(This is the last in a series of articles that appeared in
the Gospel Advocate in 1955. Brother Brewer, in previous
articles, revisited the writing of - Roy Key, a preacher who then
lived in Chicago. This is the last in the series.)
Solomon declared that the legs of the lame are not equal or, as
it is translated in the Revised Version, "The legs of the
lame hang loose." The thought is that the legs of a lame
person are of no use to him; they are useless. If brother Key
has any logical legs, they must be "hanging loose."
His contradictory statements and illogical conclusions are lamentable
in the extreme. He says that baptism is a condition of salvation,
that it is for the remission of sins, that it is in order to receive
the Holy Spirit, that it is the scriptural method of committing
one's soul to the Lord, or of avowing one's faith in the Lord,
and yet he teaches that there are other ways that one may express
one's faith. Following the sentence just quoted above, he says,
The comparison of two men whose hearts are equally committed to
Christ, having no difference, except one has been baptized, and
the other has not, and ascribing salvation to one and condemnation
to the other is a speculative interest only to the legalistic
Now having affirmed that baptism is the way one commits one's
self to the Lord, he now supposes a case where someone is equally
committed to Christ without baptism! How does he know that the
one is equally committed to Christ? Is it not a matter of pure
speculation and even something worse for any of us to try to judge
between o individuals? If one has been baptized, it is impossible
for us to know whether or not that one is thoroughly committed
to Christ, even if we administered the baptism ourselves. I have
been convinced by the behavior of some whom I baptized that in
that act they did not commit themselves to Christ.
On the other hand, if this is the method by which people avow
their faith, or the act in which the soul is committed to Christ,
we might ask how many other acts may be used for this same purpose.
What are some of the other acts? By which one of these many others
is a man able to say that an individual is equally committed to
Christ with a man who has accepted the Lord's own conditions and
obeyed his Word without doubt or question? Perhaps if the brother
would present the teaching of the New Testament concerning baptism
to the man he supposes is "equally committed to Christ,"
he might find that this man would reject the reaching of the Lord
outright. Would he still be equally committed to Christ with the
man who humbly submitted to the will of the Lord? By whose standard
are, we going to judge our fellow men on the assumption that we
are allowed to do such judging?
The Gospel preachers, some of whom brother Key now condemns as
legalists, have never felt able to judge men at all, but they
have preached exactly what the Lord says about salvation and about
the connection, which even brother Key says, that baptism sustains
with salvation. If brother Key would preach the Gospel and try
to get people to believe and obey exactly that which the Lord
commanded, instead of trying illogically and even presumptuously
to find some argument that will justify a man who rejects the
Word of the Lord, rebels against the Word of the Lord, and trusts
the word of some creed or some man and perhaps even the word of
Roy Key, he would then at least have the promise of God's Word.
His present effort, however, cannot fail to fall under the severest
condemnation that God's prophets have always uttered toward those
who pervert the right way of the Lord. King Saul confidently asserted
that he had done all that the Lord had commanded him to do! He
hid come far nearer to doing it than some of the men who are,
by Roy Key, pronounced equally committed to Christ. He, however,
had sinned against God to the extent that it was not even forgiven,
and the kingdom was taken from him.
Shouting "Amen" but Perverting the Truth.
Those of us who have had experience in dealing with religious
debaters well know that a loud "amen" is sometimes a
cover-up for a definite rejection of the thing over which they
are shouting "amen." The word amen is a wonderful
word and when it is used sincerely and in a scriptural way, it
is approved by the Lord himself. But some of us have heard amens
that were hypocritically shouted so loudly that when we hear
one in an audience, we are inclined to feel intuitively that there
is a fanatic present.
Brother Key declares that he is ready to say a loud "amen"
to the teaching of the second chapter of James and the "amen"
is heard far away. But he proceeds to nullify the teaching of
James as completely as any contender against faith in God's Word
ever did it. We here quote exactly what he says on this point:
Question: Can you deny that James still says a man is saved
'by works and not by faith only'?
Answer: I certainly have no intention of denying or even
soft-pedaling that truth. If we really believed and acted on it,
we'd find that it isn't such a delightful one to hurl around in
argument. Orthodoxy versus obedience is the issue with James.
He isn't saying, 'You have to feed the hungry and clothe the naked
in order to become a Christian.' He is saying, 'While you refuse
to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, your claim to Christian
faith is a falsehood. That kind of faith is as dead as a corpse.
It has never saved anybody, and it won't save you, either.' These
'works' enjoined by James are the 'fruit' of Christian faith.
They evidence true faith, but they do not create it.
If these words mean anything, they mean that faith is in the heart
before it is expressed in overt action; that faith is faith without
any outward expression; that the works or deeds of which James
speaks are the "fruit of Christian faith" which must
mean that this is Christian service or something rendered by those
who are already made Christians by faith. This is, therefore,
the faith that those have who do not obey the Lord and who make
optional his commandments.
James was not talking about "Christian faith"; he was
specifically talking about Abraham's faith in verses 21-23. But
what he says concerning faith applies to any faith in any age
of the world. Faith is faith wherever it is found and without
regard to the age of the world in which it is found.
Roy says that works do not "create" faith. This means,
of course, that the faith existed before it worked. It was already
created and being a created entity already existing, it acts,
and these acts are the result of faith. If a man wanted to say
something which would express an exact opposite idea to that which
James expresses, he couldn't beat this. If anyone wanted to shout
"amen" in order to utter a direct condemnation of James
and pronounce what he says as false, he couldn't do it in any
better way than it is done by brother Key.
James says that faith without works, or faith before it is expressed,
manifested, and actualized by deeds is dead. Therefore, the deeds
are necessary to faith, instead of coming as a result of something
that was already completely created. James says that by deeds,
faith is made perfect. Therefore, faith without deeds, is dead;
until it is expressed in deeds, it is incomplete. Therefore, these
deeds do indeed have a part in bringing to perfection, therefore,
of creating the perfect faith. Let us read this passage:
But will you understand, you senseless fellow, that faith without
deeds is dead? When our father, Abraham, offered his son Isaac
on the altar, was he not justified by what he did'? In his case,
you see, faith cooperated with deeds, faith was completed by deeds,
and the Scripture was fulfilled: Abraham believed God, and it
was counted to him as righteousness - he was called God's friend.
Another rendering of this famous passage will show that all the
translators agree on the thought presented. This is from Weymouth:
But idle boaster, are you willing to be taught how it is that
faith apart from obedience is worthless? Take the case of Abraham,
our forefather. Was it, or was it not, because of his actions
that he was declared to be righteous as the result of his having
offered up his son Isaac upon the altar? You notice that his faith
was cooperating with his actions, and that by his actions his
faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says,
'And Abraham believed God, and his faith was placed to his credit
Now any man who thinks he can take James to escape the teaching
of Paul is failing to use his mind. Paul teaches exactly what
James teaches and both of them teach us what is quoted by both
of them from Gen. 15:6, that Abraham believed God and it was counted
to him for righteousness. Both James and Paul teach that Abraham
was justified by faith; neither of them intends to imply that
Abraham did something meritorious and was rewarded accordingly.
Neither teaches that Abraham was righteous in his own right and,
therefore, ready to pass the inspection of God and to be found
righteous. He was lacking in righteousness, as all other men are,
but his faith was counted to him for righteousness and, therefore,
God reckoned him as righteous on account of his faith. This the
Old Testament teaches; this Paul teaches repeatedly; and this
James teaches emphatically.
The only thing James does is to define and illustrate faith. Paul
does the same thing in the same way throughout the whole eleventh
chapter of Hebrews. To contend that anyone has faith in Christ
who will reject or neglect to do that which Christ commands is
as foolish as it is dangerous.
Brother Key didn't need to go to college to learn this argument.
As said in a former article, I heard men make this same argument
in this same way in the cotton fields of Alabama 60 years ago.
Brother Key and I came from the same section of the country, and
although I was at least 40 years ahead of him, I happen to know
that the same arguments were still being made in the same place
after brother Key came on the scene.
G. C Brewer, deceased