Back on the Front Burner Again

By Larry Ray Hafley

For better or for worse and probably some of both, the grace-fellowship issue is on the front burner again. Frankly and personally, I would rather be attacked by a Campbellite-shouting Baptist accusing me of water salvation. Perhaps the readers of this journal would like it better, too. But an assault by a faith only Baptist is about as rare as an Indian attack on a covered wagon. Today, we skirmish with diplomats and make faces at one another with our missiles. It is not as exciting as the calvary coming to the rescue, but it is the reality of our modern age. So it is with the unity-in-diversity movement. The conflict is not as easily dealt with, but it is the reality of our day.

Some of you are tired of reading and hearing about “imputed righteousness” and similar expressions. You are weary of reading about Carl Ketcherside and his satellites. Well, welcome to ‘the club! There are those who are as tired of writing about such things as you are of reading them. However, that is where the struggle is in many places. It must be and it will be tended to. Subscriptions are not the point of concern. Scriptures are.

No, you are not against scriptural studies, but you deplore and detest the injecting of personalities into the fray. There may be too many personality conflicts, but remember this, false doctrines do not spring from the ground. They spring from men, and often men must be cited and indicted as they are closely tied and identified with a given controversy (3 Jn. 9; 2 Tim. 2:17). Sometimes Paul called names; sometimes he did not (1 Cor. 15:12). Good judgment may not always abound in this regard, but consider that your judgment may be the one that is not the best. This business of naming names is a two-edged sword. Being called a “legalist,” a “witch hunter,” and being accused and accursed as part of a political power structure for personal advantage has its sting, too. That is not a whimper, but articles appearing in Truth Magazine do not have a monopoly on the name calling market.

The present strife is not a mere “heretic Calvinist” versus “party power politics” shouting match. The issues are fraught with intense, serious consequences. The role of the sacrifice of Christ in the scheme of redemption, the nature of the church, the conditions of pardon from sin, the scope of fellowship in the truth, the purpose of the New Testament, these and other subjects are at the core of the current grace-fellowship discussion. Spoken kindly but candidly, if you do not recognize that these factors are at the heart of the very faith in and of Christ, then you do not know enough to pass judgment on those who are carrying on the fight.

Truth Magazine XXII: 22, p. 364
June 1, 1978