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!
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.