May 29, 2008

Unity at the Price of Truth is Treason!

We live in a day of confusion and deception over the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is under assault today just as it has been since the first century. It is, therefore, crucial that men of God, called by God to the ministry, declare God’s Word and resist assaults on the truth of God’s Word.

Within the evangelical community there are two extremes that corrupt and undermine the Gospel. The two polar extremes are known as Lordship Salvation and the Crossless Gospel. The Crossless gospel has been a serious concern of mine for about two years. I saw it as a small, but potentially serious threat to the broader evangelical community. It has been my hope and prayer that the Crossless gospel never gains the kind of traction and momentum that Lordship Salvation has.



Fidelity to Truth: The Greatest Expression of Love!
It is foolish to dismiss the serious doctrinal deviation of the Crossless gospel as if it is a very subtle difference in interpretation of the Gospel. It is foolish to dismiss the serious doctrinal deviation of the Crossless gospel simply because its source is a previously trusted friend, fellowship, or institution. It is, in fact, a radical reductionist interpretation of the Gospel message that must be preached and believed for the reception of eternal life.


The debate over the Crossless interpretation of the Gospel is not in regard to what a man personally believes and/or preaches about the Lord’s deity or finished work. The heresy of the Crossless gospel is that Crossless advocates insist the lost man does not have to know, understand or believe in the deity or finished work of Christ, but can still be born again. That is the sole focal point of controversy! It is this specific aspect of their theology that Crossless advocates do not want to discuss because it is their soft underbelly in the debate.

The teaching of the Crossless gospel cannot be ignored or dismissed as an acceptable interpretation of God’s redemptive plan for mankind. Even for those of us who have personal friendships at stake, fidelity to the Word of God must take precedence.


The Psalmist wrote, I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts,” (Psalm 119:63).

The Apostle Paul wrote, And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed,” (2 Thessalonians 3:14).


The Bible plainly teaches that we are not to keep company with those who do not keep the Word of God!


Over the last 12 months, through various series at this and cooperating blogs, it has been irrefutably proven from the Bible that the Crossless/Deityless interpretation of the Gospel is heresy. There is no way to overestimate or neutralize the genuine danger and assault this heresy has on the Person and finished work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Crossless gospel is as heretical an interpretation of the Gospel from its reductionist teaching as Lordship Salvation is in its addition to the Gospel of grace.

Zane Hodges originated and introduced the Crossless gospel. Consequently, Bob Wilkin of the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) embraced and adopted the Crossless gospel as GES’s official interpretation of the biblical plan of salvation.

In recent months most advocates of the Crossless heresy have confined themselves and their writing to within the shrinking cell of GES extremists. Appeals have been made for unity with the advocates of the Crossless gospel.
We have been asked to join in certain projects in which there are some heretics. I am not interested in being joined with anyone who has views that are in opposition to the Word of God. God tells us here (Titus 3:10) to be separate from heretics. Just let them alone; reject them.” (J. Vernon McGee: Thru the Bible Radio, Vol. V., p. 494.)
Those who seek fellowship with the teachers of known and vital errors do so at the expense of fidelity to the biblical mandates that forbid such an alliance. The Apostle Paul wrote,
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,” (Rom. 16:17-18).

To “mark” means to identify. Volumes of material from Crossless gospel advocates exist that have given us the responsibility to “mark” them as teachers of a false, reductionist interpretation of the Gospel message that must be believed for the reception of eternal life.

Paul admonishes believers to “avoid,” those who have been marked. We are commanded by God to “avoid” persons who have been marked! Thayer’s lexicon lists several possible translations for the word, but indicates that in this text, it is best translated “to shun.” We are to shun those who create scandal through their false teaching.

Compromising the fundamentals of our faith in order to be accepted by and retain fellowship with our peers is wrong. In his day, *Charles H. Spurgeon valiantly fought against false teaching and the compromise of major fundamental doctrines in order to maintain unity. Many believe that this struggle led to his premature death. Although the majority of Spurgeon’s Baptist contemporaries agreed with his doctrinal stand, “They preferred unity above the maintenance of doctrinal purity. He (Spurgeon) attacked the position by saying, ‘first pure, then peaceable; if only one is attainable, choose the former. Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin. . . . To pursue union at the price of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus’.” (Adapted from In Defense of the Gospel, E. Wayne Thompson, This Day in Baptist History, p. 529.)
Some Crossless gospel advocates will maintain a pervasive presence on the Internet and continue to have a negative impact on the reputation of the Free Grace movement. The greater danger, however, is the potential tragedy of the Crossless gospel gaining any more ground or foothold in evangelical circles.

We must continue to do all we can to refute the teaching of the Crossless gospel. We must identify the advocates of this extremist, heretical interpretation of a Free Grace Gospel so that not one more unsuspecting believer is caught up in their egregious errors.


What If You Have Been Wrong?
You may be an individual who has already adopted the teaching of the Crossless gospel. You may be on the fence about the issue. Is it possible you may feel that you made a mistake, or are about to make a mistake in regard to the Crossless interpretation of the Gospel?

It is my hope and prayer that you are having Heaven sent reservations about the Crossless gospel. If you are having doubts about what you have been exposed to, will you take it before the Lord and search the Scriptures once again.

Can a gospel message that eliminates the need for a lost man to know, understand or believe in the finished work of Christ be the Gospel? Can a gospel message that strips the Lord’s titles (“the Christ” & “Son of God”) of their deity be the Gospel of Jesus Christ?


LM

*For more see- What About Spurgeon’s Stand for Doctrinal Purity?

The opening of this article is adapted from a previous article I wrote titled, Should Doctrinal Deviations be Dismissed?

May 26, 2008

John MacArthur’s TGATJ Anniversary Edition: Under Review for IDOTG Revised Edition

Many of you are aware I have been working on a revised and expanded edition of my book, In Defense of the Gospel (IDOTG). This process has gone well past the time frame I gave myself to complete the project. Many have called to ask me when it will be done and made available. Some, more than once, have called to encourage me to finish at my earliest convenience.

The main reason I have been unable to complete the revision is because of the necessity of addressing the Crossless gospel of the Grace Evangelical Society. Advocates of the Crossless gospel have steadily been retreating from the field of open debate of their views. The few remaining Crossless voices have become irrelevant!  This is something I am very grateful for because it lessens the chances of any unsuspecting believers falling into the trap of the Crossless, gospel. (See the comment thread under Is REDEFINED Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

In all sincerity there have been times of frustration over having to devote so much time to the Crossless gospel, which kept me from completing the revision of IDOTG. In the back of mind, however, I knew the Lord’s timing is perfect and there must be some compelling reason for the delay in finishing the revision.

Well, I recently learned why I had this sense that the delay was not without purpose. Dr. John MacArthur recently released, The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith? This is the second revision of his original Lordship Salvation apologetic, The Gospel According to Jesus (1988). The Anniversary Edition contains new material not found in the previous two editions.

I have ordered a copy of the TGATJ:Anniversary Edition and will review it with an open mind. I will also read with a sharp eye to glean any material that will aid me in the development of Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation for my revised and expanded edition of IDOTG.

This will, of course, be cause for another delay, but I am glad I waited on the Lord’s timing. I would have been disappointed had I rushed to completion only to have it come out just ahead of MacArthur’s new release.


LM

May 22, 2008

Heresy of the “Crossless” Gospel: Verified and Affirmed!

Dear Guests:

This week there has been an enlightening discussion under way at a blog I occasionally visit. The blog is known as Head of the Moor administered by Jonathan M. He is Reformed in his theology, and an advocate of Lordship Salvation (LS). Jonathan and I have discussed LS; we disagree sharply, but charitably. Jonathan has also debated the Crossless gospel with some of its advocates.

Late last week Jonathan sent me an e-mail to advise me of some comments Antonio da Rosa (aka- Sock Puppet: fg me) had posted at Head of the Moor. I briefly dealt with Antonio’s propagating the serious misnomer that the Grace Evangelical Society’s (GES) ReDefined Free Grace Theology is representative of the general body of Free Grace pastors/teachers. For details see- Is “REDEFINED” Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

This week Jonathan opened a new article titled, Is This Heresy? He asked the question based on two of the most extreme and infamous statements from Antonio da Rosa on his Crossless/Deityless interpretation of the Gospel. Those statements by Antonio are:

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.’

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.

I would never say you don’t have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. This has the import of the gospel proposition which makes it salvific! If someone asks me point blank, do I beleive that one must believe that Jesus is God in order to go to heaven, I would say ‘NO!’
(Believe Christ’s Promise and You are Saved No Matter What Misconception You Hold, May 2006.)

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 on the back-burner. Can I show you from the Jewish Scriptures that the advent of Jesus Christ fulfills many prophecies?’

Objections and denials of things pertaining to Jesus can surely preclude one from faith in Him for eternal life. If this Jew can put aside for the moment the discussion of Christ’s deity, and Christ’s voluntary consent to die, and look in a considerate way at the prophecies concerning Christ’s advent in the Old Testament, His miracles, His teachings, His compassionate acts, His righteous and holy acts, and through consideration of these things, become persuaded that Jesus guarantees his eternal destiny through faith, why would anyone consider him unsaved
?”
(How I Might Do Evangelism With a Jewish Man, Sept. 2007)
If I had ample time I would do a series of articles on what transpired in the thread that followed these remarks by da Rosa. Once you complete this overview, I highly recommend you visit Head of the Moor by clicking on the link to that article below. It is well worth a complete read. You will come away either finally or fully convinced that the views being expressed by Antonio da Rosa (which are drawn from and representative of the teachings of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin) are antithetical to Scripture.

Rose, of *Rose’s Reasonings, entered the thread briefly. She tried to sanitize Antonio’s statements above. She also attempted to sidestep and redirect the discussion away from the disturbing implications of da Rosa’s statements, because this is where the extremist theology of the Crossless/Deityless gospel are fully exposed.

Here are samples of how various men reacted to Antonio’s lengthy attempts to explain his heretical statements. Blog partner, Stephen Stark, had this summarizing remark,
Antonio, I’m glad you’re posting for yourself. I wouldn’t prefer it any other way. Despite your claim that you have been substantially misrepresented, misquoted, and mischaracterized, it turns out that your own words, understood correctly, are proving exactly the crux of what we’ve claimed all along... unless you’ve seriously changed your views lately and didn’t bother to tell any of us. I doubt that has happened but, hey, I have prayed for you so anything’s possible. Jonathan, you’ve done a commendable job cutting through Antonio’s maze of pseudo-orthodox haze.”
Another blogger wrote,
I agree that Antonio’s statements are highly contradictory, unorthodox, unbiblical, and yes, heretical. Hodges truly preaches a non-contextual, non-historical, hypothetical, heretical, ‘promise-only’ and ‘crossless’ gospel when when he rips John 6:47 from God's Word and builds a doctrine on this ‘imagined’ and ‘hypothetical’ strange scenario of this Scripture washing ashore on a remote desert island.”
The most concise interpretation of Antonio’s Crossless/Deityless statements was made by a so-called Jazzy Cat, who wrote, Belief...in a Jesus of the imagination does not save.”
Jonathan wrote,
Antonio, I still do not see how your explanations have remedied any of the problems. You still seem to posit that someone can be saved while believing in the Mormon Jesus, or the Jesus of Islam, the JWs or Hindus for that matter - just as long as they believe in him for eternal life with no works.”

“Antonio, in our day and age we must be able to explain our theology in precision. This thread should stand as a model of why you are misunderstood. You comments are not clear and you have contradicted yourself in several statements
.”
He goes on to detail several of Antonio’s contradictions.

Amidst Antonio’s contradictions, ambiguity and evasiveness there is an item he wrote that makes his view very clear. Jonathan asked him, Are you now prepared to say that belief in the deity of Christ is necessary for salvation, or His humanity, or His resurrection?”

Antonio replied,
I do not believe that one must understand, assent to, or be aware of the historical Jesus of Nazareth’s deity in order to simply be justified and receive eternal life. However, I do believe that one must understand the deity of Christ if he is to grow into Christian maturity and merit a future superlative glorification.”
In that single clear, unvarnished statement- Antonio verifies and affirms that he (representing the Crossless interpretation of the Gospel) takes the position we have always addressed as the crux of doctrinal controversy!

Antonio affrims, as we have contended, GES’s Crossless & Deityless theology insists the lost do not have to understand or believe in the deity of Christ (or His finished work) but can still be born again. Furthermore, as I also described, and he verifies in the same quote, the Crossless advocates view these truths as matters left for discipleship.

Until now, I have been reluctant to claim that he and most (not all) Crossless advocates insist the lost man can be saved even if he does not even “know” or is not “aware of” of the Lord’s deity. I feel no further restraint because Antonio clearly stated that he believes the unsaved do not even need to be “aware” of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, but can still be born again.

Therefore, there is no room for any doubt about the heresy of the views expressed by da Rosa. He insists, just as he wrote in the statements at the beginning of the article, a lost man can be saved no matter what misconceptions or unbelief he has about the Lord, including being unaware of and/or consciously rejecting His deity.
The Crossless gospel controversy is NOT over what these men personally believe about the deity, death and resurrection of Christ.

The controversy is NOT over preaching the deity, death and resurrection of Christ. The controversy IS over Hodges, Wilkin and da Rosa’s insistence that the lost man does not have to know, understand or believe any of these truths, but can, according to GES’s “ReDefined” Free Grace theology, still be born again.
Antonio’s involvement in the Is This Heresy thread was actually quite beneficial for those who reject his “ReDefined” Free Grace Theology. This effect I am sure Antonio did not intend, but what he has done is:
1) Verify and affirm what we have all along maintained are the heretical views of Crossless gospel advocates. Views which have fueled the the doctrinal controversy.

2) Provide another opportunity for readers to understand why the GES is a shrinking cell of extremists within the broader Free Grace community, and that GES does NOT speak for the entirety of the Free Grace movement.
Finally, it is not enough to “criticize” heretical statements such as Antonio has made, they should be condemned! Any man who makes and/or defends statements such as those must be “marked” and “avoided” as a teacher of “contrary” doctrine (Rom. 16:17-18). To give teachers of the Crossless gospel a pass, as if their view may be an acceptable interpretation of God’s redemptive plan, is dangerous and irresponsible.

Now, please visit Head of the Moor and read the thread under, Is This Heresy?


LM

*Rose’s Reasonings is a blog that is sympathetic to and strongly supportive of the “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel and its advocates.

UPDATE (April 2009): Antonio da Rosa has been a featured speaker at GES regional and national conferences. He has articulated some of the most extreme and anti-biblical views stemming from the Zane Hodges inspired Crossless gospel. He has, furthermore, behaved in some of the most unethical ways one could imagine finding in Christian circles. In April 2008 at Fred Lybrand’s (President, FGA) blog when asked, da Rosa stated,
…that one could deny the death and resurrection of Christ and still at that moment place His sole faith and reliance upon Jesus to guarantee his eternal destiny?”

Additional examples of da Rosa’s reductionist doctrine include:

Believing the Gospel, “May Indeed Frustrate God’s Grace

The Mormon Jesus and Evangelical Jesus are, “One and the Same.”

May 18, 2008

Voice of the Evangelists Publishes: What is the “Crossless” Gospel?

Dear Guests:

*Voice of the Evangelists, one of my recommended sites, has recently published an article I wrote that addresses the “Crossless” gospel. I was asked by the site’s owner, Evangelist Tom Farrell, to prepare this two part article for publishing at Voice.

Members and contributors to Voice of the Evangelists include: Dr. Chuck Phelps, Dr. Ron Comfort; Evangelists Dave Barba, Morris Gleiser, Steve Pettit, Mike Manor, Dave Young, Rich Tozour, Jim & John VanGelderen, Bryan Samms and many more.

You can find Part 1 of the two part series by scrolling down the home page. Or use this link to, What is the “Crossless” Gospel, Part 1 at Voice of the Evangelists.

Follow this link to Part Two of What is the “Crossless” Gospel?

It is my hope and prayer that this series will awaken Fundamental Baptists to the dangers of the Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, Grace Evangelical Society reductionist interpretation of the Gospel.

It would be a genuine tragedy if even one unsuspecting believer in Fundamental or any Evangelical circles were to fall into the trap of the “Crossless” gospel.

Yours faithfully,


Lou Martuneac

*The purpose of the VOICE OF THE EVANGELISTS is to present a unified, positive voice of independent Baptist evangelists for the cause of national and international biblical evangelism and revival in the twenty-first century through passionate and Spirit-filled praying and preaching.

May 14, 2008

Is “RE-DEFINED” Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

Dear Guests:

In recent days I have noticed that my blog is hosting a significant number of new and returning visitors. I imagine my involvement in the Sharper Iron thread on the Crossless gospel has created and/or renewed interest among folks outside the Free Grace (FG) community in this vital debate over the true nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the SI thread I have noted that some do not realize there is a clear cut division in the FG community over the Zane Hodges/Bob Wilkin Crossless interpretation of the Gospel. I first noted this division in my article titled, Free Grace Fractured by the “Crossless” Gospel. Because of the heighten level of interest I felt it was time to offer another, but related perspective of the divided Free Grace community.

In recent weeks I have been viewing various blogs on both sides of the Lordship Salvation & Crossless Gospel debates. One item that has stood out in my reading is the unfortunate misconception that the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) is largely perceived as the voice of the Free Grace movement at large. The problem is that there are many men in the FG movement that reject and have separated from the GES over the very teachings that have come to be associated with all men in the FG camp. I have been interacting at these various blogs to correct and dispel that misunderstanding.

One reason for the misconception is that some of the more vocal GES/Crossless gospel advocates have been writing and presenting their views as though they are the official voice and representative of the Free Grace movement. In fact, the views they present are unique only to the Hodges, Wilkin, GES faction of the FG movement.

I recall my introduction to Antonio da Rosa and his Crossless view of the Gospel. Antonio interacted in the discussions about Lordship Salvation during my debates with key Lordship advocates in 2006. His failure to have a meaningful, helpful impact was largely due to his arguing from the presuppositions of his Crossless/Deityless interpretation of what the lost can be unaware of and/or reject and still be saved. Not at first, but soon I began to see that Antonio held to a peculiar and disturbing view of the Gospel. This made his entrance into the threads an unwelcome presence and distraction. I kept my distance from Antonio so that I would not be identified with his theology or the GES faction of the Free Grace movement, which he was writing on behalf of.

Many Lordship Salvation advocates refer to the Zane Hodges interpretation of soteriology as “Free Grace” theology. Last week I was surfing blogs that are favorable toward Lordship Salvation and I came across this statement from the author of an article,

In case you haven’t heard of it, ‘Free Grace’ is the name given to a theological system founded by Zane Hodges and currently promoted by Bob Wilkin and The Grace Evangelical Society. According to ‘Free-Grace’ theology…
The problem begins when the writer identifies Hodges, Wilkin and the GES with “Free Grace theology” without drawing a distinction between GES and the vast majority of Free Grace men who reject much of GES’s theology. I took a moment to demonstrate that there is clear and sharp division in the FG movement over what is coming from Hodges, Wilkin and GES. This was my (revised) comment to the article’s author and guests.
I have not visited here in many weeks, but glad I saw your opening remarks. I want to provide some clarification on your statement above.

Today there is a very clear and definite divide in the Free Grace (FG) community. There are two very distinct factions that have become even more sharply divided in the last year. One FG faction is the Hodges, Wilkin, GES camp. Then there are those in the broader FG community who reject the extremism of Hodges and Wilkin.

The dividing line between the two camps in the FG community is primarily over two areas of doctrine. The first is over repentance: Hodges/Wilkin teaches that repentance is not part of or a condition for salvation. Hodges says repentance as a “change of mind” is not found in Scripture. Many, many men in the FG camp reject this from Hodges.

The second issue, which is the main and very sharp dividing point, is over what has come to be known as the “Crossless” gospel.

This reductionist view of the Gospel from Hodges and Wilkin teaches that the lost man does not have to understand or believe who Jesus is or what He did to provide salvation, but can still be born again.

Even conscious rejection of the Lord’s deity, in a personal evangelism setting, is viewed as something to be put on the back burner and left there. The GES believes issues like that are to be dealt with in a discipleship setting.

Other dangerous teaching coming from Hodges and Wilkin include: 1) There is no sin barrier/problem between God and man. 2) There is no technical meaning for “the Gospel.” 3) The Lord’s titles, “the Christ” & “Son of God” do not mean or infer the Lord’s Deity.

I share these things with you and your readers to make the point that there are many men in the FG community who reject these egregious errors coming from Hodges, Wilkin and the GES. These men are Free Grace, they reject Lordship Salvation, but they are not in any way holding hands with the theology of Zane Hodges.

At several blogs your guests can read scores of articles where the theology of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and the GES is sharply refuted. Those refutations are being written by men from within the Free Grace community
.”
In the comment thread of another article, because Antonio was posting comments as though he was speaking on behalf of the broader Free Grace movement, I wrote,
Antonio da Rosa is the most vocal apologist in the blogosphere for the troubling teachings of Zane Hodges and the GES. Antonio does not speak for the Free Grace community at large. Some of the most extreme statements you will read anywhere on the Gospel come from Antonio. (I inserted links to some of Antonio’s most extreme teaching) His views are examples of what the GES faction of the Free Grace community has spiraled down to by following the teaching of Hodges.

Antonio da Rosa’s “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel and related extremes are NOT representative of the Free Grace community at large. Scores of godly Bible-believing pastors in the Free Grace community, utterly reject the teaching of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and GES on the Gospel. The Hodges faction in the FG community has become a rapidly shrinking group that tries to portray itself as the voice of the Free Grace community at large. This is a serious misnomer!”
IMO, there is little chance members of the FG community are deceived by attempts to characterize the entire FG community as though it holds to the Crossless gospel and its various disturbing implications. It is, however, important to keep the general evangelical community informed that GES men like da Rosa do not write for or represent a vast segment of FG men who vigorously and biblically reject the Crossless gospel.

The “Crossless” gospel, which is the Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, Grace Evangelical Society (GES) position is unique ONLY to that shrinking cell of (GES) people that commonly fall under the larger FG label. So, when Antonio is speaking of “Refined Free Grace” theology, he is speaking of Zane Hodges’ “ReDefined Free Grace” theology.

When Antonio and other Crossless advocates present their view of the Gospel it is a misnomer to suggest their view is representative of the whole of the FG community. Antonio’s lumping the majority of FG people who reject the Crossless gospel is steadily and successfully being corrected across a broad spectrum of evangelical Christianity.

If GES’s Crossless gospel was the representative view of the entire FG movement I never would have come to identify with the movement. I am thankful to have met men like Charlie Bing, James Scudder, Tom Stegall and Dennis Rokser who do not hold to the GES’s Crossless interpretation of the Gospel. They have not succumbed to what is most definitely a REDEFINED Free Grace theology.

As a parenthetical note: Crossless advocates are fond of self-identifying their view as, “Consistent Free Grace Theology.” This label is a rather novel misnomer, and I may expand on this later. Anyone who has watched the GES over the past few years knows GES leadership and membership has consistently changed and shifted in their theology of the Gospel. One pastor wrote,
The one thing I appreciate about Hodges, Wilkin and GES is that they are consistent. They are consistently wrong!”
It is a serious misunderstanding to assume the Zane Hodges Crossless interpretation of the Gospel is widely held by men in the Free Grace community. Because of this I will continue spending time interacting with various non-FG groups to help them understand that the GES faction of the Free Grace community is an isolated, shrinking cell of people who have gone off to the far extremes that most in the FG camp reject and have separated from the GES over.


LM

For a companion article, please read: The Crossless Gospel: Consistently “Refined.”

May 10, 2008

Destroying Free Grace Theology- Gone Missing!

Dear Guests:

Last weekend 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.

You can read a synopsis at ReDux: Jim Johnson’s Plagiarism in “Destroying Free Grace Theology”.

Ironically, Johnson left the articles up 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. If his article(s) do resurface they will be largely ignored, by both camps in the debate, just as it was the first time around.

UPDATE (June 1, 2008)

This is what should be a final update on the plagiarism fiasco of Mr. Jim Johnson.

On May 31, 2008 Jim Johnson posted at his blog what he claims will be his final article. He also indicated that he is closing his blog. Both of these reports are welcome, and not unexpected news. The latter portion of his article contains the same kind of arrogance, vitriol and unrepentant defiance he has become infamous for.

His mass plagiarism followed by a combative and unrepentant attitude effectively disgraced and discredited him. His plagiarism and arrogance has rendered him permanently irrelevant and that is where he will remain. Johnson promised to, but we knew he never could repost his plagiarized series. It would have been very foolish for him to have done so.

The Crossless/Deityless interpretation of what the lost must believe to be born again is a blight and open sore on the Free Grace movement.

Mr. Johnson’s departure removes another dangerous voice that may have caused of an unsuspecting believer to fall into the trap of the heretical Crossless gospel.

What we must do from here is to continue praying for Jim and others in the GES faction of the Free Grace community. Pray they will one day be recovered from the egregious reductionist errors that (the late) Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin have introduced into Free Grace circles.


LM

May 4, 2008

Is There a Spirit of Compromise?

Dear Guests:

I am going to share a portion of a theme I am developing. This will be a sample that will remain here just below the new series by Pastor Rokser, which begins tomorrow morning. I simply want to share my concern over this disconcerting trend I am seeing.

Many pastors and Christian leaders I interact with in various camps have been noting a disturbing trend in recent years. The trend is toward a political type of compromise. What we are witnessing is New Evangelicalism’s mindset of compromise with the teachers of false doctrine for the sake of unity.

I am not referring to compromise with the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) or Mormonism. There are, of course, evangelicals who are willing to embrace the RCC and Mormonism, treat them, as though they are Christians. That has been on the radar for decades. The issue I am more concerned with at this time is the same trend toward compromise with teachers of known and vital errors that are being propagated from within the body of Christ by genuine believers. This trend is not limited to, but is becoming increasingly rampant in Free Grace circles.
One pastor said, I am not nearly as concerned with the infidels and skeptics on the outside of the church as I am with the termites on the inside.” I share that concern as I view the increasing numbers of believers who are agreeing to look the other way and cooperate with the teachers of a false gospel.

Last year I posted a sermon in print by Charles H. Spurgeon. I encourage every guest to take a moment and read this challenge from the Prince of Preachers.

Lord willing Spurgeon’s Stand for Doctrinal Purity will help awaken senses.



LM

May 2, 2008

New Series: The Issue of Incongruity

Dear Guests:

Beginning on Monday morning a new series will be introduced. The title of this multi-part series, which you may have noted above is, The Issue of Incongruity.

The series has been written by *Pastor Dennis Rokser of the Duluth Bible Church. Pastor Rokser is chief editor of the Grace Family Journal.

It has been my pleasure to have met and interact with Pastor Rokser. We first met at the 2007 Grace Conference at the Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church (Dr. James Scudder, Senior Pastor). Pastor Rokser and I have discussed our joint concerns with the Lordship and Crossless interpretations of the Gospel.

In his series, Pastor Rokser will be answering this defining question:

Does the Bible allow for an INCONGRUITY between the Gospel preached and the content of saving faith?
Be sure to check back on Monday for the first installment of this new series.


LM

* Pastor/Teacher Dennis Rokser came to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior at the age of 18 through the faithful witness of some friends. Upon later attending Beacon Bible Church in Aurora, Minnesota, he was spiritually fed and grounded in the Word of God through the expository, grace-oriented bible-teaching of Pastor Leonard A. Radtke. Dennis was further prepared for the ministry by attending Appalachian Bible College in Bradley, West Virginia, along with graduate studies from Tyndale Theological Seminary. Dennis Rokser has been pastoring the Duluth Bible Church for 23 years. He oversees the Grace Institute of Biblical Studies (15 years) and has been the chief editor of the Grace Family Journal (11 years). I encourage all readers to visit the Grace Family Journal, which is a ministry of the Duluth Bible Church. There are many excellent articles there on a variety of issues awaiting your review.

May 1, 2008

Ominous Signs of Lordship’s Coming Storm

Dear Guests:

Earlier this month I received an e-mail from a new visitor to my blog. His name is Pastor Norm Aabye.[1] Some of the content in his e-mail is, in my opinion, remarkable and little known information.

Pastor Aabye shares a unique view of events that predate the modern day Lordship Salvation controversy. The Lordship controversy was reignited and gained world-wide attention with the 1988 release of Dr. MacArthur’s first major Lordship Salvation apologetic The Gospel According to Jesus.

From Pastor Aabye’s first hand historical perspective you can see that ominous signs of Dr. John MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel were coming into view as much as seven years prior to the release of The Gospel According to Jesus. Pastor Aabye includes a reference to a related matter I have covered here, the IFCA meetings with Dr. John MacArthur in 1989.

I asked for and received permission to share his e-mail with you, my guests. This is Pastor Aabye’s e-mail, and I trust you will find it interesting.

Dear Brother Lou,

I “accidentally” came across your site while doing some research for a message I am preparing on the substance of the Gospel. Let me say that you are doing an admirable job of providing pertinent information on the Lordship Salvation issue.
My wife and I are currently involved in a ministry to the elderly in nursing homes in northwest PA and northeastern OH, but for 18 years I was the pastor of an independent Baptist church in Connecticut. But prior to my call to preach, I was employed for several years by Moody Press (this was before my wife and I determined that we were really more fundamental in our doctrine and beliefs than the Moody crowd, which has slipped further into New Evangelicalism!).
I clearly remember a staff meeting at Moody Press (MP) where Phil Johnson, who was then an editor at MP, presented one of John MacArthur’s newest books to us, The Ultimate Priority[2], which had to do with worship.

A controversy ensued at the meeting because of the back cover copy, which implied that a person’s eternity destiny was dependent upon how they worshipped. I clearly remember the director of MP requiring Phil Johnson to go back and rewrite the copy because of what was believed to be its erroneous implications. I believe this was around 1981 and John MacArthur was Moody’s “fair-haired boy” at that time. If I remember correctly, it was shortly after this that Phil Johnson left MP to work full-time with MacArthur in California.
When The Gospel According to Jesus was published in 1988, MacArthur’s favor with MP apparently quickly diminished.

Dr. Charles Ryrie was one of our key authors at that time, with his study Bible being the flagship product. His clear teachings on the substance of the Gospel were diametrically opposed to MacArthur’s Lordship view of the Gospel. I knew Dr. Ryrie and he was solid on all he taught, and a real Christian gentleman.
Years ago I was in a personal conversation with John MacArthur during a Christian Bookseller’s Association convention in Anaheim while I still worked for Moody. We were making some observations about Kenneth Hagin’s ministry and MacArthur began conversing with me about the charismatic movement in general. His knowledge on that topic is extensive, as it may be on other topics. While he demonstrated himself to be very capable in dealing with “certain” issues, I lost confidence in his ability to discern the simplicity of the Gospel itself. Dr. MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation is, of course, wrong primarily on the very basic issue of what constitutes saving faith, and certain other issues we are contending for.
The escalation of the Lordship Salvation debacle, as well as the blood issue and the eternal sonship of Christ [3], quickly made me lose confidence in him. Over the years, I have watched him plunge deeper into Reformed theology and was aware of his fall from favor from the IFCA International (I still have the tapes of the 1989 IFCA meeting in which John was asked to explain his views).
I have only begun to peruse the articles on your site, as there is so much to read, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate what you are doing and the importance of a clear Gospel of grace in our day of confusion. May God continue to bless you in your efforts.


Pastor Norm Aabye
C.A.R.E. Ministries
Saegertown, PA
Later this year IDOTG will focus much more attention on the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel. A coalition is forming with a mission to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and engage divergent views, such as Lordship Salvation, from the authority of Scripture.


LM

[1] Pastor Norm Aabye was born and raised in Connecticut ; USAF veteran; saved in 1970, while serving in the Philippines; graduate of Colonial Hills Baptist College, Danbury, CT; ordained in 1987; founded River Valley Baptist Church in Ansonia, Connecticut in 1987, and pastored there for 18 years; taught in the Bible department for 9 years on the faculty of the New England School of the Bible, Southington, CT; founded C.A.R.E. Ministries (Christ’s Ambassadors Reaching the Elderly) in 2006, a nursing home ministry in northwestern PA and northeastern OH. Pastor Aabye and his wife, Priscilla, currently reside in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, serving as full-time missionaries to the elderly in nursing homes.

[2] You can view the back cover as it appears today of John MacArthur’s The Ultimate Priority.

[3]
Those who teach this view would include Ralph Wardlaw, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, Jimmy Swaggart, Finis J. Dake (Dake's Annotated Reference Bible), Walter Martin (author of Kingdom of the Cults). Popular Bible teacher John MacArthur, Jr. for many years denied the doctrine of the eternal Sonship of Christ, but he has changed his position and now embraces this doctrine.” See- The Eternal Sonship of Christ by Pastor George Zeller.