January 16, 2008

The Crossless Gospel: Consistently “Refined”

Dear Guests:

Some of you may have noticed that the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel have been floating new labels to identify their reductionist interpretation of the Gospel.

In 2007 the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) and its supporters were attempting to portray the GES as though it was the voice of the broader Free Grace (FG) community. That attempt fizzled when various men, such as Pastor Tom Stegall, irrefutably demonstrated that Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin have devised a message that is a departure from the biblical plan of salvation. The GES interpretation of the Gospel came to be appropriately identified as a “Crossless” gospel.

In 2008 the attempts to portray the GES as if it is the voice of the FG community have continued. Many, however, have come to see that the GES has reduced itself to and become an isolated off-shoot in the FG camp. The GES has positioned itself to the far left of a balanced Free Grace theological center.

Once the deep differences in beliefs in the Free Grace community about the true nature of the “Crossless” gospel were revealed the GES initiated attempts to redefine what they want their system to be identified as. They have, therefore, invented the label(s), “Refined”or “Consistent” Free Grace Theology.

On January 16, 2007 Antonio da Rosa (aka- Sock Puppet: fg me), posted an article at the pro-Crossless group blog Unashamed of Grace. The full title of his article is, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer uses Refined (Consistent) Free Grace Theology phraseology.

The article itself has several problems, some of which Kevin at On My Walk has addressed. Kevin’s article is titled, Chafer Was a Proponent of the “Crossless” Gospel? IMO, Antonio is forcing out of context what Chafer wrote to declare Chafer would support his own “Crossless” theology. Even if Chafer took a “Crossless” view of the gospel, this would not make it any more biblical.

In the title da Rosa refers to the Hodges/Wilkin “Crossless” view of the Gospel as “Refined (Consistent) Free Grace Theology.” When you ponder “refined” and “consistent” in light of what we know the “Crossless” gospel to be you quickly see that the title of Antonio’s latest article at Unashamed of Grace is an oxymoron. The title is, “an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory statement.”

By definition consistent means, “constantly adhering to the same principles.” Maybe Antonio uses “consistent” because he is under the impression the “Crossless” gospel is “consistent” with Scripture. This analogy has repeatedly been shown to be quite the opposite. Hodges has forced into or wrenched out of numerous passages whatever he must to produce his “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel.

Refined” means, “to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities.” The refining process is used to eliminate impurities. What are those “impurities” that Zane Hodges and “Crossless” advocates have sifted out of the Gospel to arrive at a “Refined” Gospel? Those “impurities” are the Lord’s death, His resurrection and His deity.

Once Hodges refined the Gospel to the “Crossless” interpretation it has become, the GES teaches that the lost man does not need to know, understand or believe that he is a sinner, nor does he need to know who Jesus is and what He did to provide salvation. Antonio da Rosa insists that a lost man can consciously reject and deny the deity of Christ and still be born again. We have learned from Jeremy Myers and da Rosa that belief in the finished work of Christ is not a condition for salvation.

While these men personally believe in the finished work and deity of Jesus Christ, in their evangelistic presentation they will practically deny these truths, if they become a stumbling block for the lost man. In the GES approach to personal evangelism, belief in the death, resurrection and deity of Christ have been “refined” out of what must be believed by the lost man for the reception of eternal life. Hodges views the truths about our Lord and Savior as “excess baggage that we bring into our encounter with unsaved sinners....” Hodges has sifted his “excess baggage” out of the Gospel.

Why does da Rosa title his view of the Gospel “consistent,” when it has been “refined” over and over by Hodges and Wilkin? A friend wrote, which is appropriate at this time,

What do you have left with all of this removed from the ‘kerugma’ of the Gospel? Practically nothing!”
The refining process of the GES has been “consistent,” in that it has consistently “refined” the Gospel down to a Crossless & Deityless, non-saving proposition.

The “Crossless” gospel is simply being repackaged by its advocates under a “Refined/Consistent” banner. They hope it will be widely accepted. The new label in no way negates the reductionism of their belief system that truly identifies it as a “Crossless” gospel.


For an important companion article, please read, Is REDEFINED Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?


  1. A frequent guest at my blog, Glenn W, just contributed an excellent rebuttal to Antonio da Rosa’s claiming Dr. Chafer as an advocate for the “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel. Glenn wrote to Kevin at On My Walk,


    I saw that post as well and I certainly had my doubts as to whether Dr. Chafer really was really in agreement with the current GES position. I did some checking and the Blue Letter Bible web site has an online copy of Dr. Chafer's book Salvation. I have only skimmed it so far but the following quote clarifies Dr. Chafer's position as to what it means to believe:

    This one word ‘believe’ represents all a sinner can do and all a sinner must do to be saved. It is believing the record God has given of His Son. In this record it is stated that He has entered into all the needs of our lost condition and is alive from the dead to be a living Saviour to all who put their trust in Him.”

    Chapter Five: The One Condition of Salvation

    I think this quote speaks for itself.

    I encouraged Glenn to copy the identical comment he submitted at On My Walk and paste it in the thread at Unashamed of Grace. Then ask Antonio specifically to explain the inconsistency.


  2. Lou,

    It seems to me the defense of the Crossless Gospel always goes the same way. It starts with a loosely interpreted quote of some person or Scripture and then devolves into emotive pleas about defending against "checklist evangelism"

    It seems to me that if you are going to believe in someone you need to know who they are or you will end up picking whoever you fancy.

    I really feel what it is our duty to press the GES and other Crossless Gospel presenters to identify this Jesus they proclaim. And explain how one might come to believe in Him without believing in anything about Him.


  3. Hey Again Lou,

    You bring up some linguistic issues in your post here. I can sympathize with the idea they are trying present... that by refining the presentation of the Gospel they believe they are being more consistent with the Text.

    However, in conversation with the preachers of this message I have continually noted that it is not consistency with the Text that is their primary concern. Seemingly no amount of criticism from Scripture will make them recant.

    I begin to wonder if engaging a linguistic expert to expose the funky language, and abusive hermeneutic would be more profitable than appealing to them about fidelity to the Word of God.

    If God has allowed their hearts to be hardened to the point that the Gospel is no longer sacred we may be going about this in the wrong way all together.


  4. Kevl:

    You wrote, "However, in conversation with the preachers of this message I have continually noted that it is not consistency with the Text that is their primary concern. Seemingly no amount of criticism from Scripture will make them recant."

    I have noted in previous discussions that men like Antonio appear concerned with supporting defending the views of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin more than they are with remaining in fidelity to the Scriptures.

    If the clear teaching of Scripture must be reinvented, or wrenched out of shape to negate its undermining effect on the “Crossless” gospel then then they will do it.

    Their views of Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:1-ff are prime examples.


  5. Lou you brought up 1 Cor 15. Frankly, I am astounded that the Apostle's writing of the Spirit's Words can be so ignored. This is the Gospel that saves he writes. In this Gospel we stand.

    Has anyone ever explained how they can either ignore what the Apostle wrote or interpret it in some other way?


  6. Kevl:

    You wrote, "I really feel what it is our duty to press the GES and other Crossless Gospel presenters to identify this Jesus they proclaim. And explain how one might come to believe in Him without believing in anything about Him."

    I agree with this. The problem is that Crossless men are very reluctant to discuss anything that opens their views up for legitimate criticism and biblical scrutiny.

    IMO, one needs to read Greg’s The Christ Under Siege, Part 1 & Part 2 series to see what lengths Hodges went to in His abuse of the Lord’s titles, “the Christ” and “Son of God.”

    Hodges, GES and da Rosa do what they can to nullify the clear teaching of Scripture that identifies the biblical Jesus as deity. Why? Because they insist the lost man does not have to know, understand, believe and can even openly reject His deity, but still can be born again. That is why they assault His titles. They will go further, keep watching.


  7. Kev:

    You wrote, “If God has allowed their hearts to be hardened to the point that the Gospel is no longer sacred we may be going about this in the wrong way all together.”

    In the opinion of several men who I interact with Antonio, Hodges, Wilkin, Myers and select others have had their conscience seared. They have gone off into such deep extremes it is hoped for, but feared very unlikely they can be recovered.

    IMO, this has become a personal matter for the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel to defend it no matter what force of Scriptural refutation is brought to bear.

    I keep that in mind as I write. Because my primary goal is to inform and protect the unsuspecting who could fall into the trap of the Hodges/GES “Crossless” view of the Gospel.


  8. Dear Guests:

    I have been reading Kevin from On My Walk engage Antonio’s article: both doctrinally, and over what has been discovered to be Antonio’s misuse of Chafer's quote.

    Antonio inserted an ellipsis on line #5 of Chafer's quote, and this was used to delete a portion of Chafer’s statement.

    The portion Antonio deleted was, “This one word ‘believe’ represents all a sinner can do and all a sinner must do to be saved. It is believing the record God has given of His Son. In this record it is stated that He has entered into all the needs of our lost condition and is alive from the dead to be a living Saviour to all who put their trust in Him.”

    I used to work in the media. What Antonio did to the selection from Chafer is called “censorship by omission.” The deleted portion, which references the Lord’s resurrection, was an important note in understanding Chafer’s position. Antonio deleted it because it undermines what he wanted to accomplish in his article.

    Then to dismiss the revelation of the omitted item and its impact on his article Antonio says, Chafer, “waffled a bit...

    IMO, it took alot of nerve for Antonio to post a censored portion from Chafer, be confronted with the deleted portion, and then charge Chafer with waffling?

    Antonio basically decided to drop Chafer in the deep-fryer, rather than acknowledge his misuse of Chafer’s quote.

    I encourage my guests to read Kevin’s interaction at Unashamed of Grace.

    I rarely link to Unashamed of Grace because it is largely dedicated to the propagation of the “Crossless” gospel. However, Kevin’s dealing with the doctrine of the Gospel and Antonio’s misuse of Chafer is well worth the read.


  9. Lou,

    You and I basically posted at the same time over at Kevin's blog. I didn't feel like my second post was as clear as it should be so I tried to clarify it a bit. It turns out that both you and Kevin liked what I had already written. At any rate, I hope this last comment of mine will be of use rather than just redundant.

  10. Glenn:

    I'll check it, but feel free to post it here as well. The more exposure, the better.

    More readers will be able to enjoy the benefit of your good work on this issue.


  11. There's more traction to this "censorship by omission" idea than just in Antonio's handling of Chafer's words.

    If you check Unashamed there is a poster called Alvin. He is doing the same thing with the Word of God. He's basically admonished people like me for brining up sin and is picking and choosing quotes from the the Word which might appear to support his view - if one had not read any other Scripture.

    My intent is not to be nasty, but there seems to be an expectation that the reader of such comments will not be studied at all.

    Yesterday I went through a bunch of the blogs linked from Unashamed. Nearly every single one of them had an article quoting Zane Hodges on their front page.

    Hey I quote people from time to time too... but when everyone seems to be expecting no one to check their work... and they are all quoting the same person...

    This could really sound nasty, and it's really not meant to be so. But it seems as though Mr. Hodges words get treated with more respect than the Apostle Paul's.

    I think we have stumbled on to the "root cause" here. There is no expectation of accountability. Neither here, nor at judgment. The people being preached too are too dull, and the god they describe to wishy-washy.


  12. Kev:

    You wrote, “This could really sound nasty, and it's really not meant to be so. But it seems as though Mr. Hodges words get treated with more respect than the Apostle Paul's.”

    It is not nasty, it is an accurate assessment, and I have been saying this for months.

    They (da Rosa, Myers, Alvin, etc.) do treat Hodges as though his word is their final authority for faith a practice. They are constantly assaulting and doing damage to the Word of God to uphold the word of Hodges, no matter how extreme he goes.

    BTW, Antonio’s use of a Hodges avatar is not a coincidence. IMO, it is a sign of the reverential awe and esteem with which he uplifts and holds Hodges.

    I can’t go this far yet, but some have come to believe that the GES faction of the FG community has become a cultic organization with its central focus the personality and writings of Zane Hodges.


  13. Kev/All:

    In Alvin’s comment (excerpted below) one can easily see and understand why the Hodges view of the Gospel is aptly known as a “Crossless” gospel. He is offended that men insist on presenting the cross to the unsaved in an evangelistic setting.

    To those of you, who have been claiming “Crossless” is an unfair label, may I suggest you rethink that in light of Alvin’s comment. Here is an excerpt of what Alvin wrote,

    I’ve come to the conclusion that these ones who are attacking believe there is a barrier between man and God and until one realizes they are a sinner they cannot be saved. They seem to be noble in their cause ‘fighting for the cross’ but in truth have not believed it themselves. They MUST have the cross as an essential because they got to get ‘sin’ in there somewhere… These checklist salvationist have it backwards, they put sin as the main issue so they have to make the cross an essential because they really don’t believe in what Christ accomplished for everyone on the cross.”

    Noting the absurdity of Alvin’s theological position aside: One can see that he bristles at the mere mention of the necessity of the cross (the finished work of Christ) in a Gospel presentation.


  14. Two things, neither of which is in defense of the FG teaching of whatever hue:

    1) I don't think (to be fair) that Alvin really represents anyone in the debate, but himself. I have debated him at length on the other sites and he seems happiest when he is damning anyone who doesn't agree with him. He is very quick on the draw but with very little substance when all is said and done.

    2) Having said that, I have always thought that those who deny that we need Christ as a Saviour from sin in order to be saved have nothing really to say to the sinner as a sinner. Sometimes their presentation of the gospel is little more than someone standing in a shopping mall giving away a super holiday to any one interested in signing up... the gospel offers us Eternal Life in Heaven and that's basically it. You can always upgrade later, but only if you want. I know none will actually say this, but when you relegate the idea that Christ saves us from the power of sin to a secondary place, then the analogy stands.

    I contend that the Bible has nothing to offer the stubborn, rebellious sinner...except when he repents and believes the gospel. Yes, we preach to all men without exception, the way of salvation, but if they want to keep their sins, then we cannot give them any hope as long as they are resisting God.


  15. Dear Goodnight:

    Thanks for stopping by.

    On #1: I’d agree that Alvin is speaking for himself, but he is parroting the same view on sin and forgiveness that da Rosa and Wilkins’s GES holds to. I have a series of quotes by da Rosa and the statement at GES is identical. So, with the consistency between the three, I look at Alvin’s extended notes, and conclude, unless Wilkin & da Rosa wants to publicly disagree with what Alvin is laying out in detail, then we are viewing the official position for GES.

    As for “damning anyone who doesn’t agree with him,” Yes, I‘ve noted how it energizes him. He fires back, but not much to pop-off with. As I noted Rachel from Pursuit of Truth tried to get into more depth with Alvin, but he bailed out fast.

    On #2 I could not agree more. Excellent analogy and exactly right! I always go back to da Rosa’s absurd teaching: Anyone can be born again no matter what “misconceptions they may hold. And da Rosa saying that any “misconception”, including open rejection of Christ’s deity should be put on the “back burner.”

    da Rosa and the GES camp just don’t care about any “misconception” or rejection of any Bible truth as long as they can get the prospect to utter some kind of belief in a promise of eternal life, no matter whom they think the guarantor of the promise, is. IMO, GES does not present Jesus as the object of faith for salvation. The promise is the object.

    And you are right about “upgrade later.” I’ve read da Rosa stating that they view any misconceptions as something to be dealt with in follow-up. Just get the prospect to say that he believes in the guarantee of eternal life and they declare him born again.

    They took their non-saving “Crossless” gospel to India last Fall. How many were deceived is anyone’s guess. The sad part is that those, who now think they were born again, will be even more difficult to reach when, Lord willing, a Bible preaching Evangelist brings the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to them.

    On the repentance issue: I trust you know that Hodges and Wilkin have totally eliminated repentance from the salvation. They teach repentance is not a condition of salvation. That’s is an extreme from Hodges that many in the FG camp reject.

    Thanks for your pointed observations.


  16. GoodNight:

    I posted this to Jazzy at Blue Collar...

    May I suggest when you refer to "FG people"- meaning Hodges, Wilkin, Myers, Matthew and da Rosa, you might narrow that down to the GES wing of the FG community. The GES wing is as far left of a theologically balanced position in the FG camp as they can be.

    In the FG community the GES has become the equivalent of the "hyper-Calvinist" faction found in Calvinistic circles.

    Contrary to what da Rosa and the GES would have people believe, The GES does NOT represent the vast majority of FG people.


  17. Lou,

    Please forgive my butting in with this question, but I look at quite a few sites here and there and sometimes individual postions tend to get blurred in my recollection. (It happens, I'm sure, to us all)

    In a line or two: Do you hold that repentance is necessary to salvation? I would define repentance as a willingness to confess and forsake sin, and which coupled with faith in Christ's blood, brings salvation to us. (It is not that we are asking concerned drunkards to go away and give up drink for a while before they come back and then we show them John 3:16 - but if they want to hold unto their sins, then they are in rebellion against God, no matter how receptive they seem to the benefits of salvation. We all know that the saint will fight against sin all his days, but the saint (in becoming a saint) has already declared war on sin and expressed at conversion his willingness to forsake it.


  18. Goodnight:

    I’ll have to be brief for now, possibly more tomorrow.

    You asked, “Do you hold that repentance is necessary to salvation?”

    My answer is, Yes, absolutely! We may not see eye-to-eye on each specific, but no question the Bible necessitates repentance as a condition of salvation.

    I am revising the chapter on my book, What Is Biblical Repentance? Here is quote I like and am using in the revised edition.

    “‘He commandeth all men every where to repent’ (Acts 17:30). Repentance is not arbitrary. It is not left to our choice whether or not we will repent, but it is an indispensable command. God has enacted a law in the High Court of heaven that no sinner shall be saved except the repenting sinner, and he will not break his own law.” (Thomas Watson: The Doctrine of Repentance, p. 59.)

    As I mentioned: Hodges, Wilkin (GES) and da Rosa have entirely eliminated repentance from salvation. I have added a section in my book to expose them on this absurb position as well as their Crossless/Deity gospel.

    At major web site admin asked me to produce an article to expose the teachings of Hodges and Wilkin (GES) to alert believers in my circles. It will be published in a month or two.

    Here are brief articles I wrote to address the Hodges, Wilkin da Rosa view of repentance.

    Is There Such a Thing as Repentance in the “Crossless” Gospel?

    Where is the Balance in Repentance?


  19. Yes, it is true that some FG people want to distance themselves from Zane Hodges. They think that some of his doctrine is "far out". That is fair enough. I agree that FG has differing views on things.

    Yet in the final analysis, I am deeply persuaded that the framework Zane gives in consideration of a studied biblical position is superior in content and scholorly (sic) research than other views within FG. Furthermore, it is more consistent

    The above (abbreviated) comment was written by Antonio da Rosa and posted at Rose’s Reasonings. It appears under the article Zane Hodges = Free Grace Theology?

    I am asking for any one, who sympathize with the teachings of the “Crossless” gospel, to define exactly what Antonio means be “consistent” Free Grace theology.

    Consistent” with what?

    I see Matthew and Antonio using this term, but they have failed (to my knowledge) to define the usage.

    Can any one offer a definition for the use of “consistent?”


    *Antonio, if you want to answer this question for yourself, you are welcome to do so in this thread. In concise form limit your answer to why you are using the term “Consistent.”

  20. To All:

    I sent an e-mail to Antonio and invited him to respond here.


  21. Lou, when I refer to consistent FG theology, I mean a theology that defines saving faith as trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life.

    This excludes any attempts to sneak repentance into the definition of saving faith or attempts to construct some minimal list of doctrinal requirements.

    Faith is defined solely in terms of trust in Christ for the gift that He offers freely.

    Any attempt to require more than this is to deviate from the notion of faith being trust and eternal life being free.

    Every Blessing in Christ


  22. Matthew:

    Thanks for the reply. Still at work, so this will be quick. I'll have to get back to this tomorrow.

    Only this for now: You wrote, “…when I refer to consistent FG theology, I mean a theology that defines saving faith as trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life.”

    Your definition of “saving faith” is the Hodges/GES interpretation that eliminates the cross, His resurrection and deity from what the lost man must believe for the reception of eternal life.

    And I must reiterate the position you and da Rosa hold that allows for conscious rejection of His deity and still you believe that lost men can be born again. That is, in a nut shell, the message of the “Crossless” gospel and its interpretation of “saving faith.”

    Therefore, I see am seeing that you mean “consistent” with the Hodges view of “saving faith.” It is not IMO a FG theology; it is a GES interpretation of FG theology. You are well aware that the Hodges/GES faction of the FG community has pretty much isolated itself because of the teaching of Hodges and Wilkin. So, I think the use of “Consistent” FG theology needs to be more clearly defined and identified with the Hodges interpretation of “saving faith.”

    We’ve covered repentance before. Hodges’ elimination of repentance as a condition of salvation is almost universally rejected even in the FG community. Dr. Bing even noted his concern with Hodges on repentance in his (Bing’s) LS dissertation. The Bible is very clear: Faith and repentance are two sides of the same theological coin. Eliminate either and there is no salvation.

    I appreciate your commenting. I am asking Antonio to offer his definition.


  23. I am curious (sorry if you have already explained this and I missed it):What, in your opinion, is repentance? Do you see it as a "sorrow for sin" or do you see it as a "change of mind"?

  24. New to your site this morning...I just found repentance in your sidebar list.I will read that.

  25. Patti:

    Thanks for stopping by.

    I trust you will some helpful notes on repentance here at my blog.

    "Change of mind"

    Kind regards,