In an earlier article I laid out, in concise form, exactly how the advocates of the *“Refined/Crossless” gospel view the death, resurrection and deity of Christ. You can read from their own published statements what it is they believe. See my article: What is the “Crossless” advocates “Stance” on the Cross, Resurrection & Deity of Christ?
The answer to the following question is the crux of ongoing controversy in the Free Grace community.
The advocates of the “Refined/Crossless” gospel relentlessly try to steer the discussion away from what the lost man must believe for the reception of eternal life. Time and again at my site, Pursuit of Truth and/or other sites, Jeremy Myers, Antonio da Rosa and Jim Johnson have unsuccessfully tried to steer the discussion to what they might present to the lost man in an evangelistic setting.
From the recording of the Free Grace Alliance (FGA) panel discussion I noted how every participant, with the exception of Pastor Tom Stegall, focused their comments almost exclusively on what they personally believe or would tell a lost man in an evangelistic setting. The issue, however, revolves around what the lost man must believe to be born again. The Grace Evangelical Society (GES) “Refined/Crossless” position states that a lost man does not have to know, understand or believe anything about who Jesus is and what He did to provide salvation. They go further to declare that a lost man can consciously reject the deity of Christ, but still be born again.
The “Refined/Crossless” advocates attempt to focus the debate on what Free Grace men personally believe because that is where they find common ground. They steer clear of discussions over what the lost man must know, understand or believe for the reception of eternal life because that is where the debate and controversy over their peculiar theology lays. They do this because what a lost man must believe for the reception of eternal life is the defining issue and the answer to that question is what will ultimately decide the direction of the FGA and Free Grace movement in general.
The teachings of Zane Hodges have permeated the GES, its leadership (Bob Wilkin, Jeremy Myers) and most of its remaining membership. Consequently, the GES has eliminated itself from any meaningful contribution to the debate over Lordship Salvation. The Hodges elimination of repentance for conversion, his assault on the titles of Jesus Christ, and the reductionist, non-saving evangelism of the “Refined/Crossless” gospel have rendered the GES, and any man who holds to these extremes, counterproductive in the battle against Lordship Salvation.
The FGA has an opportunity to become a meaningful, effective voice for the FG community in the battle to preserve the Gospel of Grace and effectively resist the ongoing spread of Lordship Salvation. The FGA, however, will never become that voice as long as it allows for advocates of the “Refined/Crossless” gospel to hold positions of leadership and to swell the ranks of its membership. The theology of the “Refined/Crossless” gospel weakens and undermines what might otherwise become a credible and effective voice in the battle against Lordship Salvation’s assault on the Gospel of Grace.
“Division” and “Offences” of the “Crossless” Gospel
The teaching of Zane Hodges and the GES, which has come to be known as the “Refined/Crossless” gospel, has introduced “division” and “offences” (Rom. 16:17) to the body of believers in the FG community.
In the Aftermath: Heart to Heart thread a guest wrote,
“Regarding Romans 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 delivered.’ 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 and biblically contend for the faith are the ones causing division.
“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).What has become a political strategy of the “Refined/Crossless” gospel advocates is to claim those who reject “Refined/Crossless” teaching are causing “division.” This tactic shows a blatant disregard for the plain teaching of Romans 16:17. The intentional reversal of meaning from Romans 16:17 is common place among New Evangelicals who bristle at any suggestion of separation from unbelievers, apostasy or disobedient brethren. The “Refined/Crossless” men have begun to utilize the same New Evangelical misinterpretation of Romans 16:17 in an attempt to distract observers from the controversy that is swirling around their errors on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Deity.
I published the Heart to Heart series to show from the Bible what our mandated response must be to the teachers of doctrinal error who are the cause of “division” and “offences” in the body of Christ. The “Refined/Crossless” gospel and its advocates: Hodges, Wilkin, Myers, the GES, and da Rosa are the men who have introduced “contrary” (false) doctrine into Free Grace community churches. It is, therefore, the teachers of the “Refined/Crossless” gospel who have brought “division” and “offences” (scandal) to the body of Christ.
This quote appears in my book and the Heart series,
“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 “Refined/Crossless” gospel have created “division” and the “stumbling blocks.” They are teaching that which is, “contrary to the body of revealed truth.”
Ironically, Hodges, Wilkin and Myers are hiding from any open discussion of the very doctrinal issue that has brought “division” and “offences” in to the body of Christ. For the most part all they have left is this new misrepresentation of Scripture, specifically Romans 16:17 and futile attempts to demonize those who are not going to grow weary of “contending for the faith once delivered” (Jude 3).
Dr. Charles Ryrie Answers the Defining Question:
I am not aware of anyone in the Free Grace community who would reject the suggestion that Dr. Charles Ryrie is among the most notable and prolific contributors to the Free Grace movement. His defense of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to my knowledge, is virtually unquestioned in the Free Grace community.
His books on various subjects are in the personal library of very possibly every evangelical pastor in America. This is the defining question around which the controversy in the FG community revolves, “In this dispensation, must a lost man believe in the death and resurrection of Christ to be born again?”
In his classic answer to the Lordship interpretation of the Gospel, So Great Salvation, Dr. Charles Ryrie answers our defining question. Dr. Ryrie wrote,
“The issue is, How can my sins be forgiven? . . . Through faith I receive Him and His forgiveness. Then the sin problem is solved, and I can be fully assured of going to heaven. I do not need to believe in Christ’s second coming in order to be saved. . . . But I do need to believe that He died for my sins and rose triumphant over sin and death.” (So Great Salvation, p. 40.)
If the Free Grace community and the FGA are to have any chance of becoming a meaningful voice with the blessing and power of God, FG leadership and members alike must obey the Word of God. The advocates and teaching of the “Refined/Crossless” gospel must be biblically marked for the purpose of warning believers, avoiding them, and for the restoration of doctrinal purity to Free Grace local churches that have been caught up in the egregious errors of the “Crossless” gospel.
I am encouraging and praying for the FGA leadership and Free Grace pastors, who recognize the inherent dangers of the “Crossless” gospel, to obey the mandated course of action found in the Bible (Romans 16:17; Titus 1:9; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15) in regard to the teachers of the “Crossless” gospel.
Your answer to this question will guide your course of action:
Where does my first loyalty lie, to God and His Word, or to my friends and fellowships?
*You may have recognized that for this article I have almost exclusively used the label “Refined/Crossless” to define the interpretation of the Gospel coming from Hodges, Wilkin, Myers, GES and da Rosa. I want to share an important notation about that.
My purpose today is to alert readers so that when they read the “Crossless” advocates use of “Refined Free Grace” theology, it is in fact a new name for the same errors originally and commonly known as the “Crossless” gospel. It would be appropriate to say by definition that the Hodges interpretation of the Gospel has been “Refined” (down to a) “Crossless” Gospel.
I for one will never accept or agree to refer to the “Crossless” gospel as “Refined Free Grace” theology. This article will be the first and ONLY time the word “Refined” will appear in regard to the “Crossless” gospel.
The Devil always finds a label to make more palatable what he has soured. Abortion becomes Pro-Choice; Liberal becomes Moderate. The “Crossless” gospel is a false gospel! The “Crossless” gospel is a totally new creation that originated with Zane Hodges. The “Crossless” gospel might also be name, Abandoned Free Grace (AFG) theology.