Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Friday, March 20, 2009

J.B. Hixson Shoots his Movement in the Foot, Revealing Major Flaws

Dear Free Grace Theology Blog patrons,

A reader of Free Grace Theology Blog informed me that the latest Chafer Theological Seminary conference, held early this month, was available in mp3 on the web. Two of the plenary speakers especially interested me. First, there was George Meisinger, president of Chafer, who presented a paper on 1 Corinthians 15. I have not yet listened to this mp3, and still yet intend to do so. I was also able to get a Word document of the paper through Bob Wilkin. My friend Rene Lopez is doing two workshops at the upcoming GES conference, one of which is entitled, "The Use and Abuse of 1 Corinthians 15". I directed him to the mp3 and sent him the hardcopy. Rene informed me that he has already listened to the mp3 on his iPod while flying to Florida. I do look forward to his workshop.

The next speaker who interested me was Dr. J.B. Hixson, executive director of the Free Grace Alliance. He presented a paper which was essentially a chapter out of his exegetically flawed new book, Getting the Gospel Wrong. I believe that this, indeed, is an appropriate title for his book in that he significantly garbles the saving message. He read the paper for the conference (was over 20 pages long) and inserted his commentary where necessary. I listened to this mp3.

I haven't looked very critically at the paper or listened to his message a second time. But in the brief encounter that I have had with his paper and message, I have found that J.B. Hixson shoots his movement in the foot, revealing major flaws with it.


The So-called "Technical Gospel"
A key ingredient in Fundamentalist Free Grace theology is the term "gospel". Greg Schliessman once wrote a paper describing the "technical usage" of the term "gospel". It is argued that "gospel" can be used technically to denote what one must believe to be saved. It must be noted, however, that not one passage in the whole of Scripture gives us a detailed definition of what this "technical gospel" is. This is a major flaw in Fundamentalist Free Grace theology (FFG from here on). If there is a "technical gospel" and you must believe it to be saved, it is a tragedy of inestimable proportion that not one passage defines it! Can we not assume that God, in giving us Scripture that is profitable to the human race, would provide for us the exact and incontestable requirements for one to have eternal life? For the FFG to proclaim that a "technical gospel" is required to be believed for eternal life, and then to find that such a "gospel" is not clearly defined for us in Scripture is a major flaw.

Furthermore, J.B. Hixson is taking away the foundation of the "technical gospel". His words are here instructive and true:

Even a casual survey of the usage of the term gospel (Gk. eujaggevlion)in Scripture reveals that it is not used in a technical sense.3 There is no inherent, technical meaning of gospel...

Although attempts have been made to demonstrate a technical meaning of the term, such efforts are an example of what D.A. Carson calls the fallacy of false assumptions about technical meaning.4 “In this fallacy, an interpreter falsely assumes that a word always or nearly always has a certain technical meaning—a meaning usually derived either from a subset of the evidence or from the interpreter’s personal systematic theology.”5...

A survey of the New Testament usage helps clarify the various nuances of the word and one quickly concludes that the term gospel is not a technical term.


After stating this, he then affirms that the word "gospel" is used in this sense. This is a bit of double-speak. First he says that "Scripture reveals that ["gospel"] is not used in a technical sense." But later he says, "the term [gospel] in fact is used sometimes in this [technical] sense". First we must note that he is contradicting himself. "Gospel" is either used in a technical sense or it is not. Furthermore, he affirms that which he does not prove by proper hermeneutical practice and exegesis. To substantiate his claim that "gospel" is used technically to denote what one believes to be saved he gives 13 proof texts, and a few sentences on one of the proof texts. And he did this at a conference on hermeneutics!

J.B.'s study he provided in his paper to show that the term "gospel" is not used in a technical sense was sufficient to raise red flags when viewing the evidence for the "technical gospel" usage in the New Testament. What I am saying is that he did an adequate (but by no means exhaustive) study to show that the term "gospel" covers a broad spectrum of truth. Why would we assume that these 13 passages in some way use the terms "preach the gospel" and "gospel" in a "technical" sense, in a way different than the other 117 usages of them? J.B. Hixson asserts what he does not prove by exegetical considerations. His study on the term "gospel," which shows that the "gospel" is broad, for all intents and purposes shoots his movement in the foot. It provides a study that calls into question the bald assertion that "gospel" has a technical sense used in the Scriptures, denoting what one must believe to be saved. A final note that ought to disarm the FFG proponents is the fact that the term "gospel" is nowhere to be found in the only book in the canon written with an explicit evangelistic purpose, the Gospel of John.


"To Be[lieve] or Not to Be[lieve]"
Tom Stegall, in his Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel series, has affirmed the necessity of believing in the humanity of Christ:

I will seek to defend what I believe are the essential, defining elements of the Gospel which must be believed for one to receive eternal salvation in this age. I will summarize them for now as follows:

1) Jesus Christ is God (“Son of God” and “Lord”).
2) Jesus Christ is human (“Son of man”).
3) Jesus Christ died for (huper – i.e., in a substitutionary sense) our sins.
4) Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead.
5) Salvation is by God’s grace, apart from works, through faith in Jesus Christ and His work alone. [emphasis mine]


Number 2 above states that one must believe that "Jesus Christ is human" in order that one may "receive eternal salvation in this age." But J.B. Hixson does not agree! Here is J.B.'s opinion on the matter:

An evangelistic discussion also might emphasize any one of various non-negotiable truths such as the Trinity, inerrancy, full humanity of Christ, or the hypostatic union of Christ. But one does not have to affirm explicitly these truths in order to receive eternal life. [emphasis mine]


Are we now to expect a series of articles penned by Tom Stegall titled, "The Tragedy of the Humanityless Gospel" in which he condemns J.B. Hixson as preaching a false, non-saving gospel? Wouldn't Tom Stegall be inconsistent and hypocritical if he did not write such a series of articles?

I mean look! The condition(s) of receiving eternal salvation are of great importance. If the lost are not specifically told that they must believe in the humanity of Jesus, and this is indeed a requirement for eternal life, then the evangelist has preached a false gospel, and the lost may have a false assurance of salvation! Would not docetists, Hindus, and JW's (only to name a few) need to be instructed in the proper Christology that affirms the humanity and physical corporeality of Jesus in order that they might be saved? To neglect to preach that a man must believe that Jesus is human when if in fact it is required of him to do so as a mandate from God is to preach a false gospel!

Leaving the realm of objectivity
Whenever one leaves the objective material of the Gospel of John, which explicitly states its evangelistic purpose, the truth of the whole bible becomes fair game in the quest for the content of saving faith. J.B. Hixson has stated that his checklist in evangelism was derived at by bible "synthesis", but he has failed to apprise us of the objective hermeneutical process by which he regards one truth essential to be believed for eternal life and another to be non-essential. This is a major flaw in FFG theology! There can never be the certainty of a "Thus saith the Lord" in the evangelism or soteriology of FFG. The evangelist himself becomes the final arbiter of the exact requirements for eternal life. His final checklist is a product of his tradition and subjective "synthesis" criteria. The result is that the FFG person becomes the authority: "Thus saith the evangelist!"

We must state here that J.B. Hixson and Tom Stegall cannot both be preaching the "True Gospel"! They both require different conditions for eternal life. Either one is right and the other wrong, or they are both wrong.

They cannot both be the gospel! One or both of them is a false gospel and comes under the curse of perverting the gospel or preaching another gospel!

J.B. Hixson has shot his movement in the foot by revealing this major flaw: when you leave the objective pronouncement of Christ and the Father in the Gospel of John, the only book in the canon written with an evangelistic purpose, the sky is the limit on the content of saving faith.


To err is human, but to forgive is to be "something more than just a mere man".
During the course of J.B. Hixson's session at the Chafer conference he addressed the features of his checklist for eternal salvation. We must note again that his list is different than Tom Stegall, or others I have encountered, for that matter. One of the items in his opinion on the content of saving faith, derived from tradition and a subjective "synthesis" of the bible, is that one must believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Although Hixson goes into great length to show that Jesus is God in his paper and presentation, he stops short of requiring that one believe that Jesus is God in order to be saved. This position that he takes essentially shoots his movement in the foot and turns our attention to yet another major flaw. The last flaw we looked at is the subjective nature of determining one's checklist for evangelism when one leaves the objective words of Jesus Christ and the Father in the Gospel of John behind. The flaw now being discussed describes the ambiguity present in FFG theology.

Here is Hixson describing for us what one actually believes as a minimum (in terms of content) when he believes that Jesus is the Son of God (transcribed from the presentation of his paper):

[One must believe that] [t]here is something unique about Him. I suggest in the paper that of course we would not say that a person today has to have a fully developed Christology and understand all of the intricacies of the doctrine of the deity of Christ. They may not have even heard of the term "deity". But there is a sense in which they have to understand that the Jesus who is saving them is the Son of God: He's transcendent, He's something more than just a mere man, or just a mortal hero.


Tom Stegall and others in Fundamentalist Free Grace circles require that the lost actually believe that Jesus is God, fully equal to the Father. But J.B. Hixson has clearly fallen short of requiring the lost to believe in the "deity" of Christ. I believe that this is a major concession on His part.

Let us look at his language. To believe that Jesus is in "a sense" the Son of God one must understand that He is "transcendent" and that He is "something more than just a mere man".

Boy does this open up a bunch of cans of worms, ladies and gentlemen!

1) First we must note that he and Stegall are providing us with two different requirements. Stegall asserts that one must believe in the deity of Christ, that He "is God" equal to the Father, but Hixson simply states that one must believe that Jesus is the Son of God with the minimum sense that He is "transcendent" and "more than just a mere man". Here again we are met with the logical conclusion that they both cannot be preaching the same or true "Technical Gospel". Either one of them or both of them is preaching a false gospel and is under the curse of God.

Now, are we to be expecting Tom Stegall to produce yet another series of articles titled "The Tragedy of the Deityless Gospel"? Again, it would be hypocritical and inconsistent of Tom Stegall to not accuse J.B. Hixson of preaching a false gospel! J.B. Hixson does not require the lost to believe in the "deity" of Christ!

2) Hixson's position illustrates for us the ambiguity that is inherently resident in FFG theology. Terms like "sense" and "more than" lack an objective quality to them that can both stifle evangelism and prevent one from assurance.

Question: How does Hixson come to this minimum description and definition of the term "Son of God"? How does he know that his required minimum content is enough?

What if more than believing that Jesus is transcendent and more than just a mere man is required for eternal life as Tom Stegall has stated? Wouldn't Hixson be preaching a false gospel?

Could not later the lost question himself if he believed that Jesus was the Son of God adequately enough? Surely this is a great possibility!

3) He opens the door to the same criticism that has been leveled against Consistent Free Grace Theology (the theology the GES prescribes to). If one must understand that Jesus is the Son of God in a sense that He is transcendent or someone more than just a mere human, then the J.W.'s and Mormons (only to name a few cults) would have this part of J.B. Hixson's doctrinal checklist for salvation covered. Is not Jesus the archangel Michael in J.W. theology, a transcendent being who is more than a mere man? Of course! Is not Jesus a God in Mormon theology, a transcendent being who is more than a mere man? Of course! I fully expect that J.B. Hixson's email will be rife with cries of "Heresy!" from our Separationist friends.

More thoughts from J.B. Hixson from his paper itself:

In first century Jewish thought... [a] well-developed understanding of the doctrine of the deity Christ, and even more so the Trinity, was lacking. These doctrines did not take shape fully until later in Church history. Yet saving faith involved the rudimentary affirmation of Christ as uniquely divine or transcendent on some level... Jesus’ death and resurrection, more than anything else, sets Him apart as unique among men. Ultimately, His death and resurrection attest to His deity even if early believers did not entirely make this connection.


There is, in Hixson's theology, a necessity to have only a "rudimentary affirmation" of Christ as being divine or transcendent "on some level". Hixson has again shot his movement in the foot! It should be clear to the reader that J.B. Hixson does not require the lost to believe in the deity of Christ, that Jesus is God, equal to the Father.

Whereas Stegall's affirmation that one must believe that Jesus is God, equal to the Father, requires that one have some understanding in the trinity and hypostatic union (things that don't actually make his list, but are there by default), Hixson does not clearly articulate nor enumerate for us what one must exactly believe about Jesus being the Son of God. The methods by which these two men have devised their checklists for eternal life are shown to be greatly flawed by their complexities and ambiguities.

Hixson states that one must believe that Jesus is divine. Here are the definitions I found in an online dictionary for "divine":

1: of or pertaining to a god
2: godlike
3: heavenly; celestial
4: of superhuman or surpassing excellence

Such an understanding may potentially include everyone who could be persuaded that Jesus guarantees one's eternal destiny by faith. Who else but someone divine in some sense can guarantee one's eternal destiny!?


Conclusion
It has been aptly shown that when men and women leave the objective pronouncements of Jesus Christ and the Father as found in the Gospel of John for their traditions and subjective "synthesis" they fall into major error. If you ask 10 Fundamentalist Free Grace people what exactly must one do to have eternal life, you will get 11 different answers.

This short treatise only described a small few of the major flaws in the Fundamentalist Free Grace theology of the Executive Director of the Free Grace Alliance. Many more flaws reside there. I am afraid that Hixson has garbled the message of Christ.

Readers of Free Grace Theology Blog: God has not left us to wonder what is exactly required of us for eternal life, nor has he left us to figure out how to properly synthesize the bible in scavenger like fashion, hunting every truth that He requires must be adhered to in order to be qualified for eternal life. God has given us His love letter, the Gospel of John, specifically written that one know that he has eternal life. The Father's command is eternal life. The pronouncement of Jesus:

Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life! (John 6:47)

Grace and peace to you, my blog patrons.

Antonio da Rosa
Lakeside, CA

72 Comments:

Blogger Antonio said...

I realize, folks, that I have comment moderation on right now. Ut I assure you that I will be checking often to post your comments. Your comment, opinions, and criticisms, as well as your encouragement and additional thoughts are very welcome!

Your free grace theology host,

Antonio da Rosa

March 21, 2009 4:05 PM  
Blogger JoW said...

Amen, Antonio. Thank you for so clearly identifying the issues.
1 John 5:11-12 "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn't have the Son of God does not have life."

What could be simpler.
Jo Ann

March 21, 2009 5:21 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Amen Antonio and Jo Ann!!!!!

What could be simpler

Jo Ann those trees in that picture outside your house?

alvin :)

March 21, 2009 7:38 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Antonio,

Thank you so much for laying out a clear presentation that shows the flaw in checklist evangelism. You did it by keeping firmly on the subject matter and not lashing out with personal attacks. It was like being in a court room and just listening to the facts. All facts!!! Pure facts!!!
I so much want to express my gratitude and appreciation for what you've done. This is what is needed in this debate. Just facts...... Biblical facts....... Undeniable facts.

It's been my heart's desire all along for Christians to set aside their emotions on this debate and come together with a heart to talk about these issues and listen to each other. I care about my friends on both sides of the issue. I'm not interested in being right or winning an argument. I'm interested in truth. I'm interested in learning. I'm interested in seeing where I'm wrong when I am!!! I'm interested in knowing what God means by what He says in His Word. You have helped me see some issues that I never thought of before. More pieces of the puzzle have come together in your very well presented paper. I see it!!! Surely those who have been on the other side of this debate will see it if they read your paper with an open and honest heart. It's unrefutable!!!

My prayer is going to be that our friends on both sides of this issue will take an honest look at these facts. If they do, they will see exactly the flaw in Hixson and Stegall's arguments. My prayer also is that Hixson and Stegall will know that we're not against them. We're against what they are teaching. I'm sure they truly believe that what they are teaching is right. But I hope that they will see the flaw in it.

Great men of God all through the ages have seen their mistakes and changed. One of those men is Zane Hodges. He's admitted many times that he use to teach something one way, but after studying the Word came to see it another way. That's true of many godly men. Praise God for them.

One of the biggest joys for me in your paper was to see how you take it all back to the gospel of John! YES!!! AMEN!!! That's where it's at. I've been teaching John (verse by verse) for many, many months now with my discipleship class. I'm using wonderful material by an author that has done a super job in putting it together!!! I've clearly seen that John is the book that was written to show a person exactly what they must believe to have eternal life. You brought that out so well in this paper. Praise God!

I truly love all my friends...... both in GES and FGA. I want you to be friends again. I want you to discuss and debate these issues in love for the purpose of coming to see truth from God....... whatever that is!!! May HE ALONE be glorified in all of this.

Forever praising Him who alone is worthy,
Diane

March 21, 2009 9:18 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Great review Antonio! Although it was hard to - I listened to his "presentation" (reading of a paper). Did you notice however that the person who introduced him said he was the "former" executive director of the FGA... If my ears didn't deceive me - that's what I heard??!!

JOW - Thanks for alerting us to those audio files...

March 21, 2009 9:41 PM  
Blogger JoW said...

No, Alvin, I got the picture somewhere on the internet, I forget where.
By the way, all the papers from the Chafer Pastors' conference are available on the deanbible.org web site. There is some very good material there from other speakers.

March 21, 2009 9:52 PM  
Blogger JoW said...

Diane, Thanks for your post; I certainly agree. I think you have a heart as big as the ocean!
I would love to know what material you are using for your Gospel of John study. I wish I had your e-mail address. Maybe if I e-mailed Alvin, he would send it to me.

I just today came across an article by Charlie Bing of the FGA in JOTGES, Spring 1996 entitled 'THE CONDITION FOR SALVATION
IN JOHN’S GOSPEL'. In it he makes the statement, and I quote, 'the object of faith, which is Christ.' He also discusses the primacy of John's gospel for evangelism. Interesting in light of his seeming support for Hixson, et al. Maybe he just didn't want to get involved in a controversy.
I am writing this in church (between meetings) I have a little netbook computer which I take with me to use my Bible program.
J

March 22, 2009 11:20 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Jo Ann,

I appreciate your kind words and all the good input you have given on the blog!!!

Yes, Alvin can give you my e-mail address. I would be glad to have yours, too.
:-)

The material I use in John for my discipleship class was given to me by Bob Bryant's wife. It's the material he taught when he was overseas on a missions trip, and he tells how some of these pastors came to him with tears because they finally understood "eternal security!" Bob says that the material would need to be redone again in order to give out to the public..... although I think it's great the way it is!!!
I did add an introduction to it from Zane Hodges. It was from his notes given at the 2008 GES Conference....
"Miraculous Signs and Literary Structure in the 4th Gospel."

The young ladies have come to see for themselves that John is the only book written with the STATED PURPOSE of being evangelistic. They've come to recognize the 8 signs as being for the purpose of bringing someone to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the giver of eternal life. Our study is very open for disagreement, yet they all see it when they go through it. Even my New Tribes Missionary friend came to recognize that John is the only book in the Bible with the STATED PURPOSE of being evangelistic.

Sorry.... I always get to wordy.

Have a great day enjoying the Lord who is enjoying you!

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

March 22, 2009 3:22 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jo Ann,

Thanks for the encouragement. The message of life is often lost in the forest of traditionalism. Tradition is undoubtedly the underlying criterion for Hixson's bible "synthesis". He has fallen into the trap of justifying his checklist through mere prooftexting, opinion, and tradition.

Thanks for your comments!

Antonio

March 22, 2009 4:21 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

WOW Jo Ann, you make me look like a cave man, you must be a lady of the future :)

Jo Ann said:
I have a little netbook computer which I take with me to use my Bible program.

I probably need to look into something like that

alvin :)

March 22, 2009 4:35 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Jon,

Meisinger introduced him saying, "he was the past executive director".

I have heard from several sources, but have not been able to confirm, that J.B. Hixson was being asked to step down. Dr. Radmacher had reservations with Hixson, and people such as Elliot Johnson and Stephen Lewis have left the FGA under his leadership (among others).

People are not comfortable with a man who has separationist roots and separationist tendencies in a group that is supposed to "connect and encourage" free grace people.

Actually, I just saw that J.B. Hixson is their "National Conference Director" now. I know that they were paying him upwards to around 70,000$ a year as the Executive Director, and it just seems to me that that is a significant amount of money.

I also see that the secretary is now a guy named Bret Nazworth, a man who has had many vitriolic things to say against Zane Hodges and the GES.

Hope all things are wewll with you. Gonna miss you at the GES. What is going on in India?

your bro,

Antonio

March 22, 2009 6:02 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Diane,

You are a voice of reason and love. Thanks for participating on this blog.

Antonio

March 22, 2009 6:02 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Alvin,

You bless my soul.

Antonio

March 22, 2009 6:04 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Brother if I bless your soul why didn't you post my post to Jo Ann . . . . you pea picker :)

March 22, 2009 6:26 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Now Antonio, don't take me calling you a pea-picker personal, that is Mayberry talk. You know from TV, Andy and Barny,Aunt Bee and Opie, also I like that guy by the name of Ernest T. Bass. He kinda reminds me of myself "a pea-picker" HeeeHee

Ugly :~)

March 22, 2009 6:51 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Its there dude!

March 22, 2009 7:09 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

WOW! Antonio I not only need a hearing aid but glasses too!

Thanks Brother

Ugly :~}

March 22, 2009 7:35 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Ugly,

Have you looked in the mirror? Jo Ann doesn't have to make you "look like a cave man"...

March 23, 2009 6:44 AM  
Blogger goe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 23, 2009 7:35 AM  
Blogger goe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 23, 2009 8:25 AM  
Blogger goe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 23, 2009 8:29 AM  
Blogger JimEd said...

I am fed up with plagiarism accusations. Nobody remembers every source. If I dislike something I can truthfully claim it was not original because King Solomon said "Nothing is new under the sun." It is easier than trying to refute the substance.

If knowledge of the method used to satisfy God's judgment against sin is added as a requirement for receiving everlasting life the simple message is made complicated. I think I'll call them the "John 3:16 is insufficient" people.

March 23, 2009 9:32 AM  
Blogger Sanctification said...

Antonio,

In my opinion this is the most important article you have ever written in the last year.

It also was graciously, kindly presented, so thank you very much! I appreciate your observations. It would have been a fine thing to have had brother Hixson to cite, a year back when I could not give a clear, unvarnished yes to the Son of God req. of the gospel and subsequently I was disinvited for 'dodging' that question.

Great post!

Michele

March 23, 2009 2:03 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jim,

you wrote:
----------
I am fed up with plagiarism accusations. Nobody remembers every source. If I dislike something I can truthfully claim it was not original because King Solomon said "Nothing is new under the sun." It is easier than trying to refute the substance.
----------

I agree with you. To be quite honest, the sentence and a half from Ryrie in my post had so been engrained in my mind that I have often used it when I talk about Lordship Salvation.

Many people do not like what I am writing and are willing to throw out anything to distract from the content of this post.

The use of their red herrings is, as you say, "easier than trying to refute the substance."

The observations that this post makes are strong indications that the theology of the Fundamentalist (so-called) Free Grace position contains numerous major flaws.

Thanks for dropping by!

Antonio

March 23, 2009 4:10 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Michele,

Thanks for the encouragement!

your fg brother,

Antonio

March 23, 2009 4:12 PM  
Blogger Sanctification said...

Gary,

I think I told you this story someone told in my church two Sundays back? In sunday school we are studying Titus chapter one, the qualities of overseer, and a woman in class raised her hand to share an anecdote.

There is a professor of Christian theology at the University of Oregon who is the most precise and effective teacher of our beliefs, yet he is known to be atheist.

It goes to show you and me and everyone really that any person can wield the truths of the Word of God. They may be able to even mirror what I might call the miracle of "orthodoxy" just as Pharaoh was able to mirror many of Moses' miracles. God gives the gift of intelligence to many men even if not all have become believers or obedient to Jesus Christ.

Satan used scripture to tempt Jesus in the desert. He had pin-point accuracy, but the direction for which he used the Word was not to glorify God but many other alternatives.

I'm less impressed that a man would use the gift of intelligence to do apologetics. A statement made here is quickly followed with a statement made there. What I rather prefer is that God will open my eyes, more and more with each passing day, to receive the messages that come from those who are Spiritually approved.

I think you agreed with this, but tell me again please?

Michele

March 23, 2009 4:14 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

You know our churches are filled with people who believe all kinds of theology but don’t “Know the Lord.”

Here is something from Zane:

Zane,

So Saul was born again and this was a benefit of the New Covenant that Jesus would establish by His death on the cross. In the days of Samuel and Saul, people in Israel needed to know the Lord. Indeed they had enough knowledge, apparently, to encourage this experience in their unregenerate brothers and neighbors. According to Jeremiah, Jewish people used to say to their fellow Jews, “Know the Lord.” Thus the terminology of the New Covenant was part of Israel’s earliest history. But when the New Covenant prophecy of Jeremiah is fulfilled, it will be wonderfully true that,

No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and ever man his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord.

That day will probably be here much sooner than we expect. (Jotges volume 18) emphasis mine
(cf. 1 Sam 1:12; 3:7; Job 19:25-27)


Here is where it STARTS knowing the One who is eternal life for His simple promise of eternal life.

You can be a theologian but if you don’t “Know the Lord” what GOOD is it?

The BASIC issue in every dispensation has been to “Know the Lord.”

March 23, 2009 4:39 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hey there brother Jim,

What you be tak'in about, I went and peeked in the mirror, and thar be no cave man looking back? *Ugly scratchen his head*

Ugly :~}

March 23, 2009 5:44 PM  
Blogger JoW said...

Jim, I have seen a picture of Alvin and he is really very good looking! (Don't let him know I said so, though.)
Jo Ann

March 23, 2009 8:24 PM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

If plagiarism is engaged, then it should be acknowledged; and then move on.

I agree if that charge is used as the crux of someone's argument, then it is not substantive; but it is just as wrong to minimize the negligence that plagiarism represents --- both are wrong.

Btw, I'm not saying that I think Antonio is involved in this practice; just that JimEd's comment should probably be revised a bit ;-).

March 23, 2009 8:33 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Dear Friends,

Just a reminder that Dr. Radmacher's wife, Ruth, is scheduled for back surgery tomorrow (Tuesday, March 24) if nothing's changed.
PLEASE KEEP HER IN YOUR PRAYERS.
:-)

March 23, 2009 9:34 PM  
Blogger goe said...

Michele,

I totally agree with you Michele. You are on the right track. I've really enjoyed and been blessed by the discussions we've had. God bless you.

Gary

March 23, 2009 10:29 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Jo Ann,

Just saw Alvin's new Avatar; you're right! Whoa...look at that steely demeanor! He's kind of a cross between Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood.

OK, Ugly, I'm hightailin' it outta town!

(Literally. See you in Dallas, Antonio!)

March 24, 2009 4:14 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Jo Ann

Thanks for the compliment, but that picture I sent you was about fifteen years ago. That is the newest family picture that I had. My wife HATES having her picture taken. This is me now, I'm a bald headed ole'coot . . . .heeheee
When I became a police man I shaved my head. So I went from a cave man to a ole'coot in one day.

I like mess'in with the boys minds, they be good and Bad! Jim and Gary (goe). I keep changing so Gary don't know who to shoot at . . . . he sits over on his blog under that moon waiting for jackrabbits like me to shoot when they come runnin by.....that why i left my feathers there one time i be pretending to be a chicken . . . .heeheeee

Ugly :~}
P/s the mountain man put the fear in him :~}

March 24, 2009 8:45 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Can we still offer the living water like Jesus did with the women at the well?

Absolutely! YES!!!!! Why else would the simple offer be repeated at the end of the Bible?

That offer is still available to take of freely! (Rev 22:17)

Now the LS people don’t believe that, and some FG people also don’t believe that.

The first would clearly make discipleship a condition for taking the living water.

The second, some would have a list that must be believed and some would want to hook-up the trailer of Eph 2:10 right away to the offer.

I would say the free offer of eternal life is powerful, and explaining why Jesus can give it freely is very natural.

I was trying to think of one single instance when witnessing that I didn’t tell someone about the cross. And it was way back before I understood just how free the gift was.

When I use to do street evangelism I would give the law (Matt 5), and pay anyone fifty dollars for each one they had not broken (James 2:10). If the law did not shut their mouth (Rom 3:19), I would leave them with a track but I would say no more (Gal 3:24).

Now, I offer the free gift of eternal life right up front, and I can’t remember a time doing it that way that I didn’t explain HOW Jesus can give the gift freely!

I think some are afraid to offer it freely without hooking-up the trailer right away.

I now make sure the person knows that it is a free gift BEFORE I explain to them how they can be delivered from the power of sin in their daily life.

But I find this comes very natural too, the ones I have spoken to are fully aware of their sin, and want to know how to overcome it.

That’s where I hook-up the trailer!

I explain to them a full-orbed salvation, some would call 3D (three dimensional).

Don't let anyone make you think you have to dump the whole dumptruck on those your witnessing too.

But you can still like Jesus offer the living water for anyone to take freely!

Alvin :)

March 24, 2009 11:16 AM  
Blogger goe said...

Alvin,

Finally caught up wit-cha--ya varmint!! I had a good bead on ya, but when I read yer comment about the free offer of eternal life still being valid today I let out a big AMEN and decided not to shoot! This was yer lucky day! Yer good theology saved yore life even if ya are a sleazy critter!!

March 25, 2009 5:22 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
I think this is an excellent article.

It occured to me while reading your article that one of the big problems in this discussion has a certain "psychological" component (for lack of a better word): It is the taking away, sense of decrease, that the subject creates. We have these precious doctrines that make up our picture of Christ. By trying to get to the basic cosf (content of saving faith) and eliminating some of those awesome doctrines from the theoretical basic bullseye cosf and the way the "debate" has evolved, I think, for many people, a sense of loss has been created.

Imagine a conversation going like this: Joe and Charlie come upon the subject of the cosf in a conversation about the Christain experience of conversion. Joe is thinking about a pygmie in Bora Bora (?) and what would he tell him if he only had one minute. Joe theorizes that he thinks someone could be saved without knowing about the cross of Christ. Charlie doesn't know that the pygmie is underlying Joe's thoughts. Charlie becomes offended because the cross of Christ is so precious to him. Of course it is precious to Joe too, but he is just trying to look at it in a critical, more analytical fashion. All Charlie can think about is the "loss" of the cross of Christ for so many that he is trying to win here in his world, where much about Jesus is already known. He isn't looking at the conversation in the same "experiemental" way that Joe was presenting it.

I think a lot of the FFG have been reluctant to be overly analytical about this and thus the offense has arisen. There is something inherently "reductionist" about analyzing this so closely.

I have been frustrated by this conversation over the last few years, as you know. Looking at it from this day, however, I realize that the challenge has been good for my thinking. I mean, really... I never actually hashed out the cosf. It seemed like an exercise that was not healthy. Why do I want to review what the lost "don't have to know or understand"? I want them to know all that I know and love about the Lord! I think a lot of Christians probably feel like that - that is why the word "reductionist" and similar words fly about - because these precious truths that we know and love - we don't want to pick them off the list, we don't want to somehow say they are not important. On the other hand, I think JB is honestly facing the fact that something like the deity of Christ is hard to define without the theology of it, which many evangelistic prospects have not been exposed to.

Thanks for making me think!!! You have pointed out the problems and the ambiguities very well! I will be looking for Tom Stegall's new articles about this new heresy. :~)

March 25, 2009 7:08 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

OK Alvin.....

We want to see another picture of you without hair and a BIG SMILE!!!
:-)

March 25, 2009 8:50 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Friends,

I agree with what Alvin said here...

Now, I offer the free gift of eternal life right up front, and I can’t remember a time doing it that way that I didn’t explain HOW Jesus can give the gift freely!

I think some are afraid to offer it freely without hooking-up the trailer right away.

I now make sure the person knows that it is a free gift BEFORE I explain to them how they can be delivered from the power of sin in their daily life.

END OF QUOTE

I've come to really appreciate that way of witnessing also. That's what Bob Wilkin does. Yet he's been accused of preaching a crossless gospel. He presents the gift FIRST. He finds that people respond to that far more than starting out with the fact that they are a sinner and Jesus died for their sins. Most people in churches have heard that terminology. But the idea that God has a free gift to give them, and it's FREE, is awesome words to hear. THEN the questions come, and THEN the HOW can be explained with the person fully engaged to hear.

I personally appreciated hearing that way of witnessing. I liked it! I use it! In fact, I take the occasion on particular holidays like Halloween (which is not really a holiday) to give out tracks that tell children that Jesus has a gift for them. It's free. It's eternal life. It's AWESOME!!!

Have a great day enjoying the Lord who loves you with an everlasting love.

Diane
:-)

March 25, 2009 9:02 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

One more IMPORTANT thought!!!
:-)

THE *KEY* TO THIS WHOLE DEBATE GOES BACK TO UNDERSTANDING THE ***PURPOSE*** OF THE *GOSPEL OF JOHN*!!!

Whenever you take hold of that truth, then this debate will go away...... at least the part that says what exactly you must believe to have eternal life. No more wondering if you've believed enough!!!

That was my "thought" for the moment!!!

Diane
:-)

March 25, 2009 12:24 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Rose,

I think that for many people you have hit the head of the nail. Very perceptive and insightful thoughts.

Yet I also think that people just can't wrap their mind around the fact that God can give eternal life to someone who is ignorant of orthodox doctrine. It is a fundamentalist mindset that has placed conditions of pre-qualification before one can simply drink the water of life.

Imagine a fundamentalist missionary, lets say, in India. They would have to give the villages at least a semester of theology proper and Christology in order to clear up all the misconceptions of worldview that these people have. Only after they had sufficiently passed the tests of orthodoxy could anyone of those people be given an assurance of their salvation by the missionary.

This is tragic!

This is time-share theology. There is both a prequalification and an exchange for eternal life. The difference between Fundamentalist Free Grace theology and Lordship Salvation is only a matter of degree. Both insist on more than simply believing in Jesus, adding various provisos and stipulations to the offer of life.

The doctrine of Assurance is at the heart of this debate. How can one find assurance of eternal life when evangelized by the FFG? There is no passage that they can turn to! Since the COSF is derived from a synthesis that has been formulated through the subjective and traditionalistic criterion of the particular evangelist, they do not have an authoratative pronouncement from the Lord. How does one know that he has believed enough doctrine or believed it correctly? Many people in Grace churches have struggled this way!

The reason for analyzing and finding the target is to crystallize for the lost what exactly they must do to have eternal life, and to point the saved, who have lost assurance, to the Fountain who alone guarantees eternal life by faith.

The pronouncement of Jesus and the Father as opposed to the authority of the FFG evangelist is infinitely to be preferred.

So there were reasons for this "reductionistic" analyzation.

Your friend who really appreciates your friendship and your grace,

Antonio

March 25, 2009 5:37 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Bobby,

thanks for dropping by.

I admit the line is from Ryrie. I would now write his name in, but there is no reason to.

I did not malisciously or intentionally fail to ascribe to him that sentence and a half. I did not intentionally write that wishing to gain credit for that meanial sentence. I have used that sentence so often that it has basically become my own.

To all who are offended by my use of Ryrie without noting him, I apologize.

regards,

Antonio

March 25, 2009 5:40 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Diane, Gary E., Alvin, and Jim,

Thanks for your comments and levity. They are both edifying and warming.

Antonio

March 25, 2009 5:42 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Thanks Gary, I lived to tell the story another day of Jesus and His love :) good~night

Ugly:~}

March 25, 2009 8:56 PM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Antonio,

Like I said, I don't think you've engaged in plagiarism; I understand the assimilation of certain teachers --- at some point their thoughts and expressions become ours.

March 26, 2009 12:50 PM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

A much needed refutatiojn of a fallacious position.

March 28, 2009 1:14 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Thanks Matt!

I miss you man!! What is up with you!? Don't have anytime for blogging these days?

Please pray for me as I deliver two workshops at the GES conference on Tuesday and Wednesday.

your fg friend,

Antonio

March 28, 2009 1:29 AM  
Blogger goe said...

Antonio,

I think you've exposed some very significant things here. I've yet to see any attempt at responding to the actual substance of your article, only silly and childish charges of "plagiarism"! Is anyone really supposed to take that seriously? Your explanation makes perfect sense to me! I'm sure Dr. Ryrie will "forgive" you!

I've looked at all the topics of the upcoming GES conference and I think this might be the best and most important conference ever! Wish I could come--but I will be praying and watching the live-stream!! God bless you and everyone else at the conference!

Cyber-Agent 007

March 28, 2009 4:03 AM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

The Lord bless your workshops, man!

I am working full time these days and I only have 1 GB of internet a month on my laptop.

March 29, 2009 5:07 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

So Bad your getting sofisticated on me uh? Agent 007 . . . . well I can get sofisticated too :) it's called buckshot ....Heeheeee
never-mind that I didn't spell that thar big word right you just be mind'n yor p's and q's

Ugly :~} has been here ~~~~~~~~~~

March 29, 2009 8:08 AM  
Blogger Peggie said...

Antonio, Diane, Michele,Jim(agent4Him)
and anyone else who is going to GES Conference.

Praying for you all a safe and wonderful week.
Sure wish we could join ya.
I must not covet, I must not covet....

March 29, 2009 2:43 PM  
Blogger goe said...

Better watch yo self Ugly! That ther double ought 7 gives me a LICENSE to kill!! And you know I work undercover!! By the time ya know I'm thar it's too late!! :~)

Cyber-Agent 007

March 29, 2009 2:43 PM  
Blogger goe said...

Bond is my name!! "Subterfuge" is my game!! :~)

March 29, 2009 2:48 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Peggie,

Im with Jim and Rene Lopez now. All we have been doing is eating and talking theology. Been so fun so far! I hope this week goes by slow!

Thanks for your prayers!

your fg theology host,

Antonio

March 29, 2009 4:58 PM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

BTW. . .
I am at the GES conference.
I just bumped in to Dr. Radmacher. He said that Ruth is in rahab, and is doing well. He appreciates your prayers. I did not see Antonio yet.

I am putting the finishing touches on the Video clips from Zane. That session will be on Thurs.

http://connect.palcs.org/fgconnect

That is the link for the webconference. Remember. . we are Central Standard time.

- Don Reiher

March 30, 2009 6:17 AM  
Blogger goe said...

Hey Ugly--I be waitin fer ya under the moon lite!!!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Ugly dead varmint

March 31, 2009 9:04 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Antonio, I found this very helpful. I hope you and many others at your conference are enjoying my home base in DFW that I miss so much!

April 01, 2009 4:05 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Gary

I agree that "Ugly" is a blot on society, give him a mule and he thinks he can go anywhere.

brother alvin :)

April 02, 2009 7:56 AM  
Blogger JoW said...

Alvin, how come you are not watching the conference, instead of goofing off with Gary. :) (Maybe you are at work?)

April 02, 2009 2:10 PM  
Blogger JoW said...

By the way, I watched it and it was terrific!!!!!

April 02, 2009 2:11 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hey Jo Ann

I'm looking to you to edumakate me, start feeding me some of that good stuff. I tried getting on at work but it wouldn't work after about three or four tries I gave up. My computer at home is dial-up so it's as slow as ole Gary.
But if you would just feed me some nid-bits I would be like a hound dog howling at the moon . . .heeheeee

brother alvin :)

April 02, 2009 4:51 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you Antonio for your part in making this week one of the best GES Conferences I've attend yet!!!
My husband and I have been attending for more than a decade now. The focus was Jesus Christ and Him crucified, resurrected, and coming again. It was a great week!!!

A special treat was meeting Michele and Jim. What great people!!! Great friends!!! Really special for me!!! Can't wait to read Jim's book.

A GREAT WEEK!!!!
To Jesus Christ alone be all the glory and praise!!!

Diane
:-)

April 02, 2009 10:52 PM  
Blogger JoW said...

Alvin and all, the plenary messages that were streamed live from the GES conference are still available on the site. There is a list of the individual messages at:
http://connect.palcs.org/fgconnect
just go to this page, click on the arrow in the middle of the page, and again on the next page and then log in as a guest. These are recorded videos and will be available for about a week. I am going to send Alvin the web links for the individual messages, so maybe you can contact him if you want that list.
Jo Ann

April 03, 2009 9:56 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Thanks Jo Ann

I be happier then a Jaybird . . . .heeheeeee

off to work . . . come on gettie up :~}

April 04, 2009 4:22 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

To my dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I wanted to share some thoughts that God has placed so heavily on my heart this morning.

I have a dear friend from church (Vicki) who is dying of cancer (53 years old). She is probably in her last days, going through a "lot" of suffering right now. Yet she finds comfort in clinging to the Word of God and His love for her through Jesus Christ. She hasn't learned some of the truths that I have had the privilege of learning through my excellent free grace teachers, but she has lived up to the light that God has given her, and He is her life and joy!!!
She is showing me and others how to live and how to die. She is showing us that Jesus is with us through every difficulty in life. His love is great, and His promises are true!!! He's with us through every trial~!!!

I just wanted to express my heart today that our purpose in everything we do on the blog should be to bring honor and glory to the ONE who is worthy of all our praise. Wherever we name the name of Jesus, may He be glorified!!!

I appreciate all of you, my dear blogging friends. Thanks for showing me truths in His Word that grow me. Thanks for making me laugh at times. And thanks for letting me join in conversation with you all around the person of Jesus Christ. May He alone be praised!!!

Thanks to my dear friend, Vicki, who has embedded this in my heart because of what she's going through right now.

All because of His wonderful grace,

Diane

April 06, 2009 9:52 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

Thank you for sharing with us about Vicki, I will be lifting her up in my prayers.
When you know Jesus is in the boat the storm is not so frightening and you know when that new day comes there will be joy in His presence:)

April 06, 2009 4:02 PM  
Blogger Sanctification said...

Diane,

I don't think public prayer is a sin, unless it is the only kind that is happening. Let me rejoice with you dear sister in the magnificent righteousness of our Almighty and eternal LORD. He is worthy of our praise and it is a privilege to be able to speak to one another about His goodness! Dear Father I praise you for this dear child of yours, Vicki, that she knows you not only by name but also moment by moment with her great need. Thank you for staying by her side. Please consider her discomforts and lessen them according to both your kindness and your plan for her life! Keep her spirit bound up into Yours. Let your name be exalted amidst all those in her life. Thank you LORD for your love which is everlasting - in Your name, Amen.

April 06, 2009 10:10 PM  
Blogger Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

I made a few comments on my blog today regarding the FGA newsletter.

Thanks,
Michele

April 07, 2009 1:42 PM  
Blogger goe said...

Amen Michele.

April 08, 2009 2:59 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you Alvin, Michele, Gary, and all my other friends here who have prayed for my friend Vicki. That means a lot. You are all so special to me!!!

Diane
:-)

April 08, 2009 3:10 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I had commented here on April 6, 9:42am about my friend, Vicki, who is dying of cancer. She has not been part of this debate on the content of saving faith, but her faith is in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. On this Easter Sunday I wanted to post for you here her husband's comment from Vicki's blog. We all can say AMEN because we, too, praise God for His finished work on the cross of Calvary and His resurrection that makes it possible for us to be with Him forever.
Here is that comment posted today.

Diane :-)
----------


Vicki and I have had many talks about the significance of the Resurrection of Christ. It is a big deal to us. It is our hope. It is what we believe. Our hope is not on anything we can or have done to deserve God's favor, but in what Christ has done for us on the cross along with his Resurrection. The fact that he has conquered the grave gives us hope for him to take away the sting of death and for eternal life with him.

A couple of times this year someone has been with us and talked about the Lord coming back again to take all believers home with him. They each have said that they are looking forward to that day. Vicki has quietly added after each such comment that she is really looking forward to that day, and when she says it she really means it. The Lord's quick return would be a huge blessing to her and us.

Today, Vicki and I give thanks for the finished work of Christ on the cross and his Resurrection along with all of the promises that he gives to those that believe in him. We also give thanks for his love and mercy while really looking forward to Christ's return.

April 12, 2009 5:17 PM  
Blogger david said...

Dear Antonio, As a recovering check-list-aholic salvationist, I deeply appreciate the clarity of the message of believing in Christ's promise for eternal life as the absolute key to receiving that life. If this is not true than Jesus did not know how people received eternal life: that is heresy. I am a front-line pastor of a small church in PA. and this clarity has made all the difference in the world; yet, the arguments back and forth in the Free Grace camp have left me frustrated and disappointed as people try to create ever more complicated so-called "Gospel" presentations. You should have seen my list before I was helped by Zane and the GES folks - and you - to get the Message of Life clear. Keep up the good work. Pastor David www.doctrinepastor.com

July 14, 2010 3:31 AM  

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