(Editor’s Note: Brother Hafley submitted the following letter and reply for publication regarding criticisms of his exchange with brother Stanley Paher. Inasmuch as the criticisms expressed by this good sister are shared by many of our brethren, we thought the material deserved publication and reply. Upon receiving the letter and the reply, I contacted the sister who wrote it for permission to print her letter anonymously with brother Hafley’s reply. She graciously granted us permission to quote it without her name being attached to it. I hope our readers will profit from this exchange.)
Mr. Larry Ray Hafley
P.O. Box 1197
Pekin, Illinois 61554
I hope you will consider my letter worth reading and considering. I have just read your articles in response to Stanley Paher as well as his articles in the January 3rd issue of Guardian of Truth magazine.
It seems to me that your rehashing of and using sarcastic referrals to you “and others of your ilk” (includes me) are below the standards of Christian rebuttal. It also seems to me that by using, the Bible, teaching and using all the Bible has to say, should be enough to convince men of error and, to bring them to Bible practices. If this is not so, please inform me. When such tones are used how can one refer to another man as brother? I cannot tell if Mr. Paher is a Christian brother or a Baptist from either his or your articles. Our words condemn us when they ridicule because we lose so many souls. When one does not heed God’s word, there is nothing else another can do. I know that we are to mark erroneous and false concepts and teachers. Those of honest hearts who desire to please God will understand good clear rebuttal and will admire those who ignore derogatory and debasing remarks. “Let thy speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6).
The reason I write this is because so many seem to delight — as, it comes across in printed form to me — in using personal tones and terms that are not godly in rebuttal or in articles that are supposed to be used in convincing men and women of the truth.
I would ask you and others to use Bible facts and God’s authority and God’s love of souls for teaching and preaching God’s Word. Mr. Paher may be a “liberal brother,” and, I find it hard to abide loose thinking and acting on God’s Word, but we are not going to convince him with other than God’s Word, if his heart truly seeks God and not his or any man’s thinking. I say these things because there are people I would love to send this paper to but cannot because they would not understand and would “hear” the personal exchanges rather than the teaching qualities of such an exchange.
I am a woman and do not presume to teach you how to teach. I don’t know how else to express my concerns, except to be direct. You don’t need me to tell you that you are a capable and able man with the love for God and the truth. But I hope that you will consider these thoughts. Let Mr. Paher be the ill-used of God’s Word if he desires. Use your rebuttals to teach, even if you have to repeat the same verses time and again as well as pointing out necessary inferences. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10: 17). Perhaps if one hears the same words often enough, he will come to believe what it says and not what he wants to hear.
Perhaps you can talk with or correspond with others who write for Guardian of Truth and discuss the merits of less personal remarks. This publication has such powerful and sound teaching using God’s Word, the majority of the time. I would like to recommend it to others, but because they are young in the faith and the tone of the replies such as appeared in the 3 January 1985 issue on pp. 6,7, and 19, I cannot. Yours is not the only article I’ve seen like this. It just happened that someone remarked to me in a disgusted voice regarding the way some arguments are made in this publication. (This person is a very strong and well-indoctrinated in the Bible.) I decided to write to someone about this problem. Perhaps I should be writing to editor Mike Willis about this. But since it is your article that I happened to read, I write to you in hopes that something could be done, to be less personal, not only with your replies, but with other writers also.
Your sister in Christ
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 4, p. 114
February 21, 1985