Dear Guests of IDOTG:
I have the privilege of introducing the new book by Pastor Tom Stegall, The Gospel of the Christ: A Biblical response to the Crossless Gospel Regarding the Contents of Saving Faith.
In Tom Stegall’s introduction of his book he noted:
“My objective in writing the book was to provide a biblical response to the controversy within the Free Grace community over the subject of the ‘crossless gospel’ and the contents of saving faith. Part I of the book lays the groundwork by introducing the problem of the crossless/promise-only/Grace Evangelical Society (GES) gospel and its associated doctrines. The remainder of the book still interacts with the new GES theology but it is primarily an exegetical synthesis of dozens of key passages involving the terms ‘gospel’ and ‘Christ’.”
Today is our fifth in the series comprised of excerpts from Stegall’s book. The selections I am publishing (with permission) provide a balanced cross section of issues related to the Gospel.
Preach the Maximum, Require the Minimum
It is inherently inconsistent for proponents of a crossless saving faith to claim that when it comes to evangelism, “The more information the better, of course; and the more we know, the easier it is to believe.”1 We often hear proponents of the G.E.S. gospel defend their position by claiming that although they believe that the minimum content of saving faith consists of (1) the name “Jesus” (2) believing and (3) the promise of eternal life, they still preach the maximum of Christ’s deity, humanity, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection. But from a pragmatic standpoint, how will preaching the maximum make it “easier . . . to believe” and be “better” when at the same time these very truths are regarded as spiritual mountains or “Alps” that stand in the way of faith in Christ for eternal life? How will more information make it easier to be persuaded that Christ guarantees eternal life if the lost are potentially stumbled by each successive “peripheral” issue or mountain peak of truth about the Savior? When the cross of Christ is preached and the lost reject it in unbelief, and this is followed by a presentation of His resurrection that is also rejected in disbelief, and this is further followed by teaching on His deity with still more unbelief, won’t the end result be that a person actually has less confidence in Christ as the guarantor of eternal life? Won’t presenting these truths to the lost give them more to potentially reject and stumble over? According to the logic of the crossless position, it would be better to not even put a stumblingblock in the path of the unbeliever. Therefore, why not simply omit discussion of the Savior’s person and work altogether?
Of course, the only reason for continuing to preach a known stumblingblock such as the message of the cross (1 Cor. 1:23) to an unbeliever is if this is a truth that must be believed for eternal life. If Paul removed all unnecessary, potential stumblingblocks from his own life in an all-out effort to see the lost get saved (1 Cor. 9:22; 10:33), and yet he continued preaching the cross knowing full-well that it was a major stumblingblock to the world (1 Cor. 1:17-23), then the only logical conclusion is that the cross is a necessary stumblingblock from the Lord’s perspective. According to Scripture, it is the message of the cross that forms the universal dividing line between the perishing and the saved (1 Cor. 1:18). The soteriological line of demarcation is not the message of eternal life regardless of the cross—it is the message of the cross! However, according to the logic of the crossless gospel, there is no real impetus for continuing to preach a message that knowingly stumbles the lost. While the practice of crossless gospel proponents may be inconsistent with their doctrine as they practically “always” preach a known stumbling block to faith in Jesus for eternal life, it is likely that given the passage of time their practice will harmonize with the tenets of their doctrine and they will eventually evangelize only with a crossless saving message—the way Jesus supposedly did. Our deeds always follow close behind our doctrine.
1 Lon Gregg, “Alp upon Alp,” 4.
Editor’s Note: The Crossless Gospel was originated by the late Zane Hodges. This is the most egregious form of reductionist heresy ever introduced to the New Testament church by one of its own. No one in Christian circles outside the membership and friends of the Grace Evangelical Society (Bob Wilkin, Executive Director) believes in and/or advocates this assault on the necessary content of saving faith. For related reading and discussion see these articles.
GES Reductionist Affirmation of Faith
Is the “Crossless” Label the Right Label?
The Hollow “Gospel” of the Grace Evangelical Society
Zane Hodges: Drifting Far Off the Marker
The “Christ” Under Siege
The “Christ” Under Siege: The New Assault From the Grace Evangelical Society
Free Grace Theology: What Every Advocate of Lordship Salvation Should Know