October 5, 2009

The Gospel of the Christ: The Language of Accommodation or Correction?

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 powerful series of excerpts from Tom Stegall’s book.

The Language of Accommodation or Correction?

Furthermore, whether (Bob) Wilkin and (Jeremy) Myers would accept it or not, from the Lord’s perspective, the Word of God still uses the term “gospel” to refer to the “saving message” that the lost must believe in order to go to heaven. Simply because Wilkin and Myers no longer view the term “gospel” accurately does not mean that the rest of the Free Grace community must start using language that accommodates their doctrinal error. I have even noticed with some Free Grace people who are not crossless a new reluctance and apprehension to speak of “the gospel” as synonymous with, and equivalent to, the saving message. My fear is that some well-intentioned Grace people may be overly concerned about paying a courtesy to those in grave doctrinal error on the meaning of “the gospel,” rather than showing a greater courtesy and respect to God who equates “the gospel” with the “saving message” in His Word (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:17-21; 4:15; Eph. 1:13; 2 Thess. 1:8-10). By conceding to the wishes of those who no longer teach that “the gospel” is God’s saving message, are we not subtly accommodating error by adjusting our speech accordingly? Thus, any message that purports to be “saving,” and yet is crossless, must still be regarded as a “crossless gospel” if we wish to continue speaking from a biblical standpoint.

If we concede to drop the term “gospel” from the phrase “crossless gospel,” this will have the effect of legitimizing this false, unbiblical distinction between “the gospel” and “the saving message.” Even if we concede to the wishes of Wilkin and others who share his doctrine by refraining from the use of the phrase “crossless gospel” while still personally and privately maintaining the correct, biblical view, will this not contribute towards the further establishment of unbiblical speech within the Free Grace community? Will this not establish an unbiblical precedent that others will be expected to follow as the distinct impression is given that it is actually wrong or somehow ungracious to portray the false doctrine held by some of our Grace brethren in a negative light?

Please continue to- The Gospel of the Christ: Biblical Terminology for False Teaching

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.

GES Reductionist Affirmation of Faith

The Hollow “Gospel” of the Grace Evangelical Society

Believing the Gospel: “May Indeed Frustrate God's Grace?”

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. Hi Brother Lou,

    Definetly worth looking into buying this book. My question is do you think this has anything to do with emergent theology cutting across denominations, faith movements, and belief systems?

    In my studies of emergent theology, it has a vey pluralistic and inclusive view of salvation.

    This started among Evangelicals and deisgned to destroy fundamentlism. Between the Fundamentalist/Evangelical split which brought Neo Evangelicism, I wander if this is a natural movement to acomodate postmodern/postlibealism and the emergent theology movement?

  2. Tom,

    I was excited about your book because it was from you. However, these articles were the deciding factor to get the book right away - even though I'm overly busy already.

    The book came to my door today (in a package with my my book too) from Amazon.

    The thing is HUGE.

    It's BIG.

    Tom, I've got to tell you Brother. You have a big book. Big. Large.


    I'm going to power through Fred's Back To Faith first and then dig into yours.

    Thanks Brother!

  3. Dave:

    Interesting thought.

    IMO, the Crossless gospel of the GES is an aberrant view that is exclusive to the GES. No one believer or group of believers has ever taught this reductionist system in all of NT history.

    Do buy Tom Stegall’s book. It is very much worth the read.


  4. Kev:

    Pastor Stegall is in Texas at the FGA national conference. Not sure how much access he has or time to check his e-mails and updates from this blog. He'll be back later in the week. He'll see your note then and I'm sure will appreciate it.


    PS: Just got your book, enjoying the opening pages.

  5. Lou

    Of my book - exciting stuff! There is very little more scarey, or more exciting than to know someone is reading your book. I know you are very familiar with this strange set of emotions. :)

    I wish I were better, but I'm also very thankful that I'm not - at writing. The Lord be exalted in my weakness.

    Thankful for you Brother.


  6. Kev:

    This is what happens when you put your views out in the public venue. You, your views, become fair game for criticism. Whoever gets in the public arena needs to have a thick skin for it. Some do not and should, therfore, stay out of the public arena.


  7. Oh NOW you warn me?



  8. Oh NOW you warn me?


    I guess you better give up your whimpiness, Kev!

    You marshmallow, you. :)


  9. Now Jan:

    Go easy on the lad or I'll have to cite you for gender-based shame comments. ;-) LOL


  10. OK, that was funny!


  11. Couldn't resist a ripe target.


  12. David,

    I'm back from a conference in Dallas, TX. Thus, the delay.

    It is my understanding that the crossless gospel being promoted by the GES is not symptomatic of neo-evangelicalism or anything postmodern or emergent, though I can see those movements/philosophies easily adopting a gospel that doesn't necessitate personal acknowledgement of sin or one's need for the cross-work of Christ.

    Instead, those primarily initiating the crossless view, Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin, were members of a small Plymouth Brethren church in Dallas for several many years that was definitely not "neo-evangelical" or emergent. Their view really is the result of an over-zealous desire for assurance of salvation that caused them to view even the doctrinal content of the gospel as being "legalism" that stood in the way of person being certain that he/she possessed eternal life.

    I hope this helps answer your question.

    In Him,
    Tom Stegall

  13. Hey Kev,

    Glad to know that the book arrived safe and sound, along with your own and Fred's.

    You can see why it's price a little on the high-end, not only because of the hardcover but the cost of paper really adds up.

    On a lighter note, Dr. Dave Anderson mentioned to me in Dallas at the FGA conference this week that he had received his copy and was making it his "goal" to read through it in 2010.

    I also met one guy at the conference who also told me that he finished it in 5 days---5 ten-hour days off of work that is!

    Another guy told me that he is already up to page 450 and that it is really an easy read. I was glad to hear that.

    In Him,

  14. Hi Tom,

    I heard everyone had a great time in Dallas. I hope to be able to come one of these years.

    I'll be one of your slower readers as I intend on blatantly using your research to help train the guys in my ministry (including myself) in defending the purity of the Gospel.