September 18, 2008

Major Development in Zane Hodges’s “Crossless” Gospel

Dear Guests:

There is a major development in the debate over the Grace Evangelical Society’s Crossless gospel. Brother Bob Nyberg just contacted me about his review of an article just published by the Grace Evangelical Society (GES), authored by Zane Hodges. Brother Nyberg’s review is titled, Zane Hodges & Theological Legalism.

The Hodges article, which appears in the current GES Journal, verifies and confirms beyond any shadow of a doubt that he (Hodges) and his followers have fallen into an egregious reductionist error on the Gospel. Bob Nyberg touches on some aspects of the article by Hodges.

I have read Hodges’s article titled, *The Hydra’s Other Head: Theological Legalism. IMO it is the death knell for the GES. Hodges verifies the worst elements of his Crossless/Deityless interpretation of the Gospel. Hodges has effectively drawn the line of division between the GES and the rest of the Free Grace community, not to mention the whole of evangelical Christianity that takes a balanced view of the Gospel.

Nyberg does a masterful job of demonstrating this sharp theological break that Hodges has now identified. I encourage everyone to read Nyberg’s Zane Hodges & Theological Legalism.

Here is a sample,

According to Zane’s limited definition of Free Grace theology, anyone who teaches that a person must believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins is a promoter of Theological Legalism and does not teach Free Grace theology. In other words, Free Grace theology is the sole possession of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and the Grace Evangelical Society. Anyone who does not buy in to their minimalist (aka Crossless) gospel, cannot be a Free Grace advocate.”
Regardless, of your orientation in the debate over Lordship Salvation and the Crossless gospel, Nyberg’s article is a must read.


Dear Guests:

For more on the Hydra Head article go to Hodges’s Hydra Head Article Under Additional Review.

* 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.


  1. Free Grace theology is the sole possession of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and the Grace Evangelical Society

    Sounds cultish. Please send me a copy of the PDF, pretty sure you have my e-mail already. ;-)

    Off to read Nyberg's article now.


  2. As I was mulling over Zane’s article on the Hydra & Theological Legalism, another thought popped into my head. Even though Zane opposes a so-called "check list" gospel message, even he himself has a "check list."

    In order to be saved (according to Zane):

    1) A person needs to believe or have faith.
    2) That faith needs an object which is Jesus.
    3) They also need to believe that Jesus offers them life.
    4) They need to believe that the quality of that life is "eternal" not just temporal.

    Since Zane actually has a checklist, then question becomes "how many items must be on the checklist?" To me the term "minimalist" gospel fits, since Zane is attempting to make that checklist as short as possible! But in doing so, he guts the gospel of its central theme which is Jesus substitutionary work on the cross!

  3. Hi Bob:

    Yes, good catch! I was discussing this with some men this afternoon. Hodges does have a checklist; doesn't he? There are more reviews on the way. Be sure to read Nyburg’s review.

    By the way, it is not only the cross of Christ that has been gutted from the Gospel. Hodges also strips the Lord's titles “the Christ” and “Son of God” of their deity. Why? Because the lost, according to Hodges, do not have to be aware of, understand or believe in His deity either, but can still be born again.

    Kind regards,


  4. Lou,

    I'd like to have a PDF of Hodges' article for my files. I believe you have my e-mail address.

    Thanks for your ministry.

    Doug Brown
    Madawaska Gospel Church

  5. Hi Doug:

    Happy to send that PDF, but I can't find your e-mail me. Send me an e-mail and I'll attach the PDF in a reply.



    PS: Good to hear from you again.

  6. Lou,

    Thanks for sending me the latest article by Zane Hodges. I have written a new blog post detailing some of my initial reactions. My review of Hodges' article is called The Hydra's Other Head: Theological Minimalism.


  7. we will need to be careful not to allow the word "minimalist" become associated with the Crossless/Deityless/Repentanceless message that the GES puts forward. Minimalist would give credibility to the message by indicating it is still the "minimum" when it does not come close to the "minimum" and even goes on to be a perversion of the Gospel and an insult to the Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins.


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  9. Kev:

    Thanks for pointing this up.

    Minimalist” is a serious misnomer. I have seen it used by people who are highly sympathetic to and supportive of this reductionist heresy coming from the Grace Evangelical Society.

    The most frequent appearance of this deceptive expression for the Crossless gospel is used by Rose of Rose’s Reasonings. Last week in the Free Grace Believer blog discussion thread she wrote, “…I call the “minimalistic” theory of salvation.

    That is one of the dangers of these sympathizers with the Crossless gospel. They give the false impression that the Crossless gospel is a mere “doctrinal nuance,” an acceptable interpretation of the Gospel.

    This is how some are tragically deceived into accepting the egregious errors of the “Crossless/Deityless/Repentanceless” gospel.


  10. Kev and Lou,

    Yes, I agree as well. Thanks for pointing this out.

    Although "minimalistic" is a term crossless gospel advocates are using to describe their soteriology, it is an erroneous label.

    As Lou said, it "gives[s] the false impression that the Crossless Gospel is a mere 'doctrinal nuance,' an acceptable interpretation of the Gospel."


  11. Lou and Kev,

    I would just like to add a caveat to my previous comment(s) about the "minimal" label.

    I understand what Nyberg and Stegall mean when they say:

    "In other words, Free Grace theology is the sole possession of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and the Grace Evangelical Society. Anyone who does not buy in to their minimalist (aka Crossless) gospel, cannot be a Free Grace advocate."

    "In this last year, the Free Grace Alliance has made it clear that they do not hold to the minimalist gospel that is being promoted by the Grace Evangelical Society." (Nyberg, "Zane Hodges & Theological Legalism")

    Similarly, Tom Stegall has said:

    "The result of all of this has been the emergence of a 'mini' gospel which contains just the minimal, essential truth necessary to be believed for eternal life. This is in contrast to the 'full gospel message' which includes Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection. The new mini gospel goes something like this: 'God gives eternal life to all who simply believe in Jesus for it.'" (Stegall, "The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel, Pt. 1," The Grace Family Journal [Spring 2007]: 9-10)

    All labels require an explanation. And so I believe the "minimal" label is erroneous in one sense (if it gives the impression of a valid "doctrinal nuance"), but is suitable for use as long as it is given a proper explanation.


  12. Hi Lou,
    I've read the PDF copy of Hodges' article. Thanks for making it available. I've also seen that Wilkin wrote an accompanying article, which after also reading, two things stand out to me. First, I think Wilkin's article contains a lame attempt to satisfy grace people who disagree with him. Second, Hodges' article presses their case. I am struck by Bob'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' 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 opponents by Hodges.
    I have found Hodges far from persuasive for 3 major reasons. First, he rejects the distictness 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. Second, faith is reduced to passive agreement with information (much like the famous athiest 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"). Third, 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, 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 the 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.
    Thanks so much for continuing on in your labors against the crossless message.

  13. JP:

    I appreciate your expanding on our discussion of the “minimal” label.

    I have seen how this “minimalist theory” label has been used by Rose and other Crossless gospel sympathizers. IMO, primarily through ignorance of just how egregious an error the GES’s Crossless gospel is, they attempt to legitimize it. Defining the “minimalist” term, in this case, surely reveals the potential danger of it to the unsuspecting.

    The expression, “doctrinal nuance” demonstrates IMO a sad lack of biblical discernment of GES’s obvious reductionist interpretation of the content of saving faith. The Crossless gospel is an assault on the Person and work of Jesus Christ.


  14. Art:

    I'll get back to you on your review later, or in the morning.


  15. Bro. Lou,
    I would be interested in reading a copy of Hodge's article if you would be so kind as to send it. I believe you have my e-mail.

    Thanks so much.

    Gordon Cloud

  16. Hi Gordon:

    It is on the way. I'd appreciate your reaction to it in this thread



  17. Lou, I appreciate your prompt response to my request. You got it to me quick, fast and in a hurry. Maybe you should go to work for the postal service?

    In all seriousness, 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.

    God bless.

  18. Brother Gordon:

    In less than 30 minutes you read and wrote your review of the article. You are correct on every point.

    It is unfortunate that the few who still cling to Hodges’s Crossless gospel just can't see, as easily as you have, the errors of the GES’s reductionist interpretation of the Gospel and the faulty methods with which he and his advocates arrive at their conclusions.

    BTW, I am preparing some additional follow-up to the article by Hodges. Others will, I'm sure, post additional reaction as time goes by.

    IMO, we are witnessing the slow, but steady implosion of the GES.


  19. I think Zane is really off his rocker. I am now considering taking all my books by him and having a bonfire. I can no longer recommend his works to anyone. He's concerned about a theological legalism but I think he should be more concerned himself with Paul's threat of anathema for preaching another gospel that Paul never preached.

    I am still somewhat new to hearing this crossless gospel and am horrified about it.

  20. Dear Dave,

    If you are serious about burning your Hodges collection let me know and I'll give you a fair price. I definately don't agree with Hodges but I could always use his books as reference material only.


  21. Art,

    I enjoyed reading your review and thought it very accurate when you said:

    "When John wrote his the 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."

    As you noted, John's message is totally consistent with Paul's (1 Cor. 15:11)!


  22. Dave:

    You are one of a growing number who are seeing just how far from a balanced view on the Gospel Hodges and his followers have drifted.

    The only reason I keep his books is for a resource and research, (like JP mentioned) just like I keep MacArthur’s on LS.

    When someone takes a first time, objective look at what Hodges, Wilkin and GES are teaching they typically recoil in stunned silence or horror. You wonder, how a man can fall into such a reductionist heresy as this Crossless/Deityless teaching is.

    Then you wonder how those who follow him into this error could have succumbed to it in the first place. This is why I warn the unsuspecting about people like Rose who are highly sympathetic toward the Crossless gospel and its advocates. She sees no harm in the Crossless gospel. She thinks it is a harmless “theory,” a minor “doctrinal nuance.” People like her are dangerous because she can be a footbridge for the unsuspecting right to the doorstep of the teachers and advocates of this reductionist teaching.

    If someone just lands on an article like the one by Hodges you just read, it is almost 100% sure they will see that there is something very wrong. If, however, they are in touch with someone like Rose first, or along the way, they are very likely going to be groomed by her to be reasonable enough to keep interacting with the teachers of the Crossless heresy and some are tragically deceived because of it.

    Anyway, we will do all we can to alert believers to the existence and teachers of this false interpretation of the Gospel. It would be genuine tragedy if even one more unsuspecting believer were to fall into the trap of the Crossless gospel.

    Take care,


  23. Lou, you said>People like her are dangerous because she can be a footbridge for the unsuspecting right to the doorstep of the teachers and advocates of this reductionist teaching.<

    Amen. I believe that is it in a nutshell and something that I could not fully put a finger on for the last 2 years or so that I was troubled about. It is true that she does indeed do that footbridge thing in what she may unwittingly see as maturity and progressive advancement in Christ.

    Satan is an angel of light and can decieve any one of us. We continue to pray that she repents and seeks forgiveness from the body of Christ in this area. God is all so willing to forgive when we come humbly before Him and see the seriousness of what our sin is doing and the harm it is bringing upon this generation.

    When Eve bit into that apple, I don't think she ever could conceive that the holocaust would come as a result of it. What seems right is very dangerous. I believe she is sincere, but very wrong here.

    Grace upon grace,


  24. Art,

    I second JP's agreement with the following from you:

    "When John wrote his the 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."

    This is the same point I have made as well, in the comment thread in one of the articles at my blog. The ANE was a high-context society, meaning they assumed that their readers/hearers knew a lot, and didn't bother to explain much.

    Lou, just fyi I plan to publish a review of Hodges' article at my blog in the next day or two.

  25. Rachel:

    Thanks for commenting on Art's review of the Zane Hodges article.

    I am looking forward to your upcoming review. I will notify and link my guests to your review.


  26. Lou,

    I heartily agree with your comments, especially as they pertain to Rose. As you probably know, Rose recently posted a "Heart to Heart" article on her blog as a result of the crossless gospel discussion at FREE GRACE BELIEVER.

    Rose's comments made it sound like the crossless gospel is nothing to be concerned about, and that it is quite harmless, and in fact a valid "theory" or "doctrinal nuance".

    Unfortunately, after reading her comments it becomes painfully obvious that she is more concerned with preserving friendships than with personal fidelity to Paul's Gospel of salvation. Both are important, but Paul had the proper perspective (Gal. 1:6-10).


  27. Brian,

    I found your critique of Rose's Reasonings very valuable. In fact, your closing comment is probably one of the most valuable comments I have ever read online. It is my pleasure to repeat it:

    "When Eve bit into that apple, I don't think she ever could conceive that the holocaust would come as a result of it. What seems right is very dangerous. I believe she is sincere, but very wrong here."


  28. Hello JP:

    You have articulated what many of us have observed in regard to Rose’s attitude toward the Crossless gospel and its advocates, especially the most extreme among them.

    I saw the Heart article and it is another in a new series where she has now begun attempts to redefine the Scriptures that mandate how the believer is to respond to believers whose “contrary” doctrine introduces “divisions and offences” into the body of Christ (Rom. 16:17; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15).

    There is no doubt whatsoever that she has preferred to maintain friendships rather than fidelity to God’s Word. It has been in stark evidence for months. Any claim that she is neutral or undecided about the Crossless gospel does not pass any objective test of believability.

    I did all I could to reason with and recover Rose from her complicity with the advocates of the Crossless gospel and her tacit support of it. She has unfortunately gone well beyond sympathy toward the Crossless gospel. These absurd claims that it is nothing more than a mere “theory” or “doctrinal nuance” demonstrates a determined effort to legitimize the position. Her passionate defense of the teaching and unethical behavior patterns of its most vitriolic advocates seals the question on her allegiances.

    Months ago I finally had to tell Rose that she has essentially become like the New Evangelical in practice because of her preferring unity at the expense of doctrine.

    Rose’s story is one of the tragedy’s of the Crossless gospel and the corruptive influence of its advocates on some of the brethren.


  29. JP:

    In 2007 I wrote a “Heart to Heart” series at my blog that is based on a chapter from my book, In Defense of the Gospel.

    It dawned on me that Rose borrowed my title to write what obviously is antithetical to clear teaching of Romans 16:17, which is one of the passages I addressed in my book and blog series.

    Do you think Rose owes me a “copy-cat” fee for co-opting my series title?

    LM ;-)

  30. Well said Lou and thanks JP and well stated by you as well.

    When the enemy comes in like a flood, God will raise up a standard against it.

    Although God has used Lou to pinpoint and spearhead this is the power of the cross under Satanic attack and so this defense of the gospel is greater than all of us and millions more put together.

    I take heart that you men have stood firm. May we continue to encourage one another to do so.

    I am very thankful to see more and more men and women coming around and waking out of their sleep.

    Grace upon grace,


  31. Brain:

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    We are doing what we can to keep the GES (Hodges/Wilkin) reductionist assault on the Gospel contained and isolated.

    IMO, one of the best ways to do that is to widely expose their errors and those who teach and/or sympathize with the error.


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  33. Lou,

    Yes I noticed that Rose borrowed from the title of your earlier "Heart to Heart" series. I couldn't stop laughing at the picture in my mind of you hounding Rose to "pay up"!

    I think you've brought up a good point about how Rose has attempted to redefine the obvious meaning of Romans 16:17. We are not those causing dissensions and hindrances, we are exposing those causing dissensions and hindrances (Eph. 5:11)!

    Jesus publicly rebuked Peter for opposing the truths of the Gospel (Mt. 16:23). Similarly, the apostle Paul publicly rebuked Peter for not being "straightforward about the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:11-14). Christians are commanded to follow these Scriptural examples. Paul commands: "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you because you remember me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:1-2; cf. 15:3ff).


  34. Rachel,

    I found it fascinating when you said:

    "The ANE [Ancient Near East] was a high-context society, meaning they assumed that their readers/hearers knew a lot, and didn't bother to explain much."

    I would like to learn more about this. Could you recommend any reading?


  35. Hi JP,

    If you thought that was fascinating, there's a whole world just waiting for you to explore. :-) Seriously, "high-context" is an anthropological term and can be read about on Wikipedia as well as this helpful summary:

    "...[T]he NT was written in what anthropologists call a "high-context" society. In such societies people "presume a broadly shared, well-understood, or 'high' knowledge of the context of anything referred to in conversation or in writing." Readers were required and expected to "fill in the gap" because their background knowledge was a given. Extended explanations were unnecessary. As an example (one I happen to disagree with, but it makes no difference here), they note the story of the woman at the well in John 4. This story is full of background templates that John does not explain, but that make the story meaningful: For example, the time of the meeting (noon, by their view) shows that the woman is an outcast, for it is not the time when water is normally gathered and when socialization occurs among the village women, but John sees no need to explain that the time is unusual for he assumes his readers will know that it is.

    In contrast, we in the modern US are a "low-context" society. We assume little or no knowledge of he context of a communication. This is in part because we have so many specialized fields requiring specialized knowledge. Thus we expect background to be given when communication is given between fields. This is in contrast to the ancient world where there was little specialized knowledge."

    Publications/books by members of The Context Group are incredibly fascinating and eye-opening. Naturally, I don't necessarily agree with all their conclusions, but many of them explain the world of the Bible in wonderful ways. Specifically I know of authors such as Neyrey, Malina, Pilch, and Rohrbaugh.

    A great book to start with is the Handbook of Biblical Social Values, ed. by Pilch and Malina. It is probably one of the most interesting books I've ever read. Its insights into ANE/biblical culture and how that compares to our modern culture are very valuable. Another book I have (that I have not read completely) is Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity by David deSilva. Very helpful in understanding the issues of purity in the OT Law, the importance of kinship, the value they placed on honor, etc. Some of these folks have commentaries out based on social-science, such as the Social-Science Commentary on John by Malina and Rohrbaugh, mentioned in one of my links above. I don't have any of those but I would like to soon. The better we understand the world of the Bible, the better we'll understand the Bible.

    Hope that helps!

  36. JP:

    You wrote, “Yes I noticed that Rose borrowed from the title of your earlier ‘Heart to Heart’ series. I couldn’t stop laughing at the picture in my mind of you hounding Rose to ‘pay up’!

    I had to laugh at what you wrote because the *J. G. Wentworth TV ads came to mind, “It’s my money and I want it now.”


    * If you don’t see the J. G. Wentworth ads in your neck of the woods the humor will be lost, but it is quite funny to me.

  37. Hi Lou. Yes, Zane's article was off-base. I also would like to point out something about the Context Group that Rachel references, as the Context Group is anti-FG.

    Hi Rachel. Yes, you make a good point about the ANE culture being high-context. I'm also glad you brought up that you don't agree with all of their conclusions. Many members of the Context Group have come to the false conclusion that faith should be understood in terms of the Client-Patron system of the First Century Greco-Roman world. They see saving faith as a contract between clients and a Patron who expects loyalty from his clients. If they are unloyal, the Patron can take away the benefits. They will see God as a Patron who will take away your salvation if you become unloyal. These guys are works-salvationists. I think that David deSilva is the only Evangelical in the Context Group (perhaps there are a few more, but I'm not sure) , but naturally, he believes you can lose your salvation, with this being based on the client-patron system. They essentially took a fixture of the First Century world that was a man-to-man system, and applied it to the God-to-Man dynamic. So the Context Group is Anti-FG. 1 Thessalonians 5:10 alone refutes faith as a client-patron system

  38. Danny:

    Welcome. I appreciate your transparency as you wrote, “Yes, Zane’s article was off-base.”

    You do realize that you are in for it with some of the Crossless advocates who will not take kindly to your shifting opinion on the cross and resurrection elements of the reductionist teaching of Hodges?

    If Hodges’s article show us anything it is that the gloves are off toward anyone who does not tow the theological line of the Crossless/Deityless gospel as defined by Hodges and GES.

    I will watch with interest as the extremist(s) pressures you to reconform to what you have recently changed your mind about on the teaching of Hodges.


  39. Your welcome Lou. I do not understand why people are not outraged about this and continue to tone down this and explain the importance of the cross and it's crucial defense as baseless rhetoric. I don't want to listen to Dannys appeal. I need to go to the word of God and hear the clarion call from the cross. I am glad Danny is awakening but I do not think the comments of those awakening from slumber here should be our lifelines and bouys. It is a testimony to our times. You can go through the entire book of Acts and you will find men and women of God willing to die over this truth and it is perhaps why Paul so sharply rebuked Peter. In todays day and age, everything is about being politically correct and unfortunately it has found its way to the finished work of Christ and the sad fact is more people are more concerned in about Abortion and passionate about that(which I am glad they are) but show very little passion and love of truth over our precious Saviours finished work. More and more people are buying into footbridge building.

    Grace upon grace,


  40. Hi Danny,

    I don't want to go too far off-topic on this thread, but did want to respond to what you said regarding the Context Group.

    I recognize that many in the FG camp have come out of a Catholic background (might not be you), and that tends to make them recoil at the mention of anything Catholic. I did not come from such a background, so I don't necessarily disregard something just because it's Catholic. I'm not saying you do, but I do think that the mention that several of the Context Group members are Catholic could cause many people to reject anything they have to say out-of-hand.

    I think that the view of faith being understood in terms of a client-patron relationship is vital for our understanding of what Scripture is actually saying. I read 1 Thess. 5:10 but I don't understand what that verse has to do with the relationship of ancient client-patron relationships and saving faith in Christ.

    The fact is that client-patron relationships were the standard model throughout the ANE. The original listeners had that framework. Now, I do agree with you that some in the Context Group (even one of my favorite internet apologists, JP Holding) have taken this concept too far. I do believe it applies to the faith relationship we have God, but not in the strictest sense. I think it is a good analogy, but that there are some differences (e.g. salvation is by grace alone through faith, OSAS, etc.), and I think the biblical writers made those differences pretty clear. But I also think that the client-patron analogy is very helpful in understanding our role (and God's). I don't think the Bible teaches that God will only be loyal to us if we are loyal to him. But I do think that the model of reciprocal loyalty, of us giving loyalty to God as a result of all he's done for us, is very applicable.

    So in summary, I don't have a problem seeing faith in terms of a client-patron relationship, but I do think they've taken it too far. But I don't throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water, because I think many of the contributions that group is making to our understanding of Scripture and harmonizing of "difficult" passages are absolutely vital. I would encourage everyone to check out the books I've mentioned above, with the caveat that you should read with a discerning eye and not accept everything you read.