Maxey - Martin Dialogue

An Email Exchange Between

Al Maxey, Minister/Elder
Cuba Avenue Church of Christ
Alamogordo, New Mexico


David Martin, Pastor
Solid Rock Baptist Church
Bartlett, Tennessee

Comments by Al Maxey

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

David, I want to thank you for your excellent post on Monday. I appreciated the tone of it and the focus. I firmly believe that as long as we can maintain a respectful regard for one another, and simply seek to focus on the teaching of God's Word rather than allowing personalities to come to the fore, that we can have a fruitful dialogue. Thank you for what appears to be a sharing with me of that resolve.

You made several statements in your most recent post that I would like to examine in more depth, and hopefully clarify somewhat. I shall attempt to respond to each of these individually in the order in which they appeared in your latest offering to our dialogue. Perhaps some of them will generate further discussion between us on these most critical issues.


In your opening paragraph, David, you correctly note that I had previously declared there are indeed "those within the churches of Christ who hold to the positions asserted by Pastor Martin." This is certainly no shocking revelation. In any group of any size there will always be a broad range of beliefs and practices with extreme positions held on either end of the spectrum. This is as true for the Baptist churches as it is for the churches of Christ (or any other faith-heritage). There are extremists in every camp. That is simply a fact of reality.

In my previous posts I have declared my abhorrence for these extremes, regardless of where they are found or the nature of their expression, and have spoken of the need to expose them for what they are. David, you then responded by saying, "That is exactly what I am doing in my tract." With all due respect, David, that is not the case. It may well have been your intention (subconsciously), but you certainly failed to clarify or specify that fact in the presenting of your invectives against these abuses. Nowhere in your tract, not even once, do you make a distinction between these extremists and the vast majority of sincere, godly believers who comprise the churches of Christ. Your tract was an assault upon the churches of Christ as a whole, NOT upon a small extremist faction on the fringes of that group. If indeed it was the latter you intended to expose, as you now seem to imply, then you utterly failed to clearly specify that fact in your tract.

This was one of my major initial complaints against your tract, David. You had judged an entire fellowship of believers based upon the positions and pronouncements of a few extremists. You cannot fairly castigate an entire group of people based upon the actions and attitudes of a few within it. You freely admitted in your post of August 2 -- "My discussions with CoC people have been those in the Southern U.S. and the ones that I have had input from are what you call extremist." Such views do NOT represent the "mainstream" of the churches of Christ, David. I hope you are now coming to appreciate that fact.

Most within the churches of Christ would agree with you that some of these ultra-legalistic positions need to be refuted, and indeed many of us have been actively seeking to do so long before you came on the scene castigating all of us "Campbellites" (by the way, were you aware that "campbellite" is actually a very rare form of copper mineral found in certain mines in Arizona?).

You now declare "that is exactly what I am doing in my tract." Since you apparently now acknowledge that it is primarily with the ultra-conservative Southern extremists within the churches of Christ that you take theological exception, I'm going to hereby publicly challenge you to modify your tract to reflect that fact. I am asking you before our readers, as witnesses, to do the honorable thing here and immediately change your tract to reflect your admission that it is NOT against the churches of Christ as a whole that you find fault, but only against a small, radical, extremist element within that group. Are you willing to do this, David? If not, why not? And if so, then when might we see that tract modified to reflect this understanding?

David wrote, "You have said that you would be labeled as an ultra-liberal and the people that I am aiming at as ultra-conservative among the church of Christ fellowship. What proof is there that your views are the mainstream?"

Again, David, you admit that it is this extremist group that you are "aiming at" in your tract. Therefore, once again, I publicly challenge you to state that fact at the very beginning of that tract, and that you modify your tract immediately to reflect this declared aim. As it currently stands, your tract is "aimed at" the churches of Christ as a whole. This is a major error, David, and should be corrected at once. I am appealing to you to do the honorable thing here.

Do these extremists regard me as a "liberal" within the churches of Christ? Absolutely. Indeed, they frequently call me worse than that! They have elevated name-calling to an art form, and have virtually perfected it. Many of us who oppose this ultra-legalistic mindset have become the fanatical focus of these militants within our fellowship. Their assaults can make your little tract look like an epistle of love! But, as noted before, every religious group is plagued with such militant, malevolent, malicious factions within it. The Baptists are no different, as you well know. Indeed, some of your leading Baptist pastors and editors have written me privately pleading with me NOT to judge all Baptists by the actions of such militants as your friend Ray Meier. What if I ignored their pleas, David, and wrote a scathing denunciation of the Baptist church as a whole, and published it on the Internet for all the world to see, based solely upon my experience with a handful of radicals within your fellowship? Would you appreciate that, David? Would you challenge, and rightly so, the validity of my negative characterization of all Baptists? Of course you would .... and that is all I am doing.

As to the "proof" that what I am stating is the position of the "mainstream" within the churches of Christ, you can either take my word for it, as one who is a leader within this group, and has been for almost three decades, serving within this group throughout the world, or, better yet, you can engage in some legitimate research. You have admitted that your understandings are based upon input only from "Southern extremists." Broaden your horizons, David!! No legitimate survey of the beliefs of any group can be conducted by limiting that research to a small extreme element within the whole. If you tried that approach in a college class on statistical analysis (which I have taken while in graduate school) you would receive a failing grade. Your data would be immediately suspect, and indeed invalidated .... which, of course, it is.

Here is what I would suggest, David. Order a copy of the book Churches of Christ in the United States. You can get the year 2000 edition for $17.50 through the Gospel Advocate Bookstore (1-800-251-8446). This is compiled by Mac Lynn. There is a 2003 edition coming out around the first of the year, and you can reserve a copy at the following URL:

There is also a companion volume -- Churches of Christ around the World. It is also compiled by Mac Lynn. These two volumes provide not only locations of virtually all the congregations of the churches of Christ throughout the world, but also contact information as well as vital demographics about each congregation. It will also inform the reader as to the theological stance of that particular congregation. Thus, you could try and contact the larger congregations, which are not characterized as ultra-conservative, and seek to determine the thinking of the mainstream in this way. Simply contact them, include your tract and ask for input. You will discover very quickly that the congregations in which the most members of the churches of Christ reside will take immediate and immense exception to your conclusions. Thus, you will begin to get a better appreciation for the perspective of the "mainstream" churches of Christ. This will require an investment in time and energy, but if it is truth you are after this will be a small price to pay.

David wrote, "You sound like an ecumenist to me, and I am sure the ultra-conservatives of your CoC fellowship consider you a compromiser and question your salvation." Yes, David, you are absolutely correct that this is how I am perceived by many within this faction. Interestingly enough, just a few days ago I was accused by one of the more vocal leaders in this faction of being an ecumenist. Of course, in their view, being "ecumenical" is simply perceived as "doctrinal compromise with apostates." However, I am not the least bit interested in compromising biblical Truth so as to be "buddies with the denominationalists" (a charge often leveled against me by these factionists). I will contend earnestly for what I believe to be Truth, but I will also embrace as brethren ALL who have accepted that Truth, regardless of their faith-heritage. If that makes me an ecumenist (and it does, according to their definition of the term), then so be it.


David wrote, "The CoC people that I have talked to say that the alien sinner comes into contact with the blood of Christ through the waters of baptism. Is this a false teaching, Al? Do you DENY that the sinner is washed in the blood of Christ when he is baptized in water? It sounds like it to me. If that is the case you are not much of a CoC preacher, are you?"

Just for the record, I have no desire to be "a CoC preacher." My only desire is to preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I would hope that would be your desire also, David, rather than seeking to be a Baptist preacher. I preach Christ, not the Church of Christ. There is a big difference. I seek to convert people to a Person rather than to a position. I promote relationship with the Father rather than the rigid religion of a faction. Thus, David, you are correct. I am NOT much of a "CoC preacher," and have no desire to be!

As for the phrase "coming into contact with the blood of Christ," I do not believe one will find it in Scripture. Indeed, I have seen some articles recently in some of our brotherhood publications in which this wording is called into serious question. Some suggest that the notion that we contact the blood of Christ through water baptism sounds much too sacramental. My associate minister, years ago in northern New Mexico, used to use this phrase a lot, and several challenged him on it.

The idea of the blood of Christ being efficacious unto the washing, cleansing, forgiving and releasing of sin, however, is certainly a biblical concept; one with which I'm sure you would readily find yourself in full agreement. In Revelation 1:5 we are informed that our Lord has "washed us from our sins in His own blood" (KJV). Other translations say, "He has released us from our sins by/in His blood." Peter tells us we have been redeemed "with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19).

In the year 1878, a Presbyterian pastor by the name of Elisha A. Hoffman (1839-1929) wrote a hymn that has become a standard among many disciples of Jesus Christ. It is called Are You Washed In The Blood? Although this man contributed more than 2000 hymns to our various hymnals, this is one of his most beloved.

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There's a fountain flowing for the soul unclean:
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

The idea of experiencing the "soul-cleansing" effects of the shed blood of Christ Jesus is a well-known Christian concept, and one which is entirely biblical (as perceived in the passages above). The problem among some believers, however, lies in the differing interpretations of HOW one appropriates the cleansing effects of this blood. Some feel this cleansing power is appropriated entirely by faith alone in the shed blood of Christ upon the cross. Others feel one's faith must be visibly demonstrated in some way(s) so as to receive the cleansing effects of His blood. My guess is you hold the former view, whereas I advocate the latter.

Is a sinner "washed in the blood of Christ when he is baptized in water?" No, not literally. We're not transubstantiationists, David. Yes, it is Christ's shed blood that cleanses, but we believe the Scriptures teach this reality is portrayed figuratively in our immersion in water, and that furthermore this is a required visible demonstration of our faith if we would appropriate the gift of cleansing freely offered. For example, Saul of Tarsus was instructed by Ananias, "Rise up, be baptized and wash away your sins" (Acts 22:16). In Acts 10:47-48 we see Peter ordering Cornelius and his companions to be baptized in water. There is most definitely a connection between immersion in water and the washing away of sins. Does the water itself wash the sins away? Is the cleansing power in the water? No, of course not. The power is in the blood. However, one simply cannot deny the connection between the two.

Here is my belief on the matter, David, and I think you will find most within the churches of Christ would agree. Jesus has commanded those who come to Him in simple, trusting faith to demonstrate the reality of that faith. This visible profession is for our benefit far more than His. Our Lord sees the inner man (the heart), but His people need something more than intangibles (which is the basic concept behind providing us the tangible elements of the Lord's Supper, by the way).

Thus, we are indeed saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8), and not by any meritorious work we ourselves might accomplish. However, as you well know, faith can either be active or passive. Many of the rulers believed in Jesus Christ, but they were not confessing Him (John 12:42-43) because they valued the approval of men above that of God. They had a passive faith; an undemonstrated faith. James (in James 2) declares the obvious need for one to show one's faith for that faith to be truly valid.

Our Lord has provided that means for believers to vocally and visibly demonstrate their faith in the power of His shed blood to cleanse them of their sins. They have been commanded to REPENT (turn away from their life of sin), to CONFESS (declare with their tongues and with their very lives that Jesus is who and what He professes to be), and to BE BAPTIZED IN WATER as a visible demonstration not only of one's faith, but also as a figurative declaration of one's willingness to embrace the Lord Jesus and the many benefits to be experienced IN HIM.

An undemonstrated faith is not a saving faith. A faith that refuses to comply with the commands of Christ, is not a faith that will result in salvation. Jesus Christ has become "unto all those who OBEY Him the source of eternal salvation" (Hebrews 5:9). What is one of the commands of Jesus Christ? "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). Do you believe that, David? Will you obey it? Will you urge others to obey it? If not, why not?

Let me ask you a question, David. Do you believe repentance is necessary for salvation? If a person believes, but refuses to repent, will that person's faith alone save them? Yes or no, David? If you believe repentance is necessary, would you then characterize it as a WORK? If not, why not?

Just for your information, I personally do NOT regard repentance as a meritorious work. Rather, I regard it as a response of faith. I regard confession as a response of faith. And, David, I regard baptism as a RESPONSE OF FAITH. It is NOT a meritorious work in any way, shape or form. Immersion in water merits nothing. It earns nothing. It is simply a response ... a demonstration of one's faith. It is by a visible display of OUR FAITH that we acquire the cleansing offered unto us by God's grace through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we are "washed in the blood" (figuratively speaking) when we embrace our Lord Jesus in faith .... a faith evidenced in our repentance, confession and immersion. David, I would no more preach willful omission of immersion (as a demonstration of faith) as I would preach willful omission of repentance (as a demonstration of faith). These are both demonstrations of faith mandated by Scripture, thus I proclaim their necessity as evidence of that faith which saves!! Simply stated: an undemonstrated faith is not a saving faith. The cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ is for those willing to profess and display their faith in Him, not for those who absolutely and obstinately refuse to do either.


David wrote, "Al believes that a sinner is saved apart from works, but that salvation must be maintained by works. He is saying that God saves you apart from any works initially, but believes that AFTER THAT you have to 'outrun the devil' if you want to eventually be saved. He believes a person is saved by grace, but kept by his works. This makes NO SENSE whatsoever."

No, David, I do not believe that "salvation must be maintained by works." If I believed and taught that, I would still be proclaiming a form of salvation by works. We are NOT saved by works, either before or after or during/by baptism. HERE is my view of the place of works:

Paul several times speaks of the "good works" we are to be doing as God's children. These are not works to be done in order to become God's children, but rather works we do because we are God's children.

There is no need for a child of God to have to "outrun the devil." Indeed, we should not run away from him at all. HE will flee from US. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). We resist the devil, David, we don't try to outrun him. If we stand up to him, HE is the one who will be doing the running!! We sing a hymn entitled Faith Is The Victory --- that says it all, David!! In Christ Jesus we have already won the war; we are "more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37). We are saved by grace through faith and we are kept by grace through faith. Remember, though, this is active faith .... and active faith demonstrates itself!! "I will show you my faith by my works" (James 2:18). THESE are the works of which I speak, David. They are the manifestation of, not a replacement for, saving faith. Don't feel too badly, though, David. Even Martin Luther, the noted reformer, had trouble perceiving this distinction. You're in good company.


David wrote, "no church of Christ preacher can say that only a CoC preacher must do the baptizing." I would agree with this. To say that ONLY a church of Christ preacher can perform a baptism is to command more than Scripture does. David then notes: "No where in the Bible do I find where an unsaved preacher baptized anybody. All that I read in the Bible shows me that the apostles and disciples did the baptizing." That does make sense, doesn't it? After all, why would an UNSAVED person be out in the world performing baptisms?!! He might be out there hindering baptisms, or telling people they weren't really necessary, however!!

Yes, David, the saved went out and made disciples of those who were not saved. That is the evangelistic spirit of the Great Commission. "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:15-16). Devoted disciples have been doing this since our Lord gave that commission. And others have been just as persistently ignoring it.

David wrote, "Al says that the baptizer makes no difference." I think you need to go back and place my remarks in the context of your original question, David. Here is Question #2 from your tract: "If a 'Church of Christ' elder refuses to baptize me, will I be lost until I can find one who will? Do I need a Campbellite 'preacher' in order to be saved?" Notice my response to that question in my original refutation of your tract:

My own personal relationship with the Lord, not to mention my salvation or the efficacy of my baptism, does not rest upon, nor is it in any way determined or affected by, the personal qualities of the one who immersed me. Otherwise, my standing with the Lord, and the validity of my baptism, and potentially even my very salvation, would not so much depend upon my faith, but rather the faith of the one immersing me (or perhaps a combination of his and mine). Such a view is patently absurd and clearly unbiblical. When the eunuch asked Philip what hindered him from being immersed in the nearby water (Acts 8:36f), Philip did not answer, "If WE believe with all OUR hearts, YOU may." Rather, the focus was on the heart of the one to be immersed, not upon the heart of the one performing the immersion.

As you rightly pointed out, "Alexander Campbell was baptized by a Baptist Preacher, and then later ... brought about the so-called 'restoration' without being re-baptized." Campbell was baptized by a man named Luce, if my memory serves me correctly. There was absolutely no need for Campbell to be re-baptized. If his heart was right when he was immersed, then the identity of the one performing that immersion was irrelevant. In point of fact, the one performing the baptism could have been a pagan, and it would not have in any way invalidated the baptism. Campbell could even have immersed himself if no one else had been available. Baptism is a faith response between the one being immersed and his/her Lord. Whether one is plunged beneath the water by a Baptist or a Baboon is equally irrelevant. God examines the heart of the plungee, not the plunger!

David wrote, "Al says that the 'church of Christ' he belongs to is the church founded at Pentecost. If that is so, then all who baptized in the Bible record were 'church of Christ' elders, not Baptists." Once again, David, you show complete lack of understanding as to the true beliefs of those within the group known as churches of Christ. Your "powers of logic" are also somewhat doubtful. There is a difference (although, the ultra-conservative extremists would deny this) between the group in the yellow pages of the phone book designated "Church of Christ" and the ONE BODY established by our Lord almost 2000 years ago. Our particular group, just like the Baptists, is the product of historical events. My association is with the historical group known as "churches of Christ," my membership is in the ONE BODY of our Lord Jesus Christ. The latter was established some 2000 years ago by the Lord, the former was not.

It's kind of like stating that I reside in the state of New Mexico, but my citizenship is in the United States of America. I am an American citizen, but a resident of New Mexico. The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, although there are significant distinctions to be made. There are people in this ONE NATION to whom I refer as "fellow Americans," even though they may not be "fellow New Mexicans." We can be a part of the ONE NATION established some 200+ years ago, even though we work & reside in separate states formed at separate times and with varying customs. This is what Patrick Henry had in mind when he declared, in a speech before the First Continental Congress, "I am not a Virginian, but an American." Socrates made a similar declaration, "I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world."

I am not a "Church of Christer," I am a member of the ONE CHURCH of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, I claim the churches of Christ as my faith-heritage. I was raised within this group, have well-known relatives who are part of the history of this group (G.C. Brewer was my cousin), and currently work & worship within this group. But, this group is only a part of the whole. My citizenship is not restricted to any one part of the whole, but encompasses it all. My spiritual family is defined by the parameters of the ONE BODY universal, not by the borders drawn by certain fallible factionists within my own heritage. To do the latter is sectarianism. I do not confuse nor equate the circles in the sand drawn by a few radicals within the latter group with the parameters established by God for the fellowship of the former group. This causes the rigid isolationists and exclusivists within the churches of Christ to condemn me, but in keeping with my understanding of the nature of God's Kingdom I can take no other position.


I had previously stated, "God is far more concerned with the state of one's heart than matters of external regulation and ritual." There were religious observances that our God had commanded under the old covenant, for example, but when it came down to ritual or relationship it was obvious which the Lord preferred. "For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6). "'What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?' says the Lord. 'I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed cattle. And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats .... Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?" (Isaiah 1:11-12).

It has always been the heart that God required in worship and service. "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me" (Matthew 15:8). "For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). Solomon prayed, "then hear Thou in heaven Thy dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart Thou knowest, for Thou alone dost know the hearts of all the sons of men" (1 Kings 8:39). David told his son Solomon, "serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him" (1 Chronicles 28:9).

Although there is no question but what God expects men to comply with His will, there are many examples in Scripture of God dealing graciously and mercifully with those who were striving to obey, but who were unable to comply due to circumstances beyond their personal control. In such cases we discover God regarding the intent of their hearts as equal with compliance and sufficient unto justification.

A perfect example is Abraham's near sacrifice of his son Isaac (Genesis 22). God commanded Abraham to offer up Isaac as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of Moriah. Did Abraham do so? NO. He intended to, and he even sought to the best of his ability to comply. But, in the final analysis, that sacrifice was never actually made ... except in his heart. David wrote, "The old saying is that 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions.' According to Al, God makes exceptions for those who have good intentions." Did God make an exception with Abraham, David? Did God regard the INTENT of Abraham's heart as sufficient unto justification? Yes, He did!

Let's look at another case of "honorable, heartfelt intent" over against non-compliance with specific law. God had been very specific with regard to the Passover celebration. It was to be celebrated at a specified time and in a specified manner. However, we see that on one occasion Hezekiah, king of Judah, had the people celebrate the Passover "otherwise than prescribed" (2 Chronicles 30:18). Nevertheless, God graciously accepted the worship of these who had "prepared their hearts to seek God" (vs. 19), even though it was in a manner not prescribed by Law (vs. 18) and "not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary" (vs. 19). Here we see the Lord making an exception, and even afterward indicating the leaders "showed good insight in the things of the Lord" (vs. 22). Hezekiah was a man characterized as having sought and served His God "with all his heart," who did what was "good, right, and true before the Lord his God," and as a result he "prospered" (2 Chronicles 31:20-21)

Remember the case of David and his men who "entered the house of God, and took and ate the consecrated bread which it is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone" (Luke 6:4)? Here we see that the pressing need of these men superceded law, and they were not regarded as guilty. "If you had known what this means, 'I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent" (Matthew 12:7). "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). When the ultimate good of God's people takes a back seat to the rigid enforcement of law, one has missed the purpose of law. Law is a tutor, not a tyrant (Galatians 3).

Yes, David, I believe in the final analysis, when all is laid before the Lord in judgment, that grace & mercy will rule the day as God judges the hearts of men. For "he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter" (Romans 2:29). "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). "Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).

I gave the example of a person who had come to the point of a deep faith in Jesus Christ, and desired to demonstrate that faith in a visible way. This person had repented of his sins, he had confessed Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and had made a determination of heart to be immersed. As preparation was being made for the baptism, the person died suddenly of a heart attack. I stated, "I have no doubt in my mind that God will judge the intent of their heart as sufficient unto salvation ... I firmly believe the grace of God will mercifully embrace those who may not have had, through no fault of their own, the opportunity to fully demonstrate that faith (IF the resolve and intent to do so was present in their heart)." In other words, David, if the intent of the heart was focused on immediate compliance with God's will, but that person was prevented through no fault of their own, I believe the principle seen in the example of Abraham's intent to offer Isaac will be applied to this case as well. I can simply not imagine the grace of God responding in any other way.

With regard to this position, however, you wrote, "It sounds to me that according to what Al says is the 'mainstream' thinking of the CoC that water baptism is only necessary where there is opportunity to be baptized, and that where that opportunity is not available, it is NOT REQUIRED in order to be saved and have one's sins forgiven." That is not quite what I am saying, David. I believe God has indeed required men to demonstrate their faith in repentance, confession and immersion. Thus, we must preach and teach compliance to this command. However, we must also proclaim a God of GRACE, who ultimately will judge hearts fairly. Thus, in very special cases, where intent was present but compliance was not, we must recognize that a God of grace will examine the heart of that person. This certainly does not absolve us from the necessity to continue preaching the need for obedience, nor does it absolve those seeking union with the Father from the need to immediately seek to obey. Exceptions to the rule are just that -- exceptions. Exceptions must never become the rule. Exceptions merely demonstrate the nature of the God we serve ... He is a gracious, loving, merciful Father who will fairly and justly examine hearts. He is not a sadistic, legalistic tyrant.

We serve a God of GRACE, not a legalistic sadist. Does our God at times put the legitimate needs of man above law? Of course He does. Examples of that can be supplied from Scripture. Will our God judge the intent & motives of the heart, and give weight to that in judgment over possible non-compliance due to circumstances beyond one's personal control? I believe He will. Does that absolve the rest of us from any need to continue to proclaim the commands of our God with respect to one's salvation? Absolutely not! If exceptions are to be made, it is GOD who will make them ... not us. But, He has sufficiently revealed His nature in the Word for us to know that grace, compassion and mercy will triumph in judgment as our Father judges the hearts of men. Of that I have no doubt whatsoever.

David wrote, "For Al to teach that the intent of the heart is sufficient unto salvation is a glaring contradiction of the very verses Al uses to teach his plan of salvation. Al has just 'thrown his doctrine out the window.' Out goes Acts 2:38. Out goes Acts 22:16. Out goes Mark 16:16." To the contrary, David. I do not dismiss those passages at all. If you have understood my above explanation, then you will perceive that fact. Consider this parallel, David -- if a city law (a speed limit in a residential area, for example) can be set aside due to special circumstances, does this thereby "throw out the window" that law? Of course not. The speed limit in our residential area is 25 miles per hour. That is the law, and it is enforced. However, if my child is bleeding to death in the back seat, the law can be set aside due to the greater need of the moment. In fact, if a police officer stops you for speeding and then spots your child bleeding in the back, he will likely lead you at high speed to the hospital. The law is set aside to impart grace because of a special circumstance. That does not suggest, however, that the 25 mph residential limit is therefore "thrown out the window." Mr. Spock would likely choke on that kind of "logic," David.


David is a proponent of the "Once Saved, Always Saved" theology of Calvinism. He strongly believes that the teaching which declares one who is "in Christ" can at some point "lose their salvation and go to hell ... is ridiculous." He states that in order for this to happen, one who was previously "clothed with Christ" would have to somehow be "unclothed of Christ." David believes this to be an impossibility. Once clothed, always clothed ... or so he teaches. Indeed, he states that to reason otherwise (which he characterizes as "CoC reasoning") "leads to preposterous scenarios."

The chief points of Calvin's teaching are known as "the five points," easily remembered by the acrostic: TULIP. The particular one in view here is the last -- Perseverance of the Saints. Hiscox, in The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, writes, "It may be proper to add that Baptists generally hold to what may be termed, for the sake of distinction, 'moderate Calvinists'" (page 57). "By the term 'perseverance of the saints' we mean that if a person is once saved he is always saved and can never slip from God's saving grace. When we confess the perseverance of the saints we confess that there are no 'ifs' or 'buts' about the certainty of our salvation. What a glorious comfort the knowledge of this fact brings to the one who is a Christian. For he can know that if he really has put his trust in Jesus as Saviour, then he can never slip away and be lost, whether because of his own sinful weakness and tendency to unbelief, or because of the wiles of the Devil" (Dr. Edwin H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, p. 59).

Is this a valid biblical doctrine, or is this a devious false teaching? My understanding of Scripture leads me to the conviction that it is the latter. There are numerous warnings, under both old and new covenants, against falling away from a relationship with the Father. Why warn against something that is an absolute impossibility? Notice just a few of the many passages which speak of this reality:

I could go on and on and on with examples from God's holy Word. The simple fact of the matter is, David, your teaching on this matter is deadly false doctrine. I oppose it with every fiber of my being. Why? Because it gives people a false sense of security, and will result ultimately in some precious souls forfeiting life because they have been misled by your false doctrine. This is a life or death matter, David, and, sadly, you are promoting a position which can only lead to destruction for those who embrace it. Unless you repent of this false teaching you are going to have much to answer for on the day of reckoning, and the blood of many lost souls will be on your head.

Is it possible for one who has been clothed with Christ to remove himself from that gracious covering? Yes it is. Getting dressed and getting undressed are both choices men can and do make. Let me clearly declare, David, that I don't believe there is any force in the universe that can forcibly pry you from the arms of the Lord (Romans 8:38-39); thus, in that sense, one is secure in the Lord. However, God will not force one to remain in His loving arms against that person's own will. Those who choose to sever themselves from His embrace will pay the penalty for that willful departure.

David's doctrine is a horrendous departure from Truth, and I plead with him to abandon it as the "doctrine of demons" which it clearly is. It is going to cost people their lives, and the blood of others is something we don't want on our heads at judgment.

With Christian Love and Concern,