A few days ago I received a comment from KnetKnight (a regular guest and one of the administrators of the Pursuit of Truth blog). His comment appeared in the Introduction to the Heart to Heart series.
Lou, I really appreciate this article. You know this touches close to home for me and you’ve articulated the biblical need for a firm stance one way or the other, especially from leadership but even laymen should weigh it. This is not an issue to agree to disagree about or to straddle the fence on. This isn't a doctrine leadership can just say “hmm, I don’t know” and leave it at that. Pastors, leaders, I implore you -- figure out what you believe and take a clear stand one way or the other.
1 Tim 4:16 “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”
Thanks Lou for your tireless efforts, even in the face of baseless personal attacks that I’ve seen, on GES’ own blog and I’m sure elsewhere. They claim you are “just a troublemaker” but what I sense from the GES leadership’s vague, ambiguous, or outright avoidance of clear doctrinal questions is fear - fear their doctrine will no longer be able to sneak in the back door of previously unwary churches that would refuse them if they really knew what was afoot.
Knet’s remarks prompted some thoughts that I posted back to him in the thread. I decided that I’d like to post my reaction now at the conclusion of my Heart to Heart series. Following my reply to KnetKnight I will have some updated comments.
I appreciate the remarks above.
Glad you caught the idea that, although I wrote this series (from my book) primarily for pastors, the timeless truths of Scripture apply to ever believer. IMO, even the qualifications/instructions for the pastor/deacon in 1 Tim. 3 belong to every believer.
As you noted this is no small matter, it is not an issue that we can agree to disagree over. The “Crossless” advocates would like for it to be reduced to a doubtable issue, not worth getting in serious debate over. That is not possible if we want to be true to the biblical commands to contend for faith, especially when vital truth such as the Gospel and Deity of Christ are under assault.
I pay little attention to the personal attacks. I am not going to be deterred from defending the faith once delivered (Jude 3). The “trouble” I have brought to the discussion is for the GES men who have been teaching their false, reductionist interpretation of the Gospel with impunity. Now, unsuspecting believers are getting a better picture of what these men have been teaching through subtlety. No longer will the buzzwords and catch phrases fly over heads of the unsuspecting or under the radar of concerned pastors. The advocates of the "Crossless" gospel will have to precisely explain their terms and meaning in detail, and that, as we have seen, is exactly what they do not want to do.
Pastors, believers, churches and fellowships are becoming better informed as to exactly what Wilkin, Hodges, Myers, Johnson, da Rosa and the rest have been and are trying to bring into Free Grace community churches. The number of venues that once opened their doors to Wilkin is shrinking rapidly and that is a good sign.
Knet: You are right about why Wilkin, Myers, da Rosa, Johnson, Alvin and the rest will not engage certain specific unambiguous questions. Their answers, if they would be transparent, reveal what they truly believe, and they do not want that kind of full disclosure.
Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin are very silent; I do, however, expect something coming from them in journal form eventually.
Many of us remember the debacle that Bob Wilkin created at his original GES blog. The two articles, the sudden deletion of both and their comment threads. Wilkins’s posting of private e-mails between himself and Ron Shea was unconscionable, and IMO, one of the prime reasons he suddenly pulled down the articles.
In my opinion it would be naïve to think that Hodges has not been active behind the scenes in the current debate. More than once da Rosa has referenced personal conversations with Hodges. Another “Crossless” advocate is quoting Hodges frequently. Hodges is not going to expose himself to open discussion such as these no more than MacArthur will expose himself to direct questions.
Remember, it is Zane Hodges who is the originator of and driving force behind what has come to be known as the “Crossless” gospel. Furthermore Hodges introduced teaching, which the “Crossless” advocates have also adopted, that says repentance is not necessary for the reception of eternal life. Hodges originated the idea that the Lord’s titles “the Christ” and “Son of God” do not mean or infer His deity. Hodges based that on assumption only, which Greg Schliesmann in his two part series The Christ Under Siege irrefutably revealed.
Make no mistake about it, the debate over the teaching of Zane Hodges commonly known as the “Crossless” gospel is not going away. Vital, foundational doctrines are under assault by the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel! To treat this as though it is non-vital would be surrendering the moral and biblical high ground to men who have corrupted the Gospel of Jesus Christ and forced division and offence (Rom. 16:17) into the body of Christ, particularly in the Free Grace community.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,” (Romans 16:17-18).
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” (Jude 3).
The Apostle Paul wrote, “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed,” (2 Thessalonians 3:14).
Reiterating from Spurgeon’s The Drift of the Times,
The teaching and advocates of the “Crossless” gospel must be biblically resisted for the sake of unity in the body of Christ and doctrinal purity of local churches.
“Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin. . . . To pursue union at the price of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus.”
Whether it be the teaching of Lordship Salvation or the “Crossless” gospel, both are antithetical to Scripture and an assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am determined to continue to do all that I can In Defense of the Gospel.