February 10, 2005 ©Homer
Commentary — From the Margins
A Dirty Stain at Port Austin
In Point #1 of his Summary of Events at Port Austin, Norman Scott Edwards writes, "Edwards first learned about the Port Austin Bible Center on the former Port Austin Air Force Base property in early 2000. He arranged for a Feast of Tabernacles meeting there in the Fall of 2000, and maintained an occasional contact with its owners, Eternal Life Bible Institute (herein ‘ELBI'), and their representative, Warwick Potts." An occasional contact? Perhaps, if teaching a course with Warwick Potts at the Port Austin Bible Center is an occasional contact, and if delivering a sermon at Dr. Steven Jones' home church in Minnesota is an occasional contact. Regardless, Edwards writes more about his initial contact with the Port Austin Bible Center in his Sep/Oct 2000 issue of Servant News:
At our Feast of Trumpets service in 1999, a visitor brought a Saginaw, Mich. newspaper with an article about a Christian music festival celebrating the 2000th birthday of Christ on the Feast of Trumpets. I asked him for a copy, and several months later he mailed it to us. It sat in a pile on my desk for several more months. Meanwhile, Kevin Pomaville, who lives in central Michigan, found a nearby site which both of us planned to visit together. Out of curiosity I called the Port Austin Center in April just to see what they were about and I was surprised to find that they intended to rent out their facilities as a retreat center until their school was in full operation. They seemed eager to have us there for the Feast.…[After visiting the Center] I paid a $1,000 down to reserve the facilities and we did not even visit the other possible site which clearly would have been more expensive and had less facilities.…Later, the Port Austin Center management decided that the retreat idea was distracting them from other projects, so they canceled all of their retreat bookings except a football camp and ours.…It was at this same time that Warwick Potts, the present manager of the Port Austin Center, told me that he was inviting thirty or more people to come [to FoT services]. I told him that I would schedule a couple of speaking slots for him, and we agreed that we would add whatever evening and morning studies we thought appropriate. With many last-minute preparations to be made, I had little time to determine exactly what would be said at the meetings. (pp 1, 8)
One of those thirty people who came was Arthur M. Hawkins, then former president of Exide Batteries. Although in a future letter Edwards will write to Hawkins that they did not get to know each other well during Feast services, Edwards' relationship with Hawkins goes back to these eight days when Edwards only briefly left the Bible Center's campus on three occasions.
In March 1999, Arthur Hawkins purchased the parcels of property that would become the Port Austin Bible Center from the 754th Corporation, from Gary and Lori Babcock, and from Rick Fields. At this time, he also purchased three residences, two of which were adjoining the parcels that became the Bible Center. In early 2004, Warwick Potts said that Hawkins, for many years, had been looking for property such as the parcels he purchased at Port Austin. But Hawkins didn't personally hold these parcels long: in December 1999, he "sold" his interests in the parcels to Eternal Life Bible Institute (ELBI), a Minnesota 501(c)(3) corporation for one dollar ($1.00) each. However, in the recording of the sale of the parcel purchased from the 754th Corporation, filing irregularities might actually negate its transfer to ELBI, thereby leaving Hawkins with interest in the multiple, detached condominium units that compose a significant portion of the former Air Base and on which sits a little ugly cross.
Glen Goslin was the manager of ELBI's Port Austin assets in April 2000 when Edwards first visited the former Air Base. Warwick Potts was an Australian national whom Hawkins had brought into the country as an automotive expert to be employed by one of the many companies controlled by Hawkins (these companies, most LLCs, seem like so many walnut shells under which assets and employees were concealed from public inspection). And between April and July 2000, the "five Detroit area businessmen" that Glen Goslin publicly claimed were behind the future college being developed at Port Austin changed their minds about what they wanted to do. (Goslin refused to identify these men when asked by reporters. He would say only that they were Christians who wished to remain anonymous. In retrospect, they seem to be Arthur Hawkins and four marionette puppets.) Although informed speculation might provide the reason for why plans were changed, the effect was that enough work had been done and enough press had been generated to ensure that the property would be a tax-exempt sinkhole into which assets could be dumped without raising too many suspicions.
But as far as an enclave of biblical teaching was concerned, some Feast of Tabernacles attendees at Port Austin in 2000, in Edwards' words, concluded "that this Feast was a big mistake or a trick of Satan" (SN p. 8). The reason apparently was because of what those speakers who were employed directly or indirectly by Arthur Hawkins and ELBI taught. A principle culprit was Warwick Potts, who (again in Edwards' words) "made the mistake of starting his message by asking people not to have fear of learning new truth, then went on to present new ideas without substantiating them from the scriptures" (SN p. 12). The ideas Potts presented included astrology having a Biblical place in showing future events (apparently Potts is an astrologer…Hawkins had previously employed an astrologer while he was the CEO of Exide Batteries).
The speakers not known to Edwards included Dr. Steven Jones, who then "had a national newsletter, booklet and tape ministry, circulation about 2500, for a number of years" (SN p. 10). Edwards writes, "Steven Jones did come from the Identity movement—people who believe that the USA and other nations are modern Israel, but who also believe that non-Israelite races are not offered salvation by God in the same way that Israelite races are" (10). Apparently, Jones had by 2000 renounced that teaching and was then preaching universal salvation, but with a twist not familiar to the splintered Sabbatarian Churches of God. Plus, Jones and Potts still spoke at Identity movement conferences, a practice they maintain even today. Both are scheduled to speak in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in March 2005 at a Bible Conference organized by Stone Kingdom Ministries.
The relationship between Arthur Hawkins, Steven Jones, and Warwick Potts is difficult to ethically explain. According to the whisperings of the ugly little cross on the other side of the road, Hawkins habitually gave donations to charitable groups and ministries that were involved in the Christian Identity Movement, a racist and anti-Semitic religion according to the Anti Defamation League. Although Hawkins allegedly divested himself of his interests in the properties upon which the newly formed Port Austin Bible Center was located, Hawkins directed that the former power boiler building (located where that ugly cross stands) be torn down, even though he didn't have ownership of the building. Funds for the building's removal apparently came from a tax-exempt corporation to which Hawkins had, according to the whispering of the wind bent by that ugly cross, donated the amount of money required to remove the building. Again, between April and July of 2000, ELBI's plans for the Bible Center changed, and building maintenance was suspended—these changed plans seem to coincide with the deterioration of Hawkins' legal status as civil and criminal actions against him were developing and proceeding. So throughout the period when Edwards had occasional contact with the representatives of the Bible Center, Warwick Potts seems to have functioned as an agent for Hawkins, who apparently remained the power behind ELBI. His wife and attorney in fact, Cynthia Hawkins, was the President of ELBI in July 2004.
Why should I not be surprised to find that Cynthia Hawkins is the president of ELBI, the tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation to which Arthur Hawkins consigned his Port Austin purchases in the same calendar year that they were made? Why would I now not be surprised to find that Norman Scott Edwards will go onto ELBI's payroll beginning in March 2005? My guess is that his salary will be a little more than $3,300 per month. But time will bear out whether I should be surprised or not.
The wind seems to whisper that Hawkins and ELBI are interchangeable names for the same entity. I believe that after the Exide scandal was exposed, Hawkins donated a large amount of moneys to an established church at or near Bloomfield Hills, then didn't get the "respect" he wanted, so he then sought to "buy" a church, and found one for sale. The price, I believe, was hefty, but he could afford the purchase in tax savings as personal assets were transferred into a charitable ministry. I believe that days before Exide Batteries admitted wrongdoing in the Sears & Roebuck case, Hawkins consigned assets to at least one tax-exempt corporation. These assets in Michigan, I believe, primarily consisted of undeveloped real estate, some of which has since been developed using tax-exempt income.
What the wind wrapping itself around that ugly cross seems to say is that Hawkins used corporate funds to pay for personal projects. I believe he did this throughout his tenure as CEO of Exide, then after he resigned, did this with more than one ministry and shell corporations and limited liability companies. And here is where I wish to begin:
In his instructions to Titus, the Apostle Paul writes, "To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work" (Titus 1:15-16).
They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works—the defiled and unbelieving about whom Paul writes to Titus are not atheists that do not profess any god, but individuals "who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party" (Titus 1:10). They are self-identified Christians, but they deny God by their works, by their fruits, by the visible evidence of their faith. They are unfit for any good work even though they profess God. The Apostle says, "They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach" (v. 11). And therein lies the link between insubordinate empty talkers of the 1st-Century and insubordinate empty talkers of the 21st-Century: they teach for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. Their "work" is to teach the Word of God, but they do not understand the Word. They are spiritual Cretans in that they are "liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons" (v. 12).
Throughout his ministry in Asia Minor, the Apostle Paul was in constant conflict with the circumcision faction, teachers coming from Jerusalem who insisted that Gentile converts to Christianity must first be physically circumcised before they are spiritually circumcised, that the physical preceded the spiritual. Indeed, the physical does precede the spiritual. The physically holy nation of Israel preceded the spiritually holy nation of Israel. But the spiritually holy nation is not an assemblage of those who have been made holy through the works of their hands, or by genetics, but a nation of inwardly holy disciples who have washed the inside of the cup; i.e., cleansed their minds of all filthiness. The color or plumbing of the fleshy tabernacle in which this spiritually holy nation temporarily dwells has no spiritual significance. Thus, physical circumcision produces no spiritual advantage while causing disciples to appear naked before God, with their only covering for sin being their obedience to God, being their righteousness. Physical circumcision negates the cloak of Christ Jesus' righteousness with which born-from-above children of God are clothed. Physical circumcision negates Grace, and causes the disciple to appear before God "revealed" before it becomes time for the Son of Man to be revealed (Luke 17:26-30).
The circumcision party mixed the new and old covenants together as if the two covenants were honey and bile, then caused spiritual babes to swallow this medicine that will cure nothing but will gag the healthy. These carnally minded teachers of Israel who actually came from the headquarters church at Jerusalem physically maimed disciples. They were the spiritually lifeless shadow of an endtime spiritual party or movement that also mixes the old and new covenants to spiritually maim born-from-above babes. Whereas the injury in the 1st-Century was with a knife that caused spiritual death, the injury in the 21st-Century is with an idea that causes disciples to hemorrhage until all that remains in physical tabernacles is racism and hate. Those who mingled the old and new covenants were doubly cursed by the Apostle Paul; those who mingle covenants today remain doubly cursed, for the mingling causes them to break both covenants.
Again, under the ministry of Spirit or glory the outside of the cup has no significance. Penises are not needed, for circumcision is of the heart and mind. Skin color produces no advantages, nor disadvantages. Who one's physical father or mother is has no meaning, for all disciples are one-off creations by God the Father; all are sons of God, as are the angels. Salvation doesn't come through sexual intercourse, or through any collective activity of human beings. It is the gift of God the Father, given with receipt of the Holy Spirit. However, it can be lost through blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Therefore, any doctrine or creed or dogma that places significance on the outside of the cup (i.e., upon the physical tabernacle in which a born-from-above son of God dwells) mingles the old and the new covenants and is, by extension, doubly accursed. Disciples will keep the laws of God because these laws have been written on the inside of the cup. Disciples will show love one to another because love is inside the cup. And disciples will reject every form of racism because race is only of the outside of the cup.
The Christian Identity Movement in a perverse argument identifies the Christian Church as the holy nation of God, located in Holy Writ as endtime Israel. This argument as far as it goes has merit, for the Church comprises all spiritually circumcised descendants of the patriarch Abraham. But the firstborn son of Abraham was Ishmael, who wasn't of promise but of the flesh, and the endtime firstborn son of the last Eve [the Christian Church] will be a spiritual Cain, who murders his righteous younger brother. Therein lies the flaw contained within the Identity movement. For Ishmael doesn't inherit the promised land of God's rest, and Cain is marked and is driven to the east, away from God's rest. Only those disciples that mentally journey to Judea where they inwardly live as Judeans are children of promise. The Identity movement would have spiritual Gentiles and Ishmaelites inherit the kingdom of God.
Under the new covenant, an Israelite is one who is inwardly an Israelite, meaning that an Israelite is one who lives as an Israelite from the convictions of his or her heart and mind, not for reasons of maimed flesh or biological descent. This now, at the end of the age, includes all those who, when in a far land, begin to live by the laws of God, while professing that Jesus is Lord and that God the Father raised Him from the dead (Rom 10:9). What Evangelical Christianity has missed is living by the laws of God, especially the 4th Commandment. What "professing Jews" have missed is understanding the prophet Isaiah and professing that Jesus is Lord. The Father would have both among His firstborn sons.
The ideological advance guard of the Christian Identity movement couples British Israelism to the Cross to "prove" that Anglo-European Christians are both physical and spiritual Israelites. The premise behind British Israelism in its many manifestations is that the northern House of Joseph [Israel] that was taken captive by Assyrians in 721 BCE migrated out of Middle East areas and today dwells across northern Europe and in the nations colonized by northern Europeans, especially the United States. This premise says that the northern House of Joseph, (Samaria), inherited the name Israel when the patriarch Jacob/Israel laid his hands on Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph that were born in Egypt, the geographical representation of sin. Thus, this premise has physical descendants of the northern kingdom retaining the lawful use of the name Israel, and those who hold this premise claim that the descendants of the House of Judah that went into and returned from Babylonian captivity have unlawfully usurped the name Israel. Therefore, rabbinical Judaism and the modern nation of Israel have misappropriated a name that rightfully belongs to Christians of northern European lineage.
The premise behind British Israelism plays hopscotch with itself and steps into the 19th-Century with a split personality. Emerging from a period of long dormancy as a bear leaving its springtime den, Arian Christianity climbed desert mountains: as one rabbi stated, Only in Salt Lake City am I identified as a gentile. But Arian Christianity includes all denominations and sects that identify Jesus as a created being, regardless of when He was created. It is a movement that seems uniquely American in character, but its roots include the Vandals, the last Arian Christians to defeat Trinitarian armies. (During the first half of the seven, endtime years of tribulation, Arian Christianity will again defeat Trinitarian Armies.)
While the spiritual side of British Israelism recruited disciples for Arian denominations and sects, its physical side advanced the concept that the promises and prophecies about endtime Israel applied to the nations in which northern Europeans settled. Thus, this facet of British Israelism has the United States, Britain, and Australia going into national captivity prior to the end of the age, with Christ liberating these nations from captivity at His coming. This manifestation of an alternate historical perspective lends itself nicely to the mixing of the old and new covenants. Wittingly or unwittingly, individuals who hold this physical premise are racists, some the ugly white of skinheads, some the off-color white of corporate executives, some the conservative gray of the Sabbatarian Churches of God that have descended from the evangelism of Herbert Armstrong. Thus, the white racism of the Identity movement shook hands with, and held a religious festival with slivers of Armstrong's evangelism at Port Austin, Michigan, in 2000.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in its establishment clauses allows Americans religious liberty, and Americans have taken this liberty to concoct damnable heresies by which spiritual Cretans as the liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons that they are can bilk donations from usually sincere disciples, who have not before heard these new truths about Americans being true Israelites. Too many Americans will go where angels are fearful to tread. And some American will, for reasons that are entirely carnal, support ministries and individuals that transform probable history into overt racism.
In 2000, Arthur Hawkins held church services in his home, located in an exclusive section of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a community in which economically challenged Black Americans would not normally venture. These services were conducted by ministers coming from or associated with the Christian Identity Movement, a theology of racism. And little racial diversity was apparent in the small congregation that met in Hawkins' home.
That ugly cross on the other side of the road, a cross as hollow of the heart of the Port Austin Bible Center, has begun to reveal its secrets, some of which are about the Identity movement. As if the drifting snow were whispering in plaintive moans swirling from around the base of this false cross, a story has emerged of corporate abuse and personal greed, a story that is today being transcribed through the uttering of the Holy Spirit. It seems that in the Southland was one who pretended to be a messiah figure. This man gave a considerable amount of money into the ministry of another who has traced the migrations of the physical House of Joseph to Carthage during the drought of King Ahab, then on to Britain and North America. From one poorly written but reasonably well researched book has come four more books, thanks to the generosity of our wanna-be messiah. But this wanna-be's generosity comes with strings. Our wanna-be apparently purchased a 501(c)(3) corporation that he controls through shuffling and reshuffling Board members. Three Board seats were offered to Norman Scott Edwards in a deal that would have left marionette strings sewn to the collars and cuffs of the three who sat in those seats.
An Aussie huckster of second-hand autos is now hawking the Christian Identity of Israel, itself a treadworn derelict from a bygone era. Lead and acid and rubber tires don't have the charisma of a national identity found throughout Scripture. Only in novels can lead and acid become jazzy jewels sexy enough to captivate the imagination of a nation that seems ashamed of its greatness.
The words are there, with more coming from that false cross about our wanna-be, who gives money into a ministry, then expects his generosity to be returned through that ministry paying for his pet projects. He uses tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporations as nut shells under which he hides assets, with the IRS's task being to guess under which shell has he hidden the pea. All-the-while this spiritual Cretan and a bevy of pet squirrels support and actively teach spiritual racism coupled (as Dante's adulterous lovers were) to physical racism through national supremacy. His squirrels chatter about numerology in new age trash talk as they scurry along gaming trails while raw lands are being quietly developed.
The Apostle Paul didn't spare his condemnation of the circumcision faction that influenced or intimidated even the Apostle Peter. Nor will my condemnation of those Christians who preach racism, spiritual or physical, be confined to negative sounding platitudes about disapproval. The Cross is a murderer. And the Christianity of the Cross stands diametrically opposed to the Christianity of Christ. So today, that ugly cross on the other side of the road has begun taking away the breath of our wanna-be, who stands naked for physical inspection before ministering servants. He stands condemned, his identity that of a lawbreaker. And the cause of Christian Identity that he has supported will stand, stripped of Grace, as a naked male, outwardly and inwardly a Gentile, before the throne of the Christ on the day when judgments are revealed. This movement will stand among the circumcised faction, both awaiting baptism by fire in bodies of flesh.
The dismantling of an economic house of cards began when that ugly cross, as an erect middle finger, was defiantly raised to mark a specific location. Unfortunately, the ones doing the erecting didn't realize that what they were concealing would also be hidden from them. They didn't realize that God will not be mocked, that He will bring upon those who use His name for personal gain the inner torment of spiritual death in a still living tabernacle of flesh.
It doesn't matter how righteous a person's speech sounds if the person's spiritual walk is that of a Cretan. How many times does a person have to tell a lie to be a liar? Is once enough? Is intentional vagueness enough? How much manure does the inside of a person need to hold before the person is defiled? How many times does a person have to disobey the laws of God before the person is insubordinate? How much racism must a person practice before the person hates his brother?
The Apostle Paul could have written to Titus a message saying that those of the circumcision party were merely misguided disciples who didn't yet understand Grace. He could have practiced doctrinal tolerance, asking why all Christians cannot just get along since all profess to worship God. He could have written, "May each of our groups work to excel the other in service to our Father in Heaven" (from Norman Scott Edwards' letter to Paul Drieman, dated December 23, 2004). But he didn't, for racism spiritually defiles as does lying and defrauding a brother. Again, racism through the Identity movement is spiritual defilement. So too is removing names from a purchase agreement. Those who practice both will profess to know God, but they are not known of God. They desire to have the Holy Spirit work through them. They pray for a successful music camp, and they receive fire as the answer to their prayers. Only the fire they receive leaves them hollering, Arson, arson, on a cold January morning when they are their own arsonists through the overloading of electrical circuits. They know Scripture, as does Satan. They might even renounce their wicked ways, but until they bring forth fruit worthy of repentance, their words are merely wind blowing slowly past flicking tongues as they go hand-in-hand into the lake of fire. And they go hand-in-hand when a 501(c)(3) corporation conveys a Warranty Deed to a trust instrument into which any wanna-be messiah can conceal assets.
What has happened here at Port Austin is not difficult to understand. Capitalizing on a relationship that goes back to 2000, knowing the history of what had happened on the former Air Base, knowing that ELBI was doing no ministry work from the property and that ELBI was about to lose its tax-exempt status, Norman Scott Edwards intervened to help the friends he had developed during Feast, friends he had developed when teaching a class together, friends he had developed when traveling to preach to distant congregations. During spring 2003, Edwards writes in Servants News that, possibly, he will play with the kids for a while. In December 2003, the means by which he can play with the kids becomes apparent. He writes a brief outline for a Sabbatarian Educational Environment (SEE) that has students paying tuition. Edwards calls this outline a plan in his Summary of Events at Port Austin. And in this plan, Edwards writes, "The [SEE} government will be firmly bound to implement the plan for SEE, as laid out in this and future documents" (Point 6 of Summary). Then in his letter to me dated January 25, 2005, Edwards writes, "SEE has now been cancelled by Frankford, Drieman and Williams, a majority of its founders, as evidenced by an affidavit signed November 30, 2004 and recorded at Liber 1085, Page 693 at the Huron County Register of Deeds" (paragraph 5). Thus, by Edwards' admission, the government of SEE consisted of the four named trustees that signed the Purchase Agreement, dated April 28, 2004 (page 223) (page 224) (page 225) & (page 226), and known as Liber 1048.
But in Point 7 of his Summary of Events at Port Austin, Edwards writes, "The fundamental issue that has caused the rift between Drieman/Frankford/Williams and Edwards is which of the above two points are most important. Was this project to be whatever four men decided it would be? Or, was it to implement the specific plans outlined in Edwards' and Williams' writings?" The answer is disclosed by Edwards himself: the government of SEE was comprised by the four men, whom Edwards acknowledges had the authority to terminate the SEE program by majority vote.
The recent problem at Port Austin is that Edwards never had any intention of being part of the ministry to which he had committed himself. I believe Hawkins purchased Edwards' loyalty through donations to the Servant News beginning in 2000, donations large enough that Edwards could consider suspending the publication and starting to play with the kids.
Edwards has written against the corporate church, so Hawkins and Warwick Potts' offer of ELBI Board seats, formally tendered during Edwards and Williams' January 5, 2004 meeting with ELBI directors, was considered but rejected by January 25, 2004. A Trust Indenture apparently seemed, to Edwards, the safer vehicle for placing the Port Austin properties beyond the reach of government intrusion.
I believe Hawkins needed a real estate broker to assist in his shell game, and I believe he purchased the loyalty of one. Thus, today, instead of Glen Goslin and Warwick Potts apparently representing Hawkins' interested in this resort community, I believe Hawkins has Edwards and our known but still-unnamed broker.
But when sitting in Federal prison, earning money is difficult: I believe Hawkins needed a steady incoming trickle of funds for the years he would either be out-of-the-country, or incarcerated, so he placed a figurative milking machine on the udders of the Christian Identity Movement. Who cares if he bilks hundreds of thousands, or more, from these white racists, upsetting families through teaching what ought not be taught? I believe they are his intended victims. The public doesn't care about them, and they have little legal standing in courts. A little seed money was sown among them, enough to (mixing metaphors) prime the pump.
The financial resources of the Identity movement, like an underground aquifer, was discovered by one of those five mysterious Detroit businessmen sometime in the mid-1990s. But the drilling operation to exploit this resource didn't begin until the Exide Battery scandal broke. Then, this new field must hurriedly be brought on line. Pumps were installed by a tax-exempt corporation during the spring of 2000, and these pumps began to produce enough that other fields could be shutdown. Port Austin was one of those fields that was capped. Only a low-profile presence was required. But Potts' visa problems required that he actually do ministry work or return to Australia. He had to be moved out of Port Austin, and someone else slipped into his place. Enter now, Norman Scott Edwards, with a figurative offering of two pigeons.
I believe those working under Hawkins would take advantage of non-Arian Christians, in particular, of Terry Monte Williams—and of Philip Frankford because of his extended family's heritage. These are the two named individuals that Edwards brought to Warwick Potts' attention before Edwards' January 25th rejection of Hawkins and Potts' offer of Board seats.
The wind struggles to move the now heavy drifts that have settled around the base of that ugly cross on the other side of the road. Someone with a shovel will have to dig through these dirty yellow mounds.
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."