How Successful Is Ketchersidean Subversion? (III)
James W. Adams
San Augustine, Texas
Replies from the Gospel Guardian scribes who have been the object of criticism by Truth Magazine writers relative to their stance in the Ketcherside fellowship movement via personal letters and articles attribute motives to us which touch just about every rung of the ladder of the ulterior. All of this is done, of course, with an air of great piety and humility. The charges run the gamut from the carnal desire to play Pope to the mercenary ambition to build book business at the expense of other human establishments involved in the same endeavor and operated by brethren. I am solemnly informed by one scribe, young enough to be my son, that I am being used (misused would be a better word) by my colleagues. He evidently thinks better of my ethics than he does of theirs but considerably less of my intelligence. Their least offensive appraisal of our efforts seems to be that we are much like a small pack of Southwest Texas coyotes howling at the moon-the analogy is mine but is suggested by their published statements regarding the Ketcherside fellowship movement and its influence among conservatives. I closed my last article in the midst of a discussion of the Gospel Guardian's reaction to my criticism of the actions and writings of Brother Edward Fudge relative to this matter. I was discussing "Fudge and Ketchersideism. I should like to continue this discussion by noticing some past history.
Facts from the Past
Attention is directed to some facts from the past, which vindicates our concern relative to Brother Fudge's attitude toward the Ketchersidean concept of "fellowship." I mentioned in previous article information given to me by a former classmate of Brother Fudge relative to Fudge's introduction of Ketcherside and his doctrine to Florida College students. Fudge has written me a rather lengthy personal letter in which he denies certain aspects of this matter. He says he was not selling Bibles in St. Louis, that he visited Ketcherside for ten minutes, that he was not enamored of any man as a man (This was not my charge; I said, "enamored of his views."), that he distributed a bundle of Mission Messengers with the permission of Brother Homer Hailey, the sponsor of the Sower's Club of which he (Fudge) was president, and that this was done so that both sides could be heard just as The Preceptor and Truth Magazine were distributed to preacher students.
Let us look at these particulars carefully. It is immaterial as to whether Fudge was or was not "selling Bibles" in St. Louis between college sessions; he was there on some kind of business connected with publishing or selling literature. How long he visited with Ketcherside I do not know nor did I say nor my informant. He was there long enough to become greatly impressed with Ketcherside's "brotherly spirit," long enough for Ketcherside to get his name and later mail him a bundle of Mission Messengers for distribution to preacher students, long enough to be impressed to the extent of desiring to distribute the Mission Messenger's propaganda and gaining permission to do so, long enough to argue in support of some of Ketcherside's erroneous positions with fellow students at Florida College. It should be emphasized that my informant's name has been given to Fudge with my informant's full permission, even insistence. He is in correspondence with Fudge, and as usual, Fudge is quibbling and equivocating.
Relative to the distribution of Mission Messengers at Florida College so that "both sides could be heard," the fact is there was no controversy at that time with or concerning Ketcherside being carried either in The Preceptor or Truth Magazine, so the reason given for the distribution of the papers is without validity. Fudge probably supposes that the invocation of Brother Hailey's name may exonerate him. It is not germane to this matter to discuss the judgment of Brother Hailey in permitting this distribution, if indeed he did. I can say only that no publication carrying as its principal feature the pernicious error characteristic of Mission Messenger would be distributed to immature preacher students in any situation in which I was in control and for which I would be held responsible unless they were at the same time provided with material carrying a complete refutation of the error which it contained in all its parts, or unless I saw that the students were completely insulated against the error by a personal exposure and refutation of it. The success of Ketcherside in subverting Florida College students is the only vindication I need for such a point of view. This is not to be understood as a criticism of Brother Hailey. It is simply a statement of my personal convictions. I love and respect Brother Hailey as much as Fudge could ever do so. I know him to be completely opposed to all Ketcberside stands for in regard to the "fellowship" question, for we have discussed it at great length. I know that He has advised Fudge to take time to mellow and establish himself before becoming so vocal - that such advice was badly needed is demonstrated by the spectacle of a man not yet thirty writing commentaries or workbook commentaries on Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews to say nothing of a full revelation of the "truth" to misguided and "legalistic" brethren on "the grace of God."
Another fact from the past has to do with the division and loss of the University congregation in the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The facts are these: (1) Fudge conducted a meeting with this church in 1969 in which he preached on the subject of "Unity." In this lesson, he advocated fellowshipping so-called "liberal" brethren and criticized those who would not. This antagonized faithful members of that church. (2) The local preacher, Brother Jerry Phillips, took the Fudge point of view and began to announce the meetings of the so-called "liberal" churches and to call on their preachers for prayer over the protests of faithful brethren in the congregation. (3) This resulted ultimately in driving the faithful brethren from the congregation and the congregation itself reversing its stand on church support of human institutions and sponsoring churches as well as church-sponsored recreation etc. This reversal occurred after Jerry Phillips had moved from Baton Rouge. Officially, the change of position took place November 10, 1970. (4) Fudge returned to this church for a second meeting June 20-24, 1971 (5) Previous to this return, January 4, 1971 Fudge wrote a letter to the congregation sympathizing with them because they had been the subject of attacks by faithful brethren for the action just described. Space will not permit the inclusion of Fudge's entire letter in this article, but it can and will be done if necessary. Among other things, he wrote the following: "You know from my preaching there and conversations with you that I do not believe it best honors the Lord for congregations to get involved with institutions of any sort. I think His work is accomplished in the simple working of individuals and independent congregations of His people. I urge this course whenever I have the opportunity, in the most appropriate and timely manner I know for each case. At the same time, we are saved ones because of God's grace to us in His Son, and we are accepted by Him 'in the beloved!' Not because we know it all, or do it all right!" (Emphasis mine. JWA) Ketcherside could not have said it better. This is Ketcherside's "unity in diversity" concept stated exactly as Ketcherside states it again and again. In addition, it should be noted that Fudge says, "best honors the Lord." This puts the matter in the realm of human judgment. It is not with Fudge a matter of right or wrong, truth or error. It is a matter of what is best. If I remember my grammar, best is the superlative degree of good. It is good, better, best. According to Fudge, for a church to function through a human institution in benevolence or evangelism would be good. Not to do it would be best. Fudge conducted the meeting concerning which he wrote and is said by reliable persons to have done no public teaching whatever on the issues inherent in the division and subsequent change of position of the congregation. (6) Between Fudge's letter to University Church and the time of his meeting, the two liberal preachers of University heard Ketcherside at Abilene along with another member of the congregation who was most active in forcing faithful brethren out of the congregation and siding with Fudge and Phillips in their unity and fellowship concepts. This member upon returning from Abilene wrote Ketcherside a glowing letter of tribute and appreciation for his spirit and views and indicated that the two preachers were cooperating with a preacher of a Christian Church on the same basis as with so-called "liberal" brethren. (7) Into this sort of situation, Fudge went and preached and did nothing about it. All of this can be documented. In fact, I have such documentation in my files - photocopies of all letters, bulletins, and a written account of the whole matter by a man who was there and who is of unimpeachable veracity, personally known to me for many years.
Fudge's attitude seems best summed up by a statement from his own pen. It is the closing paragraph of an article which be wrote on the subject: "Christian Unity: 1 Cor. 1:10ff." It is of interest and certainly pertinent to note that this article was sent to me by one of the young men I have previously mentioned who is all but lost to the cause of truth by reason of his acceptance of Ketchersidean concepts and who places great confidence in the writings of Edward Fudge. The paragraph follows:
And it should be remembered that it is a party spirit (factiousness) that causes division-not issues. Issues are simply the occasion for Jactious-minded men to demonstrate their party spirit. Or, to look at it from another viewpoint, for men who have the mind of Christ to show that, in Christ, they can differ without tearing the body into shreds.
Ketcherside never made a ranker nor more prejudicial statement than this, nor one that is more fallacious. Fudge unreservedly affirms that no division ever occurs because of an issue but always because of the party spirit. If an issue, a real issue, arises which involves vital Bible truth and which cannot be resolved, Fudge's position is that the faithful cannot separate themselves from the unfaithful without demonstrating the party spirit. Does anyone wonder then why we raise a question concerning the position of the Gospel Guardian with an associate editor with such convictions and with such a history of their practical application, particularly when the company which owns the Gospel Guardian is controlled by him and members of his family?
I respect and admire the ability, educational achievements, and high moral character of Brother Edward Fudge. I love him as a brother in the Lord and seek to do him well, not ill. My criticisms are for his good and in the interest of the peace and security of God's people. I do not wish to attribute to him any position he does not hold, but he needs to clarify his positions so that all may know where he stands without question. I am not trying to "line him up" with anything. I believe brethren have a right to know what we may expect of him and the Gospel Guardian and I am convinced he has an obligation to help rescue young preachers from their Ketchersidean delusions and to save others from them because he has been a strong influence in leading them to their present conclusions and in creating the situation which now obtains. To put it plainly, he has helped put them where they are!
Re: Randall Mark Trainer
Elsewhere in this issue of Truth Magazine will be found a short statement by Brother Randall Mark Trainer entitled "Having Trouble Over Baptism?" I am most happy for our brother to be given this opportunity to reply to a statement I made concerning him in the June 14, 1973 issue of this magazine. It is not my purpose to misrepresent any person's past or present position about anything. I wrote: "He admits in private discussions with friends that, baptism gives him trouble.' " Brother Trainer says, "This charge is untrue, misleading, and damaging to my personal reputation, and I hereby request a retraction from brother Adams and Truth Magazine. " He says further, "I believe (and have always believed) that baptism (immersion in water) is necessary for the forgiveness of sins."
I will number my replies to Brother Trainer for the sake of order: (1) My information came from a college classmate of Brother Trainer at Florida College who beard Trainer discuss this subject on more than one occasion. He was not trying to hurt Trainer in any way. We were discussing a lengthy dissertation which Trainer had written and sent to Brother Lindy McDaniel on the subject of "Salvation by Grace." I suggested that Trainer's views as therein expressed were contradictory of his belief in the essentiality of baptism. In this connection, my informant said that he had heard Trainer admit that baptism gave him trouble. (2) I did not accuse Trainer of not believing baptism to be "necessary for the forgiveness of sins." I merely said he admitted it gave him trouble.
(3) Trainer denies ever having made such a statement and demands a retraction. This reduces the matter to a question of memory and veracity. My informant has an excellent memory and an impeccable reputation for veracity. I choose to believe what he told me, but happily acquiesce in extending to Brother Trainer the opportunity and space to deny it in the same medium in which the report was given. My reasons for choosing to believe my informant rather than Trainer follow:
First, my informant is, in my judgment, more reliable spiritually than is Trainer. While attending college at Abilene Christian College, Trainer worshipped most of the time with a so called "liberal" congregation when there were two "conservative" groups of Christians meeting regularly in that city (Abilene, Texas). Following this, Trainer lived for a time in Austin, Texas. While there, he worshipped with "liberal" groups rather than with either of the two faithful and respectable "conservative" groups in that city. My informant, on the other hand, consistently takes his stand with "conservative" brethren wherever he is!
Second, in Trainer's letter to Lindy McDaniel on "salvation by grace" (a photocopy of which I have in my files), he takes positions, which indicate beyond question that "baptism" does indeed "give him trouble. " He says:
The Christian does not obey the law of Christ in order to be justified or saved . . . If we do not obey in order to be saved, why do we obey? We obey because the faith, which has already saved us necessarily, implies that we will want to obey Christ's law the best we can.
Now, try to harmonize that statement with the one, which follows. I promise you that it will take some doing.
Rom. 10: 9 teaches that a part of the faith which is necessary to salvation is the conviction that "Jesus is Lord. " To recognize a person as one's lord means to recognize that he now controls one's life authoritatively. To refuse to obey a lord is tantamount to repudiation of his lordship . . . You might call him lord, but you do not really believe it unless you do the things which he says (Lk. 6:46) ... The moment a Christian stops believing in the lordship of Christ over his life, with all its ramifications, he no longer has saving faith, and is therefore no longer saved.
In these statements, Trainer, in effect, says that obedience is not in order to be saved, but if you do not obey you will not be saved. This is a palpable contradiction. It makes no sense whatsoever. To circumvent his difficulties, Trainer attempts to equate faith with obedience. Faith is not obedience except in the sense of being a response to the command of our Lord to believe. Faith itself is simply the belief of testimony. Obedience is the submission of the will of one person to the will of another person, whom he recognizes as possessing authority, by compliance with his expressed mandates. Webster says, "Obedient implies compliance with the demands or requests of one in authority" (New Collegiate Dictionary, Second Edition, p. 579).
It is not denied that the terms faith, believe, believeth, believed, and believer are sometimes used generically - a figurative use (synecdoche, a part for the whole), to include in their meaning obedience to the will of Christ; i.e., a baptized believer living in faithfulness to Christ. It is denied that the term faith of necessity includes obedience in its meaning. The "chief rulers believed" but refused to "confess" Jesus because of fear and perhaps greed (John 12:42), and Trainer to the contrary notwithstanding, there is nothing to indicate they had "demon's faith." Paul clearly affirms that "faith works by love" (Gal. 5:6) and that such faith "avails." This is not sola fide (faith alone) as Trainer so learnedly states it. This faith plus love and works.
Is baptism a part of the law of Christ? Is being baptized obedience to the law of Christ? Is it obedience to Christ? Is baptism essential to forgiveness of sins, salvation, justification? If so, then one has to obey the law of Christ in being baptized in order to be saved. How then can Trainer logically maintain his position that obedience to the law of Christ is not in order to be saved and at the same time, baptism not give him trouble? I have never read a greater "mess" of contradictions than Trainer's letter to McDaniel. As confused as he is, how can he expect me to "retract" my statement concerning "baptism giving him trouble?"
A competent Baptist debater would turn Trainer inside out and hang his tender hide on a barbed wire fence to dry before he would have time to scholarly declaim, "Sola fide equals baptistheto eis aphesin ton hamartion." Reverently but fervently I pray, Lord, deliver us from neophyte scholars who do not know that is what they are! If this does not satisfy Brother Trainer, and he desires for me to do a complete review of his letter to Lindy McDaniel, I will be happy to oblige him. In addition, I will be quite happy to affirm with any competent and respectable respondent of more maturity (orally or in writing), who cares to champion the cause of our precocious neophytes and who presently is only growling in the underbrush, that salvation is not sola anything, Christus, gratia, or fide, and that salvation sola anything is not only unscriptural but arrant nonsense. Just name the place and time, Brother.
Trainer also says in his letter to McDaniel, "I am really thankful for my beloved teachers at Florida College who so patiently hammered sola fide into my head." While we are on the subject of veracity, if Brother Trainer will pardon my skepticism, I must tell him I do not believe a word of that statement relating to Florida College teachers. I call upon him to name the teacher or "retract" his statement. I categorically deny that there is a single teacher at Florida College who teaches salvation by faith alone. Faith alone is faith sans anything, baptism or anything else. If Jesus requires a single thing other than faith in order for a man to be saved, his salvation is not by faith alone, and no amount of double-talk can make it otherwise.
(5) To demonstrate further that baptism does indeed give Trainer trouble, note the following from his pen in the Lindy McDaniel letter:
... the Bible doctrine of baptism is so multifaceted, I cannot discuss it here. Suffice it to say that baptism appears to be a unique sort of action, since it is the only external act which the Bible requires for salvation. Of course, baptism is only a ramification of Paul's concept of faith. God recognizes saving faith as complete when a person is baptized; baptism is the way God has appointed for man to make his initial response (if faith, and as far as we know, He will have it no other way. I can't really say that I understand all there is to this, but the Scripture is very plain, and I must believe and teach it. At any rate, baptism is not presented as just another element of the law of God which one obeys in order to be self-justified, i.e., it is not a "work of law."
Trainer injects such statements as "self justified" and "work of law" to prejudice and confuse. Informed brethren do not teach "self justification," the necessity of perfect compliance with Divine law in order to salvation, nor salvation by works of merit. These are figments of Trainer's imagination, Trainer styles baptism as the "only external act" essential to salvation. While we agree that this is true relative to one's initial enjoyment of remission of sins, this is not true relative to eternal salvation in the world to come. What about prayer, singing, giving, and partaking of the Lord's Supper? Can one go to heaven and do none of these things? They are "external acts." One's "initial response of faith" is no more important than his continuing response of faith relative to ultimate and eternal salvation. When Trainer styles baptism as "appearing to be a sort of unique action," he thereby admits that baptism gives him trouble, so in what sense has he been misrepresented? All of this double-talk, this affectation of scholarship, and this assumption of deep spiritual insight into salvation by grace on the part of these young men give me a deep-seated pain which I cannot exactly locate, and may I add, with no desire to be gross or indelicate, which might be too embarrassing to describe in print if I could locate it!
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 46, pp. 3-8