Dear Guests of IDOTG:
We are continuing the series by Brother Ron Shea with this third installment:REGARDING THE “CROSSLESS” GOSPEL MANTEL
For Part 1 & 2 respectively see-
What Turned Zane Hodges to This Profound “Deconstructionist” Error?
The “Deconstructionist” Gospel: Its No Coincidence
Zane Hodges has gone to be with the Lord. Bob Wilkin is the heir-apparent of the “Crossless” gospel mantel. If Bob were to return to the purity of the gospel, I believe the “Crossless” gospel would evaporate in a matter of a few years.
I believe Bob is in his early to mid fifties. As one ages, one is less likely to receive reproof from one younger than he, and more likely to respond only to an elder. This is human nature for all of us even if we don’t have a serious pride problem. Being in his early 50’s, there are likely very few men left toward whom Bob Wilkin looks up.
Just as significantly, there is a natural pride component that would be true of any of us. Bob Wilkin did not advance this heresy in a poorly thought out footnote consisting of ten words. He has articulated his position with clarity and specificity. He cannot save face by saying,
“That is not what I meant. That was a poor choice of words. Yes, I agree with what you are saying about the content of saving faith.”It is too late for that. With the paper trail Bob has left behind him, the only way he can say that is to say, “I was wrong.”
These words do not come easily to most men. Far less to a man of intelligence who has labored to advance an errant argument and cannot dismiss his error as a poor choice of words. For example, I try to pray for John MacArthur daily, that he would repent of his error, and proclaim the true gospel. (I confess, I do not pray for him daily, but I do pray for him often.) Yet, I realize that MacArthur is a tough nut to crack. Not because his logic is so compelling. Not because his exegesis is sound. But because he is already on record, and would look ridiculous to many if he jumped ship. Pride is typically the biggest anchor holding a man in false doctrine.
And, for those of us who have known Bob, virtually every person I have ever known has perceived deep spiritual pride in Bob. He sought to make himself the epicenter of free grace… . He did not present himself as a servant to advance the ministry of others, but to get them to serve him to advance his ministry. I can’t recall meeting anyone who knew Bob and did not come away with this perception of him.
When GES was first founded, I received a letter from Bob explaining that the only way it would get off the ground was by co-operation and “networking.” He asked for referrals so that the exposure and circulation of GES would be expanded. I mailed him the address of EVERY SINGLE PERSON I knew who was a Christian, and many who I hoped might be inclined to hear the truth.
Several years later, after The Gospel Booklet was published, I sent a copy to Bob, and asked if we could mail a copy to every one in the GES, making them aware of it if they wanted to order some for evangelism or discipleship. He wrote me and advised that “GES did not give out their mailing list.”
“No, you don’t need to give me the addresses. I would prepare letters and envelopes with a copy of The Gospel Booklet, and ship them to you along with the money necessary to mail all of them. You would not need to give me their addresses.”I received Bob’s reply, telling me:
1) The members of Grace Evangelical Society would not be interested in it,Of course, it is always possible that Bob was sincere in the three comments he wrote to me. That is up to each person to judge for themselves. But I perceived it as a consistent pattern and practice of Bob seeking to make himself the sole epicenter of grace. And this was not the only incident with Bob that served to persuade me of this. And I am not alone in this perception of Bob.
2) It was not very well written anyway, and
3) If I wanted to write a good tract, I should contact the American Tract Society and get help with it.
Nevertheless, we have a moment in time, and we should labor in prayer ten hours for every hour we spend on the “front lines” (blogging). Nebuchadnezzar was certainly a prideful man. But after being brought low, eating grass and braying like a donkey for several years, he humbled himself and acknowledged the God of Daniel.
The GES has by all external, observable evidence, lost membership and likewise significant financial support. In my opinion the GES will probably implode within two or three years. “Whom the Lord loveth, He chaseneth,” (Hebrews 12:6).
I have no doubt of God’s love of Bob Wilkin, and no doubt of Bob’s potential service to God if he returns to a biblical view of the gospel.
We should pray, not for God's reproof of Bob, but that He would work in His infinite judgment and knowledge, in the manner best suited to return Bob. This may be to bring Bob low in reproof, and it may be to bless him. (After all, “The goodness of God produces repentance” also!) The method is God’s choice. We should pray for the outcome, not the method.
If Bob returns to the gospel message, I believe the other circles emanating outward, who came under the influence of the Crossless gospel, will begin to do likewise. As I noted, Bob Wilkin is the heir-apparent of Zane’s reductionist theology.
Finally, regarding the Crossless gospel crowd, it is important that someone Bob respects will step up to the plate and confront him as Paul did Peter.
“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed,” (Gal. 2:11).At Bob’s age, as I said, that pretty well limits the options to those 60 or over. I believe Earl Radmacher could be the man Wilkin might respond to. I recognize that his (Radmacher’s) love of Zane, his respect for Zane, and their longstanding friendship of many years, might have prevented him from taking such action while Zane was alive.
I realize the Free Grace movement has not been limited to the Dallas Theological Society (DTS) crowd. The Florida Bible College, and many of the Independent Fundamental Baptist tradition were at the forefront long before Radmacher or Ryrie stepped into a visible position on the stage.
Nevertheless, the most visible defense of the Free Grace gospel has shifted, in very high proportion, to a handful of DTS graduates. And, more than any other men living today, the mantel “Elder Statesman of the Free Grace Movement” is clearly shared by Earl Radmacher and Charles Ryrie.
Earl Radmacher may be the only living person to whom Bob Wilkin looks up. We must labor in prayer that Earl would be willing to set aside his irenic personality, and sit down with Bob for a serious talk. And if not Earl, that God would raise up someone else whom Bob respects as an equal.
End Part 3, Please continue to Parts 4 & 5.