September 2, 2007

A Snap-Shot of the "Crossless" Debate

To All:

While we wait for Bob Wilkin to respond to my offer to help him have the debate he is calling for I thought this would be a good article to serve in the meantime. This is a synopsis of the issues in the “Crossless” gospel debates and I feel this would be a good transitional piece for over the holiday weekend.

The following is a slightly edited version of a note I just posted at the pro-“Crossless” gospel blog, UnAshamed of Grace. Antonio da Rosa administers that blog. Antonio is one of the most vocal, emotionally charged and spiritually immature {see below} advocates of the “Crossless” gospel you will find anywhere in the blogosphere.

{Antonio da Rosa deleted my post and one from another man, which is da Rosa's standard practice when he has to bury some of the most disturbing aspects of their theology and/or practices. He is often banned and/or reprimanded at blogs for this and other poor choices in behavior.}

On the doctrine of the Gospel, popularized by Zane Hodges, there is no doubt that Antonio and Jeremy Myers (GES staff member) have checked out on Scripture. They not only have reduced the Gospel to a message that has little resemblance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but they have undermined His deity with the twisting of His titles.

When my book on Lordship Salvation came out I warned Antonio that he might not want to get too cozy with me. I purposely did NOT quote Hodges and even in my book gave a warning to my LS readers about Hodges. I saw the signs of this radical departure from orthodoxy as far back as 11 years ago. That is why I kept my distance.

Once I finally went ahead with public thoughts and posts at my blog on Zane Hodges (June 2007) and his interpretation of the Gospel, which is the official position of the GES, it set off what is now over two months of open and sharp debate. The one disappointment is that in a very short time it became obvious, to any objective observer, that the men who advocate the “Crossless” gospel were never going to be thoroughly clear, genuine or transparent about their belief system. Their doctrine has come under intense scrutiny. They are unaccustomed to this level of scrutiny and are having a hard time dealing with it. They consistently fall back to what they feel are the safe mantras and will not deviate from them.

The acceptance of the teaching of Hodges on the Gospel has thoroughly corrupted their view of the Scriptures. They view the Gospel of John such single-mindedness that for them it trumps and negates the balance of the Bible whenever it touches on the Gospel and/or salvation. To make matters worse they have badly misinterpreted and skewed John’s Gospel.

Now, their egregious errors have come to light. Their view is now under intense scrutiny and I am finding that many who had little idea of just far they have gone doctrinally astray are seeing it in full view for the first time.

Readers (at my blog) have also been able to witness the evasion and dodging of the deity of Christ questions. Matthew (Dyspraxic Fundamentalist) is one of the few who has been open and transparent. He is a regular contributor at one of Antonio's blogs, and he admits that under their system a man who consciously denies the deity of Christ can be born again only by believing in the name of Jesus for eternal life. At the GES blog I have gained more admissions to this disturbing fact that is inherent with their interpretation of the Gospel.

For these men a Jehovah's Witness (JW), who clings to his heretical beliefs about the deity of Jesus, can be born again under their system of believing in the name of Jesus, who for the JW, is anything but deity. William Fiess and Alvin at the GES blog have affirmed this position. This is no hypothetical situation; it is real and reveals one of the most egregious extremes coming from the GES on the Gospel.

There is no doubt Antonio da Rosa and Myers take the same position, their message demands it, but they will NOT acknowledge the deity question let alone answer it. Jeremy is especially unwilling to do so because from his GES position, that admission would be catastrophic for the GES.

Furthermore, I have been in contact with Bob Wilkin, who has written me several times, but has not yet replied to a proposal I have made to him to have the public debate he has been calling for. I am somewhat disappointed that once I offered to help organize that debate Bob stopped replying. I trust and asked him if I might expect to hear from him by Tuesday. I have been updating this exchange at my blog (see below).

By the way, there is new set of articles coming to my blog shortly after the holiday weekend. These articles will raise the level of debate on their interpretation of the Gospel. The men (Jeremy, Antonio, Wilkin, et al.) who hold to the position coming from Zane Hodges and the GES will have much to be called to account for.

{Please view an important comment I have posted in the thread below. It addresses the spiritual immaturity of Antonio da Rosa.}


I have added a new site to my Helpful Links. It is a penetrating article by Brother George Zeller. Please visit The Teachings of Zane Hodges, Jospeh Dillow, Robert Wilkin, & the GES


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Lou -

    I'm concerned with your link to Middletown Bible Church. Listen to what they say of James:

    CONCLUSION: We are justified by faith alone (Paul’s teaching). The faith that justifies us is not alone; it must be accompanied by good works (James’ teaching). Faith alone saves but the faith that saves is not alone!

    This is classic Lordship Salvation Theology. Is this really what YOU believe?


  3. Hi Jon, just to jump in with the obvious here...

    That Lou links to one article on a website does not indicate that he has complete agreement with everything else on that website - in fact it would be.. well hard to believe that Lou has even read everything on that website.

    Besides that - is a compilation of pieces of work by a number of people. There is BOUND to be some error there.

    Please try to stick to the conversation at hand.


  4. Jon:

    I appreciate your concern, and I am sure you are well aware, just as the GES staff is, that I am all over the errors of Lordship Salvation.

    I can tell you that George Zeller is as solid on the Gospel as one can be. He has written extensively on the errors of Lordship Salvation. I have two appendix entries from Zeller in my book, In Defense of the Gospel. He understands the balance between the two extremes, which are: Lordship Salvation and the “Crossless” gospel.

    I do not know from what article at Zeller’s site the quote comes from, but here it is, “Faith alone saves but the faith that saves is not alone!”

    In its limited context I take that to mean lost men are saved by faith alone. The faith that saves is not alone because it should result in the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) that God has ordained for the genuinely born again child of God.

    I trust that has been helpful.

    If you want to discuss the Lordship gospel, tell me which of my many articles you’d like to do that in. I want to reserve this thread for the subject that it is intended for.



  5. This is a revised version of what initially appeared at the head of this thread. I have edited the paragraph before the last in this comment.

    I have also added the name of one blog where da Rosa got himself banned in last year's LS debates, but later reinstated after his apology and promise to behave in accordance with the guidelines set forth by that blog's administrator.

    I post this in the comments section to expand on why I have noted that Antonio da Rosa is a “spiritually immature (young) man.”

    I do not post that kind of opinion lightly, and have good, demonstrable reason to do so. There are numerous examples and levels of immaturity that are very evident with Antonio. His harsh, pugilistic tones, his deletion of comments from his blog that he will call “rants” because they uncover truths that he wants to keep hidden.

    Antonio is often banned and reprimanded at moderated blogs, such as Phil Johnson's Pyromaniacs, for his unchristian combativeness, and immature behavior.

    There is, however, no starker example of da Rosa’s spiritual immaturity than what transpired late last week. A person who goes by jonperrault (JP) posted at three sites including my own what can be described as a personal attack and/or negative criticism against Pastor Tom Stegall. The most disconcerting aspect of this is that JP, at Antonio’s site, identified himself as a member of Pastor Stegall’s church: Word of Grace Bible Church.

    JP publicly criticized the pastor (Tom Stegall) of his home church and the Duluth Bible Church (Dennis Rokser). JP took sides with da Rosa over the decision of Pastor Stegall (& Rokser) to decline Bob Wilkins’s invitation to an open debate on the “Crossless” gospel.

    To reiterate: JP posted comments at three sites that were highly critical of the pastor of his home church.

    Enter Antonio da Rosa’s shocking immaturity. The following is primarily in reference to the post by JP and da Rosa’s reply, which can be viewed under, When Asked to Put Up, They Back Down.

    A spiritually mature man would have recognized the impropriety of what JP did. Instead, da Rosa gleefully receives this personal assault on Ps. Stegall by JP. Antonio stated to JP that he (da Rosa) is going to publish as a post the critical comments by JP.

    It meant nothing to da Rosa that JP, a member of the Word of Grace church, publicly criticized the pastor. I can state flatly that had JP been criticizing some pastor other than a man who has written in objection to the “Crossless” gospel, da Rosa would have brushed these criticisms aside and may even have deleted them. What da Rosa does in this case, however, is seize upon a chance to use a member of Ps. Stegall’s church as a weapon to discredit and undermine the leadership and ministry of Pastor Stegall not just in the “Crossless” debate, but within his own church.

    The spiritually immaturity of da Rosa does not end there. Antonio encouraged JP to contact him (da Rosa) by private e-mail to further develop the relationship and cooperate on formulating what are likely to be more personal assaults on Pastor Stegall by JP.

    A spiritually mature man, a man of integrity, would not have seized on the blatant wrong-doing of one man and seek to use and develop it into a weapon to be used against the pastor of that man’s local church. Antonio, however, clearly is NOT a man of integrity or spiritual maturity. This latest incident removes any doubt!

    Antonio is deeply confused in his doctrine of the Gospel, and he is consumed with attacking any person who shares a legitimate criticism of the teachings of Zane Hodges, and he has clouded his judgment by a reckless passion to turn a doctrinal debate into an all out personality war.

    Until, today I left JP’s comment at my blog, because it was posted by JP at two other sites. Now that I have addressed it I am doing what Antonio would have done if he had the spiritual maturity and integrity to do it I the first place. I am deleting the comment by JP, and rebuking him for publicly criticizing the pastor of his home church.

    The Bible speaks on how to address personal conflicts in the church. Public criticism of a brother-in-Christ, let alone the pastor of the church where you attend regularly, is NOT among them. Had JP followed and exhausted biblical principles to resolve his concerns, and had resigned his membership of that local church, he then may have been considered without blame for taking his personal problem with his pastor to the public at Antonio’s blog.

    Antonio da Rosa does not possess the spiritual discernment or maturity to know and understand these things.


  6. Lou -

    Most of the stuff at Middletown Bible Church is excellent - I take exception to the "must be accompanied by good works".

    I agree - this was off the topic Kev. Sorry, but that verbiage struck a cord with me.

    Also, I have to comment on this:

    Antonio is deeply confused in his doctrine

    I don't think this is a fair statement at all. You may disagree with Antonio but one thing he is not is confused. If you want to say wrong - ok. No one is more clear about their doctrinal positions than Antonio.

    While I agree that Antonio can be combative, I have also witnessed that same combativeness among many at this sight. I have also been guilty myself.

    Passion can be a good thing but it can also be turned around swiftly by the deceiver who would love to have everyone in the Free Grace movement marginalized, ineffective and silenced.

  7. Hi Jon:

    On the Lordship Salvation issue: I personally would not use the word, "must" in the phrase you cited. I use words like "should." I think it is a good distinction to make.

    As for Antonio being "deeply confused in his doctrine," statement, I mean that sincerely.

    I would apply that to any one who takes the position on the deity of Christ that the "Crossless" gospel advocates have.

    I mean that in reference to both my question, which most of them dodge, and their dumbing down His titles, "Son of God," and "Christ."

    Anf frankly, most men I speak to who have read Antonio's articles find them disjointed, confusing and diffcult to follow.

    Thanks for the comments.


  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Jon Perreault has posted a long comment in this thread which I have temporally deleted.

    Because of the nature of Jon's public comments against decisions of the pastor of his home church, without having first spoken to his pastor, I need to review what Jon has posted. Afterward I will then determine if I am going to allow his comments here.

    I have saved his comments and will come back with my thoughts later today.


  10. Jon,
    Being an elder in a church that has been torn apart by the GES teachings, I would like to take a minute to respond to your lengthy support of a public debate by your pastors. My understanding is that these doctrines have also caused much dissension and strife at DBC. Given that, I would like to respond as follows:

    Your points 1 & 2 actually argue against a public debate. If what you say is true, there is little further that can be added via a public debate, unless you hope to see those at DBC convinced that the GES teachings are true.

    Point 3 is true, but not justification for bringing someone with a false doctrine into your church to boldly proclaim it as truth. It would not be at beyond imagining that at some point in the debate Wilkin would make a comment to the effect of how wrong your pastor is personally, and how the people of your church should not follow him in his teachings. For many in your congregation who are content where they are, do not understand the issues, and especially given the confusing nature and less than straightforward way the GES people have of presenting themselves, this could be extremely damaging to the health of your congregation.

    Point 4. There is a huge difference between being able to explain and defend doctrine, and being able to formally debate doctrine. It is a completely different set of skills.

    Points 5 and 6. This comes down to priorities. Where is one’s time best spent? Your pastor has made the decision to focus his time on the congregation entrusted to him, and aside from giving a warning to the church at large and to those churches closely affiliated with his, appears to not want to be the leading public figure exposing this teaching, and to devote the time away from your church which would be necessary to fill that role.

    Point 7. Here you are in open disagreement with your pastor who has said “Wilkin was unreceptive to biblical correction from the start.” As he evidently corresponded extensively with Wilkin, you need to respect his perspective as a believer and as your pastor. From my experience with GES people, any ‘openness’ that they may have is only to allow them to further present their views. Biblically, we are to separate from those that show themselves to not be open to correction.

    Regarding your ‘biblical’ disagreement in point 8, did you speak to your pastor personally about this, and then take your disagreement to your board? At that point I believe you are under their authority, and biblically must respect their decision. Also, I believe that it is Wilkin who first (wrongfully, in my opinion) publicly announced their refusal to debate in a way calculated to shame them into such a debate, distorting the original context of the refusal. Up to that point, all communications about a debate were private. Wilkin’s use of the refusal was an obvious attempt to score PR points, and is shameful.

    Regarding your seven biblical principles in Point 9: a-d are passages talking about evangelizing those who do not believe in or follow God, not dealing with heretical teachings. Points e and f your pastor has already attempted, only to vilified at the GES website and have his refusal to debate distorted. That leaves us with only point g to support your position. This raises a question – would such a debate result in deciding what is the gospel for the church universal? Or even for those who participate? Is the debate just to make the issues clear, or are the participants willing to stay at it until they come to agreement (assuming such is possible)? Everything I have seen so far is that such a debate would only be to (hopefully) make the issues clear. This would not be a debate of the same kind as the Jerusalem council, so even your point g is not germain to what has been proposed.

    Point 10: Your pastor has already defended the gospel and ministered the good news to Bob Wilkin and others to no avail. He has determined that he needs to focus on doing the same to the church which God has called him to shepherd. There is no shame in that, and no biblical error. As a member of that body, you need to respect his decision, and submit to his authority. From my experience I would say that your church still needs much healing and tender care, focused on the unity of the Gospel, and that further debate would not aid in that mission.

    With Christ’s love

    Lou, forgive the length – I will break this up if you need me to.

  11. Lurker:

    OK, as is. I did delete Jon's comments. He posted the same at the GES blog, and one other site.

    Your points are well-taken and I hope this will resonate with Jon.


  12. Jon:

    I have read your comments, and I am going to ask you a question.

    Prior to the first time you posted information about your personal disagreement with Pastor Stegall (on the Internet) did you go to him and discuss your concerns with him in private?


  13. Jon:

    I have another question.

    Have you personally tried to contact Bob Wilkin to discuss the doctrinal position on the Gospel he holds to?


  14. To remove any doubt about da Rosa's unchristian like combativeness, his reckless and spiritual immaturity, consider what he wrote today in a commet at the GES blog.

    Referring to what he calls "Checklist Evangelists," he wrote,

    "They are the fundie doctrinal gestapo, and no lost man can be saved until these doctrinal legalists give their consent... "

    "Gestapo"? Defined, "the German state secret police during the Nazi regime, organized in 1933 and notorious for its brutal methods and operations."

    Is there any doubt?


    PS: I notified Wilkin and Myers at GES of this statement. I trust they will remove it and speak to da Rosa.