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A Fierce Wind Is Blowing

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs


religion, articles, christianity

Paul declared that God has given us evangelists and teachers and infallible revelation "that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:14-15). We have the very word of very God. We have it in written form. It is our standard ... pattern ... blueprint ... paradigm ... example ... model. It tells us the difference between right and wrong. There is no other standard for morality and no other basis for getting right with God.

False doctrine is "blowing in the wind," as the popular song says, and will be blowing us down if we do not plant our feet on the firm foundation of God's eternal word.

The president of Abilene Christian University, Royce Money, delivered the keynote address for the 1993 Abilene Christian University Annual Lectureship. It was quite a production. His speech radiated love, gentleness, kindness, meekness, sweetness, and good will, excepting, of course, when it came to what Royce Money called "the radical right." Then he turned sour and railed out at those who plant their feet on the solid foundation of a divine oracle and will not be moved. They are a bunch of trouble-makers! Brother Money can tolerate anything, except the intolerant. He can't stand them. They want to hold us (ACU) accountable for our words and call for book, chapter, and verse. Who do they think they are? Diotrephes?

I wrote somewhat unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not. Therefore, if I come, I will bring to remembrance his works which he doeth, prating against us with wicked words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and them that would he forbiddeth and casteth them out of the church (3 John 1:9-10).

Brother Money thinks if magazines had existed in the first century, Diotrephes would have had one. See how loving and kind that is? Rubel Shelly must be shaking in his boots, for he is the editor of a magazine.

Brother Money clearly thinks the way to get rid of opposition is to slap a label on it. He speaks of the "radical voice on the right ultra conservative ... legalistic." We are bold to suggest that this kind of labeling will get us nowhere fast. Money offers a mild rebuke and passing warning about those on the left. The proper place to be is right where he is - in the broad middle of the road.

James DeForest Murch in his book, Christians Only, looked to the left and saw the Disciples of Christ. He looked to the right and saw the churches of Christ. Then, he took comfort in concluding that the Independent Christian Church is in the middle and, therefore, plenty okay. He called his location the centrist position. He was even a little smug about it. He did say of the rightist, "Its people have stood like the rock of Gibraltar for 'the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints,' amid the doubt and confusion superinduced by liberalism." According to Murch, the rightist stands for the Book! In that case, we would have to say the rightist is right.

Now, brother Money, may we humbly suggest that the way to decide if a thing is right with God is not struggling to see how many unkind labels you can stick on it, but whether it is according to God's Word. The measuring rod is divine revelation. Let's stay with that!

Brother Money was horrified to think that anyone would say that any teacher at ACU denies the virgin birth of Jesus. Well, President Money, if Andre Resner is still on the faculty, he has some explaining to do, and you may have some apologies to make. Andre Resner wrote an article entitled "Christmas at Matthew's House." It was published in the November 1992 issue of Wineskins magazine. In the article, Resner, a professor of preaching and theology at Abilene Christian University, calls the apostle Matthew "sneaky." Matthew wrote as directed by the Holy Spirit, and if he is sneaky, then the Holy Spirit is underhanded and cowardly, which is the meaning of sneaky. Resner refers to what he calls "Matthew's covert statement" that Mary was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. How was that a "covert" statement? We fail to see how the inspired apostle's announcement of the angelic statement could be called "hidden, disguised, concealed, or surreptitious." Is this what the professor means by calling Matthew sneaky? Resner calls Mary the mother of Jesus "another sexually questionable woman." The another refers to Rahab the harlot, and to Tamar, who seduced her father-in-law, and to Bathsheba, who committed adultery with David. Resner called Mary's pregnant condition a "similar" situation. He says that Mary's "predicament" was caused because she behaved like a street-walker. He says that Matthew in preparing to recount the birth of Jesus was about to tell "the most embarrassing scandal." I have asked Resner what is embarrassing or scandalous about the virgin birth of the Son of God, but he has not answered.

My dear brother Money, I know of more than 100 good men who have read Resner's dreadful article. They all say he accuses Mary of sexual indiscretion; they agree that Resner said Jesus was born of fornication. I know of a half-dozen good men - connected with either Wineskins or ACU - who say Resner did not deny the virgin birth. All six of them have received an urgent, respectful request from me to answer a few simple questions about Resner's article, and not one of them has replied. As a case in point, I will append to this editorial the text of a letter from Andre Resner to me and my response mailed to him February 12, 1993; he has not deigned to answer.

Brother Money said in his keynote speech that people ought not to get information about ACU from the Firm Foundation or some other publication but ought to ask ACU. He was kind to say, "We will be honest with you. We will tell you the truth because we exist to serve the church and you are the church."

Thank you, brother Money, since I am the church, I have some questions for you. What do you mean when you say in your speech that you wonder "exactly what Jesus had in mind when he said 'church"'? You know how to define the church of the New Testament. You know how to define denominations. You know the church is not a denomination. Whence, therefore, cometh your wonder? Tell us, please, what you have in mind.

At the end of your speech, you raise "four big questions." The first one is: "How is the Bible designed to be God's final word for man?" Then you say, "We need to decide that." What is it that needs to be decided? Are you suggesting additional revelation - something more than the "once-for-all delivered faith"?

Your second question is: "Where does [sic] tradition and custom and personal preference stop and belief essential to salvation and the practice of Christianity start?" If you speak of human traditions, then, of course, to teach them as doctrine is vain. If you mean biblical tradition, then that is the belief that is essential to salvation. Tell us what you mean. Please speak plainly so this plowboy can understand.

Your third question is: "How much diversity are we going to be willing and able to tolerate before fellowship is fractured?" Earlier in your speech you defined diversity as different geographical locations, skin color, country folk versus city people, and the like. Is that what you are contemplating in your question? Or are you talking about women preachers and elders and song leaders, instrumental music, and accepting organic, theistic evolution as an explanation of the origin of the species? Please help me by telling just what kind of diversity you have in mind.

Your last question is: "Why are we not growing through evangelism?" If by evangelism you mean preaching and teaching the Gospel publicly and privately, then what more is there? Do you know of some other power to save?

Since I am the church, I know you will be honest with me and tell me the truth because you are here to serve me. (The truth is that the school is an adjunct to the home and derives its authority from parents who have the obligation to train their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The church, itself, is an educational institution.)

Finally, my beloved brother, be assured that I love Abilene Christian University and want to see it prosper. This does not mean that we will stand helplessly by and watch liberals steal what many of us have sacrificed to build. We are not without alternatives.

Appendix

Dobbs' First Letter to Resner

January 5, 1993

Dr. Andre Resner
Abilene Christian University
Abilene, Texas 79699

Dear brother Resner,

Enclosed is a photocopy of a first draft for a proposed editorial in the March 1993 issue of the Firm Foundation. Since you are mentioned unfavorably in the editorial, I wanted you to have an advance look at the article.

You may not agree with my observations and arguments. If you find anything in the article that is not factual, I would appreciate hearing from you. Our production process makes it necessary for me to have the finished draft in the hands of the typesetter no later than February 1, 1993.

We are printing this information with sadness. We strongly feel that your actions leave us no choice but to respond. The virgin birth of Jesus is a cardinal doctrine of the New Testament, and your promotion of the idea that his birth was illegitimate is unacceptable and must be exposed. I urge you to repent.

Faithfully,

s/H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, editor


Resner's First Letter to Dobbs

January 17, 1993

Dear Mr. Dobbs,

Thank you for the courtesy of seeing your concerns prior to print. I am truly sorry that you misunderstood my article.

Regarding your doctrinal concerns: I do believe in the virgin birth, and I do believe in the inspiration and integrity of the Bible.

In the service of Christ,

s/Andre Resner


Dobbs's Second Letter to Resner

February 12, 1993

Mr. Andre Resner
Abilene Christian University, Box 8403
Abilene, Texas 79699

Dear brother Resner,

Your letter dated January 17, 1993, arrived yesterday - the postmark on the envelope was February 8, 1993. Your claim that I misunderstood your article and your statement that you do believe in the virgin birth of Jesus are confusing in the light of what you wrote in the article. Perhaps you will help me by answering the following:

  1. To whom do you refer as "another sexually questionable woman"?
  2. If you refer to Mary the mother of Jesus, then what sexually questionable women are referred to by the "another"?
  3. If the other sexually questionable women are Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba, in what sense is Mary "another"? If Mary was "another" of a different kind, what statement in your article so indicates?
  4. Why do you call Matthew "sneaky"? What do you mean by that?
  5. Why do you say Matthew's gospel "begins in sexual scandal"?
  6. How was the birth of Jesus "the most embarrassing scandal"? How was the birth of Jesus more embarrassing than the fornication of Judah? How was the birth of Jesus more embarrassing than the brothel of Jericho? How was it more embarrassing than the adultery of Bathsheba? What is embarrassing about the virgin birth of the Son of God?
  7. What do you mean when you say, "If God used those of the Messiah's family tree thus"? What do you mean when you say, "Why wouldn't the Messiah himself come from a similar situation"? What is the "similar" situation? How does the conduct of Mary have a resemblance to the conduct of Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba?

I know of more than 100 capable men who have read your essay and have come to the conclusion that your article denies the virgin birth of Jesus. If you want to rescind your statements, we will be happy to provide space in the Firm Foundation but believe the retraction should be forthright. If you can give satisfactory answers to the above questions, then I will print a retraction and apology in the paper.

Faithfully,

s/H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, editor


There has been no further word from Andre Resner.


Published May 1993