April 11, 2008

The Absurdity of Jim Johnson’s: Destroying Free Grace Theology

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

In a previous article Greg Schliesmann posted an extended comment on some issues he uncovered in Mr. Johnson’s article, Destroying Free Grace Theology. Greg prefaced his examination of Jim Johnson’s series with this note,

Nice work on exposing the inconsistency, evasion, and willing blindness of Jim Johnson. I’m posting here so I don’t take too much space on the active thread on your forum.”
What follows is Greg’s thread comment for your consideration.

Mr. Johnson’s articles (Destroying Free Grace Theology) ramble on so much that it is hard to pick any one issue to address. But I wanted to give an example of the absurdity of his writings.

In this part of his 4th installment, Mr. Johnson criticizes Pastor Stegall’s assertion that there is no Biblical reason that the necessary content of faith needs to be detailed in one verse. Mr. Johnson writes:
Just telling an unbeliever a few verses and/or a few passages is not what happens in evangelism. So this whole section of the article can be seen as an example of the fallacy of Reductio Ad Absurdum. Showing that your opponent’s argument leads to some absurd conclusion such as the gospel requires more than one verse to be believed. This is in general a reasonable and non-fallacious way to argue. If the issues are razor-sharp, it is a good way to completely destroy an argument. However, if the evidence is not clear as we have here, the article has only succeeded in showing that argument does not apply in all cases. But does evangelism require multiple verses for one to be saved? Is it the verses, or the power of God Who does the saving though the testimony of the word?”
Whatever Mr. Johnson is talking about is not any more clear in his article. Other than his comments on the power of his own arguments, I think the only criticisms he makes in this paragraph are:
a) Just telling an unbeliever a few verses and/or passages is not what happens in evangelism.”
Umm, so what? What does this have to do with Pastor Stegall’s articles? Did Pastor Stegall argue the only thing that happens in evangelism is quoting a few passages to an unbeliever?
b) Evangelism does not necessarily require multiple verses for one to be saved.”
So what? Actually, it does not require any verses to be saved. The truths gospel can be preached without the quotation of any verse. Someone could get saved from a presentation of the gospel that involved ten, one, or no verses. That point is irrelevant to anything Pastor Stegall said.
c) Is it the verses, or the power of God Who does the saving through the testimony of the word?”
Again, this is an example of a non sequitur argument. Nothing follows from this argument that lends any credence to Mr. Johnson’s criticism of Pastor Stegall. Of course, God does the saving through the testimony of the Word. So what?

But Mr. Johnson concludes:
This issue of God’s word having the power to save is critical to show that the author is making another fallacious argument. We have the Word of God which is ‘living and active’ (Hebrews 4:12) and as far as God is concerned “does not return to me [God] having accomplished nothing.”
Umm...what?? Nothing Pastor Stegall said denigrates the power of God's word to save. Johnson then continues to ramble on.

What is Mr. Johnson's next criticism of Pastor Stegall's point?
In the Greek of Luke 8:11-16 the word for seed is singular. This aspect troubles me because there are too many instances of people reading a single bible verse and trusting Jesus for eternal life.”
What is he trying to say? Apparently the fact that the word “seed” is singular in Greek means Scripture teaches that the content of saving faith must be detailed in one verse? It does not matter that the word “seed” is singular. The word “gospel” is also singular but individual parts of it can be identified.

I am not sure what the singularity of the word “seed” in Luke 8:11-16 has to do with the issue of people trusting Christ upon reading a single verse. I am shaking my head and trying not to laugh as I wonder if Mr. Johnson really thinks Luke 8:11-16 proves his point. Aside from the irrelevance of that passage to this point, it is true, that someone who has already been exposed to certain truths of the gospel (e.g., Christ’s deity, His death for our sins, ect.) could finally come to trust in Christ after reading John 3:16 or some other verse. So what? Pastor Stegall did not say anything to deny that.

As I skim past some further irrelevant statements, I come across something else that has me shaking my head. Mr. Johnson states:
Another person who would disagree [with Mr. Stegall] is Dr. Robert Lightner, he states, ‘The bible knows only of one condition whereby a sinner becomes a saint, and that is though personal faith in Jesus Christ alone as his Savior. There are over one hundred verses in the bible that make faith in Christ or its equivalent the sole conditions of justification. True, man must know he is a sinner and deplore his position before God (Rom. 3:23). He must know that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23) and that Christ the Savior died for him and for his sins (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3). He must believe these truths, the essentials of the Gospel, in order to trust the Christ to whom they refer. But knowing them does not bring salvation. It is personal faith in Christ the sin-bearer … that brings one into the family of God (Acts 16:31; John 1:12)’.”
There are a lot of sounds going on in my head as I read Johnson’s comments like “ummmm..... what???? hmmm???” Nothing that Robert Lightner said in that quote demonstrates disagreement with the writing of Pastor Stegall under scrutiny. On the other hand, just about everything Robert Lightner said in that paragraph contradicts Jim Johnson. Lightner said the unbeliever must recognize his sin and that Christ died for his sins. He said the unbeliever must believe “these truths, the essentials of the Gospel, in order to trust Christ.” He said that it is “personal faith in Christ the sin-bearer...that brings one into the family of God.” Mr. Johnson does not believe a lost man must recognize he is a sinner. Mr. Johnson does not believe the lost must believe Christ died for his sins. Mr. Johnson does not believe the lost must believe “these truths, the essentials of the Gospel.” Mr. Johnson does not believe the lost must believe on Christ as the sin-bearer. Everything Robert Lightner said in that paragraph contradicts Jim Johnson. So why is Mr. Johnson quoting this as a statement to disprove Pastor Stegall?

Mr. Johnson then comes across this statement from Pastor Stegall:
If we want to be technical at this point, we could ask where in the Bible can we even find the direct statement, ‘Jesus guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him’”? There is no one verse that says exactly that.”
Pastor Stegall did not argue the above statement is untrue. The above statement is true. Pastor Stegall’s point is that the above statement is a quotation of the way crossless gospel proponents sometimes articulate the gospel and yet that statement itself is not stated in one verse. It is a true conclusion and there are verses that support that statement. Yet, even to demonstrate the truth of that statement in Scripture alone, you have to “combine verses,” the very thing crossless advocates criticize us for doing.

Here is Johnson’s response:
It is true that you can’t find that exact statement, as it is a summary statement for the truth it summarizes. This is shown by the following passages which (among others) teach this truth.

Here’s a sampling (using the NKJV) with comments: John 1:12; 3:15, 16, 18 (x2); 3:36; 4:39 (It is apparent from the context that this belief was in an offer of everlasting life.); 5:24; 6:29, 35 (Jesus uses a figure of speech here using the phrase ‘shall never thirst’ for everlasting life.), 6:40, 47; 7:38, 39 (Jesus again uses a figure of speech to denote an Old Testament salvation theme [See Is. 12:3; 43:20; 44:3; 55:1; [cf. John 6:35]; Rev. 21:6; 22:17]); 9:35, 36 (John records the encounter with the formerly blind man healed by Jesus who is asking him to believe in Him. He makes it clear that those who do not believe in Him sin remains in verse 41. To have sins not expiated via sacrifice would be the equivalent of being excommunicated from the Roman Church - in other words going to hell verses paradise.); 11:25, 26, 45 (It is clear that Martha and her family believed in Christ from the context, but in verse 45 many who had come to the funeral believed in Jesus.); 12:36 (Jesus is once again using a figure of speech here, to be a ‘son of light’ is contrasted to being formerly a ‘son of darkness.’), 44-49 (Jesus once again appeals to the people to believe in Him to escape judgment.); 14:1 (This verse speaks of the results of living with Jesus forever in a home He prepares for the disciples by believing in him.); 17:20 (To believe is to be one with Jesus and the Father and they are eternal so by figure of speech the one who believes in Christ has His and the Fathers life
Notice what Johnson did to prove that Jesus really does guarantee everlasting life to all who believe in Him. He combined and explained verses to reach the conclusion. That was Pastor Stegall’s point!

Next, Mr. Johnson stops to give these thoughts on Pastor Stegall’s articles which ironically happen to perfectly summarize the writings of Mr. Johnson himself:
At this point, I have by now begun to wonder if article’s argument has any coherency to it at all. Contradictions, lack of hermeneutical evidence, and logical fallacies over and over.”
Another blogger commented:
Yes, isn’t that interesting that other ‘crossless’ advocates aren't getting on the ‘Destroying Free Grace’ bandwagon with Mr. Johnson? Apparently they want to steer clear as he hangs himself with his own words.”
Mr. Johnson has become a spectacle of a mind running in circles trying to get around the simple fact that the lost must believe the simple message of the gospel to be saved.

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God,” (1 Corinthians 1:17-24).

For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel,” (1 Corinthians 4:15).

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).



  1. Greg, the observation you made about Jim's attempt to claim Lightner supports the Redefined Free Grace view is amazing in what it reveals about Jim's own dishonesty.

    greg: "Mr. Johnson has become a spectacle of a mind running in circles trying to get around the simple fact that the lost must believe the simple message of the gospel to be saved."

    Amen! Redefined Free Grace advocates must do mental, grammatical, logical, and exegetical gymnastics to support their system. Such contortions are only required once the Redefined Free Grace view of theology is already in place, an example of which Rachel documented nicely in regards to Zane Hodges' odd take on Rom 3:25.

    Mr J appears to be another casualty of the intellectual dishonesty req'd by Redefined Free Grace to keep their system afloat.


  2. Greg,

    Penetrating work, nicely done! I couldn't agree more.

    Words cannot describe the absolute absurdity of Mr. Johnson's latest series "Destroying Free Grace Theology", but your evaluation comes pretty close: "Mr. Johnson has become a spectacle of a mind running in circles trying to get around the simple fact that the lost must believe the simple message of the gospel to be saved."

    How Mr. Johnson can take himself seriously I will probably never understand.

    For example, Johnson says: “In the Greek of Luke 8:11-16 the word for seed is singular. This aspect troubles me because there are too many instances of people reading a single bible verse and trusting Jesus for eternal life.” This statement by Johnson is one of the most aggregious examples of Bible misinterpretation I have ever seen! I guess he fails to realize the obvious, that Bible verse divisions are arbitrarily assigned and not inspired. Greg, if you held back laughter after reading that you're a better man than I; I don't think I've laughed so hard in months! In fact, I'm still laughing now as I think about it! It's painfully obvious that Mr. Johnson's Bible interpretation skills are sorely lacking. Without looking at my class notes, I can still remember some key truths about parables: "A parable should never be made the first or sole source of Bible doctrine." and "The main truth of any parable must be substantiated by what the Scriptures teach elsewhere." I'm still shaking my head in amazement!


  3. I am reminded of Paul's words in 1 Timothy 1:5-7:

    "But the goal of our instruction [that certain men not teach strange doctrine, v.3] is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions."

  4. Dear Guests:

    I encourage you to revisit the thread under Penetrating Expose by Jon Perreault

    In that thread I made mention of Jim Johnson violating federal copyright laws in Part 5 of his series. Johnson was alerted to this by someone who noted my comment about his copyright infringement. Consequently, he pulled the article from his blog, and posted a follow-up that is filled with the kind of insults and whining that has come to characterize his series.

    In the thread Greg and I had an exchange on this issue and it is IMO important that you read it. Greg fully exposed the magnitude of what Johnson did. Johnson’s action was shocking to say the least. Because of the seriousness of what Johnson did, I may post this issue as a lead article.