THE ELEVENTH DAY OF FEBRUARY IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN
CHRIST AS SIN-OFFERING
A good many years ago I discovered that I was not really preaching Christ. I was preaching only the conditions of salvation, just as though . . . the Lord’s visit to this earth [was] to set forth certain acts as conditions of justification. I was overlooking the importance of the cross upon which he bore our sins. I was not recognizing Jesus as our High Priest who offered himself for the sins of the world. I considered the cross as a means to an end, the end being the endowment of Christ crucified with the authority to originate a “plan of salvation.” I was giving “plan” the emphasis that belongs to Christ himself. It dawned upon me that Jesus did not come to inaugurate another legal system conditioning salvation upon human achievement or human righteousness, but to give his life a ransom for sinners.
The conditions were . . . [not] . . . a “plan” to which Christ directed us, but . . . a proper response to Christ as sin-offering. I saw that we do not go through Christ to the conditions, but through conditions to Christ. So without first preaching Christ as God’s Son and our sin-bearer I saw that the conditions were meaningless. The conditions of salvation are not merely responses to a king possessing “all authority,” but responses to Christ as a sin-offering. They signify reliance upon Christ as a propitiation for our sins. Hence unless and until Christ as a sin-offering is preached it is impossible properly to respond to him. Merely to obey him outwardly is not enough. The obedience required in order to salvation must relate directly to him as a sin-offering and express trust in him for salvation.
K. C. Moser, from the foreword of “Christ Versus a Plan” (May 1952). In the original text, the author refers to himself in the third person as “he,” a style common in 1952 but strange and distracting to many readers today. Throughout the text, I have therefore replaced “he” (when referring to the author himself) with the more direct first person pronoun “I.” — Edward Fudge.
A JOURNEY TOWARD JESUS
This powerful little book, A Journey Toward Jesus: 16 Letters on Salvation by Grace through Faith, and its Implications for the People of God, is free for the reading online. The book consists of 16 letters written during 1973-1975 by Bruce Edwards and Edward Fudge. Bruce begins the discussion as a promising young debater; along the way he embraces as truth what he first had opposed and becomes the persecuted instead of the persecuter. Expelled from fellowship with his former “brotherhood,” Bruce earns a PhD and has a fruitful career as a university professor and administrator, author, and C.S. Lewis scholar. He is now retired and lives in Alaska. Following are some of Bruce’s reflections on this whole experience, excerpted from the book’s Epilogue. Read it all here, or go to edwardfudge.com/written-ministry/online-books/a-journey-toward-jesus-2/ .
Reflections by Bruce Edwards
When I first wrote Edward Fudge in 1973, my new bride, Joan, and I found ourselves ministering to the Church of Christ in a small, rural town in central Missouri. We were fresh from a . . . Bible college in Florida where . . . students like me went to learn to be sound preachers . . . Edward’s writings were a cause celebre; I was, even at 21, an ambitious, aspiring preacher-editor-influencer; and . . . I wanted to explore, then expose the “leaks” in Edward’s “grace” doctrine. My goal in the exchange was hardly to encounter God in a new and dramatic way. But that, in fact, was the result!
. . . I had forgotten or never known that God also speaks through the imagination, and through the heart, in a language deeper than propositional discourse or Aristotelian logic, valuable and essential as those “tongues” are to our development as disciples . . . Mid-way through the correspondence, I began to realize that my foundations were being shaken . . . God will . . . use any means necessary to bring us fully unto Him, even letters begun in suspect motive! Through and between the lines of our correspondence, I was hearing God rebuke, remind, and remake me by His Spirit.
God has provided me much in the . . . journey: a tolerant and magnificent partner in Joan, four faithful and generous children . . . in Matt, Mary, Justin, and Mike; marvelous comrades . . . and, most importantly, His abiding presence, inestimably kinder, ever more real, and ever deeper. His Spirit counsels, comforts, and confronts; these letters reveal the earliest stirrings of His intervention with my grand plans and the substitution of His own for my life. God is merciful; He gives us, like manna in the wilderness, the faith we need for today, the faith required to dream today’s dreams, and the faith sufficient to guard tomorrow’s. May you, too, have the faith to begin and to continue the journey on to its glorious destination. — Bruce Edwards, July 1996.