Should The Potters Field Survivors Sue PFM?
“When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?
Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers ,but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?
To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!”
(1 Corinthians 6:1–8 ESV)
““If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
(Matthew 18:15–17 ESV)
In the last update from the legal counsel for Potters Field Ministries, the attorney noted that no civil lawsuits have been filed against the Rozell’s.
The implication was that there are no grounds for such a suit, thus, no suits have been filed.
Ironically, the main reason no suits have been filed is because the PFM survivors care more about biblical truth than their former leaders have exhibited.
Because they believe that 1 Cor 6: 1-8 prohibits any legal actions between Christians, they have been loathe to file suit, even in cases where the action may be warranted.
The question before the house then is whether that passage is an absolute…does the Bible forbid any and all lawsuits between Christians?
I don’t think so…here’s why.
First, this passage refers to legal issues within a church context.
Potters Field Ministries is not a church, it is that modern hybrid, the “parachurch” ministry.
It is not even under the authority of a church…it was loosely affiliated with the Calvary Chapel Association which isn’t a church either.
The only authority they have is to remove you from the CCA database and rescind their approval…which they’ve done.
There is no church involved with this mess that isn’t run by the same people who created the mess, thus the context of the situations are dissimilar.
Second, this passage assumes a mechanism is available within the church to mediate disputes.
There isn’t one in this case as there isn’t a church.
Rob McCoy attempted to act as such, but Rob McCoy is gone.
In the church governance model employed by Calvary Chapel and PFM, the board is the last court of resort…and the board is controlled by those who people have a grievance against.
There is no way in these cases to follow the biblical injunctions of the Corinthian passage, because the structures used are completely dissimilar.
Third, Matt 18: 15-17 may be key here.
The steps have been followed in bringing church discipline to bear on the Rozell’s.
The Rozell’s were approached privately, then by dozens of witnesses, then the matter was taken to the “church”.
There has been no repentance or restitution, instead there is a statement from a lawyer.
Thus, any legal action would not be against brethren, but against someone who the passage states we are to consider unbelievers.
I will not dispute with anyone who refuses to litigate for the sake of conscience…but neither will I condemn anyone who seeks justice for themselves and all the others affected.
Seeking justice and righteousness is biblical too…
From a Christian attorney:
“Between brothers” and “against one another” is clearly speaking to people suing other people…here Christians.
PFM is a legal entity, not a person in the strictest legal sense. I have absolutely no reservation bringing a lawsuit against a church, as opposed to individuals, so long as first an effort has been made under Matthew 18 to remedy the conflict and address the damages suffered.
Since it is likely that the valuable assets in this situation are titled in PFM, that is where you go anyways.
From another perspective, those who allegedly suffer from cult-like treatment and experiences, as I have experienced, typically are highly ambivalent about confronting the offending party or entity and when they become determined to seek compensation, it is well after the statute of limitations has passed.’