Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 3, 1952
NUMBER 47, PAGE 6,11b

Brother Waller's "Review"

C. D. Crouch, Trumann, Arkansas

In the Gospel Guardian of February 28 there appears an article from brother Robert A. Waller, captioned "Review of 'Salvation Reckoned As Righteousness'," Which was intended to be a review of an article by me, which appeared in the Guardian of December 20. It seems to me that this "review" requires a few observations by me.

First of all, brother Waller says that I do not recognize in the article, that there are "three kinds of righteousness" mentioned in the New Testament. He then cites Phil. 3:6 and Titus 3:5 and Rom. 1:16, 17, and gives a brief quotation or two, and remarks that "a man cannot be saved by his own righteousness." He then remarks: "The reason for this is that no person, who has sinned can ever be absolutely righteous."

I was writing on the subject of "righteousness" with the understanding it means "free from all charges of wrongdoing, free from guilt of sin, not guilty." And in that view of the subject, there are not "three kinds of righteousness" mentioned in the New Testament; there are not two kinds. There may be as many standards of "righteousness" as there are human beings. But, the idea in the word, as taught by the Holy Spirit, is fixed, and definite. Righteousness is absolute; and if one is not absolutely righteous, he is not righteous at all. Moreover, one is not "saved by his righteousness," nor does one need salvation if he is righteous. I find no fault with his statement that since man can never earn or merit righteousness, it must come as a result of grace. Nothing I have ever said or written would indicate that I do not believe that statement. I was arguing that salvation must precede righteousness. Man cannot be regarded "not guilty" — righteous, until his guilt has been removed. Then God holds the one who is forgiven "not guilty" — therefore righteous.

Then he says: "Brother Crouch speaks of this as 'playing like we are righteous.' This alone shows a further misunderstanding and a lack of appreciation of the principles involved. He uses as an illustration the woman washing clothes, which is not a parallel. When a woman washes clothes clean she merits the praise resulting from her accomplishment. They are clean as a result of her effort. But such is not the case when one arises and is baptized to wash away his sins. He is clean, but through no effort of his own." I am glad the brother recognizes the fact that "he is clean after his sins are forgiven!!! Such reckless statements as the above may cause some folks to think that brother Waller can't read, much less "think."

I was combating the idea that "We are not righteous; but God has imputed to us the Righteousness of Christ; we are sinners still." I said that that conception "actually accuses God of playing like we are righteous. He knows we are not righteous; but He plays like we are." Then I used the illustration of the washwoman, and represented her as saying: "I know this garment is soiled. But I'll just spread it out on top of these alder bushes and play like it is clean. That is the way God has done with me." I said nothing about "arising" and "being baptized to wash away sins." The "parallel," brother Waller, is that as God cleanses us from sin, the washwoman actually cleanses the soiled garments. God does not play like we are clean, nor does the woman play like her clothes have been cleansed.

Then he says: "Then brother Crouch speaks lightly of some that he describes as his 'preaching brethren who have never learned to think,' who quote Ps. 119:172 in answer to the question What is righteousness?' Psalm 119:172, which he did not quote, reads, 'Let me sing of thy word; for all thy commandments are righteousness.' This verse would indicate error in brother Crouch's thinking, so he speaks disparagingly of those who use it to answer a question it answers."

I was discussing "Righteousness" as it is employed in Paul's letter to the saints in Rome, and I asked the question "What is righteousness?" I stated in that connection that sometimes my preaching brethren who have not learned to think will quote that Psalm and say: That's it. That Psalm declares that all God's commandments are righteousness. A way of righteousness is declared. But the "commandments" alluded to there are the "commandments" of the Law. That is evident, for the law contained all the commandments God had given at that time. And "Righteousness by the law," or "by works of the law" is contemplated as a way of righteousness, or a way to be righteous. The principle is suggested in Rom. 2:13. "Not the hearers of the law are just before God; but the doers of the law shall be justified." Righteousness by law requires all of the following: First, a sinless person, then a perfect law given to that sinless person, and said person keeping the perfect law perfectly. It is not the person who merely has the law; nor the person who nearly keeps it, but the person who does all the works the law requires — who keeps the entire law, inviolate. Such a person would be righteous. He would be sinless. He would be guiltless, and would therefore need no salvation. Such is the way of righteousness suggested in Psalm 119:172. But God has told us that "by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Rom. 3:20)

"Our own righteousness, even that which is of the law" (Phil. 3:9) and "works of righteousness which we have done" (Tit. 3:5) contemplate righteousness in that way. It is not two kinds of righteousness." I think perhaps the brother might have found a few other passages in the New Testament where the word "righteousness" is used. For one to pretend to be righteous would not make him "righteous." The righteousness of the "Pharisees" was pretended. When the Jew thought he was "righteous by works of the law," he merely thought so; he was not righteous.

There are two ways of being righteous discussed in the Roman Letter. One is "God's righteousness by faith," which is the grand theme of the epistle — God's way of making men righteous, and the other way is "righteousness by law" or "by works of the law." The latter is conceivable, but not possible. It is therefore ruled out.

"All unrighteousness is sin." If man is therefore guilty of sin he is unrighteous. Our brother avers that the only righteousness we can ever have "is an imputed righteousness." Well that doesn't tell us anything. God "imputes" — (reckons, counts) "righteousness" to "those whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered." He also "imputes" (counts, reckons) "faith" to those who believe, and He also "imputes" (counts, reckons) sin to those who are not forgiven. Does the brother think God "imputes" faith to those who do not believe? And does he think God "imputes sin" to those who are not guilty?

He finds fault with my saying "faith is one of the conditions requisite to righteousness." Well, Paul said: "Abraham believed God and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness." No matter if God may have looked into Abraham's heart, and saw there the whole pattern of his future life — "obedience of faith," it was his BELIEF that was said to be reckoned unto him. And as I used the word "faith" obedience is not excluded.