Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 14, 1951
NUMBER 7, PAGE 8,15b

Are Emil Brunner And Roy Key Modernists?

Pat Hardeman, Tampa, Florida

The time has come to use "great plainness of speech" in entreating the modernists among us to return from unbelief and in warning others against their pernicious influence. Brother Roy Key has departed from his former faith in the authority of the scriptures as God's revelation to man. While brother Roy's departure grieves us both because of the danger of his eternal damnation and because of the loss of his influence for good in the church, still it is necessary for us to warn others lest they "fall after the same example of unbelief.' We do this in the hope that brother Key will be brought back to the faith.

Brother Roy has recently written encouraging the study of Emil Brunner's work, whom brother Key thinks, we judge unfairly when we call him a modernist. "The neo-orthodox school of thought,' says brother Roy, "has struck optimistic liberalism a blow from which it has not and cannot recover.' I am aware of modern theology's view that Barth and Brunner revolted against liberalism, but, if true, it is only a case of a house divided against itself. For Brunner is a liberal and infidel with respect to the scriptures as any ever dared to be a century ago. Notice now some of the infidel positions of Brunner's "theology."

Thoughts from Brunner's Revelation and Reason 1. Belief in verbal inspiration has created a "paper-Pope.' (p. 143)

2. It is conceivable that we have none of the actual writings of the twelve apostles. (p. 126)

3. Only one ignorant or prejudiced could claim that Luke and Paul do not contradict one another. (p. 129)

4. The idea of an "infallible original' text is only an "apologetic artifice' to which "fundamentalists' were driven by the many errors and inconsistencies in the present Bible, and this idea drags out "an unhappy existence in certain Fundamentalist circles.' (p. 275)

5. Higher criticism can eliminate John's Gospel altogether and also what they please from the Synoptic, yet the picture of Christ is essentially the same as before.

(p. 284 f.)

6. One does not have to believe that "the sun stood still in the Vale of Ajalon' simply because the Bible says so as much as he has to believe that "God in Christ forgives' him his sins. (p. 174)

7. Evolution (man's evolution included) is "scientific truth' with which all honest Christians must "come to terms.' (p. 279)

8. The Biblical account of the Patriarchs "has ceased to be part of our scientific picture of history.' (p. 286)

Somehow, in view of the above, I feel that brother Key was a bit "optimistic' in describing the "blow' which neo-orthodoxy "has struck optimistic liberalism.' I believe the only way brother Roy can save "whatever reputation as a Gospel preacher' he "may have' (and meanwhile save his soul is to quit defending infidel theologians and start contending for the faith. But perhaps brother Key was just mistaken in his appraisal of Brunner. Maybe he does not himself share Brunner's views. I would to God he would say so, and "hit' this modernism as "hard' as he promises to hit our "legalism.' But brother Key has some things to clear up with God and with the brethren Notice carefully:

Brother Key's Modernism

1. Brother Roy has written that he can conceive of a man's being a Christian while not believing the virgin birth. He wrote this after he had quit taking the records of the virgin birth "on tradition' and was convinced that it is a part of God's word.

2. Brother Key wrote in defense of Ralph Wilburn to brother James D. Bales as follows:

What Wilburn did not say was, 'He was born of a virgin,' and that seems to be what you wanted him to say. On what basis do you make this the evidence of divinity? It is the Virgin Life of Jesus that gives 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 or truly, is what is most important. Therefore W. directed his thought and their to what is central.'

There are seven explicit, and fifty or more implicit false assumptions in this short paragraph from one with the "reputation (among those, like Beam, who are blinded to his modernism—P. H.) as a Gospel preacher.' Notice the seven false assumptions:

1. That we make the virgin birth of Christ the evidence of his divinity. No there are "ten thousands of other wonderful things concerning him' which stand as evidences, but we strenuously object to modernists' saying that the virgin birth is no evidence of divinity. If Christ had an, earthly father, it is the evidence of fraud on his part, for he caused the apostles to write that he was born of a virgin, and he was crucified because "he made himself the Son of God.' (John 19:7)

2. That we need any other basis for making the virgin birth evidence of his divinity than that the Bible gives it. For us the Bible is enough basis. For brother Key, apparently it is not.

3. That it is the Virgin Life that gives any credence to the Virgin Birth. Now I wonder why brother Key thought we could not see through such a shallow play on the word "Virgin?' Where does he read of "Virgin Life?' Brother Key, the thing that gives credence to the "Virgin' Life is the very same book that gives credence to the virgin birth. But the book is not enough for brother Key. He needs some other "basis.'

4. That our spiritual strength stems from the Virgin Life instead of from the virgin birth. Well, salvation "stems from' the virgin birth. (Lu. 2:10, 11, 30; Matt 1:21) Is that spiritual strength, Brother Key ?

5. That Christ could be God's Son and not be born of a virgin. Get this, brother Key! THE PROPHET ISAIAH (Isa. 7:14), GOD THROUGH THE ANGEL GABRIEL, (Lu. 1:30-32, 35) MATTHEW AND LUKE ALL CONNECT THE SONSHIP OF CHRIST WITH HIS BIRTH OF A VIRGIN! Is that enough to prove that the virgin birth is evidence of divinity ? When the Bible speaks of Christ as God's Son, it means "born of a virgin." I challenge brother Key or any other modernist to deny this affirmation. How else could Deity become incarnate save through the virgin birth? Will brother Key adopt the Corinthian view that the heavenly Christ came on the man Jesus at his baptism, and that he is God's Son in that sense. That would only add gnosticism to his modernism. Brother Key could not explain what he means by the implication that Christ could be God's Son truly and in the spiritual sense, without making God, Christ, the angels and apostles—all— liars. If Jesus were not born of a virgin birth, he is not God's Son spiritually, or in any sense save that in which the Athenians "are his offspring.' Brethren, the Deity of Jesus fades under the pen of a modernist till it is no better than the deity of those to whom it was said "ye are gods.' May God spare us from more modernists in the church.

6. That Jesus could put the seal of inspiration on the birth narratives and on the rest of the New Testament, and still not be born of a virgin. This simply admits the possibility, in a modernist's mind, of ascribing "pious lies' to Christ.

7. That men (Wilburn (?) Key) can decide that the virgin birth is unimportant and not essential, and thus distinguish it from the "essence' of Christianity. Well, men can decide this, but they have only infidel authority for such a decision.

Such are some of the infidel assumptions in only one short paragraph of a "Gospel' preacher's writing. These tenets, only a few of the many that can and will be noticed, belong to the old "optimistic liberalism' against which both E. Brunner and brother Key are allegedly in revolt. In our next article attention will be given to the "new modernism,' neo-orthodoxy, which both Brunner and brother Key espouse.