September 28, 2009

The Gospel of the Christ: Preach the Maximum, Require the Minimum


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.


To be continued...

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



5 comments:

  1. Fantastic excerpt from Pastor Stegall's new book!

    Phil

    ReplyDelete
  2. Phil:

    Great to have you back for a visit.

    To all others, Phil is the author of the article, The Hollow “Gospel” of the GES.

    I link to that article, among others, at the end of each excerpt I am posting from Tom Stegall’s book.


    Lou

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lou, I really appreciate the latest excerpt from Pastor Segall's book. They get better and better.

    His points about the crucifixion of Christ being the "necessary stumbling block" and the absolute dividing line between the saved and the lost were right on, expressing the truth precisely.

    All this brings to mind a question that has nagged at me for some time. What is the feasibility of producing a pamphlet written in popular style addressing specifically those snared in the twin errors of LS and CG with the goal of leading them to true salvation in Christ? The leaders in these systems seem intransigent in their refusal of attempted correction, but what about their victims? Could some be reached/rescued?(Jude 22,23) Your thoughts?

    In Christ, Tim V.P.

    ReplyDelete
  4. P.S. I happened to think, such a tract/pamphlet may already exist. If so, where can I get copies to give to people I know who are under the teaching or influence of (especially LS) these errors?

    Thanks, Tim V.P.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello Tim:

    These excerpts just keep getting better as you say. There are more to come.

    The pamphlet concept you have noted has been discussed by various men for a while now. At present I am not aware of a joint pamphlet, but I'll ask around.

    For now the Internet is a good source depending on where people wind up reading. At risk of a shameless self promotion, this blog is IMO an excellent resource for scores of article by various authors that address both LS and the CG. I encourage all who are concerned with the twin errors of LS and the CG to link their friends and associates to this blog. I also have the Recommended Sites section down the left column of my blog here. All are excellent choices for further study and/or discussion of these issues.

    I don’t know who or when that worthy project you suggest might be undertaken. IMO, two men should do this cooperatively. I think Tom Stegall on the GES Crossless gospel would be the first choice on that issue and then Dr. Charlie Bing on Lordship Salvation would be an excellent choice.

    You are correct in that the prime instigators and their followers are seared in their conscience on their respective soteriological errors. We hope and pray for their recovery and repentance from these twin errors. My primary motive for my book, blog and many articles has been to warn and protect the unsure and/or unsuspecting from falling into the trap of Lordship Salvation and the Crossless gospel.

    Thanks for checking in.


    Lou

    ReplyDelete