March 10, 2008

FGA Executive Counsel’s Official Statement

Dear Guests:

The Free Grace Alliance (FGA) Executive Council met March 7-8, 2008 for their mid-year business meeting. From the meeting the following official statement was issued:

The FGA’s mission is always and everywhere to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ when we preach the gospel. We encourage every member of the FGA to be fervent and faithful to preach that message. Within the membership of the FGA there has been discussion about the minimum one must understand to be saved. Regardless of a person’s convictions, believers are called to preach the gospel, not the minimum.

Please continue to pray for and support the FGA and join us in following the Executive Council's charge to ‘always and everywhere proclaim the death and resurrection’ of God's Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ as we preach the gospel at home and abroad.

I am reviewing this statement, have some initial thoughts, but I am reserving comment. For now, I am concerned over the direction this might indicate for the FGA in regard to the teaching and advocates of the Crossless gospel that are currently on the FGA board and in membership of the FGA. This may play itself out at the FGA’s National Conference in October.

You can view the statement at the Free Grace Alliance web site.

Your comments are welcome.


LM

68 comments:

  1. Lou, et al,

    I think the FGA statement will turn out to be HUGE in the clarifying and promoting the gospel of grace.

    I had nothing to do with this statement as the former FGA Executive Director, but I am proud to be associated with the progress I see in making it clear that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is to always be proclaimed in any presentation of the gospel.

    If the gospel must be preached with the inclusion of the death and resurrection, then of course the opportunity to believe a "cross-filled" gospel is clearly in view for all who hear.

    This is a decided improvement over the writings and teachings of those who propose that explicit knowledge of cross, etc., is unnecessary for saving faith in Chist for eternal life.

    I'm glad to belong to the FGA because we need to pull together to work side by side to clarify grace and it's many aspects.

    The FGA isn't about perfection, but it is about a discussion...which now seems to have the good fence of Christ's finished work around our efforts.

    Kudos to the efforts and direction of the FGA Leadership Council.

    Grace and Truth,

    Fred R. Lybrand
    Founding Director - FGA

    P.S. Please join with us: www.freegracealliance.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. The statement does seem to leave room for those who do not hold to the importance of the cross in the gospel, nevertheless it is a misconception and not a conviction that leads one to feel that the death and resurrection can not be considered, even for a second, in the gospel. They do state that believers are called to preach the gospel, not the minimun, thereby stating that the minimum is not the gospel, so I wonder if those within the FGA who are pressuring others are going to be content with that statement. It will be interesting to see how this turns up. I am glad that they seem to be coming around to seeing the importance of the death and resurrection of our Lord as being the gospel message.

    Grace upon grace,

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Brother Lybrand:

    Thanks for visiting and your comments.

    I was away all evening on family business. It is too late for much now, but I will look forward to some helpful, edifying discussions with you.

    Thanks again,


    Lou

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Guests:

    Later this week Brother Lybrand and I will be discussing some issues of mutual interest in the debate over the Crossless gospel and the FGA's official statement.

    Later in the week I will share some of my personal thoughts in regard to the FGA's official statement.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am personally discouraged because the statement does indeed leave room for the CG crowd, indeed it's worded almost precisely as they have argued their case for as long as I've been involved in the debate -- "we always present the death and res, but the lost man need not actually believe those things to receive Everlasting Life." Was the FGA official statement written with this in mind, essentially consenting with that view?

    I have been mulling over some other thoughts about the so-called "consistent free grace" position that I will post here or elsewhere later.

    Lou and Fred, I am praying for your coming discussion.

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete
  6. Fred, I read your comment again and this portion of it is encouraging and somewhat answers my question as to at least your perception of the statement's intent: "This is a decided improvement over the writings and teachings of those who propose that explicit knowledge of cross, etc., is unnecessary for saving faith in Chist for eternal life."

    I would like to point out however that the debate is not whether the lost must "have knowledge of/understand" those things as one can easily "have knowledge of/understand" something while also explicitly rejecting it. i.e. I "have knowledge of/understand" Mormonism, but I explicitly do not accept it as true.

    While encouraging in some ways, it is unfortunately vague enough to not make this vital distinction.

    Thank you for your comments and efforts to discuss this further.

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete
  7. I cannot in good conscience be as optimistic as Fred about this statement. I see 2 areas of concern from this statement:

    1. Their seeming agreement with the CG camp that "the gospel" does not necessarily mean "that which must be believed to be born again". The first sentence of the statement says, "The FGA’s mission is always and everywhere to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ when we preach the gospel." If the death and rez are part of the gospel, this sentence sounds rather strange. It would be like saying, "Whenever you explain the chemical properties of water, you should always talk about two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen." Such a sentence is redundant and unnecessary because "two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen" IS the chemical properties of water. You cannot possibly explain the properties of water w/o those elements.

    It is the same with the gospel. To say we should always preach the death and rez when we preach the gospel seems quite unnecessary, because the death and rez IS the gospel. However, if one is coming from the perspective that "the gospel" may or may not include the death and rez, then such a sentence makes sense. Unfortunately, such a perspective is only held by the CG camp, which indicates that they perhaps had some influence on the wording of this statement.

    I wonder if perhaps the FGA plans to define what exactly they think is "the gospel"? They state here that "believers are called to preach the gospel", yet how can we be sure we are indeed preaching "the gospel" if we don't know what exactly it is? It would seem that if the FGA thinks that all Christians are commanded to preach "the gospel" (which I agree with), then it would behoove them to define what precisely "the gospel" is.

    2. This statement emphasizes the need for believers to proclaim to everyone everywhere the death and rez of Jesus. That is commendable, as indeed we should proclaim these truths. However, the emphasis is on the person doing the proclaiming (i.e. the believer), rather than on the listener (i.e. the lost person). While it is certainly true that we should always tell everyone of Jesus' death and rez, this really is not the issue that is being debated. The issue is what the lost need to understand and believe, not what they need to merely hear about. The statement almost seems to be saying that as long as you speak the words about Jesus' death and rez, that's sufficient, whether or not the lost person believes it. For instance, I could "proclaim" the death and rez of Jesus to the JW at my door, but he is far from salvation until he accepts and believes it. Proclamation of the truths of the gospel is obviously vital, but mere proclamation is insufficient. It is not what we proclaim that determines someone's salvation, but what they actually accept and believe.

    So, it seems to me that this statement still leaves much unsettled, but does seem to be leaning in the direction of the "Crossless" gospel view. I am hopeful that more progress away from that view and towards what I believe is a more biblical view can be made in the coming months.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Stephen,

    We were posting at the same time. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dear Guests:

    Thanks for your reaction to the FGA statement and Brother Lybrand’s comment. From what I am gathering there are a significant number who are disappointed with the FGA statement as written.

    I will be interacting here more fully on this latest development once I finish some discussions on these issues.

    Kind regards,


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  10. Its kind of an encouraging dissapointment for me anyway. I find myself wanting to be positive about this but clearly guarded by its wording.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hey Lou, and everyone else,

    I haven't read the comments yet because I want to respond to the statement by FGA.

    I've just removed the link to FGA from my blog.

    The FGA’s mission is always and everywhere to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ when we preach the gospel.

    His death for our sins and resurrection IS the Gospel. 1 Cor 15:1-11. You can not "preach the Gospel" without preaching His death and resurrection. This statement shows they have slipped past the safety line in their theological thinking.

    We encourage every member of the FGA to be fervent and faithful to preach that message

    Huh? They "encourage" members to preach the Gospel? Did the Lord leave us any choice in this matter? Mark 16:14-20

    Within the membership of the FGA there has been discussion about the minimum one must understand to be saved.

    God GAVE us the Apostles to clear this whole "discussion" up. 1 Cor 15:11 Eph 1:13-14

    Regardless of a person’s convictions, believers are called to preach the gospel, not the minimum.

    If a person's convictions are something other than the Gospel then they need to be disciplined (if they actually are a Christian) or witnessed to. Period.

    Please continue to pray for and support the FGA and join us

    I can do no such thing. The Love of the Lord constrains me to pray for them to repent. And for the Spirit's protection on believers who might be exposed to this.

    following the Executive Council's charge to ‘always and everywhere proclaim the death and resurrection’ of God's Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ as we preach the gospel at home and abroad.

    Again, as before, His death for our sins and resurrection IS the Gospel. You don't preach this "as" you preach the Gospel. It is it.

    It scares me to see former defenders of the faith loose their way. I know God will be glorified and my prayer is that we will see that glory come!

    Kev

    ReplyDelete
  12. The wording of the FGA statement is troubling to me. At worst, both the opening and closing points of it make a distinction between the death and resurrection of Christ, and the Gospel.

    At best, it seems to be a poorly written defense of the truth that the death and resurrection of Christ MUST be believed if one is to be saved, and allows far too much wiggle room for those that oppose this truth.

    A man-made organization should not be expected to be perfect. However, the Gospel must be presented and defended with crystal clarity and boldness.

    PE

    ReplyDelete
  13. Kevl/Phil:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. These are crucial and vital matters for the body of Christ in the FG community.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  14. Dear All,

    Three little things here:

    1. Hey gang how about responding instead of reacting? I'm really on the team...and I'm sure the super-majority of the FGA is as well. Trying to build consensus on issues people haven't thought through takes a minute or two...and God does great things through it (think of all the historic debates that settled core doctrines!).

    2. Please, each and every one, post EXACTLY WHAT SIMPLE STATEMENT you think captures what one must believe to be saved. Across the spectrum I often see some indicting others, but I have yet (as of this writing) to have anyone offer the EXACT STATEMENT the FGA, etc., should adopt. Share what it should be and I'll share it with others in the leadership...I promise.

    3. I am convinced that the FGA Covenant (see it at http://www.freegracealliance.com/about_covenant.php) states what it needs to for our (FGA) purposes, & I don't personally think (I'm speaking only as a member) it gives room for a committed CG person to sign it in good faith. The true CG folks I personally know will not sign the FGA Covenant. Let's work on being persuasive, and winsome, and clear...much as Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:24-26) "explained the way of God more accurately" to Apollos (a man mighty in the Scriptures). The folks involved, even the "CG" folks, aren't evil (I'm pretty sure :-) even if they are mistaken...

    Grace and Peace,

    Fred Lybrand

    ReplyDelete
  15. Brother Fred:

    Thanks for addressing these guests at my blog. Just one thought for tonight.

    You wrote, "The folks involved, even the 'CG' folks, aren't evil (I'm pretty sure) even if they are mistaken..."

    I think that may have been some tongue-in-cheek from you, but I can assure you that I have not interpreted nor would I tolerate my guests referring to the CG crowd as inherently evil.

    Badly mistaken in their interpretation of the Gospel, but not evil.

    Thanks,


    Lou

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hello Fred,

    Thanks for posting here and interacting with us on this vital topic. For my part, I am simply reacting by responding. :-) Truly, I am not angry or trying to blast you or anything like that. After many months of engaging people from all sides on this discussion, I have found it necessary to be very specific and get right to the heart of the matter. I have also found a tendency of those on the CG side to avoid direct speech and wording regarding their view.

    For instance, Bob Wilkin had come to my church several months ago, and there was much discussion and debate that ensued regarding his view of the gospel. Later, Wilkin told one of our pastors that he (Wilkin) agreed with our church's statement of faith. That was surprising to my husband and I, so we emailed Wilkin about some specifics. Come to find out, Wilkin was redefining the terms in our church's statement according to his views in order to say he agreed with it. When we explained to him what those terms meant based on sermons from our pastor, he quickly backed off from being so adamantly in agreement and out of the discussion.

    I hope this helps you understand why at least I am quick to parse out specific words and phrases associated with this debate. It is far too easy for the CG camp to find ways of agreeing with most any way of wording these things unless it is very plain.

    You asked for us to provide a simple statement of what one must believe to be saved. Please note that Tom Stegall has in fact already outlined what he views as the required content of saving faith today. You can read it in Part 1 of his "Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel", about 1/3 of the way down.

    I think I would agree with Tom's points there, although I would probably remove the "human" aspect. Not that I don't think it's required, but that I don't see the need to bring that up as it seems self-evident. At my blog I've started a series of articles explaining what my view is and why, as well as responding to various objections. The phrase I've been coming back to a lot is, "faith alone that Jesus, being God, died for your sins and rose from the dead". That pretty much sums up my view in a simple statement.

    You said,

    "...I don't personally think (I'm speaking only as a member) [the FGA covenant] gives room for a committed CG person to sign it in good faith. The true CG folks I personally know will not sign the FGA Covenant."

    This is a very interesting statement. Perhaps you are defining "true CG folks" differently than I do. But I can think of 3 CG men who are members of FGA (as far as I know they still are). Stephen Lewis, who is listed on the FGA member list. Antonio da Rosa, who stated here that he has "no problem agreeing with the statement [the FGA covenant]". And Jim Johnson, who indicated here that his "membership is with the FGA".

    Perhaps there are some CG people who will not sign the FGA covenant. At least they are being upfront and clear about their beliefs. But I see several CG people who have apparently already signed the covenant, and considering the frequent double-speak, redirects, and redefinitions that I have seen so consistently from CG people, I find it extremely important that any statement regarding this issue be of utmost precision. And I do not see such precision in this latest FGA statement.

    Fred, thanks again for engaging in discussion with us regarding this issue. We greatly appreciate the time you are taking here.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Many of my guests remember that in late 2007 Ron Shea accepted Bob Wilkins’s challenge to debate the Gospel. Once, however, Ron accepted the challenge Wilkin lost his taste and fervor for debate and backed out. See the three articles at Open Challenge for the details.

    The following was sent to me by Brother Shea. He asked that I post his remarks in this thread. What follows is an abbreviated edition of his e-mail to me.


    Dear Lou:

    At first, I thought this official statement was a conciliatory statement by Grace Evangelical Society. I didn’t run through my mind which three letter initials were being used at first. Then, I realized it was FGA, not GES. I am in shock!

    All of the posts were so well thought out, there is little I can add. But I will:

    1) I think there have already been two fairly well articulated statements on the “Bare minimum” of the message of saving faith.

    a) The shortest concise defense of the Biblical minimum can be found in The Gospel Booklet, on page 19 (right hand side), from beginning of the word “Salvation” by the black arrow to the point where the reader is asked if he understands it.

    b) The more general summary of that is found from pages 1-23

    c) A definitive defense of the bare minimum can be found at Article IX: The Gospel Message,

    If these statements were theological drivel, I would not be offended at being ignored. But I think they are pretty clear, well thought out, and theologically sound. I feel like the evangelical community is searching for something that I presented in 1988 (a and b above) and also expressed in definitive detail BEFORE the Crossless gospel hit the fan in (c) above. I think they deserve some consideration by persons who are exploring this question.

    2) I note in 1 Cor. 11:19, Paul said: “For there must also be heresies among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.” GOD’S WAY OF IDENTIFYING TRUE CHRITIAN LEADERS IS BY ALLOWING HERESY TO DIVIDE, NOT BY COVERING IT UP. How are we going to present the church a spotless bride if we can’t even defend the gospel?

    3) In Phil. 1:19, Paul never said, “I am appointed for the very limited defense of the doctrine of free grace.” (As if he were some one-note samba.) He said “For I am appointed for a defense of the gospel.” Folks, we’ve got to take a stand somewhere!

    4) Whether or not the Crossless gospel crowd are evil, they ARE UNDER A CURSE! (Galatians 1:8-9) And they will remain so until they repent.

    5) In addition to their theology, there are three Ph.D.’s and/or former professors who claim the mantle of this movement. Professor Zane Hodges is, by every appearance, the author of the Crossless gospel. Then Bob Wilkin (GES) and John Niemela.

    Frankly, I do regard this movement as evil, not only in its theology, but in the leaders, at least two thirds of whom I find to be not simply sinners (as we all are), but who have systematically, cunningly, and grievously sinned to promote their heresy.

    6) We will not raise up an army to win the world for Christ by dumbing down the gospel. On the same day that Bill Hybels (the father of the seeker friendly movement) has admitted, at least in some measure, that his life’s work is a failure—too busy trying to please people by giving them what they wanted rather than what they needed . . . we have the FGA, trying to build bridges through irenic language. Joshua maximized the strength of his army . . . not by being irenic, but by weeding out the unfit, and developing an army that was strong.


    Ron Shea

    ReplyDelete
  19. Just out of interest, how many of you guys are members of the Free Grace Alliance?

    Does this discussion arise out of an intention to join and support the FGA?

    ReplyDelete
  20. I just thought of a really good idea. You all seem to be so disspointed with these organizations. I think you should start somehting yoursleves - get together with those who are like-minded and you can guard and defend your statements against those who you think are outside the fray of orthodoxy. I think that would be a great response to this dilemna for you. Just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Matthew:

    My question is why should we join the FGA with an official statement like this?

    The gospel is not being put first, this is consensus building. Do you understand this?

    My guests and I are Free Grace (NOT GES faction), we oppose Lordship Salvation, and our voices do matter.

    This accommodation, with the advocates of error, approach from the FGA is going to discourage men and women from joining the FGA.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  22. Rachel:

    You wrote, "Unfortunately, such a perspective is only held by the CG camp, which indicates that they perhaps had some influence on the wording of this statement."

    The FGA board does include men who are committed advocates of the Crossless gospel.

    Stephen R. Lewis (Rocky Mountain Bible College) holds the Crossless view of the Gospel, and is supportive of the GES position.

    Lewis is on the FGA board and executive counsel. Lewis undoubtedly had a great deal of influence in the construct of the FGA's official statement.


    Lou

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi Fred, you asked for Please, each and every one, post EXACTLY WHAT SIMPLE STATEMENT you think captures what one must believe to be saved.

    Here it is;

    1 Cor 15:1-11

    God Bless,
    Kev

    ReplyDelete
  24. Matthew,

    I've been considering joining the FGA. I was waiting to see which side of the line they'd land on as far as this "crossless/repentanceless gospel" goes.

    I'd love to have a vote at the table, but I can't enter into a covenant relationship with an organization that is apposed to the Gospel of Christ. Mat 12:30

    God Bless,
    Kev

    ReplyDelete
  25. Matthew,

    Why do you ask? Would it affect our discussion in any way if I intend to join the FGA?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Matthew:
    No, I am not a member of the FGA.
    Yes, I would consider it. It's covenant is worded well I think, esp #3, but enforcement of the covenant is apparently lacking when those who "agree" to it are allowed to define the terms within as they choose. How credible would my marital vow "to forsake all others" be if I redefined it to mean "I'll stay married to you despite having open affairs?" i.e. "I only love you honey, my romps with other ladies are just for fun." Further, how absurd would it be for my wife to actually accept that redefinition in our marriage covenant? The current FGA leadership appears to allow exactly that sort of laxness in the interpretation of it's covenant with it's members.

    Rose:
    The status of the FGA is up in the air right now so we fight for it to retain/regain it's integrity so long as we think that is possible. The GES was a good organization at one time but was allowed to slip slowly into it's present error and we seek to keep that same thing from happening to the FGA and the people who agreed in good faith with the covenant before lukewarm statements like the above were issued that effectively neuter it of meaning. If that's the case, the FGA is redundant and may as well become one with the GES as their views would, in practice, be virtually indistinguishable.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Rose,

    You said,

    "I think you should start somehting yoursleves - get together with those who are like-minded and you can guard and defend your statements against those who you think are outside the fray of orthodoxy."

    I already have - my local church. That is precisely what we did at our church when Wilkin spoke there and brought his false gospel. We got together with those who were like-minded and guarded and defended our church's statements (our views as well).

    Your comments seem to indicate that we should get together with those that agree with us and leave the others alone. I hope you didn't mean that, but in case you did, surely you can agree that it is important to stand for truth and to do what you can to keep others from sliding into error. Part of "guard[ing] and defend[ing]" our views is to take public stands against those who do not share our views, especially those who try to "sound" like they agree when they really don't.

    IRT the FGA, it is a fledgling organization that purports to stand for "free grace", which I hold to. So it is especially concerning that they are claiming a particular "name" or "label" which I would normally feel safe recommending to others, and could support in its teaching and progression. I don't want to see any more fall victim to the erroneous teaching of the GES on the gospel. The FGA seems to be waffling a bit right now, they have not come out solidly in support of either side of this debate. Thus I want to help convince them to move away from the CG side and toward the biblical side.

    So it's not really accurate to say that any of this is a "dilemma" for me. I am simply standing for truth, trying to proclaim that truth to others, and attempting to stop the spread of falsity. Am I doing that in every single area, no, that's not possible. But this is an area that I have some personal interest in, so I am doing what I can.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi Lou,

    You once wrote this statement:

    "When my book came out some men in the Free Grace camp began to claim me as part of their camp. Some Lordship advocates began to label me as a Free Grace advocate. I told both groups they are being hasty, and I do not identify with any particular group or camp. Well, now that I have spoken up about the doctrinal errors with Hodges, some of the Hodge’s loyalists are up in arms with me. Over a year ago I warned them!"

    You also talk about Free Grace theology in the third person, as you have done here on baptist board:

    "For those who may not be familiar with Zane Hodges: In the Lordship Salvation / Free Grace debate- Zane Hodges, from the Free Grace position, is as about high profile as John MacArthur is for Lordship Salvation. Free Grace and Lordship Salvation are as far from one another in the pendulum swing as differing schools of theological thought can be."

    Do you now claim to be an advocate of Free Grace Theology?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Rachel, how long have you known about the specific movement called "Free Grace Theology"? I recollect reading something from your husband that states that he didn't know about such a thing midway through 2007.

    ReplyDelete
  30. FGA:

    Because of the serious nature of what is going on here and because of Antonio's use of a Sock Puppet (fg me) at my blog you will need to post your comment with your real name.

    I have no problem answering your comment if you have no problem revealing your true identity.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  31. My name is Gene Holman and I am in the church with Rose Cole. I have been reading Rosie's blog and got interested in your blog and this debate several months ago because I saw you in her comments.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Dear Gene:

    Thanks for the reply.

    To start I want you to know that this will be the only interaction we will have on this subject. I want this thread to stay focused on the FGA’s official statement.

    I am asking all of my guests to refrain from going down rabbit trails in this thread. Let’s not allow for a discussion of this magnitude get derailed. Thanks.

    1) When my book came out in 2006 I was only aware of the GES faction of the FG camp. I have never been comfortable with GES. I first crossed the GES path in 1997 and from the get-go I saw doctrinal problems and decided I did not want to identify with GES. As for “identify” I sometimes mean that in terms of “formally identify” as in becoming a member of an organization.

    The ones I warned and kept my distance from are those who aligned themselves with Hodges and Wilkin. 1) I did not want any LS advocates or the uninformed to think for one minute that I was writing against LS from a GES/Crossless gospel platform. I did receive quite a few e-mails asking my position, if I was in or supportive of GES.

    2) I knew the day would come when I’d have to engage the false interpretation of the Gospel coming from Hodges and Wilkin. If I had embraced GES men, and then as this debate began, which I knew it surely would, they would have felt I betrayed them.

    Well after my book came out I began to meet men who identified themselves as in the Free Grace community. Men like Tom Stegall and Dennis Rokser. Once I became familiar with their personal theological stance on the Gospel I was happy to interact and fellowship with them but never the GES faction.

    The GES, IMO no longer represents what has been known as the Free Grace movement. The GES’s doctrinal errors are so many and so grievous they have long since represented the FG community at large. GES members have resigned in significant numbers. Some of them were hopeful that the FGA might be anew home, and safe haven from GES theology, but that appears to have been a false hope.

    3) I don’t see a problem using third person. It is not uncommon.

    4) Do I claim to an advocate of Free Grace Theology?
    Let me reiterate that there has been a fracture, a needed fracture in the FG community.

    The GES faction of the FG camp has followed the egregious errors on the Gospel that originated with Zane Hodges. I have not and will never be an advocate of the Hodges, Wilkin, and GES interpretation of Free Grace theology. GES is a “Consistent” Free Grace Theology, in one way: It is consistently wrong!

    Are you aware that I have known and interacted with Charlie Bing since 1997? E-mail only until 2006. I quote him in my book from his dissertation on Lordship Salvation. I can’t even remember when I first learned from him that he was part of what is known at the Free Grace movement. Probably went right past me. Frankly it would not matter to me, since we were on the same doctrinal plane on the Gospel in the first place.

    So, do I consider myself an advocate of Free Grace theology? I have been Free Grace advocate (NOT GES) since well before I knew there was a movement that was identified by that label.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  33. Freindly reminder...

    I am asking all of my guests to refrain from going down rabbit trails in this thread. Let’s not let a discussion of this magnitude get derailed.

    Thanks,


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  34. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  35. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  36. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Lou, I guess that my question in reading this statement is:

    Is the “minimum” that our FGA leadership states here different from the Gospel? If it is, we have some real issues.

    If we are trying to defend the hypothetical situations that people pose like:

    1. If a 5 year old says he believes in Jesus so he can go to heaven when he dies but doesn’t understand the cross and the resurrection and he dies in that condition is he in heaven?
    2. If someone is dying and I say do you believe that Jesus can give you eternal life and he says yes and dies, is he in heaven?

    Are we going to define the sine qua non of the gospel based on such hypothetical questions or on the Scripture? Did the Holy Spirit through the apostles ever pose the Gospel to be believed for salvation on such hypothetical situation?

    Looking at the scriptures I’d say that “no, these people are not in heaven” but I base that on Paul’s clarification of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15 not on some sentimentality that I have toward an individual in such a situation. That is the only way to ever debate the Gospel. Everyone has an “testimony” that is particular and most don’t hold much biblical water.

    What is so complicated with -- Christ (God become man) died for our sins and rose again?!

    The FGA leadership here seems to be saying that there is a difference between the Gospel to be preach and the actual “saving message” to be believed. Folks, that is GES theology 101 and I trust that FGA is not saying the same thing.

    The minimum according to GES is: believe on Christ as the guarantor of eternal life.

    What is the minimum of the leadership of the FGA refers to in their official statement?

    Obviously the biblical minimum is: Sinner, believe on Christ’s (God become man) who died for our sins and rose again.

    Bret W. Nazworth

    ReplyDelete
  39. Gene:

    I just answered your question, which was not germane to this article and thread. Twice I posted this...

    I am asking all of my guests to refrain from going down rabbit trails in this thread. Let’s not allow for a discussion of this magnitude get derailed. Thanks.

    You posted some new comments on the same subject and one that strays from the discussion of the FGA’s official statement.

    There was nothing inherently wrong with your comments, but they are not focused on the discussion of the FGA statement

    I have, therefore, deleted them.

    Sorry, but this is too important to get side tracked.

    If you want to discuss and question the FGA statement and it ramifications, please do so.


    Lou

    ReplyDelete
  40. Bret:

    Thanks for checking in. You wrote, “The FGA leadership here seems to be saying that there is a difference between the Gospel to be preach and the actual “saving message” to be believed. Folks, that is GES theology 101 and I trust that FGA is not saying the same thing.”

    Part of the problem, the way I see it, is that it appears the FGA does not want to make a definitive statement in unvarnished terms, one way or the other.

    This statement has the earmarks of consensus building for the sake of the fellowship.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  41. To All:

    In regard to my reply to Gene's question above (See- 3/12/2008 4:39 PM), you may copy it and post it where ever you like.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Your labor is bearing precious fruit. We continue to pray about this very important matter. Such good statements from Kev and Rachel as well. She was spot on. I'll give it that she has more patience than I do. I decided to delete my first two comments responding to the condescending remarks made and the attempts to draw this discussion of track. The Lord is reminding me and He is good to do so.


    Grace upon grace,

    Brian

    ReplyDelete
  45. Hi Gene,

    I spent all my elementary and secondary education in a Christian school. I had the same teacher for Bible from 8th-12th grades. I can remember watching a variety of John MacArthur videos throughout those 5 years, and I also remember hearing plenty in those classes about "easy believism". Then when I went to Bible college, there was some discussion of LS among the students, but nothing particular was stated either way from the professors (although we had to read a lot of Ryrie books, if that can be considered any kind of statement).

    So I have "known" about the movement and the issues for many years now. Although I must say that I do not see how any of this is relevant. I am not sure how it matters how long I have known about the movement of "free grace theology".

    ReplyDelete
  46. Lou,

    Not to derail this thread any more, but I did want to very briefly address a couple of Gene's points from earlier.

    First, Gene, I saw your 3 essential tenets of FG theology. However, there does not appear to be any official list of the essentials of FG theology. Rene Lopez mentioned in an article of his last year that FG theology has been pretty loosely defined and still lacks clear definition. Perhaps this debate will lead to more clarity. But my point is that I see no reason to accept your list of "essentials" of FG theology when there are many different lists, some which may include items that you might not agree with.

    Beyond that, I will say that I am not sure what exactly I am. I know that I am not hard-core LS. But I read such a wide variety of theology from well-known and accepted FG theologians that I cannot say with certainty whether I am FG or not.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Rachel, I haven't read all the comments in this thread but I happened to notice your comment regarding the humanity of Jesus comprising an essential element of the gospel.

    I agree with you, that his humanity is implied in the fact the gospel centers on a Person and the fact this Person died. I disagree with your conclusion that since this implication is already obvious to us, we shouldn't identify His humanity as an essential element to the gospel.

    The reason this must be identified as an essential element of Christ's identity in terms of what the lost believe (or in Whom the lost must believe) for salvation is because Scripture specifically points this out.

    John specifically points out that this is an essential element in identifying the true Jesus (1John 2:22; 4:3; 2John 7). And so, even though it seems obvious to us that Jesus was human (and normally the challenge in evangelism is convincing the lost of His deity, not His humanity), the fact remains that this element is essential to the gospel, Satan attacks it, and it is possible for someone to get wrong.

    The relationship between 1John 2:22 and 4:3 (and also John 20:31) is interesting, especially viewed with the backdrop of historical clues to the heresy John countered.

    It seems some gnosticesque false teachers distinguished between "Jesus" (i.e., the person) and "the Christ" (which they spoke of as an immaterial spirit). I've already posted quotes from Irenaeus where he spells this out as a heresy contradicted by John's writings. They taught that the "Christ spirit" indwelled "Jesus" during His earthly life and left before His death.

    And so, I believe John 20:31, 1John 2:22, 4:3, and 2John 7 are really touching on this same point -- the lost must believe that Jesus (i.e., the person who died) is Himself the Christ. Someone cannot be saved by believing upon a non-incarnate Christ.

    If the Bible specifically points this out as an essential attribute in identifying the true personage of Jesus (cf. 2Cor 11:4), then it seems very clear to me that we should identify this truth when talking about what the lost must believe to be saved.

    ReplyDelete
  48. My sentence that read "though it seems obvious to us that Jesus was human" should more accurately say "though it seems obvious to us that Jesus is human".

    ReplyDelete
  49. One last thing, Gene, that I think is most pertinent to this discussion, primarily because I think it explains why you and others are asking these questions.

    You said,

    "For if it is shown that you or others do not hold to basic principles of Free Grace theology, it may be moot for you and others to criticize an organization that you do not hold fundamental principles with."

    Surely upon rereading this sentence you can see the error. We cannot criticize an organization unless we agree fundamentally with its principles? Perhaps you should let the GES know that so they can stop criticizing MacArthur & Co. As I said above, I am uncertain as to whether I am FG or not, or "how much" FG I am. But even if I was totally anti-FG, I would have just as much right to criticize whatever views I think the FGA or anyone else holds.

    Furthermore, I maintain that lost people must believe in the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus for salvation from their sins and eternal life. Regardless of my stand on FG/LS, I do not want to see ANY organization promoting a "gospel" that is less than that. Therefore, I submit that whether or not I hold to basic principles of FG theology is what is moot here. We are all free to question and critique the views of any person or organization.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Hi Greg,

    It's always good to see comments from you, your thoughts are much appreciated.

    I was going to say that John was addressing a heresy that Jesus wasn't human, but then I saw that you mentioned that. I understand what you are saying. I just think that his humanity is so universally accepted/acknowledged that it doesn't seem necessary to make it a specific point of belief. I wouldn't have a problem noting it specifically on a statement, it's not that I'm opposed to it. I just wouldn't have a need to push for it. But, you do have a point that it is specifically mentioned in Scripture. Perhaps you are right. I will think on it some more.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Hi again Fred,

    Earlier in this thread I said:

    "I wonder if perhaps the FGA plans to define what exactly they think is 'the gospel'? They state here that 'believers are called to preach the gospel', yet how can we be sure we are indeed preaching 'the gospel' if we don't know what exactly it is? It would seem that if the FGA thinks that all Christians are commanded to preach 'the gospel' (which I agree with), then it would behoove them to define what precisely 'the gospel' is."

    Can you speak to that? Does the FGA plan to define "the gospel", especially since they are so strongly encouraging all Christians to preach "the gospel"?

    ReplyDelete
  52. Hi Greg:

    I wondered if I might see you checking in on the FGA's statement.

    Your insights are always helpful and penetrating.

    Kind regards,


    Lou

    PS: Later this year I'm planning to do reruns of your earlier articles from 2007.

    ReplyDelete
  53. To All,

    I frankly believe the FGA has defined the gospel, in both the Covenant and the Statement...well, 'defined' within the boundaries of the purpose of the FGA.

    When we formed the FGA our aim was to "Connect and Encourage Free Grace Leaders." We opted for a Covenant rather than a doctrinal statement. Our goal was to create some room for conversation as we wrestle through issues within the movement. Initially questions like 'repentence---what is it?' were in our minds. Could we provide an environment which we could discuss the views without being branded heretics?

    Additionally, we wanted the 'people' to own the organization...so it was never the Fred Grace Alliance (FGA)!

    Our goal with the covenant was for it to allow room, but not so much that that the errant extremes would feel comfortable joining. We also wanted to create a context in which members could be held accountable by being removed from membership by a vote of those within the FGA (not just one person or a board).

    It is a new alliance, so we have yet to face some of these things as to an actual precedent. Of course, we'll eventually be there.

    The Covenant is clear, though I am reluctantly beginning to think that some may have joined without appreciating the obvious meaning of our statement. Others seem challenged to maintain the gracious tone we value.

    We did not set up a definition of the Gospel because it isn't part of our focus (though it is very important)...I do know, however, that Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin would not join the FGA for the specific reason that they both disagreed with a number of elements within the FGA Covenant. All of these issues were addressed at length...with the final result that we changed nothing in the FGA Covenant, and they did not join. The fact of the matter is that the FGA has no connection to GES...and positive it never will.

    The Board is very hesitant to get in the habit of defining the great company of central and tangential doctrinal terms/issues.

    This may be seen as compromise, but we hoped it is more about wisdom. The FGA was designed to be OUR alliance together...a place for connection and discussion.

    The risk we have taken will inevitably allow some to briefly mis-align. Our hope is that those who mis-align themselves with us will quickly grow to affirm our statement or quickly exit once they understand. On occasion we will need to graciously work together to invite those who do not belong to move on from our convictions...which WE determine they do not share.

    What could be greater for an Alliance? I so agree that the FGA is not a Church...it is intended to be an alliance (not a 'parachurch' either) in which we work together toward greater clarity and success in promoting the gospel of God's grace.

    I believe we can get there, but I don't think we can get there in the next few minutes...nor can we get there without many of you who share the same hopes.

    I write as a member without a current official role in the FGA. I still think you all should join in and help (jeepers...you can always quit at any time!) in these early stages; so long as you can sign the Covenant in good faith!

    The FGA Executive Council has given out a statement that basically says:

    1. The death and resurrection of Christ must always be presented when the Gospel is preached.

    2. Some people vary about the minimal content of what saves.

    It seems to me the FGA has just said to leave out the death & resurrection is to not proclaim the Gospel...and...if they proclaim the Gospel (with the death & resurrection), then the necessary content (regardless of one's view) is faithfully available to be believed. No real anathema (Galatians 1) here if they are preaching the Gospel (which the FGA Executive Counsel says must include the death & resurrection).

    Now...why the Gospel and the content of what saves is different...does seem curious to me. Perhaps we can talk about it together at the Fall FGA Conference!

    Grace upon grace,

    Fred R. Lybrand

    P.S. It's 12:50am...forgive any grammar / punctuation / spelling errors!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Lou, in regards to the FGA statement: Even crossless advocates agree that the death and resurrection of Christ should be proclaimed--so what's the point of the statement? There is none.

    This statement leads me to suspect the people at the FGA felt pressured to put out some sort of statement--so they published this rather diplomatic statement for the interim until they can work out the bureaucratic elements that need to be in place for them to say what the true leadership of the FGA wants to say. The problem is the FGA has crossless people in its bureaucracy, so the pro-cross leaders are somewhat constrained in what they can say in the official FGA capacity. My expectation is that once they hold whatever future meetings they have on this, the pro-cross elements will prevail.

    -- Greg

    ReplyDelete
  55. Lou, another point about this is something that Fred Lybrand mentioned:

    "The Covenant is clear, though I am reluctantly beginning to think that some may have joined without appreciating the obvious meaning of our statement. Others seem challenged to maintain the gracious tone we value."

    It is true that their Covenant clearly states that the death and resurrection of Christ are essential to the gospel that the lost need to believe to be saved. Some dishonest rudiments such as Antonio da Rosa have twisted the clear meaning of the statement to mislead everybody that it is somehow compatible with his views.

    The problem is that when you say something, it doesn't really mean anything unless you stand by it. For example, everybody knows that the "55 mph" speed limit sign does not mean "55 mph"--it means "65 mph". You won't get pulled over unless you go over 65.

    It's the same with the FGA statement. They made the statement, but they don't enforce it or stand by it. Instead, they allow people who blatantly preach against it to join the organization and even sit on its board. According to da Rosa, Charlie Bing personally welcomes his membership. By not publicly standing against such people as da Rosa, Charlie Bing actually stands against the intent of his own statement.

    It reminds me of President Bush proposing the border wall to stop illegals from Mexico--but it in actuality, he has done everything in his power to prevent it from being built. It's hypocritical. Unfortunately, the actions of Charlie Bing and every other member of the FGA who points to the Covenant yet welcomes fellowship with those who disagree is hypocritical in the same way.

    Fred mentioned the actions of the FGA might be seen as a compromise. Well, there's no question about that--it is a compromise--and it's a compromise over the gospel.

    -- Greg

    ReplyDelete
  56. Greg:

    You have a God-given gift for articulating doctrine and these issues in a clear, concise way.

    IMO, the FGA is tied up in bureaucratic wrangling, because of the Crossless gospel members of the FGA board, chief among them Stephen R. Lewis.

    It is my hope and prayer that the FGA gets past diplomatic, compromising statements, and will be recovered from the slide into compromise with the advocates of the reductionist Crossless interpretation of the Gospel.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  57. Good Morning Fred & Guests:

    I have just a moment and I want to hone in one just one portion of your comment above.

    You wrote, “The Covenant is clear, though I am reluctantly beginning to think that some may have joined without appreciating the obvious meaning of our statement. Others seem challenged to maintain the gracious tone we value.”

    Fred, it is my understanding that you wrote the FGA Covenant and Affirmations. It seems clear you had an “obvious meaning” in mind when you wrote them. I trust the men who adopted the Covenant had your meaning in mind when they endorsed it.

    From the Covenant we can read Affirmations #2 & #3, they are:

    2) The sole means of receiving the free gift of eternal life is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose substitutionary death on the cross fully satisfied the requirement for our justification.

    3) Faith is a personal response, apart from our works, whereby we are persuaded that the finished work of Jesus Christ has delivered us from condemnation and guaranteed our eternal life.

    You and the board at that time assumed men who would join the FGA would do so with the appreciation of the “obvious meaning” you and the board had in mind.

    Affirmation #3, which when read in its context is requiring faith in the finished work of Christ as part of saving/justifying faith, not just sanctifying faith for one who is already born again.

    This is clear from Affirmation #2 about justification, leading right into Affirmation #3 about what faith is, without any shift between points 2 and 3 from the subjects of justification to sanctification.

    If I am wrong, if I have misunderstood what the “obvious meaning” of Affirmations #2 & #3 are, please say so now.

    If you would take a clear stand and publicly state what the “obvious meaning” of Covenant (Affirmations #2 & #3) is, the men who joined without appreciating its meaning would have no choice but to graciously resign from the FGA because they do not agree with the “obvious meaning” of the Covenant.

    Men in the FGA such as Stephen Lewis, Jim Johnson and Antonio da Rosa are committed to the Crossless interpretation of the Gospel. Their view is antithetical to the “obvious meaning of the Covenant. They cannot agree to the “obvious meaning” of the Covenant, and this is why they have twisted the interpretation, thus far with the FGA’s tacit approval.

    You wrote, “Our goal with the covenant was for it to allow room, but not so much that that the errant extremes would feel comfortable joining.”

    Fred, advocates of the “errant extremes” have joined the FGA.

    I want to ask and implore you to make a public statement, post it here in this thread or any public venue, what the “obvious meaning” of the FGA Covenant is.

    You founded the FGA and I am sure you never envisioned that the FGA could be a home for men who passionately hold to the Zane Hodges Crossless interpretation of the Gospel, but this is what has transpired.

    Take the lead, demonstrate clear, uncompromising leadership. Your clarifying and attaching specific meaning to the Covenant in unvarnished terms would settle the controversy swirling around the FGA.

    Kind regards,


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  58. Fred:

    I know this goes without saying…

    Our motives and goals here are not so much about saving or building organizations. Organizations come and they go.

    The true goal is taking and presenting a clear uncompromised stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To biblically resist any assault on it whether it comes from infidels and skeptics on the outside, or termites on the inside.

    If our goal is the proclamation and defense of the one true Gospel then we have all the resolve we need to take what biblical measures we must to fulfill our God given mandates to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15) and contend for the faith once delivered (Jude 3).


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  59. Fred, thanks for your clarifications. I soundly agree with the "goals" of the FGA as you stated them and am pleased at this point to formally join you in actually achieving those goals. I affirm the covenant and it's apparent "obvious meaning". I am persuaded however that the specific statement being discussed here somewhat undermines our covenant by establishing a written precedent that distinguishes "what the lost must believe" from "what the gospel is." I am thus glad that it "seem[s] curious" to you that "the gospel and the content of what saves is different"

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete
  60. fred said:
    "We did not set up a definition of the Gospel because it isn't part of our focus (though it is very important)"

    How can defining the gospel not be part of our focus? Rachel rightly observed that we have said "believers are called to preach the gospel" and our FAQ #1 says "The FGA is seeking to unite leaders, churches, and organizations which affirm the gospel of grace." How can we unite anyone around "the gospel of grace" if we don't have a consistent definition of what that is to base that unity on? i.e. if I think "the gospel of grace" is the saving message and someone else thinks it's "the entire bible" or "any good news" then our unity would be in word only, but not practice. I can agree that the FGA is not intended to be an authority on "all things theology" but certainly we should, and indeed seem obligated, to explicitly agree to definitions of at least the terms we are asking members to unify around.

    As I read the covenant, points 1 to 5 lay an implicit foundation for the FGA's def. of "the gospel". I suggest, in the very interest of promoting our #1 point of unity, that we must move that out of the realm of the implicit and into the explicit. To not do is obviously fostering some confusion.

    "for God is not a God of confusion but of peace" - 1 Cor 14:33

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete
  61. Stepehn:

    These are all vaild and important points you raise.

    Until the FGA decides to align its official statement/position with the "intended meaning" of their Covenant, and stand behind it, as well as define the Gospel message that must be believed by the lost to be born again (justification), there cannot be unity.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  62. These are wonderful comments brethren. How I rejoice to see men and women holding fast to the cross. What a blessing this is.

    It concerns me that we not always seem to be thought provoking instead of cross provoking. While being thought provoking is a good thing, it is not so good when the cross is not fully considered to be the root of the gospel message and the whole purpose of revelation of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.

    Let us be cross provoking above all else, lest we fall into the tmeptation of exalting thought provocation over our precious Saviour and His beloved work of redemption for Greeks seek wisdom, but we must needs preach Christ crucified which is a stumbling block to wisdom that often only serves to puff up.

    Grace upon grace,

    Brian

    ReplyDelete
  63. Brian:

    Thnaks for sharing your thoughts.

    This is an important discussion and I appreciate how Brother Fred Lybrand and my blog guests are interacting on this issue.


    Lou

    ReplyDelete
  64. Your welcome brother Lou. God is using you in mighty way and may he continue to do so as you hold fast the only truth that is to be taught that God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It is all there in black and white. There is no other truth to be received. Hallelujah for the blessed beloved friends of the cross.

    "Jesus keep me near the cross, there a precious fountain, free to all a healing stream flows from Calvarys mountain."

    And may all who believe this to be so be blessed as you are under the beloved blessings of Abraham.

    Grace upon grace,

    Brian

    ReplyDelete
  65. I think Stephan made some good points when he said, "How can defining the gospel not be part of our focus?" and also:

    "the specific statement being discussed here [the "Executive Council" statement on the main post] somewhat undermines our covenant by establishing a written precedent that distinguishes "what the lost must believe" from "what the gospel is."

    Having read this more carefully, I'm going to be more critical.

    The statement "believers are called to preach the gospel, not the minimum" is extremely troubling because there it gives the false impression that there is some "minimum" less than the gospel by which the lost can be saved. Scripture clearly teaches that the lost must believe the gospel to be saved (2Thes. 1:8-10; 1Cor. 1:17-21; 4:15; 2Cor. 4:3-4; ect.)

    This statement is exactly the type of thing crossless advocates say to avoid controversy. It appears to be written either by a crossless advocate or a group of so-called "free grace leaders" who cannot agree with the Scripturally obvious fact that the lost must believe the gospel to be saved. There is no excuse for this pathetic statement. It is a shame.

    -- Greg

    ReplyDelete
  66. Hello Greg:

    The FGA statement, in its present form, is just as “troubling” for me.

    I do want to mention a few things I have been pondering:

    1) You and I have both seen time and again how the Crossless advocates twist and redefine terms and meanings to avoid making a clear, unvarnished statement as to exactly they believe. I have little respect left, if any, for these men because of not only their egregious doctrinal errors, but their gamesmanship as well. If any of my employees were to play the games these professing Christians do with me or my guests, I’d terminate them immediately. My staff is made up of unsaved businessmen and they do not pull the stunts these Crossless advocates do.

    2) This a statement and while “official” I don’t believe it carries the weight and force that the FGA’s Covenant and Affirmation does.

    3) If the current statement were to become the frame work for defining or revising the Covenant by which men can join or remain in the FGA, the alliance is finished.

    4) If the FGA leadership cannot state and stand by the fact that, “Scripture clearly teaches that the lost must believe the Gospel to be saved” there is no reason for the FGA to exist.

    5) I am giving temporary, guarded benefit of the doubt on where this will wind up. I am praying that truth and righteousness will prevail.

    God bless you,


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  67. Stephen & All,

    I want to say how much I appreciate your spirited, but overall gracious tone in this discussion.

    There are two final things I think I can contribute to this thread.

    The FIRST is that I was in on the FGA Board meeting last October, but I was not at the meeting where this recent statement was formed. That said, I can tell you from my viewpoint, the FGA Board has made a great united stride in being willing to address this issue at all (they've wanted to stay out of the fray and focus on encouraging free gracers). Furthermore, they have made a great step in clearly affirming the cross and resurrection are vital in communicating the gospel. Again, I see this from where they were to where they have come...and I have personally congratulated them in this regard.

    SECOND, the reason the FGA isn't focused on 'defining' the gospel is that we are seeking to build the Alliance on a Covenant rather than a doctrinal statement. We aren't focused on getting our doctrine exact (like a church must); instead, we wanted to establish a basis for membership. Our hope was that the Covenant offered enough in the way of doctrinal parameters & objective criteria to gather in the right members. I still think this is the wise course...it just awaits the maturing of the Alliance to affirm the true meaning of it's own Covenant.

    Hope this helps a bit, though I know it isn't exactly what you might want just now.

    I'd cherish your prayers in these matters!

    God bless,

    Fred Lybrand

    ReplyDelete
  68. Dear Fred:

    I want to thank you for visiting my blog and interacting with my guests and me. I’m sure I can speak for all of us when I say that we genuinely appreciate it.

    There are many good comments from my guests about the official statement just issued from the current FGA executive counsel. My guests have identified what are glaring problems with the statement in its present form.

    It is impossible to pick just one of the many fine comments to reiterate, but I’ll go with Stephen from 3/13/2008 11:57 AM.

    He wrote, “How can defining the gospel not be part of our focus? Rachel rightly observed that we have said ‘believers are called to preach the gospel’ and our FAQ #1 says ‘The FGA is seeking to unite leaders, churches, and organizations which affirm the gospel of grace.’

    How can we unite anyone around ‘the gospel of grace’ if we don’t have a consistent definition of what that is to base that unity on? i.e. if I think ‘the gospel of grace’ is the saving message and someone else thinks it’s ‘the entire bible’ or ‘any good news’ then our unity would be in word only, but not practice
    .”

    I trust the FGA’s official statement will be up for additional review and serious revision to include a clear, uncompromised Bible based definition of the Gospel, and that the Gospel must be believed for the reception of eternal life.

    At present the FGA is asking believers to ignore a major doctrinal difference on the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the sake of an appearance of unity. There is no biblical precedent for such, which I consider an unholy alliance.

    The following appears in my book, In Defense of the Gospel, which I believe captures a major component of what we are discussing.

    When people are converted and receive a love of the truth, they are baptized into a body that has an inherent organic unity. Jesus Christ prayed in John 17 for a unity that came to pass at Pentecost. And every person who is baptized into Christ is in union. The unity is God and Spirit created. There is no unity to be created, the unity is there. It is only a unity that is to be maintained. Those who teach contrary to the body of revealed truth that is the center of this unity, they are the ones who create the divisions and create the stumbling blocks.” (Dr. Mark Minnick: The Scriptural Response to Teachers of Doctrinal Error. A sermon recorded November, 1997. See p. 214.)

    As long as Crossless gospel advocates like Stephen Lewis, Jim Johnson and Antonio da Rosa remain in FGA membership, which they joined by twisting the Covenant’s “obvious meaning to suit their Crossless theology, there can never be genuine unity.

    The “contrary doctrine” of the Crossless gospel is the reason for and cause of “divisions and offences” in the body of Christ and in the FGA. I am guardedly optimistic about and am praying for the advocates of the Crossless gospel to depart from the FGA so that the purity the Gospel and unity of like-minded believers will be restored and maintained.

    With God’s help and direction I want to do all that I can to further the cause of Christ. I will do whatever I can to nurture and encourage the FGA to courageously state and stand for the truth of the Gospel, and resist all who are tearing it down through the reductionist methods of Zane Hodges & Bob Wilkin.

    Finally, thank you for speaking to me on the phone yesterday afternoon. I enjoyed the fellowship around the Bible. In my opinion, it was profitable as we shared a time of iron sharpening (Proverbs 27:17).

    God bless you and you seek to honor God, His Word, and the precious Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


    Lou Martuneac

    PS: I will be posting some follow up articles for additional discussion of this issue in the days ahead. Please consider yourself welcome to visit, read and comment at my blog whenever you like.

    ReplyDelete