November 19, 2007

Aftermath: Heart to Heart Series

To All:

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 na├»ve 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,

“Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin. . . . To pursue union at the price of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus.”

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.

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.


LM

11 comments:

  1. Flavio:

    This is the only way I can figure to draw your attention to a thread you posted in earlier where some one asked you a question about the GES conference attendance.

    I replied to that person who goes by the name Khan (my personal favorite Star Trek villain).

    Anyway, you can see Khan’s question in this thread: Watch & Remember


    LM

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  2. Regarding Rom 16:17-18... I find it odd that there are some who accuse US of being the ones causing division even though all we're doing is "contend[ing] for the faith once deliverd". Though, as pointed out in 1 Cor 11:19, divisions are practically necessary when bad doctrine infiltrates the church because those who are true will openly reject the false, a worthy division.

    Don't know if you've followed it or not, but Rachel has done a good job dismantling the crossless/RFG claim of "the gospel in a verse" by demonstrating that their own standard of evidence, one verse or one passage or one book that explicitly states the content of saving faith, leaves their own argument laid bare and exposed. Once they bring in other verses to defend their view, we must be allowed to do the same. It has been shown that they can't prove their premise with just their select and twisted verses from John and once they bring in outside verses they defeat themselves and open the can of worms they have tried so hard to keep closed.

    When Wilkin first came to our church in June I honestly considered "maybe the guy is right and we've overcomplicated the gospel." Months have passed and Rachel and I have learned a great deal. One thing we are absolutely convinced of now is that the crossless/RFG camp doesn't have a leg to stand on to support their minimalist view of the req'd content of saving faith. The RFG/crossless attempts to twist scripture are no more exegetically valid than the JW claim that Jesus is just one of many gods. Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said on a comment @ Antonio's blog There are simply no credible arguments against the consistent FG position. Sorry DF, it is being increasingly demonstrated that there are simply no credible arguments for the (so-called) consistent FG position The RFG/crossless circles have backed themselves into an indefensible corner and I pray that more will flee their doctrinal error.

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  3. Hi Knet:

    You wrote, “Regarding Rom 16:17-18... I find it odd that there are some who accuse US of being the ones causing division even though all we're doing is "contend[ing] for the faith once deliverd". Though, as pointed out in 1 Cor 11:19, divisions are practically necessary when bad doctrine infiltrates the church because those who are true will openly reject the false, a worthy division.”

    It is not at all odd or unusual for the teachers of false doctrine to claim that those who oppose their doctrinal errors are the ones causing division.

    Because the “Crossless” gospel is founded on false paradigms and assumption after assumption they have no biblically consistent ground from which to defend their position. Their strange twists of doctrine have been exposed and eroded away. They are, therefore, left with only one defense, and that is to attempt to discredit those of us who have exposed and totally refuted the theology of the “Crossless” gospel. Some of Jim Johnson’ elitist, condescending remarks about those whom he finds not up to his standards of academic excellence are prime examples.

    Part of what is becoming their political strategy is, as you have noted, to claim we are causing division. This shows either a misunderstanding of, but IMO, a blatant disregard for the plain teaching of Romans 16:17. They are skewing the meaning of Scripture (Rom. 16:17) because that is all they have left.

    I purposely published the Heart to Heart series to show that, according to the Bible, the teachers of doctrinal error are the cause of “division” and “offence” in the body of Christ. The “Crossless” gospel and its advocates: Hodges, Wilkin, Myers, da Rosa, and Johnson are the men who have introduced the “contrary” (false) doctrine into Free Grace community churches and have thereby created “division” and “offence” (scandal). This appears to be exactly what happened at your church when Wilkin introduced the “Crossless” gospel to the membership there.

    This appears in my book and the Heart series and is most appropriate to repeat now, “It is not authentic teaching that creates the divisions; it is the contrary teaching that creates the division. They have got it just backwards. . . . Those who teach contrary to the body of revealed truth . . . are the ones who create the divisions and create the stumbling blocks.” The advocates of the “Crossless” gospel have created “division” and the “stumbling blocks.”

    Now, let’s go a step further. I’m sure many have noted how the “Crossless” men have been publicly stating they do not want to discuss their “Crossless” gospel any longer. They are retreating from the open forum because their position has been fully exposed; they have no answer other than the long worn out GES mantras, which Greg Schliesmann dismantled in his series of articles at my blog. They have no answer, so they must retreat. Their hope is that this goes away for them. They hope FG people will just look the other way or feel that it is not worth the effort and debate.

    All they have left are futile attempts to demonize those of us who are not going to grow weary of “contending for the faith once delivered” (Jude 3).

    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,” (Rom. 16:17-18).


    LM

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  4. Knet:

    You wrote, “Don’t know if you’ve followed it or not, but Rachel has done a good job dismantling the Crossless/RFG claim of ‘the gospel in a verse’ by demonstrating that their own standard of evidence, one verse or one passage or one book that explicitly states the content of saving faith, leaves their own argument laid bare and exposed.”

    Yes, I have read that at da Rosa’s blog. Interesting that Rachel also has Alvin running the same kind of dodge that Jeremy ran at your Pursuit of Truth blog.

    You wrote, “It has been shown that they can’t prove their premise with just their select and twisted verses from John and once they bring in outside verses they defeat themselves and open the can of worms they have tried so hard to keep closed”.

    Exactly why I said they are retreating from an open discussion of their “Crossless” theology. I also noted how Antonio (at his own blog) did not live up to his agreement with Jon Perrault. Antonio is ignoring Jon’s pleas for him (da Rosa) to honor the commitment he made to Jon. da Rosa’s refusal is not unexpected.

    Antonio has also noted how he is going to drop out of the “Crossless” He is going to move to another VERY strange teaching by Hodges: the Judgment Seat of Christ will be a place of punishment for some Christians.

    I feel badly for younger men like Antonio. They have been swept up into many strange extra or contra-biblical teachings through the influence of Zane Hodges. I don’t know who his pastor is, but if he (da Rosa) had a pastor with a good sense of biblical balance he might not have been susceptible to what Hodges has been teaching. Hodges has gone off into so many doctrinal extremes, such as his view of the Judgment Seat of Christ, that IMO Hodges can’t be even be taken seriously any longer.

    Nevertheless, the controversy and our scrutiny of the “Crossless” gospel will not be derailed or deterred.


    LM

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  5. Knet:

    One other thought. I noted your use of the acronym “RFG.” The teaching of Zane Hodges that has come to be known as the “Crossless” gospel is very aptly labeled such.

    Those men detest the “Crossless” label and came up with “RGF.” Those of us who know that they believe are never going to change our use of the “Crossless” label for their view, because it is right on the mark.

    In the late 80’s when MacArthur bristled over the “Lordship Salvation” label. I don’t recall Hodges or Wilkin knuckling under to or accommodating him. Neither will we accommodate the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel.

    The teaching of Hodges, Wilkin, Myers, da Rosa and the GES will always been known, identified and recognized by its “Crossless” label.


    LM

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. I appreciate your thoughts and concerns Lou. I include the RFG (Refined Free Grace) label only for clarity to those readers who may know only of that label, or who may know both labels but not realize that we see them as one-and-the-same. The RFG label is a thinly veiled effort by the crossless leadership and proponents to put lipstick on a pig.

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  8. Knet:

    Good point- I get it. Upon further reflection I believe it is a good idea to keep the two joined for folks to understand they are one-in-the-same.

    BTW, I have developed an article where I discuss the "Refined" "lipstick" and what that actually means.

    I don't think the "Crossless" advocates are going to appreciate it very much


    Lou

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  9. I look forward to your article.

    you said: It is not at all odd or unusual for the teachers of false doctrine to claim that those who oppose their doctrinal errors are the ones causing division.

    Oh, I'm not surprised that those who teach this label us as divisive, but I am surprised when Joe Church Goer labels us as such. i.e. I was discussing this with some folks at our church, regular members, and they basically thought we should let the matter drop, that it's divisive of us to call for deacons meetings, individual meetings with pastors, and meetings with each other for this. That view, from someone who has no vested interest in the RFG/crossless view except to avoid discussing it to "maintain unity", is what surprises me. I've been told that we're being divisive because we joined together to bring our concerns to leadership. Our discussions with leadership have been non-confrontational overall, though there was some tension in our first meeting but mostly because I think they didn't know what to expect from us at first. I think they expected us to be an angry mob and just start beatin' up on'em but instead we methodically and logically pointed out what we believe are the serious errors that Wilkin introduced to our church right under their noses, without them even realizing it. Once they realized we weren't an angry mob, but were genuinely concerned for biblical purity and had built a solid case, the defensive walls dropped and some genuine progress was made toward our church taking a clear stand. Our Sr. pastor has been particularly gracious and has repeatedly thanked us for our attitude and manner in bringing the issue to light for bona fide resolution.

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  10. Knet:



    You wrote, “…we methodically and logically pointed out what we believe are the serious errors that Wilkin introduced to our church right under their noses, without them even realizing it.”



    Right under the noses” is the dangerous part of both Lordship Salvation (LS) and the “Crossless” gospel. I have been in services where a LS message was being given and many did not even recognize it until having it drawn out later.


    I have heard similar stories from folks like you about the subtlety with which Wilkin and other “Crossless” men weave their teaching in a very subtle way.


    The terminology they use is typically biblical and orthodox, but the “contrary” doctrine is slipped in and not easily detected at first.


    One must listen very carefully in this confused day. Many are drawn in to the “Crossless” gospel because they did not detect the error early on. As time goes by and they are subjected to repeated exposure they become desensitized to the error and therefore, fall into the trap of LS, or in this case, the “Crossless” gospel.

    By the way, it is often because of strong, well-known personalities such as MacArthur and Hodges that most folks let their spiritual antenna and guard down. They do not expect that either of these men would be teaching things that are antithetical to Scripture.

    Some just accept whatever is given by these men simply because of who they are, their reputation and therefore, conclude that whatever they say must be right.


    LM

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  11. The clock just ticked midnight -- happy Thanksgiving everybody! May your day be filled with family and the fellowship of believers who are genuinely thankful to God for the riches of His grace.

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