August 21, 2008

Drifting Far Off the Marker, Part 2.


This is a continuation of the series by Ron Shea (Th. M.; J.D.). If this is your first view of the series I invite you to read Part 1 of the series and then return to the second and final installment.


From my seminary days I can still recall Hodges’ vivid illustration in his class on Hebrews . . . “How shall we escape if we neglect . . . if we . . . DRIFT AWAY!” Zane’s imagery was stark. Passing a buoy on the ocean, there is no perception of movement, as on a river. The ocean is a uniform body with no apparent relative motion. But ignore the buoy for 20 minutes, and look back for it, and you find that you have drifted far of your marker. The message was that it can happen to any of us. 

I was so overwhelmed by his imagery; I have always prayed that after running the race, I would not be disqualified.

Little was I to imagine it was my beloved instructor who was drifting, and who, for his own reasons, never looked back over his shoulder to see where the buoy was. And when he was finally told that the buoy was three miles northwest, he no longer saw it as a marker near a parcel of solid ground. It was only a milestone of progress, as Zane advanced in his wobbly way toward some strange new doctrine. It was the Christ of Jackson Pollack and Salvador Dali. The “upper story” Christ described by Francis Schaffer. It was a Jesus that could be filled with emotions or doctrine, or any other baggage one sought to bring to it. An inflatable rubber man. Stuff him with what you will. Make his ears big, or is feet long. Stuff him with hay, or fill him with air. As long as the nametag says “Jesus,” it’s all the same. 

Were this the only error, it would be a tragedy. But suddenly, not only the cross of Christ is miles behind us in the rear view window, so is grace.

To appreciate how this came about, it is important to reconstruct Hodges on the concept of Repentance.

Grace, my friend, is not the SUGGESTION that eternal life be offered freely and received freely. It is the demand. If it is not received freely, it is not grace. The promise is made void. And throughout Scripture, in many different forms, the word "Repent" demands of those who believe in salvation by works . . . who believe in salvation by self righteousness . . . that they must change their mind. They must come to regard their works as incapable of earning, or even contributing to their eternal life. Grace is not the preferred route to justification and eternal life, it is the only way. “For if it is by grace, than is it no more of works.”

Man is not the co-savior of his eternal soul. If Christ, and Christ alone, is not one’s Savior, one has no Savior. Although faith makes an affirmative statement of man’s response, it is repentance that proclaims that faith in Christ, may not be sullied with the prideful addition of man’s works. Salvation is not an amalgamation of Christ plus works. It is through Christ alone. Repentance teaches us that the message of grace is not a suggestion. It is a demand.

And now we come to the great circular logic of Zane Hodges, former heir apparent of the Free Grace mantel . . . “John doesn’t teach repentance to be saved, and John is sufficient for salvation, therefore, repentance is not needed for salvation.” Hmmmmm? Does that depend, perhaps . . . on your definition of “repent?”

Hodges has come to believe, against the full body of Greek literature, that repentance is turning from one’s sins. There are nuances where honest theologians can disagree. This is not one of them. The belief that repentance somehow takes sin as its automatic object is indefensible from Greek. It is bluntly contradicted by a mass of secular literature as well as Scriptural usage.

Because Hodges has retained his commitment against Lordship Salvation, the only way he is able to teach a Reformed definition of repentance (a turning from sin) while preserving grace is to claim that “repentance” is never presented as a requirement for salvation in the New Testament.

However, an impartial estimate would identify 36 separate occasions in which repentance is presented as a requirement, or cause of eternal salvation. Matthew 3:2; Matthew 3:8; 3:11; 9:13, 11:20; 11:21; 21:19; 21:32; Mark 1:4, 1:15; 2:17; 6:12; Luke 3:3; 3:8; 5:32; 10:13; 11:32; 13:3, 5; 15:7; 16:30; 24:7; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 13:24; 17:30; 19:4; 20:21; 26:20 (2x); Romans 2:4; Hebrews 6:1; 2 Peter 3:9. These passages are identified with no theological agenda other than the most likely meaning suggested (or demanded) by the context.

For Hodges position to be sustainable, he must be able to demonstrate by the preponderance of the evidence that NONE of these passages are directed to the question of eternal salvation. Five verses would require exegetical gymnastics. Thirty six requires an exegetical contortionist. And it clearly requires an agenda . . . reaching the conclusion, and then hammering the Scriptures to fit that conclusion.

The argument that John never speaks of “repentance” is akin to the argument that the rapture is not a biblical doctrine because the word “rapture” is not in the Bible. That is indeed true. But the question is more accurately “is the doctrine of the rapture taught in the Bible?” I have found, in my experience with the one-verse Willies of this world, that this question does not cut any ice. So now, I simply ask, “well how would you translate ‘deharpadzo’?” (“deharpadzo” in 1 Thess. 4:17 is translated “caught up” but could equally be translated “rapture.” They mean the same thing.)

The word “Jesus” has been lofted into the existentialists’ upper story where it has been reduced to whatever meaningless appellation the subjective observer would ascribe to it. In quite the opposite fashion, the word repentance has been hammered into a preconceived mold and nailed in place. It is no longer the concepts that matter, but hollow words devoid of content.

The repentance of Zane Hodges is essentially the same meaning as used in Reformed circles . . . repentance is a turning from sin. Hodges escapes from any taint of Lordship Salvation by claiming that the word “repent” is never used as a requirement for salvation, a dubious claim at best.

But more to the point, grace is not a suggestion that man may accept eternal life as a gift. Grace is the only way that man can be saved.

The synchertists must repent of dead works. They must renounce salvation through religion, ritualism, sacerdotalism, morality, and personal reformation. They must renounce all of these good and worthy things has having any contribution in their salvation. They must accept the gift as a gift. 

Adding Jesus to a long list of things one must do or be to attain eternal life is NOT the saving faith. And there is a word in Scripture that is frequently used to demand that faith in Christ is not saving faith unless it is faith in Christ Alone. And that word is REPENT.

In the 20th century, Free Grace theologians have systematically identified doctrines incompatible with the doctrine of Grace, salvation by water baptism, salvation by morality, salvation by religion, etc. The motivation of these many works was one thing and one thing only: To preserve the doctrine of grace from the pollution of man's self righteousness.

But what would Hodges now say to one who trusted in Christ plus baptism? Who trusted that, together with Jesus, the fact that they had been a virgin until their wedding night was the basis on which they had gained God’s acceptance. The person who believes their sins are washes away in sacerdotal acts of penance, nine first-Fridays, etc. What answer does Hodges have for such men? They are no longer required to repent of these works, because that is not the meaning of repentance in Hodges new system.

And so we ask again: If someone believes in Jesus, but also believes other things are necessary for eternal salvation, what must he do? In historic Free Grace circles, the “promise is made void,” (Romans 4:14, “grace is no more grace” (Romans 11:6-7), and “Christ is become of none effect unto you who would be justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:1-4)

If Hodges makes an affirmative demand that such person renounce faith in their works, Hodges is teaching repentance whether or not he uses the word.

However, if Hodges no affirmative demand on such a person other than “to believe on Jesus” (a fact which the example has already stipulated), than grace is no longer the only way, but the preferred way of salvation.

And the man who would have been the elder statesman of the free-grace movement no longer sees the defense of Grace as critical, but only preferable. He is become a post-modernist deconstructionist movements of the 20th century. An heir to the linguistic absurdities of Witgenstein, who wrote many books and used many words to prove that words are too ambiguous to mean anything.

In my Gospel Booklet I have listed four elements as essentials to a saving profession of faith in Christ. They are:
1) The Deity of Christ,
2) The atoning work of Christ,
3) The Resurrection of Christ, and
4) The offer of salvation EXCLUSIVELY through grace

None are left standing in the gospel of Zane Hodges. It is as if, after a life time of defending these doctrines, he forgot why he had mounted his steed for battle. After many years, he jousted with windmills with great skill and aplomb, but when called to defend his King, he was last seen on his mount 100 miles North West of the castle, riding after some imaginary grail.

Professor Hodges, If someone is trusting in Christ plus works do they need to repent of their works?”
Hodges: “It is not by Faith plus repentance, it is faith alone.”

“Well, Professor Hodges, what is repentance?” 

Hodges: “Why it’s turning from your wicked ways!”


Do you start to see you are arguing in a circle? And you will never make a whit of progress. But do you also see that if a man need no longer repent of his dead works to be saved, then the head of the Free Grace movement is no longer teaching grace! With Hodges you can come as you are! Ten Commandments, circumcision, nine consecutive first Fridays, etc. As long as you have Jesus, the rest is OK. 

Is this a defense of grace? Is this a defense of faith alone? It is universalism. It is existentialism. It is deconstructionism. Jesus is whatever you want Him to be. And faith can be in Jesus and anything else you chose to believe in.

Just make sure that none of you, FOR EVEN ONE SECOND, EVER CONCEDE EVEN FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT THAT THE MEN 9 IN THE GES) WHO FOLLOW AFTER THE TEACHING OF HODGES ARE ANOTHER MOVEMENT WTIHIN THE FREE GRACE CAMP.

THEY ARE HERETICS, NOT COUSINS. AND THE DAY WE CEDE THE BATTLE, AND ACKNOWLEDGE THEM AS A VALID BRANCH OF THE FREE GRACE MOVEMENT, WE HAVE CAST OUR LOT IN WITH THE HERETICS, AND PLACE OURSELVES UNDER PAUL’S CURSE IN GALATIANS. 


Their view is not another flavor. Their view is not an alternative interpretation. Hodges and the GES are not in mild error between the division of labors of elders and deacons. They have abandoned the faith by clever arguments. And they are heretics. Stand Firm my friends! 

In 1957, Alec Guinness and William Holden starred in The Bridge on the River Kwai, winner of 7 academy awards. Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guiness) became so obsessed with demonstrating the dignity and virtue of a British Soldier that he not only cooperated in building a bridge for the Japanese, a strategic bridge that would transport military supplies, but, upon learning that his fellow prisoners of war had booby trapped the bridge to blow when the first train went over it, labored with his Japanese captors to uncover the electrical lines connected to the charging caps.

As the Japanese train began to cross the bridge, a moment of clarity came across Guinness. He realize in trying to demonstrate the character and integrity of the British Soldier, he had lost sight of the greater goal, to prevail in war over our enemies. In an act of redemption, Guinness falls on the detonating charger, blowing up the bridge as he is shot to death by the Japanese prison guards who trusted him.

Each of us has the capacity to lose sight of the big picture and, incrementally get turned around in the fog of battle until we are in fact serving the enemy. This is why Paul commanded is to “walk circumspectly, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Let us pray for the restoration of our brothers. Let us pray that self righteousness never becomes part of the controversy. This would erect a barrier that would abase their personal dignity and prevent their return. And let us pray that we are never caught in the deception of the wicked one, turned about in the confusion of battle until we find our labors advancing the cause of the enemy.




Ron Shea

51 comments:

  1. Lou,

    Ron posed the following question:

    "The person who believes their sins are washes away in sacerdotal acts of penance, nine first-Fridays, etc. What answer does Hodges have for such men? They are no longer required to repent of these works, because that is not the meaning of repentance in Hodges new system."

    Although I don't want to speak for Hodges, I suspect he would answer with Romans 4:4-5 and argue that belief in Christ excludes human works. Therefore, the person who "believes" in Christ plus works isn't really believing in Christ.

    JP

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  2. (Personally, I agree that repentance is necessary for salvation and that repentance is inherent in belief in Christ.)

    JP

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  3. Hi JP:

    I guess I’ll let Hodges speak for himself.

    What is abundantly clear, however, that Hodges and the GES believe repentance is not a condition of/for salvation. Instead they teach that it is only for the maintaining a harmonious relationship with God.

    Hodges totally eliminates repentance from the conversion experience. In his book, Harmony With God Hodges takes the position that the process of repentance may be a preparatory step in coming to salvation, and should be evident in the life of a believer, but a lost man can be born again apart from repentance by any definition.

    Hodges also said he no longer holds to the “change of mind” view of repentance. Hodges says there is only one answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Hodges emphatically states that repentance is not part of that answer.


    LM

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  4. Lou,

    At the 2007 FGA conference, Charlie Bing taught a session called "Introduction to the Free Grace Perspective" in which he gave a brief overview of repentance. He said:

    "another key word is repentance. And you hear a lot about the word repentance in relation to salvation, and you'll hear it often discussed in the grace movement because frankly, there are different views of it. But, I'm going to tell you about two views that I think are consistent with the grace gospel, but there are views that are not consistent, and you should understand that....you will find, just to be fair, you will find within what we call the grace movement different perspectives on repentance. There is another view that is consistent with the grace gospel that's called the "harmony with God view", and this view says that repentance has absolutely nothing EVER to do with eternal salvation. But it is used of Christians. It always means "to turn from sin", first of all, and it is used of Christians to turn from sin after they've believed, and it is used of unbelievers to turn from sin in order to have harmony with God - not salvation but harmony with God. I prefer the first view [that repentance is required for salvation and inherent in belief in Christ]; I haven't quite figured out how sinners can be in harmony with God, to be honest with you. I've given it a fair shot and I'll continue to study what they're trying to say. The important point is that there is an understanding of repentance that is consistent with the grace message. When we get into trouble is when we say that repentance means turning from sin [to be saved from Hell]...so repentance continues to be an item that we discuss, but usually within these two views. And we can have a friendly disagreement about the views but both of them are consistent with the grace message." (bold added)

    Lou, how would you and/or Ron respond to Charlie Bing's statements above in light of Ron's statement that "Hodges has come to believe, against the full body of Greek literature, that repentance is turning from one’s sins. There are nuances where honest theologians can disagree. This is not one of them....But do you also see that if a man need no longer repent of his dead works to be saved, then the head of the Free Grace movement is no longer teaching grace!" (first bold added)

    JP

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  5. JP:

    I have to leave for work in 20 minutes. I may need further clarification or ask you hone in a little more on what you are asking. I’ll make some general observations, because that is all I have time for.

    1) In Bing’s Lordship Salvation dissertation (p. 60) he wrote, “That the Scriptures sometime refer specifically to a repentance involved with salvation is generally accepted by both sides.” In footnote 1, he adds, “A notable exception is Zane C. Hodges of the Free Grace position who believes repentance is not a condition of salvation, but a condition of a harmonious relationship with God.”

    The point being is that when it come to repentance to salvation Hodges’s view stands alone and is NOT accepted by theologians in the LS or FG camp.

    2) Ron’s point from the series is that Hodges did come to believe repentance is turning from sin for salvation, and to avoid being lumped in with the LS/Reformed camp he had to dismiss repentance from the salvation/conversion experience.

    3) IMO, there is no way there can be agreement with or a move toward appeasement with the Hodges/GES view that repentance is not a condition of/for salvation. That view is just one of the disturbing off-shoots of the bigger error, which is the Crossless gospel.

    4) A lot of water under the bridge since the 2007 FGA Meeting. I don’t think there is a strong desire among many in FGA leadership to hold hands with the teachings of Hodges, Wilkin or the GES.

    This had to be quick reaction, not sure I got to what you are asking about exactly, but have to go.


    Lou

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  6. Lou,

    Thanks, that answers my question except for the fact that Bing still indicates that Hodges' view of repentance is "consistent with the grace gospel" while Ron seems to indicate that Hodges' view of repentance is not consistent with the grace gospel.

    JP

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  8. JP, thanks for your well-reasoned response to some of Ron's arguments. Ron, if you're reading this, you should know that although Zane defines repentance as turning from sin, he still believes that people must be consciuosly aware that works can't save them in order to be saved - moreover, he believes (as do I) that a person must believe in eternal security to be saved. I agree with you guys that repentance simply means to change your mind. Still, let's be very clear, even though Zane doesn't see repentance as including a change of mind about works, he still very much agrees that a person must indeed change their mind about works and reject them - he simply would not label this *necessary* change of mind as repentance.

    So yes, although he rejects the necessity of your first three essentials, Zane still holds firmly to #4:The offer of salvation EXCLUSIVELY through grace.

    I honestly can't see how anyone can believe Jesus' promise of eternal life without understanding the Cross and Resurrection, so I'm not here to dispute whether or not anyone can be saved without that knowledge. I just had to point out, as did JP, that Ron has no basis for accusing Zane of teaching that a person can be saved while still holding on to works. Again, Zane believes you must change your mind and stop trusting in works - Zane simply would not label this change of mind as repentance.

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  9. Hi Jon:

    Just back from work.

    You noted, “,,,Bing still indicates that Hodges' view of repentance is "consistent with the grace gospel" while Ron seems to indicate that Hodges' view of repentance is not consistent with the grace gospel.

    Here is the way I look at it- Forget about, “consistent with the Free Grace Gospel,” and let’s understand that the Hodges view of repentance to salvation is inconsistent with the Gospel and/or the Scriptures.


    LM

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  10. Danny:

    I’m going to deal with the portion of your post. You wrote, “I honestly can’t see how anyone can believe Jesus’ promise of eternal life without understanding the Cross and Resurrection, so I’m not here to dispute whether or not anyone can be saved without that knowledge.”

    Let’s be real clear: Hodges, Wilkin GES insist a lost man can be saved even if he is unaware, does not know, understand or believe in the deity of Christ, His Cross and/or resurrection. This is a radical departure from the Scriptures, and is as heretical as any interpretation of the Gospel you will find in any evangelical circles.

    Are the lost saved by believing in the promise of eternal life from whomever the lost man thinks made the promise; or by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, His finished work on the Cross and Resurrection?

    Which is it: salvation by belief in a promise or belief in the Lord (who He is- Deity) and what He did to provide salvation?


    LM

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  12. Hi Lou. A person is saved when they believe that they have free/permanent eternal life through Jesus' Death and Resurrection. They're believing His promise in light of the Death/Resurrection. And that's the key - They are believing a promise - the promise that it's already done - they have eternal life now and forever based on the Finished Work of Christ. You can't separate the Promise from the Finished Work. You can't separate the Giver from the gift. You're believing in the Giver for the gift. So I'm sorry, but the old "You're supposed to believe in the Giver and not the gift" idea is nonsense.

    But like I said, I didn't come here to dispute FG vs. RFG. What I'm disputing is the fact that Ron is getting away with accusing Zane of things that Zane does not believe. So Zane rejects the change-of-mind view of repentance. This doesn't mean he allows for works-salvationists to be saved. Zane indeed believes a change of mind about works is necessary - He just doesn't see that as being repentance. He may have an incorrect view about repentance, but at the end of the day, Zane agrees with all FGers that a person must be aware that turning from sins can't save them.

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  13. We have this statement from Ron: "If Hodges makes an affirmative demand that such person renounce faith in their works, Hodges is teaching repentance whether or not he uses the word." Yes. Hodges indeed teaches that a person must renounce their faith in works. So he is teaching repentance, "whether or not he uses the word."

    Then Ron continues: "However, if Hodges no affirmative demand on such a person other than 'to believe on Jesus' (a fact which the example has already stipulated), than grace is no longer the only way, but the preferred way of salvation."

    If you go back and read Zane's "How to Lead People to Christ" articles, it is rather obvious that the expression "believe in Jesus" has content for Zane. When Zane tells people to believe in Jesus, he makes it clear that works can't save them. Moreover, he explains that salvation is rooted firmly in the Finished Work of Christ. Of course, his belief that a person can be saved without that knowledge isn't correct, but even Zane sees that as a rare situation. So yes, Hodges is teaching that repentance from dead works is necessary, even though he wouldn't call that repentance.

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  14. Danny:

    First, I have time for only one comment until tonight or tomorrow.

    Second, I have notified Brother Shea about yours and some others comments directed to his attention about his article. He is, at this time, unable to participate in the threads, but will do so shortly.

    In the meantime, I want to deal with this comment you made, “Moreover, he explains that salvation is rooted firmly in the Finished Work of Christ. Of course, his belief that a person can be saved without that knowledge isn't correct, but even Zane sees that as a rare situation.”

    First, I want my readers to understand that Hodges’s position on repentance is not his only unique and radical departure from a biblically balanced theology.

    Hodges may believe that salvation is rooted in the finished work of Christ, but he is also very clear that the lost do not have to know, understand or believe any of it, but can still be saved. I am glad that you acknowledge Hodges’s “isn’t correct” on this. His view is a departure from Scripture.

    A “rare situation” does nothing to minimize or negate the extreme reductionist heresy of this teaching. Wrong, is wrong! Lost men cannot be born again apart from true biblical repentance toward God. That is what the Bible teaches.

    IMPORTANT Side Note: Why do you suppose Hodges stripped the Lord’s deity out of His titles, “the Christ” & “Son of God”? Because Hodges does not believe repentance, the “change of mind,” about who Jesus Christ is is necessary to be born again.

    Hodges/Wilkin take the no repentance view for salvation. Why? Because they had a “change of mind” about repentance- Hodges first, who then convinced Wilkin and so forth.

    Lordship Salvation and GES are in lock-step in their view of repentance, “turn from sin,” and this is wrong. The Hodges/Wilkin answer to the façade that they are NOT like the Lordship camp on this is to further abuse the Scriptures by stripping repentance from its biblical moorings.

    Why do you suppose we have Crossless advocates insist the Mormon, JW and Hindu can be saved while clinging to his heresies about the Lord? We are talking about millions of these, who when asked, “Do you believe Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life,” would be considered born again if he/she said, “Yes.” Knowing that Mormon/JW openly rejects the deity of Christ, the Crossless advocate must tell him that he is saved, and this is a travesty.

    I encourage you and my guests to read The Tragedy of a “Crossless" Gospel in William Carey’s Gold Mine of Souls



    LM


    Universalism is just a half-step away for the teaching of the GES, Hodges, Wilkin “Crossless/Deityless” gospel. I just read a blog comment (I’ll have to search it again) from someone sympathetic to the Crossless gospel who has taken that step to Universalism and calls on other Crossless advocates to take the same step.

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  15. Danny:

    A couple more thoughts.

    1) This debate has been settled. The teaching of Hodges and Wilkin on the Crossless gospel is heresy by its reductionist assault on the Gospel and Person of Jesus Christ.

    2) My blog is not a place for the promotion of false interpretations of the Gospel, such as: Lordship Salvation and the Crossless Gospel.

    My goal here is to put up a defense of the Gospel from assaults on it so that the unsuspecting will be warned and better able to defend against these errors.


    LM

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  16. There was a period of time as I was discovering that there was a "group" of people who believed the same way I did about Salvation that I got led astray by some who claimed to be part of that group. I had never been exposed to the "Free Grace" camp. But as I realized that there were people who gathered to talk and encourage on this all important issue I was ecstatic! But this led me to come in with half open eyes. I was swooned by those who would pervert the Truth into yet another man centered message.

    I began to question if Repentance was even part of Salvation. I spent nearly 10 months searching the Scriptures and TRYING TO EXPLAIN AWAY every instance of Repentance being part of Salvation. All because I had bought into the John MacArthur & Zane Hodges definition of Repentance.

    As I started to realize I was COMPLETELY wrong about Repentance I started to talk about this with this sect of people who claimed to be part of the Free Grace camp. It was then that they were outed to me. They were not celebrating God's "Amazing Grace" they were making Salvation about man and what man can do to be saved.

    That was the final nail in the coffin of proof-texting for me. It was also the final nail in the coffin of "group theology" for me. Since the day I realized that I have not opened another commentary.

    If I don't understand something I seek counsel in real-time. I read great theological works - but never a commentary and I never ever just swallow what I read. Even those writers who have proven to be authentic time and time again are scrutinized.

    Because I believed a man, who had a convenient message for me, instead of "searching the Scriptures to see if these things be true" my ministry was affected and God's glory was not fully given for a season.

    Let us all be keenly aware of exactly our position in respect to the Marker. And let us swim, paddle, or better yet walk on water ever toward Him.

    Kev

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  17. JP,

    You said:
    " There are nuances where honest theologians can disagree. This is not one of them...."

    Can I ask a critical thinking question? I don't mean to be negative. But I want to ask, dealing in disagreements about soteriology automatically concludes dishonest intentions?

    Thanks, Michele

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  18. Kev:

    I appreciate your comment above and what lead you to that decision.

    While I still do read commentaries to crosscheck others, and myself I always allow the Inspired Commentary to have the preeminence. Beyond that I try to work out my theology on my knees.

    God bless you,


    Lou

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  19. Michele:

    I'll let JP address your question to him, but I will offer this...

    The Crossless gospel of Hodges, Wilkin and GES is an extreme reductionist assault on the Gospel. The GES interpretation of the Gospel is rank heresy. It is as radical a departure from the Scriptures as any I have encountered in evangelical circles.

    Their view is no mere “theory” or “doctrinal nuance” which are favorites of Rose who is an avid supporter of Crossless theology and its extremist advocates.

    The biblical mandates are very clear. Teachers of a false doctrine must be admonished, rebuked, marked and avoided. The Crossless gospel is the cause of “divisions and offences” in the body of Christ.


    LM

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  20. Good evening Lou and others. A few things which were posted here which I don't think accurately reflect Mr. Hodges' views.

    "Universalism is just a half-step away for the teaching of the GES, Hodges, Wilkin “Crossless/Deityless” gospel. I just read a blog comment (I’ll have to search it again) from someone sympathetic to the Crossless gospel who has taken that step to Universalism and calls on other Crossless advocates to take the same step."

    It is fascinating how people can come to diametrically opposed conclusions when looking at the same thing. I look at the Mr. Hodges'/GES message as leading towards exclusivity, not universalism.

    The message of simple faith promoted by Zane, Bob, GES and others in agreement with them condemns all who have always disagreed with them. There is no room for compromise.

    I think anyone who views Zane's message as leading towards universalism has completely missed the specificity and exclusivity of the message.

    "We are talking about millions of these, who when asked, “Do you believe Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life,” would be considered born again if he/she said, “Yes.”"

    This is wrong in more ways than one. Many Christian denominations believe in Jesus as the Guarantor of eternal life yet they are at odds with Hodges'/GES understanding of the saving message. Also, I doubt anyone is considered by Zane/GES to be born again simply because they said yes to any question one could formulate. Answers are not important, believing is.

    It is possible to induce verbal agreement in some people which is not based upon intellectual agreement. People may say things for various reasons without sincerely believing them. It is impossible for Zane, Bob, GES or any of us to know whether someone has believed. Therefore, it is possible that some we "consider" to be born again may not be. All theologies have that problem though.

    "Knowing that Mormon/JW openly rejects the deity of Christ, the Crossless advocate must tell him that he is saved, and this is a travesty."

    The Crossless advocate need not tell anyone they are they saved. The saving message provides its own support without any need of words from the Crossless advocate. The Bible provides the saving message and the assurance is inherent in a faith response to the message.

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  21. Looker:

    You wrote, “I think anyone who views Zane’s message as leading towards universalism has completely missed the specificity and exclusivity of the message.”

    Any one who reads and understands the Hodges, Wilkin GES Crossless/Deityless gospel knows that is an absurd claim. The Crossless gospel insists that the lost do not have to be aware of, know, understand or believe in who Jesus is and what He did to provide salvation, but can still be born again.

    The only specific in that message is that there is nothing specific the lost have to know or believe to be born again, i.e., Universalism.

    Any lost man who does not believe in and/or openly rejects the deity of Christ and His finished work on the cross CANNOT be born again.


    LM

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  22. Looker:

    Let’s put it to the acid test. Some of the most radical teaching of the Crossless gospel of Hodges/GES have been expressed this way,

    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." I will discuss with him Jesus' ability to impart eternal life by faith alone apart from works. This is where I want to zero in with the JW or the Mormon. They believe that salvation comes by faith AND works, and LOTS of works (not unsimilar to the Traditionalist religion).

    At the moment that a JW or a Mormon is convinced that Jesus Christ has given to them unrevokable eternal life when they believed on Him for it, I would consider such a one saved, REGARDLESS of their varied misconcetions and beliefs about Jesus
    .”

    Do you believe a cultist, who openly rejects the deity of Christ, who believes that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan, can be born again no matter what misconceptions and beliefs he has about Jesus?


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  23. To My Guests:

    From the article OPEN QUESTION to Bob Wilkin at the GES I found a comment by Greg Schliesmann directed to former GES staff member Jeremy Myers.

    The artice question was Can a lost man be born again, while consciously denying the deity of Christ, if he believes in Jesus for eternal life?

    With possibly one exception the Crossless/Deityless gospel advocates repeatedly and still to this day have dodged answering this question. Greg called Jeremy to account for ducking the question. Greg’s note below to Jeremy will help understand some of the egregious errors of the Crossless gospel. I will follow this with one more comment by Greg from the same thread.


    Greg wrote...
    It is amazing you continue to refuse to answer the question. Kyle indicated that Bob would answer the question. But now, all you guys are doing is continuing to complain. The answer "yes" to Lou's question is simply the logical conclusion of the crossless gospel view.


    Crossless advocates define "Christ" in purely functional terms - the guarantor of everlasting life. You say a person only needs to believe Jesus is the guarantor of everlasting life to be saved, but believing in His deity is NOT required.

    Even John 20:31, which is supposed to be a crux verse for the crossless position, says "these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name."



    This verse and dozens of others include "Son of God" as appositional to "Christ". Crossless advocates focus on John 4:42 where, following the exact same construction (assuming that "the Christ" is part of the true text), "the Savior of the world" is appositional to the Christ.



    If you are going to take that as appositional in terms of identifying the Christ, you should also take "the Son of God" which outnumbers "the Savior of the world" as an appositional modifier to "the Christ" probably 20 to 1. Unless you have some pressing theological need that would keep you from accepting the clear meaning of Scripture, the term "the Son of God" which is appositional to "the Christ" across all of Scripture should affect your understanding of "the Christ" especially since John 20:31 conditions salvation upon believing this.



    In the passage Lou quoted, 1John 2:22-23, the terms "the Christ" and "Son" (in relationship to the "Father) are interchanged. Yet to scolded Lou for believing the term "the Christ" involves deity!



    Furthermore, the term "the Christ" or "the Messiah" had to come from somewhere. The only OT passages that use the term "Messiah" or "Annointed" identify Him in terms of His deity and work (e.g. Psalm 2; 45).



    Your response to Lou is based upon the very ignorance of which you accuse Lou. Your understanding does not come from Scripture but GES mantra. If I am questioned on this, I am ready to respond Scripturally.



    There are dozens more passages that predicate salvation upon believing in the deity of Christ. Here are two examples:



    "And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins." (John 8:23-24)



    "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things." (John 8:28)



    The background for these statements is this:

    "You are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know, and believe me, and understand that I MYSELF AM. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there shall be none. I AM, I AM the LORD [Jehovah/the I AM]: and there is no Saviour besides me." (Isaiah 43:10-11, Darby).



    -- Greg

P.S.

    You keep repeating Zane Hodges's argument about the Samaritans not believing Christ's deity. In "How to Lead a Person to Christ" he introduces this argument as an attempt to evade the implications of his own conclusions on John 20:31. His argument is a desperate attempt to impose his own theology in Scripture, much like MacArthur's comments on John 3. I think Hodges is a brilliant thinker, but he has been reduced to a ridiculous argument on this. His argument is an exegetical pop gun.

    ReplyDelete
  24. To another pro-Crossless gospel advocate Greg wrote:

    First, 1Cor. 15. deals with the resurrection of believers (1Cor. 15:12, 16, 19, 20, 22, 29). The heresy in Corinth involved denying the promise of resurrection which is itself involved in the promise of eternal life (cf. John 6:39, 40; 11:25-26)! So isn't your statement a two-edged sword?



    Your suggestion that Paul cannot be reiterating the gospel by which the Corinthians received eternal life simply because he is calling believers to return to it is unfounded. Scripture teaches that in the Christian life, believers are to hold to the very same gospel by which we were saved. For example:



    "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:...: (Col. 1:5-6).



    See also 1Cor. 15:1-2ff; Col. 1:5-6, 23; Gal. 1:6-9; 2:2-5; 2:16-20; 3:1-2; Phil. 1:5).



    In both 1Cor. 15. and Galatians (e.g. Gal. 1:6-10), Paul is addressing a very similar situation. Although the heresies are different, both heresies contradict the original "gospel" by which these believers were saved. Paul calls them back to "the gospel" through which they were born again.



    Paul specifically says he is reminding them of "the gospel" that he originally preached regarding Christ's death and resurrection, and he does so to prove the resurrection of believers, which goes along with the promise of life! I declare unto you the gospel, which I preached unto you, which ye also received...I delivered to you FIRST OF ALL that which I also received... (15:1, 3).



    If this was only some sanctification good news to believers, it is a strange thing that the Apostles taught the same truths of 1Cor. 15:3-4 all over the book of Acts to the lost (e.g. Acts 10:38-43; 13:26-41) and it is also called "the gospel" there.



    It is also noticeable "the gospel" in 1Cor. 15:1-4 corresponds exactly with "the gospel" and the "message of the cross" in 1Cor. 1:17-23. It is also a strange thing that Paul indicates the Corinthians were born again through "the gospel" (1Cor. 4:15).



    Do you believe "the gospel" through which the Corinthians were regenerated is different from that of 1Cor. 1:17-23 and 15:3-4?


    ReplyDelete
  25. Looker:

    Do you believe a cultist, who openly rejects the deity of Christ, who believes that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan, can be born again no matter what misconceptions and beliefs he has about Jesus?


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Lou,

    Thank you for listing the scriptures in Acts and 1 cor 1 mentioning the gospel. It is inadvertently helpful since I'm studying it at this time.

    On Aug 22 in this thread you said:

    "4) A lot of water under the bridge since the 2007 FGA Meeting. I don’t think there is a strong desire among many in FGA leadership to hold hands with the teachings of Hodges, Wilkin or the GES."

    You may hold that opinion more because of the people you talk to... and because of those you do not. If you have been employing the practice of marking and avoiding, and inlfuencing others to do likewise, you might have forsaken an unbiased sample. And they might have lost their grounds to share with you.

    See, that's what's so evil about this practice, at this time in free grace.

    There are those who are bold about their persuasions yet are humble toward the scriptures. They will always expect to have their mind changed, because the Word is familiar as an agent of correction, and they are not opposed to the church being a conduit of correction.

    Then there are those who oftentimes are right, but they not do not prefer correction or vulnerability and yet... take the freedom to declare their mind.

    If we do not stay in submission to Him and His instruments, He will make our work in Him archaic.

    IMHO,
    Michele

    ReplyDelete
  27. Michele:

    Are you suggesting it is “evil” to obey the biblical mandates to “mark” and “avoid” the teachers of “contrary” doctrine, “contrary” doctrine that has introduced “divisions and offences” into the body of Christ. (Romans !6:17-18)

    The GES’s Crossless/Deityless gospel, which Hodges, Wilkin and the GES teach is a gross departure from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is as heretical by its reductionism and Lordship Salvation is by its addition. Both must be biblically resisted.

    I can’t influence any one to mark and avoid, that is the work of God’s Spirit. All I can do is proclaim what the Bible says, make the application and leave the results with the Lord.

    I would also like to remind you that the GES “Crossless” gospel is a reductionist assault on the Gospel and Person of Christ. It is a radical departure from the Scriptures. The men who teach and promulgate this heresy have for years been approached by men seeking to recover them. These efforts have not yielded their repentance.

    The Bible therefore, gives just one option: withdraw from them, mark them so that others will avoid their egregious errors. That is hard to accept, but if you are going to be loyal to God and His Word first you do not seek to fellowship with the teachers of the Crossless heresy.

    Only by having a New Evangelical mindset for compromise with the teachers of gross error could one view the Crossless gospel as if it is a mere “theory” or a minor “doctrinal nuance.” Rose (Rose's Reasonings) made this tragic mistake and has become a determined supporter of tolerance for the Crossless heresy and it advocates. I fear you have or about to make the same mistake.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  28. Michele:

    I have left a question up for over 24 hours for Looker4522. Michele: Will you please answer this question:

    Do you believe a cultist, who openly rejects the deity of Christ, who believes that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan, can be born again no matter what misconceptions and beliefs he has about Jesus?

    That is an example of the theological extremism of the Crossless gospel.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  30. Rose:

    Because of your consistently duplicitous behavior your participation is not welcome at my blog.

    I would have hoped your questioning my motives and heart, plus your uninviting me from your blog would have been considered by you as having voluntarily terminated your participation here.

    You are beyond any reasonable doubt a loyal supporter of the Crossless gospel, its advocates and tolerant of their lapses in ethical behavior.

    Thank you for respecting my wishes.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  31. Looker4522 & Michele: Will you please answer this question:

    Do you believe a cultist, who openly rejects the deity of Christ, who believes that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan, can be born again no matter what misconceptions and beliefs he has about Jesus?

    That is an example of the theological extremism of the Crossless gospel.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi Lou,

    Sorry it took me so long to reply.

    You asked:
    Do you believe a cultist, who openly rejects the deity of Christ, who believes that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan, can be born again no matter what misconceptions and beliefs he has about Jesus?

    I believe I already answered this question but I would like to answer it again. I'm so immersed in this that it's difficult to write about it.... I will tell you what I have seen with my own eyes. I know that there is hardly any such thing as LDS orthodoxy when it comes to their people. Ask any LDS person what they believe and it will be something essentially different. That's due to the reality that going to "another denomination" is just not possible, even when most do not believe their church is the only one God approves of. In fact the only place to find consistency in the substance of their beliefs are with missionaries. And it is in knowing that a major reason why people go on mission trips is so that through teaching and preaching about their church they might gain a testimony of what the truth is, that we can see that even when someone is playing the role of teaching what is false it does not mean they are beyond the hope of reconsiderations. When it comes to their doctrine, approach and testimony speak louder than scripture. One of the first issues I shared with them (once I had ceased being offensive to their ears), was the truth that Jesus is YHWH. I laid it all out, and all of them said that they not only agreed but had seen the same things (or were seeing the same things) out of their and our scriptures. Amongst the ones I know personally, there is one who I am encouraged to believe is saved. I've asked them openly if they understand grace. If they have received encouragement from considering Christ crucified for their sins. One certainly has. He... has stopped talking largely about LDS doctrine discussions, and oftentimes when he does speak he says things that are solid and biblical. It's difficult... for me to think about talking about more of them, or any of them, because I know they could link their way over here and read what I am speaking to evangelicals in evangelical language, and it would hurt the ministry to this point. I recently asked them to share again more publicly the things they have in times passed of their own personal explorations of God, but they have such a hard time thinking about putting themselves "out there" when they deal with so much negativity for more outward things.

    Is it black and white? I don't think I can sum up where someone is with a two- or three-scripture test, even if those scriptures are concerning the most basic spellings of salvation. Each person is a work in progress, and where they are is complex and individually different.

    I have hung out with some elderly JWs, for four years. But in their cases they are hard-core into their beliefs at all times. These two are so in love with diminutizing JC that it probably turned me off from wanting to hang out with the average JW. But, I have met other JWs who are sucked into that church because of only one testimony of "paradise" or because they finally have someone scripturally educated to tell them what the bible says. They may be JW because they already desire to reject JC. But maybe some are JW because of the peripherals and all they need is someone to show them that Jesus is Lord over all, with scriptures they already believe is infallible.

    Thanks for letting me share,
    Michele

    ReplyDelete
  33. Yeah Lou...I agree. Rose is herself being inconsistent with her own rules of banning since banning me from her personal blog, which I have honored, unless my wife has visited there...I do not even visit anymore much less dare to make a comment. This is clear and bold hypocrisy since she once called me a hypocrit. You would think she would expect the same integrity from herself that she is calling us to. This is symptomatic of relational issues and is not grounded in truth and further serves to manifest the direction she is embracing is one of relationships over the Person of Christ and His work. That is simply a consistent observation.

    Grace upon grace,

    Brian

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  34. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  35. Hi Lou,

    I said in a post above:
    "If you have been employing the practice of marking and avoiding, and inlfuencing others to do likewise, you might have forsaken an unbiased sample."

    You said:
    "I can’t influence any one to mark and avoid, that is the work of God’s Spirit. All I can do is proclaim what the Bible says, make the application and leave the results with the Lord."

    Can you explain this process a little more? How do you and how do you not interfere with the persuasions of others in what you know and what others do not know yet, as heresy?

    Thank you,
    Michele

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hi Lou,

    You said:
    "I fear you have or about to make the same mistake."

    I thought I was moving the other direction. But, maybe I'm not capable of seeing me as I truly am.

    Well, I think I was more liberal than the crossless message. Because unlike Wilkin, who believes (as far as I am familiar) that one has to, has to believe that Jesus gives eternal life in order to receive eternal life, I haven't thought such was necessary. You haven't caught on how liberal I am at my blog? I've thought it was much simpler than that. I take a look at the Samaritan woman, who was told about streams of living water. How can eternal life be tarrying when the Holy Spirit is not? That just doesn't make sense to me. I would say that salvation, alternately, is predicated upon asking God for the Holy Spirit by means of who Jesus Christ is.

    Anytime we get black and white we run into contradictions or exclusions, but all of them can work their own angle toward salvation. Have you heard of the salvation wheel, used in AWANA? I'll have to do a blog post on it. You may find it interesting and even agreeable.

    Thanks, Michele

    ReplyDelete
  37. Michele:

    I deleted the comment with the link to the LDS discussion. I do not allow for linking to sites with content that may be a potential pitfall for believers.


    LM

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  38. Michele:

    I am not interested in discussing the Mormon church.

    My question was, “Do you believe a cultist, who openly rejects the deity of Christ, who believes that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan, can be born again no matter what misconceptions and beliefs he has about Jesus?

    It is a closed-ended question. A Yes or No answer will do. Crossless gospel advocates ducked that question, I trust you are not gong to follow their pattern.


    LM

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi Michele,

    You had asked me:

    "JP, You said: 'There are nuances where honest theologians can disagree. This is not one of them....' Can I ask a critical thinking question? I don't mean to be negative. But I want to ask, dealing in disagreements about soteriology automatically concludes dishonest intentions? Thanks, Michele"

    Just to clarify, I was quoting Ron Shea when I said: "There are nuances where honest theologians can disagree. This is not one of them...." (You will find this statement by Ron in his current article.)

    I agree with Charlie Bing's position on repentance, as I have noted in my earlier comments.

    So it seems that what you understood to be my statement was actually Ron's. I was quoting Ron Shea. Maybe your question would be better directed at him. If not, please let me know.

    JP

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  40. from Lou: "Do you believe a cultist, who openly rejects the deity of Christ, who believes that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan, can be born again no matter what misconceptions and beliefs he has about Jesus?"

    No.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hello again Lou and all,

    I don't read all the blogs I follow on a daily basis, nor do I post often, hence my delay in answering your question.

    I would like to return to the substance of my remarks rather than getting off into something else.

    You, and at least one other, claim that the Hodges'/GES saving message preaches universalism, or perhaps more conservatively tends to move in that direction. I contend that this is far from the truth.

    You said "Any one who reads and understands the Hodges, Wilkin GES Crossless/Deityless gospel knows that is an absurd claim." This also is obviously not true as many do in fact believe much or even all that is propounded by them. In any event, even if I thought as you do that their claim is absurd, I could not in any way think it leads to universalism. Coming to the realization that eternal life will only come by believing in the Savior for it ipso facto relegates all other ways as wrong. The purpose of the GES is to spread the message because people have been spreading the wrong message (in their opinion) and need to be told the truth. A universalist gospel doesn't need to be promoted - all are saved no matter what. That is not what the GES teaches nor is their message compatible with that thinking. As I am not on the GES board nor even a member in any sense, I obviously can't speak with any authority - this is simply my understanding of things after having read a great deal of their material.

    Lou, you also stated, "The Crossless gospel insists that the lost do not have to be aware of, know, understand or believe in who Jesus is and what He did to provide salvation, but can still be born again. The only specific in that message is that there is nothing specific the lost have to know or believe to be born again, i.e., Universalism."

    This is simply incorrect. You did not give the GES salvation message. You simply stated what, in your understanding, is not in it. There is indeed something which must be known or believed to be born again as any investigator could easily find.


    Lou, you also stated, ""We are talking about millions of these, who when asked, “Do you believe Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life,” would be considered born again if he/she said, “Yes.”" I won't repeat the rejoinder I gave above, but what is your response to it?

    You charged that "Knowing that Mormon/JW openly rejects the deity of Christ, the Crossless advocate must tell him that he is saved, and this is a travesty."

    Based on my reading of Hodges, Wilkin, GES, etc. this was incorrect and I provided my reasoning previously.

    There is much discussion on the idea that assurance is the essence of saving faith in the GES camp. This renders the need to tell people that they are saved superfluous - they already believe it.

    I am personally somewhat uncomfortable in challenging you, yet I remember that you have openly encouraged people to show where there has been mischaracterization or misstatements regarding the perjoratively named Crossless movement. I believe you have made several inappropriate statements regarding that movement and its adherents.

    Thank you for time.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Looker:

    I will reiterate that the GES Gospel is a half-step away from full blown Universalism.

    You replied, “No” to my question, “Do you believe a cultist, who openly rejects the deity of Christ, who believes that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan, can be born again no matter what misconceptions and beliefs he has about Jesus?”

    I am glad that you reject that position, which is the position of GES members who adopted the Hodges interpretation of the Gospel. No matter what sort of heretical belief the lost has about his idea of Jesus, the Crossless gospel advocate sees that as no hindrance whatsoever to his being born again. They will put any misconception about whom Jesus is and what He did to provide salvation “on the back burner and leave it there.”

    You wrote, “Coming to the realization that eternal life will only come by believing in the Savior for it ipso facto relegates all other ways as wrong.”

    What one must understand is that the Crossless gospel does not mandate believing in the Savior we know as the eternal Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Any one who has studied the Crossless gospel knows that the GES teaches that as long as you believe in the name Jesus, no matter who you think Jesus is, you can be born again. This is exemplified by Hodges and Wilkin stripping the Lord’s titles, “the Christ” and “Son of God” of their obvious deity meanings. The lost do not have to know or believe that Jesus Christ is deity, but can still be saved is a tragedy of the Crossless gospel.

    The GES gospel teaches that a lost man be born again if he believes in Jesus for eternal life, no matter whom he thinks Jesus is, including the half-brother of the Devil. In Crossless personal evangelism any misconception about Jesus is set “on the back burner” and left there. Crossless men view these misconceptions as matters to be dealt with in the discipleship process.

    You wrote, “The purpose of the GES is to spread the message because people have been spreading the wrong message (in their opinion) and need to be told the truth.”

    The spread of the GES gospel message, must be challenged an thwarted because it is a non-saving message. Lordship Salvation is the wrong message by addition, the GES’s Crossless gospel is wrong by subtraction. Both are radical departures from biblical orthodoxy.

    You wrote, “There is indeed something which must be known or believed to be born again as any investigator could easily find.”

    Yes, and according to Hodges/GES, only this, “Believe in the name Jesus for eternal life.” But the problem is that the GES allows for belief in whomever the lost man thinks Jesus is including open rejection of His deity.

    Your comment above is wrong on all counts. I will reiterate that the GES Gospel is a step in the direction of Universalism.

    The GES Crossless gospel is a reductionist assault on the Gospel and Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. This has been amply proven from the teaching of Hodges, Wilkin and certain other lesser-known extremists in the GES faction of the Free Grace movement.

    I’ll reiterate that the teaching of Hodges and GES is appropriately named the “Crossless” gospel. The GES teaches that the lost do not have to know, understand or believe in the finished work of Christ, but can still be born again. Therefore, the GES takes a Crossless & Deityless approach to what the lost must believe for the reception of eternal life. The “Crossless” Gospel is the Right Label!

    I’ll follow this with a set of quotes from Hodges that verify that his view of the Gospel is indeed a “Crossless” gospel.


    LM

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  43. Zane Hodges wrote a two part series titled How to Lead People to Christ. Part 2 is located in the Spring 2001 issue of the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society.

    Hodges makes it clear that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the normal context of his gospel presentation, but it is not a necessary part of the content of saving faith today. Following are a few excerpts from Hodges:

    The gospel message about the death, burial, and resurrection is the normal context for our presentation of this core objective. But at the end of the day, anyone who trusts Christ for eternal life is born again.” (JOTGES 14:1, Spring 01, p. 10)

    In recent years I (Hodges) have become aware of a way of presenting the gospel invitation that troubles me. I believe I have heard it from my earliest years, and I admit it didn't really bother me for a long time. Now it does. I have heard people say this: ‘In order to be saved you must believe that Jesus died on the cross.’ . . . . usually implied is the idea that Christ’s work on the cross is sufficient to provide for our salvation. Thus they mean to say that we are trusting in the sufficiency of his work of atonement. Let me be honest, I don’t like this way of presenting a gospel invitation.” (p. 11)

    People are not saved by believing that Jesus died on the cross; they are saved by believing in Jesus for eternal life . . . Let us always point men to Christ Himself as the object of faith, rather than to some concept that must be theologically clarified before it can really be understood.” (pp. 11-12)

    The simple truth is that Jesus can be believed for eternal salvation apart from any detailed knowledge of what He did to provide it.” (p. 13).

    Brother George Zeller wrote, “This teaching is serious and cuts to the very heart of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:3-4). There are those even within the free grace group who are very concerned about Hodges’s teaching on the gospel….”

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  44. Hi Lou,

    Wow, this thread is becoming so interesting I have to be choosy over what to respond to....

    You deleted the comment I made that had the link elsewhere. I know you want to protect your readers and I appreciate your intention.

    Do you not wish for me to go there too? Are you not also thinking of protection for me?

    (But you know that I do go there.)

    Do you see what I mean by that question?

    I don't know if you approve of the common saying "to be in the world, but not of it." How do you follow that command when it comes to religious diversity?

    Thanks, Michele

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  45. Hi Lou,

    I'm just going to hit on the next interesting thing going on here....

    You said:
    "It is a closed-ended question. A Yes or No answer will do. Crossless gospel advocates ducked that question, I trust you are not gong to follow their pattern."

    What would you like me to do if I see a difference between what scripture declares and the attitudes of men?

    Can I not bring up attitude as a relevant factor in the discussion of how one processes the Word of God? For a pastor's son may know in a sense many things yet still not trust, or I, in my sanctificational walk, may struggle to rely upon any one point of God's truth yet still believe it is the answer.

    Please keep in mind that I do respect your need for me to be either yes or no and have already provided those answers in the following location:

    http://indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com/2008/08/new-book-on-doctrine-of-salvation.html

    I want to know your mind of how much a role attitude might play in answering a question that you would find comparable according to your beliefs, such as:

    "Do you believe that someone could have been saved if they openly and readily reject the virgin birth of Jesus?"

    So that I can answer the question with a "yes" or "no" having this interrupting factor of attitude already nailed down.

    What kind of assumption should we make about attitude when I answer the question?

    Thanks, Michele

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  46. Hi Lou,

    I wanted to thank you for mentioning the scriptures above regarding Paul's descriptions of the gospel, and other various, more robust articulations of it in the book of Acts. I don't think it would be a good thing for me to stop with the most liberal passages in Acts, etc. etc., and not continue on with a full construction of how the gospel message has been said in scripture. I am planning on looking into them soon.

    In the meantime, can I share with you something that concerns me? I remember at one time you used me as an example of the extremity of crossless reasoning. Umm, I didn't inherit anything from crossless people, but, I more or less think myself similar to them in perspective. You may consider me essentially crossless, I am just uncomfortable being called to represent them in any way when I don't have a relationship with them (I speak to you more by far), and they have given me no mark of approval.

    At the same time in this thread you said above:

    "In Crossless personal evangelism any misconception about Jesus is set 'on the back burner' and left there."

    Have you ever spoken with Zane Hodges, and if so, have you asked him if he finds this one quote of one person you are reprinting, as a fair and well-comprehended expression of what he teaches? The person you are quoting is lay, and while he may perhaps even ascribe fully to everything Zane has ever taught, that does not therefore mean Zane should be represented by anything more than the things he himself has given his approval for.

    Is this fair, or not?

    ReplyDelete
  47. Dear Guests:

    Ron Shea is out of the country. Today, he was able to look in, but through a dial-up. He asked me to post the following.


    LM

    I am gratified to learn that Zane continues to teach the concept of saving repentance, even if he no longer uses the word in that sense. I am not hung up on words, but the meaning we ascribe to them. And if Zane still teaches a man must renounces all confidence in his dead works to embrace Christ in a saving way, then I have no quarrel with Zane on that level.

    I am currently in Pakistan, and have spent yesterday and today going through every verse in Scripture on repentance. (We have a few to go, but are almost done.) Today was dedicated to saving repentance. There were 32 of them. No personal axe to grind. Just taking the most likely interpretation of each verse based on the language and contextual markers. All were over the 50% mark, or I would not have thrown them in that bin. Some were weak, and just barely over 50%, and some were about as clearly dealing with eternal salvation as one could imagine.

    I remember one of the free grace arguments is that about 180 times in Scripture, faith is presented as the sole requirement for salvation, and that to refute the free grace position, someone would need to successfully address all of those verses. The same argument is used for unlimited atonement.

    Well, the same argument must be considered for saving repentance. 32 verses (ranging from 51% to 99.9%) must be explained in some other fashion.

    But, either way, glad to hear that Zane still holds to a clear teaching on the requirement for saving repentance, even if not as related to the word “repent.”



    Ron

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  48. Looker: I had stated that I found the term Crossless to be pejorative. Lou replied "I’ll reiterate that the teaching of Hodges and GES is appropriately named the “Crossless” gospel."
    I don't think that answers my charge. Even if accurate, do you not see that it is also pejorative? Simply because something is accurate does not automatically disqualify it from being pejorative.


    from Lou: "You replied, “No” to my question, “Do you believe a cultist, who openly rejects the deity of Christ, who believes that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan, can be born again no matter what misconceptions and beliefs he has about Jesus?” I am glad that you reject that position, which is the position of GES members who adopted the Hodges interpretation of the Gospel."
    Looker: I have generally found that human statements with an all-encompassing scope (no matter what...) are self-refuting. I also do not agree that this is the position of GES members. This statement was by one individual. I haven't seen any significant endorsement and repetition of it by anyone else. If you are aware of the acceptance of this example by the GES as an accurate view of their position, I would like to see the data. In my opinion, it was a poorly worded attempt put out in good faith by someone attempting to be transparent and forthright regarding his views. He sure wasn't holding anything back.


    from Lou: "No matter what sort of heretical belief the lost has about his idea of Jesus, the Crossless gospel advocate sees that as no hindrance whatsoever to his being born again."
    Looker: Once again, the "no matter what" is unacceptable in my view and I don't support that position.


    from Lou: "They will put any misconception about whom Jesus is and what He did to provide salvation “on the back burner and leave it there.” "
    Looker: I know of one who said this and he does not constitute a "they." Who else does this? The GES literature is full of information regarding Jesus' character, life and work. They obviously are interested in clearing up any misconceptions and I don't think it would be unusual to do so in evangelistic settings. Putting things on the back burner may be a personal choice by someONE in an evangelistic encounter, but I would not put it forth as the GES position.


    from Lou: "You wrote, “Coming to the realization that eternal life will only come by believing in the Savior for it ipso facto relegates all other ways as wrong.” What one must understand is that the Crossless gospel does not mandate believing in the Savior we know as the eternal Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ."
    Looker: I agree that this is the GES position. In this I find that you are accurate.


    from Lou: "Any one who has studied the Crossless gospel knows that the GES teaches that as long as you believe in the name Jesus, no matter who you think Jesus is, you can be born again."
    Looker: In this, you are wrong. It is not simply believing in the name Jesus. The GES would require a Being behind the name. And not just any being named Jesus will do. The Being must be the One capable of saving those that believe on Him for eternal life. I do think you are correct that there is allowance given for inaccuracies regarding this Being that others such as yourself would not allow.


    from Lou: "This is exemplified by Hodges and Wilkin stripping the Lord’s titles, “the Christ” and “Son of God” of their obvious deity meanings. The lost do not have to know or believe that Jesus Christ is deity, but can still be saved is a tragedy of the Crossless gospel."
    Looker: I am a little less certain of all that might be behind your statement here, but I think you are again accurate in describing their position sans the editorializing.


    frrom Lou: "You wrote, “There is indeed something which must be known or believed to be born again as any investigator could easily find.” Yes, and according to Hodges/GES, only this, “Believe in the name Jesus for eternal life.” But the problem is that the GES allows for belief in whomever the lost man thinks Jesus is including open rejection of His deity."
    Looker: I believe I have answered this misstatement above.


    from Lou: "I will reiterate that the GES Gospel is a half-step away from full blown Universalism."
    Looker: I don't think you have shown it all. I grant you that GES doesn't teach that people must have accurate knowledge of Christ's character, the Cross and/or the Resurrection to be saved. In that we have some agreement. Yet this does not in and of itself mean the position leads to universalism.

    from Lou: "You wrote, “The purpose of the GES is to spread the message because people have been spreading the wrong message (in their opinion) and need to be told the truth.”
    The spread of the GES gospel message, must be challenged an thwarted because it is a non-saving message."
    Looker: I mentioned this purpose because it argues against the universalism charge given previously. The existence of the GES organization, its statements regarding its mission and encouragement of evangelization all show that they don't think people can think "no matter what..." nor do they endorse "any inaccuracies" can be tolerated.

    from Lou: "Your comment above is wrong on all counts. I will reiterate that the GES Gospel is a step in the direction of Universalism."
    Looker: I don't see that. I thank you for the discussion and the opportunity to present my side.

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  49. Looker:

    I’m sorry, but I do not have the time to address each item in a timely manner. Maybe if you would have posed each in succession.

    I’ll open by saying that whether you consider “Crossless” a pejorative or not, that label is accurate, appropriate and it is NOT going away.

    From me, “This is exemplified by Hodges and Wilkin stripping the Lord’s titles, ‘the Christ’ and ‘Son of God’ of their obvious deity meanings. The lost do not have to know or believe that Jesus Christ is deity, but can still be saved is a tragedy of the Crossless gospel.”
    
Looker: I am a little less certain of all that might be behind your statement here….”

    I’ll help you with this one, read the two part series, The “Christ” Under Siege and then The “Christ” Under Siege: The New Assault from the GES, both by Greg Schliesmann.

    From me, “What one must understand is that the Crossless gospel does not mandate believing in the Savior we know as the eternal Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ
    Looker: “I agree that this is the GES position. In this I find that you are accurate.”

    If that was the only error of the Crossless gospel that is all one needs to know about the teaching of Hodges and Wilkin to conclude that the GES “Crossless & Deityless” gospel is a reductionist assault on and heretical view of the Gospel.

    Thanks,


    LM

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  50. "I’m sorry, but I do not have the time to address each item in a timely manner. Maybe if you would have posed each in succession."

    I sort of fell behind in responding myself and just when "whole hog" today. I wasn't timely in my part and I wouldn't hold it against you if you weren't. This is an old thread and think we've hit the end anyway. I'll keep reading here and may interact with you in the future.

    Thanks

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  51. Looker:

    Thanks for the visit. You are welcome to view and/or comment any time.


    Lou

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