40. Beware the reaction of the deceiver and the deceived
By the following Sunday, we did not yet know if he had received our letter but, in the morning service, Roger stood up to give his sermon which was based on 1 Timothy 5:1-16 and concerning care for widows. However, he failed to read the first verses:
1 Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2 the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
Insignificant? No, because he had treated one of our former Elders, Eddie Webb, in a disgraceful and insulting manner shortly before he had the nerve to deal with this passage. Again, this speaks of 'the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron' (1 Timothy 4:2). Eddie Webb also noticed this omission and spoke to me about it after the service, for he was still clearly deeply hurt by his treatment at Roger's hands - which had been witnessed, but nothing was done about this un-Scriptural matter! We will also see, later, whether Roger had treated the women in the church in the manner described in the Word of God.
Sue Wheelhouse approached me after the evening service in a very emotional state. As she began to speak to me I asked her to wait while I got two witnesses (Marilyn Evans and Geoff Christopher) and she then briefly said how she objected to the lies and slander concerning her husband in the letter and that she 'did fear God' and 'as a Christian I have to forgive you and I want you to know that!' I told her calmly, 'This isn't the first time that Roger has done this, is it? You know it has happened before, don't you!' She paled and blustered a little - but did not deny my accusation! She then left me and I went out to the hall area where Zoë was preparing the church flowers which were to be distributed to the sick and elderly in the usual way. Suddenly Sue appeared again (Marilyn witnessed this too) and repeated her 'forgiveness' speech to Zoë as 'you are a part of this too!'. Then she demanded, 'Who else have you sent the letter to? Have you sent it to everyone in the world! How many people have received this letter?' I was going to let her stew on this as it had clearly rattled her - for she must indeed know much of what Roger has perpetrated in the past, but Zoë let her know that only the church members and Peter Manson had the letter at that time. I added, 'at this time,' to let her know that I fully intended to warn others about this deceiver. Being forgiven by Sue is, of course, meaningless if we were not guilty of the slander she accused us of - and the evidence from the mouths of two or three witnesses or more would soon show where the truth lay!
Several church members shook my hand and whispered, 'Well done!', before the morning meeting and we had several 'phone calls during the next few weeks from other members who wanted to know what they should do about the letter. These conversations confirmed that there were more than a few others in the congregation who were deeply disturbed by the ministry of Roger Wheelhouse. As we stated in the accompanying letter, under the Church Rules, 10% of the membership were required to call for a special meeting to discuss any matter, and this would be accomodated at the next church meeting, or at the earliest possible opportunity. We also received a letter from a church member in which they stated:
'I read your letter and only the letter for I was not led to read the 30 pages. I asked the Lord immediately to fill you both with His love and compassion. I saw NO LOVE in your words no encouragement [sic]. I saw anger bitterness, which is not of God. I will not be influenced into wrong thinking.'
This is an attitude typical of the cults and we have received many such letters from Mormons, whose attitude is here typified: 'Don't bother me with the facts - I've already made my mind up. Don't criticise our leader(s) - that's not showing love'
Meanwhile, further examples of Wheelhouse's spiritual abuse were revealed. About six months earlier my wife had been concerned by the reaction of one of the girls in her Sunday School class. During a discussion this little girl had declared that her father had told her that, 'When you are older you can make up your own mind as to which religion to follow!' I shared this concern with Roger during a quiet moment at the end of a morning service to see if he really had a pastor's heart. Roger's immediate reaction was to gossip and berate: 'Oh yes, I know! Do you know, I went to his house and his language was filthy! I had the most dreadful stream of filth out of his mouth!' This was not what I wanted to hear from my 'pastor.' Even if it was true - and I did not want to imagine what Roger probably had done, or said, in order to provoke such a reaction from a man who I knew had a problem with anger. What I wanted to hear was the pastor saying he would minister to the family - or at least would deal with the lack of validity of other religions through his sermons. No promise was made to try and deal with the potential problem I was enquiring about. But he was much more at ease sharing gossip (which I had no desire or right to know!) than shepherding the sheep. This brother's wife 'phoned to ask what they needed to do after receiving the letter, and admitted that her husband had experienced a dreadful scene with Roger. She also willingly admitted that her husband had 'used bad language' and that Roger had accused him of being: 'The most evil man I've ever met'? Her husband was now of the opinion that: 'you might as well take a good book to read as listen to Roger's sermons.' She further revealed that Wheelhouse's behaviour was not the first time she had experienced such pastoring in a church. They sent us a copy of the letter they wrote to the church secretary asking for an extra-ordinary meeting:
It is with sadness that I feel compelled to write. I had thought that an extra-ordinary meeting might have been called without any need for my calling for one but, it seems, I was wrong.
It is an open secret that a long and well-researched letter is circulating amongst members that calls into question Roger's authority to continue as our Pastor. It took me some considerable time to read and digest the letter's contents and I have given it prayerful thought. Alongside my attempt at a Christian approach I looked at the situation as a Trade Unionist and asked; where is the natural justice in such a challenge being laid down and Roger being unable to respond?
I feel it is essential that a Church meeting be convened as soon as possible, to allow Roger to answer the points raised, allow members to ask both him and David questions and maybe pose more for the rest of us to answer. Without question the Lord's will MUST be allowed to come through and take charge and only by a specific gathering of members in prayerful analysis might this situation be resolved. Failure to "grasp the nettle" will only serve to prolong the discord that has now surfaced.'
This was clearly not the only member of the fellowship to be treated in this manner. Our lives preach a crystal clear sermon to the world. How many people would turn their backs on Christ, perhaps forever, after witnessing Roger Wheelhouse at work? Roger's supporters who readily defend his right to abuse others should have a good look at Scriptures on 'judging others.'
41. Beware the sheep damaged when you don't stand for the truth
We had experienced another aspect of this self-serving pastorate when a strangely 'spaced out' young man, Kelvin John Thomas, had begun to attend the church. I got to know him quite well and knew that he wanted to be baptised and had asked Roger to include him in the 'classes' in preparation for the next baptismal service. I asked Roger his reasons for not attempting to baptise the boy and he informed me that it was because 'his doctor says he is schizophrenic and he is on medication.' I questioned this diagnosis and whether there are grounds for refusing baptism on the grounds of some illness, whether perceived as genuine or not. I found, again, that Wheelhouse was willing to agree with my view without intending for a moment to follow Scripture. Despite repeated requests this boy was never included in the baptismal preparations although another, who Roger knew to be 'depressive,' was included. Roger could give no Scriptural reasons for excluding someone who repented of his sins and confessed the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour! Perhaps he has some special handle on the eternal future of those the medical world labels as 'mentally ill'? Wheelhouse actually baptised a 'depressive,' and another church member who did not confess their involvement in the occult. One of these later committed suicide because of the lack of pastoral work given! Roger had, of course, forbidden the 'pastoral deacons' from following the ministry for which our previous pastor, Byron Jones, had trained them. There were clearly things seriously amiss in many areas of the pastoral work of Roger Wheelhouse. After this service Kelvin John Thomas confirmed that he still wanted to be baptised!
We found out soon after the letter was written that Roger had undermined many more people, although we didn't need to know all the details about them for the Biblical evidence and the leading of the Holy Spirit had clearly confirmed that there was a severe problem in the leadership of the church! Several people said to me: 'We wouldn't have sent a letter, but we would have done something similar.' It is fine for people to bravely say this in private, but when and where were they going to do something? In our experience people rarely have the courage to maintain a powerful challenge against any person in authority and the public debacles we regularly see in Britain today are perfectly mirrored in the church today with cover-ups and white-washes being the order of the day, as in the Case Histories revealed here. We will shortly see how Wheelhouse attempted to stop anybody discussing his sermons, which is why any approach other than Scriptural public exposure through a letter, as the apostles demonstrated and we are to imitate (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Ephesians 5:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2:14; Hebrews 6:12; 1 Timothy 5:19-22), would have failed. We will also see just how brave Christians can be in public.
After the following Sunday service a newer member of the church, Mike Nelmes, stood up at the back of the church and asked what was being done about the letter that had been circulated. He was informed that the matter was in hand and that meetings were being arranged, and that Roger and the deacons were going to issue a statement from the leadership to deal with the matter. I approached Mike when the service ended and asked him if he there was anything he wanted to ask that might clarify what he had read. He was clearly angry and in no state to listen to reason and responded that the letter 'shows the state of the heart of the one who wrote it.' He departed with a boastful promise to bring questions at the appropriate meeting: 'both subjective and objective!'
42. Beware the methods used by the deceived to attempt to cover up error
We were invited to meet the deacons in Calvary Baptist Church on the 22nd December, 1998, where it quickly became clear that:
The deacons could not come up with a Scriptural definition of 'heretic' or 'heretical'! One of the deacons, Nesta Bowen, had even 'phoned my wife before the meeting and asked her for a definition; she had also advised which church members should not receive the letter because of age or ill-health and had since tried to distance herself from us by taking the line that 'Roger is doing some good things in Calvary.' This followed the exact pattern of Linda Alexander, who occupied a similar role [although without the 'official' title of deacon] in Kevin Tugwell's New Life Church almost ten years earlier! Nesta had also insisted that she was capable of taking the abuse from the hands of Wheelhouse. Unfortunately, even if this was true, it is dangerously un-Scriptural not to take action for the sake of those in the body of Christ who are incapable of looking after themselves. 1 Corinthians 12 tells us that we cannot do without these weaker members and they are worthy of more honour than the supposedly stronger members! There are excellent Scriptural reasons for not allowing women 'elders' and the evidence in deception shows Paul's inspired words to be perfectly fulfilled (1 Timothy 2:11-14) : 11 Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.
Two of the deacons admitted that they had been threatened with disciplinary action, both verbally and written, by Roger Wheelhouse; they also admitted that he gossiped about personal matters outside of the diaconate meetings, sharing things that he had no right to discuss with others and that he had even done so right up to the night of this meeting. Following his receipt of our letter, Wheelhouse repeatedly spoke about counselling during his sermons, describing how 'essential' it was that we should never reveal confidences from personal counselling sessions. His hypocrisy over these matters was continuously exposed.
The deacons revealed to us that Roger had forbidden them from questioning the contents of his sermons when they met with him.
Clearly this was a manipulated and fragmented 'leadership' exemplified by the behaviour of deacon' Peter Smith. He made it clear that he objected to being called a 'Yes man' in our letter: ' I won't have it!' he declared. I apologised to him (for the hurt - not for the fact), for he was clearly emotional about the subject. He insisted that he had spoken to Roger about a lot of the matters that our letter brought up and that 'things were getting better recently' - which I questioned immediately. Peter even admitted that he agreed with our objection to 'the lewdness.' But he remained angry about the letter and angrily burst out with: 'I feel sorry for any pastor of a church you're in!' Well he is welcome to contact two genuine men of God who have known us for years, Pastor Byron Jones or Pastor Stuart Brockett, and ask them what was the most trouble they ever had from us! But I don't really believe that Peter is interested in hearing the truth - as his later reactions proved.
The deacons, particularly Peter Smith, questioned us about the lack of love revealed in the letter. I told them that you will not find Paul (who wrote the 'hymn to love' - 1 Corinthians 13) talking about love in his letters when he deals with doctrinal sin and asked them to study Galatians 2:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 5-6 carefully. True love disciplines: 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Hebrews 12:5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; Hebrews 12:7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? Hebrews 12:8-11 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? … All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Revelation 3:19 'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent. The deacons presented no argument against this fact!
To her credit, Nesta Bowen read the 1 Corinthians 5-6 passage while the meeting was going on and agreed that there was no mention of 'love' in these passages.
Neil Jones asked about the "damnable heresies" mentioned in the letter. This was in the section on Benny Hinn and Ray Bevan and I stand by what was written - the Word-Faith heresies are damnable!
When we closed the meeting in prayer Peter Smith being to howl uncontrollably like a baby. We had heard that he had attended a 'Toronto Experience' meeting where he had been 'roaring like a lion' to such an extent that he returned home with a ragingly sore throat and now he considered that he had 'a ministry of tears.' This is wholly un-Scriptural and involved him weeping vociferously and uncontrollably during prayer times and made it very difficult to even hear other people praying! Self control is clearly part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and certainly did not apply to this man installed as a deacon.
This meeting confirmed to us that the diaconate had been manipulated and bullied by Roger Wheelhouse and that he had created divisive factions, and therefore qualified thoroughly as a heretic (see definitions given later).
The outcome of this meeting was the following letter from the diaconate sent to every member of the church:
Dear Brother / Sister,
The Deacons have been engaged in prayerful discussion on the contents of the letter which has been circulated to members from David & Zoë Williams.
We have considered the more serious charges made and we believe that Roger does not deliberately preach heresy and desires to serve the Lord in all things.
In order for the matters contained in the letter to be considered by Members, there will be a Special Church Meeting held on Thursday 7th January 1999 commencing at 7.30pm.
The Deacons have invited Rev Richard Lewis, Missioner / Secretary of the East Glamorgan English Baptist Association to chair this meeting and he has agreed to undertake this responsibility.
Please continue to hold these matters within the confines of the fellowship and seek the Lord in prayer for wisdom and guidance.
Yours, on behalf of the Deacons,
Howard W Bowen
43. Beware the deceived who try and compromise the truth
Following this letter, representative deacons came to our house to try and persuade us to write a conciliatory letter to the church. After much prayer my wife penned the following letter:
12th December 1998
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
we share a real love, great delight and reverence for the Precious Word of God. When the Word itself stresses that it should be handled correctly and accurately1 we must honour and obey. The things we consider precious in life are handled with loving care - we guard and protect them. When the precious, life-giving, Word of God is treated in a lewd or careless manner, when its beauty and glorious hope in Jesus' Victory is not carefully mentioned and His perfect truth is mishandled, we feel deeply grieved and angry2 that such dishonour should be allowed. We all need to check spoken and written words of teaching against the Scriptures to ensure their truth3 We dare not misuse God's word for one second!
The fellowship at Calvary Baptist Church has been very precious to us and we have known many of you for more than 15 years. When we know that those we love and trust have been needlessly abused, verbally or emotionally, and that the leaders we trusted into authority have been undermined, we grieve and experience anger that anyone should treat the Bride of Christ in such a dishonouring and disgraceful manner.
Like Elihu (Job 32-37) we could keep silent no longer. We felt we needed to contact the whole church in the manner of Paul writing to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 5 & 6) [Notice: the 'feeling' was based on Scripture! We did not approach this lightly, but only after much prayer did we take action]. If one man's sexual immorality (5v1) caused Paul to warn that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?" (5v6), how much more should a man who tramples on the Living Word of God and who treats the Body of Christ with contempt be in need of discipline?
Just as Paul wrote to Corinth and Galatia (Chapter 2, concerning a hurtful and damaging example set by an apostle) we felt led to write to bring the whole situation into the Light for all to see and test so that the problem could be addressed Scripturally. It was never our intention to inflict further hurt on the fellowship, but rather to encourage us all to seek the truth - for the Truth sets us free (John 8v32) and gives us Life and Hope of the Glory to come with Our Precious Saviour. We are sorry that following this pathway was not in line with Baptist Constitution and that this caused hurt. It was our hope that others who were hurting would be encouraged to know that the letter was certain to cause discipline and bring everything out into the open.
Our deep concern is to see our leaders released to serve the Body of Christ in our fellowship. We simply want to lift up the name of Jesus because only He deserves all the honour and glory for it is His blood that washes us whiter than snow and gives us life in the Unity of the Spirit.4
In His Precious Name,
1. Acts 18v25-26; 2 Timothy 2v15
2. Psa 119v9-11, 158; Isaiah 5v24; Roms 2v23-24
3. Proverbs 30v5; Acts 17v11; 2 Timothy 3v16-17; 2 Peter 1v20-21 and 3v14-18
4. Psalms 133v1; John 17v23; Ephesians 4v3,13; Col 3v14
[Post Script: Concern for the Baptist Constitution was very much secondary to Scriptural truth, since these and the church 'rules' were not always thoroughly Scriptural]
Telephone conversations with various deacons followed this letter and we met again with their representatives at our house, where we emphasized again that we considered that Roger Wheelhouse needed serious help and we were willing to go with them to a recognized ministry, even one they recommended. The line of attack from the Wheelhouses and their faction was clear to us already, for we were convinced that they would claim that we were 'demonised' to make these accusations against their man [see the later evidence which proves we were correct in this summation!] I take the same attitude now; if anyone considers us to be 'demonised' we would be willing to stand before God, as Elijah challenged the 'prophets' of Baal (1 Kings 18), and see who is God and who is powerless. God calls the deceivers bluff in irrefutable ways! We also made it clear that we were not going to compromise on any part of the letter, and it must be true that either the Wheelhouse's were in serious error, or us, and the only outcome was repentance or removal from office! We had to wait some weeks for the outcome and, in the meantime, we received letters and 'phone calls of support from as far away as the South of England. It was clear that at least one person had ignored the advice of the Calvary Baptist Church deacons to 'continue to hold these matters within the confines of the fellowship', because people quoted specifically from the letter. Many of the communicators revealed that they had suffered similar abuse from pastors, 'vicars', and 'Reverends' - but had received no help from their (un-Scriptural) denominational set-up. As a result people had suffered this kind of leadership for 5-10 years, or more, without change in the behavior of the supposed Christian leader. When people contact you anonymously because of the hurt they have suffered, and fear of being identified by their church and fellow Christians, you recognize the affect of such seriously damaging cultish behaviour.