Let me quote from your posting of May 9th addressed to me. I apologize for such delayed response.
“I understand that you feel strongly about the position taken by some KB churches on jewelry - but calling it a "heresy" and labeling some KB teachers and elders as "heretics", is devoid of any scriptural merit.”
“Nor is their rationale tied to salvation (or justification) of the believers who are wearing jewelry. There is no suggestion (implied or otherwise) that the believers who wear jewelry are not genuinely saved or in danger of losing their salvation (contrasted with Pentecostals).”
Did I misapply the word ‘heretic’?
In the mid-eighties, my older brother and his wife who were Professors in Trissur area [a city in Kerala, India] started visiting nearby homes and distributing gospel tracts. This resulted in about 10 people getting saved and started attending the East Fort Assembly. These people came from the denominational background and most of them had Jewelry on them. When they expressed their desire to get baptized the elders of the East Fort assembly refused to baptize them or accept them into fellowship. They mandated that they would have to remove all their Jewelry including any symbol of them being married. Among them there were women who got saved and their husbands were still unsaved. Such a measure could very well jeopardize their family life for some unbiblical reason as the removal of these wedding symbols. My brother did not allow these elders to bully these young believers and took them under his wings. He built a tank in his backyard and my father who was living with him at that time [who was a well-known teacher in his home town, before moving to Trissur area] baptized them. The elders of the East Fort assembly informed them that they are no longer welcomed at their assembly. They started meeting at my brother’s house and then on to a bigger place after several years.
I have shared this story on this site in the past without mentioning my relationship to this group or giving such specifics. Now I did it, because this would allow the readers to assess the real danger of this teaching. Those who think this removal of Jewelry is biblical should read my brother’s book in Malayalam which is available from www.biblestudycentre.net . There are several other books explaining the clear gospel and other doctrinal subjects also available through this site.
When I used the word ‘heretics’, I was referring to the erroneous application of the biblical teachings. If we believe that the Jewelry wearing has nothing to do with the salvation, why would the church leaders deny baptism and the Lord’s Supper? If they truly believe people can be saved without removing the Jewelry, by denying the baptism and the Lord’s Supper, they are usurping the authority of the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ. If that is not heresy, what else would it be?
I may decide not to have dinner for a period of time and from the savings I have from not eating the dinner will be channeled to help the evangelical work. That is my personal decision. God may honor it. But when I insist that everyone in the church should never eat dinner and if they do, they are going to be ousted from the assembly will be an unbiblical stance. Something that God would have honored would in turn become a heresy when I do that. This is what happened among the Kerala Brethren leaders. Just as the Judaizers insisted that the men should be circumcised before being accepted into the church, the Kerala Brethren insisted that the women should remove their Jewelry. This happened to be the ‘circumcision’ the Kerala brethren leaders imposed on their women. If what happened in Galatia is a heresy, what had been going on among the Brethren is nothing short of ‘heresy.’ Those who teach and implement heresy are heretics. This is why some among the Kerala Brethren are heretics.
“The most destructive dangers to the church have never been atheism, pagan religions, or cults that openly deny Scripture, but rather supposedly Christian movements that accept so much biblical truth that their unscriptural doctrines seem relatively insignificant and harmless. But a single drop of poison in a large container can make all the water lethal. And a single false idea that in any way undercuts God’s grace poisons the whole system of belief”. John MacArthur.
The poison is floating in the Kerala Brethren ‘pool of Siloam.’ Her mission should have been to cleanse, heal the blind, and to explain the way of salvation to all just as it is given to us through the scriptures. Instead her waters are overflowing with this Pharisaical toxin and many sincere souls are groping in darkness by its effects. Some sincerely believe that they are doing something great for the Lord by not wearing any Jewelry when they should be focused on weightier matters.
Some side notes -
The KB teaching with regard to jewelry can also be better assessed against the context of what is done with clear and explicit (sounding) commands in the NT. For instance, John 13:14 “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.” This reads and sounds like a command. It has to do with doing something, a practice. What the practice is is not left uncertain. The gospel clearly says what Christ did. Still we do not practice it. This is to say, when it suits our convenience, we are able to summon highly sophisticated modes of dealing with the biblical text. We ask questions like, “Was this intended as a literal and regular practice?” “Isn’t the Lord teaching us a spiritual lesson of humility, and isn’t that more important than the mere outward action of washing one another’s feet?” See, if we are able not to find a command for the practice of the church in what clearly sounds like one, how much more careful ought we to be to make commands out of what do not sound at all like stipulations of any kind, but general exhortation to godliness? This is not all. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers.” “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” In fact, there are 5 places where hospitality is commanded in the NT, twice as a requirement for elders (1Tim 3:2; Tit 1:8), and three times directed to all believers (Rom 12:13; Heb 13:2; 1 Pet 4:9). This is a very practiceable instruction. It is commanded. Should we make a rule and requirement out of it? Why is this considered instruction for us to follow voluntarily, but when it comes to adornment, two less absolute sounding instructions (1Tim 2:9; 1Pet 3:3) are turned into an inviolable law for fellowship? What is the basis and procedure for such transformations of biblical instructions?
Or even consider the following one: 1 Timothy 2:8 “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands.” Do the KB or any Brethren teach that men must only pray with lifted hands? Why not? It is not relevant whether I think that this is the intent of the verse. But it is highly relevant that the very next statement, linked to this one, is a proof text for requiring the removal of jewelry: v. 9 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array …” How is part of the statement in v. 9 a rule for a literal adoption and practice (“no gold”) when its obedience is to be in “LIKE MANNER” as men having to lift up holy hands in prayer? In any case, what is its connection to baptism, or permission to remember the Lord?