July 20, 2009

Zane Hodges: Following a Man Who “Was Traversing a Course Contrary to Scripture”

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

A friend of mine and of this blog read the latest issue of Grace in Focus (May-June 09) a publication from the Grace Evangelical Society. The reviewer found *Dr. Stephen Lewis’s article entitled “Consensus Theology Stinks” to be both “interesting and alarming.” Following is his reaction to the article.


From the outset of my reading, I had a pretty good idea where Dr. Lewis was going to land. One of the lines of debate in the
Crossless gospel controversy relates to: “who really represents free grace theology?” Is it the sole possession of the Grace Evangelical Society (GES)? Has the GES cut itself off from the Classical Dispensational interpretation of the gospel grace?

Since GES cannot substantiate their novel position from historical roots, it’s no wonder that GES would include an article such as this to try to
bolster their crumbling position.

In his article, Dr. Lewis concludes:
Free Grace people sometimes have our own traditions and these traditions sometimes blind us to the clear meaning of Scripture. Take the response of some in the FG camp to the writings of Zane Hodges as an example. Some rejected out of hand his view on assurance as being of the essence of saving faith. Others rejected, out of hand, his deserted island illustration and his suggestion that all who simply believe in Jesus have everlasting life that can never be lost. Still others in the FG movement rejected his explanation of the Gospel of John because it contradicted their tradition. These people did not carefully read and consider his Biblical arguments. If they had, their traditions would have given way to Scripture. We must beware of our own consensus theology.
The underlined statement is the height of presumption. The very reason that Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and GES are being called to account is because men have thoroughly examined the Biblical evidence and found the GES Crossless/Promise-ONLY position to be wanting.

In Zane’s article,
The Hydra’s Other Head: Theological Legalism, he essentially declared GES to be the sole voice for “free grace theology.” In similar fashion, Dr. Lewis portrays Zane as being “the exemplar” of sound doctrine and anyone who challenges him as being in error.

When an individual or organization, begins to think that they are the only voice of truth or that they are nearly infallible, then they are treading on dangerous ground.

Certainly following the traditions of men is hazardous territory. On that point I can agree. But blindly following an individual man (Zane Hodges) who was traversing a course contrary to Scripture is an even greater danger.

Editorial Comment:
I want to thank the reviewer above for pointing out the dangerous direction of GES (Bob Wilkin, Exec. Dir.). Over the years the GES has steadily devolved into a cultic movement grounded on absolute loyalty to the personality of the late Zane Hodges at the expense of fidelity to the Scriptures. The GES people are unrepentant over and in need of recovery from the egregious reductionist errors on the necessary content of saving faith originated by Zane Hodges.

I want to conclude by reiterating and reminding all those who are advocates of Lordship Salvation of an important fact. The GES is an isolated, shrinking cell of theological extremists whose Crossless/Promise-ONLY gospel is a doctrinal aberration. The GES does not speak for or represent any man outside its own membership or its sympathizers.


*Stephen R. Lewis, Th.M., Ph.D.
Rocky Mountain Bible College & Seminary


  1. ANYONE purporting to speak for any other, be it an individual or group, is extremely presumptive, indeed.

    Ed Sutton

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Ed:

    Thanks for the note.

    It is extremely troubling that the GES continues to portray itself and insist it is the voice and representative of the FG community when GES (Bob Wilkin) has consistently fallen away from the biblical plan of salvation.

    Many men and churches who once were members of or sympathetic to the GES have separated from GES over its fall into the reductionist assault on the Gospel originated by Hodges. Read Dr. Fred Lybrand’s

    Open Letter for a recent example.

    But especially read Dr. Lybrand's, Open Letter: The GES Gospel (aka- the "Crossless" or "Promise-Only" Gospel).

    GES has, on its own initiative, by following the reductionist heresies of Zane Hodges, isolated itself to the far left of evangelical believers.

    The mandated biblical response to advocates of the GES Crossless gospel is found here.

    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).


  4. Lou-Bert,

    *note: Adding Bert to anyone's name instantly makes anything you say to them funny. Try it in public you'll see!

    I've learned the hard way not to let movements or men speak for me. My loyalty is to Christ and His Word, I have fellowship with those who join me in that same loyalty.

    It's very easy to join an organization and just go along with everything they say. As easy as that is, it's actually much easier to join an organization and just plain not know everything they say. You become guilty by association and you may not even know it.

    Scary stuff. I know I really felt for Brother Lybrand while I was reading his recent open letter. He had trusted those people, like many of us had.


  5. Hi Kev:

    At work one of the staff men sometimes calls me “Lou-Bert.” Always gets a smile out of me.

    I appreciate your notes on associations and joining them. For years I resisted joining any organization in Christian circles because the pattern for most is that once they go national they become political. An appeasement mentality often accompanies the politics. I belong to only two associations right now and have seriously considered letting my membership lapse in both for similar reasons.

    I also felt for Dr. Lybrand and others who once trusted Hodges and made the decision to separate from him, Wilkin and GES. From the time of my early exposure to GES (1997) I never was truly comfortable with Hodges or GES so I don’t sense any real loss with his legacy of having gone into reductionist heresy.

    I appreciated this note from you, “My loyalty is to Christ and His Word, I have fellowship with those who join me in that same loyalty.”