Three Resurrection Signs of the Savior
Over the months I have been writing concerning consistent Free Grace Theology as pertaining to the invitation in our evangelism. During this time I have met many new people, two of which are Jonathan Perreault and Liam Moran (I instictively, for some reason, wanted to type Neeson, lol). For the most part we have enjoyed cordial communications concerning the topic at hand.
Many people are aware of two articles done by Zane Hodges called "How to Lead People to Christ" Pts 1 & 2. However, many don't know that these journal articles are condensed versions of two plenary sessions that Zane did at the GES National Conference in 2000. The audio for these sessions is a little under 2 hours; the papers being able to be read in under 15 minutes apeice.
In any communicative endeavor, one desires to be understood. Furthermore, in any discussion, one hopes to be fairly represented. It is the case that as I have read the treatments of the position I hold to, I find many disappointments. Misconceptions, liberty with statements taken out of context, and a fundamental deficiency in understanding both the driving convictions and emphasis of consistent Free Grace theology fill the pages of those wishing to show it to be heresy.
Jonathan Perreault had decided to listen to the audio of Zane Hodges, upon my encouragement, and write something in response. The following link is to a paper that he wrote entitled, "Three Resurrection Signs of the Savior". It was with his desire to understand more fully the position I hold to and defend the position he is persuaded of that he penned this treatise.
Three Resurrection Signs of the Savior by Jonathan D. Perreault
I have no reason to question the sincerity of Jonathan Perreault, nor would I want to, or have any grounds to do so. He is seeking to defend the tenets of biblical Christianity as he is persuaded of them. For this I applaud and commend him. You will be the judge if he has convincingly done so.
I have read his paper twice, even going so far as printing the whole thing up and marking all the margins with my comments. I have submitted it to you for your consideration.
As with any testimony it is imperative for us to read with a critical mind. Does his arguments stand up? Do his conclusions follow his arguments? I am deeply persuaded that this paper is flawed and here are some of the general comments I have given about it:
Anytime you ask a Traditional FGer for biblical support of their position you get journal articles, dissertations, complex arguments, machine-gun apologetics (rapid-fire proof texting) -- but no simple biblical proof. The reception of eternal life is the milk of the Word! It doesn't take a theological degree to ascertain from the scriptures what one must do to have life! It doesn't take the theological astuteness of a Calvin or Luther. The answer is clear: one must simply believe in Jesus and he will both have everlasting life and certain assurance of its possession. It should not take a dissertation in order to tell someone what one must do to have eternal life and prove it to them.
Jonathan Perreault's eighteen page argument states that the Gospel of John, in the end, modifies the doctrine of saving faith that John goes into great detail expounding for his readers in the first 12 chapters of his book. The arguments were confusing and the conclusions were simply non-sequitor. This eighteen page article failed to do what John could have done in a sentence or two: clearly state that the content of saving faith (that he gave elaborate testimony to in his 1st 12 chapters [13-17 being the Upper Room Discourse]) had changed, precisely defining for us the new content.
In reading this treatise I have found that a response would not be the best use of my time. The article, along with Tom Stegall's articles, would take too much of my time to correct. I just don't have that kind of time. I find the thesis of the paper insupportable.
The conclusion of the paper does not follow the arguments or data. That is a huge thing! In college, I took two logic courses and a critical thinking course. On every page their were assertions being made that the arguments did not prove. The insistence that the death and resurrection of Christ are now additions to what it means to "believe in" Him does not necessarily follow the arguements, even if I were to stipulate the correctness of them (for the sake of argument).
The conclusions just do not follow the arguments. Furthermore, the arguments supporting the conclusion have many holes which I found, showing a lack of exegetical care and deductive logic; non sequitors plague the paper.
In the conclusion section of the paper, Jonathan quoted Merril Tenney:
"the signs are the basis of belief; the person of Christ is the object of faith, and eternal life is the result of belief"
I basically agree with his assessment as stated.
The signs are the basis of faith. They are the authenticating proofs that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, guaranteeing eternal life to all who simply believe in Him. Belief in the signs don't save. It is belief in Jesus that does. The signs are what persuade us that faith alone in Christ alone receives everlasting life. No one will believe in Jesus unless persuaded by evidence. The signs are one front of evidence that we use in our evangelism to bring someone to faith in Jesus.
The reasoning from this paper's arguments does not provide a necessary certitude of its conclusion. I fully convinced that the Refined Free Grace position better, more simply, and with greater clarity accounts for all the available data in the gospel of John. RFG is proven easier and its arguments more compelling.
Jonathan's eighteen page paper failed to do what John could have done in a mere sentence or two: modify the understanding of saving faith that he went into great detail expounding for us in the first twelve chapters of His treatise, in other words, what it means to "believe in" Him. His eighteen page paper failed to do what John could have done in a mere sentence or two: qualify, modify, or change what it means to soterically believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (the faith bringing everlasting life) which he had already defined for us in the first 12 chapters of His gospel.
By all means, read Jonathan's paper. But do so thinking about his arguments critically. Is his evidence and arguments sound? Does his conclusions certainly follow his arguments?