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After the split at the Christian Witness Ministries Web Site
Christian Witness Ministries

EDITORIAL DISPUTE
CWM & VANGUARD

This statement by Philip Powell ( PLP) is being made very reluctantly. He has endeavoured at all times to avoid escalating the issue, but now thinks there is no alternative to offering some explanation. The recent publication of VANGUARD No 17 in Britain, which includes an editorial comment about the dispute, has brought the matter to the fore. CWM has received a number of recent inquiries via their website and by email, which demand a response.

Contrary to what is allegedly inferred in the VANGUARD 17 editorial the dispute is not so complicated that it cannot be explained. (Please Note that as of 13/10/03 PLP has not seen this particular issue of Vanguard notwithstanding Siam Bhayro's previous tacit promise to allow him sight of it prior to publication. VANGUARD 17 not available on this Web Site.)

THE DISPUTE:

This arose in respect of three matters canvassed by Siam Bhayro (SB) in his "BIBLICAL ECCLESIOLOGY Part 3 - PASTORS" (VANGUARD Issue 16 – pages 17 to 19) viz:
  • 1) That elders and deacons are the ONLY offices in the Church . . . there are only two biblically prescribed church offices – Elder and Deacon.(Please note capitalisation in the original text.)
  • 2) That payment to full time local church workers is to be on a needs ONLY basis – ibid page 19 col. 2 “. . . that only necessities are to be met” and col 3 “. . . if a man invests all of his time in a ministry on behalf of the local church, then let that church cater for his necessities – and no more.
  • 3) That every believer is an apostle, or a prophet or an evangelist or a pastor-teacher in terms of the ministry gifts of Christ as listed in Ephesians chapter 4 – see page 19 col. 2 “every individual believer has been given at least one of the following gifts for the edification of the whole community . . . . But the point is that every believer will be gifted by Christ in one of these ministries . . .

    As co-editor Philip expressed to Siam his concerns about these statements and tried to get him to see his biblical error and make modest changes prior to publication. He refused and did not think that he was in error. After publication it became known that several other Bible teachers disagreed with Siam and shared Philip’s perspective. This is what gave rise to the dispute.

    There was an additional minor dispute regarding SB’s use of the BCE and CE date system in his article entitled JEWS AND CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ (ibid pages 20 & 21). On both issues PLP deferred to Siam in spite of the disagreement. In view of this it is absurd to conclude or even suggest that anyone was being “gagged” over this or any other disagreement. As co-editors Siam and Philip frequently exchanged ideas and often made changes on the basis of discussions. This is a normal co-editorial modus operandi and a healthy safeguard, which sadly has been removed as far as future VANGUARD practice is concerned.

    THE OUTCOME:

    Contrary to advice and appeal from both Philip and other senior men associated with CWM, Siam made a unilateral decision to sever connections with CWM and to assume total editorial authority of VANGUARD. He insisted that his name not appear in CETF Vol 26 and demanded that his image on the original front-page picture be removed. He made five requirements after the artwork had been completed. All of these were honoured despite the difficulty, which they caused. In view of this we find it quite amazing that SB did not even grant the courtesy of letting PLP see VANGUARD 17 before it was circulated in UK.

    THERE WAS A BETTER WAY:

    It is most unfortunate when disputes of this nature arise within the ranks of those who are committed to biblical truth and practice. Obviously there will be disagreements from time to time, but “schisms” should be avoided where and when possible. In this particular case, in their early communications, Philip suggested to Siam several ways to resolve the dispute. A simple editorial disclaimer to the effect that the editors differed in respect of the above would have shown that what was being presented by Siam as co-editor was not a shared view and therefore in no way should be taken as biblically binding from the perspective of CWM or VANGUARD. A decision to table the issue until the next CWM-UK Gathering when there could be open discussion was another suggestion that Philip put to Siam. He also implored Siam not to exacerbate the situation by pushing his particular views. In spite of all of this, in the draft of the letters pages of the then proposed VANGUARD 17, which Siam sent to Philip, SB clearly tried to reinforce his particular views.

    At this point Philip told Siam that there was some considerable concern that had been expressed by others about his teaching on this matter even to the point of indicating that they would cancel receipt of our publications. It was then that SB decided to call together the CWM Working Party in UK, which had paradoxically been set-up on SB’s suggestion at the Whitby Conference last year and was reconfirmed at Bawtry this year. The rest as they say is history. It was at this CWM committee meeting, following discussion, that Siam expressed his intention to resign from CWM and assume TOTAL editorial authority of VANGUARD, notwithstanding appeals to him to reconsider, from the group. He told Philip in an email that he would not be held hostage by “this element”, yet in later developments it would appear he is prepared to hold others hostage to his particular intentions.

    FUTURE PLANS:


    CETF No 26 has been circulated in Australia and New Zealand and is available as a download.

    We are hoping to circulate the hard copy, with some changes, in Great Britain and Europe by using an UK database, which have in Australia. Unfortunately the current CWM -UK database has not been released to us. Please confirm your address as soon as possible if you wish to receive CETF in UK – see below for contact details.

    We have been informed that the CWM Bank Account holds a balance of approximately £215 (pounds sterling). (This has been managed by the Vanguard UK team over recent years.) The costs to print and mail the current CETF will amount to approx £2,500 (pounds sterling). A fairly small church in the north of England, through their pastor, who is very keen to see CETF continue in Britain, has offered to donate £500 and to cover the balance cost by way of a loan (approx. £2,000) to CWM. This is greatly appreciated. If other individuals and/or churches feel they can help to get the current and future CETFs to the 3,500 (approx) addresses on our UK database, we will be most grateful. Please make payments to:

    "Christian Witness Ministries" CWM
    and mail to:

    CWM
    c/o 95 Sutherland Avenue,
    Biggin Hill,
    WESTERHAM,
    Kent,
    TN16 3HH,
    England.

    CWM's POLICY:

    We disagree with authoritarianism in any expression of church life, including editorial work. While we recognise that someone must accept ultimate responsibility both in local church life and the work of publishing, we believe it is dangerous and unbiblical for anyone to act independently or unilaterally. INTERDEPENDENCE not INDEPENDENCE is the biblical model. We all need checks and balances. For this reason, now that Siam has removed his co-editorial influence from CWM and CETF we will be taking urgent steps to establish those who may work with Philip in editorial capacities. Long term it is envisaged that we will look at establishing national editorial boards in the various countries where we operate – presently in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain. One idea is to establish national co-editors and/or national sub-editors to share responsibility and the workload.

    In spite of the foregoing I do commend Siam as being a young man with great potential and a keen insight into aspects of biblical truth. I have enjoyed working with him and trust that somewhere along the line the mutually beneficial association will be rebuilt, in the will of the Lord. CWM and PLP wish VANGUARD and Siam well with the ongoing blessing of the Lord that MAKES RICH.

    On a positive note Philip has received some exiting expressions of appreciation of our magazine from across the evangelical board – ministers and others who love the truth. This will be reflected in a broader selection of writers in future CETFs. The next CETF will include writings by a Presbyterian lecturer in theology and a Uniting Church minister, God Willing. We also have articles in the pipeline from a pastor who came out of the Armstrong cult associated with what was known as PLAIN TRUTH. We are hopeful that good AoG pastors and others who formerly wrote for us may do so in the future.

    Correspondence regarding any of the above is best emailed to ppowell@christian-witness.org

    Thank you for your attention and consideration. Once more I express my deep regret that the rift occurred and assure you that I did my best to avoid it. Now that it has happened we MUST press on resting in the assurances of
    Romans chapter 8 verse 28 and 11 verse 33;
    "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
    "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"


    God bless you.

    Sincerely yours in CHRIST,

    Philip L. POWELL.

    October 13, 2003.



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    Has NOT appeared in any Issue
    "...contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" -- Jude v3




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