In the Lordship Salvation debates there are somes areas of agreement. In my discussions with Nathan Busenitz (Dr. John MacArthur’s personal assistant) at Pulpit Magazine we shared some areas of agreement, but not on the essentials.
In past discussions I have stated I try to stand where the Bible stands whether or not that stand identifies me with a particular group or system. Was I shocked or surprised that Nathan finds me in some level of agreement with view of soteriology? Not really, and it did not embarrass me to be found in some level of agreement.
I want to let readers know that in my book of nearly 300 pages there are ample examples of clear cut differences I have with Lordship Salvation. Several chapters, which Nathan never mentioned or addressed, in our on line debates (Fall 2006), draw out these distinctions. For example Nathan wrote,
“But Lordship sees repentance as more than just a change in dependence. It is also a change of allegiance. It includes a willingness to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ.”That statement does define a major point of departure. For a discussion of how Lordship Salvation interprets repentance please read How Does the Lordship Advocate Define Repentance?
Earlier Dr. Mike Harding wrote,
“In defense of Lou’s book let me say the following. I believe that Lou points out over-statements and sometimes irresponsible comments made by some of the Lordship writers. Lordship writers must be warned of frontloading faith which gives the impression that a person is a completely mature disciple at conversion.”Pastor Harding is right in regard to Lordship advocates frontload faith with a requirement for a commitment to begin living like a mature disciple from the inception of salvation. Some of the following are examples of the kind of “over-statements” that Pastor Harding and I have discussed.
“Forsaking oneself for Christ’s sake is not an optional step of discipleship subsequent to conversion; it is the sine qua non of saving faith.” (The Gospel According to Jesus: [Revised & Expanded Edition])Sine qua non defined means: an indispensable condition. We see that Dr. MacArthur says “forsaking oneself for Christ’s sake” is not subsequent, does not follow conversion. Therefore, the “sine qua non” (indispensable condition) of saving faith is “forsaking,” and Dr. MacArthur requires an upfront commitment to this for salvation.
“That is the kind of response the Lord Jesus called for: wholehearted commitment. A desire for him at any cost. Unconditional surrender. A full exchange of self for the Savior. It is the only response that will open the gates of the kingdom.” (The Gospel According to Jesus: [Revised and Expanded Edition], p. 148.)“Open the gates of the kingdom” can have only one meaning: How a lost man is born into the family of God. Dr. MacArthur says, “wholehearted commitment, a desire for Christ”, and “unconditional surrender,” is the “only response” that will result in salvation.
I have a major chapter dedicated to a discussion of the Rich Young Ruler. One well known theologian read my book and said this chapter was among the two “best in the book and right on biblically.”
This episode is a hallmark of Walter Chantry’s polemic and a key point in Dr. MacArthur’s apologetic. In his discussion of the Rich Young Ruler, Dr. MacArthur wrote:
“Our Lord gave this young man a test. He had to choose between his possessions and Jesus Christ. He failed the test. No matter what he believed, since he was unwilling to forsake all, he could not be a disciple of Christ. Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.” (The Gospel According to Jesus, p. 78.)In Hard to Believe MacArthur wrote:
“And he needed to be willing to submit to the Lord Jesus, even if it meant he had to give up all his earthly possessions. He might not ask, but the requirement for eternal life is the willingness to give it all up if he does.”Can there be any doubt that Dr. MacArthur is conditioning the “reception of eternal life” on the “willingness to give it all up?” The willingness to surrender possessions, forsaking everything is, according to Dr. MacArthur, the requirement for salvation. If the young man had surrendered his riches to the poor on the spot, or promised to do so later, would this have guaranteed for him eternal life?
Nathan Busenitz wrote,
“I believe biblical repentance includes surrender. You (Lou) assert that it does not.”There is a fine line of difference, but it is a sharp and clear difference in this matter of submission. Submission is to the conviction of the Holy Spirit; no more, no less. A lost man cannot submit to anything else!
I do not believe repentance includes the type of surrender for salvation as Dr. MacArthur defines it in the quotes above.
Lordship Salvation, according to Dr. MacArthur, frontloads faith with commitments for submission and surrender in “exchange” for the gift of eternal life.
“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for is righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain,” (Galatians 2:21).Lordship Salvation frustrates grace!