Preface to the new series: How To Lead People to Christ
Jesus Christ is my passion and love. I want my life - my words, thoughts and actions - to ever be honoring to Him. He gave His life so that I may have life. Presently, I am trying to give my life to Him because He wants it, He asks for it; and by losing my life I actually gain it.
In this lifelong endeavor to bring glory to Jesus Christ, the One Who alone guarantees everlasting life to the believer in Him, I seek to be true to His word. It is this quest for truth that has led me to Free Grace Theology. This position best represents the whole range of divine data found in Scripture. Free Grace Theology, being derived from the Bible, is a grid also through which to now view the Bible. By means of its tenets, the Word of God may be read prima facie without contradiction, and without the endless inclusions of ad hoc and secondary assumptions to the texts. No other theology or position can legitimately assert this.
All people who can genuinely claim Free Grace Theology share a rich theological heritage, as well as the foundational principles by which it consists. A friend and proponent of Free Grace, Don Reiher, has posted several videos on YouTube that show panel discussions at the Grace Evangelical Society National Grace Conference. These glimpses of history show godly men committed to Free Grace Theology, who nevertheless had disagreements. Their humble practice of grace aligned with their proclamation of it. How very instructional it is to view men such as Radmacher, Bing, Hart, Hodges, and Wilkin share a table in harmony of purpose and unity of spirit.
One of my weak areas is that of Ecclesiology, and specifically ecclesiastical polity. I have recently been exposed to the principles of churches such as the IFC and the like; those who are part of "Separationist" congregations. The study has indeed been informative. It has given me a greater understanding of the attitudes and operations of some of the most vocal antagonists to Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the GES. In discussions with those who disagree with the GES in the Free Grace world, including some of its leaders, I have found that the ones who do not have a background in these churches do not believe that the GES is teaching doctrinal heresy. It is the unfortunate truth that people who put a high premium on extreme "separation" doctrine are promoting division in Free Grace Theology, often by less than honorable means. The fact of the correlation between the two is inescapable.
It must be noted that these men are going much further in their dissenting declarations and have been making accusations against the GES and those sympathetic to it. Their cries are of "Heresy!" and even more extreme they accuse of "False Gospel!" while those who are more level-headed, balanced, and deliberate, would not agree to either charge. In taking this extreme course they have sown seeds of discord among the brethren, causing deep rifts between men and women of like mind. Their premature and hostile call to arms has caused grace people, who were heretofore united (yet still having differences in doctrine) to take polar opposite sides and entrench themselves against each other.
Level heads must prevail. We ought not to allow the questionable tactics and attitudes of those with "Separationist" backgrounds to dictate the fate and future of Free Grace Theology.
At Zane Hodge's funeral, I had the opportunity to sit down for some time with Dr. Earl Radmacher. He is very displeased with what is happening in the Free Grace world. He stated that Satan is gaining a foothold in order to "divide and conquer". The fate and the future of Free Grace Theology is in our hands at the present moment. We ought not to allow the confusion and division being propagated by extremists to break us apart. Free Grace Theology needs to be a unified front.
In our conversation, Dr. Radmacher gave an illustration. Paraphrased, here it is: "In the Reformed movement, they have John MacArthur on the West Coast, R.C. Sproul on the East Coast, and John Piper in the Midwest. These three, having significant differences, nevertheless, do not speak against each other, or seek separation. They are unified in their purpose. We in Free Grace Theology ought to stop devouring each other and take a play out of these Reformed gentlemen's book. We need to be unified in our purpose!" I agree with Dr. Earl. Not only do we share a rich theological heritage, as has been explained above, we also share the conviction that eternal life is appropriated simply by faith alone in Christ alone.
Dr. Radmacher told me of an idea that he had at last year's Free Grace Alliance national conference. He suggested that there be leaders of the Free Grace world invited to a table, which does not have any corners or a head, to sit down and discuss these matters. Prayer would begin and end the meeting. During the conversation, one would speak. The next who would speak would have to accurately summarize and characterize the previous speakers message before moving on to his. Not until everyone's points were exhausted would the meeting be adjourned. In the so doing of this process, understanding would result. During this whole time, there would be a greater circle, enveloping the circle of leaders, populated by men and women who were to be constantly in prayer for the proceedings and an individual at the main table. What a great plan! Unfortunately, Dr. J.B. Hixson dismissed that suggestion out of hand. It is yet encouraging to note that Dr. Radmacher and Dr. Stephen R. Lewis are planning something similar at the GES National Conference this year.
Men and women, level heads must prevail! Those who do not operate in the realm of balance have colored the discussion with accusations of heresy and false gospel, all the while others in the Free Grace world on one hand may disagree with the GES, but on the other maintain that they do not preach heresy. We should not allow the questionable tactics of a small few disrupt the unity of our movement. Healing and understanding must be sought lest our movement implode, being relegated to the outer extremes of fringe theology. This self-destructive path is well under way.
Free Grace Theology has something to share with the world! It ought to be given an opportunity to be heard in the marketplace of theological ideas. Yet such a course as we are now on will ensure that such will never be realized. There must be accord. There must be understanding. And there must be charity. Furthermore, those who continually thrive off of the division and strife they create need to shape up, or create their own "Separationist" organization. They must not be tolerated. We must distance ourselves far from their extremist and destructive ramblings. It was a mistake to allow the hostile proclamation of their differences to have a platform at our blogs and our conferences. Dr. Radmacher has assured me that the intent of creating the FGA was not to distance itself from the GES. He invisioned that they could work together. But many pressures have been coming to bear upon some of the leaders so as to exclude those who more simply define the invitation to eternal life; and in so doing, alienate a great segment of Free Grace Theology. I was informed that the recently appointed Executive Director of the FGA, himself, comes from a "Separationist" church background. What a mistake! Such an attitude that comes from those churches surely is at odds with the purpose of the FGA to "connect and equip" free grace people!
We in Free Grace Theology will have differences of opinion. But our convictions are stronger than our differences, and the foundations of our faith are secure. It has been personalities, and not doctrine, that have been ripping our movement apart. It is my opinion that our differences can either be worked out, or set aside in Christian charity (as they have been in the past), that we may get to the work of proclaiming the glorious and incomparable grace and riches of the Lord Jesus Christ.
your Free Grace Theology host and friend,
Antonio da Rosa