January 5, 2009

The Best of 2007

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

This is a retro look back to what are IMO the best blog articles of 2007. There were exactly 100 articles posted at IDOTG in 2007, which made selecting the following for inclusion especially difficult. I chose articles, with a brief excerpt from most, that I believe made a significant contribution to the defense of the Gospel. This is not an exhaustive list and I may add more in the coming days.

The Technical Meaning of the term, “THE GOSPEL” a multi-part series by Greg Schliesmann.

Before Jeremy Myers’s article “The Gospel is More than Faith Alone,” I had never heard any evangelical deny that the term “the gospel” does have such a technical usage. In fact, Myers’s view contradicts prior statements from the Grace Evangelical Society (GES). Even while advocating the crossless gospel, GES has argued that there is both a “broad” and “narrow” usage of the term “the gospel.” They argued that the “narrow” sense does refer to the message the lost must believe to be saved. That is why Zane Hodges could title his book The Gospel Under Siege. Crossless gospel proponents, however, have come to realize the impossibility of arguing that there is a “narrow” version of the term “the gospel” that does not include the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

[Update: Bob Wilkin, Executive Director of the GES, publicly announced his adoption of Jeremy Myer’s view at the GES Regional Conference in Dana Point, CA: August 24-25, 2007.]

How Does the Lordship Advocate Define Repentance?
Lordship Salvation’s repentance confuses sanctification (growth of a believer) with justification, (God declaring/making a sinner righteous). For Lordship advocates anything short of a commitment to obedience is not repentance, and would leave the lost man dead in his sins, no matter he believed about his guilt before God or the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Upfront commitment to the kind of behavior expected of a spiritually mature Christian is the Lordship advocates definition of repentance.

What is the “Crossless” Advocates Stance on the Cross, Resurrection & Deity of Christ?
Did the late Zane Hodges and today does Bob Wilkin teach a ‘faith alone position’ on the Gospel? The initial reply would be, ‘Yes, they do.’ What we have been primarily concerned with, however, is what these men insist is unnecessary for the lost man to believe for the reception of eternal life. What the lost man must be convinced of and believe that will result in his being born again is the crux of the debate and concern among many in evangelical circles.

Special Edition of the Grace Family Journal by Pastor Tom Stegall
From the thread, Pastor Bret Nazworth noted, “Just got finished with Pastor Stegall’s first article in the special edition of the GFJ and it is a slam dunk. Once again he proves that GES is indeed preaching a crossless gospel. The fact that they preach a crossless gospel is not new information but the proof he presents is mouth-gapingly astonishing. Terrifyingly, they are aggressively using their writing and speaking to delete the CROSS and RESURRECTION from being Gospel CONTENT wherever they can. The best that they can concede is that the cross may be ‘helpful information,’ but they are equally quick to add that it is ‘not the Gospel’.”

An Example of Lordship’s Man-Centered Message
At face value that title is direct and can be supported biblically. The problem is that Pastor Steve Lawson is not only taking about the cost of discipleship for a believer, he teaches, just like John MacArthur, that there is a cost FOR salvation… .

It is what Lordship advocates insist are the requirements for salvation that is the error in their system. In Pastor Lawson’s text when he speaks of following Christ, self denial and cross bearing in the context of a born again believer needing to make those commitments to his Lord and Savior he is on biblical ground. When, however, he takes those same commands and presents them as conditions which must be agreed to in exchange for salvation he has checked out on the Scriptures and is preaching a works based message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

The “CHRIST” Under Siege: The New Assault by the Grace Evangelical Society by Greg Schliesmann.
In my first article in this series I discussed the attempt of Zane Hodges and the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) to remove Deity from the Biblical concept of Jesus as ‘the Christ.’ Hodges’s fraudulent arguments regarding the Samaritans in John 4 were exposed.

The purpose of this article is to show the Biblical concept of ‘the Christ’ involves Deity, and that this is necessary for salvation. Future articles will show the truths of His death and resurrection are equally important truths of the gospel necessary for salvation today.

I. The New Assault From the GES

In recent days I have become aware of new arguments from GES regarding the Lord’s titles, ‘the Christ, the Son of God’ that are troubling to many fellow believers…. The latest round of attacks from GES claims neither ‘the Christ’ nor ‘the Son of God’ is a title that involves His Deity.

Insights From the IFCA’s Interview with Dr. John MacArthur
This article is a brief discussion of, with links, to the transcripts of the IFCA interviews with Dr. John MacArthur. Following these interviews the IFCA received a significant number of resignations.

Boiling Down the “Crossless” Gospel
The ‘Crossless’ advocates, therefore, try to steer a lost person toward saying he believes a man named Jesus will give him eternal life. The unsaved man can be steered clear of or right over the death, resurrection and deity of Christ, and still be assured that by stating belief in that promise he is, according to GES teaching, born again.

Greg Schliesmann’s thread comment is especially compelling. He wrote, “I agree the conclusions of crossless gospel advocates in John 20:31 contradict the context. Some people misread John 20:31 to say ‘that you may believe the Christ, the Son of God is named ‘Jesus.’ That’s not what it says. It says, ‘that you may believe Jesus (i.e., the one I just presented to you who died and rose again) is the Christ, the Son of God’.

False Paradigms of the “Crossless” Gospel the first of a major two-part series by Greg Schliesmann.
False Paradigm #1:
The content of faith required for salvation has never changed. People in Old Testament times were saved without believing in Christ’s death and resurrection. Therefore, people living today are also saved without believing in Christ’s death and resurrection… . The point is, (GES) ‘Crossless’ gospel advocates have not only misrepresented what people must believe for salvation today, but they have also misrepresented what people in past ages believed in order to be saved.

The Joseph Zichterman Issue
This article, month by month, without fail appears in the top ten of hit counts at my blog. I strongly recommend your reading this article and especially the brief thread for important flow-up reactions, one by Brother Zichterman.

Is the Sermon on the Mount, “Pure Gospel?”
Dr. MacArthur says the Sermon on the Mount is ‘the way of salvation.’ Is Dr. MacArthur suggesting the Sermon on the Mount be given to a lost man as the plan of salvation?”

John Piper Discussion...
There have been numerous decisions/actions on the part of John Piper that have been quite disconcerting. The crux of the discussion really has to do with the fact that there is a big difference between what John Piper writes in his books and what he does in practice.”


  1. Hey Lou, you've got some great picks here. 2007 was the year I was first exposed to the Crossless Gospel when Wilkin visited our church. I've said it before, but looking over this list of articles from 2007 reminds me once again how valuable your site was to affirming the depth and danger of GES error. To this day, BW and co. continue their redirects from the crux of the issue. In BW's recent "critique" of Hixson's Getting the Gospel Wrong he makes a lot of fuss about how GtGW takes ZH out of context in regard to the content of saving faith, yet "defends" ZH only by showing that ZH said the cross and other content is vital to be preached. Hixson rightly and accurately points out that ZH/BW/GES consider such things as optional to the specific content of saving faith, and BW's misdirected retort, once again, amounts to a tiring and inaccurate "Uh huh, we do to preach those things!" Uh, Bob, Hixson didn't say that you don't preach those things. No one I know claims you don't preach those things. That BW/GES continues to avoid answering such criticisms squarely reveals to me that they are knowingly misleading people with their redefinitions. One need only look at what seasoned GES advocates believe to know that the fruit of GES' theology is a gutted content of saving faith that literally strips Christ of his meaningful identity. In GES terms, you need not consider Christ as anything more than the good fairy of everlasting life. It's a true tragedy, and many of your articles and interactions with you and your guests laid the error bare. Many times over, thank you for standing In Defense of the Gospel.

    Hey, that's catchy, sounds kinda like the title of a book. ;-)

    Blessings. G'night.

  2. Hi Stephen:

    Thank you for the many kind and helpful comments above.

    My primary goal for this blog is to present a defense of the Gospel against the twin errors of Lordship Salvation and the Crossless Gospel. You and your wife have made significant contributions here and at your blog for which many are grateful.

    For now, I want to share some thoughts on your referencing the GES misdirects, misleading redefinitions and dodging legitimate scrutiny.

    The GES commits blatant and ceaseless attempts to shroud their reductionist assaults on the Gospel, i.e. content of saving faith through any means especially their redirects away from the true crux of the doctrinal controversy. IMO, they have sacrificed their character on the altar of fidelity to the heresy of Zane Hodges.

    IMO the GES have adopted a pragmatic approach to the defense of their egregious errors. I have had serious differences with advocates of Lordship Salvation, but none of them have ever stooped to the low brow methods, vitriol and lapses of ethical behavior so often in evidence from the GES camp.

    Who could ever forget the massive plagiarism of Jim Johnson, which he never repented of? Bob Wilkin’s incredible mishandling and sudden lose of nerve for the open debate he had been clamoring for once a man (Ron Shea), who would have devastated his Crossless/Deityless gospel in an open debate, accepted the challenge. Antonio da Rosa’s twisting then publishing private correspondence, plagiarism and Sock Puppet: fg me. And on I could go.

    These misdirects from GES you refer to are done with forethought and purpose to- 1) Protect and hide the soft underbelly of their reductionist errors and 2) Deceive the unsuspecting. They are acting in a disingenuous way to evade the soft underbelly of their reductionist assaults on the Person of Christ and His precious Gospel. They have become so seared in their conscience they must believe that they are justified to commit these obvious lapses of ethical behavior.

    I also believe some of this behavior is because of how often they have been not just doctrinally, but emotionally devastated. Frequently and powerfully their theological errors have been exposed and throttled from the Scriptures. Good people like: Tom Stegall, Dennis Rokser, Greg Schliesmann, you, Rachel, Phillip Evans, Kevl. Ron Shea and more have dismantled their errors. The good work done to expose and refute the Crossless gospel has awaken many across a broad cross-section of evangelical Christianity. Thankfully, the GES has been reduced to a small cell of theological extremists.

    IMO, this is why Wilkin has written a primarily whining review of Getting the Gospel Wrong by Dr. Hixson. Imagine, Wilkin devotes many of 26 pages to whine about Turabian issues over a footnote in a book of over 400 pages. Why? Because Dr. Hixson had the audacity to speak the truth in love. Dr. Hixson exposed the Hodges, Wilkin & GES reductionist assaults on the content of saving faith to legitimate criticism. This coming from a man that is widely known in FG circles forced Wilkin to go on the attack. Actually I was embarrassed for Wilkin while reading his review. From his tone I sensed the GES in cardiac arrest.

    Well, that is more than I planned on, but I’ll have more tomorrow for your consideration.

    Thanks again for your standing along side me in defense of the Gospel.


  3. Dear Guests:

    Dr. J. B. Hixson has published a reply to Bob Wilkin’s review of Getting the Gospel Wrong.

    Please read, Getting the Gospel Wrong: The Evangelical Crisis No One Is Talking About- A Response to Bob Wilkin and GES

    Here is a brief excerpt,

    “The initial response to the release of Getting the Gospel Wrong: The Evangelical Crisis No One Is Talking About has been very encouraging. To date, more than 1000 copies have been ordered via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or directly from the publisher. Thus far almost all of the feedback has been positive. To those of you who have purchased the book, I say a heartfelt “Thank you!” I hope and pray that it is helpful to you. The book’s message on the purity of the Gospel in this postmodern age is resonating with readers from the pew, to the pulpit, to the seminary classroom. The amazing message of God’s free grace is being advanced and the Gospel is going forth.

    Several positive reviews have been published in various newsletters, journals or on web sites. Unfortunately, one ministry has chosen to take an adversarial posture toward the book.”

  4. And this excerpt from Hixson's reply to the Wilkin review:

    There is no doubt that GES disagrees with my understanding of the biblical Gospel. Lively debate is helpful as we contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. And in fact, the primary point of my book is to address the fact that many evangelicals in this postmodern age are getting the Gospel wrong. So debate is welcome! But in critiquing my view, it would be much more constructive if those who disagree would stick to the issue at hand and not engage in spurious, personal attacks.

  5. Lou,

    I wonder if we can discuss a quote from one of these articles? It is this quote of Steve Lawson from the Challis article linked in “An Example of Lordship's Man Centered Message.” :

    “I want to single you out in the midst of this crowd. Have you taken up a cross in order to follow after Christ? Have you recognized your own sinfulness, acknowledged that God’s judgment is true, have you acknowledged Christ’s right to rule your life? Have you submitted to the Lordship of Christ? Have you really come to the end of self? Because Jesus does not begin until you end.”

    I remember reading Challis' post some time ago and finding this section particularly disturbing but couldn't put my finger on just exactly why. Now I think I know. From a biblical statement about recognizing our own sinfulness and God's true (righteous) judgment on sin, Lawson jumps right to acknowledging Christ's right to rule one's life, etc. He skips completely over what God has done about our sin. He mentions neither the cross of Christ nor the personal need to accept Christ's finished work on our behalf. What is this supposed to mean? “Yes, we are filthy rotten sinners and here we are as such to be Your subjects. You'll just have to disregard Romans 12:1 since we are neither holy nor acceptable. Still, here we are anyway.”? Why do you suppose he failed to mention the crux of the issue in salvation?

    Actually, I think I have an idea of why. Here is another quote (Lawson again) from a bit earlier:

    “They[sic] key word of this text is the last word of both 26 and 27: disciple. Jesus longs for and died for disciples. Not one drop of blood was shed beyond the disciples.”

    This explains everything, doesn't it? We are back to TULIP in full flower. Jesus only died for “disciples” not for whosoever will. Therefore, we will first have to determine if you are a disciple so we can decide whether or not Jesus has died for you. Obviously, this would necessitate the commitment to discipleship prior to salvation. Otherwise, since “not one drop of blood was shed beyond the disciples” you really have no Savior to believe in, do you? Naturally, because of total inability no one would just sign up to be a follower of Christ. Only the regenerate need apply. But then, only the regenerate will apply. (They are kind of right on that point. The Lordshippers are right that discipleship is for the regenerate.) But now they have created the problem that regeneration must happen prior to salvation, which voids the testimony of the Holy Spirit that the sinner is dead in trespasses and sins and must come unto Christ to be made alive in Him. How can a person be dead and regenerate at the same time? Further, they are already alive but have not yet come to Christ, so they are alive apart from Christ. So now they are in the position of needing to prove their regeneration in order to have access to the cross where, provided they are a disciple, they have a Savior.

    In that same vein, here are some other interesting quotes which fail to mention either the fact that Jesus died for YOU or the need to personally accept Jesus' death on the cross for YOU (I can't tell if they are Lawson's or Challis'):

    “You need to make terms of peace with this king or you will be subjected in damnation forever. Christ has made terms of peace and you need to settle out-of-court with him. You do not want to go into that final day of conflict with Christ, for He will be ruthless in the execution of justice. He offers mercy today. He will agree to terms of peace and surrender, but they are His terms of peace, not ours. His terms are this: you must love Him more than anything. If you cannot do this, you will meet Him in the final judgement [sic] and glorify God in your destruction.”

    His terms are that you must love Him more than anything? Or are the terms that you must eat of His flesh broken for YOU and drink of His blood shed for YOU? Perhaps you cannot love Him at this time, but can you believe Him? Where is the cross on which He died FOR YOU?

    “...[Jesus]is saying that you must transfer ownership of all that you are and have to all that He is. Your life is no longer your life, but His life. Your time is His time, your possessions are His possessions. This is what it is to meet His terms of peace. In short, Christ demands the total and complete surrender of our lives. Saving faith is coming to the end of ourselves and trusting all that we are and have to all that He is.”

    Where is the cross to which the handwriting of requirements against YOU was nailed and the penalty of YOUR sin paid in Christ?

    “Jesus is calling today for all of us here to come to Him. [But is He calling each in the same way or is He calling only some “effectively”? I do not want to hear who He is "calling" since I do not know if you are speaking of a "general call" or an "effective call." I want to know for whom Christ died.] We need to search our hearts to see if we’ve come to this place of total commitment and to see if we’ve yielded our lives to the soveriegn [sic] Lordship of the one who died.”

    If He is really calling “all of us here to come to Him”, then why didn't Lawson say, “...the one who died for us?” Or even clearer, make the whole sentence singular- “You need to...the one who died for you.” But no. All we get is “the one who died.” A singular fact of death with no personal application.

    Challis mentions someone who spoke on Isaiah 53 before Lawson. We don't have any information on that sermon. Perhaps the death of Christ was put in terms the lost could find hope in. We don't know. We've only got this review of Steve Lawson's speech which is devoid of Christ crucified for the lost.


  6. Jan:

    You wrote, “I remember reading Challis' post some time ago and finding this section particularly disturbing but couldn't put my finger on just exactly why. Now I think I know. From a biblical statement about recognizing our own sinfulness and God's true (righteous) judgment on sin, Lawson jumps right to acknowledging Christ’s right to rule one's life, etc. He skips completely over what God has done about our sin. He mentions neither the cross of Christ nor the personal need to accept Christ’s finished work on our behalf. What is this supposed to mean? ‘Yes, we are filthy rotten sinners and here we are as such to be Your subjects. You'll just have to disregard Romans 12:1 since we are neither holy nor acceptable. Still, here we are anyway.’? Why do you suppose he failed to mention the crux of the issue in salvation?

    That is a great question.

    About a year ago I had a brief discussion about that with someone. It may have been Phillip Evans, but I’m not sure. Whoever it was noted exactly what you just did, no preaching Christ’s finished work on the cross.

    I have heard at least two evangelistic sermons (live) by LS men whom NEVER in those sermons mentioned the cross. Only “submit, surrender, commit” and you will be saved.

    I’ll have to pick this up with you later.



  7. Jan:

    Let’s take this discussion on Lawson’s Lordship Salvation sermon over to the thread under the article, An Example of Lordship's Man-Centered Message, where it was triggered, OK?

    Copy your comment above to that thread, then I'll move mine below yours and we'll go from there.


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  9. To All:

    2008 yielded some high watermarks in the defense of the Gospel against the twin and egregious errors of Lordship Salvation and the Crossless Gospel.

    If there is one thing that has been the source of sadness from 2008 it has been the inexplicable and shocking turn about of one man who once was a very passionate defender of the Gospel, against the Crossless gospel advocates’ reductionist assaults on the Gospel, i.e. the content of saving faith. Reductionist errors that originated with the late Zane Hodges, perpetuated by Bob Wilkin and his Grace Evangelical Society (GES) who are theological extremists in the Free Grace community.

    I am sorry to report that I am referring to Jon Perreault (JP). It appears JP has developed what might best be described as a case of laryngitis in regard to the Crossless gospel.

    In 2008 JP was producing articles exposing the heresy of the Crossless gospel. Articles, such as:

    The Heretic in Antonio and Inconsistent Free Grace Evangelism

    JP was powerfully exposing and refuting from the Scriptures GES’s anti-biblical teachings, which are an assault on the Person and work of Christ. Now in a sudden unexpected shift JP has befriended, formed an alliance with and begun running interference for one of the CG’s most heretical, vitriolic and unethical apologists, Antonio da Rosa.

    Because of our former partner having formed ties with the advocates of heresy we have made the difficult decision to sever fellowship with him. We will interact with him when out of necessity we see the need, but we cannot afford to give the appearance of cooperation and/or fellowship with the heresy and advocates of the Crossless gospel. Nor can we enjoy fellowship with our former partner who is embracing the Crossless gospel advocates as if they are the friends of the Gospel.

    I do not expect our former partner JP to become a full-blown advocate of the Crossless heresy, but he has clearly reached out to them, welcomed their fellowship and has begun to work in cooperative fellowship with them.

    Because JP has formed a friendship and alliance with the advocates of the Crossless gospel…because he has, with a definite degree of belligerence and vitriol, resisted the attempts of several of us to biblically advise and counsel him, I have made the difficult decision to ban him from my blog until such time he recovers from the tragic decision he has made to embrace the prime instigators of the Crossless gospel’s reductionist assault on the content of saving faith.

    We have and will continue to plead with him to abandon this dangerous course. We will remain steadfast in our defense of the Gospel against the heretical teachings of JP’s new friends in the cell of GES extremists. Lord willing, he will regain his sense of direction and turn from fellowship with the advocates of the most egregious form of reductionist heresy ever introduced to the NT church by one of its own, namely Zane Hodges.

    Once and if JP recovers we will be delighted to welcome him into fellowship and assist him in exposing and refuting the twin errors of Lordship Salvation and the Crossless gospel.

    Pray to that end.

    Yours in His service,


    *Please post any comments/reaction to this under The Best of 2008 where this is repeated.