At Least I Now Know How to Spell “Affidavit”

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One of the common assumptions made by some of my adversaries is that I have been very reluctant to talk about certain incidents/controversies in the past (as I certainly have been). But they then go on to assume that the reason for this reluctance is that I am interested in covering stuff up, for I must have lots of stuff in my Sneaky Past that would not bear close examination. And because of this assumption, the posting of Terry Morin’s affidavits on the web (which was first done by Anonymous, man of many moods, and just recently by Terry himself) is done in the spirit of a muck-raking reporter, hellbent after the Truth. And on the flip side, my desire to see this stuff not come out is interpreted as yet another manifestation of shifty-eyed guilt from yet another shifty-eyed ecclesiastic.

But actually my reluctance has been borne out of a desire to not humiliate a brother who does not understand or practice forgiveness, and whose idea of ethics is counting paper clips, along with the mint, dill and cummin. Scripture says that bitterness is a root that, when it springs up, defiles many (Heb. 12: 15). That is what we have here. Bitterness has a great memory for some details (for within its limited scope it has great study habits: review, review, review), but at the same time bitterness has no sense of proportion at all. But the longer I have been silent for this reason, the more this has been interpreted as some kind of evidence that this other perspective was somehow right. But Terry’s perspective is not just dead wrong, it has been deadly wrong. Scripture plainly says that one guy’s case seems really reasonable, until you hear the other guy out (Prov. 18:17). But as God is my witness, I have tried to do everything I could think of to avoid confronting Terry in public. In short, I have gone to extraordinary lengths (e.g. trying to meet privately) to keep you from hearing my side of all this. I do believe discussions like this are unseemly. I am in it now because the current circumstances would make silence even unseemlier.

At the same time, this little autobiographical fragment will only make sense to those who have seen Terry Morin’s affidavits. I have dealt with one of them already, and so now we must turn to the other. The second affidavit contains another moral charge against me, and it has been widely circulated on the web. I am not putting a link to that affidavit here because I am not interested in poisoning anyone in an attempt to show off my skill in administering antidotes. But for those who are following this saga, here is a response. But please, feel free to skip it if you like.

Terry’s affidavit, in effect, says this: In 1989, I received a loan from the church in order to pay our income taxes. The loan amount was $1659. By June of 1991, I had paid back $650 of it. In October of 1992, Terry was putting together a proposal to have the remainder of my loan paid off automatically from royalty payments that were just starting to come to me (Canon Press was just getting off the ground). In doing this, he found out that between May of 91 and September of 92 I had added some additional expenses to the loan amount ($208.51). The affidavit says that at my request “personal, non-CEF expenses” were sometimes added to the loan balance. The affidavit does not mention the amount that was added, but lists some entities they were for: Association of Classical and Christian Schools, Idaho Taxpayers’ Party, the Lacrosse Foundation, etc. I agreed to the loan repayment idea, and Terry took that proposal to the other elders (when I was out of town) and got their permission for the repayment idea. The elders also expressed alarm at my “co-mingling personal and church funds,” and instructed me to cease with that stuff. Thus far Terry. Pretty damning, eh?

By the way, the reason we had a shortfall surprise on our income taxes in the first place was because of an error on the part of the church. I say this merely by way of heading off a new round of affidavits claiming that I am a different kind of weasel than heretofore claimed.

So Proverbs 18:17: Here is the story that got left out. There are two significant elements that were not addressed in this affidavit, and both of them are critical to understanding the situation. Further, I believe their absence from this affidavit is really shameful. The first has to do with basic Christian categories, like forgiveness. The second has more to do with some autobiographical details that make sense of what we were all doing at that time.

When I realized that what I had done had upset Terry, and that his account of it had upset the other elders in my absence, I made a decision simply to accept their determination and “eat it.” Rather than go and explain to them what these expenditures were actually for, I would simply take it as a whack on the head from the Lord. Incidentally, I am not going to make that mistake of “not explaining” again — the following paragraphs explain in detail what I did not explain then. But because my actions had distressed my fellow elders, and because of the perceived impropriety, I simply accepted the admonition, and apologized for it. The total amount involved was $208.51 and I paid back $408.51 (with $200 extra) to cover all the “non-CEF” expenditures. The apology was accepted by all of the elders, including (I naively thought) Terry. I paid back far more than had been spent so that there could never be a hint of reproach about the whole thing. I am afraid I am a little more cynical now. Eleven years later, Terry signed and released these affidavits with no mention of the fact that the elders had dealt with the whole issue completely eleven years before, to the satisfaction of all the elders. As I will explain below, these expenditures were all well within the purview of the kind of thing the church had been doing for years; nevertheless, I had thought I would go the extra mile and assume the responsibility for paying for these things myself, which is why I put those expenditures on my tab to be paid for out of my royalties, as opposed to just having the church pay for them straight up.

Nevertheless, because there was a concern, I apologized to the other elders for my part in creating it, and without trying point fingers at anyone else for being fuss-budgets. But I never sought forgiveness for pilfering from the church — because I hadn’t. I accepted this from the elders and agreed with their instruction not to add any more ministry related expenses anymore. None of us fully realized (although we were starting to) that this was all the result of theological confusion, about which more in a minute.

Now whatever definition of “accepting an apology” Terry is using, I don’t see how it should include producing an affidavit that tells a partial story for the benefit of a new guy with a new beef about an incident that was fully and completely resolved eleven years before. The way I figure it now, Terry owes me two hundred bucks. And an apology.

We were all in theological transition then, and we were figuring out all sorts of things as we went. One of the things we were learning at that time was the concept of sphere sovereignty, which was a good thing because we did not yet have things in tidy columns. The church had started as a Jesus-people type of operation in 1975. Logos School was started in 1980, and at the time this all happened, Logos was organizationally under the church (it has since then been detached, and is now a private, board-run school). I was also the lacrosse coach at Logos, and the money for the Lacrosse Foundation was for the team at Logos, which was under the church of which I was the pastor. As an aside, some may not think of lacrosse as a “ministry” but that’s just a sign of residual Gnosticism.

Politically, things were jumbled up too. The Idaho Taxpayers’ payment was for a post office box, because we thought at that time that love for Jesus meant partisan political involvement. Earlier I had been a precinct committeeman for the Republican Party, and one year I was a delegate to the state convention in Boise. Terry had also been a precinct committeeman, if I remember correctly. From my current perspective, all of this was theologically incoherent, but Terry and I were both in it together up to our necks. And for the record, right now I would rather be dead in a ditch than jumble partisan politics together with the church the same way we did then. But I didn’t know that back then. Neither did Terry. Those were the days! Terry once managed an outstanding primary challenge for a great conservative candidate for lieutenant governor of Idaho. Terry did this out of my office, which was also the church office, but which was also located at Logos School, and there was school stuff going on there too. ACCS, on the other hand, was started later on our kitchen table. In short, while things were frightfully tangled, were these really “personal” expenses? Was I making my car payments this way? Hitting the best restaurants in town? No. Cheese flipeeze. Terry just assumes in his affidavit that whatever he meant by “non-CEF” expenses is necessarily definitive, and that “non-CEF” must mean “personal.” But that was Terry’s problem, then and now.

However, I believed that Terry had a good point in the abstract, however selective he was in applying it. (He was an ardent homeschooler and had difficulties with the church’s long-standing relationship with Logos.) Still, despite Terry’s selectivity, our church needed to define such things, and we really needed to sort them out. I felt the need as much as Terry did, and had agreed with him at the time about it. We were starting to think it through, and were working on it. But we had never defined, in an act of session, what constituted church business and what did not. Terry’s problem in this was that he thought his emotional reaction to something constituted an act of session. However, the fact that Terry wrongly believed the session had defined these things did not mean that we did not need to define them. We genuinely needed to straighten it all out, and after Terry left, we grew into a greater theological maturity (and understanding of sphere sovereignty) that enabled us to get everything into the right categories — where they remain to this day.

This is why Terry’s affidavit was ineffective for its intended purpose. It was meant to help show a pattern of self-willed action on my part, back then and now. There was supposed to be a connection between this whole business and the money that had been used to help with the gambling restitution, decribed for you in loving detail in another post. But because we had learned what we needed to learn (years before), that money was approved by the session, and entered into the minutes.

But back in the day, before we learned all this, there were all kinds of “ministry” opportunities swirling around us. And our general approach up to that point had been to cannonball right into them. We were young, we were enthusiastic, we were idiots, we were not yet Kuyperian. Nevertheless, I think of Terry’s participation through all that time with affection. He obviously thinks of mine with bitterness. Because of this difference in how we remember it all, even though Terry was one of the best cannonballers we had, I have no current plans to file any affidavits against him with the Idaho Attorney-General. That would be petty.

One last thing and I am done. In his affidavit, Terry records his opinion that unless I learned to submit to real, “toothed” accountability, he fully expected to open up a newspaper one day and read about things that indicated I was no longer above reproach. Now remember that the driving engine for much of all this was Terry’s staunch baptistic convictions, which were directly connected (in his behavior) to a radical individualism — and no accountability. Terry took his beef to the elders when I was not there (Prov. 18:17). Terry resigned from the office of elder and from the church on a Sunday morning when I was not there. Terry waited eleven years and then issued false and incomplete affidavits. I called him immediately and asked to meet with him, together with his pastor. He refused. Our session repeatedly tried to arrange for a face-to-face meeting. No go. In response to the impasse, the elders of his current church tried to remove the need for a face-to-face get together by getting a letter from the other men who were elders with Terry and me back then. They wanted to know if the facts in the affidavits were correct (which they for the most part were — the lies are mostly in the silences). In their letter, dated July 27, 2003, they said, “This letter will be for our files and will not be shown to anyone else without our expressed permission.” Terry honored his current elders’ promise to these gentlemen by posting that letter on the web, without his elders’ permission. It was still there this morning, with one signature removed. But that was not the promise his elders made. The promise was not to show the letter to others without the elders’ permission. And that letter, on Terry’s website, can be viewed by anyone in the world. Is this what it means to be accountable? Is this what toothed accountability looks like?

Remember that Terry’s charges against me, in both instances, had to do with his views about my lack of accountability to a session of elders. But I am in full submission to my board of elders, and have been for many years. Terry is contradicting his elders’s words this moment.

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