March 17, 2008

Free Grace Alliance: Redux

Dear Guests:

A great deal of new discussion was generated with the release of the Free Grace Alliance (FGA) Executive Counsel’s Official Statement. Some of the discussion has revolved around the FGA Covenant. Newly appointed FGA Vice President, Fred Lybrand shared his conviction that the Covenant has an “obvious meaning.” He also kicked off our discussion with his support of the recent FGA Official Statement.

Recent comments have been made in regard to the FGA’s Covenant. Fred Lybrand has reviewed some of these statements and concluded that while some were correct other remarks were personally disappointing.

After some discussion Brother Lybrand agreed to allow me to share his thoughts on a few comments being circulated in the blogs. Following will be a selective compilation of blog comments followed by Brother Lybrand’s short responses. Everyone concerned with the current climate in the Free Grace community should gain some helpful insights from this editorial perspective.

Blog statements will be in box quote and red letters. Lybrand’s response will follow each.

I am afraid that you have not listened to the testimony of Fred Lybrand who stated that the FGA is governed by a covenant rather than a doctrinal statement.

I agree that we need to emphasize the Covenant over a traditional doctrinal statement.

The covenant, as read, could be signed on by most if not all evangelicals the way it is read! John MacArthur himself could sign on to it! And as a matter of fact, there are reformed Calvinists (who are inherently Lordship) who are in membership with the FGA because they could agree to the very broad covenant! H. Wayne House is only one example.

Anyone “could” sign it, but I don’t see how it would be an act of good faith. The Covenant was designed to leave room for discussion (at the time we discussed the varying views on ‘repentance’ as an example).

John MacArthur could not possibly sign it & Bob Wilkin cannot either (according to my conversations with him). Additionally, no one who believes one can lose his salvation could sign it, nor one who fully integrates faith and works in the salvation event. The theory that Calvinists are inherently Lordship is a bit of a theological urban legend (see Gordon Clark’s Faith & Saving Faith for an example of a ‘Calvinist’ who gets free grace).

Some seem to think if a person buys one point of Calvinism, he must buy all five. But, that would have to be true of Arminianism as well (accept 1 point, accept all 5). Most of us believe that Christ Died for All (one of the points of Arminianism), yet we don’t believe in loss of eternal salvation (another point of Arminianism).

Lewis Sperry Chafer (and Ryrie and Darby and others) all consider(ed) themselves moderate Calvinists, but were blatantly Free Grace.

I don’t believe Ryrie or Chafer could sign the GES Affirmations because of its insistence that a genuine believer can [possibly] have no works/fruit/obedience ever in his life.

It is manifestly obvious that the covenant is NOT a definition of what Free Grace Theology is.

This is true, the Covenant is not a definition of Free Grace theology, but it is a fair shot at separating the Lordshippers (rabid puritan-Calvinists / neo-Calvinists) and the Arminians. Personally, I don’t mind ‘evangelizing’ either of these folks, but maybe the FGA isn’t the best place for that!

The covenant is very broad as written that it could be signed on by just about any flavor of evangelical. Re-read the statement. It is so broad and ill-defined that any evangelical could sign it (and of course that includes me! even section 3!)

I’m not sure what he means here about section 3 since I’m not up on his particular viewpoint. The section says:
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.”
It is apparent that this isn’t particularly decisional, but rather faith-based. The object of the faith is focused on the finished work of Christ and its results regarding condemnation and eternal life. There is nothing, for example about “asking Jesus into one’s heart” or “giving one’s life to Jesus.” It seems this pretty much wipes out all those folks, if they are operating in good faith!

Apparently some don’t think “finished work” means “finished work.” Well, what to you do? I suppose, if I desired it, I could figure out how to “sign” any statement.

Do a little more research before you make the uninformed claim that this covenant is the sine-qua-non of Free Grace theology. It is merely a covenant for membership to this organization.

It is not the sine qua non, but I’d argue its pretty close. We often tend to think in idealized ways, hoping for perfection and absolutes in our understanding. A sine qua non simply looks at the essentials of what it means to be free grace. In this regard, one either is or isn’t. Perhaps the essentials of our burden for God’s grace haven’t yet been cleanly defined. For me, all the boundaries for Free Grace will surround how the Gospel is affected (infected?) by the various tangents in the outlying theological territory. If faith alone in Christ alone is neutralized, then all is lost. I’m quite sure we advocates of free grace, no matter our odd twists, share this motive together, even as we disagree.

Hope this helps.

Pastor Fred Lybrand


  1. Dear Lou:
    I'm very happy about your comment of calvinists not being free grace was an urban legend. I am a calvinist and hold to the preservation of the saints instead of the perseverance of the saints. I have tried to talk to some Free Gracers and explain this but I have not been taken seriouusly.

    Thanks for being the first who have.

    Rev. Rick Ramos

  2. Rev. Ramos:

    Thanks for the note. I'll have more of a reply to you later today.


  3. Hi Ricky,

    It's all to common when interacting on the Net people just want to put you in a box they have prepared.

    Glad to read you believe in the preservation of the Saints, instead of the perseverance.


  4. Ricky/Kevl:

    It is true that some do paint with a broad brush. As soon as they hear "Calvinist" or "Reformed" they dismiss you all-together.

    I have interacted with men who are Calvinistic in their theology to varying degrees. The men I am personally acquainted with are fervent soul-winners, and building a local church for the glory of God.

    When I was a missionary some of my supporting churches had Calvinistic leaning, but not to the extremes. I had no problem working with them in happy cooperation for the cause of global missions.

    For me the point of ecclesiastical separation comes when a man has adopted either the Lordship Salvation or Crossless interpretation of the Gospel.


  5. Exactly. That is the point I draw for separation as well. Can you, please send me a list of brethren who are Free Grace and who will accept me as a brother so I may interact with them?

    It is awfully lonely being a Free Grace Calvinist when you feel attacked by Lordship Salvation (Rabbid Puritans) on the one side and some Free Grace people in the other.

    I will really appreciate the fellowship.

  6. Hi Ricky:

    I spoke to one of the FG leaders and he'd like to assist you.

    Send me an e-mail (see link under my book cover) and I'll forward it to this man.