This week there has been an enlightening discussion under way at a blog I occasionally visit. The blog is known as Head of the Moor administered by Jonathan M. He is Reformed in his theology, and an advocate of Lordship Salvation (LS). Jonathan and I have discussed LS; we disagree sharply, but charitably. Jonathan has also debated the Crossless gospel with some of its advocates.
Late last week Jonathan sent me an e-mail to advise me of some comments Antonio da Rosa (aka- Sock Puppet: fg me) had posted at Head of the Moor. I briefly dealt with Antonio’s propagating the serious misnomer that the Grace Evangelical Society’s (GES) ReDefined Free Grace Theology is representative of the general body of Free Grace pastors/teachers. For details see- Is “REDEFINED” Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?
This week Jonathan opened a new article titled, Is This Heresy? He asked the question based on two of the most extreme and infamous statements from Antonio da Rosa on his Crossless/Deityless interpretation of the Gospel. Those statements by Antonio are:
“If a JW hears me speak of Christ’s deity and asks me about it, I will say, ‘Let us agree to disagree about this subject.’If I had ample time I would do a series of articles on what transpired in the thread that followed these remarks by da Rosa. Once you complete this overview, I highly recommend you visit Head of the Moor by clicking on the link to that article below. It is well worth a complete read. You will come away either finally or fully convinced that the views being expressed by Antonio da Rosa (which are drawn from and representative of the teachings of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin) are antithetical to Scripture.
At the moment that a JW or a Mormon is convinced that Jesus Christ has given to them unrevokable (sic) eternal life when they believed on Him for it, I would consider such a one saved, REGARDLESS of their varied misconcetions (sic) and beliefs about Jesus.
I would never say you don’t have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. This has the import of the gospel proposition which makes it salvific! If someone asks me point blank, do I beleive that one must believe that Jesus is God in order to go to heaven, I would say ‘NO!’” (Believe Christ’s Promise and You are Saved No Matter What Misconception You Hold, May 2006.)
“If I were talking to a Jew, he may very well ask me about the deity and humanity of Jesus. I would certainly entertain his questions and answer them to the best of my ability. But if such a one continued to express doubts or objections to this, I would say politely, ‘Let us for the time being put this issue on the back-burner. Can I show you from the Jewish Scriptures that the advent of Jesus Christ fulfills many prophecies?’
Objections and denials of things pertaining to Jesus can surely preclude one from faith in Him for eternal life. If this Jew can put aside for the moment the discussion of Christ’s deity, and Christ’s voluntary consent to die, and look in a considerate way at the prophecies concerning Christ’s advent in the Old Testament, His miracles, His teachings, His compassionate acts, His righteous and holy acts, and through consideration of these things, become persuaded that Jesus guarantees his eternal destiny through faith, why would anyone consider him unsaved?” (How I Might Do Evangelism With a Jewish Man, Sept. 2007)
Rose, of *Rose’s Reasonings, entered the thread briefly. She tried to sanitize Antonio’s statements above. She also attempted to sidestep and redirect the discussion away from the disturbing implications of da Rosa’s statements, because this is where the extremist theology of the Crossless/Deityless gospel are fully exposed.
Here are samples of how various men reacted to Antonio’s lengthy attempts to explain his heretical statements. Blog partner, Stephen Stark, had this summarizing remark,
“Antonio, I’m glad you’re posting for yourself. I wouldn’t prefer it any other way. Despite your claim that you have been substantially misrepresented, misquoted, and mischaracterized, it turns out that your own words, understood correctly, are proving exactly the crux of what we’ve claimed all along... unless you’ve seriously changed your views lately and didn’t bother to tell any of us. I doubt that has happened but, hey, I have prayed for you so anything’s possible. Jonathan, you’ve done a commendable job cutting through Antonio’s maze of pseudo-orthodox haze.”Another blogger wrote,
“I agree that Antonio’s statements are highly contradictory, unorthodox, unbiblical, and yes, heretical. Hodges truly preaches a non-contextual, non-historical, hypothetical, heretical, ‘promise-only’ and ‘crossless’ gospel when when he rips John 6:47 from God's Word and builds a doctrine on this ‘imagined’ and ‘hypothetical’ strange scenario of this Scripture washing ashore on a remote desert island.”The most concise interpretation of Antonio’s Crossless/Deityless statements was made by a so-called Jazzy Cat, who wrote, “Belief...in a Jesus of the imagination does not save.”
“Antonio, I still do not see how your explanations have remedied any of the problems. You still seem to posit that someone can be saved while believing in the Mormon Jesus, or the Jesus of Islam, the JWs or Hindus for that matter - just as long as they believe in him for eternal life with no works.”He goes on to detail several of Antonio’s contradictions.
“Antonio, in our day and age we must be able to explain our theology in precision. This thread should stand as a model of why you are misunderstood. You comments are not clear and you have contradicted yourself in several statements.”
Amidst Antonio’s contradictions, ambiguity and evasiveness there is an item he wrote that makes his view very clear. Jonathan asked him, “Are you now prepared to say that belief in the deity of Christ is necessary for salvation, or His humanity, or His resurrection?”
“I do not believe that one must understand, assent to, or be aware of the historical Jesus of Nazareth’s deity in order to simply be justified and receive eternal life. However, I do believe that one must understand the deity of Christ if he is to grow into Christian maturity and merit a future superlative glorification.”
Antonio affrims, as we have contended, GES’s Crossless & Deityless theology insists the lost do not have to understand or believe in the deity of Christ (or His finished work) but can still be born again. Furthermore, as I also described, and he verifies in the same quote, the Crossless advocates view these truths as matters left for discipleship.
Until now, I have been reluctant to claim that he and most (not all) Crossless advocates insist the lost man can be saved even if he does not even “know” or is not “aware of” of the Lord’s deity. I feel no further restraint because Antonio clearly stated that he believes the unsaved do not even need to be “aware” of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, but can still be born again.
Therefore, there is no room for any doubt about the heresy of the views expressed by da Rosa. He insists, just as he wrote in the statements at the beginning of the article, a lost man can be saved no matter what misconceptions or unbelief he has about the Lord, including being unaware of and/or consciously rejecting His deity.
The Crossless gospel controversy is NOT over what these men personally believe about the deity, death and resurrection of Christ.Antonio’s involvement in the Is This Heresy thread was actually quite beneficial for those who reject his “ReDefined” Free Grace Theology. This effect I am sure Antonio did not intend, but what he has done is:
The controversy is NOT over preaching the deity, death and resurrection of Christ. The controversy IS over Hodges, Wilkin and da Rosa’s insistence that the lost man does not have to know, understand or believe any of these truths, but can, according to GES’s “ReDefined” Free Grace theology, still be born again.
1) Verify and affirm what we have all along maintained are the heretical views of Crossless gospel advocates. Views which have fueled the the doctrinal controversy.Finally, it is not enough to “criticize” heretical statements such as Antonio has made, they should be condemned! Any man who makes and/or defends statements such as those must be “marked” and “avoided” as a teacher of “contrary” doctrine (Rom. 16:17-18). To give teachers of the Crossless gospel a pass, as if their view may be an acceptable interpretation of God’s redemptive plan, is dangerous and irresponsible.
2) Provide another opportunity for readers to understand why the GES is a shrinking cell of extremists within the broader Free Grace community, and that GES does NOT speak for the entirety of the Free Grace movement.
Now, please visit Head of the Moor and read the thread under, Is This Heresy?
*Rose’s Reasonings is a blog that is sympathetic to and strongly supportive of the “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel and its advocates.
UPDATE (April 2009): Antonio da Rosa has been a featured speaker at GES regional and national conferences. He has articulated some of the most extreme and anti-biblical views stemming from the Zane Hodges inspired Crossless gospel. He has, furthermore, behaved in some of the most unethical ways one could imagine finding in Christian circles. In April 2008 at Fred Lybrand’s (President, FGA) blog when asked, da Rosa stated,
“…that one could deny the death and resurrection of Christ and still at that moment place His sole faith and reliance upon Jesus to guarantee his eternal destiny?”Additional examples of da Rosa’s reductionist doctrine include:
Believing the Gospel, “May Indeed Frustrate God’s Grace”
The Mormon Jesus and Evangelical Jesus are, “One and the Same.”