Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 2, 1951
NUMBER 13, PAGE 2-3,5b

Crusade Against Christ

Roy Key, Chicago, Illinois

Do we really care about one another? When I answered this question in the negative and declared that we ought to repent of our lovelessness, brother Pat Hardeman grabbed his shield and broadaxe. The reader must judge as to whether or not he wields it "carelessly." Apparently, sensing the weakness of his charges of "modernism" against my articles, he has secured personal letters. I regret the lack of integrity in the friends to whom I wrote; still, I want them and Pat for friends and brethren. And while I wish to assure them of my good will, I will oppose them singly or (as seems the case now) all together in their unwitting attempt to dethrone Christ as Savior and put a "Code" on His Throne.

Brother Hardeman first has me shooting at the "Foundations" and finally actually setting them "ablaze." Little wonder he is excited. However, he, nor I, nor any other can do what he has me doing. The Foundation of Christianity is not combustible, and it "standeth sure." (2 Cor. 2:19) I wonder if Pat ever sings "Rock of Ages,' "The Church's One Foundation," "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand,' 'etc. The pyromaniac cannot harm this Foundation, for it is not made of "wood, hay, or stubble" (1 Cor. 3:11, 12), nor of paper, which seems to be what Pat has in mind.

I am asked what Ephesians 2:20 means if the New Testament is not the Foundation. The picture is of a Temple made of living stones (people). Whatever Bible is in this picture is in the minds and hearts of those who form the building, not buried in the cornerstone or thrust bodily into some apostle or prophet. My critic seems able to read into most any passage his notions. He has a building made part of living souls and part of scripture in which the Lord is to dwell in the Spirit. Yet, later on he calls me a "Calvinist' and "infidel" for believing in the personal indwelling of the Spirit. Perhaps, if I had God dwelling personally only in the pages of the Bible and not in the hearts of believers, Pat would let me off a little lighter. When Paul tells how Christ dwells in our hearts ("by faith,' Eph. 3:17), Pat thinks he is saying that he really isn't serious about Christ making His home there, that it's just our faith there, and he's calling that Christ. The passage ought to give him a little clearer insight into the meaning of faith as employed by Paul. Then he places the "first principles of the doctrines of Christ" (Heb. 6:1, 2) on the same level with Christ himself, apparently oblivious to the fact that they derive their significance from Him, are grounded in Him. But he saw in the verse the word "foundation' and stopped not a moment to examine its usage there.

My brother is really fighting against Christ. I don't mean that what he says about me is an attack on the Lord, save in so far as I am one of those whom He calls "these my brethren." Still, he is crusading against Christ as the sole and sufficient Object of the Christian's faith. His answer to this contention thus far has been to call it "blatant falsehood.' Nevertheless, at the risk of more careless charges, I must remind my critic of Paul's argument that "if righteousness comes through law, then Christ died for naught." (Gal. 2:21) In other words, if a code can save, we need no personal Savior as an Atonement. Salvation by forgiveness shows forever the impossibility of legal righteousness. Therefore, Pat's reliance on an impersonal "plan," rather than Christ Himself forgiving our sins and renewing our minds, is an implicit denial of the need for the Incarnation. He has not yet faced up to this terrible fact. I beg him to do it. He calls this argument "an old sectarian quibble" and says that Paul claimed instructions from heaven and still thought Jesus necessary.

He may be better acquainted with sectarian quibbles than I. I'm not much interested in who has quibbled right now, but I am interested in what Paul said. Certainly, he claimed instructions from heaven, but they were to lead men to Jesus to be saved by Him, not to act as Saviour themselves. Pat puts himself in the contradictory position of claiming that the instructions are sufficient for man to save himself with them, but he must have Christ, too. Apparently, Paul didn't expect the Judaizers to employ such logic in reply to him, though a few may have charged him with "infidelity' and called his argument "a blatant falsehood.' My critical brother has done everything but bald-facedly deny Paul's statement, "He is our peace." (Eph. 2:14) He is so sure that peace and righteousness come from following the code and that a man has the power to save himself that he is blinded to the real source of salvation in the Lord Himself.

Pat writes, "I have always understood a modernist to be one who regarded 'the traditional' view of heaven and hell as 'crass and materialistic'.' Yes, I suppose he does so regard them. By this great logic I am proved a modernist. The modernist also admits that Jesus died on the cross. Since Pat agrees, he now proves himself one. The fact is that neither of these beliefs distinguishes the modernist as such. The more Pat tells us what he thinks modernism is, the more we appreciate his understatement, "Perhaps I do not know all about modernism . . . " Though he admits this much, still he claims to know that I bear "all the marks of a modernist." He may not know what they all are, but he is still sure I have them.

I recommend that he read brother G. C. Brewer's sermon on "Heaven' in his very enlightening book of sermons. He will find that he has now charged brother Brewer, and all brethren expressing similar sentiments, with having "all the marks of a modernist.' Yet, these sermons have been in print as long as Pat's been able to read, and no one discovered their "modernism" before. Just how will he now go about "saving" brother Brewer? I thought most all Bible students were aware that eternal and spiritual truths are accommodatively presented in physical and material terms, the seen suggesting the nature of the unseen. While one of our very ablest preachers and defenders of the faith in Pat's words bears "all the marks of a modernist," Pat in his words does not "think straight."

As to what I hold a man has to confess faith in before he can be a Christian, I believe that he must confess faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. That's the only question that I know of New Testament preachers asking one requesting baptism. I am not discussing what all are matters of faith, but positively do not hold that a man must know and believe everything God has said before he can become a Christian. I ask Pat, Does a man have to have a knowledge of all matters of faith before you will baptize him? Just how thorough does his information have to be? Do you make sure he knows the whole Bible before you will let him be immersed into Christ? I am made to wonder what the length of brother Hardeman's creed is, for certainly it must all be asked of a man before baptism.

As for the virgin birth in particular, I've never denied it, do not now. I accept the accounts and did even before I had examined the question of dates, and I regard its denial as a critical matter, but this satisfies not my critic. He wants me to say that God will condemn all those who do not know about or have not been able to believe, whether their difficulty be an anti-supernatural bias or not. Not only do I refuse so to judge, but challenge his presumption in so doing. I do not contend that a man reject the records of Jesus' life and work, with impunity. As I see it, that one could not accept the Christ to which they bear testimony. I do not wish to give cause for misunderstanding on the importance of the Bible, nor the role it has to play. Nothing I have said is to indicate that we can abandon it, but it ever remains essential to mediate Christ to us. However, a man may fail to understand a part of it or accept an erroneous interpretation of some passage and not be eternally condemned. As McGarvey and Hardeman (N. B.) have said in essence, "Not every lie is fatal. It depends on the lie a man believes." I repudiate the charge of "infidelity" made simply because I do not agree with all Pat's interpretations, some of which I see to be dangerous.

He thinks that my question (and I call his attention to what was likely an unconscious misquotation), 'Did the Pentecostians have as the Object of the faith that saved them the writings of the New Testament or Old) or Jesus Christ as the crucified, risen, reigning Lord?" is another "quibble." He overlooked the word "writings." He knows and ought to know that I know the 27 books of Christian scripture are not the New Covenant. Therefore, he ought to know that these writings were not the Object of the Pentecostians' faith. What was? He claims "both" Jesus Christ and the New Testament. Proof? He answered a Baptist preacher recently on the point. I remind him that I wasn't there. Hebrews 9:16, 17 has nothing to say about the Object of Christian faith, whether the Baptist preacher knew enough to point it out or not.

He says that I assume to accept the New Testament is to dispense with Christ. It seems exceedingly difficult for him to get straight much of what I say. I made no such statement and make no such assumption. It depends on how, for what purpose, one accepts scripture as to whether it leads one to Christ to be saved by Him or becomes an idol standing between the Lord and men. He naively assumes that it cannot become such an idol. He seems incapable of understanding that men can depend on law, rather than God's Grace for salvation. And "I do not wish to see Christ dethroned by even so good a thing as the Bible."

It is asserted that my "infidel" position is revealed in distinguishing between the Word and the words, between Christ and scripture. A man had better distinguish between Creator and creation, if he does not wish to fall victim to idolatry. However, such distinction ought to be clear to the most pronounced legalist. Brother Hardeman is as confused on the meaning of "infidelity" as on" modernism." Yet, even in his excitement he ought to see the difference between Christ and the Bible. Almost any child in the primary Bible class can.

He calls my distinction "both nonsense and infidelity.' In his state of mind everything unfamiliar looks like "nonsense and infidelity." But hear his reason, "It is nonsense because it assumes that one could believe the words of scripture without believing the Christ of scripture." It does assume that one can believe the words, even Christ's words, without believing in Him. If Pat can't understand that, he has little understanding of the nature of Christian faith. Does he not know that "demons believe and shudder?' (James 2:19) Is faith in Christ but this intellectualistic assent of demons externally joined to works? If belief about God is not true in Him, as James shows, and one can see that, then one ought to see that believing the records about Jesus and believing in Him as Saviour are not identical. I have never insisted on Christ to the exclusion of scripture, only in the position of Saviour. Without it Jesus Christ cannot be known, but its office in salvation is instrumental. Not belief in the truthfulness of the Bible, but commitment in trust to Christ as Saviour is the faith that saves the soul.

I have just now received a letter from a friend, brother John F. Wolfe, in which he gives me a brotherly rebuke. He calls my set-to with Pat "shadow-boxing." I appreciate brother Wolfe's criticism. As I read it I know that he "cares." Of course, if he is right, and we are "fundamentally in agreement," just using "a different terminology," then we ought to quit such foolishness at once. Brother Wolfe sees that I believe that "the word of Christ (must) dwell in you richly" and says that when it does we build on the divine "plan." In do not object to the word "plan." I attack the idea of a "legal," "arbitrary" conception of it. He says, "The New Testament plan is not, like the law, merely a set of rules to govern our conduct. The New Testament plan involves the law of faith, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus." He thinks that both Pat and I are trying to force the other into a position that neither of us accepts, "You trying to force on him a legalistic position, and he trying to force on you modernism and direct operation.

I do not wish to be guilty of such "carelessness." If I have been, I am sorry. I thought that was the position that Pat freely chose. He states that he is ready to deny in debate that the Bible is to bring us personally to Christ, but is to act as a blue print, road map, walking stick by which a man saves himself. That's pure legalism, unadulterated. Now, if Pat doesn't hold that position, I don't want to try to force him into it for any personal advantage. I'm willing to take his word on the matter, though he seems quite unwilling to take mine concerning his charges. I have not yet accused him of consciously attacking Christ or repudiating the need of the Incarnation. What I have pointed out is that his position of legalism logically leads to those consequences, whether he sees them or not. It is that position, and not brother Hardeman, that I am attacking.

In order to clarify matters as best I know how, let me rephrase the proposition like this: "The New Testament teaches that it is to bring men personally to Christ Jesus."

We could append, "not to constitute a legal code by which men save themselves.' I consider that as a part of what my affirmation implicitly denies, whether stated in the resolution or not. I mean that the New Testament does not unite God and man in a legal relation. It is not a road map, walking stick, or blueprint for self-salvation. Its instructions are not to allow man to walk alone. It leads men to save themselves only as they forget all about saving themselves and throw themselves on Christ for mercy. It implies the personal indwelling of the Spirit in the child of God. Therefore, the New Testament scriptures are not just a letter from an absentee God, but the means by which the believer comes into intimate fellowship and communion with a present Lord.

I want no part of a wrangle over definition of terms. If the proposition as I have explained it represents a real difference between brother Hardeman and me, then I am sure that both of us consider that difference vital. If it does not, then I do not want to force him into the denial of something which he does not really deny. As for his charges of "modernism," I do not cry "Hold!" at all. Let him continue shooting until he is satisfied that I am not what he has thought. I will answer his charges as long as this paper will print my replies.