This debate is now, for all practical purposes, completed. All that remains, as we often said in Vietnam, is a "mopping up" operation. Darrell and I have each stated our positions with regard to the notion of a "pattern" necessary to both fellowship and salvation, and we have sought to share with you our respective convictions as to why we believe as we do. It is Darrell's belief that with respect to providing a detailed listing of the specifics of this "pattern" that "the list is the New Testament itself" [p. 5, Third Rebuttal]. This, of course, comports with his premise that the New Covenant writings do not merely contain a number of essential specifics, but that the New Covenant writings themselves (every single letter, word, phrase and sentence of them) ARE that "pattern." This is a rather convenient strategy for all these legalists, as they will to a man absolutely REFUSE to ever provide the precise specifics of this elusive pattern. I have been seeking this list from them for well over 30 years now, and have yet to find a single one of them who will provide it. And yet, they will declare that one cannot be saved (or even be in fellowship with them) until every specific of that pattern is heeded. Thus, it is imperative to know what is on the list ... yet, they won't tell you. The reason, of course, is obvious -- the moment they actually provide such a list, they would immediately be attacked by other legalistic patternists because there would be clear points of disagreement as to what should and shouldn't be on that list. It would also become obvious to those who are more grace-centered that these lists are largely made up of personal and/or party preferences and perceptions drawn almost exclusively from inferences and assumptions by fallible men regarding what the Bible never says. Therefore, their pattern is the epitome of subjectivity, which is why there is no more divided group in all of Christendom than the legalistic patternists, as they draw their circles of fellowship ever smaller over what constitutes the "true pattern." Thus, the standard cry when cornered over the specifics of this elusive pattern is, "Go read your Bible; figure it out for yourself." The unstated qualifier, however, is -- you'd better come to the exact same conclusions they have, or you are an apostate bound for hell.
Our "God is not the author of confusion" [1 Cor. 14:33, KJV], which passage alone ought to inform us that the whole legalistic patternistic system, in all of its vast, confused complexity, is fallacious. Divine expectation is simplicity itself -- love God and love one another. This, according to both Jesus and Paul, is absolutely the fulfillment of all law. By embracing those two divine specifics, all else becomes truly unnecessary. Indeed, to formulate law around and impose law upon these two basic eternal principles only serves to hinder, limit and ultimately restrict the full and free expression of our love and the evidence of the indwelling and empowering of the Spirit in fruit produced in our daily lives (which is precisely why Paul declared, in Gal. 5:23, that "there is no law" given by our God that arrays itself against such daily spiritual expressions of love and devotion to God and our fellowman).
In his third rebuttal to the second proposition, Darrell produced a 15 page document that only contains five pages actually devoted to the matters pertaining to this debate. The final 10 pages are a collection of unrelated emails. This is one of the major tactics of the legalists, by the way. It is nothing less than a concerted effort to defame and destroy anyone who dares to differ with them, and those attacks can be vicious beyond imagination. Sadly, it is simply the nature of the beast, as they say. When one dares to stand up to hardened legalists, one is literally putting one's life on the line. "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" [Matt. 5:11-12]. A day of reckoning will come for such persons, "for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink. They deserve it" [Rev. 16:6]. Jesus stood up to the legalists of His day. We all know what happened. Stephen stood up to the legalists of his day, and when they were unable to refute his wisdom ... we all know what happened. Paul stood up against the legalists of his day, and they pursued him like a pack of wolves from city to city. Taking a stand for Truth is not for the faint of heart. When you shine a bright light upon evil, evil will come after you with a vengeance, and it won't be pretty.
But, enough about all that. I'll speak no more about it. It is simply a fact of life, and we all know it, that when shepherds seek to feed sheep, they must also fend off wolves. So, let's focus on the issue at hand, which is -- has our Father made fellowship among His beloved children, and admission into His household, so complex that no two disciples can even agree on what His expectations are? Or, has He made it so simple that even a child may gain entrance into His warm embrace? It is my studied conviction that it is the latter. Jesus condemned the Pharisees of His day for heaping huge legalistic burdens upon the backs of the people of God. Yet, in marked contrast, He offered a yoke that was light and easy; one that would not weary those who sought to lovingly serve Him throughout their lives. I believe His offer has not changed. It is still easy, it is still light, it is still simple. It does not consist of laws formed from every letter, word, phrase and sentence of 27 documents that were not even fully penned until the end of the first century, nor does it consist of volumes of personal and party preferences, perceptions and practices elevated to divine decrees and derived by the deduction of fallible men from what God didn't say in Scripture. If fellowship and salvation depend upon this, as these legalists declare, then we are all in a world of trouble!!
Look about you at all the division and strife that is rampant within the Family of God today. Why do you think we are so divided and fragmented? Why is there such schism and sectarian squabbling? Why are there groups on virtually every corner of every community preaching against one another, rather than against the evil that lurks all about them (and even among them)? It is because they have lost focus. Rather than perceiving within Scripture the Lord, and following Him, they perceive within Scripture the Law, and seek to follow it. It was this our Lord condemned the legalists for in John 5:39-40. "You search the Scriptures because you think that IN THEM you have eternal life; and yet it is these that bear witness OF ME; and you are unwilling to come TO ME that you may have life." This is being promoted today by the legalistic patternists ... and with the same factional results among God's people. Since these patternists cannot agree upon what the pattern actually IS, they therefore divide themselves into warring sects over every new perception of its nature. The precious Body of our Lord is therefore daily dismembered by these contentious contenders for what they mistakenly believe to be "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." What is the solution to this fragmentation of the Family of God? A better perception of the "pattern"? No. It is a better perception of LOVE. Indeed, it is the practice of love toward one another, for it is this by which the world will know that you are the disciples of Jesus Christ, NOT your preciseness of practice with regard to some elusive pattern. When we each stand before the Lord one day, life or death will not depend upon whether we got the right number of cups on the Lord's Table, or whether we ate in a building or not; it will depend on whether or not we were in relationship with Jesus. "But, Lord, Lord, didn't we do this and that precisely right according to the pattern?" Then He will declare unto them, "I never KNEW you!!" [Matt. 7:23]. It's all about relationship, not religion: it's all about love, not law. Brethren, it's time for some to wake up to this reality before it is eternally too late.
Inquiries and Evasions
It doesn't really surprise me in the least that Darrell has chosen to dance all around my six questions to him. There is only one he gave a direct answer to, and that one response, though he probably doesn't realize it, exposes his inconsistent pattern theology just that much more. I knew full well when I asked the questions I did that Darrell couldn't or wouldn't respond to them, but I needed for the readers to witness this failure for themselves, as it further exposes the fallacy of his position. Darrell Broking has declared more than once within the course of this debate that if the exact elements of the Lord's Supper (the exact elements used by Jesus at the last Passover meal) cannot be obtained by disciples today for some unknown reason, then those disciples are NOT obligated to observe the Lord's Supper. It may be set aside until such time as those precise elements can be acquired. This is Darrell's assertion. I asked if he could/would provide the specific passage of Scripture that declares this "exception to the pattern." His response was that he could and would provide it. Darrell then went on at length about what a hypocrite Al Maxey is, and how we are to walk by faith, and how we are to observe the Lord's Supper only on Sunday, etc. About as close as he ever got to giving us that verse is -- "As far as producing a verse of Scripture, I have already in this debate written several pages on the observance of the Lord's Supper and what the Lord authorized therein" [p. 1, Third Rebuttal]. That is true. Darrell has written a number of pages on that topic. However, I ask the reader to observe that nowhere within those many pages did Darrell ever once provide that verse I requested which specifically states that the Lord's Supper may be set aside and NOT observed if the precise elements are not present. Darrell said he could and would provide us that verse. He has yet to do so. He has one more post in which to provide it. Anyone want to bet me a steak dinner on whether he provides it or not in that last rebuttal? If you are willing to take me up on it, keep in mind -- I like mine well-done.
My second question reveals Darrell's dire dilemma (since I knew ahead of time that he couldn't produce such a verse ... no such verse exists, and Darrell and I both know this fact; the huge difference between us is this: I'm willing to admit it). I wrote: "If Darrell Broking cannot provide the passage where the above exception is specifically stated, then his assertion constitutes 'adding unto' the Word of God. True or False?" Darrell said, "I answered question one in the affirmative; therefore, this question is moot." Actually, that is not quite true. Yes, Darrell did answer the first question in the affirmative -- he said he could and would provide that verse. The problem is: he didn't provide it. Thus, my second question is far from moot. If Darrell can't/won't provide the passage requested, then his teaching is entirely his own opinion, and can not be characterized as divine mandate. This point is actually critical to this whole debate, for the vast majority of the "pattern" proclaimed and promoted by the legalists as "essential" to both fellowship and salvation is nothing more than these kinds of inferences and assumptions from what is never, ever stated in God's Word. As such they can never rise to the level of divine decree. We may order our own lives by our own perceptions, but we have no right at all to impose such upon others as either a requirement for fellowship or a condition of salvation. The inferences and assumptions of fallible men can never, ever be either. Again, if these people would ever actually provide us with the list of specifics of their "pattern," we would all immediately see that 90% of everything listed would fall into this category. They know this, brethren, which is why they will never give you that list.
In question #3 I presented a hypothetical scenario where Darrell Broking and another individual survive a plane crash on a deserted island as they are transporting the "authorized" communion bread and wine to a primitive outpost where a congregation of believers had been formed by a missionary. They are unconscious for some time, but finally nurse one another back to health. The only problem is: they now have no clue what day it is. Since Darrell maintains that Sunday is the ONLY day upon which the Lord's Supper may be observed, what would he do if he had no way of knowing which day is actually Sunday? Darrell basically said he would just make up a calendar and follow it. Thus, he might, in point of fact, be observing the Lord's Supper on a Wednesday, but in his own mind, and according to his own calendar, it would be Sunday "for him." Darrell, therefore, believes God would be okay with him observing this memorial "otherwise than prescribed" as long as the intent of his heart was right. Hmmmm. That sounds remarkably similar to what that heretic Al Maxey teaches!! God examines the heart, and is far more interested in that than in the preciseness of the practice of some pattern. Indeed, in question #4 Darrell admits that these two stranded souls on the island should go ahead and observe the Lord's Supper even though they may not get the day right. And yet -- oh, consistency, thou art a jewel -- he says one is NOT obligated to observe the Lord's Supper if they can't get the elements right. And yet, in response to question #5, he states that both heart and preciseness of practice "are equal parts and unless they are both properly engaged, one's religion is vain" [p. 2, Third Rebuttal]. Hmmmm. Now let me make sure I have this right --- If one gets the elements (bread and wine) wrong, then that is sin, so it's better not to observe the Lord's Supper at all. However, if one gets the day wrong, one should go ahead and observe it anyway (in fact, why not just make up your own calendar; after all, God will judge the heart, not the practice, right?). However, Darrell then states that pattern particulars and heart are "equal parts," and if either is not correct, then one's worship is in vain. Whew!! I think I need an aspirin!!
As for question #6, Darrell is willing to permit the deaf/mute to SIGN their songs, even though Scripture specifically says to SING them. Earlier, however, Darrell had declared that they are not obligated to sing at all, since they don't have vocal chords. Like not having the right elements to the Lord's Supper, Darrell says this excludes them from obligation to observe this expression of devotion. However, with singing, if they go ahead and substitute something different, then that is NOT sin. So says Darrell. However, if some islander substitutes something different for the bread and wine, then that IS sin. So says Darrell. Excuse me ... I think I need another aspirin. Readers, I hope and pray you are seriously considering what this man is teaching, and I hope and pray that you are finally having your eyes opened to the inconsistency and outright lunacy of his doctrine. It is deadly!!
Darrell's Six Questions For Me
Darrell's six questions for me all have to do with LOVE, and I really appreciate Darrell making this the focus of these questions, for as I have sought to demonstrate repeatedly in this debate, love of God and love for one another is the central focus of Scripture. It is absolutely essential to our salvation, for those who do not love God and who do not love their neighbor are lost. This is the teaching of both covenants, which is only natural in light of the fact that "God is love," and therefore He fully expects us to reflect His nature through our daily attitudes and actions. "The one who loves his brother abides in the light ... but the one who hates his brother is in the darkness" [1 John 2:10-11]. "We know that we have passed from out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" [1 John 3:14-15]. Yes, loving one another is essential to salvation!! Hating one another will cost us eternal life. That makes it serious. I bring all this up because Darrell's sixth question reads, "If one stops demonstrating a love response he is in danger of ceasing to exist for all eternity. True or False?" The wages of sin is DEATH, and this is a death from which there will never be any resurrection to life. Thus, for as long as the redeemed live (which is forever), the damned will be dead (which is forever). And what is the major determining factor? LOVE ... or the lack thereof. When one stops showing love to God and others; when one is consumed with hatred for God and for others; when one says he loves God, but hates his brother ... eternal destruction awaits. John said "the one who does not love his brother" is a child of the devil [1 John 3:10], and such people will never see eternal life [vs. 15]. So, the answer to this statement by Darrell is True (although Darrell would more likely declare that such people would not cease to live, but would instead experience eternal life in torment -- either way, not a pleasant prospect).
Questions one and two are really pretty much the very same question -- one is phrased positively, the other is phrased negatively. "Love involves human effort" and "Love does not involve human effort." I can assure you that there are indeed times when it is a genuine "effort" to love someone, especially when they are seeking to destroy you. Which is why I believe one of our Lord's most difficult instructions is: "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" [Matt. 5:44]. "Love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you, pray for those who revile you" [Luke 6:27-28]. Does this require some considerable effort? Absolutely. However, I truly believe that much of that energy is supplied by the indwelling and empowering of the Holy Spirit. Could I myself actually display such love consistently entirely on my own? Probably not. But with His strength, all things are possible. Yes, as one who is in relationship with Jesus, as one who is indwelt by His Holy Spirit, as a child of the Father, as one who is saved, I am urged to daily demonstrate my love and faith, both to my God and to my neighbor (believer and unbeliever; friend and foe). Is that easy? No. Will it involve some personal struggle to comply? Yes. But, God by His Spirit will help me, and God by His grace through Jesus will cover me when I fall short.
What Darrell is seeking to compel me to say, of course, is that salvation is a result of human effort. I think he has missed the point here. If I was still in the world, and if I had no desire for a saving relationship with God, then all the acts of love in the world would not save me. However, once I am saved by grace through faith, I now SHOW that faith in my daily walk with Him. Sometimes showing that faith is not easy; there are times it takes effort on my part. That is true. But this effort is not made so as to BE saved, this effort on my part is made BECAUSE I am saved and desire with all my being to evidence that reality in my daily walk with God. The doctrine of perfectionism in human works and knowledge would suggest that my salvation is an up and down, on and off thing. When I stumble and falter, I am at that moment lost; when I pull myself back up and obey law, then I'm at that moment saved. One can only hope to be in the latter state when death overtakes one. What a horrible way to live -- never truly assured of one's salvation. Brethren, we may KNOW that we're saved. NOT because of preciseness of compliance with patternistic particulars, but because we are in relationship with the Father through His Son. Yes, I'll stumble daily, but this does not impact my salvation as long as within my heart I am sincerely seeking to walk in love with Him and others. Yes, I will daily strive to be more like Him, which His Spirit will assist me in increasingly realizing. It will take submission to Him on my part, and, yes, some degree of personal effort to stay focused on the goal. Does this effort of mine merit or earn my continued relationship with Him within the Light? Of course not. But it does reflect my devotion to Him and my intent of heart to please Him as best I can for His gift of life!
Similarly, questions three and five are really focused on the same thing: "Love as a human response to God is required for salvation" and "The love response of men has nothing to do with their salvation." I think I have already sufficiently shown that Scripture teaches us that if we do NOT love our God and our neighbor, then we can never be counted as His disciples. God is love ... for us to refuse to love, is to literally refuse God. If my faith in Him is as it should be, then it will show itself in love for Him and others. If my faith is NOT as it should be, then that will be rather quickly discerned by the way I treat Him and others. Yes, we're saved by grace through faith, but if our "faith" is not one that is capable of evidentiary acts of love toward both Him and others, then we have the wrong kind of faith ... and are thus NOT saved. In question four Darrell said, "Jesus saves men before they express a love response. True or False?" Since I believe our love for Him will be displayed continually throughout our lives, both prior to His acceptance of us as well as after, I can safely say that our Lord saves us within the parameters of our expressions of love for Him. Since I believe faith and love are so intimately connected, I would not say that one is saved before one has arrived at some degree of faith and love for the Lord. The question, of course, is -- how strong do each have to be before our Lord will accept you? I doubt any man can pinpoint that precise split-second in time. As my faith grows, and as my love grows, so also do the evidences of both. Within this growth process, as our God examines our hearts, He embraces us as His own. Trying to pinpoint that exact moment is, in my view, "whittling on His end of the stick."
Reflecting on Darrell's Comments
Darrell wrote, "Maxey, what if no evidences ever arise to confirm one's saved state? Then was that person never saved?" [p. 4, Third Rebuttal]. As I have stated many times, saving faith is a demonstrated faith. If one REFUSES to act upon his or her faith, then, according to James, that is a faith that stands alone, and that faith is not salvific. However, given the many uncertainties of this life, there will be times when some particular evidentiary act of faith may not have yet been shown by a believer. There have indeed been actual cases of people who have died suddenly just minutes before being immersed ... and as they were on their way to be immersed. "Was that person never saved?" As I have sought to show, God judges hearts. Clearly, there may well be expected demonstrations of faith that due to circumstances beyond one's control have yet to be accomplished. If one is fully committed in his or her heart to complying just as quickly as humanly possible, but is prevented from doing so by events beyond their control, then I believe that the portrait given to us in Scripture of our heavenly Father is one that declares He will judge the heart fairly, mercifully and lovingly. If not, then we are indeed proclaiming a "Jesus + _____ = Salvation" theology, and we are promoting a works-based redemption from sin and death, which totally negates salvation as a free gift of God by grace through faith.
Darrell has a rather strange perception of what Paul wrote in Eph. 2:8. The apostle Paul declared, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Darrell is correct when he asserts that the Greek construction here looks back to the fact that one was saved, a condition in which one now abides. They are now saved, as a result of having been saved previously. Such indeed is the significance of the perfect tense in the Greek (which is used here). Where Darrell begins to interject his theology into the passage, however, is in his assertion that the precise point in the past when salvation occurred was at the point of baptism [p. 4, Third Rebuttal]. Why not at the point of repentance? Why not at the point of confession? In fact, based upon his past statements in this debate, Darrell will pinpoint one's moment of salvation even more precisely --- the split-second the nose breaks the surface of the waters of the baptistery. At that precise moment in time the Lord imparts salvation, and not a nanosecond before!! That is why Darrell has declared that if one dies suddenly under the water just 1/1000th of a second before the tip of the nose breaks the surface of the water, that person will go straight to hell. It seems to me that Darrell is finding a whole lot more in Eph. 2:8 than Paul ever intended to convey.
Darrell declared on page 4, "Maxey alluded to Ephesians 2:8 to prove his salvation by faith only doctrine." No, Darrell, I do not proclaim the doctrine of sola fide: salvation by "faith only." I often hear this accusation, but it merely reflects an ignorance about what I really teach. In fact, I devoted my last issue of Reflections to refuting this very charge against me, and I would invite Darrell and the readers to examine it carefully. It is titled "The Assurance of Faith" [Reflections #369] and may be found online at: www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx369.htm.
I want to thank David Brown, the editor and publisher of Contending for the Faith magazine for moderating this debate and publicizing it within his publication. He truly gave it a significant amount of space, which I must admit surprised me. Again, I extend to him my thanks. I also want to thank Darrell Broking for agreeing to engage me in this written debate on what we both believe to be a very significant issue in the Body of Christ today. Clearly, Darrell and I don't agree on a great many things. I have some major concerns about his theology, as well as about his character (as evidenced in some of his attitudes and actions). Nevertheless, I do not wish Darrell any ill, and shall continue to pray that God will enlighten him with respect to the fallacies of his teaching. It is doing great harm to the One Body, and that grieves me greatly. Thus, I will continue to oppose the teaching of the legalistic patternists, and I only pray that I can do so in as loving a manner as possible. I will never back down from my stand against this falsehood, but may God help me to overcome the temptation to do so with a spirit of spitefulness.
Finally, I thank the readers for wading through this long and involved dialogue. I pray that you have been challenged to do some serious reflection and assessment. If you have any questions of me ... any at all ... please contact me, and I will do my best to address them. I have a genuine love for those struggling under the bondage of legalism. I have devoted much of my adult life to helping them find freedom in Christ Jesus. As long as He gives me life, I will keep reaching out to these beloved brethren. I doubt seriously that I have convinced Darrell of the value of my convictions, but if I have even planted a small seed somewhere within his heart and mind, then I shall pray it will one day grow and bear fruit. My primary efforts, however, were for those Christians unsure of which path to follow -- law or love. I pray that I have created a hunger and thirst within you for the joys of freedom in Christ. It is my hope that this debate will help bring light and life to countless precious souls for decades to come. If it does, it will have served its purpose.
Sometime in the next couple of weeks, Darrell will release his fourth and final rebuttal in this debate, at which point this debate will officially come to a close. I have no idea what he will write, but I fear it will be little more than what we have witnessed in the past: evasion and evisceration. That is truly a tragedy, as Truth greatly suffers under such strategies and tactics. Nevertheless, I am convinced that God will use this debate to His ultimate purposes, and for that I give Him the praise. I have chosen not to include in this final presentation my six questions of Darrell. I would have no further opportunity to comment upon his responses, and given his "pattern" of evasion, it probably would prove pointless to include them. At the end of this debate the members of the "ContendingFTF" Internet group will have one week to share their thoughts on our exchange. I'm looking forward to their insights. I will also be making this entire debate available on a special CD, so be looking for that offer on my web site. In conclusion, may God bless each of you as you seek to walk with Him in the Light.