Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 17, 1951

Foundations Ablaze -- A Reply To Key

Pat Hardeman, Tampa, Florida

1. Brother Key's first charge is that I do not know what modernism is. Perhaps I do not know all about modernism, but I know enough to see in Roy Key all the marks of a modernist. I have always understood a modernist to be one who regarded "the traditional" view of heaven and hell as "crass and materialistic." Brother Key carries this same mark. He wrote in a letter last summer that without Christ man is "unrealized, unredeemed, incomplete—socially and spiritually. Such a death as this is as eternal as man is." This "incompleteness" is the view which brother Key and most other modernists take of hell. In writing of heaven in the same letter brother Key declaimed against the idea of heaven as "a matter of geographical transition to some stellar body that Jesus is now getting in readiness for us," and stated that heaven is "eternal life which is to know God and Jesus whom He sent." When this view of heaven and hell is considered brother Key has all the marks of a modernist. I have yet to meet a modernist under fire in the church who will admit that his brethren know what modernism is. When a man goes on to decry the "blueprint idea of scripture," which we hold, and states that he does not "wish to see Christ dethroned by even so good a thing as the Bible," he stands completely indicted as a full fledged modernist whether he likes the indictment or not. Further, I have several letters in which brother Key expresses the sentiment of the following sentences: "It is the Virgin Life of Jesus that gives us any credence to the Virgin Birth, and it is from the former that our spiritual strength stems. That he is God's son spiritually, therefore in the fullest sense really and truly, is what is most important." Brother Key has also written that a person can honestly reject the virgin birth, still believe that Christ is God's son and be a Christian. If brother Key is not a modernist, please send us one down to study so we poor benighted souls can understand what modernism is. Whether he wishes to classify himself as a modernist or not, he is an infidel with respect to the Bible and needs to be exposed. Anybody who can write in one sentence, "I am jealous for whatever reputation as a gospel preacher I may have" and in the third sentence later can write, "I do not wish to see Christ dethroned by even so good a thing as the Bible" is a modernist.

2 As to Brother Key's second challenge, I am happy to learn that he believes I am open minded, although he still "includes" me "in that number" "not caring about one another." I reaffirm that I do care, else I would not have written to save brother Key.

3. Brother Key insists that his articles "had nothing to do with the discussion on 'innovations' or anyone's convictions in regard to them." Whether he intended them as such or not, that is exactly the way brother Beam used them as his "kite-tail" testifies. Beam plainly set the "peace" which brother Key advocates as an ideal in opposition to the barrier erected by innovations among the saints today. I surely thought that the divisions caused by innovations were in brother Key's mind when he wrote, "The spectacle of a single group setting itself apart from the rest, proclaiming itself as the completely restored New Testament Church, The Church of Christ, yet at the same time divided into many warring factions appears tragically ludicrous in the eyes of thoughtful people." (He Is Our Peace II) Now if he grants that I am a "thoughtful person" his affirmation is false because I regard the church of the Lord of which I am a member as wondrously fair instead of "tragically ludicrous." If he wishes to say his group of modernists are the only thoughtful people we will blush at his modesty. The truth is that brother Key has described all the writers on the Guardian staff as "Wallace boys" and predicted that they would all be in "hot water" because of their "blue print idea of the scripture." Brother Key cannot successfully deny this without denying what he has written in black and white.

4. Brother Key says that Ernest Beam is trying to persuade "school men" to discuss the very issues which I claim nobody will face. Now the issues I claim neither Beam nor Key will face are whether premillennialism, instrumental music or missionary societies are errors in the realm of faith and cause for disfellowship. Jim Cope stated that issue admirably in a recent Guardian and as yet neither Beam nor Key have accepted. As for brother Key's challenge to me I accepted it immediately and suggested that I affirm and he deny verbal plenary inspiration. Brother Key refuses to discuss this saying that there is no disagreement between us. Then in the next paragraph of a letter to me, he proceeded to disagree with my statements on Biblical inspiration! Roy Key does not believe the Bible doctrine of inspiration, but refuses to discuss it. If he wishes to change his mind I stand ready. When he wrote me the second time he stated one issue in these words: "I contend that the scriptures themselves teach that they are to bring one personally face to face with God in Christ, not to act as a roadmap, a walking stick, a blueprint or a code man uses to save himself." As this statement stands I will deny it. Before brother Key's present article came to me he suggested that we debate the issue in our new paper Reason and Revelation which will deal primarily with the liberalistic trends. I am waiting for brother Key's reply to my acceptance of his statement of the issue.

5. Brother Key implies that I deny Christ is the foundation of the Christian religion. This is a blatant falsehood. I am not impressed with the claims of brother Key or other modernists that they hold Christ to be the center of the Christian faith. They still deny this proposition—"We are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone." Eph. 2:20. Brother Key, if the New Testament is in no way the foundation of the Christian faith then what is the foundation spoken if in this passage? Speaking of foundations, brother Key certainly would not like a doctrinal foundation such as "the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." Heb. 6:1, 2.

6. Brother Key says that the New Testament is not the foundation nor the object of our faith but rather our only rule of faith and practice, the only authentic record of Christ. Now, brother Key, suppose someone rejects this only authentic account? Is he still worthy of a Christian's fellowship? You ask, "Did the Pentecostians have the New Testament as the object of their faith or Jesus Christ as the glorified reigning Lord"? The answer is, they had both. Your position is no better than Ben Bogard's quibble that the New Testament had not yet been written. I answered a Baptist preacher on that in a debate last week. I never thought I would have to answer a brother on the same point. The fact is, the Pentecostians believed the same Word that was later written in the New Testament, but the Testament was of force from Pentecost on. Heb. 9:16, 17.

7. Brother Key's next error is the assumption that to accept the New Testament is to dispense with Christ and vice versa. He thinks there is no such thing as a law saving Christians. Well, "the law of the spirit of life is Christ Jesus hath made free from the law of sin and death," Rom. 8:2. Further, one must follow the "law of faith" which does not exclude commandments to be saved. Rom. 3:27. Christians save themselves by keeping the law of Christ in the New Testament. If not, what do these scriptures mean? I Tim. 4:16; Phil. 2:12; James 1:21; I Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:1, 2!! Another part of Roy's infidelity is the statement that if a prophet or angel gives orally the instructions, or the plan, or even if God dropped the instructions from Heaven, "Jesus is not needed." This is the old sectarian quibble that a plan eliminates grace and grace dispenses with the plan. Paul said his instructions came "from heaven" (Gal. 1:612) and Paul didn't think Jesus unnecessary. Brother Key's position is self-contradictory stating that the Bible plan is "not in words, but his Word to us, incarnate in our flesh." How he can say the Bible is "not words" is beyond me, unless he believes in some sort of direct operation (which he does).

8. Brother Key's next infidel position is the distinction between the Word and the words. He says to ascribe salvation to the Bible or to the plan composed of scripture texts is close to blasphemy. James said to receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls. Frankly, I will take James. Brother Key's position that the Word of God is the Christ of the scripture rather than the text of the scripture is both nonsense and infidelity. It is nonsense because it assumes that one could believe the words of the scripture without believing the Christ of the scriptures. It is infidelity because it insists on the Christ of the scriptures to the exclusion of the words of the scriptures.

Notice now the crux of Key's admixture of infidelity and Calvinistic direct operation. He says that Christ has not transferred to the words and deeds the power of his personality. This question: What power does Christ's personality exert on people apart from the word? Roy Key actually believes in the "direct operation" of Christ's personality on the Christian. The apostle Paul said "Christ dwells in our hearts by faith" Eph. 3:17. The truth is one cannot know the words without knowing the Word. He cannot know the Word without knowing the words.

9. Brother Key asserts that the words of the New Testament "form the means of a real spiritual Communication." If he did not mean by this statement the direct operation theory, we would agree, but we know his "real spiritual communication" is some sort of mystical, direct "spiritual encounter." Again we must insist that his position is Calvinistic mixed with infidelity—a very repulsive mixture. In speaking further of this spiritual encounter for which the entrance of the word paves the way, brother Key assures us that it is not a "linguistic apprehension." I suppose he gets that from Paul's statement, "Brethren, I count not myself to have linguistically apprehended"!! This is ridiculous. What brother Key means is that faith is not a reasonable process of intelligently committing ourselves to Christ as his servants on the basis of evidence God has given, but rather some sort of mystical, direct revelation, direct operation "encounter."

10. Since I have accepted brother Key's restatement of the issues and since his refusal to discuss verbal plenary inspiration which he says is deficient at some points, the only other sentence I wish to notice in his article is the statement, "I do not wish to see Christ dethroned by even so good a thing as the Bible." Again this is nonsense and infidelity! Nonsense because it conceives that the Bible can dethrone Christ—infidelity because in Key's mind a sectarian idea of faith in Christ has dethroned the Bible. May God deliver us from such wolves in the church who won't spare the flock with their pernicious, blighting infidelity.