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W. L. Wharton

The following is a letter sent to Eric and Laura Watkins asking for a comment on a home Bible study I conducted at the South Valley church of Christ in Tulare, California.  I scanned it as a picture so that its original form could be preserved uncorrupted. You may go to it or read the scanned text below. Although W. L. Wharton does not acknowledge his teaching is similar to Hailey's,  my comment is "A rose by any other name smells as sweet."  The changing of a few nouns does not change its similarity! Scanned letter

Letter by W. L. Wharton

September 17,1997


Dear Eric and Laura:

Thanks for you letter, as well as your interest in what the Scriptures teach. Unlike the title page of the material you sent which says: "The True Bible Teaching", I can only state what I believe to be true to the teaching of the Scriptures without any claims of infallibility, and granting to all the right to agree or disagree. You have not asked me to review or express my opinion concerning the class material you sent. I would not have either time or the disposition to do so even it you asked for it.

Reference is made to a sermon I preached in Bakersfield and Clovis, and I could add hundreds of other places as well. He says I outlined the particulars of the," Law of the Gentiles "..and how it worked along the same lines as Homer Hailey"..."He was still unable to produce scriptural evidence of it within the pages of the Bible". He is completely wrong on all four statements. (1) I have never preached on such a topic as "The Law of The Gentiles. (2) The sermon he refers to was one (and still is) that I have preached for more than forty years: long before the "divorce" issue with brother Hailey ever saw the light of day and was never preached as having any bearing of the divorce issue. (3) I never mentioned Homer Hailey or taught "that it worked along the same lines as Homer Hailey". (4) Since I have a very clear memory of what I always preach on the subject of what I call "Greater Law"( however, I seldom give my sermons titles), I will leave it to your judgment as to "the scriptural evidence

When Paul addressed the elders of the church at Ephesus, he said, among other things: Acts 20:20-21 and teaching you publicly, and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. I

1. Repentance "Always in the N. T., of repentance from sin, except Lk. 

17:3,4" (W. E. Vine on Repent and Repentance, pg.280).

(a) Since BOTH Jews and GREEKS (Gentiles) were called upon to repent toward God" , then both had sinned against God.

11901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.

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(b) Rom. 3:9 " ..for we before laid to the charge of both Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin;".

2. "Where there is no law, neither is there transgression"(Rom.4:15)

(a) But since both Jews and Greeks had sinned. they were both under I Law (i.e., law to God, because for this they were both to repent toward God!).

3. Since both Jews and Greeks were under law to God, we ask, (a) What law were the Jews under?

(1) Answer: The Law of Moses, The Law, The Law and the Psalms:

(b) What law of God were Gentiles under?

(1) Most certainly NOT THE LAW OF MOSES. (It was given only to the assembly at Horeb: Deuteronomy 5:2-3 "The Lord God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day." 2

(2) Note carefully Romans 2:12-16"For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; 13 for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified: 14 (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; 15 in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); 16 in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.

(1) Note "the law" in the above. Reference is to the law of Moses.

(2) While men could sin without "the Law", (definite article) they could not sin without law (absence of the definite article).(Rom.4:15 above

(3). in the parenthetical statement, explaining the case of the

Gentiles(v.14-15) mention is made of those not having "the law"

(definlter article) being a "law unto themselves". Mention is made of "doing by nature the work of the law". What is "nature"?( W.E. VINE pg.103).."(b) origin, birth, Rom.2:27,one who is by birth a Gentile, uncircumcised, in contrast, to one who, though circumcised, has become spiritually uncircumcised by his iniquity.)" What is "the work of the law"?

Let me take the liberty of quoting James Macknight on this passage.

21901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.

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"The work of the law must be the discovery of menís duty, which revelation makes by its precepts. The same discovery is in part made by menís natural reason and conscience, on which account it is said to be written on their heart. The reality of such a natural revelation, made to the heathen, Taylor observes, the apostle has proved by three arguments: 1. By the pious and virtuous actions which many of the heathens performed.: 2. By the natural operation of their conscience: 3. By their reasonings with one another, in which they either accused or excused one another. For in the accusations and defenses, they must have appealed to some law or rule. Thus in the compass of two verses, the apostle has explained what the light of nature is, and demonstrated that there is such light existing. It is a revelation from God, written on the heart or mind of man; consequnitIy is a revelation common to all nations; and, so far as it goes, it agrees with the things written in the external revelation which God has made to some nations; for the mind of man, as made by God, harmonizes with the mind of God" .(One vol.Commentary,pg.66)

My sermon on the subject goes much farther, but this is sufficient to put a proper perspective on what the brother has so recklessly charged. I do not personally regard my conclusions to have any particular bearing on the divorce and re-marriage issue, as I said at the beginning. Our brother, who is so reckless with his accusations and so dogmatic in his conclusions should be heard with caution, to say the least. I wonder if he even heard the sermon personally or on tape? If so, he does not hear well.

With best wishes and genuine affection,

(signed W. L. Wharton, Jr. bgg)

San Antonio, Texas 78231

31901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research

Systems, Inc.) 1994.

41901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research

Systems, Inc.) 1994.

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In reading my letter again, after closing, it appears that a point or two more needs to be considered.

In the examination of Acts 20:21 ,"Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ:, I did not point out that the "repentance toward God" is distinct from "faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus had said to the Jews: "Ye believe in God, believe also in me". When men, under law of God sinned, they sinned against God, and therefore were to repent toward God. But that did not forgive their sins. I pointed out that all men are sinners against God. Hence, when Paul preached, he called upon men to repent toward God. But more than that, to be saved from their sins they had to believe on Christ ("faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ"). When the gospel was presented to Jews they were not told to believe on God, for they already did. They were given evidence that Jesus was the Christ, for whom they looked, but did not believe that Jesus of Nazareth was HE. Pentecost is a fine example of the point I am making (Acts 2:36-38). Then in response to their query he did not tell them to believe in God, but to repent (I.e., toward God) and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, whom they now believed was indeed to Son of God whom they crucified (faith toward the Lord Jesus Christian living and active faith so as to come into vital union with him and be saved from their sins. But when Paul preached in Athens (Acts 17) to Gentiles who did not believe in the true God, he sought to identify God so that they would believe on him and them points out that God " now commands all men everywhere to repent" (in their case from idolatry) but up to that point has not even mentioned Christ I He then attempts to lead them to the role of Christ in redemption and judgment (i.e., produce "faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ") but is not allowed to finish his sermon.

Men are not lost because they do not believe on Christ, but rather because of sin I Men can sin without knowing Christ (the world has always been full of such), but they cannot be saved without faith in Him. But do not confuse the disease with the remedy! Malaria is deadly, but quinine is the remedy. Would you say that a man with malaria, who knows nothing about quinine (or cannot obtain it, or who refuses to take it), and dies; that his death is caused by lack of quinine or malaria ? True, quinine could have cured the malaria, but the fact is the malaria was the killer. The wages of sin is death, but Christ can cleanse from sin. A man without Christ is lost, but it is the sin that produces the loss. Rejecting Christ is itself sinful, but if one were not a sinner he would not need Christ (for instance, a child). Read carefully Jon.1 5:22. "they had not had sin" i.e., in this particular matter (w.l.w) Certainly not meaning they would have had no sins at all, for it was a sinful world into which he came.

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This is the end of the letter. Bob Goodman's Comments: To me this sure looks similar to what Hailey taught. Maybe I'm just a little unperceptive? I find interesting the comments made denying any connection to Hailey. Is Mr. Wharton the link between  E. C. Fuqua's doctrine that non-Christians are under civil law only and not the Gospel and Homer Hailey's doctrine that non-Christians are under a universal moral law only and not the Gospel? As you can see, I am not afraid to allow these men to speak for themselves and I encourage you to personally read the material they have published and then study them in light of the Scripture.  I wish they had the same attitude, instead I find myself being misrepresented or material attributed to me that was manufactured by others. Truth has nothing to fear from both sides being accurately represented.

  To answer W. L. Wharton's question, I personally heard the sermons twice. I remember that I was not only shocked at what he said, but at how well received his sermons were to both churches.  Now I am not surprised at all; it is clear these churches are promoting this doctrine.  This letter also illustrates another fact I have noticed: this is a tight- knit group, not just a loose association. An attack on one is an attack on all.  If the true disciples could learn such a lesson.

1. History and Development of this Doctrine

2. Analysis of the Doctrine

3. What is wrong with this Doctrine

4. Ungodly Behavior

5. Homer Hailey and this Doctrine

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