February 7, 2008

Evaluation of “Crossless” Theology, Part 3

Dear Guests:

Phillip M. Evans is a guest contributor and author of The Hollow “Gospel” of the Grace Evangelical Society. Phillip was a participant in the discussions at Rose’s Reasonings in regard to the “Crossless” theology and especially the peculiar statements made there by Antonio da Rosa. On Wednesday morning (2/6) Rose closed down the thread at her blog. Deep in that lengthy thread under her article, A “Crossless” Call an initial comment was posted by Phillip. His follow-up to a response by da Rosa never made it on to Rose’s thread because of its sudden closure.

Partly for continuity purposes I was asked by Phillip if I would be willing to publish his two remarks here at In Defense of the Gospel. I agreed to do so, and his notes follow.


At Rose’s Reasonings Blog in the thread under A “Crossless” Call, I posted the following:

All, the discussion of Mormonism seems very appropriate alongside the discussion of the crossless gospel issue.

Mormonism was started by Joseph Smith when he supposedly looked at the various Christian denominations and wondered which was right, and was supposedly then told by a “personage” or “personages” that none of them were. He then set about to “restore” the true Gospel that was preached by Jesus and the Apostles as if the preaching of the Gospel had been lost for centuries.

Just how long has the Gospel (I Cor. 15:2) been preached now?

Now, within the last few years up pop reductionist teachers which “refine” or “restore” what the true teaching of the Gospel really is, as though its teaching had been lost to us.[1]

Just like Mormonism, this is sheer arrogance and the folly of vain men.

They make the charge against traditional evangelicals of “checklist” evangelism. Then charge the Apostle Paul guilty as well, for he wrote, “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain,” (I Cor. 15:2).

They offer the empty argument, “Does one have to believe these things too?” They go on to list items that true teachers of the Gospel have never said were part of the Gospel message.

When they label someone’s denial of Christ’s Deity, His death on the cross for our sins, or His resurrection as “misconceptions” or “misunderstandings,” and then hold that a person can still be saved while maintaining these “misconceptions” they are trampling on and profaning Christ’s sacrifice for us!

They have a “form of godliness” but are “denying its power,” (II Timothy 3:5).

When they maintain that the titles “Christ” and “Son of God” do not denote Deity, they trample on His identity as God in the flesh! When one does this he is an antichrist!

By stripping the Gospel of its saving message, they no longer have the Gospel and are preaching a false gospel. Therefore, they are enemies of the Gospel.

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)” (Philippians 3:17-19)
Paul was weeping, because the enemies of the cross of Christ he is referring to here are Christians! It is a grievous thing for people who have been saved by the power of the preaching of the cross, to then turn around and teach that one can be saved while denying its power!

My brothers and sisters in Christ, do not be ashamed of the cross! Do not be ashamed to boldly proclaim that the message of the cross MUST be believed in order for one to be saved! In the precious name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I have written this truth. If His Spirit within me confirms that this is the truth (and I do not write this lightly), then what spirit is Hodges, Wilkin, and da Rosa listening to? Would they dare be so bold as to claim the same authority for what they teach? Namely, would they claim that their doctrine is approved by the Holy Spirit in confirmation with their spirit as I do for what I teach is the message of the Gospel?

Here is the true teaching of the Gospel: Believe that the Lord Jesus Christ paid your sin debt by His death on the cross. Believe that He rose from the dead. Trust Him alone as your Savior for the forgiveness of sins and the receiving of the free gift of eternal life.

Hodges, Wilkin, and da Rosa’s position is that those who hold to the doctrine above is adding to the Gospel. In effect they are saying that this teaching is a false gospel, thereby proving from their own mouths that they are ones teaching a false gospel.

They would do well to heed Galatians 1:8: But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”

Don’t let anyone think that I’m teaching that they can lose their salvation and end up in hell. I personally believe that all three of these men are saved, and expect to see them in Heaven one day, for the Scriptures clearly teach the doctrine of eternal security for all those who are born again. However, even saints are not immune to that immutable law: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” (Galatians 6:7).

Antonio da Rosa replied to me as follows:

Phillip, I am content in articulating the ONE condition for eternal life the same as Jesus did: “Most assuredly I say to you, whoever believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). Simple faith in Jesus brings everlasting life. Call me a heretic for believing the Savior’s words and preaching them.”
The following was to be my reply to him, but Rose shut the thread down the same day I wrote and attempted to post it:

Antonio, I noticed in one of your earlier posts that you used the term “gospel” to refer Christ’s death and resurrection, but I know that you used it only in the general sense of “good news,” not in the technical sense of what is usually understood by Christians as to what the saving message actually is. Whenever I use the term “Gospel” in reference to Christ’s Deity, death and resurrection, I always use it to mean the message that eternally saves. In other words, that one must believe who He claimed to be, and that He died for us and rose from the dead, for this is the essence of believing in Him in order to receive eternal life.

Don’t you understand what’s happening here? Taking a single verse and using it to develop a teaching that flies in the face of a great deal of other Scripture is what the cults do.

Jesus did not speak those words in John 6:47 for the purpose of excluding the necessary content of what we must believe when we believe in Him, namely, His claim to be the Son of God, and His fulfilled prophesies of His death on the cross as our ransom, and resurrection. These things directly relate to His ability to give us the free gift of eternal life. So when Jesus said, “He that hears my word” in John 5:24, the “word” He is referring to must include these words which He spoke that directly relate to His offer of eternal life. To state otherwise would be to impose a reductionist view on His words in John 6:47 that cannot be justified. This reductionist view by definition means that a lost person can be saved while simultaneously calling Jesus a false prophet!

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life,” (John 5:24).
Would anyone accuse Jesus of adding to the Gospel in John 5:24 because he gives two conditions there for eternal life that are not specifically mentioned in 6:47, namely, hearing His word and believing on the One who sent Him?

In Luke 16, the rich man in hell asked that Lazarus be raised from the dead in order to warn his brothers so they wouldn’t end up where he was. Abraham answered, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” In other words, let them believe the prophets! Jesus said:

For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:46-47)
Jesus Christ is the greatest prophet. His testimony concerning who He is, as well as His fulfilled prophesies of His death and resurrection could never be rightfully said to be non-essential beliefs if one is to be saved. Abraham could very well say, “If a lost person wishes to be saved, let him hear the greatest prophet, or let him remain lost.”

If a person denies the Deity of Christ, His sacrificial death on the cross, or His resurrection, it would be doing dishonor to the Son, and therefore would be dishonoring to the Father. How can it be said that a person is believing on the One (the Father) who sent Jesus if they also are dishonoring the Father? Remember, according to Jesus, one must believe on the One who sent Him in order to have eternal life. If you do not honor the Son, then you do not honor the Father.

That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him,” (John 5:23).
To teach that a lost person can dishonor the Son by denying His Deity, sacrificial death, or resurrection, and still be saved while maintaining this denial is to say that a person can honor the Father while dishonoring the Son. God forbid!

It is honoring to the Father to teach that a lost person must believe in the Deity, sacrificial death, and resurrection of His Son in order to be saved. It is dishonoring to Him to teach otherwise. The Grace Evangelical Society’s “gospel” dishonors both the Son and the Father. I’ve written this truth to all of you, and God knows that I lie not.

My brothers and sisters in Christ who are caught up in the error of the so-called “refined” Grace Evangelical Society “Crossless Gospel,” I call on you to soften your hearts now and repent before God. The GES heresy has caused division (Rom. 16:17-18) [2] and harm to the body of Christ, and is a doctrine that will have lost people believing they are saved when they are not. Those of you who are saved will suffer loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ for promoting their doctrine. How great this loss will be, I don’t know. Perhaps it will be related to how great and precious the Gospel message is. You now have no excuse for ignorance, as the issue has been clearly stated.

For those of you who are on the side of the Gospel, don’t try to ride the fence just because you want to remain friends with those who promote the GES heresy. Be a bold defender of the Gospel that saved you!


Phillip M. Evans

[1] The analogy is in regard to Zane Hodges, God has always raised up individuals and used them to reveal the truths necessary for a particular time…God raised up Enoch as a testimony to God's judgment on a wicked world. God raised up Moses to reveal Himself to the Hebrews in captivity. God raised up Daniel to reveal God's plans for the time of Gentile dominance. God raised up the apostle Paul to reveal the distinctive truth of the Church as the Body of Christ. God raised up John to reveal the closure of this dispensation and what should follow it. It should hardly be a surprise that God is using Zane Hodges to bring a right understanding of the nature of saving faith. This is the vital truth for this age. This is needed truth for the last days.” Does the writer equate the “refined” theology of Zane Hodges with the likes of Moses, Daniel and the Apostle Paul’s contributions to our understanding of the Word of God? See- I am Proud to be One of Zane Hodges’ Godchildren

[2] 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).


15 comments:

  1. It appears there is a strong level of indignation over Polictics at the reasonable blog and MaCains stealth tact at carefully and strategic compromises with liberals and the relational aspect over political truth, with some heafty guilt by political association than there is over the compromise with the GES and their association of open minded people involved in this neo-gospel appeal.

    It would seem to me that biblical truth would be counted of greater importance than political truth, but perhaps this is why we are in the sad shape we are in in this country, because we have put the cross on the backburner.

    Paul was not much involved in politics, but he did determine to know nothing, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

    We get concerned that we will lose our slice of the pie here in our American dream, but we don't seem to be as concerned about what pie we are slicing away at in the kingdom of God and the compromise we embrace there. Why in the world do we then pray for God to bless America if counting the blood of Jesus Christ spilled at the cross to not be of the most noteworthy value of all. The blood of Jesus is more precious than any Job...or any amount of money I may have. What He did for me there at the cross is priceless. I don't wish to compromise with anybody on that. Friend or no friend.

    I am not sitting on any fence on this one. He gave His life for me. What could be more important than that. This is how we know what love is.

    Grace upon grace,

    Brian

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  2. Brian, I think McCain is great and I really hope he becomes president.

    You cannot do politics without compromising sometimes.

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  3. Men:

    I don’t normally mind political discussions, but there is something more important going on here.

    Political elections have to do with the temporal; the Gospel has to do with the eternal. The “Crossless” gospel of Zane Hodges (Bob Wilkin and the GES) is no less a false interpretation of the Gospel than Lordship Salvation is.

    The “Crossless” gospel is as corruptive and non-saving, as far as the lost are concerned, as Lordship Salvation is, just from opposite ends of the theological pendulum swing.

    The omission and addition errors respectively need to be fervently and biblically resisted because neither leads men to salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    This passage helps me to keep my head in election years. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will,” (Prov. 21:1).


    LM

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  4. "Does the writer equate the “refined” theology of Zane Hodges with the likes of Moses, Daniel and the Apostle Paul’s contributions to our understanding of the Word of God?"

    Yes.

    That is if it is correct.

    When we intepret the Bible we are dealing with eternal things. We are handling the very Word of God.

    If I say "The Bible teaches this..." then I am declaring the counsel of God. If what I say is a faithful interpretation of the Scriptures it is absolute in its authority and is to be believed.

    I drew an analogy between Zane Hodges and Moses, John, etc.

    This is not an exact analogy but it teaches a vital truth, that God raises up particular men to draw attention to His Word.

    Zane Hodges is not a prophet; he cannot claim that his very words are inspired, nevertheless if he may be one of those to whom God has granted the gift of teacher.

    God grants men the gift of teaching and inspires them by the Holy Ghost to do that work of proclaiming the doctrines and purpose of God in the present age through the Scriptures.

    Though Hodges has received no new revelation, he has expounded the Scriptures to us and if we find that his interpretation of the Gospel is correct, we must pay heed to this doctrine and proclaim it to others.

    If Zane Hodges doctrine is of God we must treat it as absolute in its authority.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Matthew:

    I appreciate your note.

    From what I am gathering the “Crossless” gospel has never been taught in evangelical circles until Hodges drew his conclusions.

    Many in the FG community are attesting that Zane Hodges has developed and is propagating an erroneous interpretation of the Gospel. Their conclusion is drawn from comparing the teaching of Hodges with the Word of God.

    The Hodges (Wilkin/GES) interpretation of the Gospel does not stand the test of Scripture without reinventing and twisting the clear teaching of Scripture. We, therefore, must treat it as a false gospel.

    Since the Hodges/Wilkin “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel is a false gospel, we must, furthermore, follow the biblical mandates to “mark, avoid, withdraw, have no company with, and admonish him.” (Rom. 16:17; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15)

    The goal should be to recover Hodges, Wilkin and those who have been deceived by this teaching. We must warn and protect other believers and churches from being swept away by these egregious errors on the Gospel of Jesus Christ that have their origin with Zane Hodges.


    LM

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  7. Matthew,

    You said, “When we interpret the Bible we are dealing with eternal things. We are handling the very Word of God. If I say 'The Bible teaches this...' then I am declaring the counsel of God. If what I say is a faithful interpretation of the Scriptures it is absolute in its authority and is to be believed.”

    Amen! I whole heartedly agree with that. In my refutation of Zane C. Hodges' new false gospel, I have declared the counsel of God with authority and power. I myself am nothing, but have written the truth that God has given to me by His grace, and have rightly exercised the priestly authority possessed by all born-again saints. Neither Hodges nor his disciples can rightfully claim this authority when they teach their false gospel.

    You said, “Zane Hodges is not a prophet; he cannot claim that his very words are inspired, nevertheless if he may be one of those to whom God has granted the gift of teacher.”

    Having the gift of teacher does not make one immune to falling into the sin of heresy. Hodges once taught the same Gospel as I do. Would you say his past teachings concerning the Gospel are the counsel of God because he is a gifted teacher? Or would you simply say that he didn't have the gift back then? Or maybe he had a little light then that just got brighter in the last few years?

    You said, “God grants men the gift of teaching and inspires them by the Holy Ghost to do that work of proclaiming the doctrines and purpose of God in the present age through the Scriptures.”

    Amen! Throughout the entire Church Age there have always been saints that have preached the true Gospel.

    You said, “Though Hodges has received no new revelation, he has expounded the Scriptures to us and if we find that his interpretation of the Gospel is correct, we must pay heed to this doctrine and proclaim it to others. If Zane Hodges doctrine is of God we must treat it as absolute in its authority.”

    That “if” shall remain eternally unfulfilled, for Hodges' doctrine has been soundly refuted and shown to be a lie.

    Not everyone who has been carried away with his lie will be recovered in this life, for their consciences are too deeply seared. However, my prayer is that some will be recovered and be used mightily for God's glory, and that no other saint falls prey to the “crossless gospel”.

    PE

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  8. Good thoughts Lou,

    It almost seems like there was a bit of providence in seeing John MaCain come out of nowhere when he was behind and everyone else was fighting for that top spot Matthew. I like MaCain as well. I do like ol Hucklebuck as well but find MaCains political savy and clever tactics intriguing. He is no stupee but he does tell corny jokes. I agree about Politics...it is the art of compromise. I do not agree that we should use that same cleverness and compromise in dealing with the cross though. This is where I part ways with how you all are considering this. The cross is not up for auction. I saw a billboard today where some family had posted their dead child and asked the question "Who killed her". Please call 1-888-and so on. You can be sure that the family cared formost about who and why she had to be killed.

    The Bible is God's billboard to mankind and each page bleeds the blood of Christ. It is the whole point of the redemption of man. It is the Gospel. Jesus loved us so much that He died for us and our guilty hands that murdered Him because of our sin can now be cleansed and used for Him and helping others see why Jesus had to die for them.

    Consider this Matthew. I encourage you and Rose and everyone else at unashamed to stop politicizing and compromising the gospel by either trumpeting this false view or by simply saying this is some minor thing.

    Grace upon grace,

    Brian

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  9. Brian:

    You raise a point I'd like to address.

    Unashamed is a blog that is dominated by advocates of the "Crossless" gospel and they are "trumpeting" their errors there.

    I also see Rose, who has expressed some level of disagreement with the (CG), but has taken a cooperative position with them at Unashamed. She also provides some what of a safe haven for the advocates of the "Crossless" gospel at her blog as well.

    IMO, this indicates that, although she is not "trumpeting" the "Crossless" interpretation of the Gospel, she does view it as "some minor thing."


    LM

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  10. Lou, I appreciate your taking time to address what you see as errors in the Unashamed of Grace blog.

    If you would care to explain clearly what these errors are I will be happy to respond to them.

    God Bless

    Matthew

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  11. Matthew:

    My point was that the UoG blog is dominated by contributors, such as yourself, who have been deceived by the erroneous teachings of Zane Hodges on the Gospel and propagate those errors at UoG and various other pro-Crossless blogs.

    The doctrinal errors of the "Crossless" gospel are what I referred to when I wrote, "Unashamed is a blog that is dominated by advocates of the 'Crossless' gospel and they are trumpeting' their errors there."

    Where Rose is concerned: I gave her some distance on that. She claims, to some degree, to reject "Crossless" theology, but cooperates with and defends the advocates of this egregious doctrnal error at UoG and at her own blog

    So, I trust you now understand that my concern is not with the blog, only the false gospel that UoG is trying to champion and propagate.


    LM

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  12. Well I do appreciate the trouble you are taking to articulate what you find objectionable about the GES position.

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  13. Matthew:

    I'd like to return a similar comment, but the Scriptures forbid me.

    Romans 16:17-18 & 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15 are mandated courses of action for every believer when faced with the teaching and advocates of major doctrinal error, which the “Crossless” gospel, without any question, is.

    The Apostle Paul admonished believers: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses 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).

    The Bible says, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (2 Cor. 6:17). “From such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:5). “Withdraw yourselves” (2 Thess. 3:6). “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Rom. 12:9). “Prove all things; hold fast that which good” (1 Thess. 5:21).

    Some of the above refer to unbelievers; I do consider you born again, but an erring and disobedient brother.

    Because you are a vocal advocate of the Hodges’ false interpretation of the Gospel I cannot express any appreciation for or encouragement to you.


    LM

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  14. Mormons are not Creedal Christians. However, they do believe in the Jesus Christ of the New Testament:

    The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often accused by Evangelical pastors of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion. This article http://mormonsarechristian.blogspot.com/ helps to clarify such misconceptions by examining early Christianity's comprehension of baptism, the Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

    The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) adheres more closely to First Century Christianity and the New Testament than any other denomination. For example, Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.”


    One Baptist blogger stated “99 percent of the members of his Baptist church believe in the Mormon (and Early Christian) view of the Trinity. It is the preachers who insist on the Nicene Creed definition.” It seems to me the reason the pastors denigrate the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is to protect their flock (and their livelihood).

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  15. Bot:

    I am war to give you fair warning; I am likely going to delete your posts. You posted this same comment here and at another thread.

    I am not going to let my blog be used to promote the false, cultic Mormon religion.

    Mormons should be the object of fervent, prayerful evangelistic outreach for they are deceived, lost and on the way to Hell.


    LM

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