Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 2, 1951

Is It Shadow-Boxing?

Pat- Hardeman, Tampa, Florida

One brother has styled the current controversy with brother Key an instance of "shadow-boxing." In this article that label will be tested to see whether it is as much a misnomer as Roy's latest article "Crusade Against Christ." The only possible way that Roy could see anything "against Christ" in my position was to make the very assumption which he now says he denies, viz. to say the word saves is to dispense with Christ as Saviour. I have quoted scripture proving that the word saves. (James 1:21) Roy has never read where I nor anyone else said "the word saves without Christ." Yet he says I contradict myself by saying the instructions of the New Testament are sufficient, yet Christ is also necessary. Again he makes a contradiction where there is none by perverting my words to read: The instructions are sufficient without Christ." If I had said that, then said that Christ is necessary, it would have been contradictory. But I did not say it, nor did anyone that Roy has ever known. So, on Roy's part, the "Crusade Against Christ" is "shadowboxing," striving after wind. Now I am interested to learn it if I have been guilty of the same. Brother Wolfe's words are quoted approvingly (apparently): "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." (Bold Face - P.H.) Now if Roy believes these words, why did he write of the New Testament plan: "not in words." Brother. Wolfe states my position admirably. If Roy wants to retract his Forum tirade, "not in words,"

I will be happy to publish our agreement on that point. When I believe the New Testament plan does contain words, and Roy says "not in words," IS IT SHADOWBOXING? It is not! Is Roy now ready to admit that there is a law involved in the New Testament plan? If so, he goes back on his assertion, "not in words." If not, he misrepresents brother Wolfe, and remains modernistic! Brethren, it will be easy to determine whether I have been fighting a straw man. Below are ten propositions which express the definite implications of Roy's argument.

Let Roy Deny

(1) Resolved, the Virgin Birth is essential to the Son-ship of Christ.

(2) Resolved, "The New Testament plan involves the law of faith, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus." (Roy says, "not in words.")

(3) Resolved, the instructions of the New Testament are sufficient for man to save himself. (1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 3:17)

Let Roy Affirm

(4) Resolved, Christ is the New Testament plan, not in words.

(5) Resolved, Christ dwells personally, not representatively ("by faith') in the heart of the believer.

(6) Resolved, Christ exerts spiritual influence on the believer directly, apart from the word.

(7) Resolved, it is "presumption" rather than faith that states one will be condemned for disbelieving the virgin birth.

(8) Resolved, to follow the instructions of the New Testament is legalism the same in kind as Judaism.

(9) Resolved, one can make the scriptural confession while disbelieving the virgin birth.

(10) Resolved, the New Testament is to bring personally (directly—apart from the word) to Christ Jesus. ("Append' anything you please.)

Now if Roy will sign any one of these propositions, his former words at least have some meaning. But if Roy's language has not expressed or implied any of these propositions, his language is unintelligible. Now let us clear up some of...

Roy's Misrepresentations

(1) This controversy originated not in Roy's charge of lovelessness (par. 1), but in the Christian Forum saying the New Testament plan is "not in words."

(2) I did not "secure' personal letters to support my charge of modernism. Instead I wrote brother Key before any of my articles appeared that I had received evidences of his liberal trends and had them confirmed by his articles in the Forum. "I regret the lack of integrity in" Roy for not saying openly what he has written and spoken privately. Is Roy ashamed of his writing and conversation? He ought to be ashamed of those "letters!" (par. 1)

(3) I have never, never "had in mind" that the word of God is the paper on which Bible words are printed. This comes either from ignorance or deliberate desire to misrepresent. I hope from the former. (par. 2)

(4) I called Roy a Calvinist, not as he misrepresents it (par. 3) "for believing in the personal indwelling of the Spirit' but rather for advocating "the direct operation of Christ's personality on the believer." Roy does not believe Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph. 3:17), but he thinks Christ is there in person, apart from the word.

(5) Roy says I contradict myself by saying the New Testament saves, but Christ is also necessary. As before stated, he misrepresents me by adding "without Christ" to the sentence, "The New Testament saves." I never added those words, nor implied them. Further, Roy never heard of anyone that did claim, the New Testament saves without Christ. Why all his fuss in the Forum then? You would think there are millions claiming that the New Testament saves without Christ when actually NO ONE CLAIMS IT. Talk about shadow-boxing! When a person has to resort to adding to another man's words to manufacture a contradiction, it is a confession of weakness. The old liberalists said, "a few of the instructions of the New Testament' save without Christ. But no one has ever said, the New Testament (all of it) saves without Christ. Get this, the scriptures are able to make a person wise unto salvation; the scriptures make the man of God perfect; the word saves, but not without Christ.

(6) Roy's next misrepresentation is quite subtle. He tries vainly to make me charge him with modernism only on the basis of his refusal to take all the words literally in connection with the lake of fire and brimstone pictured in the scriptures. (par. 6, 7) Of course the Lord thought that was a good way to represent it, but I suppose that today's "theologians' would consider even that representation of it "crass and materialistic.' Notice now Roy's view of hell in his own words: "Without Christ man is unrealized, unredeemed, incomplete—socially and spiritually. Such a death as this is as eternal as man is." How "eternal' is man? Then notice Roy's description of heaven. It is not a "geographical transition to some stellar body which Jesus is now getting in readiness," but rather it is "eternal life which is to know God and Jesus whom He sent." What about John 14:1-6; 1 Thes. 4:15-17? What, pray tell me, is the advantage of all this "explaining" of God's message? God just didn't know enough to tell us of "eternal and spiritual truths" except "accommodatively . . . in physical and material terms." God had to do it that way, but Roy can beat that, he gets right down to the real spiritual terms, "unrealized, unredeemed, incomplete—socially and spiritually." Roy, what did Paul mean, "In words which the Holy Ghost teacheth comparing spiritual things with spiritual words." (1 Cor. 2:13 R.V.)? I stand with Paul regardless of anybody's "enlightening' 'sermons. If Roy will affirm this proposition: The punishment of the wicked after the judgment consists of conscious, painful suffering, eternal in duration, I will be glad to note our agreement on this vital theme, but will still sincerely object to his confusing and misleading terminology, "unrealized, unredeemed, incomplete—socially and spiritually." Similarly, I simply cannot see anybody's authority for the statement that going to heaven is not "a geographical transition to some stellar body which Jesus is now getting in readiness." At this point Roy gets more "spiritual" than the Bible, for God's word never does get us this close to the "eternal truths." Paul says we will "meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." But then I guess Paul had not been "enlightened" by somebody's sermons!

(7) Roy misrepresents me by the suggestion that I require one to know all matters of faith before baptism. He asks, what is "the length of brother Hardeman's creed?" Brother, my creed is Christ according to the teachings of the New Testament. No, I would not baptize a man who confesses that Christ is God's Son while disbelieving the virgin birth. If I know one disbelieves the virgin birth, I know he does not accept the Sonship of Christ. When I present the "infallible proofs" for Christ's Sonship, I am presenting such proofs for his birth of a virgin with God, not man as His Father. Peter used the grand proof of the resurrection to demonstrate that the Jews had been wrong some days before in crucifying Christ for saying He was the Son of God. (John 19:7) The issue to be decided concerning Christ's Sonship is the virgin birth; the resurrection proves that it is so. Roy implies one can accept an erroneous interpretation of the birth of Christ, i.e., decide that Christ was an illegitimate child, the fruit of a woman's sin, and just as long as "his difficulty is' not "an anti-supernatural bias" he can still be uncondemned. In fact Roy says it is presumption to condemn Christ's Sonship while rejecting his death for our sins providing our "difficulty is not an anti-supernatural bias?" If not, how can we so confess the Sonship while denying the virgin birth? I believe you are now in some of that "hot-water' you said all who accept the "blue-print" idea of the scriptures would be in. In what sense is Christ God's only begotten Son" if not by the virgin birth? You could not answer this to save your life without either reverting to the gnostic's idea of the "heavenly Christ on the man Jesus' or making Christ's Deity simply a different degree of the "divinity' possessed by all men. You state: "That He is God's Son spiritually... really or truly is what is most important." When I deny this, brother, that's not shadow-boxing!

(8) Not content to misrepresent me Roy misrepresents others (McGarvey et al) by implying they share his view that denying the virgin birth is an "unfatal" lie. If they did, it would not prove his position any more than the "enlightening" sermons. McGarvey's comments on Roy's theology would really be "exciting."

(9) Next Roy softens his tirade "not in words' 'to a simple distinction Christ and the Bible, then accuses me of not seeing the difference between them. Yes, I see the "difference,' but will Roy affirm that there is a difference in authority between Christ and the Bible? Christ made the Bible authoritative with His authority; will Roy Deny that?

(10) Roy's climatic misrepresentation consists in a subtle play on the words "believe" and "believing." He says, "It (Roy's position) does assume that one can believe the words, even Christ's words, without believing in Him." Roy makes "believe" mean the "intellectualistic assent of demons" while "believing" in Christ means a living obedient faith. It is only by falsely attributing to my words inconsistent meanings that Roy's escape from the charge of modernism is plausible. Again, I maintain: one cannot believe the words of the scriptures without believing the Christ of the scriptures. Letting the word "believe-believing" retain the same meaning, as Roy knew I meant it, I challenge denial of the above statement. Roy says, "I have never insisted on Christ to the exclusion of scripture only in the position of Saviour." If Roy means by this that the scriptures did not die on the cross for our sins, it is an obvious truism of which neither he nor anyone else has ever known a denial (so why all his verbose fuss over it in the Forum?). But if, as Roy wrote, he means the words "cannot save," he plainly denies James 1:21 and other plain passages. When Roy says "Not belief in the truthfulness of the scriptures, but commitment in trust to Christ is the faith that saves the soul," does he mean that belief in the truthfulness of the Bible is not included in, essential to faith in Christ? His language on the virgin birth gives us reason to believe this is exactly his meaning, provided, of course, "the difficulty is not an anti-supernatural bias!" The Baptists do not have "anti-supernatural bias;" therefore they could disbelieve what they please and Roy will think it presumptuous to condemn them. I have plenty of other indisputable evidence on this latter point which will come in due time. There is a school of thought among some preachers in Chicago that must be "exposed" and refuted, regardless of how many brethren in letters or "sermons" think it is "shadow-boxing," or self-righteousness.