The pastor and members of a Tennessee church were forced to defend their guest speaker, controversial internet preacher Greg Locke, during their spring revival service last Thursday after he was publicly rebuked for "not living up to what a pastor needs to be."
Several videos of a brawl that erupted during the revival service at Benchmark Church in Oliver Springs, Tennessee, reflect an ongoing feud between the equally controversial Pulpit & Pen ministry of Pastor J. D. Hall of Montana, and Locke, who leads Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee and boasts a massive audience of more than a million followers on Facebook.
Hall and those who write for his ministry describe themselves as Baptist, with most of them holding to the five points of Calvinism. They say they hold "similar convictions, including a belief in the Scripture's inerrancy, young-Earth creationism, Biblical manhood and womanhood, and a general detestation of skinny jeans."
For months, Hall's ministry has argued that Locke is unfit for ministry because of his separation from his mentally troubled wife, Melissa.
"You know some of us need to tremble when the devil is against us," Weakley said as the congregation gave him shouts of support.
"My heart is just broken from what's been going on and I'm telling you this brother needs prayer right now. Not like all of us, no right now," Weakley said resolutely as both Locke and the church obeyed his request to prayer.
After a few moments of what appeared to be supportive intercession, Weakley then declared, "We know that the devil is just having his way. And the biggest problem we have right now is this man right here." He pointed to Locke whose head was still bowed at the pulpit.
This man "is not living up to what a pastor needs to be," Weakley said as a single voice is heard saying "thank you, Jesus."
After a split second of silence, however, angry shouts soon erupted from the back of the church declaring "Oh, no!" By this time, Locke had his head raised as Weakley continued speaking. He was quickly interrupted by the church's leader, Pastor Benjamin Blankenship, who ordered him to "get out, get out of here now."
A brawl, which included a shouting match, then ensued until Weakley and his family were finally expelled from the church.
Weakley explained in another video after the brawl that they have no plans to stop trying to keep Locke out of the pulpit.
"This is what happens when you go out and stand up," Weakley said. "Greg Locke understands now that we're not gonna take this lying down. There are folks from Pulpit & Pen all over the place.
"There are some other folks who they're gonna come by and hold these ministries and revivals and stuff. They've shamed the gospel of Jesus Christ, they've shamed the pulpit. We can't do anything about their sin or their repentance but as far as the church and holiness in the church, we really need to be on top of it."
Blankenship slammed Weakley and Pulpit & Pen in several posts on his Facebook page.
"This pious sacrosanct devil is [d]eluding himself & his weak-minded followers who sit idly at their computers swallowing up his lies like little birds. He has public[ly] shown that he has a severe spiritual disorder," Blankenship said.
"What these heartless people are doing to Pastor Greg Locke isn't Christian, but monstrous. Frankly, I question their true motives. It's been alleged that much of it is for different reasons and when some of them saw an opening they took it. While many of us are in the public eye to some degree our lives are not their business," the small town pastor said.
In an interview with The Christian Post last month after news broke that he was heading for divorce, Locke revealed that his wife has been battling mental illness for a long time and she was sent to a place where she would be able to get the help she needs.
"She's been in and out of mental health facilities but that is not where she is right now. She is at a place that helps ladies get on their feet again. The only reason why she is there is that the lady who runs it is like her grandmother, and so she's there. She's only there because of the comfort," he told CP.
He insisted that she wanted to live that way and that he had very little control over her actions as divorce isn't something he believes in.
"The facts are she left. She lived across town for two weeks. She got on the bus. She left. We've done everything. I've sent money. I'm supportive. I'm in contact with caregivers on a regular basis. I'm getting updates ... it's not for a lack of trying. This happened four months ago," he said of his wife.
In an interview with Pulpit & Pen this month, however, Melissa Locke charged that her husband was both physically and verbally abusive to her. She said she walked out on her husband after he reportedly told her after a heated quarrel: "You know Melissa, I just don't want you anymore. I don't care if you die and we have a funeral. I'll just shed a few tears over you. I don't care if you take all the pills in the house, I just want you not in my life."