Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 17, 1951
NUMBER 3, PAGE 8,11b

"Foundations Under Fire"

Roy Key, Chicago, Illinois

I have never sought controversy with any of my brethren. I do not seek it now. I will be glad to forgive the injustices done me by the misrepresenting of my views, but I feel that I must attempt as best I can to dispel whatever misunderstandings have arisen around them.

Brother Pat Hardeman in the March 1st issue of the Gospel Guardian labeled some recent articles of mine "modernism." He either does not know what "modernism" is or failed to read discerningly what I wrote. He has further intimated that I have claimed open-mindedness for those only who fall in line with the Christian Forum. My articles neither say that nor imply it. They declare that we are all sinners before God for not caring about one another any more than we have. Apparently; because he is included in this number, brother Hardeman jumps to the conclusion that I deny the charge for myself and those who happen to be of like view. He simply didn't read carefully enough.

Going on, he declares, "However, these liberal brethren know full well that it is the conviction of those whom they oppose (and that their opponents will uphold the conviction in an honorable way) that the innovations opposed are not expedients but errors in the realm of faith. This is the very principle these brethren refuse to discuss, but still raise their cry of 'disfellowshipping.' " My articles had nothing to do with the discussion on "innovations" or anyone's conviction in regard to them. They had very much to do with our lack of real concern for one another, whether we agree or disagree. This accusation comes with little merit when Ernest Beam is trying to persuade just such schoolmen to discuss "in an honorable way" the very issue that brother Hardeman claims that no one is willing to face. If he wants an opponent, one stands waiting for him, challenge already issued, while he complains longer that no one will enter the field.

The only place that brother Hardeman really takes issue with me is in regard to the question, "What is the Foundation of the Christian Religion?" I contend that "Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Christ the Lord" (I Cor. 3:11). The whole tone of both my articles was that He (Jesus Christ) is the Center of the Christian Faith, the Foundation of the Christian Religion, the only Hope we have for regeneration, salvation, unification, and that personal commitment to Him in trust is that which links us vitally to God and to one another. That it alone can make us love and make us live together. This is my "modernism," the same "modernism" that fills the New Testament.

Does brother Hardeman wish to deny the proposition stated in 1 Cor. 3:11? If he does, I will affirm it. Yes, I know that Jesus Christ is mediated to us in the New Testament, and that it is the only authentic account we have of Him and His Work. Therefore, it must serve as our rule of faith and practice, but it is not the Foundation, not the Object of our faith. Does brother Hardeman wish to affirm that it is? Then I will deny it. Let me ask him, Did the Pentecostians have as the Object of the (or Old) or Jesus Christ as the crucified, risen, reigning Lord?

The reckless charge that it is "infidelity" for me to declare that the Lord Himself is Savior and "our Peace," rather than some formal plan is truly amazing. It is the kind of "infidelity" that Paul was guilty of when he tried to convince the Judaizers that God saved through Jesus Christ rather than the Law, albeit it was His Law. It is the kind of "infidelity" that makes Jesus Christ and His Cross essential to unity. Though brother Hardeman may dispense with them and simply take the "plan," Paul told those who thought they could be saved by the law in his day (not just the Law of Moses, but law as a principle of salvation) that they nullified the grace of Christ, made the death of Christ of no real purpose (Gal. 2:21; cf. 3:21).

I do not mean that brother Hardeman intentionally destroys the Cross of Christ, but that is what his shift of the Foundation of Christianity from Christ Himself to the Scriptures does. You brethren will have to judge whether he or I is the "modernist." I firmly avow that he is more basically akin to the modernist than I am. Salvation or unity by any external plan makes unnecessary the Incarnation. Paul states the case with finality to the Galatians. It is all "to no purpose." Any law, any plan could be handed down to men in writing, making unnecessary the personal coming of Christ. Let a prophet or angel give orally the instructions. Jesus is not needed. Not even the angel or prophet are needed. God could drop down the instructions from Heaven as the Moslems claim He dropped the Koran. Anyone who can grasp the argument that Paul makes to the Galatians can see the truth of this contention.

Brother Hardeman fails to read correctly again when he charges, "That brother Key does not object simply to our plan,' but rather to any plan, even the Bible plan. . . " My second article states quite plainly, "He is the Divine Plan. Not words, but His Word to us, incarnate in our flesh, is God's Solution to division." That is the Bible Plan, and it is neither legal nor moralistic. This makes Christian faith personal and not merely intellectualistic. I recognize that this sounds nonsensical to one who views faith creedalistically. He can never see it until he sees God's Plan in Jesus Christ Himself, which is the Bible plan."

Yet, brother Hardeman passes it over for one that he can find in the words themselves, rather than the Reality to which they are to bring us. He gives no indication of knowing what the Word of God really is, that which is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword." He thinks it is composed of the text of Scripture, rather than the Christ of Scripture. That Word which saves is the One that "became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). This word can make us over, can make us love one another, can make us one. If some want to say that the Bible is our Savior, that the "plan" (meaning one composed of Scripture texts) saves and unites us, they must be careful lest they blaspheme. I can say only that if they speak in a secondary sense, knowing all the while that these save and unify only in so far as they bring us into fellowship with the Living Word, then they speak the truth. But when they speak legally and externally, thinking that Christ has arbitrarily transferred to external things (words and deeds) the power of His own Personality, then they fail to see the reality of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, and to lay hold on God's Grace in Him. They do not know the personal nature of Christianity. They live yet under the shadow of the Law.

Does brother Hardeman think that the sounds vocally expressed by Jesus were His Spirit? Those who equate spirit with breath might think this was getting close, but surely he can see more clearly than that. On John 6:63 McGarvey comments, "Jesus here tells them plainly that his words relate to the spiritual realm, and to life in that realm" (The Fourfold Gospel). His words can be equated with Himself only figuratively; they convey His Spirit or form the means of real spiritual communication. That is why John calls Christ "the Word" Who is "God" It is the entrance of the word that gives life, and that is a spiritual encounter not a linguistic apprehension.

Brother Hardeman suggests that I ought to be willing to debate on the plan. If he will affirm that it is abstract and legal, I will deny it. I will affirm that it is Christ Himself, if he will deny that, or if he will draft a resolution that correctly states this issue, I will meet him upon it until he is ready to let the matter rest. I have no desire to appear as a challenger. However, I am jealous for whatever reputation as a Gospel preacher I may have. More than that, if I know my own heart, I am jealous for that Message of the Love of God in Christ Jesus. I do not wish to see Him dethroned by even so good a thing as the Bible. I appreciate the concern that brother Hardeman expresses over me. If he and I are both in earnest, God will be able through Him Who is "our Peace" to bring us closer together. If our faith is in Jesus Christ, though he mistakes the real unifying force of God, that will not keep God from working in him and me for a brotherhood that is deeper than all our attempted descriptions and analyses of it.