by Al Maxey

Issue #435 ------- March 12, 2010
How amazing it is that, in the midst of controversies on
every conceivable subject, one should expect unanimity
of opinion upon difficult legal questions. In the highest
ranges of thought, in theology, philosophy and science,
we find differences of view on the part of the most dis-
tinguished experts. The history of scholarship is a record
of disagreements. And when we deal with questions
relating to principles of law and their applications, we do
not suddenly rise into the stratosphere of icy certainty.

Charles Evans Hughes {1862-1948}
Speech to the American Law Institute (May 7, 1936)

The Nature of Legalism
Astute Assessment by JW in CTN

One of the charges made by David Brown (the editor of Contending for the Faith magazine, and the pulpit preacher for the Spring Church of Christ, just north of Houston, Texas) during the recent series of lectures titled "Profiles in Apostasy" held at his congregation's building is that the "liberals" never define what they truly mean by "legalism." Of course, Brown never really defined what he meant by "liberalism" either. There are a host of terms and phrases employed within Christendom that carry different meanings to different disciples of Christ. Liberal, conservative, progressive, legalist, traditionalist, patternist, a false teacher, and the like. Although many of us regularly make use of such terms, we should probably realize that not all may understand their usage in the same sense that we do, and such a failure to communicate our meaning may result in a failure to communicate at all. Thus, we only talk past each other, instead of to each other. Although many of us have sought over the years within our writings to clarify these terms, Brown's concern is nevertheless a valid one. Every so often it would be beneficial for writers to clarify for their readers exactly what they mean by these rather commonly used, but often misunderstood and misapplied, words and phrases.

With the above goal in mind, let me applaud the recent effort of a man with whom I differ theologically on a great many things, but who, nevertheless, has done an admirable job of depicting what I believe to be the true nature of legalism. Paul has urged us to "render to all what is due them" [Rom. 13:7]. If someone (no matter who they are) has done well, they should be told so. John Waddey, in his March, 2010 issue of Christianity: Then & Now, has written three articles examining various aspects of the legalistic mindset, the totality of which present to our view a rather thorough portrayal of the nature, failures and dangers of legalism. I would highly recommend that you write to John and ask him to send you a copy of this March issue, if you do not already have it (John mails it out to just about everybody on the planet, and does so free of charge). In this current issue of my weekly Reflections, I would like to provide you with several of the highlights of John's study. I pray it will help us to better perceive the insidious nature of legalism.

The First Article

The first article presented by John Waddey is titled, "Legalism Will Not Win The Battle Against Liberalism." As John quite correctly points out, both are extremist perspectives, and both constitute a grave danger to the Body of Christ. The church has always had quite a variety of foes: the immoral within her ranks, those who promote compromise with the world, those who teach God accepts everyone regardless of lifestyle, those who insist God will accept only those people who agree with their own narrow theology, and those who simply hate God and are determined to drive Him and His people from society. In every generation the church has faced threats from inside as well as outside its God-established parameters, with the most disturbing threats coming from within (in my view). For us to overcome such opposition, we must have the Lord on our side, which means He must dwell within us and daily direct us in all our attitudes and actions. The church must also have good, honest, Spirit-filled leaders; those more concerned with the cause of Christ than promoting any personal or party agenda.

One of the key characteristics of the hardened legalist, and this is quite obvious to all who have been around these people for any length of time, is that "the legalist is always eager to fight ... it is his nature to enjoy a fight." They are the "brawlers" of the church, those always ready to rain down blows upon the head of anyone who dares to differ with even one of their personal or party views. Since their way is the only way (infallible), since their perspectives are God's perspectives (inspired), all other ways, all other views, all other practices and preferences are thereby godless abominations, and these folks are only too happy to stomp them, and all who hold to them, into a bloody oblivion "to the glory of God the Father." And since the end always justifies the means, to their twisted way of thinking, no action is ever considered beneath them (including lies, slanders and deceptions) as they "contend earnestly for the faith." This clearly explains why, when the Jewish legalists found themselves incapable of refuting the wisdom of Stephen, they "secretly induced" people to lie against him [Acts 6:11], they "stirred up the people" [vs. 12], and they "put forward false witnesses" [vs. 13]. In the end, they "covered their ears" like spoiled little schoolyard bullies (legalists will never listen) and they "rushed upon him with one impulse" [Acts 7:57], drove him clear out of the city, and murdered him. In similar fashion, the Jewish religious leaders "kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put Him to death" [Matt. 26:59]. Oh yes, they will LIE to achieve their goal of ridding the earth of those who differ with them. They did then, and they do now.

In the bulk of John Waddey's first article, he shares about a dozen things he has learned about, and even from, legalists during his life. For example, John states that "harsh words, loudly spoken, do not persuade people." Excellent observation! "Calling out the opposition by name, and showering them with invective and ridicule, is likewise ineffective." I wonder: are the Contending for the Faith leaders listening?! "The man who thinks that cute 'one-liners,' ridicule and sarcasm will suffice is doomed to fail." "He whose arguments are primarily quips and slogans will not be effective." These, as most of us know only too well, are just a few of the common tactics of those who have embraced the legalistic mindset. "He who scorns all the brethren but himself, and the few who agree with him, cannot save the church from harm." Again, very insightful observations of a group of individuals in possession of a deadly delusion.

John further stated that he has learned: "He whose objections rest on verses lifted out of their natural context cannot help us." A huge Amen to that. He also wrote, "The man whose faith is based on what we have always done rather than on the word of God will not prevail." I couldn't agree more! And then John nails it when he states that the legalist is one "whose religion is mingled with rules and restrictions of his own making." Frankly, I literally had to go back and check several times to make sure I was really reading the writings of John Waddey! Why? Because, as you well know from my previous reviews of this man's teachings, he has personally exemplified almost every one of these traits. Therefore, if this March, 2010 issue of CTN genuinely represents a major theological shift for John (things he has now learned), then I rejoice with/for him and welcome him to our fight for freedom from bondage to legalistic patternism.

The Second Article

Waddey begins his second article, which is titled "The Failures Of Legalism," with the following statement: "The liberal mind tries to equate a conservative approach to serving Christ with legalism." This is a fallacious view. First, what exactly is "the liberal mind"? Typically, when one hears, "that guy is a liberal," one gets the idea that such a one is bent upon the destruction of the church by changing it to fit his own desires. The "liberals" want to throw out the Bible, allowing everyone in where anything goes. Yes, there are probably a few people who would love to do this. Those who push God off the throne and elevate themselves to that seat of authority, dispensing with the Scriptures so that they might dispense their own "wisdom" to the world, are indeed a danger to the Body of Christ. If that is what John Waddey means by "liberal," then I would agree with him. However, what most mean by this term is simply that a person is more "progressive" (here we go with terms again) than they are; more accepting of other positions; more willing to practice "unity in diversity," instead of a more restrictive uniformity. These so-called "liberal" saints, however, still proclaim the existence of God, the deity of Jesus Christ, the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, the inspiration of the Scriptures, the authority of the Word of God, and all the other essentials of the Faith once for all delivered to the saints. The reality is: these are deemed "liberal" because they tend to be more grace-oriented and Jesus-focused, and less concerned about perpetuating human traditions and party preferences as though they were divine precepts!! If this is what John means by "liberal," and I suspect it is, then I am very much in opposition to this perception.

John says, "Conservative Christians desire to follow Christ, worshipping and serving Him as the Scripture directs." Well, so also do more progressive Christians!! Yes, those dreaded, deadly "liberals" also love the Lord, and desire to follow Him, and value the direction of His inspired Word. The difference lies largely in one's hermeneutic -- i.e., how one goes about understanding God's will from His written revelation. It has nothing to do with "lack of respect for the Scriptures." Some view the inspired documents as a book of LAW, others believe the Bible should be viewed as a revelation of LOVE (God's love for man, and His desire for us to respond with love toward Him and others). Some see it as a book of precepts that must be followed precisely, others see it more as a book of principles that guide us in our loving application. The latter feel men are free to apply those principles in a variety of ways, the former feel all men are confined to the precise practices of the first century church. Both groups love God and His Son, both groups respect His Word, both groups seek to do His will, but they have a basic difference with regard to exactly what God expects from His children. Some see God as rigid, others see Him as much more relaxed. The latter do NOT teach an "anything goes" theology, but they ARE far more willing to accept those who may differ with them on a host of disputable matters than the former group. One group says, "There is room at the Table for all of God's children regardless of personal preferences," whereas the other group says, "There is ONLY room at the Table if you agree with us on our traditional preferences!"

In this article, John lists a dozen items that he perceives to be woeful failures of the legalistic mindset (and I think he hit the nail on the head with every one of them). Legalism is a mindset, by the way, that believes one is saved by "getting it right" with respect to virtually every aspect of one's daily walk, and especially with respect to the "acts of worship" that occur in a formal "worship service." Our practice must be precise, or we will pay a heavy penalty (the loss of salvation and forfeiture of fellowship with "faithful" disciples -- this latter group being the ones who are "doing it just right"). Legalism assumes the Lord has prescribed a pattern within the NT writings, and that this pattern must be followed to the letter. Any deviation will cost one his/her soul. The problem with this view, of course, is that no legalist is able to provide the precise particulars of this salvific pattern. In fact, whenever you ask them to, they will become quite agitated with you. I have been asking for this list of particulars for well over 30 years, and the legalists HATE me for it. Why? Because no two legalists can agree among themselves what should be on that list. You must follow the pattern in order to be saved, but no one will inform us as to what it is!! The dreaded "liberals," on the other hand, reject the notion that salvation is to be found in compliance to the particulars of some elusive pattern, but rather in loving relationship with the Father through the Son. It's faith over form; substance over shadow; relationship over religion; the spirit of the written revelation, rather than the "letter of the law." The "liberals" are more than willing to embrace those with a more narrow perspective, regarding them as brethren; the latter, however, will insist that fellowship may only exist when all embrace their view. One group says, "Let us all journey together toward home as one family;" the other group will cast you from the path unless you "walk in step with them."

Notice the list of the dozen failures of legalism as provided by John Waddey in this second article:

The Third Article

I appreciated John's third article the most!! It is titled "Legalism: Deadly Enemy Of The Church." Waddey begins the article by providing a couple of definitions of the term "legalism." With regard to the realm of religious thinking, the term means "strictness in conforming to law, to a code of deeds and observances as a means of justification." Another definition given is: "a conformity which has missed the inner spirit or purpose of the laws and has degenerated into a barren observance of externalities." John then lists two types of legalists as depicted within the pages of the New Testament writings. The first was the Jewish sect of the Pharisees. "The second group consisted of some Jewish converts to Christianity who had most likely been influenced by the legalism of the Pharisees prior to their conversion. They hounded Paul wherever he went," opposing his work and seeking to bind their many Mosaic customs and traditions upon their brethren as though they were divine precepts essential to both salvation and fellowship. "Paul labels them as false brethren who sought to spy out our liberty in Christ. He refused to give place to them for even an hour. Obviously, we should not want to be like those people in our faith." AMEN to that, John!! And yet we all know plenty of disciples who ARE just like that.

Within this article he discusses several defining "traits of legalism." For example, John writes, "Legalists seek salvation by human achievement and merit. They fail to understand God's grace and are usually suspicious of those who emphasize it." I have heard so many stories from men and women who have finally found their way out of these factions in which they lament that in all their years within these groups they rarely, if ever, heard a lesson about God's grace. It was always about man's performance, and how precise it must be, lest God "torture you forever." It was a harsh, strict, regulative religion in which people, more out of fear and intimidation than love, tried to live up to law in order to be saved. God's grace was only there to "take up the slack" in what man failed to achieve by his own effort. Law was therefore perceived as the true path to salvation, and actually came to be viewed with more reverence than the One who gave it. Waddey observed, "Legalists tend to worship the law of God and exalt it above the Lawgiver."

Additionally, the legalists "love to make laws and enforce them on other disciples." The Lord Jesus said that one would think the Pharisees were Moses because of their love for making up so many laws [Matt. 23:2, Living Bible]. We have disciples doing the same today. Most of what the church debates and divides over has nothing whatsoever to do with the clearly specified commands of God revealed in Scripture. Our factions and schisms are over the countless laws mere fallible men have formulated and then sought to foist upon the church as divine decree! "Legalists tend to be more strict than God requires," John observes. He is correct. And therein lies one of the keys as to why so many become isolationists, excluding all others who dare to differ with their deduced decrees for mankind. "Legalists are absorbed with enforcing conformity to their perception of God's law." "Outward ritual is highly valued while the inward, spiritual traits are neglected." "Legalists will often persecute those who refuse to accept their views." "Paul was constantly under attack by such brethren. His motives were questioned, the worst possible interpretation was placed on his deeds. No one can be more accusative than a legalistic brother. Paul likened them to dogs who bite and devour their brethren." "A natural outgrowth of the legalistic approach to Christianity is strife and division."

John points out that "there is seldom genuine evangelistic zeal among legalists. Rather than go and preach the good news of the gospel, they consume their energy trying to save the church from an evil they imagine." Hmmm. This sounds remarkably similar to the recent Contending for the Faith lectures in Texas ("Profiles in Apostasy"). Just imagine the good that could have been done if the energy wasted on eviscerating their brethren could have spent instead upon sharing Good News with the lost. My heart breaks for these people, as they have been duped into embracing a deadly delusion whose sole purpose is to derail the forward progress of the church, sending it off instead on devilish detours that only lead to self-destruction. Rightly did John write, "Legalism is a deadly enemy to the church. It paralyzes, persecutes and divides; it consumes and disgraces that which it dominates."

Great article, John!! Which is why it distressed me to see what he wrote near the end of that article. He stated, "As a people, we have been influenced by legalism more than we realize." That is so true. Few of us have escaped the influence of this "doctrine of demons." John then, in the very next sentence, spoke of the "mortal battle with digressive brethren who divided the church with their instrumental music and missionary societies." Good grief!! And here I was beginning to think we were seeing a new John Waddey. However, he immediately proves the truth of the statement he had made in the previous sentence about the insidious influence of legalism. Instruments and societies -- two perfect examples of men elevating personal perceptions and preferences to the level of LAW, and then seeking to bind those dogmas upon the rest of humanity. "Digressives"? From what exactly did these people digress?! It wasn't from God's commands or principles, because God nowhere established law governing either matter. Thus, these "digressives" had dared to "digress" from the "decrees of men." Who, then, were the ones responsible for the sad division? Those who exercised their freedom in Christ? Or, those who sought to bind upon others their own personal or party convictions? After writing several marvelous articles on the pitfalls of legalism, Waddey reveals he is still inside that pit himself. John, you've come a long way toward freedom; your articles demonstrate that. Please come the rest of the way; you are still within its clutches! John, if I can be of any help, please let me know! You are in my prayers!

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

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Readers' Reflections

From K. C. Moser's Daughter:

Brother Al, I just listened to Dub McClish expound on Dad's books at the "lectureship" for the Contending for the Faith group. I am sure my blood pressure is several numbers higher right now!! He seems to have taken all the things that many people love about Dad's teachings and made them out to be straight from John Calvin or the Devil. It's truly very interesting how they can twist the truth so badly that it can no longer even be recognized. Words cannot explain the frustration it makes me feel. I am sure that you experienced some of the same feelings. Actually, this is the first time I have ever heard a whole speech negating everything Dad stood for. It is not a good feeling. But, we must consider the source and simply pray that some of these men, before they die, will actually come to understand the wonderful saving Grace of God. Please keep up your good work, Bro. Al, in spite of all the hurtful things that are thrown at you!!

From a Missionary in the Fiji Islands:

Greetings Brother Al, As always, whenever I start to think that my day is going badly, all I have to do is read your Reflections and I feel better! Your article on the "Lucifer Lectures" was a great one. I too served in Vietnam (18 months) and, like you, saw things that are better left untold. We have now been on the mission field in the South Pacific since 1975, and we have had a number of dealings with the legalistic side of the brotherhood (even being mentioned in the Contending for the Faith magazine -- back during the Ira Rice, Jr. days -- as one who was "lost and damnable"). I came to the conclusion that if these people mention my name, then I must be doing something right!! Keep up the good work; your Reflections are worthy! You must be doing something right!! As for all these persons who attack you -- they are a "brood of vipers" ... best stayed away from!!

From a Reader in Canada:

Dear Brother Al, Keep on keeping on in your great work. As Jesus predicted, those who sincerely and in a committed way follow Him will suffer persecution. Paul warned of false brethren entering into the ekklesia of God, and it's evident that anyone who attacks and demeans a fellow believer is not a part of the true Israel of God. How so-called "leaders" in any church can castigate and demean anyone publicly is beyond my comprehension. Hopefully these so-called leaders will come to see the fruit of their actions and repent. If not, the fate that awaits them is the second death! Take care, brother. Isn't it great to know that God has our back?!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Dear Brother Al, I'm not really surprised by the mean-spirited nature of the recent so-called "Contending for the Faith" lectureship. It is sad that some will resort to misrepresentations and lies in order to denounce those with whom they disagree. Those guys who spoke at that lectureship are just a 21st century group of "blind guides leading the blind." It is my daily prayer that they will one day take off the veil of legalism and perceive the Truth, as I finally did. Your Reflections are a great encouragement to me, as well as to others who have escaped the legalistic yoke with which these "preachers" intend to control and bully God's children.

From a Reader in Washington:

Brother Al, It's been a long time since I have sent you a note, but I felt compelled to do so today after reading about the CFTF lectureship in Texas. Frankly, I have given up listening to most Church of Christ "scholars" these days. You are one of the few that I still read. Their very name "Contending for the Faith" makes it clear that the focus of this group is on "getting it just right." I wonder: would such men ever consider simply "Spreading the Faith"? Sadly, they are so inwardly focused that this has probably never crossed their minds. To you, my dear brother, I say, "Keep the Faith." You have done great things, and you have encouraged the hearts of thousands. That alone is a great reward, but God has a much greater reward for you coming.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, You are doing a great work, and all the good that results from your efforts is going to be felt for many years to come, as well as very widely across the earth. That's confirmed by all the attention you are getting from the legalist crowd. The more good you do, the more they attack. Keep it up, brother, and may God help you to stay strong.

From a Reader in Washington:

Dear Brother Al, I'm still fuming about the CFTF confab!! I cannot figure out why some church leaders can't read history and learn from it! Anyway, I would love to witness you LIVE at The Tulsa Workshop. Rest assured, brother, I'll be there in spirit. I wonder what those CFTF boys would do if they had in Texas the sort of attendance that you will have in Tulsa?!! The only celebrity they had was the "snake with no legs."

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I am thoroughly embarrassed for our brothers and sisters in Christ who spend much more time and effort spreading sickness than Good News. By the way, I just ordered your book Down, But Not Out from

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, I am appalled that these men from Contending for the Faith were so dishonest, cruel and mean. I have never figured out why men with so little of the Holy Spirit do not just cut loose and simply go to horse thieving, bank robbing, murder and other assorted mayhem. Their nature seems far more suited to that line of work. Please don't let these nasty people get the best of you, Al.

From a Reader in Texas:

Bro. Al, I listened to the first several minutes of the session at which Daniel Coe spoke. How very prophetic his opening remarks turned out to be! He announced to the group that this Contending for the Faith lectureship was the most "putrid" event that he had ever experienced!! It probably never even occurred to him just how true his words were!! May God deliver us from such evil ones!

From a Minister in California:

Brother Al, Wow!! I knew the "lectureship" would be bad, but what I saw went far beyond just bad. Those guys really crossed the line when they started attacking your service in Vietnam, and then went after your wife Shelly! That's about as low as so-called "civilized" people can get. There was a time in my life when I actually subscribed to their publication, believing just about anything they wrote. In fact, I had read an article many years ago about a rather "liberal" church and its preacher out in California, and I used that article from Contending for the Faith in a sermon that I preached in northern Alabama as an example of the danger of "liberalism" in the church. Ironically, many years later I became the pulpit minister for that very congregation in California, enjoying almost 15 wonderful years there. Brother, I look forward to your Reflections every week, and I thank you for all the study you put into your articles. I don't always send you comments, but I do read them all. You have blessed my life and my ministry greatly. I regret so much the years that I was a part of that legalistic mindset.

From a Reader in Arizona:

Brother Al, Looking at the list of books reviewed by the CFTF crowd, you are in company with some Good Men! Also, as I look at the list of books they spoke against, I see a few books I did not know were out there. I am glad to know these men wrote more books than I knew about. I am now anxious to read them, and plan to buy them soon! Sorry that these "brothers" act, and treat you, this way! Just remember: there was only One who was perfect, and they crucified Him! Take care, brother!

From an Author in Texas:

Brother Al, As you know, I grew up having to endure the seemingly mindless preaching of Michael Hatcher. I completely gave up my own faith for a period in my life due to the things that I had heard from Hatcher in the pulpit for too many years. I also never witnessed any spiritual fruit spring from his own walk with the Lord, only venom and condemnation of other people. For example, he would preach regarding the sin of wearing shorts, but he himself wore them. I remember being very puzzled about this as a teenager, which only deepened my disregard for him!! For Mr. Hatcher to make light of your experiences in combat in Vietnam is absolutely disgusting. But, who do these Sons of Hell love to ridicule more than Al Maxey?!!

From a Christian Church Minister in Georgia:

Dear Brother Al, May God's Grace be upon you as you keep enduring the unkind things that are being said about you. I want to thank you for your service to our country during the turbulent times of the Vietnam War. It is hard for me to believe that mature Christian brethren would joke about a fellow brother's service to our country, not to mention slandering you about being a "dope smoker." I read your Debate on Patternism with Darrell Broking and really appreciated your stance and the manner in which you handled yourself during the debate. I also appreciate your stand on the matter of instruments in worship. I can see that you will have to endure much abuse from such men as these because of your "liberal" views. Frankly, I continue to wonder why the legalists in our family tree can't see themselves as the Pharisees of our day!! Blessings to you, Al.

From an Author in California:

Bro. Al, Those "lectures" in Texas would be laughable if the motives behind them and the conduct displayed were not so pathetic! In jest, Bro. Neal Griffin once told me that I must not be suffering enough for Christ because I had only been called a "village idiot" and a "loon." I can see, by the names you are being called, that you are suffering much more at their hands. God bless you, brother!

From an Elder in New Mexico:

Brother Al, Isn't it a shame that these people with Contending for the Faith seem bent on destroying servants of our God, all the while ignoring the Word of God concerning loving relationships. What a powerful group they would be for God's Family if they would only focus on the Master and their service to Him. Whenever anyone uses material out of context, as they did, they are liars!! I remember Daniel Coe saying some years back that he was "coming to get you, Al Maxey," yet when he came to Alamogordo he lasted only five months, splitting his own church of seven people. Keep up the good work, Al.

From a Reader in Georgia:

Brother Al, I enjoy getting your weekly articles and find them very challenging and informative. On the subject of the most recent "lecture" series in Texas, one that was apparently more focused on "weeding the apostates" instead of "growing the kingdom," I would truly hope that these men will come to recognize the damaging nature of their actions and consider the consequences of them, as well as realizing the gravity with which I assume God weighs them. Some of the most punishing curses meted out upon individuals in the Bible were upon those whose actions either (1) dissuaded or undermined the relationship of others with God, or (2) caused injury (be it physical, emotional, social or spiritual) to a brother. Frankly, if these individuals spent even an iota of their time and energy sharing the message of Jesus Christ and building up those who have accepted it, one can only imagine how many more people might come to that saving covenant relationship! Al, I honestly pity these men, and those like them! God Himself has told us that the fields are ready unto harvest, awaiting workers; yet, they are apparently content to busy themselves with the self-appointed task of culling (or setting fires within) His storehouse.

From a Reader in [Unknown]:

Dear Brother Al, Wow!! I am seldom speechless, but this is astounding!! I know so many people like these CFTF folks, but to see it on display for everyone on the Internet to see is mind-boggling. And these guys are actually PROUD of themselves!!! I have said for years that men like this are utterly EVIL, and events like this just reconfirm that assessment for me! I am so thrilled that you will be speaking at The Tulsa Workshop. I have to work, so can't make it, but definitely plan to buy the tapes and DVDs. God bless you, Brother Al. As much as those who consider themselves "doctrinally sound" beat up on you, you KNOW that you must be doing something right!!

From a Reader in Alabama:

Dear Brother Al, I am appalled to hear that CFTF writers and supporters have become vicious toward those who are honestly seeking God's will. I am especially saddened that they would turn against you in such an ungodly manner. Al, your writings in particular have helped me to understand the Scriptures better so that my own Bible study is more fruitful, and your kind spirit toward those with whom you disagree has been evidenced over and over again in your writings. On top of their unwillingness to deal honestly with your teachings, to learn further that they would make light of your military service in Vietnam seems to me unpatriotic. Al, I can only suggest that you pray for these foolish men, who even now may be devising their very own condemnation by rejecting the Grace of God for their own legalistic values. They are not worthy of your mental anguish, but are only flies at a feast who may be swatted if they ever settle in one spot long enough. It is truly hard for me to believe that they represent a sizable portion within the Churches of Christ. Your great work in reaching those who are still drawn to the Grace of God must not be slowed by these dung beetles whose world is filth, and who care not to look up to see the Glory they are missing!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Maxey, I am so sorry you have been the target of those yahoos in Texas! As you well know, there is a hornet's nest of them in Oklahoma also. Here's my two cents worth -- Thank you for your service to this country, and Thank you for your service to those of us who want to know the Truth of the Gospel. I would be proud to stand with you any where any time. 'Nuff said!!

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Dear Bro. Al, You are loved and appreciated by thousands upon thousands!! The kingdom is a much better place because of you and your impact upon it. Stand firm, dear brother!

From a Reader in California:

Dear Brother Al, Just a quick note to remind you that there are countless Christians praying for you and Shelly, and also praying for your Reflections ministry. Do not let "them" get you down!

From a Deacon in Virginia:

My Dear Brother in Christ, After witnessing the recent event in Texas, there is only one thing to say ... and Jesus said it best: "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of things against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" [Matthew 5:11-12]. While I may not totally agree with you on some points, this kind of behavior by persons claiming to be Christians is an embarrassment and a disgrace to all Christians in every denomination. It appears to me that some men should read the Bible more before they read other books!

From a Minister in Missouri:

Brother Al, An old Marine here! A couple of years ago I was denounced as a "false teacher" at a local gathering of churches because of my teachings on "unity in diversity." They attributed all sorts of beliefs to me that I had never taught, or had even thought of!! Some were upset over these lies about me, but I just thought of Matthew 5:11-12. Brother, what you are doing is right. Keep on keeping on!

From an Elder in Wyoming:

Brother Al, The more I read about what happened at the "Lucifer Lectures," the hotter I get. I am amazed that people who think they are so right could act in such a way to show that they are nothing more than the devil in disguise! The Scriptures warn us of such folks! It is one thing to not agree with someone, but to make fun of someone who put their life on the line for each one of us, as you did in Vietnam, is as far from Christ-like as they can get. Thank you for your service to this country, and may God continue to bless your efforts as you try to expose these children of the devil and their kind!!! May God continue to bless you and every other veteran for the sacrifices you made for our freedom! Thank you also for your work for the Lord!

From a Reader in Florida:

Dear Brother Al, I really appreciate all the help you have given me over the years, and also the fact that you still keep on even when it seems the attacks against you become more and more vicious. Please don't ever stop!! You are a blessing to those of us trying to come out of the legalism we have been under for so long and to embrace Grace. I really mean that. Al, one passage that I have been struggling with is 1 Cor. 1:10. As I am sure you know, this verse is used to explain the demand for conformity we hear from the legalistic churches. I was hoping to get your perception of this passage, so that you might help me get the legalistic view of it out of my head. What did Paul really mean in that verse?! Thank you so much for your help.

From an Elder in North Carolina:

Dear Bro. Al, I am both sad and glad to hear that the CFTF group is attacking you so vehemently! Sad that you must endure such tripe, but glad to know that you are making such an impact on their ilk that they feel the need to attack. As I have told you before, I once knew the Hatcher family. One of my regrets in life is that I allowed my children to listen to the garbage that his father Bill spewed for as long as I did. I challenged him on a few things, but not nearly enough. It is apparent that Michael has inherited his father's large ego and small mind. I can say that Michael had a wonderful mother, however, and it's too bad that he didn't get some of her kindness. Al, keep up the good work, and rejoice in the knowledge that if you were not making an impact on them, they would be ignoring you!

From a Minister in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, As I read your latest Reflections article, I was struck at how crafty the Devil is, as well as his methods for leading people astray. It seems eerily similar to those CFTF men you described. I wonder if a Reflections article in the future might include the Gnostics, and how they valued knowledge over faith, the tangible over the intangible, and human merit over God's Grace. It seems that was a hot topic 2000 years ago, and it will continue to be so, as those themes of putting man's abilities before God's are themed throughout the New Testament books by Paul, John, the Hebrew writer and Jude, just to name a few. Just some thoughts for you. Keep up the good work. I enjoy reading your articles. I especially like the in-depth studies of Scripture that you provide. Thanks again!

From a Minister in Kansas:

Dear Brother Al, One Cup man here. I continue to be amazed when I hear about the attitudes of some members within the Body of Christ. I just finished your latest Reflections, and I really want to say thank you for exposing the CFTF crowd for what they are! That group is no different than the OPA power brokers -- "line up, or get out!" They, and they alone, have all Truth, and anyone, other than their own family and friends, who disagrees with them is quickly marked as an "apostate." I have several of the books the CFTF crowd reviewed at their lectureship, and I highly recommend them all to the brotherhood. I was also very angry when I heard that the CFTF bunch attacked you, your wife, and your service to our nation. As I have said many times before, they will never answer your arguments directly, but they will practice character assassination. Don't give up or give in, Al. Preach the Gospel. I am really looking forward to seeing you at The Tulsa Workshop.

From an Elder in Texas:

Bro. Maxey, You have taken the brothers at the Contending for the Faith lectures all wrong. They have performed a valuable service by identifying those books that need to be read and considered. While I have read (and reread) many of the books on their list, there are a number, including your own book, that I have not read. I have resolved to treat their book list as a "book of the month" club, and I am certain that I will be blessed by reading those books which I have not yet had the opportunity to read. To that end, I ordered a copy of Down, But Not Out this afternoon, the book at the top of my list because our congregation is currently struggling with this issue.

From a Reader in Louisiana:

Brother Al, I've read your article ("The Lucifer Lectures") in response to those who attacked you and other good men at the Contending for the Faith lectureship: "Profiles in Apostasy." Your response was great -- right on! I watched several of those lectures via the Internet and then wrote a review of that event and posted it to my Grace Digest blog. The article is titled The Parade of Pharisees. I thought you might find it interesting. I really appreciate your ministry, brother, and I am saddened by the lies and mischief by those who oppose you. My wife and I plan to be at The Tulsa Workshop and hope to meet you face to face.

From a New Reader in Kentucky:

Bro. Maxey, Please add me to your subscription list to receive your weekly Reflections. As an old Independent Christian Church guy, I have many friends and know many devoted Christians among the Church of Christ group. I follow Jay Guin's blog One in Jesus and notice that he had referenced the CFTF lectures, so I checked out their videos. I was astounded!! I have been attending church meetings and conferences for most of my 65 years, but I have to tell you that I have never witnessed anything like that meeting!! I never found one speaker who actually reviewed a book; rather, they just "preached" that the authors of those books were "liberals" who had no regard for Scripture and who were on a fast track to hell. I have read about half the books reviewed and have found them all thought-provoking and generally excellent. I intend to order your book today, just to see if you are indeed the "ambassador of Satan" that you are reported to be!!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, I just finished reading your last Reflections. I went and listened to Lester Kamp's "review" of your book, as well as some of the other speakers in this charade. This event in Spring, Texas was never about a defense of Truth. It was simply an opportunity for a vicious attack upon people with whom this little CFTF group disagrees. This fringe movement within Churches of Christ is in fact on a very destructive path. The blatant LIES and vitriolic statements of the participants of this lectureship may generate laughter among the ranks of these modern-day Pharisees, but their behavior is abhorred by those of us who love Truth and causes anguish in the heart of the Father!! I have come to the conclusion that this group and its adherents are a SECT, and are no longer really interested in pursuing Truth. This "anti-denominational denomination" is dwindling, and "Lord, haste the day" when those few who sit at their feet and listen to them spew their bile disguised as "contending for the faith" will walk away from them, seeking instead a relationship with the God of GRACE. As for their criticism of you and your military service to this country, I share your righteous anger! These are hate-filled men who will stop at nothing in their attacks against the mighty Army of God. May God have mercy on their souls. I love and appreciate you so much, brother. Best wishes in Tulsa!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I watched the video of the Tuesday Open Forum from the CFTF lectures. I was stunned!! First, by David Brown's complete lack of reasoning skills. When he put your email to him up on the screen, and even made copies for the audience (which was certainly some strange attempt at shaming you), he then proceeded to "analyze" your response. I was amazed at his lack of comprehension skills. I am a middle school teacher, and my 12-year-old students can analyze a passage better than he!! It was apparent that he was trying to catch you in a contradiction. However, if one reads your entire response (without pausing for sarcastic interjections like, "liberalism at its best"), your intended meaning is quite clear -- you simply took exception to the LIE espoused about you that you wished to throw a passage out of the Bible since it was only mentioned once. This was a point obviously utterly lost on David Brown. Thus, not being able to understand the simple progressive reasoning of your statement, he lifted your words out of context and mischaracterized them. It's a common technique of these modern-day Pharisees: pull a verse out of its surrounding text and make it a "proof text," regardless of what the context is actually teaching. Second, and most importantly, I am stunned by the hardness of their hearts! I think that these men truly believe that they ARE being loving by viciously attacking those who disagree with their positions. Please be encouraged, Al. Not all of us enjoy going to lectures where those with whom we disagree are publicly mocked and ridiculed.

From a Reader in Michigan:

Dear Brother Al, I remember reading in Leroy Garrett's history of our Movement that the lies and invectives spread against Alexander Campbell had the effect of drawing huge crowds to his meetings just to see what all the hub-bub was about. I am glad to see that this unintended result of lies and invectives (as was witnessed at the CFTF lectures) is still alive and kicking, and even stronger than ever! There is a local Church of Christ here that periodically rails against some book (which then proves to be a valuable addition to my library!). I almost feel like thanking these people! Al, if I were you, I'd take their attacks as a badge of honor.

From a Reader in Washington:

Brother Al, I just read your latest on the Lucifer wrestling match in Spring, Texas. I want to thank you! Also, I hate to see your good work being subjected to that kind of ungodly criticism. I pray for you and hope you do not become discouraged by such immature actions. It is very sad to see such childish displays in public as was seen at the CFTF lectures. I was subjected to this kind of thinking growing up, and I've come to the conclusion that most of their "study" is just to validate their dogmas, NOT to discover God's will for their lives.

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Dear Brother Al, How pathetic to have a lectureship devoted NOT to building the faith of brethren, or exploring the beauty of the holy Scriptures, or reflecting on the salvation that's to be found in Christ Jesus our Lord, but instead a lectureship in which the entire time was spent vilifying and condemning one's fellow brethren in Christ. Surely this wasn't a Bible lectureship overseen by Christians, was it?!! Sounds more to me like a "whine session" by a bunch of jealous Pharisees. Oh, these poor, pathetic patternists. They're like little bullies on the school yard. Keep on preaching, Al. Those of us who have perceived the revelatory light of the Holy Spirit welcome your biblical Reflections. Thank you also for the brief, but very rich, section on Isaac Watts. I never realized he had written so many of my favorite hymns. God's peace be upon you!

From a Reader in Colorado:

Dear Brother Al, It was a sad spectacle. I knew better, and yet I watched the Contentious for the Faith lectures anyway. I couldn't watch them all, though. I just did not have the stomach or the heart for it. I was curious as to what could possibly be said about men so kind and loving as Cecil Hook and Leroy Garrett ... and I was amazed at what was said. The vitriol spewing from the mouths of alleged disciples of the Lord Jesus was astounding; so much so that one has to wonder what possible connection it could have with Jesus. The answer, of course, is that it has NO connection with Jesus. The godless treatment you received from these people, Al, was abhorrent. Perhaps these "Contentious for the Faith" folks should ask themselves just how God was glorified by all of their name-calling and threats against the authors of those books with which they disagreed? How were nonbelievers brought to Jesus? How was godly love shown?

From a Reader in California:

Dear Brother Al, As I read your Reflections, and as I grow older, I am beginning to see (and it seems to me that you are seeing the same thing) that Christianity is becoming less and less important, and Christ Himself is becoming more and more important. As I mature in my faith, the dogmas and arguments and rigid doctrinal positions are simply becoming more and more tiresome to me. Christ Jesus, on the other hand, is providing, at least for me, new insights, greater energy and worthy goals to attain. Would you agree that this is increasingly your perception also? I believe that it may be, based upon your Christ-centered focus in your Reflections.

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