‘Waster’ letters to 50 churches make orthodox claims, are not police matter

A policeman is interviewed about a letter sent to churches saying they have rejected God's law.

McMinn County Sheriff’s detective Blake Witt is interviewed about a letter sent to churches saying they have rejected God’s law. (Photo TV3 Wrcbtv.com)

This anonymous letter about Christian doctrine sent to 50 churches in the Chattanooga area has become a matter of police investigation. (Photo TV3 Wrcbtv.com)

This anonymous letter about Christian doctrine sent to 50 churches in the Chattanooga area has become a matter of police investigation. (Photo TV3 Wrcbtv.com)

By David Tulis

The writer of hand-written letters delivered to more than 50 churches in the Chattanooga area argues that God’s people are being misled by ministers who reject the 10 commandments.

The one-page quoting numerous Bible verses cites what it calls soul-damning errors in theology, and is uncommon enough to become a police matter.

Churches in McMinn and Monroe Counties in Tennessee and County, Tenn., and Murray County, Ga., have received the correspondence delivered by hand for “the pastor.” The documents to the churches are described as “strange, anonymous letters bashing their religion” as Greg Glover of TV3 says.

The letters are a police matter because of the way they are signed, “the Waster,” a name attributed to Christ in Isaiah 54:16, 17 and Rev. 14:6-9. The first passage refers to waster, or “spoiler” in the New King James version, which suggests the Lord Jesus coming in judgment. The passage in Revelation depicts the fall of whorish Babylon and declares those who bear on their foreheads the mark of the beast shall “drink the wine of the wrath of God.”

Police matter in religious dispute?

Robert Chapman, reportedly author of “waster” letters

Robert Chapman, reportedly author of “waster” letters

[Update: Robert Chapman, who had been described as a “person of interest,” is reported to be the author of the letters. Sheriff and police officers located Mr. Chapman and chatted with him, TV12 reports. “This is not a criminal investigation,” says Monroe Sheriff Tommy Jones. “We would just like to check with Mr. Chapman’s intentions. And we want our churches to be aware of a general description and what we have so far.” — DJT]

The fear is that the writer’s signing the letter “the waster” implies that he thinks, somehow, that he may be an instrument of judgment against a heretical church or grouping. Readers and police officials are ready to assume the worst of the man’s character and purposes in his religious monologue.

The letter contains no threats or warnings outside the theological context. It appears not so much threatening as condemning of what the writer believes is sin in the camp, a spreading of a false version of the gospel.

Still, the correspondence is investigated as an evidence in a possible future crime by the writer/perpetrator. Police have taken fingerprints. Police on TV declare churches should have  “safety plans.”

“If that be door greeters, kind of keeping an eye on who comes into the church, you know, it’s sad that it’s come to that, but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” says Detective Blake Witt of the McMinn County sheriff’s office.

Writer’s grievance: talebearing

Biblically, the writer has sobering points, summed up in his lead sentence. “Here is a cold hard truth! Because the Judeo-Christian religions of the world only taught 10 commandments they damned all their members who died to hell.”

He goes on to argue for an 11th commandment, that against talebearing. Talebearing is already covered in the ninth commandment against bearing false witness. The writer goes on to say churches have been ignoring the commandment in Leviticus 19:16, which says, “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor.”

The letter goes on to provide New Testament support for this verse, including James 1:26 about God’s people’s needing to bridle their tongues.

The letter jumps back to the Old Testament, stating that “here is a commandment that has taken billions of religious people who died to hell,” and the verse cited is Lev. 19:11, “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”

Because Christian people are lying, the note says, they come under Christ’s judgment. Two verses out of Matthew are cited in support of this rejection of lawless men who “draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:8).

The letter condemns ministers who fail to teach the commandments, and who fail to teach talebearing specifically.

The New Testament, the writer notes, is full of commandments, and he offers proofs by citation. His point is that people wrongly condemn the Old Testament for its commandment and love the New Testament because it apparently contains no law or duty. “How many people have you deceived into going to hell?” the letter asks in its last line.

Orthodox philippic

The letter may be unusual, and it clearly is passionate, especially if each delivered message is a handwritten original.

It may be odd to sign it as if the writer were Christ, who is savior and judge of the world, and who will come to destroy the wicked on the last day as He saves His own. It is odd the writer does not sign his name as a natural person, but adopts the personae of the Lord Jesus. It is odd that he is addressing the Judeo-Christian religion and its adherents. There is no “Judeo-Christian religion,” unless perhaps the writer wants to say Judaism and Phariseeism have diluted the gospel and turned churches aside to fables, vanity and lawlessness.

The screed correctly identifies a modern phenomenon of antinomianism — a rejection of God’s law. That very popular religious viewpoint is in league with other parts of American cultural Baptistic Christianity, namely its subjectivism, its privatization of the faith, its loss of optimism about the growth of God’s kingdom by means of grace and Christian living.

It’s not clear these kinds of spiritual fear consign Christians in these Chattanooga-area county churches to hell. But indeed ministers are responsible for their people’s unwillingness to build a Christian civilization — what has long been called Christendom.

The “waster” may be an oddball, but makes points worth considering.

— David Tulis hosts a talk show 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays at AM 1240 Hot News Talk Radio, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond.

Source: Sara Sidery, “’The Waster’ warns dozens of churches with strange letter,” TV3 wrcbtv.com, Nov. 17, 2015. http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/30542622/the-waster-warns-dozens-of-churches-with-strange-letter

“Person of interest in ‘Waster’ letters to churches spoke with officials,” TV12 Wdef.com, Nov. 19, 2015. http://www.wdef.com/news/story/UPDATE-Person-of-interest-in-Waster-letters-to/wrwGKsKYN0KSq7yCUqamNg.cspx?rss=3457

Here are verses cited by the letter sent to 50 area churches.
Isaiah 54:16, 17 “’Behold, I have created the blacksmith Who blows the coals in the fire, Who brings forth an instrument for his work; And I have created the spoiler to destroy. No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,’ Says the Lord.”

Rev. 14:6-10 “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth–to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people — saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’ And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. ***’”

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