September 30, 2009

The Gospel of the Christ: Should We Continue Using the Phrase “Crossless Gospel?”

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Earlier this month I had 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’.

Let’s continue with the eighth in the series of excerpts from Tom Stegall’s book.

Should We Continue Using the Phrase “Crossless Gospel?”

In spite of the ample documentation demonstrating the accuracy of the phrase, “crossless gospel,” some advocates of this view still insist it is an inappropriate and misleading description of their position. Though the phrase “crossless gospel” is certainly not needed in order to defend the biblical veracity of the “traditional” Free Grace gospel that is espoused in this book, a word of clarification about the legitimacy of its use is in order here due to the vehement protests of some crossless proponents that this phrase should be stricken from use.

It must be recognized that the leaders of the new gospel have not given their doctrine their own self-descriptive title or label. They prefer to continue bearing the mantle, “Free Grace,” believing that their view represents the embodiment of the most biblically consistent and accurate doctrine of salvation among Free Grace people. Some vocal proponents of the crossless position, who are not necessarily the leading teachers and formulators of it, have begun using the designations, “Consistent Free Grace” and “Refined Free Grace” to distinguish their position. They are convinced that their position is more biblically consistent and thus a refinement rather than an abandonment of the Free Grace position. They prefer to call the position defended in this book the “Traditional Free Grace” view, portraying the current controversy as a choice between either biblical refinement or theological “tradition.” Which sounds more appealing to you? Of course, we all want to be more biblically consistent and not follow “the tradition of men” (Col. 2:8).

But are such designations truly accurate and appropriate? Should Grace people begin using this kind of phraseology? Should the Free Grace community even use the expressions “crossless” or “crossless gospel” to designate this new form of the saving message? What designations or labels should we use, if any, now that a major doctrinal shift has taken place within our own theological camp?

Let’s face it; few of us like the labels that are assigned by those who oppose our beliefs. We would much prefer to create our own designations in order to present our beliefs in the most favorable and acceptable light. But the real question with any label is not whether people like it, but whether it is accurate, appropriate, and able to be used honestly in the sight of God. I am convinced that the phrase “crossless gospel” meets each of these criteria. It is biblically accurate and can be applied with integrity to the current controversy, even while admitting the possibility that other theological labels may be used for the new, aberrant Free Grace position that may prove more fitting and may eventually replace the phrase “crossless gospel.”

Please continue to- Is the Gospel Still the “Saving Message?”

For a companion article see- Is the “Crossless” Label the Right Label?

Editor’s Note: The Crossless Gospel was originated by the late Zane Hodges. This is the most egregious form of reductionist soteriology 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 reductionist assault on the Gospel, i.e. the necessary content of saving faith. For related reading and discussion see these articles.

The Gospel Under Siege by the Very Man Who Wrote the Book On It

GES Reductionist Affirmation of Faith

The Hollow “Gospel” of the Grace Evangelical Society

Zane Hodges: Drifting Far Off the Marker

Is “RE-DEFINED” Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

Free Grace Theology: What Every Advocate of Lordship Salvation Should Know


  1. At what point do you go ahead and call this what it is: "heresy"?

  2. Good question Jonathan and I have never hesitated, much. Overuse of the word "heresy” can desensitize the reader. So, I use it sparingly.

    IMO, most any believer would immediately recognize the reductionist attack of Hodges, Wilkin and GES on the Gospel as among the most extreme soteriological heresies ever introduced to the New Testament church.

    BTW, if I recall correctly it was your blog that did an article on the radical heresy of Antonio da Rosa. Wasn’t it titled, “Is This Heresy?” I have that article archived and will pull it up. If, however, you can post the link here I’d appreciate it.


  3. Here is the article I referred to, Is This Heresy?

    And immediately Rose (Rose's Reasonings) began to run interference for (sanitize) da Rosa’s extremist views when everyone else immediately saw the heresy in them. Sad! You and Stephen addressed Rose’s commentary fairly and accurately.


  4. We should not use the phrase crossless gospel, for any other gospel than the one true gospel is not a gospel at all. And the one true gospel is the Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, He was buried and He rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (Luke 24, 1 Cor 15:1-6)


  5. Daniel:

    I appreciate your concern, but the label "Crossless" does fit the teaching Hodges originated. It is just a label, but it ID's one of the errors of the GES's anti-biblical interpretation of God's redemptive plan for mankind.

    I appreciate your comment.


  6. Lou,

    In the interest of strict technical accuracy, perhaps the reductionist message of Z. Hodges ,et al, should be called "crossless 'alleged' gospel", or "crossless 'false' gospel", or simply "crossless 'gospel' quote end quote.

    However, it would appear that by modifying the term "gospel" by the word "crossless" makes it obvious that the "gospel" indicated is necessarily defined as being false to the Scriptural definition of the true Gospel. The label "crossless gospel" defiantly will have to be explained to those unfamiliar with the Scripture, and in those cases, should be used with discretion. Among those with understanding of the Scriptural truth of the Gospel it is not unreasonable that a "gospel" labeled this way (as crossless) is meant to be taken as indicating a false message. The complete anomaly should be immediately, glaring obvious. It was to me the first time I saw it, so maybe that is why I feel this way. More modifiers only seem redundant and unwieldy in use.

    So, is it accurate as a descriptive and definitive label as Pastor Stegall says? My vote is "yes, it is".

    Tim V.P.

  7. Tim:

    You wrote, In the interest of strict technical accuracy, perhaps the reductionist message of Z. Hodges ,et al, should be called "crossless 'alleged' gospel", or "crossless 'false' gospel", or simply "crossless 'gospel' quote end quote.

    For those of use who have labored over and against the non-saving message of the GES “Crossless” does not come even close to fully defining the reductionism.

    What Hodges introduced that is being propagated by Bob Wilkin and what is left of the GES membership is: Crossless, Deityless, Repentanceless and furthermore allows for open rejection of the Lord’s deity, death and/or resurrection.

    Never could I have imagined that a heresy so shocking in its reductionism could be hatched in the mind of one whom I believe was a genuine believer.

    You also wrote, The label "crossless gospel" defiantly will have to be explained to those unfamiliar with the Scripture, and in those cases, should be used with discretion.

    The Hodges/GES gospel needed a label and “Crossless” was given. They bristle at that label, but it IS right and appropriate. Thinking back to 1988 when the “Lordship Salvation” label was attached to that view now known worldwide by that label the advocates of LS bristled, but now embrace the term. Both labels have been and will often times need to be explained to those “unfamiliar with the Scripture” and/or those familiar with Scripture, but just not how antithetical to the Scripture these respective assaults on the Gospel are.

    IMO it is crucial to make GES and “Crossless” synonymous so that all who come across either label make the connection and that it is a false gospel by either identifier.

    Thanks for raising a good point.