(Correspondence with Elder L. H. Hardy, of North Carolina)
REIDSVILLE, N. C.,
June 22, 1909
DEAR BROTHER KER: - I especially request your views, in a private letter to me, on John v. 28, 29. I hope you may be blessed of the Lord to write soon, for I shall be anxiously awaiting to hear. I hope that you and family are well. We are as well as usual.
Yours in a blessed hope, L. H. HARDY
MIDDLETOWN, N. Y.,
June 29, 1909
ELDER L. H. HARDY - DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST: - Your letter asking my views on John v. 28, 29, was duly received. I appreciate your confidence in me as being able to elucidate this portion of holy writ, yet frankly confess you are mistaken in the man. I have often acknowledged through the Signs, as well as from the pulpit, that there is much in the Bible I do not understand, and this text you suggest is one of the many I have no satisfactory light on, hence am sure it would be a waste of time to try to explain that which has not been revealed to me. Should any one say, The text means just what it says, I would be compelled to reply, If that be true, then the fact stands without argument that there is at least one portion of inspired testimony which the Holy Ghost has no need to shew unto us. This I could not reconcile with Paul's statement: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: *** neither cam he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” If the Scripture you mention is in any sense a part of the things of the Spirit of God, and Paul was correct in his statement, it cannot be comprehended by the carnal mind, hence its import must be spiritual and understood by divine revelation. Further, if it means just what it says literally, no man cam enlarge upon it, and it stands open to the comprehension of the infidel as well as to the quickened simmer. The older I grow, and the longer I am in the ministry, the more I realize my lack of understanding in divine things, and the more careful I become with regard to the Scriptures. I used texts in my early ministry that I would not dare touch now without clearer light than I have ever had. Indeed, I often question my knowledge of the most simple text, if there be such a thing as a simple text. Some brethren in different sections of the country seem to be disturbed regarding the doctrine of the resurrection, and all manner of evil things are being said of those who do not use their language when speaking of the subject. But I must confess, dear brother, there is one thing that concerns me and troubles me more, viz., “Am I His, or am I not?” If I am, then all will be well at last. I have never made the subject of the resurrection a hobby, and hope to be kept from ever making any subject a hobby, and especially one that the apostles did not understand nor try to explain. Paul considered the resurrection “a mystery,” and John was satisfied with the assurance that “now are we the the sons of God;” he was willing to leave the rest until Christ, who is our life, shall appear. Then “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” I have never taken the resurrection of the bodies of the saints as a direct subject to write upon, and only a few times have I ever tried to speak of the deep and hidden mystery: resurrection; the omission has been due to lack of understanding. My faith, however, as “the evidence of things not seen,” embraces the truth of the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust; the one to life eternal, the other to “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” But to describe the glory, joy and peace of the first is as far beyond me as it is to describe the eternal woe of the second. We have descriptive powers, and often use them to advantage regarding things we have seen, but I do not understand how a man can describe that which “doth not yet appear.” The attempt to do this, both of the glory and the punishment, has caused all the trouble on the subject that now exists. Do you not think, dear brother, it wise to adhere strictly to Bible language when preaching, writing or conversing upon this deep yet sublime subject? Would it not be better to say, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body,” than to say, These Adamic, sinful, vile, mortal bodies shall be raised? Would it not be better to say, “That which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be,” than to say, This very identical body will be raised? Instead of saying, In the resurrection we shall appear just as we do now, except our bodies which are natural shall be spiritual, would it not be better to say, “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly”? Instead of saying, In the resurrection there will be fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and children, would it not be better to say, “In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven”? This mortal must put on immortality; this corruptible must put on incorruption. “When” this is done, “then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Is it not better to say “when” this is done, than to say where and how it is done? On the other hand, would it not be better to say of the wicked, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment,” than to say, The wicked shall go away into everlasting literal fire, and there suffer forever and ever? Is it not better to say they “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,” than to say, The nonelect shall be punished with everlasting conscious punishment through the endless ages of eternity? Would it not also be well to get the actual understanding and views of a brother and know exactly how and where he stands before publishing him abroad as a heretic? A man lays himself liable, in every sense of the word, when he so accuses a brother, and also disregards every principle of love, brotherly kindness and forbearance.
I have not asked the above questions to call out a reply from you, but merely as suggestions for your consideration, and that you might know my position on the subject of the resurrection. I believe firmly and absolutely in the resurrection as the Bible speaks about it, for without it there can be no such thing as salvation and final glory, but I do not accept the additional phraseology of uninspired men, notwithstanding the qualifications and attainments of some of them, and the age of others. One man may say, This is absolutely true, because the text implies it. Paul knew fully as well what his language implied as we do, yet to him the resurrection was “a mystery.” Therefore what this or that may seem to imply does not warrant me, at least, to conclude that this or that must be so, or this or that way, and preach it and call it “the doctrine of God our Savior.” I am particularly desirous while in this "tabernacle" of clay to know the power of the resurrection and “of the world to come,” to be a partaker of the heavenly gift, and to realize in my own soul the holy calling. I have not yet attained unto the resurrection, therefore it must be in the future, and my hope is in it through Christ the Lord.
Now, dear brother, I have written you quite a letter in length, with all the sincerity of my being, but before I close I want to assure you, as I have other brethren, that I shall not be brought into any controversy whatsoever on this subject. I have given m this my belief and faith in the resurrection, and hope what I have said may be satisfactory to you; if not, the matter ends here. This letter is your property to do with as you deem best.
I am, I hope, your brother in hope and faith,
H. C. KER
August 21, 1909
DEAR BROTHER KER: - Your letter written June 29th and postmarked July 14th, reached here July 15th, but by some means or other it was mislaid here at home, and I have just got to read it. I am glad to read that letter. Now I have heard from all to whom I wrote, to wit: Elders Ker, McConnell, Lefferts and Vail, and I feel just as I expected I would: to have sweet fellowship for them; I have always had this, and believe I shall while we live. I do not see anything in your letter that I do not receive. There were a few things in Elder Lefferts' letter that were not just according to my mind on the same subject, but I know I am not perfect, but that I am a very poor sinner, and needing the mercies of God (it appears to me) more than any man, therefore I have just the same fellowship for Elder Lefferts as though we fully agreed.
On each point on which you ask a question I would have to answer in harmony with you, therefore there would be no room for controversy, unless it be like some are by their dressing, just want something a little bit different from “the other fellow.” You have seen my version of the text, and I feel sure that you will not declare nonefellowship for me because I hold those views. I do hope the grace of God will keep all controversy out of Zion, but there has to be a broom and a winnowing to cleanse the house.
The Lord bless you and yours. Remember me in love to them.
Yours in hope,
L. E. HARDY
[The above correspondence is published for the benefit of those who, like brother Hardy, have heard all sorts of reports, and therefore wonder how some brethren stand on &e subject of the resurrection of the dead. We have no desire to hide or cover any thought we have ever had concerning this mysterious subject. On the other hand, we believe it honorable to confess our ignorance of such a great deep. For argument's sake one might say, Paul does not say the resurrection is a mystery, but the “change.” He says, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” This change embraces ALL, both asleep and alive, and in the change and after the change he puts no difference between them, consequently the “change” embraces the resurrection of the dead, which is beyond all question a part of the “mystery.” To believe in the resurrection is a matter of faith, but to declare how the dead are raised up, and with what body they come except it be a spiritual body, is another thing altogether. The letters received by brother Hardy from those mentioned in his letter to us have settled his mind that we all believe in the resurrection of the dead, even though we may express our views a little different from him, and he expresses “sweet fellowship” for us all. How good it is to have an understanding one with another, as well as to confess our faults one to another. The man who has reached the place where all who do not agree with him are “heretics,” is on a dangerous “pinnacle,” and is more likely to destroy himself than any one else. The publication of the above is by the mutual consent of all concerned. - K.]
ELDER H. C. KER