August 12, 2019

A Review of Walter J. Chantry's Today's Gospel by Dr. Stewart Custer

John MacArthur published five major works on the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel.  His first was in 1988, The Gospel According to Jesus (TGATJ). Walter J. Chantry, however, long before MacArthur’s TGATJ published a book advocating Lordship Salvation.  That book is Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic. In 1973 on behalf of Bob Jones University professor, Dr. Stewart Custer, published a critical review of Chantry’s book.  The review, which follows, appeared in BJU’s Biblical Viewpoint magazine.

A Baptist pastor has indicted the entire practice of modern conservative evangelism. Walter J. Chantry, in Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? (London: Banner of Truth Trust. 1970. 93 pp)., charges that the doctrine and practices of the “evangelical wing of the Protestant church” are unbiblical and dangerous (p. 121). He urges that churches “rethink the way of salvation” (p. 16). He maintains that the sole biblical standard for personal evangelism is the Lord’s interview with the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27 (p. 16).

If modern personal work does not follow the exact pattern our Lord used, it is not the genuine gospel (p. 17). Therefore, Mr. Chantry argues, the personal worker must preach the character of God (“There is none good but one, that is, God”). To tell a lost person, “God loves you and has a plan for your life,” is “terribly misinforming”(p. 29). The personal worker must also preach the law of God (pp. 35f).. Just to quote Romans 3:23 (“For all have sinned,” etc). is not sufficient (p. 38). “You must dwell on the subject at length. Exposit the Ten Commandments until men are slain thereby” (p. 43).

The personal worker must also preach repentance (pp. 47f ). Mr. Chantry rejects the idea of urging the sinner to “accept Jesus as your personal Saviour.” These words are “wholly inadequate to instruct a sinner in the way to eternal life” (p. 48). “Scripture always joins repentance and remission of sins” (p. 50). (As a matter of fact, of course, it does not; see Acts 10:43; Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:22). Mr. Chantry charges that “evangelicals have invented the idea of ‘carnal Christians’” (p. 54). He admits that Paul used the term but thinks that Paul was referring to “babes in Christ . . . who had an area of carnal behaviour” (p. 54). When you consider that Paul was concerned over factions in the church (I Cor. 1); an open case of immorality (I Cor. 5); abuses concerning food (I Cor. 8), the Lord’s supper (I Cor. 11), and spiritual gifts (I Cor. 12-14); and doctrinal heresy concerning the resurrection (I Cor. 15), Chantry’s position strains the Scripture severely. Mr. Chantry thinks that a good sermon ends not with a call to decision, but rather with the convicted sinners sent home to think it all over (p. 66). He derides the idea that evangelism is as simple as A, B, C: “Just accept, believe, and confess. A three-sentence prayer and you will be safe for eternity” (p. 80). He attacks the idea of “simplicity and brevity in evangelism” (p. 80). He calls upon evangelicals to “rise above deadening evangelical tradition” (p. 92).

It is plain that Mr. Chantry has removed himself from the evangelical tradition. He is not an evangelical; he is a dangerous outsider.

His implication that all evangelicals are encouraging an “easy-believism” is a misrepresentation. The vast majority of evangelicals are deeply disturbed by “easybelievism.” Most born again personal workers are careful to show the sinner that Christ is not a fire-insurance policy, after accepting which the sinner may go off and live like the devil. Most personal workers explain to their converts the importance of the Christian life and the necessity of prayer, Bible study, and Christian fellowship. The idea that all evangelical personal workers are using unbiblical methods to gain statistics is simply false. Most personal workers have a definite series of Scripture passages which they discuss with the lost person. The personal worker knows that these verses are effective for the lost, because in most cases he himself was converted by those same verses.

The basic fallacy of Mr. Chantry’s position is his assumption that all personal work must follow the pattern of our Lord’s words to the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27). The young ruler had an idol in his life: his great possessions. Whenever a personal worker detects such an idol in the life of the one he is witnessing to, he certainly ought to use the law to reveal the presence of such an idol. But the Lord used a different method in talking to Nicodemus (John 3) and to the woman at the well (John 4). Philip did not follow the same pattern when he talked with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8).

One of the clearest descriptions of a soulwinner’s words that resulted in conversion is Peter’s testimony to Cornelius (Acts 10:38-43). Peter mentioned a number of important subjects: (1) Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good and healing. (2) He was crucified. (3) God raised Him up on the third day. (4) The apostles were witnesses of His resurrection. (5) This Jesus is the Judge at the last day. (6) Everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins. It is significant that there was no discussion of the law of God and the word repentance was not used. Before Peter had finished all that he had intended to say, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening (v. 44). All the rest of the theological verbiage which Peter had in mind was thus demonstrated to be unnecessary. His audience believed; the Holy Spirit regenerated them. The idea that hours of theological discussion is necessary for salvation is unscriptural. If it were true, many more theologians would be converted than the laity. It is clear, however, that very few contemporary theologians are converted men.

If a Christian, approaching the scene of an automobile accident, sees a poor dying man stretched out alongside the road, he should not drive on, saying to himself, “I do not have the time adequately to present the gospel.” He should get off his theological high horse, take his Bible in hand, and tell that poor lost soul how to find eternal life in Christ. If he cannot do it in the two minutes before the ambulance arrives, he is incompetent as a soulwinner. If he has more time, he should use it; but if he does not, he should use what time he has to tell the victim of the good news which is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).

Originally published in Biblical Viewpoint 7 (1973): 155-57. (c) 1973
Bob Jones University. Reproduced by permission. All rights reserved.

Site Publisher’s Addendum:
Is it fair to ask if Bob Jones University today still rejects Lordship Salvation’s works-based message, as it once did? We will delve into that question in an upcoming article.

Recommended Reading:
Summary of Lordship Salvation from a Single Page
What is Lordship Salvation and Why Does it Matter?

Lordship’s “Turn from Sin” FOR Salvation

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