By James W. Adams
“The Youth Revolution”
One of the outstanding phenomena of our time is the “Youth Revolution.” One of its bitter fruits has just this week come to light in the exposure of the horrendous, sex-motivated, torture slayings of more than twenty teenagers – the total may approach thirty, in the city of Houston, four of them in my own county. Like spontaneous combustion, the youth revolt seems to have just happened; nobody seems to know exactly what motivated it. We are probably too close to it for a proper perspective and accurate analysis. Historians and sociologists of the future may be able to trace its origins, explain its aims, and assess its results. Some facts concerning it are self-evident. It is a fact, and it is universal in its scope. Only totalitarian nations have escaped it, and they have escaped only by repressing freedom of expression with force. Every relationship of human existence has been plagued by it-the home, the state, and religion. Was it Bernard Shaw who said, “Youth is a great time of life, but it is too bad that it is wasted on the young?” While I do not share this cynical evaluation ‘ it is not too difficult to understand what provoked it.
Churches of Christ Afflicted
Churches of Christ have not escaped the ravages of the “Youth Revolution.” Rebellion against parents, pornography, sexually provocative dress, illicit sex, abuse of beverage alcohol and drugs, and other facets of the morality of this era have invaded the homes of Christians and have done their work of destruction with its consequent heartbreak. Congregations have also felt the force of this movement. Frightened by the specters of drug abuse, juvenile crime, and illicit sex, churches have chosen to adapt rather than to fight. The pulpit has been mute relative to New Testament morality, social service rather than soul saving has become the thrust of the activities of the churches, doctrinal soundness has yielded to compromise and ecumenism, and orderly collective worship and service under the direction of qualified overseers have abdicated to cell worship and spontaneous inter-action. By the adaptation of a statement from the Bible, it can be said, “Jeshurun waxed fat” and has become lazy and spineless, and the colts have “kicked” over the traces and run off with the wagon.
Conservatives Not Immune
Some of the complacent brethren may be saying, “Yes, I know the ‘liberals’ are doing all these things, but not the ‘conservative’ brethren.” We give ourselves entirely too much credit. The “Youth Revolution” has not passed us by. It works among us. The wolves are among the lambs and a great many would be shepherds are sitting on their hands, or they are asleep at the gate of the sheepfold. While this is evident in many areas of error, I am dealing in this series particularly with Ketchersideism and matters related thereto. That Ketcherside and his views have stolen the hearts of many of our finest young people is not a debatable proposition, it is a demonstrable fact-the evidence to prove it is overwhelming.
I can personally testify to its truth. In one congregation which I served, one of the most excellent young men of my acquaintance intellectual, lovable, devout, sincere, has been all but if not entirely lost to the cause of truth by reason of this influence. He is but one of many. This is what has stirred me up to a sense of responsibility with reference to an all out effort to destroy Ketchersidean influence among conservative brethren, and I shall not be deterred from it, come what may. If some of the Simon Milquetoasts or Bleeding-heart sisters do not like the manner in which I am doing this, perhaps they would like to demonstrate how to do it better! Let any who may be inclined to be critical get off their “stools of do nothing” and exercise some effective influence toward the eradication of every vestige of Ketchersidean error at work among the brethren, particularly the young, with special emphasis on young preachers.
A Vindication of Conservative Youth
Since beginning this series, I have been deluged with encouragement from every section of the country. Not the least among those encouraging me have been a host of young preachers. When I speak of “precocious neophytes” in these articles, I speak only of some young preachers. I rejoice to report that the great majority of the young preachers are humble, sound, devoted, and militant in the interest of truth and in opposition to error. They have asked me to say in no uncertain terms that they are not “turned off ” by the fight Truth Magazine is making against Ketchersidean error. They recognize the need for the fight and endorse a complete exposure of the doctrine, its proponents, and its sympathizers.
In this connection, let it be clearly understood that my references to some young men grow out of no personal animosity on my part toward a single one of them. I love them all and would do anything consistent with righteousness and truth to help any one of them. This is not a case of age resenting youth. I love the young, God bless them! They are the hope of the church and the hope of the world! My regret is that there are not more of them dedicating their lives to the preaching of the gospel. However, when young preachers assume the prerogatives of maturity and become militant in pressing views that affect the interests of truth, the souls of eternity bound persons, and the peace of the Lord’s churches resulting in the destruction of the doctrinal stability of numbers of other young preachers and many not preachers and creating trouble in congregations, they must be dealt with forthrightly and positively.
Anent Edward Fudge
In recent articles, I have mentioned Brother Edward Fudge and the considerable influence he has had, wittingly or unwittingly, in helping to disturb many young preachers. My first reference to Brother Fudge brought an indignant letter from a sister in Christ in St. Louis, Mo. who holds membership in the congregation where Brother Fudge recently preached for four years. She extolled Brother Fudge’s Bible knowledge and suggested that older preachers were “Jealous” of his accomplishments. Should there be others like this zealous sister, may I hasten to say that I take great happiness in whatever may be Brother Edward’s accomplishments and have told him so in a personal letter. I gladly acknowledge his high moral character, his unusual intelligence and ability, and his educational attainments. The more able and literate he is the more pleasure it gives me. In this respect, I devoutly wish his number were legion.
Brother Fudge has the potential, hence the obligation of becoming one of the best and most influential preachers among the brethren. What bothers me is the direction he seems to be traveling, and the ambiguity and equivocation, which characterize his pronouncements. Entirely too many of our young men who are off the right track have too great rapport with his writings. This is a fact, and I have documentation to prove it. As I said in a previous article, one of two things is true, either Fudge is saying things he should not, or he is being misunderstood. In either case, he needs to correct the situation. So far, his efforts along this line leave much to be desired.
I have charged that Brother Fudge bases his views of salvation by grace on at least one quasi-Calvinistic concept; namely, the imputation of Christ’s personal righteousness to the believer. The proof of this is to be found in his tract on the subject. I have charged that his treatment of baptism in this tract is “temporizing, compromising, and misleading.” I sincerely believe this to be true, and I gave a direct quotation from the tract to prove my point. Brother Fudge has written me concerning this and offers Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost as a scriptural precedent noting that baptism was mentioned only once near the close of the sermon. Such a reply undermines my confidence in Fudge’s intellectual honesty, for he admits that “with many other words did he testify and exhort saying. . . ” This admission disproves his contention, and he knows it, or he would not have mentioned it.
Fudge’s contention ignores the fact that Peter was not delivering a learned discourse on the difference between “legal justification ” and ‘justification by grace. ” He was simply preaching “repentance and remission of sins in the name of Jesus” (Lk. 24:46, 47). Besides, Peter clearly announced that his inquiring believers were to “repent and be baptized for (eis-in order to JWA) the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). The Jews to whom Peter spoke were perfectly familiar with “baptism: for the remission of sins,” for John the Baptist preached and practiced such a baptism (Mk. 1:4). Peter’s statement was in response to a direct question that involved baptism in its reply. Fudge’s passages of scripture used in his tract involve baptism only incidentally, and they are associated with figures of speech. I cited statements from Ben M. Bogard and Edward T. Hiscox, representative Baptists, to show that they declare themselves on baptism using the very passages Fudge quotes in almost identical language (and certainly quite as strongly) as that used by our brother in his tract, yet both of these men specifically and unequivocally denied baptism to be essential to salvation.
Using no more space than he employed, Brother Fudge could have unequivocally shown baptism to be essential to salvation and entirely compatible with New Testament teaching on salvation by grace. This he did not do, hence my charge of criminal ambiguity. I stand ready to affirm at any time with any person that Fudge I s tract does not of necessity teach baptism to be essential to salvation, that such has to be inferred from what he says on the basis of prior knowledge of the writer’s religious affiliation from what he is supposed to believe and teach concerning baptism.
Fudge and Ketchersideism
In the Gospel Guardian, July 19, 1973, Brother Fudge, according to Editor Wallace, in a “masterful effort” engages to “set the record straight” concerning “Bible truth . . . on fellowship” and on “where he stands regarding current errors in the fellowship matter.” When I read this, I rejoiced, for nothing would please me more than to see such from the pen of our brother, but I was doomed to disappointment. The strongest statement I have ever seen from him is contained in his article, yet even that is all but nullified by other statements, which he makes. He says, “I am associated by choice and by conviction with brethren who oppose congregational support of institutions of any kind, emphasis on the social rather than the spiritual, and so forth.” I am glad to note the term, “conviction,” but confess I have difficulty appreciating the depths of that “conviction” in view of his other statements in the article and elsewhere and his actions.
Brother Fudge “sets the record straight” by simply reprinting his tract on “Christian Fellowship ” which actually comes to grips with none of the real issues involved in current controversies among brethren. It simply defines words, notes usages, and makes no practical or specific application of them to human responsibility that would lead to proper conduct in reference to matters which now divide professed New Testament Christians. Most of what he says, if charitably construed, is the truth. What he does not say is that which is significant. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet said, “Ay, there’s the rub.”
In his “Few Remarks” which follow the reprint of his tract, Fudge makes some interesting points that are rather revealing. (1) He has an inordinate aversion to what he calls “applying specifies.” He prefers to deal in “exegesis.” I recognize there is a difference between application and exegesis if one means the application of a general principle inherent in a given passage to matters not related to those out of which the principle was developed by that passage. However, there is no true exegesis without application. Any principle developed in a passage of Scripture finds direct and specific application to the subject or circumstances under consideration in that passage. All of us have heard of the person who was an inveterate foe of sin in general and the opponent of none in particular. Brother Fudge calls this to mind by his aversion to specific applications.
(2) Fudge indicts his brethren in the most scathing terms while professing to have such warm. fraternal feelings for them, much as Ketcherside does, in fact, in almost the very language of Ketcherside. Yet, even in this, he lacks the moral courage to say who these people are to whom he refers. Am I one of these? Is Brother Cecil Willis? Is Roy Cogdill? I challenge him to name those whom he indicts. If this condition obtains among conservatives, where is it and who is guilty? Let him be specific and perhaps we can eradicate the situation. Note the particulars of his indictment. He says that a “vocal minority appear to want not simply an honest and honorable application of scriptural principles, but a lining up in terms of persons or papers or groups of preachers, and a renunciation, not simply of false doctrine or unscriptural practice, but of individuals as such.” I have taken the liberty to conserve space by putting Fudge’s statements together without changing their meaning. In making these statements, Fudge is writing in the context of Truth Magazine criticisms. I categorically deny his allegations and call upon him to name those to whom he refers. Innuendo is cowardly. For once, Brother Fudge, let us get specific!
(3) In the last two paragraphs of his “remarks,” when dealing with Ketcherside’s errors, Fudge constructs a straw man and repudiates him and his principles. Ketcherside does not, in the words of Fudge, propose “a spirit of indifference to any doctrine or error among Christians, a sort of umbrella allowance for whatever anybody wants to put off on the churches, a pseudo tolerance that really means compromise and giving in to error of every sort rather than steadfastly resisting it with the sword of the Spirit.” I have never charged Brother Ketcherside with teaching such. It is my sincere conviction that the practical result of Ketcherside’s proposals involve a compromise of Divine truth, but this is a far cry from what Fudge pictures. Ketcherside would repudiate Fudge’s straw man as fervently as does Fudge.
(4) When Fudge deals with Ketcherside’s opposition among conservatives, he is no more candid than when dealing with Ketcherside. He says he resists “ungodly party spirit and sect forming, inappropriate and unscriptural attitudes toward brethren (even those in error). ” I do not know of a single person on any side of any issue who would admit to belonging to either category which Fudge describes. All known to me would denounce both characters as fervently and as positively as does Fudge. So, what actually does our brother say, what do his “few remarks” contribute toward, as Editor Wallace said, “setting the record straight as to where Fudge stands regarding current errors in the fellowship matter?” Fudge’s tract makes no applications to current problems, hence has no relevancy in this regard. His “Few Remarks” only create straw men, which he repudiates, no more, no less. Hence, we stand exactly where we did before Fudge spoke out M. This is what I mean by equivocation.
Space prohibits a continuation of this matter in this article. In my next article I shall be further vindicating Truth Magazine’s concern regarding and criticism of the stance of the Gospel Guardian with a recitation of facts from the past. I shall also pay my respects to Brother Randall Trainer’s disavowal of a statement which I attributed to him in a previous article. The next article will for sake of continuity of thought and material and to avoid confusion, be entitled: How Successful Is Ketchersidean Subversion?-No. III.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 45, pp. 3-7
September 20, 1973