By Paul & Diane Abenroth, May 10, 1995
For some time now Diane and I have had in mind to request that the Sunday morning meeting here in our home be relocated. We were uncertain about just when to do this. However, just this evening a young couple here in our field came to visit with us. What they told us made us feel that it is best to move the meeting immediately
According to what we were told tonight there are things have spoken in meeting with which some do not agree. I believe the tension this has caused could be relieved by removing the meeting immediately.
I have therefore written a letter to Sydney Holt requestinq this be done I will also talk to Sydney as well as to Mary Hasper by phone tomorrow so they can work together on this.
I would like to say that we appreciate very much the many good times of fellowship we have had with the meeting in our home. We love the folks who have come here. They have expressed their love to us in many ways. The door of our home will continue to be open to all.
Furthermore, I fully support the right of each and every one to disagree with anything they have heard from me, since I believe it is vital that we respect each person’s effort and responsibility to develop personal integrity with God.
As I mentioned, it is because of our wish to relieve the immediate tension that we have decided very suddenly this evening that the meeting should be moved right away.
However, the reasons we have actually been contemplating this for some time are several We believe you all have a right to know about them. We also hope that in knowing this you will be able to understand us a little.
There are two major issues we have struggled with, For Diane this struggle has involved only very recent years, but for me it has involved many years. It is not possible to tell you much about this in a letter. Please fee; free to visit with us about this in the future if you care to know more about what we have struggled with.
The first major issue is the history of our fellowship. There are two basic versions of this history which have circulated around amongst us.
The most common version is the one we had been led to believe, namely, that this fellowship has existed from the first century continuously until now. We now know this is not so. Historical research shows that our fellowship actually began with William Irvine in Ireland about 1900. I had heard bits and pieces of evidence which pointed to this fact even while I was still in the work. However, now that I have read research articles and photocopies of many newspaper accounts, dating between 1900 and 1910, which have been dug out of old archives in Ireland and Scotland, the truth which I suspected for years is now clear to me .
The other, less common version of our history states that for many years or centuries there were no true Christians (Christians of our fellowship) on earth. This version claims that God either used a single man, William lrvine, or else a group of men including William Irvine, to re-start the true way in about 1900. This version has a contradiction. It is this. On the one had it is generally believed among us that no one receives the gospel and salvation except through one of our own ministers. This contradicts the claim that William Irvine (or that first group of men) supposedly did received the true gospel and salvation before there were any of our own ministers.
To clarify my meaning here, let me say this. I consider it unscriptural to think that Christianity ever died out in the world and that God had to re-start Christianity by revelation either to an individual man or to a group of men. Even the flood did not obliterate God-fearing men from the earth.
There is much more to the history which time and space do not allow me to go into here.
The second major issue Diane and I have struggled with is that there are various statements in the Bible which are at odds with prevalent teaching among us.
Jesus asked the disciples in Matt 16:15, “Whom say ye that I am?” I have spent a lot of time studying the answer to this question, “Who is Jesus?” That was a big issue, even when Jesus was on earth. People who knew Jesus saw him as a man. They had no difficulty accepting him as a man. His manhood was not an issue for them. Neither is it for us. We all know he was a man. But knowing this does not answer the much larger question, “Who was he?”
That question is answered by Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1, John 20:28, and Heb. 1:8. These four verses all state that Jesus is God. This does not mean that Jesus is the Father, of course, but it does mean that Jesus is one of the three Persons of the Godhead.
We have found it very reassuring to learn this. At one time we held a very strong faith in the concept of this fellowship being from the beginning, only to find out we were wrong But there was great comfort to really learn who Jesus is and in a new and fuller way to focus our faith in him. Since he is God, he is the same yesterday, today and forever.
This quality of changelessness, which is referred to in Hebrews 13:8 is not found anywhere in the universe outside of three persons. They are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are one God Even creation itself is a change because something was created out of nothing Heb 1:12 states “they (the created things) shall be changed, but thou (the Son) art the same, and thy years shall not fail.”
We know that you will all be exceedingly distressed about us. We wish it could be otherwise. Some of you may even experience a severe testing of your faith. We would emphasize one point above all others in this regard. If your faith is in Jesus and in him alone you will be safe.
With our love,
Paul & Diane Abenroth
Walla Walla, WA
May 10, 1995