Last week I asked Rachel to weigh in on the discussion her husband Stephen initiated in his article KnetKnight’s Reasoning on Rose: We Just Can’t Know?
I asked Rachel for her input because she has spent considerable time in personal interaction with Rose over issues related to the GES’s Crossless gospel and its most extreme advocates. Rachel has posted her comments in the original thread, KnetKnight’s Reasoning on Rose: We Just Can’t Know? Don't miss Rachel's note on how Bob Wilkin would witness to a Jehovah's Witness (JW) especially what is conspicuous by its absence.
Because of the importance of this issue, Rose’s compromised rather than balanced stance in regard to the reductionist extremes of Zane Hodges’s “REDEFINED” Free Grace Theology and Rachel’s special insight I have reprinted her (Rachel’s) extend comment here for your consideration.
I know this is a late comment on this thread, but Lou mentioned in an earlier comment that he wanted me to comment on this topic.
I did interact with Rose fairly extensively sometime ago on the subject of the “Crossless Gospel.” I found that Rose treated my points essentially the same way she treats Antonio’s points - effectively silence. My opinion (and that’s all it is, just an opinion), is that Rose simply cannot answer either side’s points, for whatever reason. It seems to me that when she reads Antonio, she can’t think of a solid response, yet when she reads those on our side, she also can’t think of a response. So she has decided that since everyone (supposedly) preaches the same truths to the lost anyway, and that therefore the lost will believe those same truths anyway, that it doesn’t really make any difference, so why fight over it.
I think that the biggest issue for Rose is in the “exceptions.” I think she feels she simply cannot be dogmatic about saying that the cross and resurrection are absolutely necessary, because, what about a child, what about a mentally disabled person, what about some rare, weird scenario of someone dying halfway through the Jesus story, etc. I think these “exceptions” combined with the CG folks’ constant refrains of “we always preach the cross” have allowed her to adopt this apathetic position.
The problem is that this issue actually does make a significant difference. I noted this at Rose's blog in a thread from about a year ago where Rose was asking for help in coming to a decision on this issue. Here’s what I said regarding whether or not the content of the gospel matters:
“This discussion is not by any means a ‘moot point’'. Not when we have Jeremy Myers thinking his daughter was saved at the age of 2 (!) simply because she (supposedly) believed Jesus could take her to heaven. Not when we have Bob Wilkin telling a JW’s mother that she only needs to be concerned about getting her JW son to believe that Jesus can give him eternal life apart from his works,* and she need not ‘get into all that [erroneous JW doctrines]’.”(Note: I personally witnessed, and have access to a recording of the interaction of Wilkin and the JW’s mom at our church - the mom attends our church.)
Oddly enough, even Antonio agrees with us that this issue is important, rather than “moot” or unnecessary. He has, of course, tried to backpedal on that, but his words are written in public for all to see, and I actually agree (at least in principle) with what he has said regarding the importance of this.
I don’t normally have any reason to quote Antonio, but in this case I think his words illustrate two good reasons why this issue matters so much, even through his errors. On another forum a few years ago, someone named “Tyler” said the exact thing Rose is now saying, that it doesn’t really matter because all our gospel presentations include the cross and resurrection anyway, etc. Here is part of Antonio’s response:
“Hi Tyler,Of course I disagree with Antonio’s points, but it clearly illustrates the significant difference our views make in how we approach such people. It is one thing to wonder about “exceptions.” But children and members of groups such as JW’s and Mormons can hardly be labeled “exceptions.”
I humbly disagree with you concerning it being ‘moot’ and only interesting theologically for I can enumerate several factors why it is important:
1) Child evangelism is one practical ramification. How much does a child have to understand about ‘substitutionary’ atonement, Jesus being God, or the son of God, etc... What exactly must be known, what exact contents to the object must be exactly known, that will be the difference between eternal life, and almost knowing enough?
Simple faith in Jesus is the key! Believe in Jesus and you will live forever with Him.
‘Unless you become like children...’
2) Another is the issue of evangelizing ‘Christian’ cults. Biblical Christianity is the only religion in the world where works do not in some way contribute to ultimate salvation. In most Christian cults, they refer to the Bible for their doctrine (among other places). They refer to the same Jesus as we do but with misconceptions few or many. The primary purpose of evangelism is to get the individual born into God’s family, thus starting a relationship with God, and starting a true knowledge of Him. The primary aim in evangelism is to get the potential convert to the place where he entrusts his/her eternal well-being to Jesus. At that moment the individual is saved and those dozen or more concommitant gifts (indwelling, sealing, every spiritual blessing in Christ, etc) are imparted to the new convert.
If this new convert is determinate to seek out God and His knowledge and puts forth the effort, he WILL grow in his understanding. The Word will open up to him in a new way, and through time and growth, many of the old misconceptions will be cleared up.
We need to get them saved then encourage them in proper theology. We need to get them saved and then disciple them. Once the Holy Spirit is in their hearts, He can do His job through time and the Word.”
So Rose’s contention that this is a “doctrinal nuance” is simply indefensible! Yet for some reason(s) Rose is unwilling to explore the issue any further at this point. Perhaps she is the type of person who, when confronted or forced into a corner, has a tendency to push back merely for the sake of pushing back as a sort of defensive posture. But when given time to dwell on it on her own, without pressure, she may be more willing to come to a particular conclusion.
I do think there is a point where there is only so much that can be said and done, and a person must be left in God’s hands. We must do our best, but we cannot change every mind and convince every person. There is only so much that can be done, and for me personally, I feel that Rose is at that point. She began to refuse to interact with me on the issue or to answer my questions, so I cannot force her to answer. If she is done, then she is done, and there’s not much more I can do about it. If she wants answers, she knows where to find them.
*Is there any doubt that Wilkin and Hodges have stripped the deity, death and resurrection from the content of saving faith. I also note that Wilkin did not tell the JW’s mother to present the cross, resurrection or deity of Christ to her unsaved son. Why? I believe Antonio da Rosa (Sock Puppet: fg me) best speaks the answer for the GES’s Crossless & Deityless gospel: “Believe Christ’s Promise and You are Saved, No Matter What Misconceptions You Hold.”
“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).From Antonio’s How I Might Do Evangelism With a Jewish Man,
At the moment that a JW or a Mormon is convinced that Jesus Christ has given to them unrevokable (sic) eternal life when they believed on Him for it, I would consider such a one saved, REGARDLESS of their varied misconcetions (sic) and beliefs about Jesus.”
“If I were talking to a Jew, he may very well ask me about the deity and humanity of Jesus. I would certainly entertain his questions and answer them to the best of my ability. But if such a one continued to express doubts or objections to this, I would say politely, ‘Let us for the time being put this issue (Christ’s deity) on the back-burner. Can I show you from the Jewish Scriptures that the advent of Jesus Christ fulfills many prophecies?’”And finally Antonio’s astonishing statement, “The Mormon Jesus and Evangelical Jesus are One and the Same.”
Please Note: Because of the importance of Rachel’s input on Rose and the Crossless gospel I have rescheduled Greg Schliesmann’s critique of Zane Hodges’s Hydra’s Head article to begin on Wednesday morning.