September 19, 2007

Absurdity From the Extremists

To All:

Earlier today a friend sent the following to my e-mail account. At the end he gives me permission to post it. I was going to put this in the comment thread under SHOCK, OUTRAGE & SCANDAL.

After further reflection, however, I decided to give it this placement. These thoughts are powerful and penetrating!

Dear Lou,

I just had a few comments about the claims being made this week on one website that you are supposedly sympathetic to Lordship Salvation or soft on Lordship.

Personally, it strikes me as utterly absurd that a few extreme people in the Free Grace camp would claim that someone who wrote a book against Lordship Salvation is really just a Lordshipper himself! That's kind of like whispering at a Republican Party convention, "Well, you know, even though George "W" says he's opposed to the Democratic agenda, I think he's really just an inconsistent Democratic."

Another thought comes to mind. I remember you sharing with me how you read Charlie Bing's book Lordship Salvation: A Biblical Evaluation and Response and loved it. That's hardly the response of a Lordship sympathizer!

Within the Grace camp (those of us who are opposed to Lordship Salvation), there is a spectrum of different views on certain key subjects, such as repentance, works/fruit, etc. Some, like Charles Ryrie in his book So Great Salvation, hold that repentance is strictly a change of mind rather than a change of behavior. But when it comes to James 2, Ryrie also believes some degree of good works are necessary as a result of faith if someone has been truly born again. Ryrie would disagree with Zane Hodges on both the meaning and necessity of repentance, and he would disagree with Hodges's interpretation of James 2. Though I personally agree with Ryrie on repentance but disagree with him on James 2, I would never consider him to be a Lordship Salvationist. That would be absurd and just plain dishonest! He is still in the Grace camp!

In fact, Dr. Ryrie was even the keynote teacher-speaker at the 2006 annual G.E.S. Conference. It strikes me as hypocritical that some extreme "Free Grace" people who seem to be blindly following every teaching of Zane Hodges are now aiming their pea-shooters at you while they have rolled out the red carpet for Ryrie! So who is next in line to be marginalized, ostracized, or disowned from the Grace camp, Ryrie? Lightner? McGee?

Robert Lightner also disagrees with Hodges on repentance, holding to the change of mind view; but he, like Ryrie, disagrees with Hodges on James 2. Yet Lightner has identified himself for years as opposed to Lordship Salvation, and even says so in his excellent book, Sin, the Savior, and Salvation.

The late J. Vernon McGee is claimed by the "Free Grace" side as one of their own. Before he went home to the Lord, he told his pastoral successor at Church of the Open Door in L.A., Michael Cocoris, regarding MacArthur's view of salvation,
"This salvation by dedication is heresy."
Yet McGee's view of James 2 was that of Ryrie and Lightner and not that of Hodges. In addition, at times he was not as clear as he could have been and should have been on a number of things. Regarding repentance, in his Thru the Bible commentary at 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, McGee even says,
"It is only when a person turns to Christ that he will turn from something. He will turn from his sin. If a man doesn't turn from his sin, it is because he hasn't turned to Christ."
Now I personally disagree wholeheartedly with McGee's comment here. A person who turns to Christ for eternal life "should" also turn from sin, but repentance does not mean that he necessarily "will" do so. Otherwise, we've now added a turned/reformed lifestyle, to one degree or another, as a condition for eternal life. But be that as it may, are those who are now criticizing you also willing to say the beloved J. Vernon McGee was really just a Lordshipper too?!

Part of the problem is the label "Free Grace." What does that mean? Who decides whether somebody is part of the "Free Grace" circle or not? Is the measuring stick of whether someone is really "Free Grace" whether they agree with the opinions of the Grace Evangelical Society? If so, then there are a lot of men in the Free Grace Alliance who are not even "Free Grace." I have even heard about some people insinuating as much, and that is terribly troubling to me. If being "Free Grace" means having to agree with the Grace Evangelical Society in its peculiar views then I'll be the first to admit "I'm NOT Free Grace!" But of course, that is absurd. I am thoroughly for a salvation that is free and by grace alone; and I am thoroughly opposed to Lordship Salvation—and so, of course, are you Lou.

Another major problem I see right now is that there exists an almost cultic mindset among a few Free Grace people that if you don't agree with Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin on repentance, James 2, etc., then you're not truly "Free Grace" and therefore you must be Lordship. It's as though they've circumscribed the "Free Grace" camp to include only those who follow Hodges's novel interpretations. The sole and final authority for faith and practice has become Hodges's interpretation of things, rather than the Word of God itself. Some people in the "Free Grace" camp are practicing Sola Hodges right now instead of Sola Scriptura. This is a dangerous mindset that must stop.

Obviously these few extreme "Free Grace" bloggers who are looking for errors in your theology are just trying to divide the brethren. They're taking a page right out of the playbook of that diabolical mastermind himself, Satan, who is the accuser of the brethren, a slanderer, and a liar. It is an abomination to God when brothers seek to employ this "divide and conquer" strategy.

"These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren," (Proverbs 6:16-19).
Just a few thoughts on what's been transpiring lately.

Take heart brother,

Your friend in the Lord

P.S. Feel free to post this at your site as you see fit.


  1. It is sort of amusing to ponder the thinking of someone who would consider Lou as part of the Lordship Camp...

    Didn't George W's campaign chairman just leave his post at the White House.. maybe he's been advising them..

    Great politics.. terrible witness.


  2. I think this anonymous emailer has some excellent insights.

    However, I disagree with him when he writes, "Obviously these few extreme 'Free Grace' bloggers who are looking for errors in your theology are just trying to divide the brethren. They're taking a page right out of the playbook of that diabolical mastermind himself, Satan, who is the accuser of the brethren, a slanderer, and a liar. It is an abomination to God when brothers seek to employ this 'divide and conquer' strategy."

    I disagree with the above quote by this anonymous emailer because 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, "Test all things; hold fast what is good." Although I think we can all admit that there are some "good" things in Lou's book, I think we will also all admit that it is not inspired! Why are we suprised to find some errors in it? While I think it is extreme to call Lou "Lordship Salvation", it is simply honesty to say that his book has some Lordship tendencies. At the end of the day, that's all I'm saying.

  3. That is a total mischaracterization of Ryrie's position on James 2. Ryrie understands James two to be saying that a person who professes faith will, in his words "somewhere, someway, somehow" produce works.

  4. FG Guy:

    This is what I read in the letter, "...some degree of on-going good works are necessary as a result of faith if someone has been truly born again."

    That appears to be consistent with what you have claimed for Ryrie.

    The word "some" is used in the letter (some degree) and by you, "some way, where, how.

    I am thinking of Ephesians 2:10 when I read both the portion of the letter and your note.

    Some degree of "unto good works" expected of a believer should follow a genuine conversion. Is that acceptable to you?


  5. Lou,
    would you please ask this emailer where he found that quote of JVMcGee: "This salvation by dedication is heresy."

    I would like to know where that is on record.

    Thank you.

  6. Hi Rose:

    I just asked for that referecne, will provide ASAP. I know you are a fan of J Vernon. I enjoy much of his teaching as well. I have his five volume set.


  7. To All:

    The comment below appears in a thread under another article at my blog. It is from Don Reiher: Host of GES Web Board.

    I LOVE Lou's book. I disagree with some things, but I think I can safely say we agree that Lordship Salvation is wrong...”

    Don Reiher: Host of GES Web Board

    (CAPS are his)

  8. Hey Lou,

    That quote from the letter is not in keeping with Ryrie's view of the results of salvation.

    From his Basic Theology text we get his definition of repentance:

    "Saving repentance has to involve a change of mind about Jesus Christ so that whatever a person thought of Him before, he changes his mind and trusts Him to be his Savior. That is the only kind or content of repentance that saves." (pg. 390, Emphasis mine)

    Ryrie states in the very next sentence that repentance of sins is a separate matter. Now, when I quoted Ryrie before, I was mistaken, his belief is actually, "somewhere, someway, sometime."

    In other words, "All believers will bear some fruit in their Christian lives." (pg. 391) However, they may not be committed at first, as in the example he lists of the Ephesian believers (Acts 19), or ever at all, as in the case he lists of Lot!

    The point I'm trying to make is that though Ryrie believes that all believers will bear some fruit "somewhere, some way, sometime" (his understanding of James 2), he does not believe that ongoing fruitbearing is a necessary result of salvation.

    Tom <><

  9. Tom:

    I'm sure the author of the e-mail has taken note of your comments here. If he desires to reply I will post that.

    What we are finding is that there are a number of interpretational nuances on the doctrine of repentance among good men.

    I appreciate the quotes you posted by Ryrie.

    "...he does not believe that ongoing fruitbearing is a necessary result of salvation."

    Carnality can surely interrupt the "fruit bearing."

    The agreement should revolve around the idea that a genuine conversion (genuine biblical repentance) should result is some measure of genuine results. Is that acceptable for you?


  10. Tom:

    Have you read the paragraph on repentance from the not yet released revised version of my book?

    It is in the previous article, What Is Biblical Repentance?

    Do you find any area of concern with that revised paragraph?

    Please comment in the thread over there.



  11. Tom:

    The author of the e-mail at the head of this thread asked that I direct this to you…


    I noticed that one of your readers caught an error in how I described Dr. Ryrie's position on fruitbearing. I originally stated in my letter to you that Dr. Ryrie believes “some degree of on-going good works are necessary as a result of faith if someone has been truly born again.”

    As one of your readers perceptively noticed, the phrase “on-going” does not accurately describe Dr. Ryrie's position and should thus be removed from your website if that is possible. I wrongly assumed he held the “on-going” view based on my misinterpretation of his Ryrie Study Bible note at James 2:14.

    His actual position is more carefully nuanced than I had assumed. He believes that though all who are genuinely saved will bear some fruit in their Christian life, to varying degrees, this may be interrupted for extended periods of time, for “months and even years.” See So Great Salvation (p. 45).

    Please accept my sincere apologies for any trouble caused by this accidental misrepresentation of Dr. Ryrie's position.

    I know that Dr. Ryrie is an honorable man and a true man of Grace. He does not believe in the Calvinist doctrine of the perseverance of the saints that all who are true believers will necessarily persevere to the end of their Christian lives in fruitfulness.

    I also know that you too, Lou, reject the Calvinist/Lordship doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and that you believe instead in the Biblical teaching of eternal security. This is what you even indicate in one of the appendixes of your book. To purposely misrepresent another person's position is disingenuous and dishonoring to the Lord and should have no place among God's people. It is very unfortunate that you yourself have been so misrepresented by other Grace people at another website lately.

    May God help us all to be men of integrity, honor, and truth.

    Your co-laborer for Christ,

    *Tom, I deleted the phrase “on-going” from the article.

  12. Rose,

    The author of the e-mail wrote and asked me to tell you the J. Vernon McGee quote was a verbal from McGee himself.

    McGee made that comment to another pastor, who was very close to him (McGee), and it has been shared with a number of pastors including the writer of the e-mail.

    Hope that helps,


  13. Rose:

    The author here told me that McGee made that statement to his successor Michael Cocoris.

    He told me I can give you Cocoris' e-mail address so you can contact him for verification.

    You will need to e-mail me for that; OK?


  14. Lou,

    That was really humble of the author to admit that. I have always learned a lot from Charles Ryrie so I felt that I needed to speak up. Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

    Your bro,
    Tom <><

  15. Tom:

    You did the right thing, and so did the author.

    In my book I quote from Ryrie's So Great Salvation and Balancing the Christian Life.

    Very helpful in the refutation of Lordship Salvation.


  16. The author of the article wrote, “If being ‘Free Grace’ means having to agree with the Grace Evangelical Society in its peculiar views then I'll be the first to admit I’m NOT Free Grace!”

    That very succinctly states the same sentiment I have.

    The GES seems to think and would have everyone believe that GES is the voice of the Free Grace movement. If you do not accept their egregious errors then, in their way of thinking, you are not truly Free Grace.

    When I first looked at the GES 11 years ago I saw signs, with Hodges in particular, that there were doctrinal problems and they could worsen over time. Well, today I can confirm that my suspicions have been realized.

    If being recognized as part of Free Grace community means having to be identified with the GES and its aberrant teachings then I’ll leave my badge in the sock drawer.


  17. Tom:

    Go to my home page, click on my e-mail. Its under my book cover. Greg would like to share his e-mail address with you.

    If you e-mail me he will get back to you.