April 29, 2008

REDUX & Update: Jim Johnson’s Plagiarism in “Destroying Free Grace Theology”

Dear Guests:

A recent development in regard to Jim Johnson’s mass plagiarism necessitates a return visit to this issue. For complete documentation of the plagiarism please view the series, Copyright Infringement & Plagiarism: Jim Johnson’s Series, “Destroying Free Grace Theology.”

On Monday (4/28), Parts 1-4 of Destroying Free Grace Theology were removed from Mr. Johnson’s blog. These join Part 5, which he removed quite a few days ago. Furthermore, Mr. Johnson still continues to deny his plagiarism.

We had uncovered and were aware of more instances of plagiarism in Johnson’s series, but I decided the previously published thoroughly documented articles clearly identified the magnitude of Johnson’s plagiarism. However, with the anticipated removal of his series now realized, and expected reappearance to follow I want readers to grasp just how pervasive the plagiarism is. There is plentiful evidence of Johnson’s plagiarism. This includes, but is not limited to the following examples:

1. In Part 3 (several pages) from W. H. Griffith Thomas’s The Purpose of the Fourth Gospel, Part 1. (Bibliotheca Sacra, 125:499, July 1968)

2. In Part 5 (over 20 pages) from Ralph Rogers Hawthorne, The Significance of the Name of Christ, (Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 103, Number 410 April 1946; Number 411, July 1946; Number 412, October 1946.)

3. In Part 4, the types of writing were plagiarized from Analytical writing, Analytical/Syntheses, ect..

4. In Part 4, two large paragraphs on polemical writing plagiarized from Daniel Hindes: Polemic and History.

5. In Part 2, Johnson’s sections “The Meaning of Mashiach” and “The LORD’S Anointed” plagiarized from the Hebrew for Christians blog.

6. In Part 3, the text beginning with “probably the main Old Testament background for Jesus’ use of the term ‘son of man’” was plagiarized from Next Bible.

7. In Part 4, approximately 10 paragraphs under General Logical Arguments against the Grace Family Journal Articles were plagiarized from (c) Ian Bruce Johnson’s: Common Divisive Fallacies; Erroneous Methods of Inference; Errors of Comparison and Errors Involving Generalizations

There are a couple other instances in his series where Johnson copied and pasted a few sentences verbatim from other articles. Furthermore, from other blog comments by Johnson there are additional examples of mass plagiarism.

Johnson’s plagiarism is on a massive scale. It permeates and has come to be recognized as the chief characteristic of his writing. The plagiarism and especially his continuing denial of his actions has come to speak volumes about the direction of his moral compass. When and if Johnson reposts any of his discredited series it will be important to answer these key questions:

1) Has he deleted the plagiarized material?
2) Does he retain the plagiarized material and properly credit the sources?
3) Does he restore what he deleted from the plagiarized author’s work?
4) Does he remove the additions he wove into the plagiarized works.
5) Does he restore to original form the portions of the author’s thoughts he manipulated and revised to make them more suitable to his own views?
These are questions that will be answered when and if Mr. Johnson reposts his discredited work. The original documents of Destroying Free Grace Theology are stored for comparison to whatever version Mr. Johnson may repost.

Finally, in addition to his denials and blame shifting of his plagiarism he also claims that anyone who raises a concern that he plagiarized numerous authors are acts of slander against him. (The word he is looking for is “libel.”) Nevertheless, the perfect defense against charges of slander/libel is absolute truth. It is a demonstrable and irrefutable fact that Jim Johnson’s series contains plagiarism on a massive scale. That is absolute truth! No matter how loud he complains, denies or revises his series, the absolute truth is that his original posting is filled with numerous blatant acts of plagiarism. For any objective reader Johnson’s plagiarism may quite possibly be unparalleled in academic Christian/theological circles.

The sheer magnitude of Johnson’s plagiarism can in no way be excused as if it never happened or may have been an honest mistake. In light of Johnson’s combative and unrepentant attitude I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t admit we are going to view with suspicion anything new Jim might publish. Any objective and reasonable reader who is on the receiving end of any new papers by Jim Johnson would naturally be suspect about any future submissions.

I want to close with a comment made by Stephen (KnetKnight) in an earlier thread. I believe Stephen’s comment here reflects the feelings of all of us who have been resisting the spread of the Crossless gospel and had the misfortune to have to deal with Mr. Johnson’s plagiarism.
His (Johnson’s) arguments were unsound in the first place and are abundantly rebutted by articles and authors that Jim has refused to interact with. Anyone who says that it is we who are unwilling to interact with the arguments is ignorant of, or blind to, the facts. These actions only serve to further discredit him as a pertinent voice in the debate. We have not done this TO him, he has simply discredited himself through his unethical actions. Despite my disapproval of his actions, I am praying for the man.”

LM


UPDATE:
During the first weekend of May Mr. Jim Johnson deleted his entire Destroying Free Grace Theology five part series from his blog. This was the series that contained numerous episodes of mass plagiarism. Johnson not only copied and pasted other men's work, but he also manipulated some of the plagiarirzed material to make it appear to support his views, when some in fact did not.

Ironically, Johnson left the articles up at his blog in which he denies, and at the same time, inexplicably defends the mass plagiarism of the articles that he removed. When you click on links that are supposed to take you to the series, you are taken to a page that says, “Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn’t here.”

Because of the plagiarism Johnson never should have posted his series in the first place. IMO, his series should never be returned for the same reasons that plagued and discredited it and his reputation. If his article(s) do resurface, because of the plagiarism and his unrepentant attitude, they will be largely ignored, by both camps in the debate, just as his series was the first time around.


LM

April 25, 2008

Plagiarism Final: Whither Shall I Go?

Dear Guests:

At the conclusion of the previous article in this series I wrote,

By his (Jim Johnson’s) own hand, Destroying Free Grace Theology, the part that is his own work, is utterly discredited. More examples of Johnson’s plagiarism, and there are many, can’t discredit his series any further.”
There are numerous examples of additional acts of plagiarism committed by Mr. Johnson, not just in his Destroying… series, but at other web sites and blogs. Earlier in the week I decided that I would not generate any new articles such as the previous ones that fully detail how Mr. Johnson plagiarized various writers. I will, however, simply mention that it can be irrefutably demonstrated Parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Johnson’s Destroying… series contains massive amounts of plagiarism, for which he continues to deny, or dismiss as a mistake, and reamins unrepentant.

Following the revelation of his mass plagiarism, even in the face of overwhelming incontrovertible evidence, Mr. Jim Johnson reacted with denial, combativeness, scoffing, and refuses to acknowledge what is so painfully obvious to any objective reader. He has, furthermore, essentially gone into hiding on this issue. With that said I want to bring closure to this difficult series with a sermon in writing.


WHITHER SHALL I GO?
Probably every one of us has had a Garden of Eden experience in our lives, I know I have. We have attempted to run and hide from the Lord’s call to duty, or from His presence when we have sinned. Jim Johnson is in that unenviable position right now. He has sinned, and did so publicly through the Internet. Like Adam, Jim Johnson is in a sense trying to hide himself and his guilt from God.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself,” (Genesis 3:8-10).
What Jim did is out in the open for the world to see. Many across a broad spectrum of evangelical Christianity are aware of what he did and his reaction. Jim is doing all he can to deflect scrutiny, fight and deny that anything he has done is out of bounds. He is trying to hide and distance himself from what he did.

Jim Johnson, just like Adam, is certainly under intense conviction. Somewhat like God called to Adam as he (Adam) hid in the garden, the Holy Spirit is doing His convicting work in the heart and mind of Jim. It is impossible to escape the presence of the Lord.
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Psalm 139:7).
God loves Jim and wants to forgive and restore fellowship with him. In the first article of this series I mention David’s issues after the events with Bathsheba.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long,” (Psalm 32:3).
David was miserable, but “roaring,” while he hung on to his sin, just like Jim is “roaring” now. One commentator wrote,
“He (David) learned that unconfessed sin is a festering sore.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, p. 273.)
I believe God loved David so much that He sent Nathan to help David break free of the pride that had enslaved him, and kept him from confessing his sin. I am hopeful that God will send a Nathan to visit Jim in the near future and help him to confess, repent, be forgiven and restored to a sweet fellowship with God.

Scriptural Appeals to Jim Johnson
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me,” (Ps. 66:18).

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption,” (Eph. 4:30).

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).
Jim, as long as you continue to deny what you did, and resist the convicting work of the Holy Spirit and God’s desire to forgive you, your prayers and fellowship with God are hindered. Is covering up what you did worth that level expense?


LM


April 22, 2008

Copyright Infringement & Plagiarism, Part 3: Jim Johnson’s Series, “Destroying Free Grace Theology”

Dear Guests:

This is the third in our continuing series on the egregious acts of blatant plagiarism that has come to characterize the series by Mr. Jim Johnson titled, Destroying Free Grace Theology.

PREFACE
Thus far we have had two installments in this series. They are:

Copyright Infringement & Plagiarism, Part 1

Copyright Infringement & Plagiarism, Part 2

In these previous installments we saw how Mr. Johnson plagiarized two works. They were:

1) Ralph Rogers Hawthorne’s, The Significance of the Name of Christ, Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 103, Number 410 April 1946; Number 411, July 1946; Number 412, October 1946.

2) Mario Cerda’s, Subject Determination Involving Proper Articuler Nouns in Equative Clauses, Appendix 6: John 20:30-31, Bible.org

Mr. Johnson’s plagiarism was not limited to simply copying and pasting select portions of the works by Hawthorne and Cerda. Johnson’s abuse of these articles was on a massive scale, with his plagiarizing anywhere from four to over 20 pages at a time. Furthermore, through revisions, additions and deletions Johnson manipulated the writing of these men to make the plagiarized material conform more closely to his own theological views.

INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF JOHNSON’S PLAGIARISM?
The example we are going to review today has more of the same manipulations. This time another *Bibliotheca Sacra (Bib Sac) article was Mr. Johnson’s target.

This time Mr. Johnson chose to plagiarize the very well known commentator: **W. H. Griffith Thomas. Mr. Johnson chose to plagiarize Griffith Thomas’s The Purpose of the Fourth Gospel, Part 1. (Bibliotheca Sacra, 125:499, July 1968) The portion that Johnson plagiarized begins with the sub-section, Seven Key Words in the Purpose and continues through the end of Griffith Thomas’s Bib Sac article.


THE MAGNITUDE OF JOHNSON’S PLAGIARISM
The article in which Mr. Johnson’s newest example of plagiarism appears is once again found in his series, but this time, Destroying Free Grace Theology, Part 3. The point in Johnson’s Part 3 in which he inserts what he plagiarized from Griffith Thomas begins under a sub-heading, Proper Handling of John’s Purpose Statement in the Gospel - John 20:30-31. You will find this section appears about two-thirds of the way down his article and continues through the conclusion.

The magnitude of this plagiarism is almost unimaginable. I want to illustrate just how much of Griffith Thomas was plagiarized by Johnson and how much of Johnson’s Destroying Free Grace Theology, Part 3 is made up of the stolen material.

The word count from Griffith Thomas’s Bib Sac article is approximately 3,700 words. Johnson plagiarized over 1,800 words from Griffith Thomas’s document. That equates to 48% of the Bib Sac article being plagiarized by Mr. Johnson. Now, we find that Destroying, Part 3 by Johnson is approximately 9,000 words. Taking the 1,800 words Johnson plagiarized and dividing that by the 9,000 words in his article we learn that 20% of Johnson’s Destroying, Part 3 is plagiarized material from W. H. Griffith Thomas’s The Purpose of the Fourth Gospel, Part 1..

Think of it: Nearly 50% of an article was plagiarized, and the stolen material made up 20% of the discredited article(s) by Mr. Johnson.

There is no way an honest man can excuse these staggering amounts of plagiarism as innocent mistakes. This is not from a man, “that does not write well.” This level of plagiarism cannot be dismissed as mere, “errors” or “raw thoughts.” Vast amounts of other men’s writing was literally copied, large portions manipulated, and then pasted into his series to make it appear as if it is his own work. With one minor and obscure exception Mr. Johnson did not, in any way, credit or reference the various authors he plagiarized.

Let’s begin Part 3 of Jim Johnson’s Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism:

The plagiarism of Destroying Free Grace Theology, Part 3 begins about two-thirds of the way into the article and continues through the end. The exact point of the plagiarism begins under the sub-heading Proper Handling of John’s Purpose Statement in the Gospel - John 20:30-31.

I am going to follow the same format that I used when detailing how Mr. Johnson plagiarized Mario Cerda’s document. To varying degrees Johnson revised and manipulated every paragraph. The manipulation of Griffith Thomas’s document is not as extensive as what Johnson did to Cerda’s. He largely kept to plagiarizing it verbatim. Following I will provide selected examples from Griffith Thomas’s plagiarized article. Please note that I will post examples of Johnson’s revisions of Griffith Thomas’s plagiarized work in red. Griffith Thomas’s original work will remain in blue. I will insert comments detailing samples of how Johnson manipulated Griffith Thomas’s document. Because some of the plagiarized paragraphs are quite large I will post minimized versions to focus on where Johnson manipulated them.

To reiterate- the blue portions are authentic Griffith Thomas material that was plagiarized. The red portions are how Johnson tweaked and manipulated Griffith Thomas’s writing to disguise the plagiarism.


EXAMPLE #1
In relation to articles use of the purpose statement of John in the 20th chapter of his gospel, we need to find as precise meaning to the purpose of John 20:30-31 as possible. It must now be considered in detail text critically and exegetically first. A few observations up front: 1) its definiteness is evident. “These things…in order that.” It is a record (“written”) with a clear object (denoted by the ἵνα structural marker). 2) Its twofold character-first, to lead to personal belief in the historic Jesus as the Christ and Son of God; second, to lead, by believing, to the possession of “life in his name.”… This element of the personal, human life of Jesus Christ is one of the threads running through John’s Gospel.


EXAMPLE #2
To show that Jesus is the Son of God is another element of the purpose of the writer. The distinction between this title and that of the Messiah seems to be that the former is wider and includes more than is involved in Messiahship… It is found over seventy times and frequently with a moral meaning. The two aspects of Messiahship and Sonship are found combined in 1:49 and 4:42. (Two sentences by Griffith Thomas [GT] omitted here by Johnson. See below.) A very prominent part of the purpose of the writer is shown in the element of believe. He wrote in order to lead his readers to faith in the historical Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, and it is perfectly clear that every section of the Gospel bears on this definite aim of eliciting faith and illustrates it.

Following are the two sentences Johnson deleted from the paragraph above.
As Messiah, Jesus unites Christianity with Judaism while as Son of God He transcends Judaism. These two aspects interpret practically every section of the Gospel.”

EXAMPLE #3
When it is remembered that the verb pisteuw occurs only eleven times in Matthew, fifteen times in Mark, and nine times in Luke, it can at once be seen how prominent the thought is in the fourth Gospel. This key is seen (GT has “struck) as early as 1:7, 12. In chapter 1 also we have the record of the first members of the apostolic group (GT has “band) who were led to faith, among whom was Nathaniel who at once confessed his belief in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God (1:49). (Johnson deleted four sentences here from GT’s article) All this indicates what faith is according to John and what stress he lays on it in relation to Christ. Belief is the only and adequate response of any man or woman or child to this divine revelation. (Two more sentences from GT omitted here [see below], which describe belief in John as wholehearted surrender. This does not fit Johnson’s point so he replaced it with this sentence the following sentence) Theologically we tend to come up with content, but the author of the Gospel stresses belief.

Following are the two sentences Johnson deleted from GT’s paragraph above.
It is based on testimony (1:7 ); it is elicited by experience (1:50 ); it rests on words spoken (10:38 ) or written (2:22 ); and it involves the wholehearted surrender of the moral being (eis). When these statements are successively understood, we come to the knowledge of what is meant by faith in Christ.”
EXAMPLE #4
It may seem almost impossible to think of the ordinary verb have as at all characteristic of a work like the fourth Gospel. Yet it seems clear that its use is noteworthy and significant. In relation to things spiritual as distinct from mere temporal usage, it occurs at least thirty-five times, more especially in connection with such expressions as “having life,” or “having eternal life.” It implied not only possession, but conscious possession; possession with retention. The idea of having, knowing, and holding appear to be included. (At this point two sentences from GT have been omitted by Johnson.)

There are additional samples, but the key to this plagiarism is the sheer size of what was taken by Johnson inserted into his own document with no credit or even a mention of W. H. Griffith Thomas.

Mr. Johnson refuses to confess, repent and seek God’s forgiveness. Instead he is combative and he scoffs at the irrefutable evidence presented. He argues with an elitist, martyr complex, self-glorifying attitude.

CLOSING
Research has confirmed there are no less than four sources Mr. Johnson plagiarized. Two articles from Bib Sac (Hawthorne & Griffith-Thomas), Cerda’s from Bible.org, and a fourth that was discovered over the weekend. That may not be the final count, but after 30+ pages of stolen material IMO it hardly matters any more.

If I were to continue posting more of the plagiarism examples that have been uncovered this series would last through the rest of the month. I am, however, looking at wrapping it up with just one more to bring closure.

It is the hope and prayer of the men who have had to deal with this mass plagiarism that Mr. Johnson will admit what he did and repent of it. Thus far public and private attempts to encourage this have been met with hostility from Johnson.

By his own hand, Destroying Free Grace Theology, the part that is his own work, is utterly discredited. More examples of Johnson’s plagiarism, and there are many, can’t discredit his series any further.


LM

*First edition of Bibliotheca Sacra, 1934.

**This is the heading and editor’s note from the original article at Bib Sac.
W. H. Griffith Thomas, Noted Anglican scholar, One of the founders of Dallas Theological Seminary, Now deceased. [Editor’s note: This article is a hitherto unpublished work of the noted Anglican scholar, Dr. W. H. Griffith Thomas, who was one of the founders of Dallas Theological Seminary. The article was submitted to us by his daughter, Mrs. Winifred G. T. Gillespie. A second installment on the Gospel of John will appear in the next issue of Bibliotheca Sacra.]

April 21, 2008

Staggering Amount of Plagiarism & Still Growing

Dear Guests:

On Tuesday morning I will be posting a third example of massive plagiarism in Jim Johnson’s series, Destroying Free Grace Theology. This third example does not rival the amount of material Johnson plagiarized from Hawthorne or Cerda, but the name of the author he stole from is far more impressive.

I would like to have said the third example is the final, but this afternoon one researcher uncovered three new examples of blatant plagiarism in Johnson’s series.

There is no way an honest man can excuse these staggering amounts of plagiarism as innocent mistakes. This is not from a man, “that does not write well.” This level of plagiarism cannot be dismissed as mere, “errors” or “raw thoughts.” Vast amounts of other men’s writing was literally copied, some of it manipulated, and then pasted into his series to make it appear as if it is his own work. With one minor and obscure exception Mr. Johnson did not, in any way, credit or reference the author’s he plagiarized.

Any peer or editor who would only suggest his, “paper needs some refinement” is either unashamedly political or woefully incompetent to evaluate and/or understand the level of willful plagiarism committed by Johnson in these papers. Any responsible editor would rebuke him, and advise the immediate removal of this fraudulent paper from the public arena.

Mr. Johnson has suggested, “…making corrections for possible journal publishing.” If he attempts to, or this paper is actually published in any journal, I will immediately contact the publisher and forward all of the documentation surrounding his plagiarism. I don’t think any honest, reputable publisher would want to have Johnson’s plagiarized paper, in any revised form, on their hands. It would frustrate and disgrace them, and they’d have huge PR problem to contend with once it became public. If I were a publisher I would want to be forewarned about this plagiarist.

As for Mr. Johnson’s reaction, he remains defiant. Why Mr. Johnson did this, only he knows. How he thought he could get away with it is unfathomable. His combativeness, blame-shifting and scoffing reaction is disconcerting, but I hope and pray he will eventually respond rightly by confessing and repent of this plagiarism. IMO, he owes this at least to RMBC whose reputation he has done irreparable harm.

I hope and pray Mr. Johnson will one day soon respond rightly by confessing and repent of this plagiarism.


LM

April 19, 2008

Is Johnson Defending or Denying His Plagiarism? Yes!

Dear Guests:

Before I post the third example of Mr. Johnson’s blatant plagiarism I want to review his reaction. In the thread under Jim Johnson’s Plagiarism, Part 2 several men and I have been discussing Mr. Johnson’s plagiarism, his combativeness, denials and scoffing, and what the Rocky Mountain Bible College reaction might be to their Instructor’s mass plagiarism.

Greg Schliesmann posted a pretty good and concise summation that I am reproducing here.

Another thought that comes to mind is that online, in the public, you have a man who not only committed plagiarism but also continues to defend it. In fact, it is glaringly obvious to everyone I’ve interacted with that Mr. Johnson is in denial. Even when he got caught and “apologized” for his first instance of plagiarism, he did not even admit to or take down the other articles he plagiarized in the same series. His so-called apology went only as far as he thought you revealed.

Now, keep in mind, Mr. Johnson is in a position where Rocky Mountain Bible College is asking Bible students to submit to him as a Bible instructor. How can any Bible college administration ask their students to submit to a teacher-
1) who is delusional,
2) who has a martyr complex,
3) who displays a lack of ability to understand an article he critiques,
4) who is promoting the crossless gospel,
5) who displays elitist and self-glorifying behavior, and
6) who is defending his own plagiarism with a combative attitude?

Mr. Johnson should be an outstanding example for his students. Instead, he is a plagiarizer.

Recently, Mr. Johnson called us “terrorists.” Now surely this is absurd. And I would never imply the same thing about Mr. Johnson. But, ironically, a funny comparison comes to mind...

If you pay attention to current events, you’ll often hear Iranian President and terrorist vacillate between denying the Holocaust and admitting it happened (but claiming Israel still shouldn’t exist). Recently, he questioned whether the terrorist attacks of September 11th really happened. Well, that reminded me of how Jim Johnson simultaneously denied and defended his plagiarism. Right in the same paragraph, he denies it (as though it did not happen) and defends it (as though he admits it happened but should not be blamed since he is not financially profiting from it). These men just cannot face reality.

How can a Bible college ask its students to submit to such as a man as their instructor in the Word of God?
So that the magnitude of Johnson’s plagiarism is not missed, in the upcoming example, I will demonstrate from that third example, just how much of it is made up of plagiarized/stolen material. If you are under the impression we are getting worked-up over small sound bytes having been lifted by Johnson, you will be stunned by the level and magnitude of plagiarzed material Johnson inserted in the next example from his series Destroying Free Grace Theology.


LM

April 18, 2008

Copyright Infringement & Plagiarism, Part 2: Jim Johnson’s series, “Destroying Free Grace Theology”

This is the second installment in the continuing series that exposes the blatant plagiarism of Mr. Jim Johnson (“Instructor”: * Rocky Mountain Bible College). It was our intention to open this series with a review of Johnson’s plagiarism found in his currently **deleted Part 5 of Destroying Free Grace Theology.

PREFACE
In the thread under the first in this series, Jim Johnson’s Plagiarism, Part 1 Greg Schliesmann included this important observation in regard to Johnson’s plagiarism and deleting of the Part 5 article from his series. Greg noted,

Johnson tries to portray his plagiarism (of Bib Sac) as an issue of copyright infringement, which he can rectify by contacting the copyright holders and asking for permission to reprint their articles (probably without fully explaining how he used/plans to use them). However, plagiarism is different than simple copyright infringement in that the author deceptively passes of the work as his own. That is deception. That cannot be rectified.”
Following the posting of the first in this series Jim Johnson’s Plagiarism, Part 1 I had hoped and prayed for Mr. Johnson to confess, repent and seek God’s forgiveness, but his reaction was quite different. Instead he became combative. Johnson’s reaction became absurd including arguing that his plagiarism is acceptable because the word “plagiarism” is not in Scripture. Thus, he implies we are legalistic for employing an extra-Biblical standard.

Let’s begin Part 2 of Jim Johnson’s copyright infringement and blatant plagiarism.
Those of us who reject the teachings of Zane Hodges on the Gospel commonly known as the Crossless gospel (ReDefined Free Grace Theology) initially paid little attention to the series by Jim Johnson, Destroying Free Grace Theology. Ironically virtually no one in the Crossless camp has paid any attention to that series either.

Upon release of Johnson’s Part 5 in his series it was detected that he had plagairized an article from Bibliotheca Sacra (Bib Sac) in its entirety, without proper permission. Furthermore, at various points Mr. Johnson manipulated the Bib Sac article. I made a brief mention of this copyright infringement in previous thread discussions.
While not at first concerned, Greg Schliesmann later took a careful look at Johnson’s article while it was still available to be read at his (Johnson’s) blog. What follows is Greg’s review of Destroying Free Grace Theology, Part 5.
Lou, in regards to the copyright issue, I did not fully realize what you were talking about when you made that comment. Now that I have a copy of Hawthorne’s article that Johnson plagiarized, I now understand the egregious and illicit nature of what Mr. Johnson did. Aside from the issue of Federal copyright law, it is undeniably deceptive.

For others, I will summarize what I see:

1. The original Hawthorne articles at issue were published in a two-part series in Bibliotheca Sacra (Bib Sac) (24 pages total).

2. Johnson copied and pasted ALL of the first Hawthorne article (14 pages) and a section from the second Hawthorne article.

3. Johnson incorporated these articles into his own article in such a way that gave the distinct impression that they were written by Mr. Johnson.

4. The only credit given to Hawthorne was buried in a footnote:
Much of this section is adapted from the following articles, Ralph Rogers Hawthorne, The Significance of the Name of Christ, Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 103, Number 410 April 1946; Number 411, July 1946; Number 412, October 1946.”

5. There is no clear break in Johnson’s article where Hawthorne’s articles begin or end.

6. In the section where Johnson copied and pasted Hawthorne’s article, right in the middle of Hawthorne’s own writing, Johnson injects this line: “Hawthorne quoting Walvoord shows that Christ is the Angel of LORD by the use of four lines of evidence.”

This is blatantly and purposely deceptive because he injected that line right into Hawthorne’s own article! He therefore gives the distinct impression that the section (i.e., the words surrounding Hawthorne’s “quote”) is written by Johnson! In actuality, the ENTIRE section is copied from Hawthorne VERBATIM, and so it is extremely misleading to pretend he is quoting him in a particular part of the section, when in actuality, the WHOLE section is directly taken from Hawthorne.

7. Mr. Johnson periodically changes a word written by Hawthorne, apparently in order to “make it his own” and evade copyright infringement. Apparently, this way, Mr. Johnson thought he could say he “adapted” Hawthorne’s articles rather than simply admitting he copied almost 20 pages of Hawthorne’s articles verbatim. To give you an example of how egregious this is:
HAWTHORNE:
It is of utmost importance to see that the name of Christ is not revealed in the New Testament alone. There are numerous Messianic passages in the Old Testament—vastly more than it is generally realized. Indeed, one guarantee of the Lord’s Messiahship rests on the unmistakable fact that a considerable amount of prophecy concerning Him has been fulfilled literally in minute detail. Herein lies the proof that further events prophesied also shall yet be brought to pass in their predestined time and order.

JOHNSON:
It is of paramount importance to see that the name of Christ is not only revealed in the New Testament alone. There are numerous Messianic passages in the Old Testament— very much more than it is generally realized. Indeed, one guarantee of the Lord’s Messiahship rests on the unmistakable fact that a considerable amount of prophecy concerning Him has been fulfilled literally in minute detail. Herein lies the proof that further events prophesied also shall yet be brought to pass in their predestined time and order.
Notice that Johnson changed “utmost importance” to “paramount importance.” The ENTIRE 20 pages are like this where Johnson randomly changes a word here and there to constitute his “adaptation.”

8. Now Johnson issued an apology on his website in which he:

a) characterizes this as a “human” oversight

b) indicates that his apology was prompted by a person who read Lou’s comment

c) indicates he was unaware that this violated Federal copyright law (apparently he thought changing a word in every paragraph made it okay)

d) criticizes Lou for mentioning this issue publicly

e) criticizes all free grace people who oppose the crossless gospel for being unwilling to listen to his arguments (ironically, he is the most unwilling to consider or interact with any arguments that contradict his view! In fact, I quoted him in an earlier post where he directly stated he would not interact with us because we would contradict his doctrinal view).

f) hurls unsubstantiated insults at everybody on our side of the debate as if to shift the blame and placate his own conscience

g) tries to play the issue down by indicating that he called Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) after his plagiarism was exposed by Lou, and the staff person at DTS/Bib Sac did not sound as concerned as Lou!

9. The general character of his apology is anger geared toward us rather than humility for, or even an acknowledgment of his purposeful deception.

Lou, I apologize for suggesting giving him the “benefit of the doubt” without having asked for more information first.


Greg Schliesmann


SUMMATION
In the three articles Johnson has posted since withdrawing Part 5 of his series, he has not shown any sign of genuine humility, regret or repentance for his plagiarizing other men’s work. Instead he is combative, and angry that he was caught.

Mr. Jim Johnson is identified as an “Instructor” at the Rocky Mountain Bible College (RMBC). What follows is taken from a tab at the RMBC website labeled: Student Life: Christian Life & Conduct. The exact same wording is contained on page 21 of their 2006-2008 Catalog (viewable on-line) under the heading, “Student Life” on page 21.
CHRISTIAN LIFE
Students at Rocky Mountain Bible College & Rocky Mountain Seminary will be involved in a number of activities, including evangelism, Christian service projects, and ministry. Students are expected to work closely with their local churches. Additionally, a faculty member will mentor each full-time student to give guidance in Christian growth and ministry involvement.

CONDUCT
We live in a world whose standards are determined by our culture. As believers, our standard is to live in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1) as put forward in the Word of God. We believe that eternal life is a free gift to everyone who believes (John 3:16). We also believe that a close personal relationship with God is offered only to those who abide in God's love by obeying His commandments (John 15:10,14). We call this free grace and full responsibility.

Some of the responsibilities God commands of those who abide in Christ are to put off the works of the flesh, to be an example of the believer, to be holy even as God is holy, to put on the new man, to walk by the power of the Holy Spirit, and to evidence the fruit of the Spirit.

Believers are called to a life of separation from all worldly and sinful practices. Students who demonstrate an ungodly lifestyle will be subject to discipline and dismissal.

Rocky Mountain Bible College & Rocky Mountain Seminary are committed to the same godly standards for its board, faculty, staff, and students
.
The RMBC standards for Christian Life & Conduct are applicable to “its board, faculty, staff and students.” In light of RMBC’s standards above what would RMBC’s response be to a student who might have submitted a paper the same way Johnson published a work that is not his own?

Should RMBC retain an Instructor who has run roughshod over the standards sets for RMBC students?

Closing note to Mr. Johnson
Jim, the 8th Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” is still in the Bible.


LM

*RMBC is a small Bible College that is staunchly dedicated to the Crossless interpretation of the Gospel, the teachings of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and the Grace Evangelical Society.

**Once the copyright infringement and plagiarism of Hawthorne’s Bib Sac article was uncovered Mr. Johnson removed the article from his blog. Johnson said he would be reposting it in the near future. We will at that time review and compare it against the original he published, which we have archived. We will look to see just how much of the original has been altered. Once the review is complete, if we find that it is strikingly different than the original, we will forward it to the editors at Dallas Theological Seminary’s Bib Sac to assist them in protecting Bib Sac from Johnson’s misuse of their articles.

April 17, 2008

In The “Trick Bag”

UPDATE (4/18 @ 6:30pm) Tonight Antonio da Rosa deleted his Discussion with a Free Grace Leader article. He did this without fanfare or explanation.

Based on da Rosa’s past performance, it is my opinion that those quotations from the un-named FG leader were from private correspondence and Antonio published them without having asked for or received prior permission do so.

Furthermore, da Rosa’s pattern is to revise and reinterpret quotes to gain an advantage or create a ripe target for attack, such as he did to Stephen (KnetKnight). I am quite sure that the FG leader heard of this, felt betrayed and probably contacted Antonio to insist he delete the quotations if not the entire article. This is the only explanation that makes sense to me.

Stunts like this latest one are why Antonio’s reputation precedes him.

Dear Guests:

I simply must weigh in. Stephen (KnetKnight) and others have attempted to engage ReDefined Free Grace advocate Antonio da Rosa at a pro-Crossless gospel blog.

One may not know whether to be ashamed of or feel sorry for Antonio having posted his most recent article at *Unashamed of Grace. This is the article where he quotes an unnamed FGA Leader, and very likely, as he has done in the past, without that man’s prior consent or permission. Furthermore, the likelihood Antonio has fairly and accurately portrayed this unnamed FGA leader’s personal position is highly suspect. He has a habit of posting private communication with a political spin to give himself an advantage.

He improperly suggests those of us who reject the Crossless gospel of Zane Hodges’ ReDefined Free Grace theology have been unwilling to pursue meaningful dialogue.

Now that Stephen has taken Antonio to task, shown that he is disingenuous in his remarks, and offered to engage him in “meaningful dialogue,” Antonio is ignoring these men. Antonio is doing the very thing he falsely accused us of.

He has put himself in what we call, **the trick bag.” Antonio can’t delete Stephen or the others comments because he (da Rosa) would once again be discredited and condemned by his own words. He can’t honestly engage these men in the thread through “meaningful dialogue” because his doctrine and character will be once again devastated.

What are his options?
1) Pull down the article entirely.
2) Close the comment thread of his article.
3) Follow his pattern of disappearing for days on end.
4) Post new articles to push this one down the home page as quickly as possible.
5) Live up to the high standard he claimed for himself by engaging Stephen and Jon in “meaningful dialogue.”

I don’t normally link to sites that propagate the Crossless gospel. Tonight, however, I invite my guests to read Recent Discussion With Leader in FGA (Free Grace Alliance) by Antonio da Rosa (aka- Sock Puppet: fg me)


LM

*Unashamed of Grace is a blog that is moderated by advocates and supporters of the Crossless gospel. They are Antonio da Rosa; H. K. Flynn; Matthew (Dyspraxic Fundamentalist) and Rose of Rose’s Reasonings.


**Getting yourself in a situation that is not good, complex, or can lead to bad things. Getting in a heap of trouble.

April 16, 2008

Copyright Infringement & Plagiarism: Jim Johnson’s Series, “Destroying Free Grace Theology”

The men and I that have cooperated in the research of the current series by Mr. Jim Johnson are not pleased to be issuing a series with such disconcerting findings. However, Johnson’s series was produced to discredit men like Pastor Tom Stegall because of his series, The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel published at the Grace Family Journal. Furthermore, and in reality, Mr. Johnson’s series discredits the Gospel! He did these things we are about to examine publicly and he promoted his series as if it would be a theological breakthrough.



PREFACE
I intended to open this new multi-part series addressing the already well-publicized case of Mr. Jim Johnson violating federal copyright law and extreme example of plagiarism. That incident occurred in Part 5 of his series Destroying Free Grace Theology. That article has been reschedule because a new example of copyright infringement and blatant plagiarism has been uncovered in Mr. Johnson’s series.

Once the mass plagiarism was discovered in Part 5 of his series it seemed to me that there may likely be more examples of plagiarism to be found in other installments of his series, and there were. In this article I will drawing your attention to *Part 2 of Johnson’s series, which is where this new episode of plagiarism is found.


INTRODUCTION
With the revelation of the latest ethical lapse about to unfold below Mr. Johnson is now compelled to delete Part 2 from his blog series for copyright infringement and plagarism, just like he had to pull Part 5. He must do so not only for this blatant, pre-meditated plagiarism, but because it is the second violation of federal copyright law in his series.

Unlike the way Mr. Johnson has been trying to deflect scrutiny away from the plagiarism in Part 5, in this case he will not be able to appeal to any organzation or author for permisson to reprint. There is a significant difference between this episode of plagiarism and the previous with Part 5. What is that difference?

In Part 5 he buried a very obscure reference to the 1946 Bibliotheca Sacra article he edited and plagiarized. In this episode, from Part 2 of his series, Mr. Johnson never references the author, article or source that he plagiarized at any point in the body of his article or in the footnotes. He found an article, lifted a major section and then began his process of editing various portions through revision, deletions and additions. Mr. Johnson knew he was methodically editing another man’s work and did so for the sole purpose of presenting it as his own to bolster his Crossless interpretation of the Gospel. In academic circles there is no more reprehensible act than plagiarism. In the series Destroying Free Grace Theology, we are reporting a second irrefutable example of plagiarism by Mr. Johnson.

For future verification of Mr. Johnson’s plagiarism I (and three other men) have archived Johnson’s Part 2 with date and time stamp from his blog of April 15, 2008. The examples of plagiarism that follow were taken from his article as it appeared at his blog on April 15, 2008. Why did we archive this article? Because if Johnson follows his pattern from the plagiarism of Ralph R. Hawthorne’s 1946 Bibliotheca Sacra article in Part 5 of his series, he will be deleting Part 2 of his series. In our opinion, if he ever has the nerve to repost it, it will be sanitzied to remove any trace of his unethical behavior.

With the Introduction complete let’s begin the review of Jim Johnson’s copyright infringement and blatant plagiarism.


WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF JOHNSON’S PLAGIARISM?
The location from which Mr. Johnson found the article that he plagiarized is Bible.org At Bible.org Mario Cerda wrote and published an 11 part series titled, Subject Determination Involving Proper Articuler Nouns in Equative Clauses.

Article 11 by Cerda is titled, Appendix 6: Exegesis of John 20:31. It is from this article that Mr. Johnson plagiarized Mario Cerda's work.


EXAMPLES OF JOHNSON’S PLAGIARISM
If you go to Mario Cerda’s Appendix 6 (see link above) you can find the place at which Johnson’s plagiarism begins. Under the header EXEGESIS, Cerda writes,
“Up to this point in the gospel, John has highlighted that believing upon hearing is better than believing because of seeing. Now in…”
Following that statement above Johnson begins his plagiarism of Cerda. Cerda’s paragraph continues with,

“Now in John 20:30-31 he effectively says, Now on the one hand there are many signs which the apostles witnessed and, for some, these led to their belief; but on the other hand only some of those signs are told here so that by hearing of them you may believe the truth about Jesus and truly live.’ The first half (v. 30) of the concluding remark sets up a ‘on the one hand A, but on the other hand B’ relationship which provides a nice transition from the example of Thomas to the purpose statement in v. 31.”
When you view Part 2 of Johnson’s series you will find the plagiarism in the section titled, The Doctrine of Progressive Revelation. Scroll down to paragraph 22, which follows the paragraph that begins and then ends this way,
“Finally, since publishing this and the other articles… here is an extended exegetical discussion of John 20:30-31.”
At varying degrees Johnson revised virtually every paragraph from Cerda’s material. Following I will provide selected examples from Cerda’s plagiarzed article to demonstrate how Johnson manipulated the author’s article to disguise his (Johnson’s) plagiarism and disarm it of anything that would be be counter productive to his own theological position. Please note that I will post examples Johnson’s revisions of Cerda’s plagiarized work in red. Cerda’s original work will remain in blue. I will insert comments about what Johnson did in these plagiarism examples.

To reiterate- the blue portions are authentic Cerda material. The red portions are how Johnson tweaked and manipulated Cerda’s writing to disguise the plagiarism.

EXAMPLE #1
Ταῦτα, a nominative neuter plural demonstrative pronoun rendered “these things” is standard. There is nothing special about γέγραπται. It is a very common word but that is no reason to ignore it. First, it is singular while the demonstrative pronoun is plural. This might suggest that the subject is “this book” and that the pronoun is actually the direct object. However, the passive voice of the verb suggests a breach of grammatical concord where a singular verb uses a plural subject. This is not uncommon. Second, many translations (ASV, ESV, KJV, NCV, NIV, NKJV, NLT, RSV) choose to translate the verb as a present rather than as a perfect (ISV, NASB). The intensive perfect makes better sense of the context because it emphasizes result or present state. In Scripture the use of the perfect for “written” is often found.
This last sentence is actually a Johnson rephrase of a Craig Keener quote at this point in Cerda’s article.

EXAMPLE #2
Johnson’s plagiarism, “In summary, the external evidence lines up pretty evenly and the internal evidence is equally inconclusive. Consequently, Metzger and Committee assign the text a C rating.[68] The significance of the text critical question is that an aorist subjunctive allows for a translation of “might come to believe,” which implies John addresses an unbelieving audience.”

Cerda wrote, “In summary, the external evidence lines up pretty evenly and the internal evidence is equally inconclusive. Consequently, Metzger and Committee assign the text a C rating.3 The significance of the TC question is that an aorist subjunctive allows for a translation of ‘might come to believe,’ which implies John addresses an unbelieving audience. On the other hand, the present normally means ‘might continue to…,’ implying John addresses a believing audience. However, Carson contends that John uses theseἵνα-clause combinations interchangeably for both senses.4 Admittedly, this interchangeability renders the TC question immaterial to the debate regarding purpose of the Gospel.”
Why is Johnson’s version shorter than Cerda’s original? It is plain see that Johnson deleted the final three sentences from Cerda’s paragraph. Why did Johnson delete this section? The reason is that the deleted sentences claim support for the Lordship/perseverance of the saints view.

EXAMPLE #3
In the next section of the sentence we read ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε. The second ἵνα introduces what Wallace’s grammar calls a ἵνα + subjunctive purpose/result clause.[72] The translation would be, “in order that…so that…”[73]
While Johson references Wallace’s grammar for this point, it is Certa’s point that Johnson is rephrasing and then referring to Wallace to avoid the connection to Certa!

“Wallace says that this stems from the writers theology based on rather than from grammar, though the grammar allows it.”
Johnson omits at this point the following quote from Certa, “It attempts to convey that John’s gospel closely associates true believing, that is sustained belief, with divine activity.” Another Lordship/perseverance omission.
The argument from Wallace’s grammar attempts to convey that John’s gospel closely associates true believing, that is saving belief, with divine activity. Wallace says, “what God purposes is what happens, so a ἵνα + subjunctive can be used to express both divine purpose and result”.[74] I find this incredible to say that John had a fully developed Biblical Theology. In addition, to draw this conclusion from Moule’s Idioms is a short reading of his reasoning of the section on the ἵνα, Moule goes on to state that, “…whatever is done about the ἵνα; and personally I find the radical view which interprets the who phrase…as strictly final, so that parables are told to prevent any who are not predestined for salvation from hearing, to incongruous with any part of the N.T. period to be plausible. It is far more reasonable to take both the ἵνα and …[a subjunctive] as instances of Semitic blurring if purpose and result,…”[75]
EXAMPLE #4
The term ζωήν is in the accusative case which indicates that it is the direct object of the subjunctive. It occurs 135 times in the New Testament. BDAG classifies them within two broad categories, physical life and transcendent life, which are broken down into seven sub-categories. John uses it 49 times, 35 in the gospel. Context clearly suggests that John has life as a primary theme of his gospel.[77] Given the association to belief as a saving faith, he has eternal life in view (which may explain the textual variant, αἰώνιον). For John, this includes more than life after death.
Johnson inserted “saving,” but Cerda has here the word, “persevering.

EXAMPLE #5
The complete phrase occurs once in the Johannine writings. It occurs 12 times without αὐτοῦ and only in the gospel. He uses a similar prepositional phrase, εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ, two times (John 1:12 and 2:23) and two more times without αὐτοῦ (John 3:18 and 1 John 5:13). The expression is more often used of the Son’s name (13 times) than of the Father’s (3 times; John 5:43; 10:25; 17:11-12). This makes an incredible statement about Jesus. John essentially claims that the Person of Jesus shares the same character and power as the person of Father. Looking at the text…
In the continuation of this sentence, the original Cerda article cites Raymond Brown’s commentary for the thought that follows on John 5:43, but Johnson makes it look like his own, and then changes the footnote from Brown’s comment to Gregory’s thesis to make it look like Johnson found this on his own!
...of John 5:43 suggests that when Jesus Christ uses it of himself, he probably had the famous instances of Jesus and the phrase “I Am” in mind.[79] The assertion fits especially well with John 17:11-12.

ESCAPE MECHANISM
Just prior to his plagiarism he posted this sentence, I would like to share an example of what I am looking for; here is an extended exegetical discussion of John 20:30-31.” This line is deliberately and cleverly placed at the beginning of his plagiarism. Be assured he will attepmt to use it as an escape mechanism to claim he did not intentionally plagiarize Cerda. This is absurd, but we fully expect him to use this mechanism, claim he is being slandered and then make some ridiculous claim that his plagiarism was just another happenstance “human error.”

What was done here was no adaptation. Any interested person can cross-check and verify Johnson’s blantant plagiarism by reviewing Article 11 by Cerda is titled, Appendix 6: Exegesis of John 20:31. It is from this article that Mr. Johnson plagiarized Mario Cerda's work.


APPEAL TO JIM JOHNSON
Twice now you have been caught red-handed violating federal copyright law and plagiarizing another man’s work. Your blame shifting and excuses do not resonate with any objective reader of your tainted articles.

If you want to be right with God, have peace in your heart you need to confess and repent of this sin. You can’t escape this sin. You fell into sin as we all sometimes do. How we handle our sin and shortcomings can lead to resortation and future blessing, or to further unpleasant consequences.

None of who us reject the teachings of the Crossless gospel and ReDefined Free Grace Theology are delighted to confront and expose your plagiarism. You have blatantly committed this act twice with no remorse or sense of humility. Instead you react with anger, a combative spirit, vitriol and accusations. Frankly, it would be inappropriate to discover the level of plagiarism such as yours, coupled with an arrogant, unrepentant attitude behind it, and not report the issue.

When I read your response to having been caught plagiarizing Hawthorne my thoughts turned to King David. When having sinned against God, and trying to hide what he had done, the weight of conviction and the wheels of God’s judgment were grinding on him. It was that time in his life, which is what you are going through now, that David reflected on when he wrote, When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long,” (Psalm 32:3). You have been “roaring,” but I am hopeful you will be sensitive to the Spirit of God, as He does His conviciting work, and that you will respond to Him in true biblical repentance.

One day like David, from you I hope to read some along these lines, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest,” (Psalm 51:3-4). And when you do the Bible promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).

You can recover your reputation. This is difficult and we understand the inner turmoil you must be going through. If you will die to self, tighten your belt and make the decision to admit what you have done and repent of it, believers will forgive you. However, as long as you continue to dodge and try to deceive others about this blatant plagiarism your credibility and trustworthiness continues to decline exponentially. Is this what you want your testimony and legacy to be?


CLOSING THOUGHTS
For several weeks prior to Mr. Johnson posting his series he often mentioned that his paper had been undergoing a “peer review” by various (un-named) “theologians.” I have some questions:
1) Why do these alleged reviewers not come forward either critically or in support of these articles?

2) Did Mr. Johnson receive any warning from these reviewers and decide not to heed their warning? Or did the reviewers note it and decide not to tell him that he would pay a price if he went ahead with these plagiarized articles?

3) Is it possible that one or more of his reviewers guided him to use the work of other men?

4) Did his paper ever actually get into the hands of a genuine theologian for review? I find it hard to believe that an astute theologian did not detect the obvious and drastic changes in writing style that permeate Johnson’s articles. These were signs that lead to the proof that he plagiarized several authors.

Young people, college students: It is not worth it! Rely on the brains God gave you. He delights to use the simple, the humble, those who have a keen sense of their need of Divine aid to do anything that will count for eternity and glorify Him.

I implore Mr. Johnson to settle with the Lord and receive His forgiveness. I kindly implore any man who might have some influence with Mr. Johnson: Encourage him to confess this plagiarism and biblically repent of it.


LM

This series will be continued. The act of plagiarism we have reviewed today is not the only example from Johnson’s series, Destroying Free Grace Theology. As noted above, in the near future I will be posting the example from Part 5 of his series.

Please proceed to the second installment of Jim Johnson’s Copyright Infringement & Plagiarism, Part 2.

A third episode of plagiarism has been confirmed in Mr. Johnson’s series. That example will be posted in a subsequent article shortly. Frankly, I am still hopeful Mr. Johnson will respond, not to what has been revealed here, but instead to the Holy Spirit
.

April 14, 2008

FGA Update from Fred Lybrand

Dear Guests:

Over the weekend two new comments were posted by Dr. Fred Lybrand in the thread of my article Free Grace Alliance Membership. Following is the second of the two comments,

Lou,

I believe many things are coming together to create the context in which we can agree on essentials while leaving room for conversation. In my discussions with many key players in the Free Grace world, there is a refreshed spirit of cooperation...but not compromise...which leads me to believe a large number of us might just figure out how to get together.

I do see a clarifying of the extremes...I’m pondering a designation like HYPOGrace (toward Works Salvation) and HYPERGrace (towards Universalism) to clarify the rabid-extremes. For myself I hope to stay in a proper & historically sane middle ground…but personally I arrive there because it is the place the Bible affirms.

“Stay tuned” means more in due time...as the Lord allows.

God bless,

FRL
Furthermore, Brother Lybrand has completed a new book. The title is, Preaching on Your Feet

You can view and if you choose to, purchase it by clicking on the link.

Kind regards,


LM

April 13, 2008

Open Note to Advocates of and Sympathizers with the “Crossless” Gospel

To Advocates of the Crossless Gospel:

Many of you are aware that Jim Johnson began a series at his blog titled, Destroying Free Grace Theology. In recent days those of us who have taken a biblical, militant stand against the teachings of the Crossless gospel began reviewing and commenting on Johnson’s multi-part series. For example Greg Schliesmann wrote,

Mr. Johnson has become a spectacle of a mind running in circles trying to get around the simple fact that the lost must believe the simple message of the gospel to be saved.”
In regard to Johnson quoting Robert P. Lightner as if Lightner supports the Crossless gospel, Greg made this observation,
Nothing that Robert Lightner said in that quote demonstrates disagreement with the writing of Pastor Stegall under scrutiny. On the other hand, just about everything Robert Lightner said in that paragraph (Johnson cited) contradicts Jim Johnson (himself).”
In regard to one point in the Part 5 article one man (whom I no longer cal allow to ppst here) wrote,
This statement by Johnson is one of the most egregious examples of Bible misinterpretation I have ever seen! It’s painfully obvious that Mr. Johnson’s Bible interpretation skills are sorely lacking.”
Stephen (KnetKnight) noted,
Redefined Free Grace advocates must do mental, grammatical, logical, and exegetical gymnastics to support their system. Such contortions are only required once the Redefined Free Grace view of theology is already in place, an example of which Rachel already documented in regards to Zane Hodges’ odd take on Rom 3:25. Mr. Johnson appears to be another casualty of the intellectual dishonesty req’d by Redefined Free Grace to keep their system afloat.”
Another wrote,
Yes, isn’t that interesting that other ‘Crossless’ advocates aren’t getting on the 'Destroying Free Grace' bandwagon with Mr. Johnson? Apparently they want to steer clear as he hangs himself with his own words.”
There have been several articles and many more comments written in reaction to the series by Jim Johnson.

The Absurdity of Jim Johnson’s Destroying Free Grace Theology by Greg Schliesmann

Jim Johnson & GES Dismiss: THE GOSPEL by Greg Schliesmann

Ironically, virtually no Crossless gospel advocate has posted a comment at Johnson’s blog in support of any of his articles. Why is that? (I do, however, expect some sympathy comments to show up any time now.)

Earlier this year Rose of *Rose’s Reasonings promised Jim Johnson that once his series was published she would support his series with a link to it from her blog. (See thread for details and link) To date she has not provided the link from her blog. Why is that?

For weeks prior to posting his series Mr. Johnson said he had this series under a “peer review.” (See thread for details and link) It is astonishing to me that any balanced Bible believing pastor/teacher would have approved of this series either on theological or style merits.

This week I will be posting two new articles that address additional issues in the series by Mr. Johnson.


LM

*Rose’s Reasonings is administered by Rose. Over time and tragically Rose has grown to be very support of the Crossless gospel and its advocates, chief among them, Antonio da Rosa (aka- Sock Puppet: fg me).

April 11, 2008

The Absurdity of Jim Johnson’s: Destroying Free Grace Theology

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

In a previous article Greg Schliesmann posted an extended comment on some issues he uncovered in Mr. Johnson’s article, Destroying Free Grace Theology. Greg prefaced his examination of Jim Johnson’s series with this note,

Nice work on exposing the inconsistency, evasion, and willing blindness of Jim Johnson. I’m posting here so I don’t take too much space on the active thread on your forum.”
What follows is Greg’s thread comment for your consideration.


Mr. Johnson’s articles (Destroying Free Grace Theology) ramble on so much that it is hard to pick any one issue to address. But I wanted to give an example of the absurdity of his writings.

In this part of his 4th installment, Mr. Johnson criticizes Pastor Stegall’s assertion that there is no Biblical reason that the necessary content of faith needs to be detailed in one verse. Mr. Johnson writes:
Just telling an unbeliever a few verses and/or a few passages is not what happens in evangelism. So this whole section of the article can be seen as an example of the fallacy of Reductio Ad Absurdum. Showing that your opponent’s argument leads to some absurd conclusion such as the gospel requires more than one verse to be believed. This is in general a reasonable and non-fallacious way to argue. If the issues are razor-sharp, it is a good way to completely destroy an argument. However, if the evidence is not clear as we have here, the article has only succeeded in showing that argument does not apply in all cases. But does evangelism require multiple verses for one to be saved? Is it the verses, or the power of God Who does the saving though the testimony of the word?”
Whatever Mr. Johnson is talking about is not any more clear in his article. Other than his comments on the power of his own arguments, I think the only criticisms he makes in this paragraph are:
a) Just telling an unbeliever a few verses and/or passages is not what happens in evangelism.”
Umm, so what? What does this have to do with Pastor Stegall’s articles? Did Pastor Stegall argue the only thing that happens in evangelism is quoting a few passages to an unbeliever?
b) Evangelism does not necessarily require multiple verses for one to be saved.”
So what? Actually, it does not require any verses to be saved. The truths gospel can be preached without the quotation of any verse. Someone could get saved from a presentation of the gospel that involved ten, one, or no verses. That point is irrelevant to anything Pastor Stegall said.
c) Is it the verses, or the power of God Who does the saving through the testimony of the word?”
Again, this is an example of a non sequitur argument. Nothing follows from this argument that lends any credence to Mr. Johnson’s criticism of Pastor Stegall. Of course, God does the saving through the testimony of the Word. So what?

But Mr. Johnson concludes:
This issue of God’s word having the power to save is critical to show that the author is making another fallacious argument. We have the Word of God which is ‘living and active’ (Hebrews 4:12) and as far as God is concerned “does not return to me [God] having accomplished nothing.”
Umm...what?? Nothing Pastor Stegall said denigrates the power of God's word to save. Johnson then continues to ramble on.

What is Mr. Johnson's next criticism of Pastor Stegall's point?
In the Greek of Luke 8:11-16 the word for seed is singular. This aspect troubles me because there are too many instances of people reading a single bible verse and trusting Jesus for eternal life.”
What is he trying to say? Apparently the fact that the word “seed” is singular in Greek means Scripture teaches that the content of saving faith must be detailed in one verse? It does not matter that the word “seed” is singular. The word “gospel” is also singular but individual parts of it can be identified.

I am not sure what the singularity of the word “seed” in Luke 8:11-16 has to do with the issue of people trusting Christ upon reading a single verse. I am shaking my head and trying not to laugh as I wonder if Mr. Johnson really thinks Luke 8:11-16 proves his point. Aside from the irrelevance of that passage to this point, it is true, that someone who has already been exposed to certain truths of the gospel (e.g., Christ’s deity, His death for our sins, ect.) could finally come to trust in Christ after reading John 3:16 or some other verse. So what? Pastor Stegall did not say anything to deny that.

As I skim past some further irrelevant statements, I come across something else that has me shaking my head. Mr. Johnson states:
Another person who would disagree [with Mr. Stegall] is Dr. Robert Lightner, he states, ‘The bible knows only of one condition whereby a sinner becomes a saint, and that is though personal faith in Jesus Christ alone as his Savior. There are over one hundred verses in the bible that make faith in Christ or its equivalent the sole conditions of justification. True, man must know he is a sinner and deplore his position before God (Rom. 3:23). He must know that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23) and that Christ the Savior died for him and for his sins (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3). He must believe these truths, the essentials of the Gospel, in order to trust the Christ to whom they refer. But knowing them does not bring salvation. It is personal faith in Christ the sin-bearer … that brings one into the family of God (Acts 16:31; John 1:12)’.”
There are a lot of sounds going on in my head as I read Johnson’s comments like “ummmm..... what???? hmmm???” Nothing that Robert Lightner said in that quote demonstrates disagreement with the writing of Pastor Stegall under scrutiny. On the other hand, just about everything Robert Lightner said in that paragraph contradicts Jim Johnson. Lightner said the unbeliever must recognize his sin and that Christ died for his sins. He said the unbeliever must believe “these truths, the essentials of the Gospel, in order to trust Christ.” He said that it is “personal faith in Christ the sin-bearer...that brings one into the family of God.” Mr. Johnson does not believe a lost man must recognize he is a sinner. Mr. Johnson does not believe the lost must believe Christ died for his sins. Mr. Johnson does not believe the lost must believe “these truths, the essentials of the Gospel.” Mr. Johnson does not believe the lost must believe on Christ as the sin-bearer. Everything Robert Lightner said in that paragraph contradicts Jim Johnson. So why is Mr. Johnson quoting this as a statement to disprove Pastor Stegall?

Mr. Johnson then comes across this statement from Pastor Stegall:
If we want to be technical at this point, we could ask where in the Bible can we even find the direct statement, ‘Jesus guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him’”? There is no one verse that says exactly that.”
Pastor Stegall did not argue the above statement is untrue. The above statement is true. Pastor Stegall’s point is that the above statement is a quotation of the way crossless gospel proponents sometimes articulate the gospel and yet that statement itself is not stated in one verse. It is a true conclusion and there are verses that support that statement. Yet, even to demonstrate the truth of that statement in Scripture alone, you have to “combine verses,” the very thing crossless advocates criticize us for doing.

Here is Johnson’s response:
It is true that you can’t find that exact statement, as it is a summary statement for the truth it summarizes. This is shown by the following passages which (among others) teach this truth.

Here’s a sampling (using the NKJV) with comments: John 1:12; 3:15, 16, 18 (x2); 3:36; 4:39 (It is apparent from the context that this belief was in an offer of everlasting life.); 5:24; 6:29, 35 (Jesus uses a figure of speech here using the phrase ‘shall never thirst’ for everlasting life.), 6:40, 47; 7:38, 39 (Jesus again uses a figure of speech to denote an Old Testament salvation theme [See Is. 12:3; 43:20; 44:3; 55:1; [cf. John 6:35]; Rev. 21:6; 22:17]); 9:35, 36 (John records the encounter with the formerly blind man healed by Jesus who is asking him to believe in Him. He makes it clear that those who do not believe in Him sin remains in verse 41. To have sins not expiated via sacrifice would be the equivalent of being excommunicated from the Roman Church - in other words going to hell verses paradise.); 11:25, 26, 45 (It is clear that Martha and her family believed in Christ from the context, but in verse 45 many who had come to the funeral believed in Jesus.); 12:36 (Jesus is once again using a figure of speech here, to be a ‘son of light’ is contrasted to being formerly a ‘son of darkness.’), 44-49 (Jesus once again appeals to the people to believe in Him to escape judgment.); 14:1 (This verse speaks of the results of living with Jesus forever in a home He prepares for the disciples by believing in him.); 17:20 (To believe is to be one with Jesus and the Father and they are eternal so by figure of speech the one who believes in Christ has His and the Fathers life
.).”
Notice what Johnson did to prove that Jesus really does guarantee everlasting life to all who believe in Him. He combined and explained verses to reach the conclusion. That was Pastor Stegall’s point!

Next, Mr. Johnson stops to give these thoughts on Pastor Stegall’s articles which ironically happen to perfectly summarize the writings of Mr. Johnson himself:
At this point, I have by now begun to wonder if article’s argument has any coherency to it at all. Contradictions, lack of hermeneutical evidence, and logical fallacies over and over.”
Another blogger commented:
Yes, isn’t that interesting that other ‘crossless’ advocates aren't getting on the ‘Destroying Free Grace’ bandwagon with Mr. Johnson? Apparently they want to steer clear as he hangs himself with his own words.”
Mr. Johnson has become a spectacle of a mind running in circles trying to get around the simple fact that the lost must believe the simple message of the gospel to be saved.

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God,” (1 Corinthians 1:17-24).

For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel,” (1 Corinthians 4:15).

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

GS

April 7, 2008

The Technical Meaning of “THE GOSPEL:” THE GOSPEL & FAITH ALONE

Dear Guests:

This is a new installment in the series by Greg Schliesmann.


My previous posts in this series referenced dozens of passages that prove there is a particular message called “the gospel” in the New Testament that the lost must believe in order to be saved. I would like to offer a second line of proof to support the same point.

Early in my Christian life, I was struck by the number of passages that predicate salvation/eternal life upon the single condition of faith. There are 85 instances in 61 different verses that I would say explicitly predicate salvation upon the sole condition of faith in the New Testament:

Matthew 21:31-32 (3x); Luke 7:48-50; 8:12; John 1:12-13; 3:15, 16, 18 (3x), 36 (2x); 5:24; 6:35, 39-40, 47; 7:38-39 (2x); 8:24; 11:25-27 (4x), 40; 17:20-21; 20:31 (2x); Acts 10:43-44; 11:17 (should be translated “when they believed”); 13:39, 48; 15:8-9; 16:31; 26:18; Romans 1:16; 3:19-26 (4x), 28, 30 (2x); 4:3, 4-5, 6-11 (3x), 13, 16 (2x), 21-22, 23-25; 5:1; 9:30-32 (2x); 10:3-4, 9-10, 11; 13:11; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 2:16 (3x); 3:1-2, 6, 8-9 (2x), 11, 14, 22, 23-29 (2x); Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:8-9; Philippians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:12; 1 Timothy 1:16; 1 John 5:1, 4-5, 9-13 (3x).

I found that these verses supported the conclusion that salvation was by faith alone. Having been so encouraged by them, I created this list of verses, which I can still recite from memory. These verses encouraged me when I was challenged by different arguments for salvation by works.

Memorizing the verses above also gave me a perspective on the way Scripture describes the object of faith for salvation. Forty of these were spoken within the Church Age about salvation in the Church Age. Believers may be interested to know that the object of faith is described in various ways in these passages—
the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31)
He who justifieth the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5)
on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Rom. 4:24)
that God hath raised Him from the dead” (Rom. 10:9-10)
the preaching of the cross” (1 Cor. 1:18)
the foolishness of preaching” (1 Cor. 1:21)
our testimony” (2 Thess. 1:10)
that Jesus is the Son of God—This is He that came by water and by blood” (1 John 5:5-6)
the Son of God” (1 John 5:10)

Some passages just use “believe” intransitively (e.g. Acts 13:39, 48; Gal. 3:22) or “faith,” without specifying the object (e.g. Rom. 3:28; 5:1; Eph. 2:8), though of course the object of faith is implied.

What I want to point out specifically, though, is that several of these passages (6 of 40) use the term “the gospelto describe what is believed for salvation. Consider the following verses:

And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith,” (Acts 15:7-9; cf. Acts 11:14-17).

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek,” (Romans 1:16)

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13).

Furthermore, notice that each of the following passages predicates salvation upon believing the gospel both positively and negatively (belief in the gospel is what separates the saved from the lost):

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness,” (1 Corinthians 1:17-23).

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them,” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day,” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10).

The same truth is taught in many other passages, which teach sola fide implicitly (e.g. see Romans 10:16; 1 Cor. 4:15; 15:1; Gal. 1:6; Col. 1:5; 1:23; 2 Thes. 2:14; 2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Peter 1:23-25; 4:17).

Crossless gospel proponents have pointed out that many passages share the threads of 1) belief 2) in Jesus 3) results in eternal life. Please notice that the same threads are found in respect to the gospel: 1) belief 2) in the gospel 3) results in salvation/eternal life.

Some passages indicate both positively and negatively that belief in God’s only begotten Son is the condition for eternal life (e.g. John 3:18). The same point is made with respect to the gospel (e.g. 1 Cor. 1:17-23; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; 2 Thes. 1:8-10).

Some passages indicate that a person is born again through belief in the name of the eternal Word (John 1:12). Others indicate a person is born again through the gospel (1 Cor. 4:15).

Contrary to the claims of Crossless gospel proponents, there is no contradiction between believing the gospel and believing in Jesus Christ. The gospel is the necessary content of that faith in Christ. There are many different versions of “Jesus.” The true Jesus is identified and apprehended by the truths of the gospel: He is the Son of God who came in the flesh, died for our sins, and rose again to reconcile us to God by faith in Him alone.


GS