In recent days at my blog there have been some helpful reviews posted on Zane Hodges’s article The Hydra’s Other Head: Theological Legalism which appears in the current Grace in Focus (GIF) newsletter.
There are more reviews on the way. Rachel from Pursuit of Truth is preparing a review that I am sure will be powerful. I have an article prepared that not only touches on some of the extremes in the article, but I also comment on what obviously has become Grace Evangelical Society’s (GES) fight to cling to what little life or credibility they have left in the Free Grace community. Today, however, I want to highlight two brief reactions to the Hodges article. These reviews appear in my article Major Development in Zane Hodges’s “Crossless” Gospel. In order you will read reviews by Brothers Gordon Cloud and Art Sims. Afterward, I will offer a brief closing commentary.
On Sunday night Brother Gordon Cloud of the Heavenly Heartburn blog requested a copy of Zane Hodges’s article, The Hydra’s Other Head. Brother Gordon returned to the thread under, Major Development in Zane Hodges’s “Crossless” Gospel with a brief review. I will follow with some personal commentary.
Brother Lou:In less than 30 minutes Brother Cloud read and was able to make these penetrating observations about the article by Hodges. Yet, you have his followers praising the article appearing to have no comprehension of the article’s obvious flaws. It is unfortunate that the few who still cling to Hodges’s Crossless gospel just can’t see, as easily and quickly as Brother Cloud recognized, the errors of the Hodges’s reductionist interpretation of the Gospel and the faulty methods with which he and his advocates arrive at their conclusions.
I found a number of things in the article that caused me some concern.
1. I felt that Hodges used some extreme semantical gymnastics in a couple of areas. First, in his connection between Lordship Salvation and what he calls “theological legalism.” Second, his divorce of the “content of saving faith” from “the Gospel” has me scratching my head.
2. I believe he is using some poor hermeneutical technique where the Gospel of John is concerned. He accuses others of “picking and choosing,” yet he himself ignores the majority of the New Testament concerning the Gospel. It is almost as if he places John in contrast with other NT writers rather than viewing his writings as complementary to the rest of the canon.
3. He uses some obvious straw man arguments. I know of no one who believes the Gospel who is uncomfortable with John. Also he makes quite a leap from the “doctrinal checklist” of I Cor. 15:1-8 to another list of about eight items.
4. His pseudo-intellectual attempt to use the Greek language to explain away the priority of I Cor. 15:1-8 only proves the point he is trying to disprove. Then he convolutes his argument by his attempt to draw the line between the Gospel and saving faith.
Thanks again for sending the article to me.
Some who read these discussions over the GES’s “Crossless” gospel may not be aware that Crossless advocates insist that the term “the Gospel” has no technical meaning that the lost must believe to be born again. See The Technical Meaning of the Term, “THE GOSPEL”.
Hodges does more than “ignore the majority of the New Testament.” Hodges and his followers negate and/or dismiss any passage in the NT that upsets their reductionist approach to the Gospel. They go to the Bible attempting force into, negate and/or extract from it whatever they must to keep their reductionist interpretation of the Gospel in tact.
Now, please continue reading the review submitted by Brother Art Sims.
Lou, I’ve read the PDF copy of Hodges’s article. Thanks for making it available. I’ve also seen that Wilkin wrote an accompanying article (What’s your First Sentence in Evangelism), which after also reading, two things stand out to me.Friends, it is a sad tragedy to read how the shrinking cell of GES followers have been deceived by the egregious errors coming from Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin. I have read some comments by the few left who openly support these egregious errors coming from GES. In spite of the teachings of Hodges and Wilkin being quite obviously antithetical to the Scriptures their followers bow in adoration to virtually any reductionist assault on the Gospel and Person of Christ that GES instigates upon these precious truths.
First, I think Wilkin’s article contains a lame attempt to satisfy grace people who disagree with him.
Second, Hodges’s article presses their case. I am struck by Bob Wilkin’s remark where he says, “That may well be.” He acknowledges that some will object to what he suggests because no one could believe in Jesus for eternal life without knowing about His death and resurrection. And to this he replies, “That may well be,” (pg.4). Surprise! But immediately, he explains his reason for saying this is because he has never met a born again person who didn’t believe Jesus died for our sins.
When I saw this remark, “That may well be,” I wondered why he wanted to make this point, and concluded: to indulge those who disagree with him. And I think this is clever, having as its intent, help for opponents of his message to excuse his teachings if they just somehow would. With this, we are given Hodges’s article in which he asserts that Jesus never conditioned eternal life on believing he died for our sins (pg.3), and with John’s Gospel being written late, no one today has to believe he died for our sins either.
No indulging of his opponents by Hodges. I have found Hodges far from persuasive for three major reasons.
1) He rejects the distinctness of the gospel Christ gave to Paul, holding instead that the gospel Christ preached during his earthly ministry and committed to his Jewish apostles is exactly the same gospel he later reappeared from heaven to give to Paul for us today. That handling of Scripture makes no sense to me (John 6:47, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38 compare with Gal. 1:11,12, Gal. 2:7, 1 Cor. 1:17) and so I don’t find him persuasive.
2) Faith is reduced to passive agreement with information (much like the famous atheist Robert Ingersoll argued in defending unbelief over a century ago) whereas my understanding of faith is knowledge, volition and trust (“whosoever will, let him take”).
3) Hodges sees John’s Gospel as a stand alone message of eternal salvation, and written late being proof that no change ever took place regarding the content of saving faith since even before the cross. I just don’t see John’s Gospel that way.
Interestingly, Wilkin argues in his GIF article that few people could be found in the USA today who don’t already know about Jesus’ death and resurrection, and with this, (Wilkin) communicates that this doesn’t have to be stated. If so, how can he think John had to state this for people to know it?
When John wrote his Gospel, Paul’s gospel had already been widely preached so that John's readers would already know belief in Christ involved the well known teachings Paul’s gospel had been advancing.
Lou, thanks so much for continuing on in your labors against the Crossless message.
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears,” (*Acts 20:28-31).Zane Hodges is a modern day example of what the Apostle Paul, “with tears,” warned believers to “take heed” and be wary of. From within the body of Christ, Hodges has risen and drifted into increasingly deeper and more extreme doctrinal errors. The distortion, twisting, redefining or dismissal of numerous clear passages of Scripture has been the hallmark of Hodges’s “Crossless” gospel. Bob Wilkin has fallen head long into Hodges’s trap of errors. Wilkin’s Grace Evangelical Society has become the prime instigator of these extremist views that, until Hodges’s articulated them, have never been introduced to the New Testament church.
We should continue to pray that these, who have been deceived and/or work to lend credibility to the heresy of the Crossless gospel, can be recovered from these errors. We need to take heed of, watch, warn and pray as the Apostle Paul taught so that not one more unsuspecting believer will be drawn away from a biblical balance on the Gospel toward the Crossless/Deityless gospel of the Grace Evangelical Society.
*See Perverse Things Draw Away Disciples for an extended discussion of Acts 20:28-31.
* I have a PDF copy of Hodges’s article. You may request it from me via e-mail. I will need your full name before I will send a copy.