I have intended to post a new article but I have been quite involved in the thread below. The discussion has been primarily revolving around the discipleship passages: cross bearing, self-denial, and following.
It has been very worthwhile because it will help many of you to read for yourself some of what Lordship advocates believe, how they state their case, and this will especially help you in being able to detect Lordship Salvation for yourself when it is being presented in not so obvious terms.
In the article below about Phil at Pyro I have been in a discussion with several Lordship advocates, among them Jerry Morningstar. I had some interaction with Jerry at Pulpit Magazine and Pyromaniacs, but he has come to my site to get more involved in the discussion.
Before Jerry entered the discussion Paul E was involved in the salvation/discipleship debate. Unfortunately Paul was unwilling to answer even the most basic questions about his beliefs in regard to the discipleship passages. Paul tried to make the discussion a one-way street. When I pressed Paul to interact on an even playing field he disappeared. This is not uncommon among Lordship advocates. Many Lordship advocates will refuse to answer questions that get to the heart of the Lordship debate because they do not want to be pinned down on what they actually believe.
The same thing happened with Nathan Busenitz at Pulpit Magazine. He refused to discuss any issue other than repentance. He did not want to discuss discipleship passages, or any other chapter of my book.
Furthermore, there is a lack of unified agreement on their end. Because Lordship advocates have to keep redefining and clarifying what they believe you find some of them in contradiction to one another.
Look at MacArthur for example. He has written four major works on Lordship Salvation. The latter three were an attempt to clarify the original edition of The Gospel According to Jesus (1988). As I have shown, however, the disturbing statements in his original edition run like a thread through each of his books. His editors revise and rephrase, but the same impact and meanings are there. I give examples of this in my book.
Pastor Mike Harding, who is a Lordship advocate, repeatedly told Nathan Busenitz that MacArthur needs to clarify and explain himself because some of his (MacArthur’s) writing gives the wrong impression. Pastor Harding also wrote this to Nathan, “Some of Dr. Macs wording in Hard to Believe can unduly cause a true believer to be very uncertain of his justification. In my opinion the editors need to do a better job.” (Nov. 3, 2006, Pulpit Magazine: Lou & Lordship, (Part 5).
Because MacArthur keeps trying to redefine his position, and so many have been lead to a Lordship position because of MacArthur’s books, they are left confused and at times contradict him. Just as I showed how Phil Johnson (senior editor of MacArthur’s books) contradicts MacArthur, you will see more of the same in the thread that follows.
In any event, Jerry is interacting, but I want to point a few things out for you to look for.
Read through the exchanges that begin with Paul E well into the thread. You are going to see more evidence of how the Lordship advocates confuse and blur the lines of biblical distinction between salvation and discipleship.
You are going to see how (especially Paul E) Jerry either will not or cannot answer questions on whether or not the call for cross bearing, self-denial and following are evangelistic appeals directed to the lost for salvation. They will redirect the question to a discussion of faith or they will steer the discussion away from salvation and back to the results of salvation, which is an area I have little or no disagreement with Lordship advocates over. This is very common among Lordship advocates.
Watch for references to the regeneration before faith position. Watch for this comment, “Where genuine faith [supernatural God imparted faith] occurs - there will be a desire to follow."
Lordship advocates believe faith is the result of regeneration, meaning faith can only come from a man who has already been born again. Regeneration before faith is an extra-biblical, extreme position, which is a key component in the Lordship position. Understanding this is a key to understanding how Lordship advocates can make demands from a lost man that are impossible for him to make or keep and still claim they are not teaching a works based message. See my November article Lordship’s (Out of Order) Salvation article for more on this.
You will note how thin a tight rope they try to walk to maintain a message of salvation by grace through faith, but at the same time cling to the Lordship demand for an upfront commitment to the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) expected of a born again disciple for the reception of eternal life. Even here they cloud their meaning by using phrases like, “intentionality toward obedience,” “heart attitude to obey.”
You are going to see the false dilemma. That is when the two alternatives are presented, but not all the possibilities have been explored. This fallacy presents itself in the current debate. Those who advocate the lordship salvation position see only the Mental Assent or “Easy-Believism” position as an alternative. You are going to see this in Jerry’s comments.
Look for the quotes by Ryle. These are as revealing and extreme as you will read anywhere on the Lordship interpretation of the gospel.
You will see how I quote MacArthur again for Jerry to show the extremes of Lordship Salvation and ask Jerry to comment on the disturbing statements by MacArthur.
When you read the Lordship advocates you must read carefully and with discernment. They place the errors of Lordship Salvation alongside orthodoxy, which makes the error difficult to detect. I can read an entire chapter from one of MacArthur’s books and nearly all of it will be sound. However, you can almost always find some interjection of the works based Lordship message, but it is carefully and with subtlety inserted.
Finally, to you lurkers: I know many are hesitant to enter a public comment because you have seen at other sites how some of the Lordship advocates can be rough and harsh.
You have a safe place here! I treat people on both side of the debate with respect. I will not allow any bullying to go on at my site.
If you want to make a comment, but not in the public thread, feel free to e-mail me.
God bless you,
December 5, 2006