By Larry Ray Hafley
Brother Paher refers “to that august magazine Guardian of Truth. ” He charges me with misunderstanding, with “subtle . . . defense of a false concept,” and with straining the Scriptures “to prove (my) point.” He refers to me “and the rest of your ilk.” An “ilk” is what you generally call a group or band of people when you dislike them and what they stand for, but I am certain that this is not how brother Paher uses the term. He loves me and my ilk. He says, “I think you do see the difference, but you want to confuse unsettling (unsettled?) minds on this matter,” thus, he accuses me of deliberate deceit. He indicts me with perversion of Scripture, and says I “unjustly and unfairly reply” to honest argument. He alleges that I am guilty of “fuzzy thinking” and of making arguments “just too far out of touch with reality to comment upon He says I have a “shallow conception of justification,” but he lets me off the hook by saying that I do not have a yo-yo position. With a of the above items, it is a real relief to learn that I do not have a yo-yo position. Thanks, Stanley.
Well, all of that from a loving, sweet-spirited brother, in just one page, is certainly evidence of the fact that Guardian of Truth and its “ilk” does not have a corner on the market when it comes to wholesale (or retail) condemnation. My fellow ilks and I must be getting soft. We have allowed someone else to become as harsh and censorious as we are. It is a good thing I am disposed to let such remarks go unmentioned. They are merely assumed and asserted. They are presumed, not proven. So, I will not even bother to refer to them.
However, when brother Paher refers to my ilk brethren as being “timid” and “confused people who are uncertain about their salvation”; and when he says they are a “joyless, loveless, semi-neurotic band of people, ” he has really struck my neurotic nerve. Imagine, fellow ilks of the world, if you happen to agree with ‘the position I hold, you are timid, confused, joyless, loveless, and semi-neurotic. Wow, all of that from a fearless, understanding, joyful, loving, stable brother like Stanley Paher is enough to push all of us like over the edge of total neurosis.
I There is one saving grace about all of those charges. Even if they are all true, we are saved anyway. You see, brother Paher’s “constant cleansing” view takes care of it. So, even if you are a, timid, confused, joyless, loveless, semi-neurotic with a shallow conception of justification that causes Baptists to make fun of you, do not worry, because the blood of Christ constantly cleanses you of sin and neurosis. I guess it might even constantly cleanse those who say such things about you.
“Brother Paher says the first three examples; namely, Simon, the ‘Sorcerer, the immoral .brother in I Corinthians 5 and the Galatians, are not relevant because brother Cargile was referring to a “context of day-in-day-out sinning and praying.” If the examples were “day in-day out sinning and praying,” then they would apply, I suppose. Alright, if Simon, the Corinthian brother and the Galatians were not involved in “day-in-day-out sinning and praying,” what was it? What scriptural criteria may we use to distinguish between “day-in-day-out sinning and praying” from other just plain old vanilla sin? 1 John 1:7-9 does not distinguish “day-in-day-out sinning and praying” from other types, kinds, shades, or flavors. Perhaps if you are not semi-neurotic you can tell the difference.
Brother Paher says I cannot use Simon as an example of lost-saved-lost-saved. “The best you can do is ‘saved lost.”‘ That is quite an admission. If Simon repented, was he saved again? If so, that would be saved, lost, saved – shades of yo-yoism. We may have to turn brother Paher over to brother Cargile for a yo-yo lesson. The course has its ups and downs, or so I am told. But with the view of “constant cleansing,” how could one become lost? Brother Paher admits that Simon did, that Simon did pass from saved to lost. With his view of “constant cleansing, ” it is hard to see how.
But back to the point. Can I show that Simon was lost-saved-lost-saved? Let us see. Simon is introduced as a lost man (Acts 8:9-11). He is then saved (Acts 8:12, 13; Mk. 16:16). He is later said to be in “the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity,” hence, lost (Acts 8:23; Matt. 7:23). Simon requests prayer on his behalf. If prayer is offered, he is forgiven and saved (1 Jn. 1:7-9). Therefore, Simon was lost-saved-lost-saved. I would say he was down, up, down, up, but that sounds too much like a yo-yo, so I will not say it.
Brother Paher thinks my fourth illustration is a perversion because I “have placed it in the context of a brother being saved and lost from heaven’s point of view, when the subject of the passage is earthly forgiveness.” So, matters regarding “earthly forgiveness” are not about “being saved and lost from heaven’s point of view.” Think that over very carefully.
Note the context of Matthew 18:21,22. See particularly verses 15-18. Sounds like it may involve more than just “earthly forgiveness.” Further, “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ” (1 Cor. 8:12). Would such a sin involve 44 earthly forgiveness I I only? When I sin against my brother, I sin agamist Christ. If not, what scriptural, standard distinguishes? I would like to know because there may be some brethren I would like to sin against, and if there is a way to do it without “being saved and lost from heaven’s point of view,” I would like to know it so I can do it and not risk my soul.
More could be said about related texts such as Matthew 5:23,24, and Luke 17:1-4, but suffice it, to say that being able to sin against my brother, necessitating earthly forgiveness, but not “being saved and lost from heaven’s point of view” opens up broad opportunities for wickedness. We need some more information from the word of God about such sins which do not affect our salvation. Plus, brother Paher’s view makes us go in and out and up and down, at least with respect to “earthly forgiveness.” Is there an element of yo-yoism in relations with our brethren?
My number five example is just too far out of touch with reality for brother Paher to comment upon it. I shall let the reader be the judge. If it is that unreal, it ought to be easy to show.
I accept “the Bible position of justification (Rom. 4:16).”‘ I remember, too, that “the faith of Abraham” had “steps” and conditions that one must “walk in” (Rom. 4:12, 16; 1 Jn. 1:7), and I accept those steps.
Baptists Make Fun of Me
If the Baptists ever stop making fun of me, I will worry. I have no desire to accept a position on sin and forgiveness regarding the possibility of apostasy that would cause a Baptist to cease making fun of me. If Baptists do not make fun of brother Paher on those issues, I do not think I would brag about it.
In debate with Baptists, I argue that a child of God (Simon the Sorcerer, for example) can so sin as to be lost in hell. The Baptist says, “No, he cannot because the child of God has ‘constant cleansing’ by the blood of Christ (1 Jn. 1:7).” 1 respond, “The Christian has conditional cleansing by the blood of Christ (I Jn. 1:7-9). The issue is not, ‘Does the blood of Christ cleanse one from all unrighteousness?’ That is not the issue. Does the blood cleanse us unconditionally, without the terms of 1 John 1:7-9? My Baptist opponent says God will save a man who commits adultery and murder, like David, even if he dies in the act, and he cites 1 John 1:7 to prove it.”
How do men like Stanley Paher respond without becoming timid, confused, joyless, loveless, semi-neurotics with a shallow concept of justification?
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 1, pp. 6-7, 19
January 3, 1985