July 8, 2008

Crossless “Communication Breakdown?”

Dear Guests:

I am noting a trend that is being perpetuated by Don Reiher of the Grace Evangelical Society (GES). Don Reiher has posted comments at a pro-Crossless gospel blog. IMO, he is laying ground work for the erroneous idea that there is really very little difference in doctrinal positions between the GES/ Crossless interpretation of the Gospel with the rest of the Free Grace community that has rejected the GES Gospel.

Reiher suggests that the doctrinal controversy is over nothing more than a misunderstanding and/or miscommunication of what Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin are teaching. He goes on to suggest that the problem may simply be a problem with the teaching style of Zane Hodges.

Reiher wrote that people should be, “…having private conversations with Bob and Zane. It takes more than an hour conversation to clear things up.”

First, Hodges and Wilkin have already refused to meet with FG leaders for “private conversations.” In October 2007 the Free Grace Alliance (FGA) proposed a private academic meeting so that the differing doctrinal views of the Gospel could be discussed. Hodges, Wilkin, and Stephen Lewis were invited. All three refused to participate! While, from the opposing view, Pastors Stegall and Rokser were more than happy to accept the invitation and make a commitment to participate. The FGA’s proposed roundtable discussion was canceled due to lack of interest on the part of any GES gospel representative to attend.

Second, if it is true that it takes, “more than an hour conversation to clear things up,” then Hodges and Wilkin are either incredibly poor communicators of their interpretation of the Gospel, or what they are communicating is unthinkable.

Reiher has also claimed that he is going to transcribe Zane Hodges’ 1999 two part series How to Lead to Men to Christ. Why is Reiher going to the trouble of transcribing Hodges’s teaching on this subject that is already available in print? (See- How To Lead People to Christ, Part 1 & 2 at the JOTGES). Why does he need to analyze the message and the style of Hodges’s teaching? Has the teaching of Hodges been beyond the ability of Free Grace pastors and teachers to comprehend and/or understand? Does Hodges teach in such a way that his views cannot be properly understood unless they are reinterpreted by a reviewer who is sympathetic to Hodges and employed by the GES?

IMO the problem Reiher is up against is that in the eyes of those with allegiance to Hodges and Wilkin, they (Hodges/Wilkin) CANNOT possibly mean what they mean, because that would be wrong. Therefore, we will see Reiher attempt to redefine and reposition the GES Gospel to give it the appearance of orthodoxy.

Let me caution every reader not to give these assertions by Reiher any credibility whatsoever. These are veiled attempts to find some way to reposition the GES and its egregious errors on the Gospel as if they never departed the mainstream of Free Grace Theology.

The GES Gospel of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin has been exposed through their own writing and thoroughly refuted from the Scriptures. The advocates of the GES Gospel have no answers to the biblical refutation of their views. Pastor Dennis Rokser’s series The Issue of Incongruity has removed any lingering doubt about the untenable teaching of the Crossless gospel. The Crossless gospel is a reductionist, non-saving view that is wholly antithetical to the Scriptures.

Hodges invented and Wilkin has perpetuated a heretical view of the Gospel. It must be rejected and its advocates marked and avoided. That is the biblically mandated course of action (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15).

There are several articles I have written that demonstrate the biblical cautions and mandates that forbid tolerance for and acceptance of teaching that is antithetical to Scripture. For your review I suggest these articles…

Perverse Things Draw Away Disciples
How Do I Address False Teaching From The Brethren?
Unity at the Price of Truth is Treason!

I am going to close with exactly what Hodges and Wilkin are “REALLY saying,” which is the crux of the doctrinal controversy. Hodges and Wilkin insist that the lost man does not have to be aware of, know, understand or believe in the deity and/or death and resurrection of Christ, but can still be born again. Anyone who say this is not what they are teaching is either patently dishonest, perpetrating a cover up or delusional.

There is no “communication breakdown” among the major figures in the debate. In his new book Getting the Gospel Wrong, J. B. Hixson got it exactly right.

In recent years, some theologians have departed from the biblical view of the gospel by suggesting that one can believe in Jesus for eternal life without explicit knowledge that He died and rose again for one’s sins. For these theologians, knowledge of Christ’s death and resurrection as a payment for one’s sins is optional as part of the content of saving faith.

The view that one can believe in Jesus for eternal life without knowing that He died and rose again has been variously termed the “crossless gospel,” the “promise-only gospel,” the “contentless gospel,” the “minimalist gospel,” and the “refined gospel.” This view is being propagated primarily by the Grace Evangelical Society (www.faithalone.org) and such notable theological scholars as Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and John Niemela (www.mol316.com), to name a few. Their self-labeled view of the gospel is termed the “refined view,” indicating that the accepted view of the gospel throughout two thousand years of church history has been incorrect and that they have now provided a long-overdue corrective. Hodges refers to the traditional view of the gospel, as including the death and resurrection of Christ, as “flawed.” Cf. Zane C. Hodges, “How to Lead People to Christ, Pt.2,”
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 14 (Spring 2001): 9–18. Hodges elsewhere states, “The simple truth is that Jesus can be believed for eternal salvation apart from any detailed knowledge of what He did to provide it.” Ibid., p. 12. See also Zane C. Hodges, “How to Lead People to Christ, Pt.1,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 13 (Autumn 2000): 3–12, emphasis added. (Getting the Gospel Wrong, pp. 152-153.)
Has there been a “communication breakdown” in regard to the teaching of a Crossless gospel from Hodges and/or Wilkin? No! These men are on public record with the views that are easily understood to mean the lost can be saved apart from knowing understanding or believing in the deity, death or resurrection of Christ.



  1. Lou,

    Thanks for sharing the activity going on. I would love to have a few links of the discussions being referred to here so that I can read along and learn more. I have both biblical and practical reasons to be excited about the effort to minimize the differences between these factions. I notice that you are wary of the news coming your way, and I hope that you would not make it difficult for those who are coming near for resolution. This kind of positive attitude does not even require you to compromise your beliefs (regarding the content of the gospel).

    Thank you for listening to a nobody's point of view,

  2. Hi:

    I appreciate your concern for unity, but that can never happen unless we are willing to trample the Scriptures that forbid unity with the teachers of a false gospel.

    You wrote, “I have both biblical and practical reasons to be excited about the effort to minimize the differences between these factions.”

    I can confidently tell you that there is no way there can or will be compromise with the GES/Crossless gospel. The only way there can be a drawing near is if and when they repent of their egregious doctrinal errors.

    By the way, I am not wary of it, I have expected the GES to start some kind of damage control and/or repackage themselves to try to recapture a facade of orthodoxy. I am simply advising readers so that they can be aware of this undercurrent.

    The main thing I want to get across is that there has been no misunderstanding on the part of several men in the FG community in regard to exactly what Hodges and Wilkin view is of the Gospel.

    They insist the lost do not have to know, understand or believe in who Jesus is and what He did to provide salvation. There can never be unity or fellowship with men who propagate that kind of heresy.


  3. I'm new on the scene. You advised me to beware of the teachings of the "crossless" advocates. As time allows I am investigating into the history and into the teaching. I still have not read any of Hodges' or Wilkin's works.... But I don't need to know what they believe, for well before I ever knew of a group called "free grace" I read scripture. I'm no expert, but I am willing to lay my reputation on the line by the confidence the scriptures have given me. I noticed that the new covenant is established for an individual by the actions of the Spirit, not by means of an inauguration of fulfilled laws, rules, or lists. As free grace has helped me to articulate about "faith" now, given appropriate boundary against Lordship's ideas of it including levels of work, I can say as they do that "faith is the vehicle by which one receives" the gift of the Spirit (and its actions affecting salvation into the new covenant). So faith is preeminent over knowledge. There may be specific passages saying "this is eternal life, knowing..." but we also know that the New Testament clearly establishes that we are saved by faith, as Paul said in romans chapter one "I am ready to come and preach the gospel to you" and did so in chapters two through seven, teaching us plentifully about our righteousness by faith. Now knowledge often works hand in hand with faith. Knowledge most often does not oppose faith, but, faith does not delineate content or quantity of knowledge. It is because of the definition inherently impossible on how much to generate faith that this controversy exists! Faith is trust. Trust -- how much knowledge does it take to make someone trust? That's a good question. Not a question I've thus far felt comfortable answering on behalf of the principle or especially on the part of individuals.

    How often did Paul speak so guarded of the law? He wrote more than once: The written code kills, the written code kills. The reason why it kills is because it always puts the emphasis back on us instead of God. As soon as there is a law, there is an imperfection in anyone achieving it. That is why people like Hodges and da Rosa have made points lots of people stand behind, because they are right in this regard: do new believers really know Jesus as both a man and as God? Do new believers really know scripture's teaching of "assurance of salvation" to trust we've received salvation? Do new believers really understand the senses in which Jesus has saved us from our sin?

    Admittedly, what Christians proclaim is indeed "news" or "tidings" and as the scripture asks, "how can they believe unless someone preaches?" So the knowledge involved in salvation, the presentation of the facts of: eternal life granted in His Son, who died for our sins, etc. etc., God uses to work an effect of trust in us. When the quota is reached, is a mystery. We cannot know that time, place, or amount, even when we judge it over our own lives sometimes, let alone trying to discern what any one lost man will need. But the Spirit knows. And the Spirit leads. And that is all that God needs. So it ought to be all that we are concerned about.

    "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly, and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men but from God." rom 2:28-29

    Regardless of how insignificant knowledge might be to cause faith in some cases, the message itself should range somewhere on the scale of the Holy Word of God's description of it by Jesus, Paul, Peter or John. Depending on your conviction of dispensations and our own personal imperfections at exegesis, we might come up with a conviction's preference for a little more or a little less knowledge. But I don't think the less-ers should say the more-ers can't be used by God to cause salvation, nor the more-ers call the less-ers unuseable. The Word of God is spiritual, especially when used not as a law or a list but indeed, as spiritual. I can use any gospel of salvation presented in the holy, perfect New Testament, but I can only use them by faith, if I want to be righteous before God in preaching. This, seems like common sense and I am sure all of you who also practice evangelism know that a lot of the causation for people to believe is the pre-work of prayer especially, and love and service. Just think about how many people are saved because they experience the truths of Jesus Christ when they experience the service of Christians.

    Think about salvific trust, this way: an atheist might learn to trust the knowledge he's heard about Jesus perhaps for his whole life, if only he trusts a Christian serving God for his benefit. How much knowledge was involved there? An infinite amount, yet none was convincing until he was served. Do you see that knowledge and trust do not necessarily happen on the same exposure curve? This is why it remains true, that salvation happens by conviction (faith), not by knowledge.

    Now: if God is using the more gospel message to cause people to believe in Jesus, and God is using a smaller amount of knowledge to cause people to believe in Jesus, what in the world is there to be grieved about? God fulfills His Word.

    You wrote:

    "the Scriptures that forbid unity with the teachers of a false gospel."

    May I ask by what process you applied these scriptures to those groups? Where are any passages teaching anything specifically about how much the gospel must contain, and if not satisfied then apply the mark and avoid consequence? We're not so blessed, right? What you have are passages depicting the gospel. Then there are passages warning change of the gospel. And then you have passages that teach how to handle individuals who promote heresy or distraction. So... don't you have to make a conclusion first that these groups are heresy... before using passages on heresy? Heresy passages are not proof of heresy.

    You wrote:

    "I can confidently tell you that there is no way there can or will be compromise with the GES/Crossless gospel."

    Have you heard of that popular phrase being used out there in Christianity that goes like this? "Where scripture is silent, we are silent."

    The question isn't how to handle heretics. The question even isn't the behaviors of those who promote what you have called heresy, though all of us are charged with the responsibility to live blamelessly so that the gospel will not be hindered. The question is, how can you call with confidence those who have a slightly different idea on dispensations or other passage interpretations, or even those who walk by faith and haven't studied it out yet at all, heretical? It's a jump. It's an assumption. It's your interpretation based on pieces of teachings and the way it speaks to you.

    I'm glad you know the scriptures so well! I am thankful that you can write a book and keep a blog to inform and encourage those who think the way you do. You encourage me. Keep this up.

    There may be many who are like you... who take the same pieces and come to the same understanding. However, in the meantime, a lot of negative heat is being let off in a way that not only ruins the message you wish you could promote, but also all of those who are a part of, even if fractionating, free grace? Your own personal interpretation, you and those who are like you, assert your scriptures according to the rights you think you have therein, and anytime anyone asserts their rights, some where else someone is experiencing oppression. In this case, free grace is suffering oppression by those with strong convictions on both sides and not enough experience to see that God is bigger than interpretations.

    In Philippians chapter 2 Paul reminds us about disputes within the church that we ought to be lowly before our brothers even when they are convinced they are obeying God's will and we are sure they are not. This very thing was happening to Paul personally before he had the honor of commanding it to us (in chapter 1, vs 12-18). Paul illuminates out of the example of Jesus Christ Himself, who was God but gave up His ability to exert Himself as God in order to experience life unasserted: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus...." This kind of submission actually promotes the gospel: "But I want you to know, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel...." 2:12

    Those godly sages who have been in my life have taught this consistently: it is better to suffer loss of rights than to let the gospel be slandered.

    I'm sorry to be so hard. Has anyone said this before? This must be a broken record. I admit I think of this often, when it comes to this issue. Thanks for listening to a measly nobody.

    I'd still like some links if it's not too controversial.


  4. Michele:

    The teaching of the Crossless gospel are beyond any question, heretical. are an aberration of Scripture and never taught until Zane Hodges invented this view of the Gospel.

    The Bible is very clear and mandates what our response must be to brethren who have adopted heresy and have been the prime instigators of its spread into the church and Christian fellowships.

    A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject: Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10-11).

    Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences 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,” (Rom. 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).

    There is no subjective decision to make in regard to how we are to respond to teachers of a false gospel, brethren within the body of Christ who teach and spread “contrary” doctrine, who have introduced “divisions” and “offences


  5. Hi Lou,

    You wrote:

    "The teachings of the Crossless gospel are beyond any question, heretical."

    Few things in life are beyond any question.

    You wrote:

    "The Bible is very clear...."

    I agree. What I haven't seen thus far is justification to apply them to the crossless advocates, though I keep your opinion under consideration.

    Quoting them isn't helping me, I need more.

    When you say "causing dissension" what does that mean to you? What is to one man a pointless controversy is to another man "don't think I came to bring peace, but a sword." Case in point, this conversation you and I are currently having.

    Show me the dissension you speak often about, I mean, if there is something more than what I have already seen in the language of the blogs you know I read.

    I appreciate your aid to get someone irrelevant like me, to understand the issues.


  6. Michele:

    There are volumes here that demonstrate from the Scriptures that the GES Crossless gospel is a departure from the biblical plan of salvation.

    The biblical mandates are clear and a refusal to obey them is rebellion againt the Author of them.

    There is a spirit of New Evangelical compromise among some in this debate. Rose of the pro-Crossless gospel blog, Rose's Reasonngs is one unfortunate example of compromise with the error of the GES gospel, and teachers of that error at the expense of Scripture.

    And compromsie with error eventually leads to embracing that error.


  7. Lou,

    Thank you for replying.

    I desire for you to draw boundary lines not out of fear, but out of confidence in God. I, too, fear the man who does not answer to what I believe scripture teaches. I wonder, though, that in the same way Calvinists have taught Christians to be fruit-inspectors for themselves and judgmental fruit-inspectors for others, have we, too, gotten overly excited about inspecting the insides of the free grace movement for those kinds of teachers who reject orthodoxy? I read recently in an article by Timothy R. Nichols[1], who describes himself as a moderate, that Free Grace is going to take awhile to figure out all the important ground it is breaking in theology. He says, in the meantime, we ought to give each other a little space.

    I thought that was good advice.

    I also want to point out an important problem with the internet, for figuring out how to handle the Free Grace movement's conceptualization of the gospel. Like I am sure many people could say, I am so relieved to hear people who live far, far away from me who believe the same way I do. It encourages me to remain strong and challenges me not to drift because of persecution. Those are important benefits. But the internet is an unnatural community. Nowhere in the local vicinity around me could I expect to find all the people who would agree the most with my point of view. With the internet, if I decide I don't like someone's ideas enough, I can just shop around to hang out with someone else's.

    I can see that you are concerned that people just read Hodges' teachings and forever become altered to be increasingly liberal in their ways of filtering truth. Or that people flock to the crossless gospel community just so that they can listen to the kinds of things they want to hear. But I have the same concern for you, and those who hang out on this side of the case. Too much listening to one side and wanting your side painted as king of the mountain, makes the rigidity you have, like radicals. You might be blind to notice when you've slipped from standing on scripture alone, to standing also upon legalism.

    We ought to do a study on Spiritual community.

    A natural or normal community of believers contain the whole gamut of ideas, maturities, etc. These things can be regretful to the senses if our ideals of what we think the community ought to look like, are not realized. When we fail to see our ideals realized, we enter into a Spiritual community where all personalities are subdued, and, all aspirations are in submission, to actual hope and faith in Jesus Christ that He would bring all of us up together as equals in the yoke. I will have to blog a little bit more on these qualities of a normal community, as I'm paraphrasing now from Dietrich Bonhoeffer[2].

    Perhaps hanging out too much with people who are too much like us, makes us spoiled?

    Each side gives wise counsel and warnings. I believe both sides would want to shore-up the "weak points" the other side sees as obvious. The best way to cause people to want to work together again is to begin to build trust. Short exchanges, positive exchanges, and an overviewing lesson on keeping the goal of this disagreeing discussion in perspective, should get the ball rolling in the right direction.

    Again, these are all my original ideas and observations with the exception of those I cited to Nichols and Bonhoeffer. I'm hoping that I'm not drowning anybody in boredom over things that have already been suggested and observed. But to this fresh set of eyeballs, I obviously need free grace to be all I know it can be.

    Thanks, Michele

    [1] http://fullcontactchristianity.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/fgopen-letter.pdf

    [2] http://sancsblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/human-and-spiritual-love.html

  8. Michele:

    Thanks for your notes, but I want to make a few important mentions, then comments.

    Mention #1: I discourage and/or do not allow links to blogs that promote or are supportive of heresy. I prefer to protect my readers from stumbling into heretical views such as the GES/Crossless gospel. Timothy Nichols is a member of GES and ardent apologist for the GES interpretation of the Gospel. His site could lead an unsuspecting believer to stumble in their faith by embracing the Crossless gospel. My point is that I prefer that you not link to pro-Crossless blogs. A brief mention or quote is OK, but I discourage links. Thanks.

    Mention #2: I did not appreciate your suggestion that I, or any man who rejects the Crossless gospel is a legalist. That term typically implies an improper fixation on law or codes of conduct. That is not the case among any one I know or interact with in these discussions.

    Literal interpretation of and fidelity to the Bible is our chief goal. New Evangelicals, who prefer unity at the expense of Scripture, cry "legalism" when they encounter people who will obey a clear Bible command that frustrates their desire for unity at the price of obedience to God's Word.

    The Relationship Between God’s Grace & Lordship Legalism is an excellent article that properly applies the term in the Lordship debate.

    I’ll thank you to avoid linking to pro-Crossless gospel blogs and confusing “legalism” with fidelity to the Scriptures.


  9. You wrote, “I read recently in an article by Timothy R. Nichols, who describes himself as a moderate, that Free Grace is going to take awhile to figure out all the important ground it is breaking in theology. He says, in the meantime, we ought to give each other a little space.”

    1) “Moderate?” If Nichols is a moderate in the Free Grace community, then Jesse Jackson is a “moderate” Democrat. There is and never could be middle ground on the teachings of Zane Hodges’ Crossless gospel. The teaching that a lost man can be saved apart from knowing, understanding or believing in the deity, death and/or resurrection of Christ is a radical departure from the biblical plan of salvation. There is no ground upon which one could claim to be a moderate on that teaching.

    In October 2007 the FGA hosted a panel discussion and Nichols was on that panel. The question for discussion was, “Is explicit belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection necessary for salvation?” In his opening statement, Nichols’ answer to the question was, “ I DON’T CARE!” Moderate? I don’t think so. Reckless? Definitely.

    2) “Ground breaking theology“ The only theological ground that has been broken by Hodges, Wilkin and GES is the bedrock foundation of our faith- the GOSPEL. The whole issue has been figured out, the Crossless is heresy and our Scripturally mandated course of action is to “mark, avoid and withdraw” from the brethren who have introduced “divisions and offences” into the body of Christ through the “contrary doctrine” of the Crossless gospel.

    3) “…we ought to give each other a little space?”

    I agree, but would say that it needs to be a great deal of and permanent space, which is separation. The folks who have been deceived and embraced the teachings of Hodges are on the extreme left wing of evangelical believers. IMO, it is imperative that we make very clear that GES does not speak for or represent the broader Free Grace community. My article Is “REDEFINED” Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology draws the distinction.

    The GES is the home of the Crossless gospel and I think the shrinking membership of GES is the right place for Crossless advocates to seek their fellowship.

    When and if the GES (Hodges, Wilkin or any GES member) tries to introduce their egregious errors into any other church or fellowship their views must be refuted and believers warned.

    Presently there are men in the membership of the FGA who, in no way, can sign the FGA Covenant in good conscience because of their allegiance to the Hodges’ Crossless” gospel. When the “obvious meaning” of the FGA’s Covenant is applied those remaining in the FGA will need to resign, but for now they redefine the Covenant to suit their aberrant views. If FGA leadership comes out with a definitive clarification of the Covenant, those men will have to depart, which I hope and pray will happen for the sake of doctrinal purity.


  10. Lou,

    I apologize for the links. If I knew he was "crossless," I wouldn't have quoted him. I do have respect for you, and I understand that you do not readily extend credibility to the thoughts coming from that group. Next time I won't directly link, though I will make an effort to somehow cite stuff that isn't mine, if that's okay. I think there is still something to be said that when a good idea comes along, it's still a good idea, no matter the source.

    The other dude was someone who died in WWII, who followed after teachings of Luther but who also had enough respect for free will that I could not consider a calvinist. I don't think he should be a problem, then?

    You said:

    "...I prefer to protect my readers from stumbling into heretical views...."

    Yeah, umm, I'm unsure if I'm comfortable, not knowing what this is all about.

    Is it okay to ask you to read my latest post at my blog? (I may have an opinion about what the gospel could contain that you disagree with, but, I'm piping up here for a goal bigger than that issue. I could have just written it here instead. All of the links in that post are irrespective of the controversy of the gospel in Free Grace.)

    You said:

    "Nichols’ answer to the question was, “ I DON’T CARE!” Moderate? I don’t think so. Reckless?"

    Okay. Thanks for letting me know. I do want to know about these kinds of things.

    You said:

    "...it needs to be a great deal of and permanent space, which is separation."

    Are you not in the business of recovering your brothers? Whose job is that? We wage war not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual strongholds. Those men, the people themselves, in the crossless camp were made in the image of God, they are loved by God and He desires them to walk and believe according to the truth. I am sure they desire to know the truth too, they just need some grace. Today is the day of salvation, and while it is still being called today I think we are supposed to be about helping those who have gone astray.

    Have you never ever been deceived about anything before? Weren't you grateful when someone came along and showed you how to set it straight? We all have been caught up in deception at some point. In fact even today I promote things that maybe in another thirty years I will be wincing over. (Isn't God's forgiveness great?) The only way to help the deceived is to take up the burden to walk alongside them, and help them to see where they are wrong.

    You said:

    "I did not appreciate your suggestion that I, or any man who rejects the Crossless gospel is a legalist."

    Good. Because I'm not going to do that. I don't think that preaching a fuller message of the gospel is legalism. What I am looking at here is not your content. I'm looking at the way the group here is forming. What I am suggesting is that the same force of alienation that causes the liberals to say:

    "Look at me, I'm free, don't you want to be too??"

    is the same force that is causing the conservatives to say:

    "Aren't you guilty that you've gone too far; what's wrong with you??"

    The force of feeling alienated by those on the other extreme makes your capability to deal constructively with them, less. You may have all the right scriptures. But that doesn't tell me much about how you feel underneath the message. If disappointment is all that you feel for the other side, could that make you blind about why you're standing behind the things you do?

    That's what I was trying to say, in that last comment.

    Thanks, Lou, for showing me how to get along here.


  11. Michele:

    Sorry I have been unable to respond more quickly. It is late, just got home, so time for just one reply.

    You asked, “Are you not in the business of recovering your brothers?”

    Indeed! By all means! Attempts to recover men who have adopted the Crossless gospel have been going on since well before I was even aware of these views, which were invented by Hodges.

    Very briefly- attempts to recover these deceived brethren in the GES have typically been thwarted by the GES men. Opportunities given to these men to meet for a chance at reconciliation were rejected by Hodges, Wilkin, Lewis, etc. I refer to the FGA’s attempt to bring both sides together. No one in the Crossless camp would agree to participate.

    Other attempts to recover these people have been met by the kind of combativeness and vitriol Antonio da Rosa (Sock Puppet: fg me) is infamous for or Jim Johnson’s massive plagiarism.

    We will not be discouraged by this. I do pray that they can be recovered from the egregious errors they have adopted.


  12. Lou, thank you for encouraging me by the reply.

    Perhaps tomorrow I will reply, but in the meantime my spirit is uneasy over what I said earlier:

    I said:

    "Good. Because I'm not going to do that. I don't think that preaching a fuller message of the gospel is legalism."

    I need to take that back. I meant it honestly in a specific sense, but, in other ways of looking at it I think it's not true, and certainly anyone who has been keeping track of what I've said recently would tell me I contradict myself. I need more time to think about this... or at least how to communicate it clearly.


  13. Michele:

    Done and forgotten.

    My chief concern is that not one more unsuspecting believer be caught up into the errors of the Crossless gospel. It is as dangerous and unbiblical from its end of the extreme pendulum swing as Lordship Salvation is extreme from the other end.

    Rose of the Rose’s Reasonings blog is an unfortunate example of what happens when you put friendship and a desire for unity ahead of fidelity to Scripture.

    You can read some of her comments from about two years ago when at that time she sensed there were problems with what Hodges, Wilkin and especially Antonio was teaching. She questioned and challenged some of the Crossless issues, but not anymore.

    Over time, continued close interaction with them wore her down to the point where it appears she has basically embraced the Crossless gospel. I haveread some of her thread comments that strongly indicate she has also accepted their view that repentance is not a condition of salvation. These are things that two years ago she appeared to understand were wrong, but maintaining close ties with them wore her down. As I occasionally visit her blog I am seeing her very slowly becoming more open about her acceptance of their views as if they are not just orthodox, but right in her own mind. If she is not recovered I can see the day when Rose becomes as passionate in advocacy of the Crossless gospel as her blog partners.

    Rose was trying to encourage tolerance for GES views. She was trying to suggest their views are just “theory” or mere “doctrinal nuances.” When it was clearly shown from the Crossless advocates own writing that those are not just theories and far worse than mere nuances, she slowly became antangonistic and/or hostile toward those who openly reject her “friends” teaching.

    There can be no unity with the teachers of the reductionist Crossless/Deityless gospel of Hodges and Wilkin. The biblical mandates are there for us to obey for our own good and protection from falling into error.

    I shared all that to say this: Over time any one of us can fall into embracing heresy of the worst, if we do not obey God and His plan to protect us from these things and the men who teach them.


  14. Lou,

    I can tell that you write of Rose and her publicly available life-story not because of anything except concern and compassion. You feel her evolution. I can see how much you love the truth and I think you are rallied to it. You want the very best for her.

    I know from experience that what you say is true -- pressure, is real. I'm sure I mentioned somewhere recently how I formerly felt like I was crazy. You have no idea what it is like to be a woman. Or whatever my problem seems to be. It's like people can't hear me when I talk. That's why I love the internet, because until I decide to make it known, gender is irrelevant. I was feeling pressure to recant, or bury or forget, the gospel of faith alone in Christ alone. There was pressure on me in every direction, for about two years. At my church my pastor still can't understand what I'm saying about the gospel, though I sat down with him periodically over several years. In my personal life I was suffering, and feeling isolation and alienation. Whenever I investigated what Christians were teaching out there, I was afraid to look lest I get completely discouraged. When I did look I most often saw confusion. It was like they were blind. But their consistent blindness made me assume I was the one who was mentally unsound! They would say they teach "once saved always saved," and then they would turn right around and assess salvation by scrutinizing works in themselves and especially others. How could they just throw out the entire emphasis of the New Testament -- righteous by faith apart from law?? And nothing I said could help them see. In fact I was viewed as a heretic. No one could verify my idea with the smallest of exceptions, and I was alone. That kind of pressure led me to think that I was better off belonging in something else. I couldn't be evangelical. Me trying to be evangelical meant I was eventually going to be labeled as a heretic and thrown out anyway. What were the other options? I couldn't find any. Being LDS? JW? Universalist? I would never fit with them! I should be evangelical! I thought I was destined to be miserable.

    That's why I care so much about the firm establishment of free grace. I will pay money... to sit in a seminary and just listen... to other human beings read scripture like I do. To know that they see the simplicity of fellowship and righteousness in Christ by faith, is amazing! It is like listening to the sweetest song I never heard.

    My experience is no more horrible and wonderful as any one else's who is apart of this group. All of us know the horrible loneliness and considerably overwhelming goal set in front of us.

    This may be dumb of me to share some details with the whole reading world online. I might regret it when I sit in seminary next fall and the people there will know a little life-history. But I think I decided somewhere along the way that it is more interesting for God to get glory than for me to keep people from thinking whatever they want about me.

    God saved me from the pressure to give up on the truth. How did He do it? By community, by giving me a wider sense than just me of who I belong to. And I think in the case of Rose or others who are out there in that crossless realm, what they need is not less community with free grace people, but more. Do you see why I would say this?

    We eventually are formed in some maligned way under the pressure of those we are surrounded by. You can un-pressurize her if you are with her. With her, as a trustable, respect-offering ally. You can model for her, in an atmosphere that is unthreatening, how to put more of her confidence in scriptures alone.

    Any of what I'm saying doesn't change the fact that the crossless gospel appears as heresy from your perspective. You don't need to change your mind, in fact I ask you to obey the conscience God has formed in you because you are indeed held accountable to the Word of God and God himself.

    Meanwhile I am hoping you will see a reason or two why expanding your community boundaries will make you more accurate and more free in the Word, and more successful at helping your brother.

    Peace and joy,

  15. Michele:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts above.

    I still want to encourge you to read through various articles at my blog on both Lordship Salvation and the Crossless gospel.

    Here are one of each for you to consider:

    Is the “Crossless” Label the Right Label?

    Lordship’s (Out-of-Order) Salvation