I think it should be rather obvious to any reader who has persevered in his/her reading of this debate to this point that Darrell and I have vastly differing approaches to God's holy, inspired Word. Large portions of text that I perceive to be narrative, he perceives to be normative. That which I regard as revelatory, he regards as regulatory. Whereas I read Scripture looking for God's love, Darrell seems to search the Scriptures looking for God's law. I do not question Darrell's love for God, or his love for the Scriptures. I do question, however, his approach to and his perspective of both. I regard them as misguided, at best.
Darrell is seemingly convinced that I am a "wolf ... busy seeking to devour the sheep of God's flock" [p. 1]. Those words are quite kind compared to some I have been called over the years. I'm familiar with such debate tactics and strategies, so am not distracted by them in the least. When one looks beyond the inflammatory rhetoric, however, one perceives a genuine fear on the part of people like Darrell Broking. Legalistic patternism is an indefensible theology, one in which the tenets, when carried out to their ultimate conclusions, are the epitome of absurdity. Such doctrine and practice cannot bear intense scrutiny. In this debate I have sought to shine a bright light on the teachings of these patternists, and have sought to force their tenets to their rarely seen, and often hidden, practical conclusions. A few of my questions may seem "far fetched" ... until Darrell gives his answer!! Then, when the gasps of shock and horror arise from the readers, they finally perceive the purpose of these scenarios and questions. "Are there actually people out there claiming to be Christians who genuinely believe that? You have got to be kidding!" No, brethren, these people exist, and you need to know about them. Their theology is one of eternal destruction for those who embrace it. It must be exposed for what it is. Therefore, once again, I thank David Brown and Darrell Broking for affording me this opportunity to engage this teaching in a public forum; a debate that has been advertised even among their own people (which is truly phenomenal among legalists). Despite their theatrics and tampering, Truth is still getting through to a great many people, and for that I praise God. May this exchange between Darrell and me be read for years to come, for I truly believe it will open many eyes to the joys of liberty in Jesus and the horrors of legalistic patternism.
Darrell responded "False" to my first two T/F statements. I would have responded the same! The fact that Titius Justus owned a house next to the synagogue [Acts 18:7] clearly does NOT "provide a 'pattern' of attitude and/or action for disciples of Christ Jesus today that directly pertains to one's fellowship with other Christians and one's eternal salvation." There is nothing there to bind upon anyone. It is good information, it provides historical insight, it adds "color" to the narrative, but if that tiny piece of insight was absent from the New Covenant writings, no one would find their fellowship with others diminished or their eternal salvation jeopardized. Is this information part of God's inspired Word? Yes, it is. But, that does NOT make it a part of His "pattern" of attitude and action necessary unto salvation. IS there a "pattern" within God's inspired writings that DOES pertain to our fellowship and salvation? Absolutely!! But the location of the house of Titius Justus is NOT part of that "pattern." Indeed, there is nothing "patternistic" about it. If there was, then we'd all better start building homes next to synagogues.
It appears to me that Darrell is beginning to perceive the absolute absurdity of his own position, for he is now beginning to backpedal a bit. For example, Darrell wrote, "I did not affirm that every word of the New Testament has to be obeyed, I affirmed that every word of the New Testament is the pattern for salvation and fellowship" [p. 1]. Hmmm. Every word IS the pattern for salvation and fellowship, but not every word "has to be obeyed." Darrell, let me see if I have understood you here: if every word of the NT writings IS the pattern for salvation and fellowship, but not every word needs to be obeyed, then which parts of the NT writings must we OBEY in order to be saved? It seems to me that you just might very well be coming around to my own position here. I too believe that our Lord God has provided us certain precepts and principles that must be obeyed for one to be saved and to be in fellowship with God's other children. You and I would probably disagree over what those specific essentials are, but if we both teach that there are essentials within the inspired Scriptures that must be obeyed, as well as parts of these same writings that one does not need to obey, then, my friend, we are teaching the same thing! You have just affirmed this second proposition: "The New Covenant writings CONTAIN specific requirements and expectations of our God, few in quantity, that are essential for both fellowship and salvation." We would probably differ on only one point: the phrase "few in quantity." I believe my Lord's load is light; you seemingly do not.
I must admit, I found Darrell's response to scenario #5 extremely fascinating. This was the one in which a missionary named Jason was faced with a lack of "grains and grapes" in a remote South Pacific island, elements of this memorial meal that would have been common during the time of Christ in Judea. Would comparable elements suffice to symbolize the spiritual truths conveyed in this memorial meal observed by grateful hearts, or would such constitute SIN? As I expected, Darrell believes these people would all be sinning. Thus, I would assume Darrell would perceive this to be a salvation/fellowship issue. Clearly, Darrell believes one of the essentials of the pattern would be to get the composition of the elements in the Lord's Supper exactly right. No substitutions allowed. In fact, this preciseness of the particulars of this pattern is so critical in the thinking of Darrell Broking, that he would rather cancel the Lord's Supper altogether than get the composition of the elements "wrong." Apparently, therefore, it is NOT a sin to do away with the Lord's Supper (which our Lord specified), but it IS a sin to use some fruit of the vine other than a grape (which our Lord did not specify). Darrell said that if the "right" emblems are not available, "then the worshippers are not obligated to observe the Lord's Supper" [p. 3]. Therefore, it appears, the observing of the Lord's Supper is not as essential as the elements employed in the observance, even though the memorial itself was urged upon us by the Lord, while the elements never were (indeed, grapes are never even mentioned). This is a prime example of legalists elevating human assumptions above divine specifications.
Darrell tries to qualify his statement by adding: "the worshippers are not obligated to observe the Lord's Supper any more than one who has no money is obligated to give" [p. 3]. It is giving itself that is specified by the Lord. We are to be a giving people. However, one can give generously and not have a penny! If one has no money, then one can always give something else. Giving still occurs. Peter once told a lame man, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you" [Acts 3:6]. The apostle Paul wrote to the brethren in Corinth, "For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have" [2 Cor. 8:12]. Now, why wouldn't this very passage speak directly to the situation with that missionary on the remote island in the South Pacific? They had a "willingness" to remember the Lord Jesus Christ in the observing of the Lord's Supper. Their hearts and minds were in the right place. What they lacked was the precise elements used by Jesus (assuming we even know for sure precisely what the composition was). Nevertheless, the principle given here is that our gifts to the Lord, and I would list the observing of the Lord's Supper as such a gift of devotion, are acceptable to our God "according to what one has, not according to what one does not have." They had a "bread" formed from the pulverized roots of a local shrub; they had a melon that grew on a vine whose pulp was red. They took what they had and used these items to express the devotion of their hearts. I believe, based on the principles of Scripture, that God accepted that gift of their worshipful expression. According to Darrell, on the other hand, these people should abandon the Lord's Supper altogether until such time as they can get the ingredients "right." Sounds to me like Darrell is so focused on a grape that he can't see grace. Odd, since Darrell said, "Maxey ... did not list the Lord's Supper as an essential" [p. 6]. Actually, it appears that it is Darrell who declares the Lord's Supper non-essential, since disciples are "not obligated" to observe it until certain conditions are met. Just who is Darrell to set aside such an "obligation" of our Lord based upon preconditions never established by Jesus Himself?!
But, the above perspective is understandable when one realizes that Darrell's perception of God is that He is the ultimate Divine Legalist. If one really believes that God is concerned with patternistic precision over hearts filled with love, then one will focus on each and every minute aspect of our every practice. Such a God will torture someone for umpteen zillion years in the fires of hell, never satisfied with their screams of agony, because they got the wrong "fruit of the vine," even though He never specified which one. Our loving, compassionate, merciful Father will inflict unimaginable horrors on a penitent believer who was attempting with all of his heart and being to comply with what he believed the Father expected, but who died a split-second before his nose broke the surface of the waters of the baptistery. So said Darrell Broking in response to my statement #3. Brethren, if that is really and truly the kind of Father we have, NONE of us are going to make it. That kind of cosmic obsession with preciseness and perfection excludes us all, for none of us will ever get through the years of our lives without countless imperfections and imprecisions (most of which we will not even be aware we have committed).
Darrell's view of the Father is that He doesn't consider you His child until you are "born." In response to my statement #3, he wrote, "Is a child born who dies in the birth canal?" Technically, he may not have been "born," but is he any less your child? Darrell, I have done funerals of children who died just hours prior to birth. The parents grieved their child. They named the child, and the child has a tombstone to commemorate the place where that precious little body is buried. Go up and tell this family that this little body was NOT their child because it failed to "draw a breath," and I will go visit you in the hospital after they give you a very well-deserved pounding! It is this very mindset, Darrell, that has led people to support the murder of the unborn. "They're not really 'living beings' until they draw a breath outside the womb." Thus, it's not really murder, it's just a medical procedure to remove a "tissue mass." Partial birth abortion is acceptable, as long as you rip the brains out before the whole body is ejected and the "tissue mass" draws a breath. You're not really killing a child ... right, Darrell? It hasn't been born ... right, Darrell? This is appalling theology, and what it says, in a spiritual context, about our Father is blasphemous!
"Is a child born who dies in the birth canal?" Again, Darrell asks this question, this time in response to my statement #4. No, technically speaking, the child has not been "born," but it is no less the child of the mother and father. That child is their son or daughter. It is no less loved, no less embraced to their warm bosom. The quadriplegic named Jennifer, who was a penitent believer seeking with all of her ability and might to be baptized, as that is what she truly wanted to do with all of her heart, but who could not achieve this desire because of a system that sought to protect itself, will burn forever in hell ... or, so says Darrell Broking. Why? Because she had the misfortune of dying just hours before her heart's desire was to be fulfilled. The heart counts for nothing with Darrell. It's all in the details!! That's why you can forget about observing the Lord's Supper if a bunch of grapes can't be found. Remembering Jesus Christ with adoring hearts has to be put on hold until a bottle of Welch's can be shipped from South Texas!! LUNACY!!
In my T/F statement #6, Darrell Broking wanted to break the sentence down into two separate assertions: (1) Christians may sing Psalm 149 and Psalm 150 within a "worship service," and (2) It would be a SIN for them to ever do what these two psalms declare. To the first of these statements Darrell responded: "False," and to the second Darrell answered: "True." Therefore, we are all forbidden to sing certain psalms in an assembly of the saints. Interesting. Which psalms, Darrell? And just who gets to decide this list of approved psalms? You?! And yes, brethren, if we actually dare to do what these God-breathed psalms proclaim, then we have SINNED. Or, so declares Darrell Broking (not the Bible).
Darrell's six questions for me in his first rebuttal to the second proposition all deal with matters pertaining to interpretation (which falls squarely under the domain of sacred/biblical hermeneutics). Although there are accepted rules of interpretation (and I've taught classes on this for years), there is nevertheless a subjective element involved, which few scholars would deny. As anyone knows (who has done any degree of work in this field) there are always exceptions to even the most accepted rules of interpretation. In other words, there are few genuine absolutes. Those who are determined to reduce the inspired revelation to a tome of precise law (purely black & white; no shades of gray) are destined for total failure. That was never the purpose of Scripture. They provide more guiding principles than fixed law, and principles may be applied variously depending upon time, place, circumstance, culture, ability, and the like. That's why seeking to establish a set "pattern" is so very difficult for those focused on law, whereas a "pattern" of attitude of heart, which then motivates one to godly action, is quite easy for those more grace-centered.
FIRST -- "The Scriptures can be correctly interpreted. True or False?" In theory this is true. In actual practice, I doubt if there is a person alive who has correctly interpreted every single phrase in all 66 books of the Bible. I would pose a question to Darrell Broking -- Have YOU correctly interpreted every single passage of the Bible? Yes or No? If he is honest, he will have to answer "No." Is it possible for the entirety of the inspired Scriptures to be perfectly understood by any given man? Yes, it is possible. Has Darrell done so? Not likely. Nor has any other man. Does the fault lie with the Scriptures? No. It lies with the imperfection of man. A similar question -- Was it possible to perfectly keep the Law of Moses? Yes, it was possible, but did anyone ever do it? Only Jesus. Did the fault lie with the law? No. The fault was with the imperfection of man. That is why grace is so vital to our salvation (both then and today), and it is why grace is so vital to disciples who, even given their best effort, still fail to fully perceive the entirety of God's will as revealed in Scripture. I like the way The Living Bible has phrased what Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 13:12 -- "We can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at His reflection in a poor mirror. ... Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly."
By the way, just by way of refreshing the memory of the readers, my sixth question to Darrell in my third rebuttal to the first proposition was: "Darrell Broking has correctly interpreted every single word, phrase, sentence and passage in the entire Bible. True or False?" In his fourth affirmative Darrell responded -- "False." He then wrote, "I have missed it on matters before and will do so again. I feel that I am in good company because both Peter and Paul missed it at times too. I am so thankful that matters of obligation are communicated to men by their Creator, Who used language that He knows His creation can understand. I'm so thankful that He gave men a Bible that offers man a simple plan that is easy to understand and at the same time is so deep that in one's life he cannot master it all! That is what inspiration did for us. We can and must master the obligatory matters and at the same time we can agree to disagree on matters of opinion. Men sin, but that does not mean that men must live in sin. Men make mistakes in interpretation, but that does not mean that the Bible cannot be interpreted" [p. 29-30]. I would have to say that Darrell and I appear to be somewhat in agreement on this particular issue. Yes, Darrell, "matters of obligation" have indeed been clearly communicated to us within the inspired writings, which is the proposition I have affirmed in this debate. Clearly we will never grasp the fullness of His revelation; we are finite, fallible beings. However, the obligatory precepts and principles that guide our attitudes and actions, and which are truly few in number (a load not heavy to bear), can be readily perceived within the inspired revelation. Very few men debate and divide over the divine obligations, it is instead over the seemingly endless human inferences, as well as the decrees derived therefrom, that lead to the factional feuding we have all suffered through far too long.
SECOND -- "Following interpretative rules can assist those who study the Bible to make correct rational determinations about a passage. True or False?" This is true. Following such rules can indeed assist one in making a more responsible interpretation. Nevertheless, there is no substitute for good old fashioned common sense. Rules will also often be "bent" somewhat by those determined to FIND a particular "truth" in Scripture, and aren't averse to doing some proof-texting and "creative" interpretation. Therefore, even the best of rules are of little benefit to those who approach Scripture with an "agenda." However, for the honest biblical interpreter, these guidelines can be of assistance. "It is not hoped that any number of axioms and rules of interpretation will compensate the unfortunate interpreter who is lacking in good judgment and sound common sense. Laws of all sciences presuppose ability in him who would use them" [Dr. Clinton Lockhart, Principles of Interpretation, p. 13]. "The interpreter of Scripture, first of all, should have a sound, well-balanced mind, for dullness of apprehension, defective judgment and an extravagant fancy will pervert one's reason, and these will lead to many vain and foolish notions" [Dr. Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, p. 151].
THIRD -- "Failing to follow interpretive rules can prove disastrous with respect to perceiving the true meaning of a passage or statement. True or False?" I would have to say that in general this would be true. Again, one should be very careful of absolutes in a field where there is clearly room for exceptions and subjectivity. However, in most cases, one would have to declare that a willful circumvention of established and proven guidelines can be a dangerous path to walk in the realm of sacred hermeneutics. Some, for example, are determined to treat Jewish apocalyptic literature as though it were literal historical fact. It just fits better with their theology to do so, thus they set aside the rules relating to this genre. It has led to some ridiculous eschatological theology.
FOURTH -- "Correct interpretations of a passage are authoritative. True or False?" This is a very dangerous area, for just who gets to decide if an interpretation is "correct" or not?! We've already agreed that not one of us is infallible when it comes to making interpretations of the biblical text. Even Darrell admits he has made mistakes, and will do so again. I doubt any of us make an interpretation knowing it is incorrect, and yet it does happen. Thus, for us to elevate any interpretation of mere fallible men to a position of authority over the lives of others in the One Body of Christ is rather presumptuous at best. Even if there were some way to know with 100% certainly that an interpretation was correct, it would still remain merely an interpretation, which can never rise to the exact same level as a clearly stated divine precept. Our various interpretations, inferences, deductions and assumptions ARE "authoritative" for US (who have made said interpretations, inferences and deductions). Yes, we must each live by our own best understanding of God's will for our lives. However, we have no right to seek to bind our interpretations upon others as "authoritative." I really doubt that Darrell would care to be ruled by my interpretations any more than I would care to be ruled by his. And in the absence of some infallible judge to rule on our individual interpretations, we must limit their "authority" to our own walk with the Lord.
FIFTH -- "The interpretations of inspired writers of the Bible about other passages are authoritative. True or False?" This will depend to a large extent upon what definition of "authoritative" one has in mind. If one has in view the concept of "exercising authority over: to rule, regulate or legislate," then I would be very hesitant to declare that in every case an "interpretation" by an inspired writer should be thusly regarded. Even Paul himself made a distinction between what was given directly from the Lord and what was his own considered view (1 Cor. 7). Some interpretations by inspired writers are simply designed to be informational, not regulatory. Thus, I would not perceive them as "authoritative" (in that sense of the word). However, "authoritative" may also mean "reliable." In that sense of the word, I would say that every interpretation of an inspired writer should be regarded as reliable. That is not to suggest, however, that such interpretations are always binding upon us as some "pattern" for our attitudes or actions.
SIXTH -- "Peter's interpretation of the antitype-type teaching of the flood and baptism, that baptism now saves us, is authoritative (1 Peter 3:21). True or False?" First of all, I believe that Darrell and I would probably differ greatly over what the apostle Peter actually intended to teach in that passage. Darrell sees this verse as a validation of his own view of baptism. I see it as something else entirely. Is what Peter said "reliable"? Absolutely. Is Peter's interpretation "correct"? Absolutely. Is Darrell's interpretation of Peter's interpretation correct and reliable? He may think so, but I would differ with him on that. For those who would like to examine my own convictions with regard to what Peter intended in that passage, I would refer them to my in-depth study of that text in Reflections #217 -- Salvation by Immersion: A Reflective Analysis of 1 Peter 3:21.
Darrell began his rebuttal by declaring that I do "not have any teaching of substance to offer" [p. 1]. If I was seeking merely to promote my own personal opinions, then Darrell would have a valid point. My personal perceptions of the Word may be interesting to some, but they are hardly redemptive or salvific. The same holds true with Darrell's perceptions. It is what our God declares that is truly of substance when it comes to determining the parameters of fellowship and the conditions of eternal salvation. Thus, as expressed in the proposition of this second half of the debate, the essentials of both fellowship and salvation are rather few in number, because all of Al Maxey's (as well as every one of Darrell Broking's) views are excluded, leaving only God's. And we know from our Lord's own lips that these are not burdensome and heavy, as were the laws levied by the legalists of His own day (and ours). Therefore, the only "substance" I seek to proclaim in my preaching and teaching are the clear, specific, revealed commands and principles of my Father. That is my "teaching of substance" with respect to fellowship and salvation. Am I willing to share my views and perspectives? Of course I am. Am I willing to share my many inferences, deductions and interpretations derived from years of study and reflection? At the drop of a hat!! But, none of these can ever rise to the same status of "substance" that we should all give to the precepts and principles clearly specified by our Lord in His inspired Scriptures.
On page 3 of his first rebuttal, Darrell wrote, "Maxey ... ridiculed the idea that every word of the New Testament is essential. Maxey just does not get it!" If, in fact, that was what I had declared, then Darrell might have a point here. I personally believe every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph of the New Covenant writings (as well as the OT writings) are there for a purpose and are there by divine design. That makes them essential. But essential for what? Just what specifically is their purpose? Their design? MY point, which Darrell "just does not get," is that not every word is essential to disciples attaining unto and maintaining fellowship with one another and eternal salvation. Some of what is contained within these inspired writings is purely informational. It may be giving background information about a city or a district. It might be relating details of ship movements, cargo offloads, or weather conditions. These all serve a purpose, but that purpose is not to bring about one's salvation. That is my point. Are all of these informational statements true? Of course they are. I don't question their validity at all. But being true does NOT equate to Truth. Those are distinct realities. Every single word within the inspired Scriptures is true, and yet not every single word within the inspired Scriptures is saving Truth. Surely Darrell would concede that point!!
Darrell wrote, "Maxey, I will disown that which I affirm, when you can prove from the Scriptures that one can take away from the New Testament writings without having his name expunged from the Book of Life" [p. 3]. I have no desire whatsoever to "take away from" the holy Scriptures. I'm more than happy to leave every single letter and word untouched. I have merely sought to place the various parts of these inspired writings in their proper perspective. Some portions of Scripture are clearly related to everlasting salvation. If God commanded something, for example, and stated that our salvation depended upon our obedience to that stated command, then that is irrefutably salvific. But a statement about a storm at sea, or a statement that a ship was unloading its cargo, has to be categorized differently. Some might call this "rightly dividing" the Word. There is a big difference in categorizing content and casting out content. On the other hand, Darrell, I also have no desire to "add unto" the holy Scriptures. One may do this today by inferring laws that God never gave, and seeking to bind them upon others as conditions of fellowship and terms of salvation. When you characterize something as a soul-damning sin, for example, and nowhere within the Scriptures has God Himself ever made such a statement, then you've just "added to" the Word of God, and, Darrell, that is just as forbidden as "taking away from" His Word. And to be perfectly blunt, Darrell, you and your fellow legalistic patternists are doing this in spades. One is reminded of the words of our Lord to the legalists of His day: "You would think these Jewish leaders and these Pharisees were Moses, the way they keep making up so many laws! And of course you should obey their every whim!" [Matt. 23:2, Living Bible].
Darrell wrote, "Is it a mark of sanity to suggest that God gave men useless filler material in the Scriptures? ... Maxey where is the sanity in suggesting that any part of God's Word is not important?" [p. 3]. Once again, I have never, ever suggested that parts of God's Word are "not important." Nor have I suggested that portions of Scripture are just "useless filler material." Far from it. It is ALL "God-breathed," and therefore it is ALL (every single word) of importance to mankind. It is just not all of equal importance. Some parts of Scripture deal with what the Lord God expects of us if we would be saved. Other parts just tell us of weather conditions on a particular day. I would not place those two portions on equal footing with one another. Yes, both of them are inspired. Yes, both are part of the Scriptures. Yes, both serve a purpose. Both are there by design. But clearly one is LESS important than the other when it comes to "What must I do to be saved?" As I have stated in this second proposition -- contained within God's inspired writings one will find these clearly specified commands and principles of God Himself which provide the answer to that great question. Not every word is a part of that answer. Indeed, much of Scripture has nothing to do with it. It serves other purposes. Important purposes, to be sure, but not as important as God's salvation specifics.
"Is it the case that those who diligently study every word of the New Testament to please God do so because they are duped by the devil?" [p. 4]. No, not at all. In fact, those who aren't studying the Scriptures, every word of them, are probably the ones "duped by the devil." If the devil can tempt us to set aside God's inspired revelation, then he's gained a foothold in our hearts. I personally wish people would study His Word more. The extent of biblical ignorance in the world today (and even among God's people) is proof positive that too many are not. The key here, however, is the purpose of our studying. If we are studying Scripture to come to a better perception of who God is and what He's done for us in His Son, and how we can respond daily to His love and grace through an active faith, then that is a noble purpose. If we are studying Scripture to find new laws and regulations to bind upon our brethren, as well as proof-texts for our condemnation and castigation of those who dare to differ with us, then we are indeed "duped by the devil."
"If Maxey actually believed that God breathed all Scripture, then he might be able to begin to appreciate sola Scriptura as the only rule of faith for the followers of Christ" [p. 4]. And perhaps if Darrell Broking better appreciated the tenet of sola Scriptura he might cease declaring things to be SIN that our God never did in the Scriptures. In point of fact, it is my appreciation of the fact that the Scriptures are God-breathed that leads me to respect HIS commands pertaining to salvation and to reject the amendments of mere men. It is my appreciation for the fact that the Scriptures are God-breathed that keeps me from elevating my own inferences to the same level of "authority" over His people as His commands. It is my appreciation of the fact that the Scriptures are God-breathed that prevents me from willfully separating myself from my fellow disciples over matters never even mentioned in those God-breathed Scriptures. If only the legalistic patternists would do the same we might actually one day realize the unity, oneness and harmony for which our Lord prayed in John 17. Darrell has asserted that "blending the voice of man in with the voice of God ... is totally unacceptable" [p. 4]. Amen, Darrell. So when can we expect to see this practice halted by the legalistic patternists?!
Darrell observed, "Maxey used John 5:28-29 as a proof-text to allege that Jesus is salvific, not His Word. Maxey uses John 5:28-29 as a proof-text to suggest that Scripture is revelatory not regulatory. I had assumed that Maxey was too smart to defeat himself in this debate, but he did!" [p. 5]. I'm not too sure how I defeated myself by pointing out the revelatory nature of Scripture, since Jesus did the same in that passage ("it is these that bear witness of Me" -- that's revelatory). And, by the way, that should be John 5:39-40, not verses 28-29. Maybe that is what confused Darrell Broking ... he just read the wrong passage! As for the passage not being regulatory, I think that is rather self-evident. Where within that passage is there any hint whatsoever of "saving regulation"? Where is the binding law? Where are the meritorious deeds that must be performed? Jesus said that HE was the source of life, not the Scriptures these men were scrupulously poring over. They were looking for life in the writings, and they were missing the Source of Life those writings revealed. If that observation defeats me in this debate, then I suppose I stand defeated. My guess is, however, that most of the readers of this debate will see it much differently than Darrell. "The Scriptures are so designed that when people read them, they are to recognize and acknowledge God's glory. Even the Jews would agree to that. But Jesus said the people were incapable of both interpreting and applying the Scriptures, for as students of the Scriptures they should have known that they spoke of Him" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 9, p. 68-69]. "They pored over the OT, endeavoring to extract the fullest possible meaning from its words, because they believed that the very study itself would bring them life. By so doing they missed the chief subject of the OT revelation" [ibid]. Yes, these documents are "revelation" ... they are revelatory. The Jews thought them to be regulatory, and by searching for Law they missed the Lord ... and men are doing the same today.
"Maxey teaches that at least parts of the New Testament are regulatory" [p. 5]. And I always have. When the Lord Jesus commands us to love God and love one another, that is regulatory. When we are told that "God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent" [Acts 17:30], that is regulatory. When we are informed that "without faith it is impossible to please" our God [Heb. 11:6], that is regulatory. Indeed, my proposition in this half of the debate acknowledges that God does have expectations of mankind. Darrell mistakenly assumes my "short list of salvific regulations" consists of only three essentials: love, faith, repentance. Clearly, Darrell didn't read my first affirmative very well. I listed more than just that. I listed keeping His commandments (not man's) as an essential, and quoted Heb. 5:9. I mentioned confession of the Lord in our daily lives, and gave several passages that specified this requirement. I further wrote, "He has urged me to be immersed. I will do so. He's asked me to remember Him in the Lord's Supper. I will do so. He's asked me to be a servant; to be loving; to be benevolent, etc. So, I'll do so." In short, if the Lord has commanded me to do something, then it is essential to my standing with Him. If, on the other hand, Darrell Broking, or any other man, infers that I must do something, or not do something, in order to be saved or in fellowship with them, I am NOT bound by their personal perceptions. Especially when said perceptions are often drawn from the silence of the Scriptures. In other words, they have formulated binding law for the church based on inferences drawn from what was never said by God. To such regulation as this I feel no compulsion to submit. Indeed, to do so, according to Paul's teaching in Galatians, is to risk being severed from Christ and fallen from grace. Please examine my analysis of Paul's warning about this in Reflections #215 -- Embracing Another Gospel.
Darrell Broking closes his first rebuttal by trying once again to impress upon us the view that "human effort ... is necessary to the salvific process" [p. 7]. I would not personally use the word "effort," but rather human "response" to a divine gift. Does our God expect us to respond to His grace? Yes, He does. That response is an active, demonstrated FAITH. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" [Eph. 2:8-9]. There is absolutely NO "effort" on my part that can ever be salvific. However, the Lord's gift will never be mine if I do not receive it by faith. Our various faith responses are merely evidence of our salvation by grace through faith. They are not "effort" that earns His favor. A "free gift" is neither free nor a gift if it requires some human effort to acquire. Once saved by grace through faith, we then actively demonstrate our gratitude daily by laboring tirelessly in His vineyard -- not to be saved, but in thanksgiving for being saved; out of love and devotion to our Father. We daily step aside and allow His Spirit, who indwells us, to transform us into the image of His Son, and we daily bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
Our common bond of fellowship is Jesus Christ. If you are in Christ, and if I am in Christ, then we be brethren ... and we are in sweet fellowship. Or, we should be, that is! It is when our own preferences get in the way that we often part from one another. This is shameful. We need to set aside all the petty party particulars of humanly devised patterns and get back to loving one another just as He has loved us. You see, Darrell, it really IS simplicity itself. The essentials of our Lord can be summed up in a word -- LOVE. The zillion and one little laws levied by little lords only serve to distract and destroy. If Satan can get people to believe "the faith" is too complex to ever understand, much less to actually practice, he will discourage people from even trying. The devil most certainly doesn't want people to know that it all really does come down to LOVE. If you love the Lord, you will do what HE HIMSELF has commanded ... and yes, Darrell, His commandments are not burdensome, nor are they many. Under a new covenant characterized by freedom to show creative, unregulated LOVE to God and man, we are at liberty to shine as lights to the world, reflecting His glorious nature. We do so lovingly, yet responsibly; fully as well as freely; faithfully, yet unfettered. To those readers tempted to embrace the teachings of Darrell Broking, may I simply echo the words of the apostle Paul to those who were considering a similar very deadly choice almost 2000 years ago -- "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" [Gal. 5:1].
Questions for Darrell