July 12, 2007

Refining & Defining the "Crossless" Gospel Debate

Greetings:

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.


Jeremy:

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?'"."

Thoughts:

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.


Lou

18 comments:

  1. I've got a little poll going on over at my blog about an evangelistic encounter I had today, and would appreciate your "vote."

    You can find it at the Post entitled:
    You Be the Judge

    Thanks in advance for your input!

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  2. Jeremy:

    Last night I had only a minute to look at the checklist/poll at your site. I worked a 14 hour day and fell asleep right in front of the home computer. I took another brief look this morning before leaving for work.

    At this time I am not inclined to participate.

    I have little time because I leave for vacation on Saturday and speak at the Grace Conference next week, which I am in preparation for.

    Maybe in August I'll look at it again.

    Thanks for letting me know.


    Lou

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  3. Lou,

    I know you are busy. Thanks for taking the time.

    The only reason I mentioned Bethlehem, the virgin birth, post-resurrection appearances, etc. is because I believe the New Testament does include these things as elements of the "gospel." If the New Testament says they are truths of the gospel, who are we to say they are not? I include these truths in my gospel, and hope you do to.

    Also, I don't think I was the one who said that Zane was just teaching for "shock value." That might have been Don Reiher's comments on my post.

    Anyway, have fun at the Grace Conference. It looks like your topic will be a good one.

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  4. Jeremy:

    Thnaks for the note. I trust the Lord will bless and help me in the workshops at the Grace Conference.


    LM

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  5. Lou,

    What, in your opinion, would be a good biblical way of defining "believe" with regards to salvation?
    (Assume that content like the death, burial and resurrection for our sins cannot be dispensed with)

    I am thinking that it is "dependence upon" in a similar way that one would "believe in" a doctor as the medical cure his illness. And I would further require that we are identifying Jesus as the One we surrender to on His terms, whatever we understand them to be.

    This last part (whatever we understand them to be) has me a bit puzzled. When I was saved, I believed that walking the aisle was a requirement for my salvation, among other things. Biblically, this cannot be, but I believed it at the time and so I was saved. It was my surrender (nothing concerning being His disciple was described to me, except baptism)

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  6. Hi Fritz:

    Fritz is a name I occasionally use for my “Anonymous” visitors.

    What, in your opinion, would be a good biblical way of defining "believe" with regards to salvation?
(Assume that content like the death, burial and resurrection for our sins cannot be dispensed with)

    If you are going to define believe biblically than it must be defined from the Bible. In the context of salvation, I suggest you look at passages such as: Rom 10:9; John 3:16; John 3:36; Acts 16:31, etc. The word “believe” in Romans 10:9 and John 3:36 indicates to be persuaded of, and therefore trust, reliance and confidence are the result. For salvation believing, trust had better be in Christ.

    I am thinking that it is "dependence upon" in a similar way that one would "believe in" a doctor as the medical cure his illness.

    This would be a fair analogy.

    And I would further require that we are identifying Jesus as the One we surrender to on His terms, whatever we understand them to be. This last part (whatever we understand them to be) has me a bit puzzled.

    Careful, I sense a trap door here. Identifying Jesus is right in that He must be the object of faith. “Surrender to…whatever we understand to be,” is loose and vague.

    When I was saved, I believed that walking the aisle was a requirement for my salvation, among other things. Biblically, this cannot be, but I believed it at the time and so I was saved.

    Again careful: No one ever got saved because he/she walked an aisle. Aisle walking brings a lost man no closer to salvation than baptizing an infant.


    LM

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  7. Graham Cracker7/30/2007 6:01 AM

    I am the anonymous you identified as "Fritz" in your last response.

    I intended to use "surrender" vaguely. But I use it in relation to my attitude at the time. In reviewing the gospel biblically, I must conclude that I was saved before that (my "surrender") because I believed in Christ. But I had no assurance and believed I was lost.

    I said that I was "saved when I walked the aisle," I recognize that it doesn't square with the Bible and hence my puzzle. But it was after that I had consistent assurance and I have never doubted since.

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  8. Hi Graham Cracker:

    Like your handle. Sorry I did not reply sooner, been away.

    Thanks for clarifying your mention of "surrender."

    I am glad you finally got the assurance of what God has done for you. Go on for God, live for and serve Him.

    Feel free to post comments anywhere you like at my blog.


    LM

    PS: Hope you did not mind "Fritz." I chuckle when I use it.

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  9. Graham Cracker7/31/2007 5:54 AM

    Keep in mind that "Fritz" is the handle of the administrator on Crosswalk where you posted. You may recognize my user name as one of the posters on Crosswalk.

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  10. GC:

    REALLY? I did not know there was a Fritz there. I did see your handle at Crosswalk.

    Someone else told me about the LS thread Crosswalk, so I dropped in.

    I don't plan to spend much time there.


    LM

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  11. Graham Cracker7/31/2007 7:44 PM

    In some ways it is a waste of time. There is lots of cognitive dissonance, unfortunately. It sometimes seems like a competitive game of oneupmanship, rather than a pursuit of "TRUTH".

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  12. Hi:

    I agree. Just about the only reason I will visit blogs like CrossWalk for the LS debate is to provide helpful information to the thousands of lurkers out there, who read, but don't post comments.

    You might be surpised at how many send me private notes who appreciate having read some of my posts and have been to my site.

    My desire is to sound the alarm about LS so that unsuspecting believers will be able to know why LS is wrong, be able to recognize LS when they encounter this unbiblical teaching, and be better able to refute it.

    Did you notice I did post a few new comment this morning at CW?

    Keep in touch.


    LM

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  13. Graham Cracker8/02/2007 5:29 PM

    No, I did not. One that came up in the last day or so was 2 Cor. 13:5. It is, as I am sure you know, a proof text presented by LS to show that believers ought to regularly reexamine whether or not they are saved. Whatever criticisms of the FreeGrace position, I challenged the LS point of view as I understood the Free Grace response to that view. I believe it was Wilkins who wrote the article where I got my idea. (I have no qualms if you criticize my response).

    Essentially, it is that the Corinthians challenged Paul's apostolic authority and since their own faith was hinged on their acceptance of his message, they were undercutting the integrity of their own standing as Christians.

    Hence, Paul said, basically: "If I am not an apostle, then how can you be believers? Examine whether or not you are believers."

    Comment????

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  14. Graham Cracker8/21/2007 7:32 PM

    http://www.faithalone.org/news/y2007/wilkin2.htm

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  15. Without commenting on either your or the LS position on II Cor 13:5, I propose that you rethink your impression of what Paul was trying to accomplish in II Cor. While a cursory reading of the text would seem to indicate that he was defending his apostleship from being undercut, I believe that a deeper study reveals something quite different. All indications in II Cor are the the Corinthians had followed all of his previous instructions/admonishments to the letter. Hardly the actions of a church doubting his authority. If you remove that preconceived notion from your thinking and reread the book, what you find is that Paul was using his apostleship as an example of how to wield authority - as a servant, not as a lord. From being a free and easy church 'do anything you want' they had apparently gone to legalistic extremes and very authoritarian - the pendulum swings again, as we have sadly seen in the LS and FG debates.

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  16. Hi Lurker:

    Appreciate your comments.

    Were you directng those notes to my attention or another guest at my site?

    I can reply more fully tomorrow if you want to hear from me.

    Let me know.

    Thanks,


    Lou

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  17. Hi Lou,

    The comment was in response to G. Cracker

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  18. Graham Cracker9/06/2007 8:54 AM

    Lurker said,
    "All indications in II Cor are the the Corinthians had followed all of his previous instructions/admonishments to the letter. Hardly the actions of a church doubting his authority."

    Whether or not they ultimately accepted his authority of apostleship, there were definitely those who challenged it.

    "I have become a fool, you have forced me to it...indeed the signs of an apostle were performed among you with great perseverance by signs and wonders and powerful deeds." (2 Cor 12:11-12, NET Bible)

    "On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier...since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me." (2 Cor. 13:3, NIV) Context demonstrates that he was defending himself and his apostleship.

    "Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to ou, for you are the cofirming sign of my apostleship in the Lord." (1 Cor. 9:1-3, NET)

    Lurker said: "If you remove that preconceived notion from your thinking and reread the book, what you find is that Paul was using his apostleship as an example of how to wield authority - as a servant, not as a lord."

    I agree that he was using his apostleship appropriately. But he was definitely affirming his authority against those who doubted it. The context of the "examination " was his authority of apostleship. He never once challenged their salvation on the grounds of their behavior.

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