REFLECTIONS
by Al Maxey

Issue #366 ------- September 29, 2008
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One of the greatest delusions in the
world is the hope that the evils in this
world are to be cured by legislation.

Thomas Brackett Reed {1839-1902}

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To Fulfill, Not Abolish
Reflective Analysis of Matt. 5:17

A reader from the great state of Texas recently wrote, "Dear Brother Maxey, I have a question that I hope you can help me with. I have heard and read a number of times that we are not under law, but that we are under grace. However, in Matthew 5:17 it says that Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. Bro. Maxey, this leaves me somewhat confused on this Scripture. I would certainly appreciate any insight you might have that would help me better understand this." This is a stunning statement by our Lord Jesus Christ, during the course of His much loved Sermon on the Mount, that has indeed troubled many people over the centuries. In recent years there have been biblical and textual scholars who have even suggested this pericope [Matt. 5:17-20] was a later scribal addition, and that Jesus Himself never actually made such a "radical declaration," citing as justification the fact that this pericope has no synoptic parallel. Needless to say, there has been significant theological debate "on the interpretation of these complex yet programmatic verses" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 141]. Many scholars have a tendency to avoid it altogether, "as the theological and canonical ramifications of one's exegetical conclusions on this pericope are so numerous that discussion becomes freighted with the intricacies of biblical theology. At stake are the relation between the testaments, the place of law in the context of gospel, and the relation of this pericope to other NT passages that unambiguously affirm that certain parts of the law have indeed been abrogated as obsolete" [ibid]. The reader may rest easy, however, as we shall not seek to delve this deeply into these particular theological and canonical issues in this present Reflections, fascinating though such an endeavor might be to some. I shall keep it much more basic and to the point for the sake of simplicity.

As a necessary background to an understanding of what Jesus meant by His words on this occasion, one must fully grasp the impact of His mission and ministry upon the people of the day, especially those firmly entrenched in Jewish law and tradition (with a special emphasis upon the latter, which was often confused with the former). Jesus came challenging the whole religious system that had grown like a monstrous tumor over the law of God, shaking this system to its very foundations. Many of the "common folk" appreciated the teachings of this "radical reformer," but some clearly did not. Our Lord's attitudes and actions were perceived by the hardened religious leaders as treasonous and even blasphemous. They felt that by challenging their traditions, Jesus was also challenging God's law. As is true of most legalists, they failed to perceive the clear distinction between the two. Therefore, Jesus Christ very quickly became a "marked" man. "A teacher who compels the public to examine unfamiliar truth, the reformer who introduces some new style of goodness, will soon be misinterpreted just in proportion to the advances that he makes upon former ideas. The Lord renounced explicitly, and heatedly, the goodness of the Pharisees, and the cry was at once raised against Him as a destroyer of the Law, a libertine, a companion of loose people" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 15, p. 204]. The tactic of such people has always been: if you can't refute the teaching, renounce the teacher.

It is unfortunate, but nonetheless a fact, that all proclaimers of Truth and advocates of reform must at several points during the course of their ministries address the misrepresentations and accusations made against them. Jesus was no exception. The grumbling and murmuring of the malicious malcontents was spreading rapidly, and it was vital to His mission that the crowds "not misunderstand the purpose of His teaching" [ibid, p. 176]. Thus, a clarification of His position on the place and intent of the Old Covenant Scriptures was perceived by Jesus to be essential to easing the concerns of many who were troubled by the rumblings they were hearing from the rigid religionists. "He has come to destroy the temple ... He has come to destroy the Law of God ... He has come to _____" [cf. Acts 6:13-14]. It clearly was time to alleviate some of the fears that had been generated by those who were opposed to His teaching. Thus, in the course of His discourse upon the mount, Jesus declared, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill" [Matt. 5:17, NASB].

There are several key words and phrases in this statement that require some comment if we would perceive the true intent of Jesus on this occasion. To miss these various points (and misunderstand them) could cause (and indeed has) some false notions and interpretations among casual, uninformed readers. Jesus begins the statement with the phrase, "Do not think that." This was a formulaic expression not uncommon among Jewish teachers, and its purpose was to expose a misguided thought process. "The aorist imperative emphatically forbids such a thought" [R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel, p. 204]. Jesus makes use of it again in Matt. 10:39 -- "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Yes, Jesus was aware that day on the mount that there was a perception among some, and it was growing, that His teaching had an "agenda," and that agenda was designed to destroy. Thus, He sought immediately to refute that notion. "These words ('think not that') betray a consciousness that there was that in His teaching and bearing which might create such an impression, and they are a protest against taking a surface impression for the truth" [Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor's Greek Testament, vol. 1, p. 104]. This still happens today -- men will form impressions based upon hearsay, and before long such surface suppositions are regarded as truth. It was this our Lord faced that day, and throughout His ministry.

There is also considerable confusion among some disciples, which was reflected somewhat in the above email from the brother in Texas, as to what is meant by "the Law" and "the Prophets." Quite frequently one will leave off entirely the phrase "the Prophets," and then suggest it was only the "Law" that Jesus came to abolish or destroy. Thus, we find ourselves enmeshed rather quickly in the whole law vs. grace debate that has been waged for centuries. There were several expressions that were prevalent among the Jews, however, that simply designated the Old Covenant Scriptures. "'The Law and the Prophets' was popularly equivalent to the whole of the Old Testament" [Dr. Charles Ellicott, Ellicott's Commentary on the Whole Bible, vol. 6, p. 23]. "By these words Matthew shows that Jesus is taking pains to relate His teaching and His place within the history of redemption to the Old Testament Scriptures. For that is precisely what 'Law or the Prophets' here means: the Scriptures" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 142]. This was a very common phrase among the Jews for their holy writings (Matt. 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Luke 16:16; John 1:45; Acts 13:15; 28:23; Rom. 3:21 to name a few]. Sometimes the phrase would be expanded to "the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms" [Luke 24:44]. Whether shortened or lengthened, however, the phrases generally depicted "the Scriptures" in their entirety [Dr. Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, p. 177]. The Pulpit Commentary notes: "The phrase 'the law and the prophets' is often used as practically equivalent to the whole of the Old Testament, and our Lord means probably much the same here" [vol. 15, p. 154]. "Jesus, therefore, most emphatically proclaims His full adherence to the whole Old Testament canon. Let those note it well who think lightly of the Old Testament or question any part of the canon" [Lenski, p. 205].

Jesus certainly did not wish to leave the false impression in the minds of His followers that He had no use whatsoever for the Scriptures of His day, and that He was seeking to somehow do away with them. Therefore, He made it clear they were not the target of His ministry, but rather the very foundation of it. Indeed, "the focus of Matthew 5 is the relation between the OT and Jesus' teaching" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 142]. The holy Writings pointed to Jesus, thus it would have been folly for Him to disparage them in any way, much less seek to destroy them! Such thinking had to be refuted, and Jesus wasted no time doing so, as His claims were significantly based upon and confirmed by these very inspired writings. Thus, it was not His desire that even "the smallest letter or stroke" should be removed from the Old Covenant Scriptures [Matt. 5:18], for to do so would only serve to diminish the testimony to Himself and His mission. "The Scriptures ... bear witness of Me" [John 5:39]. As testimony to this truth, Paul wrote Timothy, "from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" [2 Tim. 3:15]. "One greater than the OT (than Moses and the prophets) is here. But the One Greater is full of reverence for the sacred books of His people" [Dr. Nicoll, The Expositor's Greek Testament, vol. 1, p. 104].

In stark contrast, however, the religious leaders of Jesus' day, in their practical daily living, showed remarkably little reverence for the holy Scriptures, although they professed such reverence before the people. Jesus Christ came not only professing it, but also living it. Jesus ends this brief pericope with a warning to the crowds, "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven" [Matt. 5:20]. Jesus wanted the crowds to realize that the "fulfillment" of the Scriptures was not to be found in the teaching or behavior of their religious leaders (they had completely missed the point of these sacred writings), but rather was to be found in Him. The rigid religionists of His day were much more focused upon tradition than Truth. Our Lord Jesus declared, "In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men" [Matt. 15:9]. "You have invalidated the Word of God for the sake of your tradition" [vs. 6]. Jesus issued a scathing condemnation of them in Matthew 23. "The feature of their doctrine and life was this: they set aside the great for the little, the divine for the sake of the traditional. The result was a slavish observing of externals, which gave them a great show of piety before the people, an impression which they were very careful to nourish" [Dr. Paul Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the Bible, The NT: vol. 1, p. 27]. If we hope to be a part of our God's eternal kingdom, then we must never embrace such godless legalistic patternism!! "Our Lord protests the current teaching of the scribes, who adhered to the letter and neglected the spirit of the Scriptures, and who sometimes were guilty of overriding even the letter by their unauthorized traditions -- thus lowering the standard of righteousness to the level of men's practices" [Dr. Ellicott, p. 23]. "The righteousness of the Pharisees was outward, mechanical; the righteousness of Christianity is inward and spiritual. Our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. They were students of the letter. We must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God to understand the spiritual meaning of His Word, to enter into it, to work it into our own heart and life. The Pharisees thought to merit heaven by their works; we must recognize our utter unworthiness, and trust only in the merits of Christ" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 15, p. 176].

Two terms that are central to our understanding of Matthew 5:17 are "abolish" and "fulfill." What exactly do these words mean, and how did Jesus employ them in this statement of His? These are questions that must be answered if we are to truly perceive our Lord's intent. The first of these terms is the Greek word kataluo (both terms, by the way, appear in the text as 1st Aorist Active Infinitives). This particular word means: "to dissolve, destroy, demolish, overthrow, throw down; metaphorically: to nullify, abrogate, abolish" [The Analytical Greek Lexicon, p. 218]. In Matt. 5:17 it is most likely used in the metaphorical sense, although some would argue a more literal sense (or perhaps elements of both). Certain false witnesses used this very word against Jesus as He appeared before Caiaphas, saying, "This man stated, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days'" [Matt. 26:61]. Some were also saying that Jesus intended to bring about similar "destruction" with respect to the Scriptures. They were clueless on both counts! Nor was our Lord seeking to "bring to naught" the teachings of the inspired OT writings. He did not come to nullify or demolish, as was suspected by some; He came to fulfill. After His resurrection, Jesus told the apostles, "All things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled" [Luke 24:44]. In the very next verse we read, "Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" [vs. 45]. "The whole Old Testament is divine revelation" [Dr. Kretzmann, p. 26]. It is truly, from the beginning to the end, a revelatory record, and, in the words of Jesus, "It is these that bear witness of Me" [John 5:39].

The word that is usually translated "fulfill" in this passage is the Greek word pleroo, which means: "to fill, make full, fill up; to perfect, complete; to fulfill, accomplish, fully realize" [The Analytical Greek Lexicon, p. 329]. "The work and mission of Jesus is not to 'abrogate, annul or destroy' any part of the Old Testament. ... The very contrary is true: Jesus came 'not to abrogate but to fulfill.' Both aorist infinitives denote purpose" [Lenski, p. 205]. "When Jesus is through working, the whole Old Testament will be fulfilled" [ibid, p. 206]. Not only are the Messianic prophecies fulfilled in Jesus, but even the many types of the OT sacrificial system are now fully realized in Him. In the words of the book of Hebrews, the shadows have given way to the Substance! Many biblical scholars feel that Jesus brings fullness of realization to the intent of the OT Scriptures "by providing their full, intended meaning ... understood in terms of the command to LOVE" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 143]. I appreciate the insight of Dr. Ellicott who sees in this verse the thought that Jesus has taken the OT Scriptures and brought them to their full intention by transforming "rules into principles" (which He was certainly doing within the context of His teaching in Matthew 5). Hebrews 9:1,10 clearly seems to lend validity to this view, as "the first covenant had regulations of divine worship," but they were temporary in nature, and would only last "until the time of the new order" (I would refer the reader to my study on this text in Reflections #33 -- Worship Reformation, which study appeared in IMAGE Magazine a few years earlier).

The most likely meaning of this "fulfillment" of the Old Testament writings, however, is that they all point to and find their ultimate meaning and realization within the person and the work of Jesus the Messiah. "The OT's real and abiding authority must be understood through the person and teaching of Him to whom it points and who so richly fulfills it" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 144]. In Christ Jesus, law finds it terminus ... "For Christ is the end of law for righteousness to everyone who believes" [Rom. 10:4]. Not the "end" in the sense of destruction, but rather the "end" (Greek: telos) in the sense of "fulfillment, realization, perfect discharge; to the full" [The Analytical Greek Lexicon, p. 400]. In the Messiah, the Old Covenant prophecies find their ultimate meaning. He is also the focus of the historical books, and the soul of Hebrew poetry. He was there during the creation of the world and He was there as the Jews were led out of captivity. He literally and figuratively fills their sacred writings from beginning to end, and at every point between. In Jesus the OT Scriptures are not made void, they are made full.

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Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
in Light of God's Healing Grace

A 200 page book by Al Maxey
Publisher: (301) 695-1707
www.zianet.com/maxey/mdrbook.htm
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Reflections on the Holy Spirit
A Published Tract by Al Maxey
Order From: J. Elbert Peters: jepeters65@knology.net
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The Maxey-Broking Debate
on the Doctrine of Patternism

{This debate is now in progress}
www.zianet.com/maxey/pattern.htm
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Readers' Reflections

Special Announcement --- Dr. Dallas Burdette, a good friend and a supporter of my writing ministry from the very beginning, has a book out that I think needs to be in the hands of every member of the Stone-Campbell Movement. It has just been published by Xulon Press [phone: (866)-381-2665] and is titled "From Legalism to Freedom: A Spiritual Narrative of Liberation." It is 495 pages in length, and should now be available through Christian bookstores everywhere, as well as Waldenbooks, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, etc. The book is available in paperback, and also hardback. Dallas has sent me a free copy, for which I sincerely and deeply thank him!! Again, I urge everyone to order this book. You need to read it. If you have trouble locating a copy, contact Dallas at: dburdette21@charter.net --- Al Maxey

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I only have one thing to say about Broking's second rebuttal -- IS HE JOKING????!! I doubt that he will ever come to the Truth, nevertheless I thank you for continuing with this debate, and for your time and effort. I have learned a great deal. Please know that many people do appreciate the Truth you teach. May God bless you and Shelly.

From a Reader in Arkansas:

Dear Brother Al, I just finished reading Darrell's "poor excuse for not doing his homework," and just wondered why he didn't go ahead and say, "The dog ate it." Seriously, I think he knew that he simply couldn't answer your affirmatives!! I believe most honest readers of this debate will see through his tactics, and they will also see how often he attacks you rather than just stating his own arguments. He should go into politics, because it just amazes me how he can write so much and say so little! Al, I want to compliment you on your third affirmative. Very well-said, and it was clear enough for anyone, whose mind and heart still remain open, to understand. As I read through all of Darrell's writings, I get somewhat depressed at all the legalism. But then when I move on to your writings, and read about love and freedom we have in Christ, it just fills me with joy. Thank you so much for doing what you do. Your writings have helped me tremendously the last two years. Please keep on keeping on as long as possible. You are bringing glory to our Father and encouragement to many believers! May the Lord continue to shower His blessings and guidance upon you.

From an Elder in Florida:

Brother Al, In my humble opinion, your third affirmative is the clearest, most concise response that you have made yet to your "pattern brothers." Their reasoning and attitudes are fear-based, which clearly explains why they have painted themselves into a very narrow corner over the past two hundred years. Your thoughtful approach would be excellent sermonic material for any of your readers to use!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I just want to commend you for your approach and control in your debate with Darrell Broking. I found Darrell guilty of wasting much time with all the emails posted at the end of his first rebuttal. Anyone reading those emails can easily see that these guys are guilty of altering your texts!! As for the debate itself, everywhere I go I find lots of people discussing the teachings you are presenting! Even our teens in our church have their Bibles out and are working through your points. I believe your constant work to bring down the walls that divide us is working. Jesus sought to call the Pharisees back to God, and I see our God using you to call the religious leaders of our day back to God. May God bless you with all the skill needed to bring down these walls of separation between brethren.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you so much for using my letter to Darrell Broking in your last issue of Reflections. And thank you also for the kind words with which you framed it. I hope it will benefit some people. My power is now back up here in Houston, and so I was able to catch up on the postings to the debate. I really thought your second affirmative was your very best post so far!! Very clear and concise. But, what was that mess Darrell put at the end of his first rebuttal?!! Of course, I had to read it all. But, after I did, I felt that I had just wasted a lot of valuable time on something that had no place in this debate. It was just a burden to those many souls who are possibly using this debate to help them with some important decisions about their lives. I just don't know what to think about those guys (Broking, Brown, etc.) sometimes.

From a Missionary in Bulgaria:

Bro. Al, I just read your third affirmative in the Maxey-Broking debate. There's not much I can say but "AMEN!" His second rebuttal was thankfully brief, while at the same time unnecessarily shrill. I think Darrell is on the ropes, and he knows it. Honestly, you set him up and he walked right into the trap you patiently laid for him. Everyone saw it coming but him!! He quite frankly can't defend his outrageous affirmatives, and I think now he knows it. Several years ago I was attending a congregation in North Texas. The teacher for the Wednesday evening class was one of the deacons of the congregation. His lesson one evening was really nothing more than a rant about how we "must obey all the commands of Christ." He implied various scenarios of doom for us if we didn't obey "all the commands of Christ." At no time during his lesson did he list even one of the "commands of Christ" we had to obey in order to avoid this "doom." At the end of the class, and before we were dismissed, I spoke up and asked him if he would compile an exhaustive list of ALL the commands of Christ listed in the Bible for the next week's class so that we would all know for sure what we had to obey in order to avoid this doom he had warned us about. He looked at me as if I was a trouble maker, or as if I was trying to put him on the spot. I assured him I was very serious about wanting an exhaustive list so that I could avoid "certain doom." He said that he would compile the list. The next Wednesday night came and, with no surprise to me, he started the class by confessing, in a very humble tone, that much to his surprise there was NOT a long list of commands given by Christ. As a matter of fact, he said that he had found only a very FEW direct commands from Christ Himself for disciples today, and those were to love God, love each other, and to eat a memorial meal to remember Him. Now, how about that?! Just thought you'd like to hear about my experience with this issue and how it turned out for me. Keep up the good work, Al, and may God bless you.

From a Missionary in Honduras:

Brother Al, Following your debate with Darrell Broking has been interesting. It is amazing to me that there are so many that have such a difficult time seeing the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus! Given the opportunity, I would love to ask Darrell a few questions of my own!!

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Bro. Al, That good brother's email ("Dear Darrell Broking" -- Reflections #365) was astounding!! I wish that every member of the Church of Christ -- all of the branches -- could read that email. A good friend told me years ago that he had "stopped listening to the church of Christ and had started listening instead to the Christ of the church." I took his advice and did the same, and my life has been forever changed for the better!! Praise God!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Please send my best regards to the author of that letter to Darrell Broking. It was written in love and was definitely well thought out. It makes a point without throwing someone under a bus!!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Bro. Al, I can see my own journey in the email of that brother who wrote to Darrell. I pray that more and more will open their eyes and see the cultish fašade too many of us have accepted, while denying its existence. May God bless your efforts.

From an Elder in Iowa:

Bro. Al, Thank you for including that letter from the brother in Texas to Darrell Broking. I too, when I was in my 30's, tried to do what he said that he did. The trouble I had, however, was my CENI background, which caused me to understand Scripture in a certain way. I was troubled with those rules of interpretation for many, many years as I continued to change my understandings of what the Bible actually taught. Finally, after reading several different books, each of which sought to set forth different rules of interpretation, I read a book by three teachers from Abilene Christian University called The Crux of the Matter. That book really helped me see a better way to understand the Bible. But, this brother from Texas is right when he tells us we need to just read what is there, NOT what we have always been taught about what is there. The CENI "rules" are just too nebulous to ever be real rules. Anyway, thank you for sharing not only this man's letter, but also for the fruit of your own labor as well. Keep up the good work!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, My own awakening was quite similar to the letter writer's from Houston. Upon retirement, I moved into a rural, conservative church where I frequently heard this comment, "Acts 20:7 commands us to observe the Lord's Supper every Sunday ... and only on Sunday." Although I was still quite conservative myself then, my reaction was, "That's not a commandment." This led me to begin questioning some things, like -- are examples binding? And, if every Sunday and only on Sunday were so important, then why didn't God give us a clear, explicit commandment?! One thing led to another in my studies. I read a book by Fred Peatross, and then I began reading your Reflections. I guess my stand against instrumental music was the last thing I gave up. Like the letter writer from Houston, I was well on my way to freedom when I started reading your Reflections. However, they have been very enlightening.

From a Reader in Washington:

Brother Al, I just read Darrell's short second rebuttal. I can only equate it to Matthew 13 where Jesus quotes Isaiah 6 -- "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." God bless you, Al.

From a Reader in Nevada:

Brother Al, Thank you for what you are doing for the cause of Christ. My wife and I love you and pray for you often, and we are making it our goal to come out there to see you within the next year. I'm sending you a copy of an email I sent to Darrell Broking a few minutes ago. I just couldn't sit here any more and watch Darrell try to match wits with you while sidestepping and dancing around your questions.

From a Reader in Virginia:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you so much for including in your last Reflections that letter to Darrell Broking by the reader from Houston, Texas. His comments were awesome, well-thought-out, and I believe they just may help others who are struggling to break free from the chains of legalism. Al, please keep up the great work. While Darrell will never concede to your points, there are others out there who are sincere of heart. Darrell has been given such a strong delusion that he cannot perceive the folly of his position. Thus, he has resorted to babbling (39 and 22 pages of insincere rhetoric) and to tampering with your links. I will continue to pray for you, Al ... and also for Darrell. More importantly, I will pray that Jesus is glorified through this very important debate!!

From an Elder in California:

Dear Brother Al, I want to begin by adding my thanks to you for your studies. Initially, I questioned the concept of a debate, even a written one. As a young man, I went to a few, and I always came away with a bad taste in my mouth. However, I believe that the cyber-world has changed things considerably. Everything that we say or do on the Internet is scrutinized by innumerable people. Many people will look objectively at the efforts of both you and Darrell Broking, and they will be able to distinguish between biblical Truth and blind loyalty to long-held doctrine/dogma.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, You have topped yourself again. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your third affirmative in the debate. It gave me a really good feeling. Excellent ... and I mean EXCELLENT ... job!! Thank you for all that you do to encourage me. I admire you, brother, for being willing to take on this task of debating one of the most stubborn, closed-minded people around. I can't understand how these people's minds work. How can they just close their minds to reason and logic, and keep on believing the lies that they have been taught? Don't they have any desire at all to question the assumptions of fallible men?! This task you have taken on would be too frustrating for me to handle!! God bless you, brother, and may He give you strength.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I hope you are keenly aware of how much I appreciate you and your work in the kingdom in this day and age. I do not communicate my support to you a whole lot, and I suppose I take for granted the fact that you will just keep on keepin' on. I know I should probably give you a few more "attaboys," because I am sure that you catch enough of the "other stuff" from certain quarters!! Al, just keep up the good work. You are appreciated more than you can possibly know! You have my love and respect.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Brother Al, Never have I witnessed legalism so dramatically and clearly exposed as in your rebuttals and affirmatives to Darrell Broking. I have many loved ones who have long ago given up on "religion," because this is how they/we were reared. Anyone who is seeking the Truth can surely see (if the scales will just fall from their eyes) that what Jesus was saying to the Pharisees in Matthew 23, He is saying right now to the legalists!! These men demand that their own rules be followed, rules that they continue to make up as they go along! Darrell Broking's responses are utterly beyond belief!! I was raised up in a pretty similar environment, and I endured his kind of preaching for many years. I think Darrell takes the cake, though. No wonder so many people believe that the Church of Christ is just a cult. My prayer is that people will wake up because of your fearless and thoroughly capable methods of expressing the real Truth. You have stated what so many of us do not have the ability to express! THANK YOU!!!

From a New Reader in [Unknown]:

Dear Brother Maxey, I find your Reflections articles to be extremely helpful, and it is obvious that you strive only to find the Truth of God's will without human bias and preconceived ideas. I appreciate that quality of yours very much, as it isn't always very easy to find these days. Thank God that through the Internet I am finding more and more buried treasures like your writings. AND, what's more, you are part of the Church of Christ!!! My heart was completely closed to them because of past dealings with this group, but now I see that not all that are in the Church of Christ are of that wrong spirit. Thanks be to God!

From a Missionary in Albania:

Dear Brother Al, What a brilliant third affirmative!! It was a pleasure to read. Thank you for expending the effort to expose the preposterous premises of Darrell Broking's destructive dogma! I suppose I should thank Darrell himself for evidencing so plainly the Pharisaical propensities of patternism's puffed-up proponents! By the way, I've also long appreciated the art work that goes along with each of your weekly Reflections.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Congratulations for producing a wonderful third affirmative in the debate. You continue to bring great joy to so many who have struggled with legalism, and I thank you for interacting with me on a very personal level. I may just have to take a little vacation with a retired friend and make it over to Alamogordo this coming May to meet you!

From an Elder in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, After reading it twice, my own personal observation is: (1) your third affirmative made your position very transparent, and it was well-documented. (2) If Darrell Broking is truly a "lover of Truth" then he will acknowledge your arguments and point out their fallacy (if there is any). If Darrell is just a "debater" then he will ignore your arguments, put up a smoke screen, do some finger pointing, ridicule you, and move on to his own agenda. (3) In order to clarify his own position and show the contrast between the two of you, he should at least give a list of biblical reasons why he cannot fellowship you and how he knows that you and others who believe in Christ, love God and their fellow man are condemned. Brother Al, may the Lord bless thee and thine!

From a Minister in Kentucky:

Dear Brother Al, I will not even attempt to add anything to what you have written in your third affirmative in your current debate with Darrell Broking --- it would only detract from what you said. The only thing I will say is "Amen!" and "AMEN!!" Why the Brokings of this world can't or won't "get it" I will never understand. But then, it was only after laboring under, and trying to preach, that very same delusion for 30 years that I myself finally began to break free from it, so I can indeed, in some ways, understand where they are coming from. It was ultimately the inability to reconcile the legalistic concepts I then held with plainly stated Truth that our Christian responsibility is summed up in one simple, yet infinitely profound, concept: LOVE, that caused me to turn from legalism to liberty. God bless you, Bro. Al, for your ability to make this Truth so plain!!

From a Reader in Georgia:

Dear Brother Maxey, As a lifetime member of the Churches of Christ I am so grateful to have found grace in my adult years. Your articles challenge and comfort me. Thank you so much for your dedication to the Truth ... no matter the personal cost.

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