by Al Maxey

Issue #421 ------- November 13, 2009
Doctrines are the most fearful tyrants to which men
ever are subject because doctrines get inside of a
man's own reason and betray him against himself.

William Graham Sumner {1840-1910}

Quid Pro Quo Theology
Review of a Doctrine Promoted
by a Beloved Brother-in-Christ

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) was "a British mathematician, logician and philosopher best known for his work in mathematical logic and the philosophy of science. In collaboration with Bertrand Russell, he authored the landmark three-volume 'Principia Mathematica,' and contributed significantly to twentieth-century logic and metaphysics" [The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]. This well-known metaphysical philosopher on one occasion rather insightfully observed, "A clash of doctrines is not a disaster -- it is an opportunity." Over the years I have had a number of rather significant "doctrinal clashes" with fellow disciples of Christ whom I love dearly, and for whom I have the utmost respect and regard. Fortunately, in most of these instances, our relationship was rather significantly strengthened by this challenging of the other's theological concepts and constructs, for such "clashes" were tempered with love, both for ultimate Truth as well as for each other. They were indeed "opportunities" for greater growth in understanding, and thus were far from "disastrous" in nature. If men refuse to allow their cherished doctrines to be challenged, guarding them at all cost from any intense scrutiny, these doctrines will quickly become tyrants over the thinking/reasoning of those who embrace them. We must resist such doctrinal tyranny with all of our being. There's no biblical doctrine so sacrosanct that it is above being subjected to thorough investigation in light of God's inspired Word. Any doctrine that men refuse to expose to such examination should be immediately suspect ... as are those who seek to shield it from this scrutiny, or who refuse to participate themselves in such biblical investigation into their own beliefs and practices.

One of the giants within our own Stone-Campbell Movement, and a man for whom I have the utmost love and respect, and with whom I have had some very positive interaction over the years, is Dr. Leroy Garrett (see my tribute to him in Reflections #107). He was a great help to me personally in my own better perception of the biblical teaching on God's mercy and grace as evidenced in the concept of "Available Light" (see my in-depth study of this teaching in Reflections #158). Although my own thinking and Leroy's are very much in harmony in a great many areas, there are nevertheless several concepts embraced by him with which I cannot agree (and, undoubtedly, he would say the same of my own teachings). These differences in no way affect our fellowship with one another, and certainly not our love and respect, but they are opportunities for greater spiritual growth as each challenges the thinking of the other. After all, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" [Prov. 27:17].

In his "occasional newsletter," which he has so aptly titled "Once More With Love," Dr. Garrett shares his insights and observations on the Scriptures and his walk "in Christ" with his readers. These are fascinating studies, and I would highly recommend them to those desirous of furthering their understanding of the Word and its impact upon our lives. In Issue #40 (December, 1999) the featured article is titled "Is the Grace of God a Quid Pro Quo?" I would strongly urge each reader to please take a moment to examine that study online at the above site before proceeding with my own critique. It is only fair to the person being reviewed for his own thoughts to be presented in his own words. I know few have ever bothered to do this when challenging my own teachings, thus I am determined NOT to engage in similar tactics when examining the teachings of others. So, again, please access Dr. Garrett's article and read it for yourselves carefully before proceeding. Don't just accept what I say without first investigating the matter yourself. My purpose in writing this current critique is that I have received a number of emails and letters from people over the past months asking me if Leroy's teaching in this article reflected my own. There is a perception among some of my more hardened critics that if Dr. Garrett were to declare the moon made of cheese, then that godless heretic Al Maxey would almost assuredly and immediately concur. This issue of my Reflections is, in part, an attempt to refute that fallacious perception. However, it's also simply an opportunity to challenge a particular point of view that I perceive to be in need of some careful and prayerful rethinking. To this end I offer this respectful critique.

"Quid pro quo" is a Latin term signifying "this for that." It is when one does something for another with the expectation of receiving something in return. "I'll scratch your back, if you scratch mine" is a quid pro quo. "I'll babysit your kids on Tuesday, but you have to watch mine on Thursday." Tit for tat; something for something; quid pro quo. As Dr. Leroy Garrett begins his article, he poses the question, "Are we guilty of preaching the grace of God as a quid pro quo?" Frankly, I think this is a very valid question, for there are many who do indeed vigorously proclaim just such a false theology. Those who preach a works-based salvation, for example, are most certainly guilty of quid pro quo theology -- God did this, we do that, and the end result is salvation. "God meets us halfway!" God does something for us; we do something for Him; each expecting something in return for their own actions or works. Quid pro quo. Most of us -- i.e., those who are not woefully steeped in legalism or patternism -- clearly recognize this teaching is utterly contrary to God's will and Word. Eternal salvation is a free gift of His matchless grace. There is absolutely nothing you or I can say or do that would in any way whatsoever even remotely merit our own justification and/or salvation. Therefore, this doctrine of quid pro quo is FALSE with respect to our acceptance into a saving relationship with the Lord God. Garrett wrote, "How good is the 'good news' if it is quid pro quo? ... Is it that God will do such and such if you will do such and such? If the grace of God is conditional, if it is a quid pro quo, is it really grace?" Or, we might ask: If the "free gift" must we earned by our works, is it truly a free gift? I think we can all see the ridiculous nature of such a theology.

Where I must disagree with my dear brother, however, is in his view that our faith response to this free gift of grace is somehow to be perceived as quid pro quo: i.e., when we respond in faith to His grace, we are engaged in some great "tit for tat" exchange. Dr. Garrett declares that nothing is required from man ... not even FAITH. "We do nothing, absolutely nothing --- not faith, not repentance, not baptism, not good works --- to make the grace of God a reality." God, in His infinite grace, has chosen to freely give the gift of salvation to ALL people ... whether they believe or not. Dr. Garrett then asks, "Does this mean that everyone in the world is saved? Yes!" He refers us to Paul's words in 1 Cor. 15:22, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." Garrett declares "all" means ALL. In other words, by God's grace extended through Christ everyone on earth is saved!! Period. So what about those the Bible declares to be LOST? Garrett says the only people who will ultimately be lost are those who (1) hear about Jesus, and (2) who then willfully reject that good news. He states, "This means that everyone is saved ... except those that disbelieve/reject the gospel once they hear it." Those who have never heard the gospel, are, by virtue of that ignorance, saved, opines Dr. Garrett. "On the cross Christ saved every person born into this world -- except those that reject that good news once they hear it." He goes on to say, "I know what some will say. If the millions who have never heard the gospel are saved, why take the gospel to them and risk their rejecting it and being lost? We are to take the gospel to them because Christ tells us to." Garrett declares, "No one is worse off for having heard the good news!" Well, apparently those who reject it are, for, according to Dr. Garrett, they were saved prior to having heard this good news and then rejecting it.

Dr. Leroy Garrett believes the following is the only alternative to his view: "The alternative is to say everyone is lost except those that believe and are baptized. But this contradicts the Bible when it says Christ has saved everyone, and it makes the grace of God conditional, something for something, and that is not good news." Thus, any kind of response by man to this gift of grace -- even faith -- is perceived to be quid pro quo: something for something. Truth, as Garrett perceives it, is: something for nothing. We don't even have to respond at all; we are all saved. Period. The ONLY ones who will be lost are those who, having heard about God's gracious gift, willfully choose to cast it back in His face. Thus, his basic premise is that God, in Christ, has saved ALL men everywhere; no exceptions -- with the only ones lost being those individuals who REJECT His loving offer once they have heard of it. The alternative is: all accountable persons are separate from a saving relationship with God by virtue of their sin, but salvation is extended to ALL men who choose to RECEIVE that relational gift made known unto them via whatever level of available light has been granted unto them by a gracious God. Dr. Garrett, however, rejects this position because he apparently perceives this receiving of God's free gift to be a quid pro quo exchange. I believe he is mistaken in that perception.

If someone were to come up to me and offer to give me one million dollars, which he had in a briefcase by his side, and I believed him to be sincere in his offer and thus reached out my hand and took hold of and picked up that briefcase and took it to my bank, did my belief in the legitimacy of his offer or my action in reaching out to take that briefcase, or my trip to the bank, constitute a true quid pro quo exchange? No, of course not. Neither my belief, nor my actions prompted by that belief, constituted any form of "work" that "earned" that gift. Receiving a gift in no way negates the act of giving, somehow transforming it into "wages earned." Yes, our God has freely extended salvation to ALL as a gift of His grace (a gift made possible for ALL by the atoning sacrifice of Christ). God did not impose salvation upon ALL men, but rather made salvation available to all. Unto ALL He has revealed Himself and His love, although not all have the same level of revelatory light. However, those desirous of relationship with their Creator have such relationship available to them if they are only willing to receive it. Those who reject that offer of grace made known to them through what light is available to them will indeed be lost. With this I know Dr. Garrett agrees, for he mentioned it in his article: "They all have some light, for God never leaves Himself without witness (Acts 14:17). Those who reject the gospel will do so because they have already rejected such light God has already given them." Again, Leroy and I are in agreement on this point. God has revealed Himself to ALL men -- those who REJECT that revelatory light have thereby rejected His gracious gift of salvation. Where I differ with this good brother is in the belief that ALL people are saved up to the point they perceive the light and reject it. I believe the Scriptures teach that all are separate from a relationship with a Holy God by virtue of their sin, but those who choose to receive life (which relationship is revealed to them by their God) will be saved, even those who may not have the same level of revelatory light that you and I might have.

This makes much more sense when seeking to answer the question as to WHY we would take the gospel to people who have never heard of Jesus. If all are saved, and the only reason we preach to them is because "Jesus said to," this simply is irrational. If they are already saved, there is no need to preach to them. We preach to them because they need to see this Greater Light that has come into the world! Yes, they have a little light available to them, thus it is certainly possible for them to perceive their Creator and come to Him in faith and be saved. However, if we can bring them a greater understanding and appreciation of who God is, and what He has done for them, WHY would we refuse such an opportunity?! If someone is stumbling through an underground cave with a flashlight, they may indeed find their way out. But if we could turn on a floodlight for them, would we be doing them a service?! In other words, there is a third alternative to the one suggested by Garrett (that all are lost except those who believe and are baptized). This third alternative simply states that sin has brought about a state of separation between man and God, but God has revealed Himself unto ALL men in a number of differing ways. Those who receive this light made available to them will be saved, those who willfully reject it will be lost. Yes, there will indeed be those who have never heard the glorious name of Jesus, and who know nothing of the faith-response of baptism, who will nevertheless still turn to their God based on what light He has made available to them, and who will thus be saved!! Romans 1-2 teaches this truth quite convincingly.

Dr. Leroy Garrett concludes by saying, "Only those are lost who reject such light as they have. All others are saved. Thanks be to the gospel of the grace of God!" I would agree that those who REJECT "such light as they have" will indeed be lost, "for they are without excuse" [Rom. 1:20]. On the other hand to suggest that ALL of humanity, short of that point of willful rejection, is saved suggests that the ONLY sin God truly regards as a damning sin is the sin of rejecting His gift of grace. All OTHER sin we commit is insufficient to actually separate us from a Holy God. Doesn't this fly in the face of Isaiah 59:2? --- "Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear." Does this declaration of truth apply to this side of the cross as well? Does our fleshly nature still separate us from a Holy God? Or, by virtue of God's grace and Christ's death/resurrection are we ALL now saved ... even though we continue to walk ignorantly after the flesh? Yes, if we see God's gift extended unto us and then cast it back in His face, our rejection by Him is assured. But prior to our coming to that point of perception can we declare ALL MEN SAVED? Yes, there is indeed a point of accountability for most men (obviously some, due to mental deficiencies, never reach that point), and I have dealt with this in Reflections #159. I believe that most of us would regard those prior to this point as saved (infants, children, and the like). However, there is also a point when we've begun becoming aware of our spiritual deficiencies, and yet may have not yet begun our search for a spiritual cure, or even be aware there is one, or perhaps have chosen to postpone that inquiry to a more opportune time. Some may simply be enjoying the worldly existence, and giving no thought to seeking greater spiritual realities. Is this the same as perceiving the light and willfully rejecting it? If not, then are these persons thereby saved by that lack of blatant, overt rejection? It seems to me there are some rather difficult questions raised by the theology that everyone is saved until such time as they knowingly reject life, as opposed to the teaching that death reigns in this earthly sphere but God has revealed the light of life to all men, thus making escape a reality for all who will receive it. It just seems to me that the latter is the more biblical position.

Could I be wrong, and Leroy Garrett right? Absolutely. Neither of us has cornered the market on perfect perception of eternal Truth. However, we both must stand up boldly for what we believe Scripture teaches, and lovingly denounce those teachings we perceive to be contrary to that revealed Truth. I emphasize the necessity of love here, as I believe a vicious attempt to eviscerate my brother simply for differing with me places me in a most unenviable position before our heavenly Father. Therefore, I hereby reaffirm my love and respect for Dr. Leroy Garrett, and simply state that I believe he is mistaken in his above view. On the whole, however, this dear brother of mine, over the course of his lengthy lifetime, has done untold good for the cause of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and only eternity will reveal the number of those who have been brought to the Greater Light by the tireless efforts of this dear man. All of which far outweighs any particular point of doctrine about which he might be wrong. In the final analysis -- and this is true of each of us -- when we stand before the Lord one day, our various positions on various doctrines and practices will count for very little. What will count for far more is how loving and how merciful and how benevolent we were in our dealings with others. There's nothing wrong with challenging one another regarding our views, but may we never allow these dialogues over doctrine to deteriorate into division between devoted disciples. Our Father deserves better than that from His children!!

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

Readers' Reflections

From a New Reader in Washington, DC:

Good Morning Bro. Maxey, I really enjoyed reading your article on the "Five Golden Emerods" (Reflections #135). I stumbled onto this word during my reading and studying of God's Word and was unable to identify what this particular term meant. Thank you for the insight. I've learned a lot from God by reading His Word, listening to various Ministers, and studying/researching what I do not understand. God is truly amazing and awesome, and I am grateful for His grace and His mercy. Please add me to your mailing list for your weekly Reflections, and may God continue to bless you all the days of your life!

From a Professor in New York:

Dear Pastor Maxey, Two weeks ago I was in Israel at Tel Beth Shemesh studying 1 Samuel 4-6 with a group of Jewish adult students. It hit me that the five golden mice and emerods might well be an acknowledgement of a breakout of bubonic plague carried to the Philistine sea people by rats (or mice) that occurred while they held the captured Ark of the Covenant. We were looking out at the very route the Ark would have taken while being pulled by the two milch cows. It made perfect sense, in context, but I was only able to find one reference in the Jewish commentaries. Rebak, a medieval commentator, stated it was because the mice were eating the emerods of the Philistines. After my return from Israel, I googled "five golden mice" and was led to your study of this topic. I really wish that the current enemies of Israel could perceive that the "plague" they are now suffering in Gaza could be completely eliminated if only they were willing to live in peace with their neighbors. Your references within your article have convinced me that I was on a valid track, even if it was new to me and my study companions. Thank you for confirming my insights.

From a Reader in California:

Dear Brother Al. Bless your heart. I just wanted you to know that I pray for you, Shelly, and your Reflections ministry daily! I pray for your good health, and I also pray that you will have the fortitude to withstand the attacks from the legalists!

From a Leader with Herald of Truth:

Brother Al, What is really impressive about your Reflections web site being ranked so high (#2 in all the Internet) is that many of us read your Reflections by email -- without ever even registering a visit to your web site!! Keep up the good work, brother.

From a Reader in Florida:

Brother Al, Thank you for your last article: "A Rose By Any Other Name." How sad it is that some of us "roses" think that we are the only real roses in the garden. Our divisions make us seem more like thorny old briars! We should all desire to forever cast off our names, which have tragically come to define (and thus divide) us, and simply embrace each other for who and what we truly are: soul-mates bound together as one by love (as you stated in your article). Then the great, eternal Gardener will be delighted indeed!

From a Reader in Kansas:

Brother Al, GREAT article on roses!! One additional thought: Some roses thrive in a greenhouse environment. Others do well in a well-defined garden. Still others flourish in the wild. Yet, ALL are still roses!!

From a Reader in Georgia:

Dear Brother Al, Here is my prayer for today -- Dear Lord, protect me from Your followers! The Devil's best weapon is to get Christians to oppose Christians; to get people who are in God's kingdom to bite and devour one another, and ultimately to consume one another. It is a work of Satan to inspire Your people to fight each other. Help us to start being fishers of men, and to owe nothing to any man but LOVE, as Paul exhorts in Romans 13:8. Amen!

From a Minister in Florida:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you for a well-written article ("A Rose By Any Other Name") with a spot on analogy for us who claim to be a "unity movement." We love you, brother!

From a Minister in New Mexico:

Right On, Bro. Al. Thank you for a great article filled with the Aroma of Christ. We need an injection of humility to realize that God is just as willing to forgive the mistakes of our "mistaken brethren" as He is to forgive our own!! For what it's worth, I willingly fellowship with our Baptist and Methodist brothers-in-Christ, who are equally zealous, I've found, in their service to our Lord. Their actions quite often demonstrate that they are filled with the Spirit, and thus they are members of the Body of Christ ... a Body that extends well beyond the walls of the Restoration Movement. May we all learn to accept one another as Christ has accepted us.

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, My wife and I were reminded by your commentary on Romeo and Juliet ("A Rose By Any Other Name") of our own history; we can certainly identify very well with this sad scenario. We too were from feuding Church of Christ families, and our joining together caused no little consternation among our respective families. Needless to say, neither of our families were overjoyed to hear of the news that these two families were going to be joined by means of our marriage. My dear, sweet grandmother, who to my knowledge never had a bad word for anyone, made this comment upon my announcement that I was engaged to be married: "Ohhhh, I surely hope that it is not that ------ (my wife's maiden name) girl." Well, we were not forced into suicide, as were Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers. On the contrary: we have now celebrated over 52 years of happiness together. God makes all things good!! Just thought I would share this with you.

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, Thank you so much for another insightful look into one of the most pressing issues of today. I now find myself pacing in front of the computer (just like a tiger) eagerly awaiting each new issue of your weekly Reflections!! You have a gift --- a way of reaching people that it is sometimes impossible for even the closest relatives to ever reach. I don't know how to thank you for all the advice you have given me. An abiding calm has come over me in recent months. I just want you to know that I have a deep and abiding love and respect for you and your efforts. We are still planning on coming to visit you there in New Mexico in December. May all be well with you and yours!

From a Minister in Alaska:

Dear Brother Al, Thanks for yet another wonderful issue of your Reflections!! The metaphor of roses in a garden fits perfectly! I just wanted to mention that I have not yet seen the November Christian Chronicle, so do not know if our congregation was listed there as a "Great Communion" site, but we and the First Christian Church here in -------, Alaska also conducted a "Great Communion" celebration together on October the 4th. We had an "exchange" of families during our regular service, and we spoke of our heritage and the importance of the day, as we took Communion together. It was a wonderful celebration that has opened doors for us to do more together in the future. We already are doing things together with the Independent Christian Churches here in town, as well as with many other groups as well, so this is another welcome opening to Christian unity. God bless you, brother!

From a Reader in Alaska:

Brother Al, I really like the fact that you don't send out your emails too frequently, and when you do send an issue of Reflections out, it is substantive, specialized and structured to provoke serious thought among analytical Christians (which I would argue is not an oxymoron). Edward Fudge's mailouts are far more frequent, but "smaller bites" and more easily digestible. You two are the only writers I regularly read. Others I check when I have time. Thanks so much for your Reflections, which fit in with one of my favorite phrases: God's Word is intended to be a mirror, not a window. Disciples should be looking at themselves, not others.

From a Missionary in Peru:

Brother Al, Thanks for your lovely Reflections which so beautifully reflect the mind of Christ!! I have just finished reading of George Whitefield and his constant striving for the unity of believers in all denominations. He stated that catholicity fails because fallen human nature is universally prone to prejudice, ignorance and the adoption of wrong principles. Too many confine the power of God and the Spirit of God within the bounds of human establishments. Whitefield believed that for many professing Christians, denominations held too high a place. He also said that there may well be times when the peace and unity of a denomination will have to give way to a prior loyalty to the Gospel. In his day he said they were told that to be loyal to their denomination, they must accept the status quo and not disagree with tradition, with their superiors, or with church courts. Had they agreed, there would have been no Evangelical Revival. He was restricted from preaching in the churches by his own denomination, and was then driven by the Lord into a far more expansive ministry (one far more in line with his heart). I will preach, he said, wherever God gives me an opportunity, but you will never, ever find me disputing about the outward appendages of religion. Do not tell me you are a Baptist, an Independent, a Presbyterian, a Dissenter, rather, tell me you are a Christian -- this is the religion of heaven, and it must be ours on earth. Brother Al, is not such occurring anew with your own ministry?! Loyalty to a denomination must give way to loyalty to the Gospel. If true believers stand up for Truth rather than tradition, and are willing to suffer persecution, perhaps the Lord will be gracious and revive His work again. How men must grieve the Holy Spirit when they cannot see the grace of God outside their own denominational circles.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, It has been some time since I last wrote, but I have kept up with your Reflections. Your most recent one ("A Rose By Any Other Name") has special meaning for me! I have long believed that if we spent but a fraction of the time and effort that we use to "set ourselves apart from" our brethren, and used it instead to teach the Gospel, the church would explode!! Instead of trying to grow "our church," why not concentrate on building up the one Jesus established?! I can't wait to see all my Baptist, Methodist, etc. brothers and sisters in heaven, and then to see the shocked expressions on the faces of all those who believed that they, and they alone, were the ones who had it all correct.

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