June 16, 2007

Why I Did Not Cite Zane Hodges

To All:

Following is a continuation of what was not at first intend to be, but has become a short series.

In 1997, while I was VP of the Calvary Baptist Theological College in South Africa, I was asked to write an official position paper for the College. The purpose for the paper was to set down the college position in regard to the interpretation of the gospel commonly known as Lordship Salvation (LS). Lordship Salvation had been introduced by two American missionaries into the Bible College while the president was on furlough and I had not yet arrived. This situation lead to the decision to produce an official statement on the Lordship issue.

When I began to read and study in earnest for the college position paper I had no problem finding books by John MacArthur, for example, representing the Lordship gospel, but resources that answered LS were not plentiful. Many that I did find were somewhat helpful, but not comprehensive, some were not balanced. Eventually I did receive a copy of Dr. Charles Ryrie’s So Great Salvation. Later I was directed to Dr. Charles Bing. I shared with him my interest in the Lordship debate, and he sent me a copy of his dissertation Lordship Salvation: A Biblical Evaluation and Response. Bing’s and Ryrie’s books were, and remain very helpful resources. Through an internet search, I located the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) and consequently Zane Hodges.

The GES and Zane Hodges have made some helpful contributions to the Lordship debate. In my reading, however, I discovered several doctrinal issues that left me very concerned. As I continued to read Hodges it became increasingly clear that I was having more than just minor disagreements with what I was reading by him in the Lordship debate.

My concern with some of Hodges' doctrinal positions rose to a level where I decided it would not be in the best interest of my work on the Lordship controversy to include him as a source. I felt if I were to use Hodges as a source I would have to include a strong disclaimer and/or warning. Furthermore, I felt citing Hodges without expressing the concerns and reservations I had with him could give the impression that I might be in agreement with certain elements of his doctrine that clearly I was not then, and am not now. This is especially true in regard to his position on repentance as he defines it in Harmony With God.

The over-riding motive for my producing In Defense of the Gospel was to address Lordship’s corruption of the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3). Hodges, in my opinion, takes a polar-extreme position in his answer to Lordship Salvation. Citing Hodges in my book had great potential for becoming a lightning rod, and a distraction from the main objective of my book, which was to explain, expose and refute Lordship Salvation.

A “distraction” is exactly what developed over my very brief mention of Dave Hunt's What Love is This: Calvinism's Misrepresentation of God. The mere mention of Hunt's book exposed a raw nerve with men who are Calvinistic in their theology. Over time I was able to deal with, and get everyone past that issue. It was a brief and unfortunate distraction from the discussion of Lordship theology. [The brief mention of Hunt's book has been deleted from the upcoming revised edition of my book.]

It is not my desire to take anything away from the positive contributions Hodges has made to the Lordship debate and in other areas. There are, however, serious concerns I have with some of the polarizing statements he has made in various books and publications. Today, I am especially troubled with what I am reading by Hodges on repentance. I am also very concerned with the comments I noted from Hodges on presenting the gospel invitation. See The Teaching of Zane Hodges.

Hodges is very close to the heart of the Lordship debate, and I am not as comfortable with him as I'd like to be on several key points of doctrine. Because of this I decided it would be in the best interest of accomplishing my goals for the book to make only a brief mention of Hodges, with a caution to my readers.

Later in the week I will post an article to very briefly review how Hodges defines repentance in the context of conversion.


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