August 10, 2007

Introduction to the False Paradigms of the “Crossless” Gospel

Greetings to All:

You may have read some or all of my recent articles that address the “Crossless”gospel. You can review them by visiting this Series on The “Crossless” Gospel.

This week I posted the OPEN LETTER to the Free Grace Community by Pastor Tom Stegall. That letter's primary goal was to address an issue about the channels of communication between Pastors Stegall & Rokser and the leadership of the GES, primarily Bob Wilkin. I trust you have read that important letter.

A new multi-part series that addresses the “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about to begin. The topic and subject matter will be: The False Paradigms of the “Crossless” Gospel. The contributing writer is Mr. Greg Schliesmann.

Mr. Greg Schliesmann attends Word of Grace Bible Church in Waukesha, WI. Greg has been involved in the “Crossless” gospel debate for several months and I have appreciated his contribution. A short time ago Greg contacted me about a desire he had to do a short series on the “Crossless” gospel. He asked if he might be able to post his series on my blog. After hearing Greg’s description of the nature and direction of his proposed series I whole-heartedly agreed to post his series. Greg will be available to interact with any who desire to do so in the discussion threads that follow each of his articles.

Following is an introductory statement by Greg. Shortly afterward is Greg's opening statement to his series addressing the “False Paradigms” inherent in the argumentation of the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel.

The Lord used the writings of Zane Hodges to recover me from the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel. For his early work in response to the Lordship controversy I will always be grateful. Today I am certain of salvation based upon the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and the corresponding promises of God.

In recent months, however, I am have come to the point where I am convinced that grave doctrinal errors are being made by men in leadership at the Grace Evangelical Society (GES), Zane Hodges in particular. Most disconcerting is removing the necessity of the crosswork, and the deity-humanity of Christ as essential truths to the saving gospel.

In spite of every controversy I have witnessed about the gospel, I believe the Word of God is clear about the Gospel of our salvation (John 3:14-18; Rom. 3:19-26; 4:1-5, 23-25; 1 Cor. 1:17-23). By His grace, I hope to humbly heed the plain meaning of His word with grace-oriented brethren rather than to re-interpret it based upon false paradigms and the reasoning of men.

With Greg's opening remarks complete I now turn this discussion over to his introduction of The False Paradigms of the “Crossless” Gospel.

Anybody who has perused “free grace” blogs in the past few weeks has witnessed a clash of views regarding the critical question of what the lost must believe to receive eternal life. Men associated with the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) have developed a relatively new view that denies the lost must believe in Christ's death for sins, resurrection, deity, or humanity in order to be saved. Instead, they claim there are only three essentials:
1) The name “Jesus”
2) Guarantees “everlasting life”
3) Upon believing this.

The GES view says that a lost sinner will be saved upon believing these three items even while that person remains in ignorance and unbelief about Christ’s deity, humanity, death for our sins, and His resurrection.

We must note that the current advocates of this view personally believe and teach the death and resurrection of Christ, and they say these truths are often helpful in preparing the hearts of the lost. However, they sharply oppose those of us who claim the lost must believe Christ’s deity-humanity, death for our sins, and resurrection as essential truths of the message of salvation. In fact, they claim those of us holding to the classical free grace view are complicating the message of salvation by “adding extra theological information to the gospel”.[1] Some even claim we have changed and distorted the true object of faith for salvation by requiring belief in these truths.[2] For this reason, proponents of the GES view have been termed “crossless gospel advocates” in a new article series The Tragedy of the “Crossless Gospel by Pastor Tom Stegall which has sparked the discussion about this issue on various free grace blogs.

The discussions on these blog sites have exemplified a principle that generally underlies doctrinal disagreements. Differing beliefs are built upon differing paradigms. The word "paradigm" is defined as,
“A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them.”[3]

It is obvious the proponents of the “Crossless” gospel have adopted a different set of paradigms that either led to their new view or that have developed to support their view. For example, some “Crossless” gospel advocates now deny the term “THE GOSPEL” is ever used in Scripture to refer to the specific message the lost need to believe in order to be saved.[4]

This was not one of the original paradigms that led to this view, but it is a claim recently developed to support the “Crossless” message. With this clash of beliefs, it is important that we follow the instruction found in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

While this introduction and the series to follow will not thoroughly address every issue raised by “Crossless” gospel advocates, I believe this brief survey of some of their arguments will reveal that “Crossless” gospel advocates have adopted several false paradigms that collapse under even a small amount of Biblical scrutiny.


[1] See Zane C. Hodges, “How to Lead People to Christ, Pt.1,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (Autumn 2000) and “How to Lead People to Christ, Pt.2,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (Spring 2001). Available online: See section “Adding to the Gospel” in Pt. 1.

[2] See Antonio da Rosa, “Checklist Evangelists,” (July 12, 2007 blog entry). Antonio claims, “They make doctrine the object of faith and not Christ alone.” This is a serious charge tantamount to saying we preach a false gospel with a false object of faith that cannot save a sinner. If this is represents the position of GES leaders, it seems candor would demand GES require all members to agree with their view of the required content of faith for salvation.

[3] The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005).

[4] See Jeremy D. Myers, “The Gospel is More than Faith Alone in Christ Alone,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 19 (Autumn 2006). Also Jeremy D. Myers, “Just the Gospel Facts P’s” and “Gospel Word Study Chart” Also Jeremy D. Myers, “How I Evangelize” (July 13, 2007 blog entry).

***The first in the Series on The False Paradigms of the “Crossless” Gospel will appear early next week.


  1. What kind of poisoning of the well is it to include the designation in italics and quotations "crossless" 14 times in a few short paragraphs? It is a debate tactic that betrays a weak position; it is childish.

    It is obvious bad-form.

    You have created a pejorative designation that Lou says he wouldn't have used. Yet he uses it, and liberally applies the term throughout his correspondences. This is the height of duplicity.

  2. Anon, could you tell me how you believe "the message of the cross" in 1Cor. 1:17-18 and 23 relates to the reception of eternal life?

    If it includes the message of Jesus Christ's death for sins, is it a) essential or b)non-essential but helpful in terms of preparing a sinner to understand the promise of life?

    Or do you believe "the message of the cross" does not include Jesus Christ's death for our sins?


  3. Dear Anonymous:

    I'll get back to you later on the "Crossless" label, and why the position Hodges is teaching has come to be known as the “Crossless” gospel. The term did not originate with Greg or Pastor Stegall.

    I would encourage all guests to sign in with their true identity, but it is not required.

    IMO, using a true identity will also help you to temper your remarks, and post them in light of Col. 4:6, which appears at the head of my blog.

    Furthermore, I am encouraging guests to deal with the doctrine and try to avoid turning these important doctrinal discussions into a personality clash, which it is not. That has been the commonplace with many in the Lordship Salvation camp.


  4. Anonymous:

    You express frustration about the position coming from Hodges and the GES being referred to as the “Crossless” gospel.

    I may do a short article on that issue another time. For now, however, a few thoughts.

    First, I sent an e-mail to two men (Jeremy Myers & Antonio da Rosa) advising them that the new series on the “Crossless” gospel was about to begin. [IMO, Anonymous is one of those two men, or my e-mail was shared with another.]

    In that e-mail I did write, “I know you men do not like the label, “Crossless” gospel, but it has come to be the label attached to the position Hodges is teaching. I did not coin it, and I would not have chosen it, but that is what it has come to be known as….

    So, if you are Jeremy or Antonio you have NOT been exactly accurate in saying I “wouldn’t have used” it. I might have thought of a different label, but I do believe “Crossless” is appropriate because it does exactly define one of the major disconcerting aspects of your position on the Gospel. Your charge of “duplicity” is therefore, erroneous, false and reckless.

    IMO, your emotions are getting in the way of reasonable debate and discussion. I have noted this increasing emotional trend, as more men have been writing and reacting to the “Crossless” position that you men hold to.

    Second, it is Zane Hodges who has propagated what has come to be known as a “Crossless” gospel. That theme runs like a thread through his teaching on the Gospel. For example, from the JOTGES, 14:1, Spring 2001, pp. 10-13, he writes,

    “The gospel message about the death, burial, and resurrection is the normal context for our presentation of this core objective. But at the end of the day, anyone who trusts Christ for eternal life is born again.”

    “In recent years I (Hodges) have become aware of a way of presenting the gospel invitation that troubles me. I believe I have heard it from my earliest years, and I admit it didn't really bother me for a long time. Now it does. I have heard people say this: 'In order to be saved you must believe that Jesus died on the cross.' . . . . usually implied is the idea that Christ's work on the cross is sufficient to provide for our salvation. Thus they mean to say that we are trusting in the sufficiency of his work of atonement. Let me be honest, I don't like this way of presenting a gospel invitation.”

    “People are not saved by believing that Jesus died on the cross; they are saved by believing in Jesus for eternal life . . . Let us always point men to Christ Himself as the object of faith, rather than to some concept that must be theologically clarified before it can really be understood.”

    “The simple truth is that Jesus can be believed for eternal salvation apart from any detailed knowledge of what He did to provide it.”

    Those quotes lead to a natural conclusion: Hodges teaches a Gospel that divorces the Cross of Christ from what a lost man must know and believe to be born again, i.e. a “CROSSLESS” gospel.

    “Crossless” gospel is not a pejorative if it is an accurate reflection of what it refers to. The position coming from Hodges and the GES is in fact a message that eliminates the cross of Christ from what lost man must know and believe.

    My only problem with the “Crossless” label is that it does not fully define all the doctrinal errors associated with this new an unbiblical teaching on the Gospel. There are more disconcerting issues that the "Crossless" label does not touch on.

    As Pastor Stegall wrote, “The crossless, resurrectionless, deityless gospel of today is not what other Free Grace men have historically proclaimed.”