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The following is an introduction to a writing (dated June, 2002) that critiques Gene Edward's teaching. It is reproduced from the following URL:  Link to the original is at the bottom.

The text below might be considered sarcastic and 'rough', but then again  --Gene Edward's himself is extremely sarcastic. If one is familiar with his Gene Edward's books --especially his later works-- one might say that the style of this critique is a much 'nicer' style than what Gene Edward's himself writes. It's a matter of perception. Which brings us to why this introduction is here.  This introduction is an EXCELLENT discussion of perceived 'harshness' vs. informed reality, as well as an answer to the common "private verses public" arguement.

The Berean Inquirer

What's Wrong With Gene Edwards?
Introduction to a Series of articles Regarding the Erroneous Doctrines and Unscriptural Practices of a 20th Century False Apostle


A Few Biographical Words About Gene Edwards

As of the date of this publication (7/19/98) Gene Edwards is a man of about 65 to 66 years of age. About 35 years ago he began operating outside the parameters of his Southern Baptist foundations (although he still persists in calling himself a baptist). Gene Edwards is primarily concerned with establishing what he considers to be first century style churches around the country and elsewhere in the world. Consequently, Gene Edwards has attracted many who have become socially or psychologically dissatisfied with traditional style churches, as well as a those who have become thoughtfully dissatisfied because they have come to see that traditional style churches are a far cry from what Christ and His apostles ever intended.

Is the House Church Wrong?

It has been a common conclusion that because I disagree with so much of Gene Edwards' theology and church practices, that I must believe in the institutional church and in a heirarchical and/or domineering type church leadership. Nothing could be further from the truth! Indeed, since 1991, the number of times I've darkened the doors of an institutional church could probably be counted on one hand. My wife and I have consistently participated in home assemblies for over ten years, and nearly all of that time with no recognized elders.

I am convinced that the institutional practices of the traditionalistic churches, especially their heirarchical and domineering leadership styles, undermines the lordship of Christ over the gathered saints and their meetings. Further, I believe that, as a rule, when the assembly jointly owns property (e.g., church buildings, busses, schools), Satan has a ready tool at hand by which he can wreak all manner of destruction in the local assembly (e.g., division, moral compromise with the world, pride in the group, and almost certainly institutionalism).

Nevertheless, in the body of Christ we cannot forge alliances with others simply because they share our revulsion with certain forms of evil. The old Arab saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" simply does not hold in the assembly of those committed to doing the will of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our only friends are those who are likewise committed to obeying Him who died for us. Thus, my criticisms of Gene Edwards are not intended to sustain the traditional, unscriptural church systems, but to stand for the Lordship of Christ over the assemblies of the saints.

Are Criticisms of Gene Edwards Appropriate?

Before going on with this introduction, caveat is in order. As the pages in this series are for the specific purpose of highlighting what are ostensibly some very serious errors in Gene Edwards' theology and practice of the church, some may think these articles are too negative. Others will argue that I should first confront Gene Edwards privately about my concerns, before articulating them publicly. Still others will no doubt suggest that it is wrong to rebuke or criticize brethren in any format in which an unbeliever could observe it. And then there will be those who, believing Gene Edwards to be an apostle, will argue that it is wrong to contend with the Lord's appointed. I would like to respond to each of these concerns in order.

Those who think I am too negative should consider this: if you are not deeply familiar with Gene Edwards' teachings and practices pertaining to the churches it is understandable that you may feel that my criticism of his doctrines is overly harsh. But, as a friend of mine — a former pastor in a cultishly rigid denomination — has observed, "Someone who was totally ignorant of the religion and hypocrisy of the Pharisees might read one of Jesus' rebukes of them, knowing nothing else, and think, 'My, how unsparingly critical and condemning of these men He is!'; while another man, being intimately familiar with their ways, could read the same rebuke, and say to himself, 'My, how did He restrain His tongue in dealing with those vipers?!'"

However, if you are one of Gene Edwards' disciples, or an ardent fan of his, though you may be deeply familiar with his ecclesiology, then — as with many of those who have only a slight acquaintance with Gene Edwards' doctrines — you also may find these articles excoriatingly critical. That is, perhaps, unfortunate, but sadly it is not something I can prevent. Regardless, it is not my intention to wound the many dear saints who place their faith in Gene Edwards' leadership, nor is it my goal to be personal in my criticisms; rather, my desire is to warn all who would listen about Gene Edwards' spiritual deviance, and to uphold Jesus Christ as Lord in His assemblies — for only as the congregation yields to His will, as it is revealed in the New Testament, can it truly be said that He is the focus of our meetings.

To those who think that I should confront Gene Edwards privately about my concerns before publishing them for all to read, it must be asked, On what basis do you insist on this? There is no evidence that our Lord privately confronted the Pharisees with their false doctrines and unscriptural practices; All of His criticisms appear to have been made publicly, and not all of them to His adversaries' faces, even. Likewise, did Peter go to Ananias and Sapphira, privately, before confronting them before witnesses? (Acts 5:1-11) There certainly is no evidence of that. Nor did Paul privately share his concerns with Peter, that this member of the Twelve had become guilty of impugning the church of Christ, before rebuking him publicly (Gal. 2:11). Of course, in this latter case, some would suggest that the "face to face" rebuke was actually done as a private matter; but if it was, Paul made no bones about subsequently airing it for all to read, and he said absolutely nothing about Peter's response to his rebuke, besides!

For those who feel that any criticisms that are made of Gene Edwards in any format in which unbelievers might easily observe, again, the question must be asked, Where do you get such a notion? What authority is there for such an idea? Our Lord ministered under the Old Covenant, yet he was publicly critical of the religious leaders of His day; He spoke against the priests, the Pharisees, the scribes, and the Sadducees. He went into the temple, in full view of the Roman guard, and drove the money-makers out with a whip! (Hmm. Talk about harsh.) Furthermore, it is apparent from the New Testament that it was not entirely unusual for unbelievers to be present among the saints, even in the meetings of the church (1 Cor. 14:23); so, really, the idea of a format that is public to the church but not available to unbelievers isn't feasible.

Indeed, the assembly — the true assembly, not the organizations we call churches — is not hurt by the exposure of scoundrels and charlatans in her midst, let alone by the public criticism of false teaching that goes on in the name of the Lord. If she were, the gates of hell would have prevailed the moment Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg church! If anything, it is the assembly's ability to be forthright about her problems and failings that is appealing to honest inquirers. It is false religion that hides its dirty laundry; sincere faith in Christ is not afraid to be open and vulnerable.

For those who think that Gene Edwards is an apostle, and that, as such, he should not be accused or criticized, and who would suggest that I am acting presumptuously to contend with the Lord's appointed man, I challenge both his apostleship and the notion that apostleship makes a man above accountability for what he teaches and how he leads. It has already been observed, how Paul rebuked Peter; yet, it may be argued that Paul was an apostle, too, and that therefore it was not presumptuous of him to do this. Still, there is no sure standard or canon that says apostles may not be criticized or rebuked by non-apostles.

Paul's instruction, regardless of who is teaching, is that we should "examine everything carefully" (1 Thess. 5:21). In the same vein, John tells us to "test the spirits, to see whether they are from God" (1 John 4:1). How is this to be done? Well, in his Acts of the Apostles, Luke commends the Jews at Berea for being neither cynical nor naive regarding Paul's Gospel; for, although they received his words "with great joy," they also began "examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were [really] so" (Acts 17:11). Thus, it appears that the only safe way to know the truth is not to depend on a man's alleged apostleship, but to test the spirits and depend on the Word of God.

Having explained to you the nature of these articles, then, and why I have not yielded to some of the popular sentiments against this kind of writing, let me continue with my introduction to Gene Edwards and his teachings and practices concerning the function of the church.


NOTE: the rest of this critique called What's Wrong With Gene Edwards? is on the original Berean's website:


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