April 14, 2008

FGA Update from Fred Lybrand

Dear Guests:

Over the weekend two new comments were posted by Dr. Fred Lybrand in the thread of my article Free Grace Alliance Membership. Following is the second of the two comments,

Lou,

I believe many things are coming together to create the context in which we can agree on essentials while leaving room for conversation. In my discussions with many key players in the Free Grace world, there is a refreshed spirit of cooperation...but not compromise...which leads me to believe a large number of us might just figure out how to get together.

I do see a clarifying of the extremes...I’m pondering a designation like HYPOGrace (toward Works Salvation) and HYPERGrace (towards Universalism) to clarify the rabid-extremes. For myself I hope to stay in a proper & historically sane middle ground…but personally I arrive there because it is the place the Bible affirms.

“Stay tuned” means more in due time...as the Lord allows.

God bless,

FRL
Furthermore, Brother Lybrand has completed a new book. The title is, Preaching on Your Feet

You can view and if you choose to, purchase it by clicking on the link.

Kind regards,


LM

47 comments:

  1. Lou,

    Could you elaborate on Dr. Lybrand's statement? How does it relate to the "crossless" gospel - if at all? I can see how "HYPOGrace (towards works salvation)" would relate to Lordship salvation. Does "HYPERGrace (towards Universalism)" relate to the "crossless" gospel?

    JP

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  2. Jon:

    I'll fill you in on some thoughts later. He said he will be follow up with further details as he is able. So, we'll have to sit tight.


    Lou

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  3. Jon,

    That's a good question. I think I know where you are coming from.

    I don't see truth as middle ground on a spectrum of heresies. For example, I don't see liberty as the "middle road" between between license and legalism.

    I don't see our free grace beliefs between Lordship and the crossless gospel.

    The spectrum of heresies is dynamic. It is evolving and ever-changing. Therefore, a person seeking the "middle ground" is seeking a middle position that is also moving and changing--unlike the truth which stays the same.

    Let's take our free grace beliefs for example. Some have characterized them as the middle ground between Lordship and crossless. But before there was a crossless gospel, the traditional free grace position would have been viewed by many on the opposite end of the spectrum (not in the middle). That doesn't make it wrong. And just because a worse heresy develops (e.g., crossless gospel or universalism), that doesn't make it "middle ground" or "safe".

    Charting the "middle ground" is for diplomats and politicians, not Christians.

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  4. I would also say that if the free grace gospel is true, if you honestly look at church history (i.e., the 1st century to now), not just some small period of it, then the middle ground is disastrous and dangerous.

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  5. Greg:

    I am short of time, but even though this does not fully address the points you raise it might be helpful in the discussion. This appears in the beginning of my book. I added the “Crossless Gospel” and included one minor edit to make it more germane to this thread.

    What is more important than a proper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Serious-minded Christians understand that the stewardship of the Gospel is a great responsibility, and that the presentation of the Gospel to the unsaved man must be based on a precise understanding of the biblical doctrine of salvation. History repeatedly demonstrates the tendency of well-intentioned men and women to react to false doctrine by embracing an equally heretical belief at the opposite end of the theological spectrum. First year Bible college students are taught to keep a balance in their theology, because once they lose their balance they will go off into extremes.

    This is not a question of a weak Gospel verses a strong Gospel, but of the one true Gospel standing apart from all other false gospels. If the weak Gospel erred by omission, the strong Gospel equally errs by addition. All witnesses for Christ desire true conversions. In my zeal to secure more genuine conversions, however, I do not have the liberty to alter the Gospel. Any alteration of the Gospel either by omission or addition must be rejected.

    In the evangelical community there are two extremes in the debate over what constitutes the Gospel that leads to eternal salvation. The extremes are known as Easy-Believism, i.e., the Crossless Gospel and Lordship Salvation. There are inherent dangers in each and ought to be rejected. There is a biblical balance at the center.

    Many have been alarmed at the increasingly meaningless presentation of a Gospel that seems to ignore the person of Christ, the sinfulness of man, the pending judgment of God and the Lord’s finished work on the cross. This Gospel calls men to salvation when they have been given only a vague idea of just what they need to be saved from. This is the so-called Easy-Believism Gospel or Crossless Gospel. While I do not hold to an Easy-Believism approach and would admonish those who seek quick, easy decisions for Christ to rethink their position, this book has been produced to address the other extreme, namely, Lordship Salvation.



    LM

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  6. Lou, I do not really agree with the framework of looking at the issue of one where we need to keep "balance" by avoiding "extremes". All these are relative terms. To some, our view seems extreme.

    I think the sense in which we need "balance" in our theology is that it needs to be balanced by Biblical data and what we can observe in reality -- not balance in the sense of standing between opposing views.

    Someone could take our view and Roman Catholicism and say that Lordship Salvation is the "balanced" middle ground. So, this whole framework is a faulty apologetic in my mind.

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  7. Greg:

    I had a longer, better articulated reply for you, but somehow it got deleted when I tried to upload. Anyway, here is a synopsis, and I hope it adequately explains what I was trying to convey in my earlier comment.

    You wrote, “I think the sense in which we need ‘balance’ in our theology is that it needs to be balanced by Biblical data and what we can observe in reality -- not balance in the sense of standing between opposing views.”

    My notes above were in regard to the current debate from the standpoint that there are two polar extremes- LS/CG. We certainly do not want the extremes to define the Gospel. Somewhere in the wide pendulum swing there is the one true Gospel.

    We come to define the Gospel from what the Scriptures say regardless of the extremes that exist.


    LM

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  8. Hi Lou,

    I think I see where both of you are coming from. Lou seems to be arguing from a framework of fixed extremes (what we know as Crossless Gospel and Lordship Salvation), whereas Greg seems to be arguing from a framework of ever shifting various extremes and unknowns, a real but in this case more abstract framework. If this is the case, I think you are both right.

    JP

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  9. Jon:

    You wrote, "I think you are both right."

    Diplomatically said, you Politcal hack! ;-)


    LM

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  10. JP & Lou,

    Yes, but what I'm also saying is people seem to be comforted when they can consider themselves in the middle of opposing views. I am saying that is a naturalistic human, not spiritual, way of thinking.

    Claiming the LS is one extreme, the crossless gospel is another, and that we're in the balanced middle position doesn't lend any real legitimacy to our position. I think that's like looking at theology as a teeder totter. A lot of people want to be in the middle so they don't slip off one end. And with the way people are describing it, Lordship salvation is on one end, the crossless gospel is on the other end, and we're in the middle... so we're safe.

    But 30 years ago, there was no crossless gospel. If we need to find ourselves between opposing viewpoints to say we're "balanced", we would have fallen off the teeder totter before the crossless gospel ever started.

    Many martyrs have died because their views of salvation by grace through faith were considered "extreme"---and, ironically, most of these martyrs weren't even as extreme in their views as we are.

    Another thing that is ironic about Fred's label of "HYPERgrace" for a heresy, as if we need "moderate grace" is that HYPER GRACE is exactly what Paul describes in Romans 5:20. The verb Paul uses is made out of two words -- HUPER (from which we get "hyper") and another word which means to fill over or abound. It's ironic would give away the term "hyper grace" to a heresy. If someone considered my view "hyper grace", I would be honored.

    I think this is important because the whole paradigm of desiring middle ground is dangerous. As someone who has tried to interact with people of many different belief systems, I have seen the same paradigm used to support heresies and scorn me and everything that we believe.

    -- Greg

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  11. I am also concerned with the term "easy believism". EVERY time I have ever heard this term used prior to Lou applying it to the crossless gospel, it has been used to describe exactly what I believe. Charles Ryrie even deals with this term and criticizes it in So Great Salvation.

    There are a few problems using this term to criticize the GES position. The main thing is, when you use it, you are implicitly aligning yourself with those who have used it in the past and developed it. In fact, it was developed by Lordship salvationists to criticize free grace. Even if you give it your own definition, that would be like employing the term "nigger" but saying "Don't worry, I have a different definition". It is ironic to critize Lordship Salvation while simultaneously employing the term "easy believism". I think this all stems from the desire for being in the middle ground theologically.

    -- Gre

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  12. Greg:

    I appreciate your concern about the term, "Easy-Believism."

    More tomorrow.


    Lou

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  13. Come to think of it, I have also heard "easy believism" used to describe "ask Jesus into your heart" which is not what I believe. But usually it is used to describe the plain sense of "faith alone" which is not loaded with works.

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  14. Greg,

    I think you make some good points, especially regarding Romans 5:20 and "easy believism".

    You also mentioned:

    "people seem to be comforted when they can consider themselves in the middle of opposing views. I am saying that is a naturalistic human, not spiritual, way of thinking."

    Do you think your church is promoting this mentality is some respects?

    For example, in a previous post you mentioned:

    "I don't see liberty as the 'middle road' between between license and legalism."

    Yet I know your pastor Tom Stegall has transparencies indicating this very truth (complete with a smiley-faced sedan driving down a middle road between a Lamborgini on one side and a model T Ford on the other side), and I've even heard him teach it.

    And what about the sermon series "Biblical Balance On God's Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility"? (It's even complete with the picture of a man balancing on a set of scales!) Don't you think this promotes a middle ground mentality?

    I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, it just seems you are inconsistent with your church, which is not necessarily wrong. But could you please clarify these issues for me.

    Thanks,
    JP

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  15. Jon,

    In regards to the particular transparency you mentioned:
    I agree with the point of it, that "legalism" and "license" are two contradictions that contradict Biblical liberty. But it is also easy to see how a transparency like this could lead to the way of thinking that I was criticizing here. Logically, if you think of legalism and you think of license, and if you try to come to some sort of middle ground between the two, you certainly don't arrive at Biblical liberty! I don't remember Pastor Tom ever suggestion you would, but I would say when you use a chart like that (no representations or metaphors are ever perfect), it's a good idea to clarify that Biblical living is a supernatural thing that is in a completely different realm than "license" or "legalism".

    As I clarified in one of my prior posts, I support the idea of "balance" in the sense that we want to consider all the general and special revelation when arriving at our beliefs. So I am not opposed to "balance". But I am opposed to suggesting that since your view is less "extreme" than two other opposing views, it somehow lends credence to it.

    -- Greg

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  16. JP,

    The quote I referred to above is this:

    I think the sense in which we need "balance" in our theology is that it needs to be balanced by Biblical data and what we can observe in reality -- not balance in the sense of standing between opposing views.

    You mentioned something called "Biblical Balance On God's Sovereignty and Man's Responsibility". Isn't this exactly the type of balance that I said we need--the balance of Biblical data wherever it leads us?

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  17. Greg,

    You said:

    "I think the sense in which we need balance' in our theology is that it needs to be balanced by Biblical data and what we can observe in reality -- not balance in the sense of standing between opposing views."

    I think this is a false dichotomy when we are referring to fixed extremes like Calvinism and Arminianism or Lordship salvation and the crossless gospel.

    More later I need to clarify.

    JP

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  18. JP, I don't see our position in the middle of two heresies such as Lordship and the crossless gospel. But even if it is characterized that way, it doesn't lend it credence. Almost every conceivable viewpoint can be characterized as a "middle" position if one wants to point out or come up with extremes. I'll wait to see your reply.

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  19. Greg,

    I agree with Lou's basic premise in that our (Biblical) position on the gospel mediates between the two fixed and false extremes of Lordship salvation on one hand and the Crossless gospel on the other, in the sense that LS adds to the gospel and the CG substracts from it. With these variables in view I think one can arguably affirm that our (Biblical) position is one in which we "turn not to the right hand nor to the left" (Prov. 4:27), and similarly: "turn not aside therefrom [to] the right hand or [to] the left" (Josh. 23:6). As I understand it and in the context of certain fixed and false extremes such as I have mentioned previously (i.e. LS, CG, Calvinism, and Arminianism), it seems to me that a "balanced Biblical view" is in fact "a standing between these opposing views", at least in a variety of respects - maybe not in every respect, but in many or at least key respects - so that the generalization or principle holds true. I do agree that a mediating position is not necessarily Biblical, and we should not comfort ourselves because we simply hold a middle position between two extremes. But in the context of our discussions involving the specific fixed and false extremes of LS and CG, I think there is some validity to saying that our (Biblical) position is to be found in the "straight" and "narrow" way (Mt. 7:14) that veers neither to the "right" nor to the "left" (Prov. 4:27) in which we, in a sense, "stand in the gap before [the LORD]" (Ezk. 22:30).

    JP

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  20. JP, I agree with much of what you said. LS and the crossless gospel are not perfect counterparts. The issue with LS is the condition of salvation (what faith alone means) while the issue with the crossless gospel is the content of saving faith is. So I think it could be misleading to describe these two things as two counterparts that we're in-between. Anyway, I am happy you agree:

    we should not comfort ourselves because we simply hold a middle position between two extremes

    This was basically my original concern with Fred's statement (which I think reflects some of the compromising actions of the FGA):

    For myself I hope to stay in a proper & historically sane middle ground…but personally I arrive there because it is the place the Bible affirms.

    -- Greg

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. JP & everyone, here is another point for your consideration:

    I think the portrayal of our position as a mediate position between Lordship and the crossless gospel distorts the issue in another sense.

    As I pointed out in the post above, the main disagreement is LS is on the nature of faith. The disagreement I have with the crossless gospel is on the content of faith. I basically agree with them on the nature of faith (though I could speak about this in more detail). When we portray the issue like this, it is very easy, if not inevitable, for this way of thinking and this analogy to spill over into a distortion of the nature of faith (when really, that was not my problem with the crossless position). What we would end up with could be a) a distortion of the nature of faith or b) an implicit approval of others who may use the same "mediate" position analogy to describe a "soft Lordship" position which is somehow in the middle of the LS and crossless views on faith. I think this danger is already evident when we use terms like "easy believism".

    Also, if we over-simplify the issue by saying Lordship adds to the gospel while GES subtracts from it, it puts the addition and subtraction in the same category when they are not. The LS position adds CONDITIONS to the gospel. If we imply GES subtracts from the gospel, as a counterpart, aren't we saying that there are multiple conditions to being saved? Aren't we saying that LS has too many conditions while GES has too few? What a sad distortion of the issue that would be! I believe it is important to make it very clear there is only one condition for salvation -- faith in Jesus Christ. The content of that faith in Christ during this church age is often called "the gospel".

    I already see practical mistakes that are occurring on our side of the debate, which I believe reflect this unbiblical desire to label ourselves as a "middle ground" position. We can see this in the terms being used, from the use of the term "easy believism" to the label of universalism as "hyper grace" (when Paul used this term to describe the Biblical position!). We can also see it in the way the FGA is trying to walk a fine line between the crossless gospel and pro-cross gospel sides.

    Look, truth is not found by seeking or identifying two heresies and trying to reach some middle ground, and then saying Scripture affirms our position. We should let Scripture speak for itself and accept where it leads us, even if it leads us to the extremes of hyper grace.

    -- Greg

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  23. Greg/All,

    I would like to discuss two issues:

    1) In what sense is our Biblical position on the gospel a mediate position between Lordship Salvation and the Crossless Gospel?

    2) The label of HYPERGrace

    So let us consider point number 1:

    1) When we talk about holding a middle position between the polar extremes of Lordship salvation (LS) and the "crossless gospel" (CG) in the sense that LS adds to the gospel and CG subtracts from the gospel, this is how I understand it. What's the "good news":

    The LS Gospel = Jesus’ work plus my work (i.e. perseverance, commitment, submission, etc.)

    ERROR = Adding my works

    The Crossless Gospel = Jesus’ name as "the Christ" minus His work

    (Hodges says: “That’s why the man on the deserted island can get saved with only the barest minimum of information. When he believes John 6:47 he is believing in Jesus as the Christ.”)

    ERROR = Subtracting Christ’s work

    I think it is significant that in Galatians 2:14 the apostle Paul writes: “I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel”. The word “straightforward” is the Greek word orthopodousin or orthopodeo. In his interlinear Greek translation, Alfred Marshall actually translates this word as “they walked not straight”. Likewise, BAGD translates this word as “walk straight, upright”. As I pointed out in my previous comment, Proverbs 4:27 teaches: “Do not turn to the right nor to the left” (cf. Josh. 23:6). Similarly, 2 Timothy 2:15 affirms: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” It is interesting that the phrase “rightly dividing” here in 2 Timothy 2:15 is very similar to the word I emphasized in Galatians 2:14, and speaks of making right divisions, cutting straight, or accurately handling. In light of these Biblical truths it seems to me that a middle position between two errors - or a straight line between divergent paths - is not an inherently bad place to be, but instead has much Scriptural support, even in the context of the gospel!

    2) Secondly, I would like to talk about the label HYPERGrace. Some argue that this is not a good label to apply to a heresy because the label is Scripturally accurate and contains the truth of Romans 5:20. Now, I am not saying this label is inspired, perfect, or even necessarily good (even Dr. Lybrand is still considering these things), but I am saying that we need to consider this label with the proper perspective and balance. Can the labels of cults and heresies be Scripturally accurate? Consider the following examples:

    1. “Jesus Only” cult (oneness Pentecostal) – Is this label Scripturally accurate? You could make a strong argument that it is! It depends on what is meant, for the Bible teaches: “that [God] might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26; cf. Jn. 14:6).

    2. The Way International – Similarly, this is truly a Biblically accurate label applied to a cult, for Jesus said: “I am the Way” (Jn. 14:6; cf. Acts 9:2).

    3. Lordship Salvation – Surely this label can’t be Scriptural! But if we look more closely, we see that in fact it is entirely Scriptural: “Believe [not submit to] on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Jesus is truly “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Rev. 19:16).

    4. Jehovah’s Witnesses – Even this designation is Scriptural: “but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

    I’m sure the list could go on and on but I think you get my point. All labels require some explanation, otherwise they are going to be misunderstood. This is inevitable. Do we believe in HYPERGrace? YES! (Rom. 5:20, as Greg so aptly pointed out.) But do we believe that God is so hyperly gracious that He will apply His grace indiscriminately to everyone in the world (universalism) or that he will give His saving grace to anyone who simply believes in a nondescript – and even non-resurrected (Acts 25:19) - somebody called “Jesus”? NO! I think these last key truths are what Dr. Lybrand had in mind when he spoke of HYPERGrace.

    JP

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  24. Concerning point 1) above, the balanced and Biblical gospel could be described this way:

    The Pauline gospel = Jesus' person plus Jesus' work (1 Cor. 15:3-5)

    ERROR = none

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  25. JP, I understand the points you made and factored them into what I already said. For example, the idea of one heresy "adding my works" and another "subtracting Christ's work" is a matter of two different categories (my works, Christ's works). If you simply say one message "adds" and another "subtracts", the categories are mixed.

    Secondly, the idea of not diverging from the truth does not contradict what I said, and it does not support the way of thinking I am criticizing. The command not to stray from the truth assumes that we start from the truth (no matter what it is) - not that we start by identifying two heresies and finding the middle ground.

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  26. Greg,

    The more specific categories are mixed, yes I agree. But the broader categories of "adding" and "subtracting" - one turning to the left and the other to the right (Prov. 4:27), so to speak - are clear. Furthermore, as I pointed out in my previous comment, "All labels require some explanation, otherwise they are going to be misunderstood."

    Secondly, I think you may have set up a sort of straw man argument on your second point, because no one is saying that "we start by identifying two heresies and find the middle ground." Not as I understand it anyway. Dr. Lybrand clearly stated: "In my discussions with many key players in the Free Grace world, there is a refreshed spirit of cooperation...but not compromise . . .For myself I hope to stay in a proper & historically sane middle ground…but personally I arrive there because it is the place the Bible affirms" (italics mine). It seems to me that Dr. Lybrand is doing exactly the opposite of what you are suggesting. He has found the Biblical middle ground - the straight path (Gal. 2:14) - and now he is identifying the heresies (or "extremes").

    JP

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  27. All,

    I'll borrow from one of my old profs Howie Hendricks and say, "Jonathan has his the nail with his head!"

    My mention of the extremes has to do with logic and communication, not with the a motivation of staying in the middle.

    Thinking through a theological continuum allows us to see where things head through following a logic trail (If a, then b...If b, then c...If c, then d...etc.)

    I believe there is a great deal of eisegesis out there where individuals are fitting the Word to one's own view. Even if we all do it sometimes, it is always wrong. All that matters is what God said AND meant...period; debate over.

    With that said, please realize that the continuum allows us to understand where the 'logic' of one's theology heads---not if there is a scriptural basis for it (an additional question).

    Where else does an obsession with 'Lordship Salvation' head except towards works invading the gospel? Where else does an obsession with 'Free Grace' head except toward Universalism (everyone is 'in' because they showed up on the planet).

    The old saw is that "When the only tool you have is a hammer...you tend to treat every problem as a nail."

    This is the nature of my concern. When we consider the whole counsel of God, we must recognize that with any particular verse or truth that it does not stand alone.

    'Once Saved Always Saved' is true...but it is not ALL that is true. God is a God of love...true...but that is not all that's true.

    As I've fiddled with the debate over the past 25 years I come to realize that our theology is an attempt to answer the most questions and raise the least number of problems. In the LS/FG debate, I believe it is easy to show that there is a great temptation on both sides to force-fit passages to one's own theological orientation.

    I'm sure most of us don't want to admit to this temptation , so let me try to be the first! :-)

    It is tempting to allow my viewpoint to make difficult passages say things I 'need them' to say. I fight this temptation and seek to continue to submit my views to His View. May the Lord forgive my failings here.

    The logic trail of both the LS and FG views tempt them toward extremes---which in turn tempts both sides to overstate their view and misunderstand passages (often very obvious ones).

    I mean by 'middle-ground' the place scripture stands...and that often without as full an explanation or developed 'theology' as I'd like.

    Said differently:

    In some spots we must simply hold to mystery (balance!?)...but too often, we get zealous because our view is 'right'---pushing interpretation on passages to make them 'fit', and removing the mystery (or the other scriptures) on the altar of having a 'perfectly consistant' theology.

    I don't ever want to think beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:6), hence my comments on 'balance'.

    Hope this helps,

    FRL

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  28. Well sed, Fred.

    I've been following this discussion but didn't participate because I was having a hard time nailing down my exact thoughts. Both Greg and JP have made some excellent points and I found myself mostly agreeing with both of them -- at the same time. I was trying to figure out how that was possible, if I needed to have my head examined, but I think I hit upon an answer that makes sense to me at least.

    As I see it, what's "right" can be seen as being in the middle of a 3D sphere of variants that stemmed from the originally correct (middle) ideal even if in different trajectories from each other. i.e. Whether they are 180, 90, or .001 degrees different from each other, the correct position in relation to any of them is the middle of the sphere and the biblical middle of this sphere of variants is where I want to be.

    I hope that's at least coherent -- didn't get much sleep last night and only had one cup o'java this morning.

    Stephen

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  29. Fred:

    Thnaks for the helpful note above. You wrote, "In the LS/FG debate, I believe it is easy to show that there is a great temptation on both sides to force-fit passages to one's own theological orientation."

    There certainly are a great many examples of this from the LS & CG camps.

    I also liked this, "I mean by 'middle-ground' the place scripture stands...and that often without as full an explanation or developed 'theology' as I'd like."

    I also remember for myself that there are some things I am never going to fully understand, and if I try to I might go to go off into some odd extreme.


    LM

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  30. Fred, I agree with your concerns about LS and the crossless gospel (though I wouldn't give away the term "Free Grace) and also the sense in which you described "balance" in this latest post. Our views need to be balanced by the Scriptural data.

    However, that is much different than speaking about taking a middle ground between various heresies. When you mentioned the "historically sane middle ground" in the context of two heresies, I wonder if you considered some historical facts. At the time of the Reformation, the Protestant's views were hardly the "middle ground". Before the Reformation, any articulation of sola fide could hardly be described as the "middle ground". Even now, my understanding of salvation through simple faith in Christ alone is hardly the middle ground.

    In fact, many people have characterized people of the Biblical free grace view as fringe eccentrics. They would use your language "historically sane middle ground" in a similar context to what you wrote to imply that I am insane. So I am still troubled by your original post.

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  31. Greg,

    I'm not trying to apply the phrase 'middle ground' thoughout history. Instead, it was a specific reference to the particular doctrinal issues I have in mind. On the HYPERgrace extremes there are many things other than 'crossless' issues, so called. For example, I am concerned about the drift we are finding among some to elevate the Gospel of John above all declarations of the Gospel by which we are saved, and the over-vigilence in requiring the doctrine of eternal security to be included as necessary content of the gospel

    Applying 'middle ground' to various historical debates (deity of Christ, Trinity, hermeneutics, etc.) would be ludicrous.

    Again, I said---

    ...do see a clarifying of the extremes...I’m pondering a designation like HYPOGrace (toward Works Salvation) and HYPERGrace (towards Universalism) to clarify the rabid-extremes. For myself I hope to stay in a proper & historically sane middle ground…but personally I arrive there because it is the place the Bible affirms.

    I am only speaking of this context & this doctrine.

    Thanks much,

    FRL

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  32. Fred/Greg/Jon:

    I want to get something on record in the thread in regard to this discussion as it relates to the Crossless gospel of the ReDefined Free Grace advocates like Hodges, Wilkin, Lewis and da Rosa.

    There is no “middle-ground,” upon which we can agree to holds hands with and join the teachers of the Crossless gospel in any kind of cooperative effort or fellowship.

    Any attempt to portray the Crossless gospel as though it is an acceptable interpretation of the Gospel, occupies any kind of biblical “middle ground” is wrong and a move toward compromise with teachers of a gross departure from the biblical plan of salvation, i.e., the Gospel.

    I will NEVER become part of any effort to join or support an appeasement position toward advocates of ReDefined Free Grace Theology.


    LM

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  33. Fred, thanks for the clarification on that point.

    Lou, I fully agree with what you said in this latest post.

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  34. Lou,

    I agree when you said,

    "There is no “middle-ground,” upon which we can agree to holds hands with and join the teachers of the Crossless gospel in any kind of cooperative effort or fellowship."

    My position is that the "middle-ground" is the Biblical position, irregardless of anything else. We must start with the Scriptures, the straight road (Gal. 2:14), and interpret everything else in light of them. The "middle-ground" therefore is the pinnacle of truth, the immovable rock, the firm foundation against which all the heresies of all the ages pound against, but in the end must flow around as divergent streams.

    JP

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  35. "My position is that the "middle-ground" is the Biblical position"

    Amen, Amen, Amen! Oh, and did I mention that I agree?
    Stephen

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  36. Gentlemen:

    The discussion here has been swirling around this matter of a “middle ground.” I want to hone in on that topic regard to the doctrinal controversy in the Free Grace community.

    On the one hand you have men in the Free Grace community who have not left their theological moorings for the teaching of Zane Hodges on the Gospel. Men who believe there is a biblically defined message called “the Gospel” that the lost must understand and believe if they are going to be born again.

    One the other hand we have the Zane Hodges view, which says that the lost do not have to understand or believe in the finished work or deity of Christ, but can still be born again. They also insist there is no technical meaning for the, “the Gospel” that the lost must believe. In that group you have the outer-fringe extremes of Antonio da Rosa (aka- Sock Puppet: fg me) who believes the lost can openly reject the deity of Christ, and still be born again. We have da Rosa’s infamous statements such as, “The Mormon Jesus and Evangelical Jesus are one and the same.”

    The view this group holds to is aptly named the “Crossless Gospel” and/or “ReDefined Free Grace Theology.” They have been “consistent” in their shifting away from what the Bible teaches in regard to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Brother Lybrand wrote, “…the drift we are finding among some to elevate the Gospel of John above all declarations of the Gospel by which we are saved.”

    This group has not simply drifted toward elevating the Gospel of John. They have fought to insist that John’s Gospel trumps and/or negates, “all other declarations of the Gospel by which we are ‘saved’.”

    Men like Steven Lewis and Antonio da Rosa (current FGA members) redefineall other declarations of the Gospel” in the New Testament, and thereby undermine God’s Word. They do this for one reason: To float their ReDefined interpretation of the Gospel that originated with Zane Hodges.

    Is there some doctrinal “middle ground” upon which we can reconcile these differences, and pretend the Zane Hodges Crossless interpretation of the Gospel is an acceptable interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? No!

    Should men in the Free Grace community seek out some way to “agree to disagree” so that we can work happily along side these teachers of a false, non-saving, reductionist message known as the Crossless gospel? No!

    Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,” (Romans 16:17-18).

    Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. . . . And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15).

    These passages are very clear. They tell us what our response must be to brethren who have grievously erred in their theology and aggresively propagate it to unsuspecting believers.

    If we are going to live in fidelity to the Bible, we must obey what is there.


    LM

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  37. Lou,

    I'd like to expand on these issues. While I did not have a problem with the statements of Dr. Lybrand that you posted on your blog, I am very concerned with the statements of an "FGA leader" (not Stephen Lewis) that were posted by Antonio da Rosa on his group blog Unashamed of Grace. I am not talking about the fact that Antonio posted the statements. I am talking about the content of the statements themselves. For example, this unnamed "FGA leader" (not Stephen Lewis) said:

    "I am working at clarifying the debate, and in particular I am affirming those who preach ‘the cross’, but who do not believe it is vital content for ‘saving faith’---they are not teaching a false gospel."

    Let me be honest with you, I was considering joining the FGA, now I am having second thoughts. Lou, as a member of the FGA, I think you need to stand against this movement of appeasement. I'm not suggesting anything in particular at this point, but I'm sure I don't need to remind you: "You cannot preserve a position without crusading for it" (Ashbrook). This is true for all of us, but in the context of this discussion, especially true for the FGA. If they are not going to crusade for the truth of the gospel by affirming that it is indeed the saving message one must believe to have eternal life in the present dispensation - but instead are going to issue vague ambiguities - the truth of the gospel will not be preserved by them.

    "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ."

    JP

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  38. Lou,

    I just received an email from an "FGA leader" (not Stephen Lewis) reassuring me that:

    "The statement you cited from Antonio [same as above] does not reflect what I know about anyone on the FGA executive council."

    This "FGA leader" (not Stephen Lewis) elaborated but I will not reproduce the remainder of the email. As a result of this email, I have a renewed confidence in the FGA. I feel that Antonio's article is highly misleading and am sorry that I gave it the credence that I did.

    JP

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  39. Jon:

    I have only a moment, more tonight or tomorrow.

    You wrote, “Lou, as a member of the FGA, I think you need to stand against this movement of appeasement.”

    If there is a move for appeasement with Crossless gospel advocates like Antonio you can count on me, and others in the FGA resisting that.

    2) You wrote, “I feel that Antonio’s article is highly misleading and am sorry that I gave it the credence that I did.”

    Antonio has a history of taking other men’s statements and posting them in such a away as to give himself an advantage. Antonio’s poor character and ethical standards are the like of which I rarely encounter in the business place among lost men.

    IMO, his conscience has not just been seared by the Crossless gospel, but has had the residual effect of corrupting his character.

    I mean this seriously, da Rosa is likely one of Johnson’s alleged “peer reviewers.”


    LM

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  40. Fred,

    Could I ask for your response to Lou's statement?

    There is no "middle-ground," upon which we can agree to holds hands with and join the teachers of the Crossless gospel in any kind of cooperative effort or fellowship."

    Thanks,
    Greg

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  41. All:

    I had wanted to delete my two previous comments but upon discussing these issues with Mr. Martuneac I have decided to leave them. I should have verified Antonio's statements with the FGA leadership before I posted my initial comment and am sorry I did not. Based on the reassurances of a certain "FGA leader" (not Stephen Lewis), I want to reiterate my previous conclusions: "I feel that Antonio's article [on 'Unashamed of Grace'] is highly misleading and [I'm] sorry that I gave it the credence that I did."

    JP

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  42. JP: "I feel that Antonio's article [on 'Unashamed of Grace'] is highly misleading..."

    Yeah, I just posted a reply at UoG saying as much in more words. Antonio's not an authorized mouthpiece for the FGA so who cares what he claims an "FGA leader" (not Stephen Lewis) said. IF what he quoted has any veracity it'll eventually come out anyway and we can then parse the comments in their full context rather than just whatever select tidbits Antonio chose to fit his goals.

    It is well with my soul,
    Stephen

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  43. Men:

    I had to weigh in on what is happening at the pro-Crossless gospel blog, Unashamed of Grace with you and Antonio in the thread of his latest article.

    See, In the Trick Bag


    Lou

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  44. Hey Greg---

    You wrote:

    Fred,

    Could I ask for your response to Lou's statement?

    There is no "middle-ground," upon which we can agree to holds hands with and join the teachers of the Crossless gospel in any kind of cooperative effort or fellowship."

    Thanks,
    Greg

    _________________________________

    So here you go:

    When I picture 'middle ground' I see a broader part of the continuum which is better called 'common ground'. I cannot imagine either the HYPERgrace or the HYPOgrace folks joining anyone in the middle ground...any more than they will joing each other.

    The thought behind 'middle ground' is actually a communication device to display the extremes as what they are in fact. If someone on the extreme moves into the middle ground, then he must actually change his view to do so. If the middle ground has room for the folks on the extremes, then it really isn't middle ground!

    It isn't about a 'crossless' issue (so named), per se, but rather any issue that is on an extreme point with no room for discussion.

    On this issue it is a matter of what one teaches the gospel we are to preach EXACTLY is...then the degree to which there is 'room or not' for conversation determines the range.

    It seems to me that the HYPOgrace folks (LS) tend to change the nature of faith rather than the content---while the HYPERgrace folks tend to change the nature of the content.

    I'm sure this analysis is flawed, but my hope is to get a REAL conversation to happen so we can all know clearly who to avoid! *Fred smiles and hopes he sounds sincere*

    Personally, my hope is we all would convert to the truth and work together...

    Does this help?

    Thanks and grace,

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  45. Fred,

    I'm trying to understand what you wrote. You said:


    On this issue it is a matter of what one teaches the gospel we are to preach EXACTLY is...then the degree to which there is 'room or not' for conversation determines the range.

    Let me rephrase my question:

    Do you agree:

    There is no "middle-ground," upon which we can agree to holds hands with and join the teachers that may present the cross in evangelism yet insist the lost do not necessarily need to believe in death, resurrection, and Deity of Christ, in order to be saved?

    In other words, I am rephrasing Lou's point to define "crossless gospel". I am also clarifying my question does NOT center on what some claim to present (e.g. the cross) as an apologetic in evangelism, but rather upon the matter of what they teach the lost must believe.

    Thanks,
    Greg

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  46. Hello Fred:

    Greg’s note is what I have had to pound away at for months. He wrote, “I am also clarifying my question does NOT center on what some claim to present (e.g. the cross) as an apologetic in evangelism, but rather upon the matter of what they teach the lost must believe.”

    Men like Antonio da Rosa often exclaim they preach the cross and deity of Christ, but that is questionable and is NOT the crux of debate and controversy. They try to portray that as the issue we are concerned with, which is not the case, but they will not concede this.

    The controversy has not been over what the Crossless advocates personally believe about Jesus and/or His finished work. The controversy is not over what they think made salvation possible or what they claim to preach.

    The controversy IS over their insistence that the lost man does not have to understand or believe who Jesus is and what He did to provide salvation.

    Kind regards,


    Lou

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