they want to continue walking in division or not . . . However, they will need to be contacted to see where they are going to stand in this judgement.  If they will not stand they will need to be judged as walking disorderly and in division.  If they will stand with this marking and allow others to try to be of help to them in their understanding of division, sectarianism, and the body of Christ, let us pray that we have the ‘wisdom from above’ to know how patient to be. [emphasis added, jml]


Those in Tulare who “seated themselves in the chair of Moses” either received “wisdom from above” or frustration robbed them of patience, because on December 11 the edict went out declaring seven more men including their families as “heretics” because they would not fall down and worship the golden image. Those “in leadership” who affixed their names to the decree authorizing this test of obedience also noted that “other saints known [to them in Tulare and] in various assemblies across California have become involved in this friction and contention.” This insidious doctrine, cunningly conceived, now became the new test of faith in this increasingly exclusive religious sect.  With gangrenous effect it was now being applied to more and more members in the body of Christ. Within the next two or three months, dozens of families would suffer division and separation from loved ones. Others would be beguiled, entrapped and mortified for years to come.


Rubber Stamps, Fallen Leaders and Mind-sets


It is not to be overlooked that an inordinate number of the men who “rubber-stamped” those letters (and similar letters in other assemblies) have fallen by the wayside in the years since, some because of gross immorality.  One signatory in particular, Jack Langford, was undoubtedly the moving force behind “the process of putting leaven out of the Tulare assembly and any other assembly where similar is present.” Both Jack and Robert Grove traveled considerable distances from their home assemblies to ramrod the devastation that took place in California. While neither of them allow for the apostolic office in the church today, both have functioned fraudulently in that capacity during their tenures as ministers.  Jack’s home, however (according to Robert Grove), had been in a state of chaos since 1980.  His peers knew this, but only after he wrought havoc in the body of Christ did he tumble ingloriously from his lofty apostolic position.  Within a few years he was publicly disqualified because of “failures in the headship of his home” and “a growing number of doctrinal” disagreements with his brethren.  During this time he also “began to promote…the exact date for the rapture of the church,” and when his brethren objected, he characterized them as “hewing him to pieces.”  Finally, in 1997 he was marked as a “disorderly” and “divisive brother,” primarily for his public challenges in conflict with other ministering brethren.


Jack had this to say about the list of twenty three names (“and possibly more”) purported to have had a part in preparing the infamous document Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, which he claimed was “born out of misconstrued sympathy:


Most accept it as being true, not because they can actually prove it, but simply out of admiration and respect for leadership.  This respect has been so high that most forget (or don’t want to take the time) to be ‘noble Bereans’ and ‘prove all things’.  And finally, the endorsement by numerous brethren in leadership gives it a semblance of solid authenticity so that it can be accepted by all the assemblies.


During the years 1984-1986, when many of us expressed concerns about the misplaced adoration of leadership, this man only scoffed and said, “Like a chorus of frogs around a pond on a hot summer night you could hear them.” When he was in power, such sentiments, obviously, fell on deaf ears. Even today he deflects criticisms from us as “bitter accusations” and “malicious assault” or as coming from “rabid dogs foaming at the mouth.” There is much to be said about the lack of integrity exhibited by so-called leaders back then.


Robert Grove said of those years of controversy with Jack Langford that “We never wanted to advertise the differences between Jack and his ministering brethren . . . to unnecessarily damage his reputation among us.  For these reasons we did not widely distribute his rebuttal [to the Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage document] or our response.” Robert also spoke of Jack as “one who has been esteemed among us,” and added that “when he speaks he has great ability to influence people . . .   In a recent letter to Jack (1/11/06) Robert (referring to “the split in the 1980’s”) told him: “As history has proven, several did not esteem you or others very highly – they walked away.”


Between 1999 and 2006 Jack was embroiled again with leadership over the subject of “501(c) 3 Incorporation and the Church.” As a result, Jack said, “I paid the ultimate price of being ‘marked to be avoided.’ This was the first time in my experience and association with these saints that I ever knew of a person being so disciplined for telling the truth!” [bold emphasis, jml; underline, jwl]


This is the mind-set of the man who had dished out “the ultimate price” to so many over the years.  This was the mind-set of those “leaders” in California years ago who were under the influence of the presiding “bishops” Langford and Grove.  This is still the mind-set of the father who continues to appeal – after 22 years – to his daughter and son-in-law that “there will be a change this side of glory.”


Some Things to Seriously Consider:


I make a special appeal to the brother in Christ who wrote the Thanksgiving Day note to his daughter. That act alone demonstrates that he still has some affection for her and her family. Let me say, dear brother, such openness is rare among the people you are associated with. Many hearts once tender have been tragically hardened. Need I remind you that I have an adult son whose heart toward his mother, father and four siblings is nearly vacant of all feeling?  I don’t hesitate to lay blame mostly at the feet of men such as Jack Langford and Robert Grove who wielded far too much influence over all of you during that time of inquisition. Jack, especially, has demonstrated by his life and attestations in writing that he values no ties with his children and grandchildren, spiritual or physical. He is capable of erasing them from his life at the snap of a finger!  Such a man should never have been in position to judge matters in the body of Christ!  Following are numerous reasons, treated exhaustively, why it behooves you to change your mind in regard to what has happened and honestly open your heart to those saints you were persuaded by false teaching to disown:


1.  The Institution of Spiritual Tyranny


Your loved ones were labeled as “heretics” and “marked to be avoided” along with at least seven or eight other families for the sole reason that they refused “to stand with a judgmentthat they considered to be unjustifiable and unbiblical.  Within a few weeks dozens of other families in various assemblies across the state made it clear that they could not with clear consciences abide with that judgment.  The demand placed on all of us (i.e. those who are not with the majority will be purged out!) was nothing less than unanimous compliance.  Talk about coercive persuasion!  Talk about mental domination and spiritual tyranny!  What we had there was the very basis for institutionalized conformity and legalistic regimentation.  What you men considered respect for authority was really servility, unquestioning submission and an abandonment of personal responsibility before God to make decisions based on individual conviction.  In such an environment many, rather than face the risk of excommunication, of losing life-long friends, of seeing family relationships traumatically affected, decided to go along with “leadership” to be safe.


The so-called “time of discipline” has stretched out to nearly a quarter century.  What can be said now about the “clean and quick restoration” hoped for?  Do God’s methods for “disciplining” His children normally have such a failure rate?  How are you to interpret the closing petition in that Dec.11, 1985 letter? (“We covet your prayers and trust in Christ and His promise that ‘all things work together for good.’”) What do you consider “all things” to mean?  Do you define what is “good,” or does God?  You also confessed in that closing statement that “We love these brethren and after the flesh would draw back from taking such action, but we know that Christ loves them far more.  Our love for them and the Lord Jesus Christ is best manifested by humbly walking in His commandments. (I John 5:2-3)” All of the brethren you so judged, however, were sincerely convinced that the “action” you men took was “after the flesh”!  Can you clearly show from God’s word which of Christ’s “commandments” authorized the wielding of such absolute authority over your brethren and the demanding of conformity to your mandates?  Did Christ’s command in Mark 10:42-45 and Luke 22:24-27 have no significance to you?  It certainly did to Peter (I Pet. 5:2-3).


2.  A New Brand of Mosaic Theocracy


Jack wrote a paper in 1987 that served as a “report on the problems that occurred in the California areas in the previous year.” It was titled Division in the Indivisible:  The ultimate scandal among God’s people. In it he wrote:


Whenever and wherever a group of Christians begins to discover the beauty and holiness of meeting together outside of man-made religious traditionalism . . .  they will not only clean out and destroy the paganism of the modern “high places,” but they will also reactivate for themselves the only efficient system of worship that almighty God has designed.  This will include proper disciplinary judgment such as that illustrated in II Chron. 15:12, 13 and 19:5-7.  When this enthusiasm is truly heaven inspired . . . there will be once again granted to that generation of believers the privilege of functioning in a local church life as God designed it and Christ, Himself, will be the vital member of it. [emphasis added, jml]


I suggest you read those references because your thinking was undoubtedly impacted by Jack’s devious use of them years ago when “enthusiasm,” not inspired by heaven, ran amuck (meaning to rush about in a murderous frenzy!) among groups of Christians professedly “meeting together outside of man-made religious traditionalism.” 


Did you really intend to “reactivate” for yourselves a brand of Mosaic theocracy and make us all willing subjects of a classic case of church over state, where God uses instruments like kings and judges as special agents of His direct rule?  Did you believe (and still believe) that this was “the only efficient system of worship that almighty God has designed?” The Holy Roman Empire proved to be a fateful and woeful experiment in that direction, where dissenters (heretics?) were coerced against their will to submit to the church!  I vividly remember Weyman Zelder, who had obviously embraced this reactivation philosophy, excitedly proclaim at Hartland Camp in 1985, “We can’t stone them to death today, but we can ‘mark them to be avoided!’” (Thankfully, many of us probably owe our lives to certain Federal and State laws!)


We read also in II Chron. 15:3-4 that “for a long time Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law.  But in their distress they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He was found by them.”  Was Jack implying, and did you men as “teaching priests” believe, that once this “only efficient system of worship” was implemented would Christ, Himself, “be the vital member of” your “local church life?” To a church plagued with division, immorality and confusion of worship Paul wrote, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” He added, “The temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.”


3.  A New “Species of Love”


Jack also preached about “family ties” and a new “species of love” as a requirement for the disciplinary “system of worship” he was propagating:


Such discipline does show, however, a love that is higher, broader and more sacred than any fleshly, earthly family could ever be . . . This is the species of love that would have the Levites take swords against their very own family members who had broken God’s law.  If you have never done it before, please read Exodus 32:25-29 and Deut. 33:8-11.  The Levites became the holders of the highest office in Israel, and the most respected tribe in the sight of God, and the privileged ministers of the Word.  And why was such favor bestowed upon them?   Simply because they placed loyalty to God and His word above all earthly, fleshly ties.  [emphasis added, jml]


Our concern is not with this Old Testament account of a righteous God with burning anger pouring out his judgment on a rebellious people, whom He would have destroyed were it not for Moses’ entreaty.  Our concern has to do with the subtle manipulation of God’s word to condition men’s minds to resolve a problem in the body of Christ that is not remotely akin to what happened at Sinai.  Jack’s effort to equate his role as a “privileged minister of the Word” who exercises a “species of love” comparable to that of the sons of Levi is intriguing.  Not all the sons of Levi, of course, participated in that demonstration of fierce “loyalty” to God and to Moses because many of them were among the fathers and sons slain. Aaron was spared destruction only because of the entreaty of Moses (Deut. 9:20).


Furthermore, the Levites were far from being “the most respected tribe in the sight of God.”  Jacob characterized Levi as a violent, self-willed, angry, fierce and cruel man whom he preferred not to council with or assemble with. He prophesied that Levi would be scattered throughout Israel (Gen. 49:5-7). As it turned out the whole tribe of Levi had “no portion or inheritance with Israel,” either in the land once it was occupied (where they were dispersed in various cities) or in the future Messianic Kingdom (Deut. 18:1, 2; Ezek. 44:28). The priestly duties were delegated to Aaron and his sons exclusively; the rest of the sons of Levi were to serve the priests in various capacities, but they could not go near the “furnishings of the sanctuary and the altar, lest they . . . die.” (Nu. 18:2-3)  Ezekiel was quite explicit, concerning the lot of the “sons of Levi” in the future Millennial Kingdom. The two passages Jack referenced above can best be viewed and moderated in their true perspective by reading the context of Ezekiel 44:10-15. When God declared that although He had sworn against the Levites for being a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel and that they shall bear the shame and the punishment for their abominations, “yet shall they be ministers in my sanctuary.”


4.  A New Family of Spiritual Levites


Jack was so enamored by the fierce and cruel “species of love” which the Levites exercised against their family members that he turns next to the words of the Savior to prove that they really weren’t “a relic of the past.” He quotes passages such as Matthew 10:34-37, 12:46-50 and Luke 14:26 to show that they “serve as an example for Christians in this Age of Grace.” Members of controlling and cultic groups are all very familiar with these much misused verses. Religious cult leaders use them to drive psychological wedges between members and their families, to even feel hate and disgust for those who love them. A more insidious and malicious twisting of Scripture cannot be imagined, but along comes Jack (with Robert Grove’s support) telling members of his flock that,


Human blood ties are not worthy to be compared with the Divine ties.  Consequently, to have solidarity in the family of God and coordination in the body of Christ there must be discipline – a discipline that is not partial to earthly family ties.  [emphasis added, jml]


Then, quoting the above words of our Lord, he adds,


These words are the institution of a new family with such love as is not to be compared or even equated to the physical Adamic ties . . .Those who heard Christ speak these words could easily charge Him with splitting families and dividing parents from their children, and children from their parents.  And we might answer that from one perspective, that is precisely what he came to do!  There are not many who are willing to make this sacrifice for Jesus Christ . . . No man can be complete and truly happy until he has come to that condition of realization.  [emphasis added, jml]


Within the family of God it is understood that one’s love for the Lord Jesus Christ must not be compromised by individual family members or other brothers or sisters in Christ. Also, when one becomes a believer, surrendering his life to the Lord Jesus Christ, he can expect alienation, hatred and persecution from unbelieving family members, friends and acquaintances.  In some societies and cultures this can translate into betrayal, arrest, torture and death. The context of Matthew 10:32-37 makes it perfectly clear that the enmity experienced, the persecution suffered and the division manifested is the direct result of the hatred the unsaved have for Jesus Christ and, consequently, for those who acknowledge Him!


Yet, some men would have us believe that the battle scene had shifted.  Many, in effect, were duped into believing that Christ really didn’t come to bring peace to the church, but a sword!  If the principle inherent in this (and similar passages) applies to life within the body of Christ, then the spirit of distrust, suspicion, conspiracy and the inquisition that inevitably follows, must also be accepted as part of God’s will for the church! By the time events unfolded in Tulare that spirit had already permeated our midst in the California assemblies.  The “biting and devouring” had begun; the destruction would follow (Gal. 5:15).  In the context of Matthew 10 (v.21) Christ quoted from Micah 7:6.  It is interesting to read in Micah 7:2-6 about the spirit of paranoia that would prevail:


All men lie in wait . . . each hunts his brother with a net.


The powerful dictate what they desire – they all conspire together.


Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend.


Even with her who lies in your embrace be careful of your words.


A man’s enemies are the members of his own household.


In the search for “lepers,” in the quest to “purge out the leaven,” in the zeal to “clean house,” inquiry must be made as to “where people stand.” In retrospect our experience tells us that Micah’s words were not amiss.  One would think that such things happen only under communistic or dictatorial regimes and hierarchical religious systems.  Sad to say, some Christian sects gone awry create the same atmosphere.  May God have mercy on those shepherds who have been so obsessed with “heresy” in others that they remain blind to the fact that they are the “divisive” ones in Christ’s body!


5.  Matthew Mania


I have no intention of leaving the subject of Matthew 10 just yet.  The disingenuousness of Jack, Robert and others in their use of this passage branded them as divisive men in the eyes of saints not so easily bewitched. Their false teaching infected the minds and hearts of many others with scandalous and devastating results. During the tumultuous years of 1984, 1985 and 1986 Matthew 10:34-37 was bandied about by various itinerant speakers who made the assembly circuit in California. None attempted to honestly expound the primary meaning of these verses, something absolutely necessary to avoid misleading people. For example, who can forget Russell Ross standing up and reading verses 34-36 of Matthew 10 after Jack Langford had delivered a castigating denouncement of his brother at the Dec.’85 Santa Maria Camp?  What did he mean by that?  What was his purpose?  Jack had vividly rehearsed the bloody story of the “sons of Levi” in his message.  Did Russell really believe that Jack was Christ’s vicar on earth and Jim was an enemy from his own family whom he had to “stand against”? There’s something enigmatic about applying Matthew 10 to this situation. In the text who is consumed with hate?  Who turns or stands against whom?  Who betrays another to death?  Is it not the unsaved, enemy of Christ? 


Jack, Robert and others have long understood the true interpretation of Matthew 10, but that would not fit their purpose.  Consequently, Robert argued, “Does that mean I can’t apply it to anything else?” A truly disturbing thought in the light of II Timothy 2:15!  And Jack maintained that “we can make a secondary application of it to us today.” Please note that it is only one little step from interpretation to immediate application, but it takes another great leap to “a secondary application!”  John Morey was more evasive. He took refuge in the claim that he had always emphasized verses 37-39.  But John, likewise, showed lack of discernment.  Verses 37-42 are a continuation of the same discourse in which those “not worthy” here are no different than the unworthy of verses 11-15.  In applying these verses to any situation they choose these men take unbridled license with God’s word, changing the circumstances and the principles taught, while wresting essential truths concerning the body of Christ.


6.  “The Ultimate Scandal”?


Years later (1990), in the presence of Ray Sharpless, Jim Maurer, Art Werner and John Morey, Jack told Don Stevens in a taped message: “We do not teach that Christ came into the world to split Christian families.  We don’t believe that.  We believe those families should be one.” That claim certainly would have grabbed our attention in 1985! But it was not forthcoming until all the damage was done. I had a meeting with Robert Grove in May 1985 (arranged by Dave Bowin) in which I objected to his random use of Matthew 10.  Then in October 1986, long after I had been “censored,” I circulated a 6-page study which opened with the following paragraph:


Some think they see in these words a God-ordained “principle” which functions within the family of God.  Through frequent reference to this passage, the minds and hearts of many dear saints are being conditioned to accept as God’s will the heart-rending divisions which are alienating believers and the mass “markings” which are insanely compounding the problem rather than alleviating it. [emphasis added, jml]


John Morey, in a public meeting, promptly branded as “an absolute lie” the above statement. A few months later Jack wrote his magnum opus on the subject, “Division in the Indivisible,” confirming absolutely and unequivocally the truth of my statement. It was read in a “large meeting of men from across the country” which was convened to review “the problems that occurred in California.” He recirculated it in 2005 as an “appropriate” document refuting what he termed was Alan Hemenway’s “queer version of ‘history.’” Regardless of their denials about Matthew 10, they still thought it perfectly okay to use that text to coerce saved family members to stand against one another!  Herein lay the source of most of our woes. Those divisive leaders were quite adept at making God’s word applicable to whatever purpose they had in mind.  That purpose, of course, was to prevent the mass exodus of dozens of relatives, first in Tulare, then in other California assemblies, an ominous possibility.  In his recording to Don Stevens (Aug. 1990) Jack reasoned that “if family members and relatives were partial to each other, the commands to implement church discipline would never work.” Discipline in the church always works when done God’s way.  What Jack fails to see is that God doesn’t use the same methods in the church that He did with the nation Israel.


What Jack and his cohorts also fail to see, or simply refuse to openly acknowledge, is that their tactic of large scale house cleaning has created a significant number of hypocrites in their little sect.  Many of those who bowed before this latter-day version of the Golden Image did so only because they feared being separated from family members and other loved ones.  Conversely, many of those who refused to take the “stand” that leadership demanded did so knowing that they were leaving sons and daughters or mothers and fathers behind. Coercive tactics, such as those used to enforce their unbiblical “marking” doctrine, always generates a following which ends up fearing men more than God!  


In Jack’s paper, Division in the Indivisible – nestled on the same page with his quotation of Matthew 10:34-36 and his accompanying remarks: “that is precisely what He came to do!” and “There are not many who are willing to make this sacrifice for Jesus Christ” – is this unceremonious statement:


What Lucifer could not do to destroy the church by outward persecution, he could do by the inward division of its members.  Christians, who though truly born again with new natures yet choose to walk in the flesh as mere men, become his chief instruments to wreck havoc in the body of Christ. [emphasis added, jml]


Confused! Well, we have only scratched the surface.  It’s almost laughable after 22 years to think about what we were up against in those days.  This, by the way, was the only mention in Jack’s 10-page treatise of the devil’s role at causing “havoc in the body of Christ.”  By the time Jack wrote those words it had become evident to most of us who Lucifer’s “chief instruments” were in causing the California division.


7.  The Real “Instruments” of Division


As mentioned at the beginning of this paper, there arose in the early-eighties differences of opinion, conflict of conviction and even strong disagreement between brethren over the general issues of worldliness, sectarianism, legalism and authoritarianism.  These are sources of dispute that have plagued many Christian movements throughout history, especially those separatist groups who lay claim to being the “only viable representation of Christ’s church on earth.”  As was also explained early in this writing, these differences became more acute as a new generation of leaders matured under the tutelage of Jack and Robert, who functioned as Archbishops from their respective offices in Texas and Virginia.  Daily consultations by phone between assembly leaders in California and these two men consumed a significant portion of church donations in 1985.


Those of us who woke up to the fact that we were being swallowed up in a spiritually unhealthy environment, remained longer than we should have despite the difficulties. For one thing we mistakenly held the underlying hope that things could change. This naivety was due, perhaps, to unfounded trust in men we had long respected. More formidable obstacles, unfortunately, prevented our just walking away.  This was no longer a “normal” Christian sect; its new crop of control oriented leaders had nursed a moderately separatist doctrinal position into an extremely cultic exclusiveness.  They preached that they were “the only viable representation of Christ’s church on earth.” If you left their membership “you were leaving God!”  This notion, of course, had to be flushed from the minds of our wives and children and other loved ones if you wanted to escape intact.


The major obstacle was a vicious control method that had been subtly put into practice over the years. Total compliance with the disciplinary decisions of leadership was demanded.  Those who would not “stand with leadership” in the “marking” or “censoring” of a brother or sister were labeled as “divisive”, “disorderly” or “heretical”. Then Romans 16:17 was used as a meat cleaver to separate them from the body!  Biblically that passage was specifically directed at false teachers, those who do not serve the Lord, but their own base desires, who use smooth talk and flattery to deceive.  It is incomprehensible that Christian brothers and sisters – even children – and families, constituting significant portions of entire assemblies, can so callously be classified and branded!  Nowhere in the New Testament history of the body of Christ do we find reference to, or justification for, such behavior.  Not even at Corinth where the conditions prevalent in the church there can best be described as plagues that had infected every aspect of its spiritual life.


It still amazes me how Christian brethren can overnight become so hardened and frigid of heart that they, at the beckon of their leaders, could drive us from their midst the next day as “divisive heretics.” There are explanations for such behavior.  I offer a couple.  It is a proven fact that any group of people, especially religious factions, will eventually take on the personality of it’s predominate leader. When a controlling, legalistic, unloving and graceless man dominates a religious movement, it eventually will reflect those characteristics in its behavior.  Such groups very likely will never change because the authoritarian leadership structure is designed into the basically legalistic system. These leaders exist in a state of denial. Dysfunctional leaders insulate themselves by selecting lackeys loyal to them, who do not doubt them and who will always focus blame on the questioner or dissenter.  Anyone who disagrees with the system is personally attacked so everyone will think the problem is with him, not the system. Robert Harrison’s Authority, Order and Motivation and the carefully contrived power-point presentation on Faithful Ministry both propound and argue exhaustively for exactly such a system!


There were many saints, including entire families from all the assemblies in California and as far away as Virginia and Washington, who were marked, excommunicated or censored because they refused to respect the “Golden Image” which was erected in connection with the Tulare fiasco.  Many more would have pooh-poohed that image had they not feared the consequences of family separations. To my knowledge not one single alleged “heretic” has recanted and chosen to return to that stifling environment. That speaks loudly for the inefficaciousness of such disciplinary action if the purpose was to obtain “a clean and quick restoration.” But if the purpose was to “clean house”, which was the reason most loudly proclaimed, then the shepherds of that flock most certainly perpetrated a division in Christ’s body!


As pointed out above, dysfunctional shepherds are practitioners in the art of denial.  They consider themselves impervious to wrongdoing.  Any dissension in the flock is a personal threat to their well-being and a mar on their image.  The more sinister they are by nature, the longer they survive. They preach repentance and self-examination but have no compunction to practice it themselves.  John Morey, as a preface to his compendium of Scripture verses on the subject of unity which was circulated in June, 1985, made this sober appeal: “that we may each carefully appraise ourselves, and judge ourselves, and correct ourselves, and strengthen ourselves, as His word directs us to.” At the close he offered the solemn prayer: “Dear Lord, forgive me where you know that I have failed you, and dear brethren, forgive me where I have failed you, for I do love the Lord and my brethren.” I truly want to believe that this was the attitude of most, regardless of where they stood on the issues. It is difficult, however – based on the documented experiences many had with them – not to negatively judge John’s sincerity and that of Jack and Robert. 


In an “open letter” to John Morey in December 1986 I reminded him of his very strong reprimand of Gordon Grant that night in Cayucos when he admonished him in the presence of six witnesses to publicly confess how he had wronged three families at a Sunday morning assembly.  Of course, that confession was never forthcoming.  Several weeks later on the telephone John confirmed his support, although he had already deftly abandoned us under pressure from Jack and Robert.  We had warned John about that possibility.  He had come close to winning our hearts.  There was a semblance of hope.  That whole episode, however, was a prime example of the “political hardball” that went on behind the scenes in those days. At that gathering of seven men in Cayucos Mr. Grant had persisted in claiming that he had acted alone in publicly chastising the heads of three families for holding weekly Bible studies in their homes. After intense questioning he finally admitted that he had reluctantly acted under the direction of Jack Langford!  Later, at the December Santa Maria Camp, in a men’s meeting that had been called to critique Jim Langford’s “marking”, John Morey, Gordon Grant and the other two elders involved, Dave Bowin and Dwight Stevens, in response to a concerned brother’s query, exhibited an amazing reluctance to remember the event at Cayucos.


In August, 1986, Robert spoke in Alhambra on the subject of “Church Discipline.” This was after a considerable number of “deeply loved” and “appreciated” families had declined to pay homage to the “Golden Image.” After quoting Matthew 10:34-36 he said, “My heart goes out to a lot of mothers and daughters and fathers and daughters and sons that I know and love here that I believe are facing that kind of situation.” Those saints are facing “that kind of situation” only because men such as Robert have “bewitched” and “enslaved” them (Gal. 3:1; 2 Cor. 11:20)!  Upon listening to that message if one didn’t wince at Robert’s concept of and manifestation of a “father’s heart”, then their conscience was severely stunted. For him to sic the inquisitors on the elderly brother Earl LaForce was unconscionable.  And to overlook his remark that he’s “not the least bit concerned if it gets down to just three or four of us who are standing true to God,” is indicative of warped hearts on the one hand or super-inflated egos on the other.  Can anyone imagine the “Good Shepherd” having that attitude?  It’s significant that Robert Grove, today, finds himself almost alone among an elite few. His frequent written appeals for attention, though, are evidence that he remains a little bit “concerned.”


Robert’s love of the sheep is shallow and conditional.  The December letter (1985) notifying Loren Johnson of his excommunication said: “Many of us have known [him] for years and have a deep love for him . . . We are hopeful that restoration and Godly sorrow will be the fruit of this marking.” The previous September Loren and his wife, members of the small assembly in Tulare, sent out a letter expressing some serious concerns they had about the very sobering situation that was developing in Tulare.  Answers from Jack Langford and Don Howell were cordial and responsive, though, far from complementary.  Mr. Grove’s response to a dissenting voice was typical of many he has written: abrupt, despiteful and laced with the invocation of evil tidings.  He loves to threaten with verses such as Matthew 18:6 & 7, Galatians 6:7 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 & 11.  It’s almost like practicing sorcery and calling down curses on people he professes to love.


Then we have the case of Jack Langford, the master practitioner of  “denial.”  Much has been said about him already.  To avoid repetition I suggest the reader review especially the paragraphs under the caption “Rubber Stamps, Fallen Leaders and Mind-setsand the following section under Some Things to Seriously Consider.” That was the man who was allowed by his peers to ride roughshod over hundreds of saints.  That was the man whom many of us considered unqualified to rule in the body of Christ.  That was the man we were expected to obey as our leader. That was the man who by his subsequent actions – after the “great split” – proved our concerns to have been correct! That is the man who adamantly proclaimed his little sect to be the true representation of the body of Christ, and all of us who departed from it were sinning against God and causing division!  That is the man who now believes that that same body is no different than a denomination, and since his disenfranchisement, has forthwith has tried to assemble another pure church.  That is the man who sincerely believed he was God’s man for the hour – and to this very day is living and functioning in a state of denial as to being guilty of any wrong.


8. The Sins of “Worldliness” and “Sectarianism”


The “duly” authorized letter notifying Ron Blain that he had been officially excommunicated referred to the fact that there had been “increasing friction” and “contention” among the saints in Tulare and in various assemblies across California “primarily over the subjects of worldliness and sectarianism.” Friction and contention arises when two or more people strongly disagree about something.  Intolerance of another’s personal beliefs, convictions and freedom is usually at the root of the problem. It is indeed strange that the subject of “worldliness” never became an open issue in the “discipline” of Ron and Bill Blain, or with any of the dozens of other “marking” actions that followed.  Jack Langford confirmed in a September, 1985 letter to Loren and Jeannette Johnson that sectarianism was the issue.  That being the case,” Jack said, “those Scriptures dealing with the sin of heresy or sectarianism must be applied.” Obviously, the case for “worldliness” was without foundation, or at least not worthy of disciplinary action, especially since the lists of what is considered “worldly” could be multiplied ad infinitum.


Ron Blain was singled out as “having been influential in this friction both by precept and by action.” Precept has to do with teaching.  It is a commandment or direction meant as a rule of action or conduct.  Ron may have expressed both privately and publicly his personal opinions and convictions in regard to sectarianism and worldliness, but he certainly never mandated such beliefs on anybody. At least no evidence was ever presented to the contrary.  Over the years Ron and many others had been subjected to the judgmental attitudes of those who resented their “freedom” in certain areas of walk and practice.  And it may be that on occasion Ron and others may have secretly regarded with contempt those who so judged them. That is the essence of the conflict between brethren that Paul addresses in Romans 14. But Ron was never charged with having that attitude toward his brethren. In fact, it was my observation that many frequently used their freedom to not put an obstacle or stumbling block in a brother’s way.  I remember one brother being lambasted publicly for going to Disneyland.  He responded by saying he would never go there again if it was a cause for someone to stumble.  I was also aware of a highly esteemed teaching “elder” in San Luis Obispo who occasionally took in a Dodger baseball game. He never confessed it publicly, but when the “sin” of professional sports became an issue, he meekly and quietly discontinued his visits to the stadium, motivated more, apparently, by the need to protect his reputation.


Who was guilty of sectarianism and divisiveness?  This separatist group of Christians preserves, or fails to preserve, its identity by its stance on sectarianism and denominationalism.  It has developed a distinctive language that serves as a badge of identification, instantly marking those who are “in” and those who are “out” or “us” and “them”.  Its members are all cognitive dissidents in the body of Christ, whether they like it or not.  They are knowingly and antagonistically at odds with all other Christian brothers whom they label as denominational or sectarian. But for one to be a dissident within or at odds with his own party’s exclusiveness is to incur the tag “divisive” or “heretic”.  Such was Ron Blain’s fate.  The clincher, however, which was to Jack Langford’s thinking slanderous beyond redemption, was the accusation attributed to Ron and Bill Blain that this group was “more sectarian than the Baptists.” The letter “marking” these men reads: “we hope the fact is obvious to all that the position they have taken is in conflict with many precious scriptures concerning the ‘body of Christ’ and we as ‘members of his body.’” This assertion confirms the truth of the above observation and illustrates the convoluted thinking that obscured the spiritual perception of men like Langford, Grove and their devoted disciples. Both Jack and Robert signed that letter, so it has their imprimatur and nihil obstat.


Please note that these men – although they know better – unconsciously had come to look upon themselves and their little sect as the sole members of Christ’s body!  That’s the delusion separatist thinking and exclusive behavior eventually leads to.  Jack had more than the Baptists in mind.  Over a year later he wrote this:


Ron Blain and most all those other families who followed him graduated from their own private meetings to begin attending services at many local denominations and “interdenominational” groups.  They had fraternity with everything from “Bible Churches” to the Pentecostal churches, and from Baptist and Brethren churches to the “Calvary Chapel” churches.  To put it bluntly, they religiously fornicated with more spiritual whores in a year’s time that most sectarians do in a life time. [emphasis, jml]


The paper this excerpt was taken from served “as a report on the problems that occurred in the California areas in the previous year.” It was “read in Fort Worth at a large meeting of men from across the country.” There should remain no doubt in our minds about that group’s attitude toward virtually all other Christians.


9.  Denominationalism vs. Sectarianism


Aside from the fact that the existence of numerous sects among professing Christians is a standing reproach that separatist sect leaders love to trumpet against to their own advantage, there is a distinct difference between the “sectarian spirit” and the “denominational spirit.” The sectarian spirit is divisive, schismatic, factious and selfish in nature. It is the work of the flesh, totally opposed to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is a disease of the heart rather than of the mind. It may profess to have the good of the body of Christ at heart and claim to be governed by the biblical principles applicable to it, but in reality it expends all effort at advancing its own party and treats with hostility and contempt all others. Thorough-going sectarians like Groves and Langford are also extremely bigoted. They hold themselves and their party to be absolutely right and all others wrong, with little allowance even on minor differences. They don’t see the image of Christ anywhere except within the bounds of their own group. They hardly admit the spirituality of other Christians or even the godly authority of other shepherds in the body of Christ.  They advocate complete separation from denominational, non-denominational and community churches and even refuse fellowship with any group of saints who agree with them on every essential (water baptism and the supper included) but persist in owning and naming the building they meet in. Even tentative fellowship with a “house church” is disrupted when it is discovered they disagree on some non-essential.  Such men are the ones deserving of reprobation.


A denominational spirit is not necessarily sectarian. Christians may pervert their denominational attachments with attitudes that exude the sectarian spirit, but it need not be so. Christians in denominations can be strong in their attachments to each other, earnest in their preferences, clear in their convictions and zealous for their own understanding of God’s truth.  These characteristics are no different than those exhibited by members of the exclusive group functioning under the incorporated ministry of Robert Grove, et al.  The difference lies in the fact that many Christians in the various evangelical denominations are generous toward others, liberal and loving in their attitudes, respectful of the convictions of others and supremely zealous for the body of Christ as a whole, not in word only, but in reality! And ready, also, to sacrifice their preferences whenever the cause of the Savior can be more effectively advanced. This is what Ron Blain saw lacking in the extremely exclusive sect he had been associated with from youth.  It’s the sectarian attitude that divides Christians, not the names – or lack of names – by which they are known. In many cases, being in a particular denomination is the result of one’s being born, raised, trained and saved in it, rather than of any studied and deliberate choosing of it. Is that not also a familiar characteristic of those subject to Robert Grove’s incorporated ministry? Regardless of the myriad shibboleths that sadly distinguish Christians from one another, we all are partakers of the divine nature and are one with Christ Jesus. The doctrine of “separatism” that Jack and Robert preach is the essence of the sectarian spirit. It certainly doesn’t demonstrate the supernatural unity which characterizes the body of Christ.


10.  The Earmarks of a Divisive Sect


Two days after the judgment against Ron Blain was finalized he wrote a letter to John Morey.  Berl Chism apparently undertook the responsibility to reply.  His response is a classic testimony to the myopic view of Christian love and oneness as espoused by the religious system Ron desired to escape from. The sectarian exclusiveness admitted to in Berl’s letter is not usually found up front in the literature they distribute for public consumption.  Ron said in his letter that he desired “to really be one with all believers, to be more loving and compassionate as a believer and to serve Christ as he understands serving Him.” Berl replied, “We believe Ron is deceived and that he is causing ‘divisions and offenses’ contrary to the doctrine which we learn from the word of God (Rom. 16:17).” Ron inferred that no one can meet with this group and then decide to leave.  The response was: “We are divided from those whose doctrines and practices differ from us.  We believe that those who depart from us in belief and practice are not in the will of God and that they are causing division by their example and influence.”  Ron asked, “Is this group the only way to have true fellowship?”  The answer was:  “We exist as ‘this group’ because we endeavor to walk in the light of God as defined in the scriptures.  We therefore believe that they do not have true fellowship on grounds other than this one scriptural ground.” The “one scriptural ground” of which Berl speaks, of course, is none other than their particular doctrinal stance that divides them from all other Christians.  Ron alluded to the general belief that “In this group are the only spiritual Christians on earth.” Forthcoming was this evasive but telling answer: “No! We are confident that there are many truly spiritual Christians on earth whom we have never met or heard of . . . We believe that truly spiritual Christians will stand with us as they come to know us and examine our position, comparing it with the word of God.” This answer reveals more than the writer intended, I’m sure. The implication is that rarely, if ever, have they met or heard of other spiritual Christians besides themselves. Any proselyte to their position will ipso facto be spiritual. Since the ranks of this group have obviously increased mostly through procreation, they generate their own “spiritual” members!  An amazing revelation!


Mr. Chism (now deceased) was once a full-time minister in “this group” long before its leaders began incorporating their “ministries.”  I will quote once again from his letter: Ron asked, “Are Robert, Jack, etc. the only ones we’re to look to for leadership, not any others who may not be meeting with us?”  The answer: “God’s word abounds with warnings against false teachers and leaders . . . We should have mistrust for the ministrations of men who are part of denominational divisions and are helping build unbiblical systems, even when they seem to be sincere and are giving much Biblical truth . . . We believe Robert, Jack, etc. lead people to build what Christ is buildingthe church which is His body and lives which are consistent with membership therein.” I will have more to say about Robert and Jack shortly, but I must pause here to offer an apology for Mr. Chism. I sincerely believe that this man’s spiritual astuteness suffered significantly during his association with the above named men.  Surely he knew that men could not be credited with building “what Christ is building – the church which is His body.” God has provided gifted men, however, for the purpose of serving, edifying and equipping its members. But are we expected to believe that God has so-blessed only this little sect which finally had to embrace the “ministrations of men” it shouldn’t trust and incorporate its ministries in order to function better?  We must wonder how the true church got along for so many ages without “Robert, Jack, etc.?” 


11.  Apostles and CEOs in the Church


Mention has been made throughout this writing about the incredible amount of power and authority that professing shepherds in local assemblies across the country had surrendered to Jack Langford and Robert Grove.  In addition they enjoyed a high degree of prestige that seemed to dominate the minds of many.  For a religious movement that rejected Rome’s contention for apostolic succession and believed firmly in the autonomy of local assemblies, the rise of these two men to nationwide prominence was a strong indicator to many of us that degeneration was setting in.  And those feelings did not go unexpressed!  They did, however, fall on deaf ears.  Mr. Chism warned Ron against “false teachers and leaders” from without.  He was blind to Ron’s concern about men who would rise from within.  But “sectarianism” was the issue back then and anti-denominationalism the theme most often preached.  Mr. Langford, kicking against the pricks of his own failures, parried that problem by pontificating: 


Let us make one final thing clear for sure: no amount of failure, mistakes, or outright sin on the part of those ministering could ever possibly justify, or give excuse for, Christians to go back and join themselves to the popular sectarian religious corporations of ‘Christendom.’ There is absolutely no justification for that. They either never saw the truth on the subject in the first place, or else they are simply manifesting the spiritual disease of sectarianism itself – in one of its most subtle and dangerous forms.  [emphasis, jml]


Jack left room for one’s possible “justification” to “go back” by allowing that they may never have seen “the truth on the subject in the first place,” especially the distorted version of “truth” as taught by Jack and Robert, et al.  They also were astute enough to note that denominational churches and community churches were not the “most subtle and dangerous forms” of the “spiritual disease of sectarianism.” Given the choice, anyone would select the less dangerous form.  But the most important point that Jack and Robert refused to see was the fact that they should not have been involved in the California problem.  Jack admitted publicly and in writing that “the younger ministers and leaders in the various assemblies were all too hesitant to step in and deal with the issues.” Therefore, he and Robert Grove “took the initiative and went to the various ones in the division in Tulare, even to the homes and offices of these accusers.” He said that their “attempt to resolve differences” was “slandered” when Ron and Bill accused them of being “more sectarian than the Baptists and/or other groups.” That left them with “no choice but to initiate the assembly marking of their ungodly conduct,” Jack said. 


They did have another choice.  But that would have required exercising the fruit of the Spirit, attributes that were in short supply among men whose warped “marking” doctrine required that they bite, devour and consume one another.  Just let God’s people go.  Several families had already left; others may follow, but peace would also follow.  The Pharisee, Gamaliel, in principle, had some good advice that Jack and Robert could have followed.  He said:


Men, consider carefully what you intend to do with these men . . . In the present case, leave these men alone!  Let them go!  For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.


Nearly every separatist church movement since the Reformation has left a trail of human devastation behind it and irreconcilable schism in the body of Christ by not adhering to this principle.  When this happens repeatedly, a reexamination of God’s word by those involved is in order.


Jack Langford’s tenure as a roving apostle and his subsequent demise has already been covered.  Mr. Grove, however, can best be described as the disfranchised CEO of a nationwide chain of small separatist sects, each of which recently gained or claimed independence (self-rule) with a successful, but somewhat tempestuous, coup d’etat!  His involvement in the affairs of many assemblies across the country was finally his undoing, but the stains remain on his hands from the scars he helped inflict on the lives of many dear saints from years past.  Jack Langford, with apostolic zeal, went about appealing feverishly to the flocks to keep his version of  “the faith once delivered to the saints.” Grove, on the other hand, with methodical deliberation went about winning men’s minds to support his visions of change, both doctrinally and functionally.  Jack responded to a true calling, I tend to believe, but in the end he became a castaway, disqualified.  Grove was a usurper, an opportunist, whose wisdom was of this age, not that of the Spirit of God.  Both were extremely authoritarian and drunk with the power they could wield over men. They worked together harmoniously against enemies they had in common, but sooner or later Robert’s entrepreneurial actions, coupled with his impudent nature, would bring him into conflict with Jack’s traditional religious conservatism. Grove prevailed because when Jack finally mustered a challenge over the issue of divorce and remarriage, it came from an extremely weakened position with no authoritative voice. He had long been considered disqualified for public ministry because of a succession of problems: family difficulties, various doctrinal differences, acting foolishly in regard to setting a date for the Lord’s coming and a negative attitude toward his brethren. He was finally disciplined as a “divisive brother,“ succumbing sheepishly into a state of docility, only to get “censored” again for objecting to ministerial incorporations.


Robert has always been of the opinion that money takes second place to sex as the “root of all evil.” In his interrogations of members with personal problems there would usually be probing questions about their sexual habits. Early on he read a few books and manuals and set himself up as a sex counselor and therapist.  So it was no wonder that when an adulteress affair was uncovered in Newfoundland, Robert, with his considerable experience, appeared on the scene there to handle the matter his way. Apparently there was a strong reaction by this Canadian assembly to his intrusion into their affairs (no pun intended!). This triggered a series of men’s meetings about Robert Grove, culminating in the April ‘08, Fort Worth summit, organized by Jeff Grove and attended by forty of the group’s top ecclesiastics. Votes were taken and, consequently, Robert Grove’s tenure as “pope”, “CEO” and “head” of this nationwide cultic sect was severely curtailed. It was officially terminated in March ‘09, except for a significant minority in California who had not yet given up completely on Robert Grove. He has since vied diligently in California to muster a following of sorts, but has succeeded in finding refuge only among  a few souls, primarily in San Diego where he now abides.


(I sincerely apologize to those of you who have retained a high regard for Robert through the years and who consider him a dear Christian brother. You obviously have never crossed him. My personal experience with Robert, however, has deeply tainted my respect for him and I shall probably continue to regard his profession of faith -- and his version of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” -- with a degree of skepticism.)


Closing Comments and an Appeal


To the father who was persuaded to disown his own son-in-law and daughter, and their beautiful children, and now longs for their return before he goes on to glory, I offered a few reasons why he should examine his own heart and open it to them.  For over 22 years he has looked upon them as being deceived, not considering the possibility that he may be the one.  During all that time he has forsaken counsel from many Godly sources in the body of Christ, submitting himself only to men like Langford and Grove, and more recently, to their seriously deficient successors.


I remind him that the failures he now sees in the lives and ministries of those two men were first noted by many of us years ago, but our appeals fell by the wayside. There was no organized conspiracy back then to rebel against “duly authorized leadership.” Many families began to see things on their own over a period of time and were forced to take a stand when the “house cleaning” began at the instigation of Jack and Robert!  As another has said: “When a situation gets to the place that men are willing to literally turn children against their parents, and turn wives and husbands against each other, then it is time to speak loudly and clearly . . . the cultic mentality must be exposed!” But the confusion that exists now in assemblies across the country dramatically compounds the toxic nature that aberrant, separatist movement.


Jim Langford

May 2008 (Updated Jan. 2012)


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