With considerable reluctance, but at the urging of a number of friends, I have decided to write a few words responding to the lecture delivered by Donnie Rader. My beliefs on the matters under discussion are a matter of record and I some years ago decided not to try to respond to thedistortions of my writings that have been relentlessly published by certain, I think extremist, publications. I am somewhat troubled by the publication of these accusations in a Florida College Lecture book. These distortions have been documented with a type of referencing that would destroy forever the credibility of any honest scholar. Accusations and made which are in no way supported by the sources cited. Unfortunately, most people will not read the footnoted materials.
I will restate for the record that I do not believe Matt. 19:9 is ambiguous or unclear and that I have not and would not have fellowship in a local church with anyone whom I believed to be living in an adulterous relationship. I have written about the central dilemma that troubles all of us who believe it is the obligation of every individual to seek and follow truth: seemingly good and honorable people do not always arrive at the same conclusions at the same time on the meaning of every Bible passage — ranging from divorce and remarriage, to the age of the earth, to the right of a Christian to kill his enemy in warfare. One cannot read history without knowing that this is a description of our past; without a total lack of integrity, one cannot deny that this is our common, shared, present condition.
I will appear this year on lecture programs at Harding University, Abilene Christian University, and Pepperdine University. In those places, the hallowed plea to follow only the New Testament has been abandoned, indeed, the idea has become a target of ridicule, because of the seemingly irrepressible need, illustrated in this lecture, to trivialize the grand quest to be New Testament Christians by denominationalizing and creedalizing the plea.
I do not know the brother who misrepresented my views this morning, and he does not know me. He has every right to express his beliefs about the truth and about me, but his reckless charges, made in this circumstances, among my friends of many years, troubles me and demands some response. I can only tell you that nothing but evil can come from McCarthyesque efforts to destroy the right of individual conscience and congregational autonomy and that clumsy efforts to creedalize the plea to restore New Testament Christianity present the world with a caricature of that grand message.