*Jim Johnson, a former apologist for the “Crossless” gospel and its advocates, posted the following at the Grace Evangelical Society’s blog. He wrote,
“...the minute you identify yourself as being sympathetic to a faith alone position of Zane or Bob - no matter what your stance on the cross and resurrection and deity of Christ, you are attacked ”1Did the late Zane Hodges and today does Bob Wilkin teach a “faith alone position” on the Gospel? The initial reply would be, Yes, they do. What we have been primarily concerned with, however, is what these men insist is unnecessary for the lost man to believe for the reception of eternal life. What the lost man must be convinced of and believe that will result in his being born again is the crux of the debate and concern among many in evangelical circles.
We begin by noting there is a missing element in Johnson’s quote above. The missing element is that Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin do have a specific “stance on the cross and resurrection and deity of Christ.” Their position is that a lost man can be saved apart from knowledge, understanding or belief in the death, resurrection or deity of Christ.
In recent weeks we have been learning a great deal about what the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel consider false, unnecessary additions to what a lost man must believe for the reception of eternal life. We have learned exactly what the stance is of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, Jeremy Myers and Antonio da Rosa.
For example, consider these statements by Zane Hodges:
“You see, as we noted previously, the facts surrounding the gospel message—such as the death and resurrection of Christ—are important facts for what they tell us about the reasons for trusting Christ. But believing these facts doesn’t save anyone. People are only saved when they believe that Jesus gives them eternal life the moment they believe in Him for that.” 2How does Bob Wilkin define his “stance on the cross and resurrection and deity of Christ?”
“Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the Gospel of John teach that a person must understand the cross to be saved. It just does not teach this.” 3
“In recent years I have become aware of a way of presenting the gospel invitation that troubles me. I believe I have heard it from my earliest years, and I admit it didn’t really bother me for a long time. Now it does. I have heard people say this: ‘In order to be saved you must believe that Jesus died on the cross.’ In the context of our present discussion, I mean that this is their summary of the requirement of faith. It is not just one item, among others, to be believed. Whenever I hear that nowadays, I get extremely uncomfortable.” 4
“The simple truth is that Jesus can be believed for eternal salvation apart from any detailed knowledge of what He did to provide it.” 5
“What they fail to understand is that biblical faith in Jesus is not faith that He existed, nor faith in His deity, nor even faith that He died for our sins and rose again. In the Bible, to believe in Jesus is to be convinced that He who died and rose again guarantees eternal life to all who simply believe in Him.” 6At first glance Wilkins's statement seems reasonable. Then, however, we have the following statement, which negates what might have been considered orthodox in the previous.
“Jesus made it clear that the only condition [for salvation] is being convinced that He guarantees eternal life to all who believe in Him. Add anything to that and you have a different gospel.” 7Wilkin views telling the lost man that for salvation he must believe Jesus died for his sin and rose from the dead, (the finished work of Christ) as additions to the Gospel. Wilkin considers the finished work of Christ and His resurrection a “different gospel.” His meaning and intent is clear. In his opinion, to preach the necessity of belief in the death and resurrection of Christ is to preach a false Gospel through unnecessary additions.
How does Jeremy Myers (former GES staff member) define his “stance on cross and resurrection and deity of Christ?” Jeremy Myers recently articulated that stance. Jeremy verified his personal position on the cross and resurrection when, at the Pursuit of Truth blog he wrote,
“I have a view that one does not have to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus to be born again.” 8How does Antonio da Rosa define his “stance on the cross and resurrection and deity of Christ?” At the Pursuit of Truth blog he wrote,
“Theologically speaking, ‘explicit belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection’ is not soteriologically necessary for the reception of eternal life.” (emphasis his) 9Antonio has made one of the clearest statements on belief in the “deity of Christ” as being unnecessary for the reception of eternal life. At his Crossless gospel blog Antonio wrote,
“If a JW hears me speak of Christ’s deity and asks me about it, I will say, ‘Let us agree to disagree about this subject…’ I would consider such a one saved, REGARDLESS of their varied misconcetions (sic) and beliefs about Jesus.” 10 (caps his)da Rosa continued,
“If someone asks me point blank, do I believe (sic) that one must believe that Jesus is God in order to go to heaven, I would say “NO!” 11 (caps his)The position being articulated by da Rosa and the “Crossless” gospel advocates includes the belief that a lost man can openly reject and deny the deity of Christ and yet be saved by believing in nothing more than a promise of eternal life. Some have come to define this view from GES as the “Promise-Only Gospel.”
Johnson’s analogy of persons being “attacked” for agreeing with another man’s doctrine is a facade. Johnson seeks to portray an important doctrinal controversy as though it is a personality clash. The questions and concerns are raised because, in the opinion of pastors and teachers, the “stance” the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel take is antithetical to Scripture.
Jim Johnson has written that Zane and Bob hold to a “faith alone,” position. It must be noted, however, that if it is faith alone that Zane and Bob teach, it is “faith alone,” but apart from faith believing in the “cross, resurrection and deity of Christ.” This is a reductionist assault on the content of saving faith and a serious departure from a balanced, biblical view of God’s redemptive plan for mankind.
The teachers and advocates of the “Crossless” gospel have departed from, “the faith which was once delivered,” (Jude 3). I intend to do what I can to, “earnestly contend for the faith.”
*In early 2008 Jim Johnson was caught in numerous acts of massive plagiarism. Furthermore, Johnson manipulated some of the plagiarirzed material to make it appear to support his views, when some in fact did not. See- Jim Johnson’s Plagiarism... To this day Johnson is not just unrepentant, but has brazenly attacked any who have called him to repentance. In any event, since his plagiarism was identified he deleted the plagiarized articles he once posted and has refrained from posting any new comments on the debate.
1] Not unexpectedly the GES is blocking and deleting comments at its blog. Many of you likely remember the sudden and unexplained disappearance of two articles and threads at the original GES blog. I felt I had a reasonable, brief response to Jim's post. It was, however, blocked. This article is my reply to Johnson's note.
2] Zane Hodges, How to Lead People to Christ, Pt.2, JOTGES 14 (Spring 2001).
3] Zane Hodges, How to Lead People to Christ, Pt.1. JOTGES 13 (Autumn 2000)
Reading quotes such as the previous by Zane Hodges sufficiently demonstrates why the interpretation of the Gospel coming from Hodges, Wilkin and the GES has come to be known as the “Crossless Gospel.”
4] Zane Hodges, How to Lead People to Christ, Pt.2, JOTGES 14 (Spring 2001).
For more examples of the teaching of Zane Hodges see, The Unusual and Troubling Teachings of Zane Hodges by Pastor George Zeller.
6] Bob Wilkin: Secure and Sure
7] Bob Wilkin: JOTGES Autumn 1998)
8] Jeremy Myers: Pursuit of Truth See post on 06 Nov 2007 at 2:13 am.
9] Antonio da Rosa: Pursuit of Truth See post on 31 Oct 2007 at 11:39 pm.
10] Antonio da Rosa: Believe Christ’s Promise and You are Saved, No Matter What Misconceptions You Hold
Next week I will return to my Heart to Heart series.
November 10, 2007