In recent days I have posted a number of comments at Till He Comes. This is Jeremy Meyer's site. Jeremy is on staff at the Grace Evangelical Society .
Jeremy has visited and posted some comments under my article Tragedy of the "Crossless" Gospel, Part 2. I felt the following notes, which is the first I posted to Jeremey at his site, would be a good read for all concerned in the current debate. There are more, but this one helps define the areas of debate.
It really does boil down to what you wrote here, "So rather than 'What is the gospel?' the real question is 'How much of the gospel does a person need to believe in order to be born again?'"."
1) You mention Bethlehem, post-resurrection appearances, etc. That is not something anyone on either side of the debate is calling on a lost man to believe or even present to him in a soul winning situation. So, I don’t believe it is right to infer that any one is inferring/calling for a lost man to believe those, "40 other things as well." It goes for any number of the doctrinal truths about God, Jesus, and the Hoy Spirit, such as God’s natural attributes, that He is the Creator, etc. There are, however, some points that must be acknowledged and believed.
2) The reason I have used the term “reductionist” is based on two primary concerns.
a) Hodges has reduced what must be believed for salvation to one element: Believing Jesus is the Giver of eternal life (paraphrased). Nothing more and that lost man is born again.
b) Hodges has removed what I consider a key element from what a lost man must believe in order to be born again. 1 Cor. 15:3-4, which defines the Gospel, and Romans 10:9-10, which is very clear, demands a lost man, “…and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead.” I don’t see how this can be divorced from what a lost man must believe and not be a “Crossless” gospel.
Again, I’m not talking about presentation; rather what the Bible says must be believed for the reception of eternal life.
I don’t know if you have ever read my book, but I have one chapter devoted to a discussion of Romans 10:9. Thirteen pages on that single verse, not that length makes it right. I expose and unravel Lordship’s misuse of the verse, and lay out its importance to the Gospel. IMO, based on what the verse says, it is indispensable that the death of Christ for the sins of man and His resurrection must be not only presented, but also acknowledged and believed by a lost man for the reception of eternal life.
3) It appears to me Hodges has invested himself so deeply into John’s Gospel that he has come to the opinion it trumps the rest of the NT on soteriology. This is especially true when I read Antonio da Rosa who, I am sorry to say, is a difficult read.
4) I commend you men for your rejection of LS and defense of the Gospel against that work based, man-centered false gospel. The problem is that, IMO; Hodges has bounced too far off LS into a position at the other end of the theological pendulum swing.
5) You mention, “Shock value” in some of Hodges’ statements. If that was his intention he did a good job of it, because I find some of those statements “shocking.” I do not believe it is wise to do that, because how is one to know he is going for shock value?
6) A friendly observation. Some of you men are, at times, getting a little too emotionally charged. I appreciate your love and respect for Hodges, but I think it is allowing for some emotion and loss of objectivity to enter the discussion. Some MacArthur fans get extremely wound up and think my book is a personal attack on MacArthur himself, which is not the case there, nor in this debate over what Hodges is teaching. Like I wrote in my book,
“None of my work should be taken as a personal attack on any advocate of the Lordship position. I have treated the Lordship advocates with dignity and respect. The debate is focused on the doctrine of the gospel. Personality is not the issue!”
Let’s talk some more.
July 12, 2007