Dear Guests of IDOTG:
Last week 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’.”
Today I am continuing with the second in a series comprised of excerpts from Stegall’s book. For the first in this series see- Selected Excerpt (1). The selections I am publishing (with permission) provide a balanced cross section of issues related to the Gospel. The following is the second selection from chapter 14. The balance of the series will be from chapter 5. I trust you will find each of the excerpts as edifying as I have.
A Double Standard?
With respect to Christ’s deity, humanity, and sinlessness, we need to address another relevant question at this point. Do these elements of the person of Christ have to be known and affirmed in order to receive eternal life? Or, do they simply not have to be denied? I have occasionally heard this distinction proposed in the midst of this controversy over the contents of saving faith, but it is a false distinction that is unbiblical and that will only further obscure the issue rather than clarify it. To claim, for instance, that “Some truths do not need to be known in order to be saved, they just cannot be denied” actually leads to serious doctrinal and practical error.
First, it leads to the unbiblical conclusion that God requires at least two different conditions for salvation and two different contents of saving faith in this dispensation. In one case, God would require a person to cognitively affirm some minimal information about Christ after being presented with it (such as through a missionary), but the Lord would then require a second person (who was unreached with the gospel and ignorant of these truths) merely to not deny this additional information about Christ, such as His deity, humanity, sinlessness, etc. This would set up two different contents of saving faith: contents with Christ’s deity, humanity, and sinlessness versus contents without these elements. This would also result in two different conditions for salvation: the condition of having to agree with certain truths once they become known versus not denying these truths due to ignorance. In either case, whether it is due to ignorance or impudent denial, the result is the same—unbelief.
I have even heard the scenario proposed that someone could be informed of Christ’s person and work but undecided about these truths and so still be saved because they have not out-rightly rejected such truths. It is claimed that such a person is “safe” because he or she is supposedly “neutral” on the matter of Christ’s person and work. But this is patently unbiblical. If a person is not yet persuaded of the truth of the gospel of Christ, they are not “neutral” towards God; they are still in unbelief and the wrath of God continually abides on them (John 3:36). Unbelief in Christ, regardless of the cause or causes, does not result in the reception of everlasting life (John 3:18).
If God permitted two contrasting contents of saving faith and conditions for salvation, this would be neither biblical nor just. In fact, it would be, in essence, the same error as inclusivism. The false doctrine of inclusivism teaches that the unevangelized in foreign lands who have never heard about Jesus Christ do not need to hear and believe the gospel; but they can be saved merely by a sincere reception of whatever revelation they do have, which may only be the light of conscience and creation (Rom. 1:19-20). But, if that same person hears about Christ and then rejects Him, that person cannot be saved. The folly of such a doctrine is evident. It logically and practically leads to the absurd notion that minimal knowledge of Christ is actually preferable to a saving knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). The false dichotomy between merely not knowing certain truths versus not denying them ultimately leads to the mortifying conclusion that it is better not to inform the lost of Christ’s person and work lest we jeopardize their eternal destinies. God forbid!
In conclusion regarding the person of “Christ,” the promise-only gospel allows for the possibility of a genuine saving belief in a non-divine, even sinful, “Christ.” In the process of supporting their doctrinal position, they have not only redefined the gospel but also the key Christological titles of “Christ” and “Son of God.” By their refusal to acknowledge the biblical meaning of “the Christ” and “the gospel,” they have, with alarming alacrity, opened up a spiritual Pandora’s Box of theological errors and unbiblical contradictions.
To be continued…
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.
The Gospel Under Siege by the Very Man Who Wrote the Book On It
GES Reductionist Affirmation of Faith
Is the “Crossless” Label the Right Label?
Believing the Gospel, “May Indeed Frustrate Grace.”
The Hollow “Gospel” of the Grace Evangelical Society
Can the Biblical Jesus & Mormon Jesus be, “One and the Same?”
Free Grace Theology: What Every Advocate of Lordship Salvation Should Know
Men Consistently “Saw the Light” of Hodges’s Reasoning.