Friday, April 6, 2018

Personal: Doug Stauffer Comes Clean


Dear Friends of the Ministry,

Over the past few months, I have come under some concerted  attacks from two men that have banded together with a common cause. I have reached out to these men but based upon feedback I am receiving from pastors in various locations, the unwarranted attacks continue to escalate. In response, I have determined to answer some of the slanderous accusations, along with providing some detailed correspondence between myself and these individuals. Ultimately, my goal at this juncture would be for reconciliation and cessation of the unjust attacks upon myself, my ministry, the ministries of my home church and pastor. If these men have the Christian character expected of God’s men, they will cease and desist, along with rectifying their tale-bearing among the brethren, but ultimately that is between each of them and their God.

You will note asterisks (*) throughout this letter. They are there to denote material presently left out to give these men further opportunity to reconcile without exposing any unnecessary dirty laundry that would serve as a fuller disclosure. If these men reconcile, the asterisks will remain in place. Should the slanders and attacks continue, asterisks will be replaced by the information the asterisks represent. This blog is intended to be informational and conciliatory, whereas, the escalation providing the deleted material will likely make any reconciliation much more difficult or nigh impossible. This blog is in no way intended to threaten or even warn anyone, but intended to set the record straight and defend against what I consider blatant wickedness.   

Background on One Book Rightly Divided

I wrote One Book Rightly Divided—first edition—from 1997 to 1999 while an assistant pastor in Alabama. The work began after being encouraged to put the material in print by Dr. Bill Grady who heard me teach on dispensationalism at a men’s retreat in  December 1996. The book was published in 2000 with the Acknowledgments page stating, “Dr. Bill Grady, my cattle prod in the Lord. Thank you for pushing me when I got bogged down and being the one that convinced me to write this book” (emphasis added). 

While I greatly appreciate his encouragement and support, I look back on the circumstances with regret that he was the primary reviewer of the book, because as he has said about that time, he did not “know the difference between right division and a right hook.” There is no doubt Dr. Grady did the best he could with his limited background in dispensational teaching but I needed more when writing about such a highly doctrinal subject.

One of the most hotly contested aspects included in the original edition (and the Second Edition) included salvation by works outside this present dispensation. Although the book admittedly contained much good information and reportedly helped a lot of people, it also contained some material that I later came to regret as I increasingly realized that some of the positions were both unscriptural and indefensible. I wrote the book based on what I had learned in Bible college. 

As I have said many times since, I basically regurgitated what I had been taught by Dr. Dave Reese who was deemed by many to be a hyperdispensationalist, especially by those in Pensacola. For instance, after an article entitled “Reese’s Pieces” attacking Dr. Reese’s dispensational teaching was published in the BB Bulletin in the late 1980s, I wrote Dr. Ruckman a letter defending Dave Reese. I could not understand why Dr. Ruckman would find Dave Reese’s teaching hyperdispensational since I had always assumed that much of the material originated with Dr. Ruckman’s own teachings. Many years later, Brian Donovan also attacked my book from the pulpit and the bookstore has never carried it for sale. I was told they refused to sell the book because it was too dispensational.

At the time that I published the book, being quite naïve of the differing positions and completely ignorant of the schisms on these subjects, I just figured if you could “prove” something from scripture, it must be true. Wow! At the time, I believed what I wrote was the right way to teach the Bible and probably even the only way. Fortunately, I am a perpetual student. 

In 2002 (2 years after the initial publication), I was criticized for my dispensational positions contained in the book by numerous men, most notably, David Cloud and Shelton Smith (a front-page article in the Sword of the Lord labeled me an Ultradispensationalist). These assessments caused me to go from meetings every week to many fewer meetings over the next couple of years. Despite all that, I did not waver from my position of works salvation in the Second Edition, that was until 2006 when I was again being asked to get the book back into print. Part of me, due to the uncertainties I was experiencing, wanted to just leave the book unpublished. Another part of me was wondering how I could be certain about anything we were teaching with so many unanswered questions and schisms. I really wanted to nail down the truth before I took a stance on this position. I believe I am there now (April 2018)! 

In the early 2000s, my sharpest student from the Bible institute began to question much of what we were teaching and I was writing concerning works salvation, Acts 2:38 application, Hebrews through Revelation being “tribulation” books, etc. Because I was more adept in the scriptures, I would simply dismiss him with the one-liners, like, “you can’t retroactively apply Paul back to the Law,” etc. This dismissive reaction worked for a time, but he kept coming back to me (and others on the church staff) with more questions, more letters, etc. (I still have much of this correspondence.) Most preachers would simply label him a pain in the neck and try to ignore him. To this day, I wish I had had a better understanding of true biblical dispensationalism in a few more areas, because I might have been a better guide to him. Yet, his insights into our doctrinal holes led him to reject the teaching altogether instead of finding the doctrinal ground upon which God intended him to land.

Finally, in October 2005, I gave this young man a copy of a marked-up book with some of my projected changes because I felt the Lord would have me make some significant changes before republishing the book in 2006. I did not appreciate it at the time, but the Lord had used this young man to get me to question enough of my teachings to slow down my dogmatism. My conflicted understanding became so great that I removed works salvation from what became called the Expanded Edition, published in 2006. 

I was not completely convinced about all the details but knew that I could no longer sufficiently defend that position and I certainly did not believe that it was an integral part of teaching dispensationalism or even dispensational salvation. The multitudes of people helped by the Expanded Edition of the book attest to the same mindset amongst thousands of others since more have read that edition than all the other editions combined. When I informed Dr. Grady in 2006 about removing the works element from dispensational salvation, he became extremely agitated ...

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Here are a few of those pages from my student that really got me thinking in 2005 about some of the aspects in the early editions. I wondered how these issues could be so polarizing even among my own church members ... and there were several others in the church questioning these teachings; most left quietly. 








I have not been able to reconnect with this once young man, but I certainly commend him for his spiritual fortitude to stand up and be heard. Sometimes you have to be willing to receive the ridicule, not because you have everything figured out but simply because you don't!

In 2009, my desire for forthrightness and integrity demanded that I meet with my pastor and assistant pastor in Alabama to ensure that they knew my position was moving away from the long-standing position of the church concerning works for salvation, when Peter understood the cross, etc. We met for several hours and after that time my influence in the church was minimized. The questioning of a works-based salvation in previous and future dispensations was not an acceptable position. While I understand that they reacted the way they thought they needed to for the good of the ministry, I longed for opportunities I once enjoyed to minister to the saints I loved so dearly in my home church. Either God was working with me or I was certainly squandering some opportunities. 

Finally, in 2013, a few years after these meetings, my family and I determined that God wanted us to relocate to Knoxville. This move was for multiple reasons: (1) my ministry and that of the church in Knoxville (especially of the pastor) were uniting in the writing, printing, and distributing of Bible-believing, Bible-teaching materials, and (2) the doctrines held by the church in Knoxville and now pastored by Andrew B. Ray more closely aligned with my changing dispensational position. Additionally, this church was previously pastored by David F. Reagan who had encouraged me to moderate my dispensational teachings before his passing to heaven in 2007. His influence also helped me to continually question my doctrinal stances rather than forcing the Bible to fit in man-made boxes simply because I could prove it needed to be in there.

In 2014, the book was again out of print, and my conflicts arose once again. I initially began to rewrite the book through mid-2015, this time co-authoring it with my new pastor, Andrew Ray. I stopped the progress because I was unsure that the changes we were incorporating would even allow this to be considered the same work. I wanted peace from God about the matter; which I now have!!!! While One Book Rightly Divided was on the back burner, my pastor and I co-authored seven other books including two books on prophecy, Reviving the Blessed Hope, and When the End Begins

During the writing process for these two prophecy books, I read several dozen books that were not pre-tribulational books so that I could address the weaknesses in our position. I even engaged some post-tribulational men who I knew would harshly critique the material as we were progressing. The study, the insights and especially the critical feedback with those two books convinced me that we should resume the work on One Book Rightly Divided: The Prophetic Edition once our plate was cleared a bit. This time we needed some input from friends and foes alike. 

This time, instead of having the inherent limitations with one primary reviewer, I would pull together about 50 men from one end of the spectrum to the other, especially some who would naturally challenge some of the dispensational teachings. This seemed wise to me but turned out to be one of the most scrutinized aspects of the current project because some of the men asked to be involved have historically challenged various aspects of dispensational truth. We also asked the men to take into consideration that this was a work in progress and it would take some time to get sufficient input to move beyond the draft stage. We also did not want additional distractions that come from those hearing rumors about this and that. Well, that did not last long!

Yesterday (April 7, 2018), I again reached out to one of these men who likened my request for patience to the secrecy of the heretics, Westcott and Hort. Before I learned of their tactics, I wondered why two preachers, after talking to Dr. Grady, cancelled me for future meetings and started the whole phone conversation with an uninterrupted dialog about how he could never have a Bible corrector in his pulpit. I have seen this type of guilt by contrived association used by corrupt politicians and the media but NEVER anticipated being on the receiving end by someone that only three months ago, I would have called a GOOD friend. These wicked attempts to liken me to two of the most vile Bible rejecters  is nothing short of treachery and deceit; certainly a fiery dart of the wicked (Ephesians 6:16)

I do not regret how we approached this daunting task, because I felt it was wise to institute the same system that was so beneficial  on the highly acclaimed prophecy books. I also wanted much counsel since I am just a fallible man (Proverbs 11:4). As we approach the conclusion of this project, I must confess that this process has served us well. In the end, the input from so many sources has made the book better, more complete, and more doctrinally sound. In some cases, the criticisms/insights/comments in the latest chapters have been longer than the chapters being reviewed by these individuals. This has become a treasure trove of spiritual input!

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Ultimately, I still believe in dispensational salvation (i.e., I refute the teaching that men looked forward to the cross for salvation in the Old Testament). Things that are different are simply not the same. However, I have throughout the years let it be known that my position on the inclusion of works within the dispensational salvation framework was changing as I was finding this aspect more troubling and less defensible on dozens of fronts. Churches, pastors, and individuals who had supported my ministry in the past all know of my questioning the works aspect and almost all of them think works-based salvation in other dispensations is critical and the majority have ceased to support my ministry. So anyone thinking that I am benefiting financially from doing what I believe to be right simply has no clue whatsoever. In fact, they are inexcusable for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged (Romans 2:1-3; John 7:2).

The shift has been financially costly but worth studying to not be ashamed (2 Timothy 2:15). This process has been a LONG process and comes as an attempt to be more scripturally accurate. My heart’s single desire is to please the Lord, although I often fail. Unfortunately, my detractors have claimed that my change of position is for “political reasons” which is ludicrous since my bread has always been buttered by those turning on me now. (This is where you pause and try to figure out my motivesfinancial, political or God-first).  

Those who think I benefit politically or financially also know that I could have simply reprinted the book, as is. If I would have done so, the pre-publication sales would have easily topped $15,000 to $25,000 from the pent-up demand. (And the Expanded Edition does not even contain a work-based dispensational salvation.) In all good conscience I could not simply reprint the book since there were other changes that needed to be made, most notably how to deal with Hebrews through Jude, etc. Knowing my intentions, I had to refuse money from people who offered to pay the reprinting costs of the Expanded Edition. I could not in good conscience have printed the book without editing it or making each of them aware of my refusal of any work-based salvation even though it has not been in the book for over a decade.

Moving forward on the book, as it is today, is my attempt to please the Lord and not man (Galatians 1:10). Presently, I have meetings being cancelled because I will not kowtow to positions held dear by my band of detractors. I guess what troubles me most are the attacks on my testimony and integrity by these men I once considered friends and certainly brethren in the faith, but unfortunately, this has been the modus operandi when fellow Bible believers disagree over minutia. And yes, minutia, because how a man is saved before Christ or after the Rapture does not affect one soul in the Church Age! Yet, to some it has become a fundamental of the faith and a reason to cause discord among brethren that agree on 98% of the Bible. 

According to them I am deceptive because I wanted to nail down the truth and understand my weaknesses before I was pigeonholed and labeled. I simply desired to find the safety that God says comes from a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 11:14). I do not apologize for believing that I was wrong and trying to fix those teachings. However, I do apologize if my actions in any way brought disgrace to the Lord or had the appearance of evil. For that I am truly sorry.

In the end, I will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, as will every other believer. I want to serve the King of kings and Lord of lords and I wake up every morning prayerfully desiring to do His bidding. My prayer is that those who have pre-judged me as a traitor to the truth (many of whom have had access to only an early draft of the first three chapters of the revised work) will humbly approach the throne of grace and ask God what He thinks of their deceptive actions. If I have truly wronged anyone, in any way, I ask that you forgive me and pray for me as “I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16).

Some might wonder—is it worth it all? At times I wonder that myself. BUT, if I am pleasing and glorifying God, He will be the final arbitrator. If I am not pleasing Him, well, it will not be because I failed to give it my best shot. 

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Because of Calvary, 
Doug Stauffer 

P. S. Pray for us! The first few chapters are already linked to my website. 

P.S.S. Anyone who has ordered this book prior to today (April 8th, 2018) but believes that this issue changes your desire for the material, you can request a full refund/email removal, etc. before the end of the month—no questions asked. Blessings!
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