March 5, 2008

2008 Grace Evangelical Society’s National Conference

Dear Guests:

The 2008 Grace Evangelical Society’s National Conference is under way in Dallas, Texas.

At the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) web site you can download conference notes from the various speakers at this year’s conference. Last night I was able to download several of these papers. I perused three papers authored and presented at the conference by Bob Wilkin. Wilkins’s notes are essentially a reiteration of the same arguments for the Crossless gospel he has been presenting for years.

The GES conference is largely dominated by speakers who are driving a stake in the ground that the Crossless interpretation of the Gospel, which was originated by Zane Hodges, is the official position of the Grace Evangelical Society.

In my opinion, however, the most striking news from the conference is the attendance estimates. Years ago I lived in West Texas. I have several friends who currently live in Texas. One was able to visit the GES conference yesterday, March 4th. According to this individual there are no more than 140 in attendance.* This is significant when you compare the current attendance to recent previous year’s attendance, especially when you take into account there are well over 20 speakers among the 140.

Former GES members have told me that the conference typically hosted up to and over 300 delegates. If the 140 attendance estimate is even close to accurate for this year’s conference this verifies that the “contrary” doctrine (Romans 16:17) of the GES’s Crossless gospel is resulting in scores departing the GES for safer theological fellowships.

In recent months I have made no secret of my hope and prayer that either 1) the GES leadership and its members will come to their senses, repent and return to a balanced position on the Gospel, or 2) the Lord will bring swift closure to the GES. As long as the GES is in existence there is a chance that their egregious errors on the Gospel could gain a foothold in broadening evangelical circles.

Thankfully, many Free Grace pastors and teachers have come to realize just how far askew of biblical orthodoxy the GES has drifted and no longer attend, endorse or host GES events.

It would be a genuine tragedy if even one more unsuspecting Christian were to be deceived and fall into the trap of the Crossless gospel.


*If any GES staff member would like to revise this 140 attendance estimate up or down they may e-mail that correction to me at their convenience.

I posted this article now because it is time sensitive. Later I will drop this article down my home page so that it appears beneath Greg Schliesmann’s wrap up of The Technical Meaning of the Term, THE “GOSPEL”.


  1. The following appears in a new paper by Bob Wilkin and was presented by Wilkin at the 2008 GES National Conference. This is Wilkins’s own description of his position on repentance and how he changed his mind for the Hodges’ interpretation.

    From 1983-1985 I searched the Scriptures, OT and NT, about the doctrine of repentance. I wrote a 270 page dissertation on the subject. My first reader, my advisor, on that dissertation was Zane Hodges. I thought I was settled in my understanding of repentance.

    Five years later, in 1990, Zane Hodges wrote a book called Absolutely Free! In it was a chapter in which he contradicted my findings in my dissertation. I remember a rather contentious board meeting at that time in which board members pleaded with him to leave out his chapter on repentance.

    When I saw what Zane wrote, I was left torn but unconvinced. I was open. What he said was much simpler than the view I had written in my dissertation. But I still had trouble with a handful of passages that at the time I still thought taught that the Greek word metanoia was a condition of everlasting life.

    My thought at the time was that if I could be convinced that those verses didn’t teach that, then I would change my mind.

    It took about 7 years, but by 1998 I was convinced that repentance isn’t a condition of eternal life and that isn’t changing one’s mind about Christ.

    (Searching the Scriptures to Find the Truth: Aim to Be a Berean!, p. 7.)

    You will note above Wilkin refers to “a rather contentious board meeting,” that ensued over Hodges new interpretation of repentance that he decided to present in Absolutely Free. His most complete apologetic for repentance having no part as a condition of salvation is found in Harmony With God.

    As I have noted elsewhere it was Hodges new interpretation of the doctrine of repentance that began the exodus of Free Grace pastors and teachers from the GES.

    The more recent revelation of the Crossless gospel has of course greatly accelerated the departures.


  2. To All:

    My friend who was at the GES National Conference during the week told me he met a number of the speakers and attendees.

    I expect we'll see some reports about the conference at various pro-Crossless gospel blogs and surely from the GES web site.


  3. To All:

    I have viewed most of the photo gallery from the GES National Conference.

    Based on the photos the 140 estimate from my friend who was there for two days would be accurate.

    It is a blessing to see that the GES is shrinking and its corruptive influence waning.


  4. I livewebcasted from the GES2008 conference. Many sessions were standing room only. Most were not. I think there were about as many there this year as last year. I just finished editing the video and audio so it should be available soon to purchase from GES. Some folks attended via webcast.

    It was a fantastic conference and as usual the teaching and the fellowship was the highlight of my year. I think Bob and Zane were at their best. . . never better.

    The theme this year was the Person and Work of Christ.

    As far as the pointless allegations against Bob and Zane.


    Did Tom Steegle and you guys here ever hear of decaf? I think you need a reality check. I think I still consider you under the big FG umbrella. . . but you are the ones out on the fringe. . . not Bob and Zane. I wouldn't want to go to the Bema having "Accuser of the Brethren" on MY resume, even if Bob and Zane they were off on the content of the saving message. Maybe they are. Maybe you are too. Do you make the same accusations against Catholics or Lordship teachers who teach faith plus works? Is that how you treat everyone you disagree with? I hope not, because Christ did not behave that way toward his own children. Neither should Tom Stegall or anyone. . . against those we think have wrong theology. The points you are knit-picking are at best MINOR POINTS at worst NON EXISTENT in the big picture!!! Don't you see it??? You are falling right into Satan's trap. It is so easy for those who are outside the "debate" to see. You are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    God help you! Good luck at the bema! You'll need it.

    - Don Reiher
    Host of GES Webboard

  5. Don:

    The only reason I am leaving your comment on this thread is to let it serve as another example of what you men have become.

    Your Crossless theology has been devastated from the Scriptures, and so you have to resorted to the only thing you have left, which is typified by what you posted above.


  6. Dennis:

    I want to share with you some of what motivates me and others who reject the false interpretation of the Gospel coming from Hodges and Wilkin.

    One of the prime motivates for me to biblically resist the Crossless gospel stems from what we have seen Lordship Salvation grow into.

    Men, who could and probably should have done more, relaxed after their initial reaction to MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus. MacArthur and his camp, however, kept teaching, promoting and reaching out with their Lordship heresy. Now we see gatherings like the Shepherd’s Conference with 4,000 in attendance.

    Because of the growing number of egregious doctrinal errors of Hodges and Wilkin they can never have any meaningful contribution in the fight to resist the spread of LS. I for one will continue to deal with the Lordship message as best as I am able.

    My hope, prayer and motivation is that the equally heretical Crossless gospel of Zane Hodges never reaches beyond the borders it already has. I have been working toward duplicating my blog in the Hindi language because of GES sympathizers taking their heresy to William Carey’s Gold Mine of Souls.

    I would like nothing more than to see Crossless theology remain isolated to the shrinking cell of followers. I do, however, hope that many of those who have been deceived can be recovered to a balanced view of the Gospel.

    Finally, there is nothing, what you called, “MINOR” about the tearing down and reductionist assaults on the Gospel of Jesus Christ coming from GES.

    MacArthur errs by addition, Hodges errs by subtraction. Both are false gospels and I will do all I can, with the help of God, to “contend for the faith once delivered,” (Jude 3).


  7. There is no more important topic than the Gospel.

    If we are not willing to fall on the sword for the Gospel then what is left to be important to us?