Thursday, March 19, 2009

Persecution and Reflection, Part 4

3/019/09 - 5th Day - After Breakfast. Those radical and/or revolutionary groups that are "all talk and no walk", or, "all smoke and no fire" are imperiled by the existence of members in the ranks who actually believe what the group espouses, or who are willing to take the groups dogma to its natural and inevitable conclusions. When the leadership doesn't believe its own propaganda, but anyone in membership does, then trouble is not far ahead.

The year 1999 was a heady one for our homegroup called Awarehouse in Lubbock, Texas. The Y2K phenomena had ballooned attendance and the group had really become a center for good and in depth preparedness info (as well as for any and all forms of spiritual lunacy and prophecy quackery). My well-known position was that "We do not prepare for events. Preparedness and self-sufficiency ought to be a lifestyle and not an event". I had no problem with using events to teach that Christians needed a radical and permanent lifestyle change, but the general movement at Awarehouse was for temporal and carnal self-defense and for event preparedness. There were good things that came out of the time. Many people learned a lot of things about preparedness and self-sufficiency (I use the term because it is widely accepted, though I prefer 'God-sufficiency" to self-sufficiency) and many of us who took things seriously made great strides in separating ourselves from an increasingly tenuous and dangerous world system. My studies in history also taught me that most of our problems and dangers were the result of a long slide (amplified during the Industrial Revolution) from a dependency on God and His provision, to a Tower of Babel like dependence on cities, industrial production, inordinate consumption, and a system of JIT (Just In Time) delivery of toxic and dangerous materials and foodstuffs. I was interested in changing the very way we live our lives, including separating ourselves from that which God had told us was dangerous and unnecessary. I was interested in taking my Christianity seriously rather than having it as a portion or disconnected religious segment or fragment of an otherwise worldly existence. I was interested in living as a Christian instead of wearing my Christianity on my shirt or as a bumper sticker. I was becoming a radical, and that was going to put me on a collision course with those who claimed to be radicals, but who were not.

As 1999 closed, and as January 1, 2000 came and went with a whimper, the motivations of many people became more and more clear. The Y2K no-show devastated attendance at Awarehouse. Not long into 2000 we were back to more reasonable attendance numbers and mainly just the core group remained. Everyone who had been attending in order to protect their flesh and to prepare for events drifted away not to be heard from again. The speakers bureau was now begging me to do a third video and tour because all of their Y2K prognostications had fizzled and I was one of the only ones who had taken a balanced position on Y2K. But I had no real desire to do another tour. I agreed to do another video, but this time I planned on telling the truth - even if I had to slip it in during taping. This enraged the head of the speakers bureau, and we parted ways very publicly. At last I was free of my relationship with that bunch, and I repented openly of any harm I had caused to anyone because of my participation with them.

In the last part I discussed how my conscience was being seared by what I was doing (or what I was not saying) on my speaking tours. I was also coming to the conclusion that my participation at Awarehouse was less than honest and forthright. I saw that we were a people with no real knowledge of Christian history, Christian doctrine, Christian responsibility, or Christian behavior. We talked a lot, and we taught a lot, but we never talked or taught about things that really mattered in the eternal realm. I was concerned as a teacher that I was going to be held responsible for the eternal addresses of some of these people, and I really wanted to begin talking about more eternal topics. Going into 2001 I was more and more burdened with the need to teach unadulterated truth. I did not know what an Antinomian was at the time, but I was soon to find out that our group was not just a group of worldly radicals. Awarehouse was actually a group of heretics who taught that a Christian could sin all he wants so that grace could abound. Antinomianism was the fatal disease, and I still thought the patient would improve with a booster shot of right doctrine. Silly me.

During this time (the early to middle part of 2001) the group really started to split. There was the hardcore Antinomian bunch that really worshiped Steve Donaldson and anything he had to say, but who had no real affection for me; and there were the others who I believe were seeking truth and who were willing to hear and test all things to see if they were the truth. Some folks in the second group didn't like me too, but at least I thought they were willing to hear truth. Some of the things being taught really bothered me, but I did not know at that time that those things were part of a system of heresy that had a long history in North America. Steve taught,

1. That once you said a prayer and honestly believed that Christ had saved you and that you could never lose your salvation, you were infallibly and absolutely saved no matter how you lived your life or what sins you persisted in. This belief is called "once saved, always saved" and it differs markedly from the Christian doctrine of The Perseverance of the Saints, which teaches that a true Christian, truly regenerated and truly converted, who shows by the grace and operation of God the fruit of regeneration and conversion, will never be lost or damned. Perseverance of the Saints means that many, many will apostatize and be lost, but that only the truly regenerated and converted, who show forth fruits of righteousness and who hold right doctrine will persevere to the end.

2. That God just wanted to make His people "radical Christians" wherever he had planted them. So if you were a professional bowler, God wanted you to be a radical Christian professional bowler. God had no intention of making a holy and separate people, or of leading His people to a more Christian worldview and lifestyle. In effect, God doesn't really care what you are doing, as long as you believe a few core doctrines.

3. That sin had only temporal effects on the Christian, and that God didn't deal with professing Christians on the basis of sin any more. Pornography, Theft, Adultery, Murder... these things had temporal penalties but no real eternal ones, and they had no bearing or bore no witness on whether a man or woman is a Christian or not. All manner of behavior was excused as minor offenses or as unimportant. The concept of "repenting" was anathematized. To repent after you are saved is to claim that Jesus died for nothing and that your sins (past, present, and future) are not forgiven.

4. That for the Christian, most of the Bible does not apply to you. Almost all of it (including the Gospels) was written for our edification and for our understanding of history, but it was not instructions, commands, or ordinances for Christian people. The entirety of the Old Testament and most of the New Testament was actually written to condemn the Jews, and since the law could not be kept perfectly, it was to be thrown out completely. Any attempt to obey the moral law or to keep commandments is a sign that you are under the curse and that you have not received grace. Any talk whatsoever of obedience was to be labeled "legalism".

5. That since the so-called "rapture" of the Church was imminent, it really doesn't matter how you live your life. Again, so long as you believed a core set of doctrines and that you rejected the institutional "church" as apostate, you were going to be raptured at any moment, so why do anything?

These beliefs, which I now know are called Hyper-Dispensationalism and Antinomianism, were the core beliefs taught at Awarehouse. I was ignorant then and did not see it for what it was until early in 2001 and more fully a few years later. A very illustrative book could be written about the outcome of this type of spiritual teaching and the actual results as manifest in the lives of the leadership of Awarehouse and of their direct offspring in the years from 1995 to the early 2000's. I will mention a few examples in the next part, but if some theology student wanted to really write an interesting book, he could go interview all those guys in depth and ask them about their lives and what happened to their children. It would be frightening and educational.

Ok, so these were the tensions that existed when I began teaching The Doctrines of Grace in the late spring/early summer of 2001. There were other tensions as well, and I was guilty of causing some of them. There was a lot of resentment and jealousy about my relationship with Steve Donaldson, and about the high-profile role I had in the group and in the country. I also amplified some of this resentment and jealousy by being a very edgy and somewhat radical public speaker. Steve and I had had a radio show from '99 through most of 2000, and I had continued my nationwide speaking and travels. I was young and immature at the time, and I often said things for shock value rather than for the good of the people to whom I taught. My signature was as a brash extremist who thrived in conflict and debate, and I am sure that many of the things I said and did were wrong or contrary to Christian grace, mercy, and charity. At the same time, I was a purist and I literally believed that we were the Body of Christ, and that we were beholden to the scriptures alone as our rule of life and living. I could not fathom that there were others who did not believe the scriptures to be authoritative, or who were willing to throw out the rules when they didn't like them.

So in 2001 I began teaching on a subject I knew would cause much controversy in the group. My topic was Election in the Gospel of John and I would use that book to teach the Doctrines of Grace at Awarehouse.

(That teaching is now available as a DVD set. You'll have to contact our good friend David Sifford - david ( at ) biblicalagrarianism ( dot ) com for information on how to receive that teaching)

Boom. The implosion of Awarehouse was set in motion. It started out slowly. First there was chatter and some arguing from people who were not going to believe in the truth not matter how Biblical it was. Others just rejected my authority to teach on the subject. Soon, a whole gaggle of Bunker-haters were standing up demonstrably and walking out as soon as I would begin speaking. Literally. They would stand up and storm out when I started to speak. It would get worse.

After only a few parts of the John commentary were completed (maybe 4 or 5) the anti-Bunker group was looking for any way possible to get rid of me. A perfect reason soon enough presented itself. The idea that I was a shameless self-promoter had already been one of the main accusations against me from the very beginning. Throughout the years '99, '00, and '01 there had been a continuous stream of accusations, usually when I was out of town and unavailable to defend myself. Generally the events would follow a predictable pattern. An accusation would be made that was either ridiculous or just partially true. A huge stink would be made (of course, I was always out of town) over something I had said that the accuser had chosen not to believe. Then the gossip would reach me on the road, usually because Steve (who was having to put up with the endless stream of accusations) would call me and tell me what was up, or worse, my wife - who was on the Awarehouse mailing list - would be privy to the accusations and she would call me to tell me what was happening. I would then provide whatever evidence was necessary to silence the accusers, and they would disappear into the mist for a day or a week until another opportunity would arise.

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks in New York City in September of 2001 my star began to rise again. In 1998 and again in 1999 I had predicted openly and publicly on videotape that a "terrorist attack" would be unleashed on either New York or LA and that that attack would be blamed specifically on Osama Bin Ladin (a CIA shill). Those attacks would be used to bring in new security and anti-terrorism laws (including a national form of ID) that would destroy much of what was left of our freedoms. When 9/11 happened and I was proven to be right (very publicly) the anti-Bunker forces at Awarehouse were in a tizzy. The week after 9/11 I had a special meeting at Awarehouse where I predicted that Bush and Cheney would utilize 9/11 as an excuse to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq (this was way before we invaded Afganistan and 2 years before the war in Iraq). Hits on my website were going through the roof, and I was getting a lot of attention. Only a few days later a self-described "Bishop" named Donnie Short, a prosperity preacher wannabe who claimed to be from T.D. Jakes Potters House Ministries got on my discussion forum and publicly accused me of being a "terrorist". He claimed openly that he had reported me to the federal authorities as a terrorist, and that he wanted people like me silenced. Here is his direct statement taken from my web forum:

"I have recently filed a complaint with the federal authorities in America concerning Michael Bunker"

He went on to say:

"I am sorry on behalf of all Americans for folks like this"

Now, read those quotes very carefully. He plainly and openly declares that he reported ME to the federal authorities, and this was in a discussion thread where he alleges that those of us who suspected government involvement in 9/11 were actually terrorists. Keep in mind that he claimed to have done the reporting, because it will be important later. Those quotes are featured prominently on the back cover of my book A Perilous Time that was published later in 2001.

Many people were rightfully appalled by the idea that so-called "christians" were turning in other Christians to the federal government. One of my greatest enemies at the time; a man who went to any and all efforts to expose me or harm me; a man who has since become my friend, but who was then one of the leaders of the anti-Bunker coalition at Awarehouse wrote this:
"Is Michael Bunker a "terrorist"?: You better read this and do everything you can to nip it in the bud as Barney Fife says: Now the citizenry is watching you. And making lists of who is naughty and nice. Now the "ordained of God" are turning names in. At least one Bishop Donnie Short with Potter's House Ministries is reportedly helping government find suspects.

Oh sure. We all hate evil. But who gets to ultimately define it? Lately many good folks have made the trek up to the attic to get the Stars and Stripes out of storage and they have rushed out to buy a flag pin to wear to church because the magic TV/god has declared patriotism is now a good thing. We are lockstepping toward a symbolism that is having its meaning redefined and changed?

Meanwhile, freedom is getting a good old fashion prison rape. The suspension of our life as we knew it is due to lawmakers as much as terrorists.


Dogooders are about to rise up like a bunch of Pharisees and turn in their neighbors. It is already on. The government encouragement to turn in names has now gone beyond asking about the dark skinned foreigner and the troubled loner. Christians are now turning names of other Christians in to the government terror "experts". I speak of the late breaking report at: about a minister who has turned patriot-preparedness-home church advocate Michael Bunker in as a terrorist.

If you have ever survived a good old fashioned Southern Baptist church split you know there is nothing that can attack and hurt you like a fine Christian brother who disagrees. This sickens me. If you think you have no dog in this fight you better think again about how close you are to a characterization or broad generalization of TERRORIST. Are you a gun owner? Are you a pro-lifer? Are you one of the few who still believe in national sovereignty? What have you confessed to your pastor? Your time is coming. I know Bunker. I am hardly a fan, follower, or admirer. We have had a running feud of sorts for years. We argue about all things theological, logical and especially illogical. Most times if we see each other coming down the street we avoid each other since we are both too bull headed to ever really listen to the other. There are things I think he is quite wrong about and he has an absolute disgust for my libertarian philosophy among many other things. We ain't buddies. I find him alternately entertaining and brilliant to offensive and pompous. He may be a lot of things from ego inflated to youthfully unwise. But he is no more a terrorist than Patrick Henry was.

Now some "man of God" has turned him in to the FEDGOV as a terrorist... and this man of God feels he is doing what is best. Heil Who? I don't care what Bunker has ever said. This is a country where you are supposed to speak freely even if you are wrong, stupid, or even hurt the feelings of someone.

What a funny trick of the Creator that I would rise up to defend this man. But I will. You can be a polar opposite of mine but I will grit my teeth, hold my nose and stand with you for freedom. Shame on the pastor who did this wrong. What a sad event as well that a fellow West Texan would become president of this country and apparently speed up the headlong rush for an executive order form of government and the loss of our nationhood. God Bless America indeed."

Right thinking people were incensed and outraged, even to the point where my enemies were rising up to defend me. The story was picked up by web news portals and Christian sites all over the Internet. Donny Short started taking a lot of flack. Folks started looking into his "Bishop" credentials and he was getting flamed on web forums all over the place. The system seemed to be working, and for a short while I was ecstatic about it.

Even the anti-Bunkerites at Awarehouse seemed to be on my side, that is, so long as my anti-freedom attacker didn't turn out to be a liar too. My Awarehouse support would fade as quickly as it had appeared... after all this is a lesson on Persecution.

The story was about to get curiouser and curiouser.

To be continued...

Michael Bunker


mary said...

I'm on the edge of my seat....Hurry!!

Ginny said...

You're killing me! Like Mary said, "Hurry!"

Mandie said...

lol, you still have me! Waiting for more....

Bill Peck said...

I remember much of this story from our conversations back in October, and when you've referenced sections of it in other writings, but it's great to be getting the whole story in print....looking forward to the "somewhere you're going with this"!


Michael Bunker said...

You sure it isn't getting boring?

Bill Peck said...

Boring? No bro, it's not. In fact, significant parts of 1 thru 4 are/were new to me, (either that, OR, senility had already done its dirty deed) so that's cool.

Keep em coming!


Allen Shropshire said...

Michael, Thank you for taking the time to share your story. It has kept me riveted to my screen. It is more encouraging than you can know! Boring? Absolutely not! I'm anxious to hear the "Rest of the Story"