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)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Reflection of the Free Grace Theology "Food Fight": Zane Hodges Responds to an Email I Addressed to the Free Grace Alliance Leadership

Some time ago, the Free Grace Theology community became aware that J.B. Hixson wrote disparaging and erroneous libel against Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the Grace Evangelical Society in a book that he published.

We wouldn't have been surprised of this occurrence had it been produced by a Reformed Lordship Salvation advocate. These gentlemen have a habit of such practices. We are all aware of that.

But the libel didn't come from the pen of Lordship Salvation proponent. It came from a Free Grace Theology brother, and not only that, but from the then Director of the Free Grace Alliance, an organization that has as its stated purpose "to connect, [and] encourage” free grace people, and to “strategize together how to unite”"!!!

What makes this situation all the more tragic is that J.B. Hixson purposefully with-held the defamatory language from the main endorser of the book in which it resides: Dr. Earl Radmacher!

This post starts off with a reply from Zane Hodges commenting on my email correspondence with the leadership of the Free Grace Alliance, and following that, the email correspondence itself.

I am sharing this email correspondence, sent almost 4 years ago, with the hope that it will put some perspective on the "Free Grace Foodfight" that erupted some years ago. Those who vociferously allied themselves with the men who started the fight (Those from Duluth, the Duluthian Antagonists) with a pre-emptive attack of slanderous, false, and mischaracterizing statements about Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the Grace Evangelical Society, are still at large, and desire to rewrite history, relegating the GES and its supporters to the fringes of theological novelty and obscurity.

I will not stand idly by and allow that!

Zane Hodges' email to me:

Hi Antonio,

Well! I have read your whole email. I should start by commending you for the obvious skill you show in engaging in this kind of discussion. You acquit yourself superbly, in my opinion.

Hang in there. For my money you nailed J. B. to the wall. I thought also, that despite charges against you, your spirit was honest and appropriate. After all, Paul did not write Galatians 1 in a totally dispassionate spirit!

As you know, I have been through the "lordship wars" long before this sort of thing appeared. What J. B. reminds me of most is the "technique" of lordship controversialists. Among other things, misrepresentations, half-truths, full-throated false accusations were their stock in trade. Tragically, in heated theological discussions, integrity and honesty are often the first casualties.

Antonio, stay passionate, but stay calm, honest and direct. You did a great job here. Keep it up.

I am meeting Bob Wilkin today for lunch and, though we have already talked about Hixson's book, we will no doubt do so again and with you in mind.

God bless you,

Zane


This was the message header:

-----Original Message-----
From: Antonio da Rosa
Sent: Jun 16, 2008 11:05 PM
To: "J.B. (notbyworks)"
Cc: Zane Hodges , Bob Wilkin , Joe Lombardi , Earl Radmacher , "Fred Lybrand (Yahoo)" , Charlie Bing , Fred Chay , Fred Chay
Subject: Re: "Getting the Gospel Wrong"



For the following segment, I am going to put the statements of J.B. Hixson in blockquotes and my replies to him in normal format.

Dear FGA leaders and Dr. Radmacher,

I am glad that this is getting an airing. Let us discuss these things. I wish to comment on this email because it does not represent the whole truth. Thank you for your patience.

[Hixson]
"Antonio,

I am very disappointed in the outlandish and baseless accusations against me and the leadership of the FGA that continue to have a place on your blog. Although I am thankful that few people, at least, seem to be reading your blog, nevertheless I must ask again that you repent, set the record straight, and post an apology."


My blog receives over 100 hits a day, has had 48,000 hits, and over 100,000 page views, and this is with a very primitive counter. From personal experience and experimentation, I have found that it doesn't log a very good percentage of page hits. In all actuality, I probably have had over 100,000 hits.

I did not accuse. I put my thoughts up for discussion. I intimated what I thought, given the evidence, and have asked if there was any other explanation. If you read my article carefully, I put up the idea that there could be a misunderstanding. I wrote this:

[http://free-grace.blogspot.com]
The whole controversy can be quelled if Dr. J.B. Hixson will come out and say that the manuscript that he gave Dr. Radmacher contained the disputed material and that somehow Earl missed that section.


It is now apparent that the dissertation manuscript did not have this information. We will discuss this further down this email.

I have not accused the leadership of the FGA of anything. Would you please go ahead and document my accusing the leadership of the FGA of any wrongdoing? If you cannot document this, please retract that statement.

[Hixson]
"I just had a very encouraging talk with Dr. Radmacher (whom I am copying on this email correspondence at his request). We talked for over an hour. Contrary to the conspiracy theory you unfold on your blog, he is not upset with me or the FGA and he intends to endorse my book wholeheartedly and to help distribute it, as he said he would do all along."


Let me ask you a question. Was it simply an oversight on your part that you did not reveal to Dr. Radmacher, who you know is good friends with and a ministry ally of Zane Hodges, that you were accusing Zane Hodges of preaching a false gospel in the book that Dr. Radmacher was to endorse and write the foreword to?

[Hixson]
"Below is a summary of our discussion.

1. Dr. Radmacher affirmed his belief in the death/resurrection of Christ for our sin as part of the required content of saving faith. He confirmed his disagreement with Bob and Zane on this point, even though he (like all of us) loves and appreciates the impact that they have had--especially Zane--on all of us who champion the cause of grace. We all owe Zane an enormous debt of gratitude."


This is very curious, J.B. You see, I talked to Dr. Earl Radmacher at length as well. He stated explicitly to me that acknowledgement of the cross and resurrection WERE NOT NECESSARY for eternal life. He then went on with SEVERAL ARGUMENTS which PROVED his belief. He did stipulate that he believed that one must acknowledge Christ's deity, in opposition to Zane Hodges. But for the record, someone or something is very fishy.

I am of sound mind and sound recollection. Dr. Earl will not deny that he stated certainly and clearly that he does not believe that one must acknowledge the cross and resurrection. He furthermore stated that he does not believe that Zane or Bob or the GES has a "crossless" gospel. He stated his OBJECTION to the Duluthian Antagonists by telling me that he wrote them TWO times with his concerns, stating that he did not believe that Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, or the GES preaches a "crossless" gospel.

Let us have a conference call between me, you and Dr. Radmacher, and we will get to the bottom of this. He was VERY adamant that the cross and resurrection are not required content to saving faith. I put that assertion upon every thing that I love and hold dear, Dr. Radmacher spoke as I have here and on my blog stated of him. I do not wish to put forth what possibly could have been confused with your conversation with him. Maybe he stated that the cross and resurrection are part of the gospel message which I stipulate as well.

For Christ as my witness, God bearing testimony to this fact, Dr. Earl Radmacher, in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS related to me that he does not believe that it is a necessary requirement to acknowledge the cross and resurrection. Dr. Radmacher brought up arguments of the apostles even denying his prediction of His death, and denying that Christ had risen from the dead when they were informed by two parties that He had risen. Dr. Radmacher made NO RESERVATIONS whatsoever on this. He stipulated CLEARLY that the cross and resurrection aren't requirements for saving faith.

Dr. Radmacher would not deny that he told me these things in our phone conversation. I am certainly and positively convinced that, due to his unimpeachable integrity, he would not deny that he stated clearly to me that he believes that the cross and resurrection are not required content to saving faith, and that he gave a HANDFUL of arguments supporting that belief. I have truthfully and accurately described our conversation.

[Hixson]
"2. Dr. Radmacher said that he wished I had been a bit more gracious in my footnote where I critiqued their view. He agreed that my tone was not personally attacking, but said nevertheless I could have gone even further in being gracious--a point of constructive criticism for which I thanked him."


I guess that would depend upon what you consider "personal". Misrepresenting and misquoting someone with the intent to disparage them as preaching a false gospel would qualify as "personal" to me.

[Hixson]
"He also was bothered by my reference to Tom Stegall, whom he does not respect as a theological scholar, and stated that I would have been better served not to reference Stegall."


Did he also mention, in addition to his belief that Tom Stegall is not a theological scholar, that he believes that Tom Stegall has misrepresented, mischaracterized, and falsely accused Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the GES of a false gospel, the very exact thing that you have done in the book that he gave a foreword to while he was completely oblivious that you were adding such material "11th hour"?

[Hixson]
"He also stated that it would be good if in future writings I could develop further a few of the points I made critiquing Bob and Zane's view. We talked about how this was not possible in a brief footnote, especially when it is beyond the scope of the work at large."


This is very confusing, J.B. You mark Zane and Bob as holding to a false gospel, the very topic of your book, but state that such was beyond the scope of the work at large? This is very confusing. Furthermore, why is it that you included the material in the first place, if it was beyond the scope of your book?

The material you have against Zane, Bob, and the GES is full of inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and misquotes. It was very unwise of you to make such a sloppy statement, especially in light of the fact that I hear a full review of your book will made available in a full journal article appearing in the JOTGES, and the GES website.

[Hixson]
"He suggested I write an article explaining how the Gospel of John itself demands that both the person and work of Christ are a part of the required content of saving faith--a point on which he and I are in full agreement contra the GES position."


Again, I contest your understanding of Dr. Earl Radmacher's beliefs, unless of course that within the last 3 weeks he has changed his mind.

I believe that such an article would be wonderful for you to write, J.B. The Gospel of John certainly does not demand required content greater than faith in Jesus by way of His gratuitous promise. I have read some of your work on your website and have not found your material to be exegetical, and welcome your attempt to exegete the pertinent passages providing support to the contention that the Apostle John requires content greater than simple faith in Jesus for eternal life. I must warn you that I believe such an endeavor to be futile.

[Hixson]
"3. Dr. Radmacher affirmed that other than my tone, which he said could have been more gracious, he did not find anything in my footnote that misrepresented Bob and Zane's view. He agreed that I accurately state their view. (A point which Bob Wilkin himself also has affirmed to me personally.) Therefore, I am curious, on what basis to you claim that my book contains 'misrepresentations, falsehoods, and misquotes'? Have you read any portion of my book other than the one relatively short footnote? The book contains 406 pages, with repeated positive citations of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and JOTGES journal articles. Indeed, Wilkin himself thanked me for my frequent positive citations of JOTGES and said he plans to recommend my book to JOTGES readers for its "helpful information," even if he disagrees with me that the death/resurrection of Christ for sin is part of the required content of saving faith. You are quite deceptive in your blog when you lead your readers to believe you have read my book. You state, you will 'document these things word for word from his book, showing the lack of care that he took in constructing his criticism.' How do you plan to do this if you have not read, and do not have a copy of, my book?"


Please be careful in representing me, as it is apparant that you do not take care doing so for others. In my article, it explicitely states this:

[http://free-grace.blogspot.com]
Recently, Dr. J.B. Hixson, director of the Free Grace Alliance (FGA), published a book on the gospel which contains inaccurate statements concerning consistent Free Grace theology. The material includes misrepresentations, falsehoods, and misquotes. I may in the future document these things word for word from his book, showing the lack of care that he took in constructing his criticism.


"The material" refers to your "innacurate statements concerning consistent [in other words, GES] Free Grace theology". The documentation that I was referring to was documenting your "misrepresentations, falsehoods, and misquotes" specifically in the material in which you criticize Zane, Bob, and the GES. It is not speaking generally about your book, but the erroneous and inaccurate material you write in your criticism of the consistent Free Grace theology of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the Grace Evangelical Society.

J.B., I don't appreciate your insinuation that you give that I do not know about the things to which I speak. As of this very moment, I just got off the phone with Bob Wilkin, talking to him for 50 minutes about all of this. He gave me no less than a handful of instances of your misquotes, inaccuracies, and misrepresentations of him and Zane in the small section that you proclaim them to be heretics.

I have not lead my readers to believe that I have read your book, nor did I ever intend to give that impression whatsoever. I plan on documenting word for word from your book (a metonymy of the subject, meaning "from the text of your book") the inaccuracies and sloppiness of your hasty critique of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the GES, and it is to this and nothing more that I give reference in my article.

[Hixson]
"4. Regarding the timing of the addition of the footnote to the manuscript, Dr. Radmacher is not bothered by the circumstances surrounding its inclusion at all. The manuscript he reviewed was the dissertation version, and it was clearly stated to him, and about 30 others from whom I requested endorsements, in an email dated February 20, 2008, that the final book version would have changes to the footnotes. It was further stated in that same email that an endorsement does not necessarily constitute full agreement with everything in the book."


J.B., if you took the opportunity and went through the trouble to inform your endorsers that the final book version would have changes to the footnotes, why is it that you didn't just go ahead and share with them those things which they hadn't read and to which their names would be affixed by way of their endorsement? I frankly would feel deceived by you if you had done this to me!

And furthermore, how can a major "inclusion" of additional material and footnotes be referred to as a mere "change... to the footnotes"? This is not accurate! You did not simply "change" the footnotes! You added material NOT FOUND in your dissertation version, which endorsers (more than just Dr. Radmacher) were totally kept in the dark concerning!

I spoke on the phone with a Mr. XXXXX XXXXX a few days ago for about 40 minutes. He is a very good friend of Dr. Radmacher, and he stated to me that Dr. Radmacher was concerned about it, and was bothered by it. They were wanting to find the manuscript that you had given Dr. Earl to find out if that offensive material was in there or not. Now we find out from your testimony that Dr. Earl was kept in the dark concerning this material. Mr. XXXXX XXXXX told me that Dr. Earl was distraught over the fact that he endorsed a book that called his friend and ally in the ministry a purveyor of a false gospel.

It doesn't make sense, J.B., Dr. Radmacher states this concerning Zane Hodges:

[Dr. Radmacher in Salvation]
Exegetically I am indebted to the exegetical expertise and hermeneutical care of Zane Hodges, whose humility before the Word of God and untiring diligence continues to be a model for me of "a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). There have been times when I questioned his conclusions, but further investigation usually demonstrated his superior wisdom.


It is very curious indeed that Earl Radmacher, friend and ally of Zane Hodges in the ministry wrote a foreword to your book which calls his friend of many years a heretic who preaches a false gospel. I have heard that Zane Hodges is now apprised that Earl Radmacher was kept in the dark (this cannot be disputed, you kept him in the dark of this material, now whether or not it was malicious, only God can tell) concerning material you wrote calling him a purveyor of a false gospel, and wrote a foreword to absolutely unaware that his ministry partner was so treated. This does not look good for you, J.B.!

Furthermore, to support the idea that Dr. Radmacher was bothered and concerned, I note our conversation together. In my conversation with Dr. Earl Radmacher, I conveyed to him my concern that you, J.B., were circuiting Free Grace churches with a message about "post-modern false gospels" in which you call the position of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the GES "the promise-only gospel" - one of a number of false gospels in your estimation. He was very concerned about this, because you are the director of the Free Grace Alliance which has a stated purpose to strategize about unity and connect Free Grace leaders. But it seems that you are going about the United States sowing discord and division among Free Grace brethren. Dr. Radmacher told me to write him an email documenting this. And so I wrote to him the following:

[Antonio da Rosa]
Dear Dr. Radmacher,

I appreciated our talk we had yesterday!!! It was wonderful. I learned alot and was so very happy to have that fellowship with you....

Here are the facts concerning J.B. Hixson's statements. He was the guest speaker at Little River [www.littleriverucc.com] where the pastor is named Ted Weiss. He did so in his capacity as director of the FGA. On Ted Weis's blog, found here: [http://livingthebiblios.blogspot.com/2008_02_01_archive.html] (see his article entitled: "Revival Review: 1 of 5", scroll down a quarter of the way), he summarizes J.B.'s message thus:

[Pastor Ted Weiss]
What is the Gospel? How is this "good news" being presented today?

That was the subject of the first in a series of revival messages at the Little River Congregational Church, February 10-13, presented by Dr. J.B. Hixson, Executive Director of the Free Grace Alliance.

In a message entitled, "The Gospel: Kaleidoscope or Microscope?" Dr. Hixson outlined six mistaken gospel models that are propagated in our postmodern society: ...

The Promise-Only Gospel-- This gospel invites people to believe in Jesus, but without explaining who Jesus is and what He did. Knowing who He is and what He did isn't essential.


When I read this, I sent J.B. Hixson an email, here it was:

[Antonio da Rosa to J.B. Hixson]
Dear JB,

This is Antonio da Rosa. We met in San Diego. I took you to In & Out Burger after the ETS meeting. Remember?

To get directly to the point: I was wondering how you would characterize the post modern "promise-only" gospel that you spoke against recently at Little River Congregational Church. I read a blog entry by a Pastor Ted Weis that summarized your messages there. It was insufficient to clearly get a gist of what you believe about this position. Could you forward me your notes and thoughts on your particular problems with this position?

Thanks in advance,

Antonio


J.B. Hixson responded to me in this way:

[Hixson]
"As for my position on the content of saving faith, I am not comfortable parsing every public and private statement I make as I travel and speak.... My messages also are in keeping with the 7-point FGA doctrinal affirmation, which I personally helped write more than three years ago."


I responded to him in this way:

[Antonio da Rosa to J.B Hixson]
... the way this Pastor summarized your position on my position was this way:

"[Pastor Ted Weiss]
The Promise-Only Gospel-- This gospel invites people to believe in Jesus, but without explaining who Jesus is and what He did. Knowing who He is and what He did isn't essential.


This is a complete misrepresentation and falsehood concerning the position you supposedly are speaking against. It is a straw man. Now if you really want to fairly and accurately represent this position, you should run by those who actually espouse this position your comments about them.

No one will believe in Jesus without understanding something about who He is. No one I know who takes my position will invite someone to believe in Christ "without explaining who Jesus is and what He did." This is a complete falsehood. Knowing who Jesus is IS essential. One must understand that Jesus is authorized, having the power given to Him by God, to dispense everlasting life to all who simply entrust their eternal destinies into His hands. Jesus is the "Christ of God" who has the power and authority to guarantee one's eternal well-being through faith in Him.

In this debate, it gets tiring and frustrating that these mis-statements concerning the position I hold are tenaciously propogated to churches such as the one you spoke to. It is a poisioning of the well, rather than giving a fair testimony of the opposing side and allowing one to come to his own conclusion on the matter. If your position is as strong as you think, there will be no need to perpetuate these kind of falsehoods concerning what you have dubbed "the Promise-only" post-modern gospel.

Someone in your position, and scholarly background, ought to be a bit more cautious in his statements concerning a free grace position that shares a rich theological heritage with your own, and a position that is taken by some of the members and board of the FGA.


J.B. then proceeded to respond to me with utter evasion! Here is what he stated:

[Hixson]
"Regarding the my reference to the "promise-only" gospel, how can you possibly say that I misrepresent your view? I never even mentioned you! Since you appear to share my disdain for that viewpoint, instead of accusing me a misrepresenting your view, perhaps you should have agreed with me that the "promise-only gospel" is wrong. You applied the label to yourself and then proceeded to accuse me of setting up a straw man. That's not very fair, now is it? Where have I ever said you preach/teach or otherwise espouse a "promise-only gospel?" Furthermore, your reaction is based upon Pastor Weis' summary of my passing comment about the "promise-only gospel," which in all honesty is not as precise a summary as I would have liked. All I am saying is that if the shoe fits, then wear it. If it does not, then you have nothing to worry about. No one ever included you in the discussion. You inserted yourself there.


I then sent him one more email about this and said:

[Antonio da Rosa to J.B. Hixson]
JB, ... are you going to deny that your label "the promise-only gospel" is not your designation for those who have aligned themself with the position of Zane Hodges and GES? If it doesn't, what group(s), precisely, adopt this view? And if no group you know of does adopt this view, how is this post modern gospel a problem? If it is your label for the views of GES and Zane Hodges, then that would include me.


J.B., at this point, never decided to write me back and deny that his designation of "the Promise-Only Gospel" which he considers a false, post-modern gospel, refers to Zane Hodges and the GES.

Dear Dr. Radmacher. J.B. Hixson is going around to churches in the capacity and role of the Director of the Free Grace Alliance and lamenting the Grace Evangelical Society and Zane Hodges (although he may not have done so by name) as proponents of a "Promise-Only Gospel" which he has dubbed a false, post-modern gospel. This does not inspire unity!

I have written to you with these facts so that you may be informed about the way that J.B. Hixson is carrying himself as the Director of the FGA. It is sad that he is creating factionism within the Free Grace community.

I will have something written for an article concerning our conversation, which I stated only that I would disclose 3 or 4 items only, all in a good light, and all promoting unity in the Free Grace world, within a few days for your review before I publish. Thank you for allowing me to share a few of your thoughts with my Free Grace theology readership.

Sincerely yours,

Antonio da Rosa


It is very interesting that J.B. Hixson wished to dismiss my criticism of him by stating that I "included [myself] there". When I asked him if the "Promise-Only" gospel didn't refer to men like me and those associated with the GES, who did it refer to, he wouldn't respond. Why? He knew he was discussing those, like me, who hold to the positions of the GES. To substantiate that he INDEED meant Zane, Bob, and the GES, we must only refer to the material in his book which he specifically labels the position of the GES as "the promise-only" gospel.

Dr. Earl Radmacher stated to me that he does not believe that the GES, Zane, or Bob preach a false, "crossless" gospel, and therefore he was very concerned that the director of the FGA was teaching that the position of the GES is a false gospel.

[Hixson]
"This is a point that should have gone without saying, as anyone in the publishing world knows that endorsements do not signify 100% agreement with every jot and tittle in a given book. Yet just to be safe, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I made this explicit point more than five weeks prior to receiving Dr. Radmacher's endorsement on Monday, March 31, 2008."


Dr. J.B. Hixson! "in the spirit of full disclosure"? I am gritting my teeth! Why is it that you would not have provided your endorsers with material that could have potentially prevented them from endorsing your book? If you were sincerely in the business of "full disclosure" you would have disclosed this material that you knew Dr. Radmacher would find offensive and let him decide if he still wished to endorse your book!

This mode of operation that you conducted in this attempt to cover your rear-end (your communication to Dr. Radmacher stating that his endorsement does not signify 100% agreement), frankly, gets my ire, and emits a foul odor. Full disclosure would be allowing your endorsers full access to the material to which they would put their name on. Furthermore, such a disclosure to Dr. Radmacher (was it really a disclosure if it is something that "go[es] without saying"?) is transparantly an attempt to cover you, for you well knew that the material you were adding could potentially prevent your endorsers from their endorsements.

If someone wrote a book that I agreed with 100%, asked me for my endorsement, and then sent me further material he was adding to his book that called my personal friend and ally in the Free Grace ministry a heretic preaching a false gospel, I would NOT endorse the book, no matter how much I agreed with the other material. J.B., would you endorse and write the foreword to a book that you agreed with 100% but labeled and stigmatized Dr. Charlie Bing a heretic who preached a false gospel? (To make the scenario realistic, we could say that the book was on church polity and that there were 4 pages out of the rest (which you agreed with 100%) that calls Dr. Bing a purveyor of a false gospel.) Surely I would cringe at the prospect of you answering that you WOULD endorse it!

[Hixson]
"Frankly, none of this is any of your business--a point which I made to you during your unsolicited phone call--and it is offensive that you would jump to wild conclusions about my motives and attack my integrity in your blog. You should be ashamed of yourself."


Sir, you still have many questions to answer concerning this book you plan on releasing June 30.

And how is any phone call "unsolicited"? This statement is from the FGA website under the Director's Corner, "Please feel free to call on me anytime if I can be of assistance. " and you give your phone number. I called so that you could be some assistance in getting to the bottom of some FGA matters.

You should be ashamed of the mode in which you operated. You say you were in the spirit of full disclosure. If you were, you would have apprised Dr. Earl Radmacher of your intention of "adding" (not changing!) footnotes which disparage his friends and allies in the faith, and allowed him the opportunity to choose for himself if such rose to the level of a deal-breaker. I would not be surprised to hear that Dr. Earl Radmacher removed his endorsement from your book.

[Hixson]
"5. Finally, Dr. Radmacher agreed with me and Charlie in our calls for you to leave the FGA voluntarily. Over the last year, you have proven time and again that you do not evidence a gracious spirit. Your latest lies and personal attacks against me and the leadership of the FGA have exhausted our patience. Furthermore, it is clear that you believe, by your own repeated testimony, that it is possible for someone to be saved without any explicit knowledge of Jesus' death and resurrection for his sins. The FGA doctrinal affirmations do not allow for this possibility, and in fact demand that the content of saving faith requires explicit knowledge of Jesus' death and resurrection for sin. Since you disagree with this and in light of your utterly ungracious spirit, I ask you again, please, disassociate yourself from the FGA. Unless you repent, and have a change of attitude and spirit, you are not welcome in the FGA."


Dr. Radmacher has told me that I am welcomed in the FGA. I told him on the phone that you have asked me to leave the FGA and he told me that it would take alot for you to revoke my membership, and that I shouldn't have any worries. I have both, in personal email correspondence with you, J.B., and on my blog, publically declared my assent to the FGA covenant. I will also do so if asked by any board reviewing my membership. I can explain my agreement, as I already have.

Furthermore, if the FGA doctrinal affirmations (or do you mean the covenant which is NOT a doctrinal statement), DO NOT ALLOW THE POSSIBILITY AT ALL for someone to be saved without knowledge of Christ's death and resurrection, we would have the peculiar and odd circumstance that Dr. Earl Radmacher himself, the founding President of the FGA, would be unwelcome and disqualified from the FGA! Until such a time that he retracts or distances himself from his statements concerning his belief that one may be born again APART from specific knowledge of Christ's death and resurrection (and this is not only information that was told to me, but as well to others, including Bob Wilkin), I have forever etched into my mind and recollection his intriguing and convincing arguments which he used to support the idea that explicit knowledge of Christ's death and resurrection is NOT mandated required content in addition to simple faith alone in Jesus for eternal life.

You are now accusing me of lying. Please for the record, before Dr. Radmacher, Fred Lybrand, and Fred Chay, please document my lies. Where have I lied? Furthermore, you again restate the un-supported claim that I have personally attacked the "leadership of the FGA". Would you document this as well?

Dr. Radmacher, I know that you are reading this. I have been accused of lying and personally attacking the leadership of the FGA, both allegations are being made without a single substantiation or ducumentation. This is disturbing, considering it is coming from the leadership of the Free Grace organization that you helped found. I fall upon your grace and wisdom and seek you to judge this situation with righteous judgment.

The Lord judge between me and J.B. Hixson concerning the matters at hand. I have declared my mind in my integrity and stand unconvinced of the allegations leveled against me by the director of the Free Grace Alliance.

In closing, I wish again to review a section from the Free Grace Alliance website and a small portion of my post commenting on it:

[FGA Purpose Statement]
The FGA is seeking to unite leaders, churches, and organizations which affirm the gospel of grace. The structure of the Alliance is such that the membership owns the organization through SHARED LEADERSHIP. We at FGA want to CONNECT, ENCOURAGE and EQUIP free grace leaders, churches, and organizations...to STRATEGIZE TOGETHER about how to unite and promote grace to our needy world.


As the director of the Free Grace Alliance, Dr. J.B. Hixson is mandated to "“connect, [and] encourage” free grace people, and to “strategize together how to unite”". He is sorely lacking in these principles. On the contrary, he is using the directorship of the Free Grace Alliance to divide Free Grace theology asunder, and in the process, is making a public spectacle and mockery of it!

Dr. J.B. Hixson:
What are your strategies for uniting the Free Grace Theology camp?

Let me tell you something, J.B., condemning and anathematizing your Free Grace brothers who preach the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ and faith alone in Christ alone apart from works is not the way to inspire unity!

No longer are many who would consider themselves Free Grace advocates speaking against Lordship Salvation. No! They rather are devouring other Free Grace people! It is sad and deplorable! Free Grace brothers are not our enemies! The enemy is Lordship Salvation in its many guises!

Recently Dr. Hixson stated in a newsletter:

[Hixson]
"I appreciate these men [John Piper, Mark Dever, Al Mohler] and their passion to speak out against sin."


Frankly, what does it matter if these people speak out against sin but preach a non-saving message of works-righteousness? What does it profit a man to repent from sin, reform his life, and then end up in hell? I do not appreciate the teachers of Lordship Salvation. They are false prophets and false teachers who lead men and women into destruction.

But does Hixson lift up his fellow Free Grace brothers who associate with the Grace Evangelical Society? No. He stipulates to his FGA speakers at the Free Grace Alliance National Conference that they aren’t even to mention Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, or the Grace Evangelical Society!

Zane Hodges is a biblical scholar par excellence. He has remained unmarried, devoting himself to the interpretation of the Word. His accomplishments are many! But the lack of respect and appreciation by the Duluthaian Antagonists (who aren't even Free Grace!) for this man who taught at Dallas Theological Seminary for 27 years, co-edited a version of the Majority Text, wrote nearly a dozen very helpful and exegetically sound Free Grace books, and devoted a large part of his life to expose the dangerous teachings of Lordship Salvation, is appalling and disturbing!

Free Grace theology shares a rich history and theological heritage. All of us preach Christ and him crucified as the only basis for eternal life. All of us preach that Christ was raised for our justification. All of us preach faith in Jesus Christ as the sole condition for eternal life. Dr. J.B. Hixson does not seem to grasp this, for if he did, he could begin constructing roads rather than burning bridges. If he did, he would be facilitating strategizing sessions on how to unite rather than publicly denouncing fellow Free Grace advocates.

In ending, I believe in the principles and mandates set forth by the founders of the Free Grace Alliance. I believe in the connection, encouragement, and equipping of Free Grace leaders. I desire to be a part of strategizing on how to unite and to promote grace to this needy world.

I believe the first thing on the agenda is to stop the unsubstantiated discord and division that is being hoisted upon the Free Grace world by a small minority and faction. In the Free Grace Alliance's roundtable discussion concerning the content of saving faith in regards to Christ's death and resurrection, only ONE man stated in the affirmative that it is a God-mandated requirement. All others on the panel fell short of making such a determination.

Therefore, J.B. Hixson, by his divisive actions and words, is alienating a LARGE portion of the Free Grace world. Rather than connecting, equipping, and encouraging, he is anathematizing and demonizing fellow brothers who share the same rich theological heritage as he does. To use J.B.'s words, "it should go without saying" that such actions are not commensurate with the stated objectives of the FGA or with the spiritual responsibilities and duties of a public leader in such a vital organization as the Free Grace Alliance.

I pray that you take these words to heart.

May the Lord save us from implosion.

Antonio G. da Rosa
http://free-grace.blogspot.com
http://unashamedofgrace.blogspot.com

12 Comments:

Blogger John Correia said...

Antonio, JB Hixson does not serve in any leadership capacity of any kind in the FGA today, and has not for at least 2 years. I have been an FGA Executive Council Member for 18 months, and he has not had input into the FGA in that time. If you have a concern for the FGA, please bring it to the FGA leadership. Bringing an old issue up 4 years after the fact does incredibly little to encourage or equip.

March 22, 2012 3:42 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

John,

I do not believe that I have had the opportunity to meet you yet. It is a pleasure to make your acquantence. I am surprised that we haven't stumbled across each other!

I appreciate that you have taken the time to read the post and comment.

I was going through my old emails today and I came upon an old one that was a reply from the FGA for a request that I had to retrieve my username and password for their message board. On the GES message board, I logged probably over 1000 messages. For a while, I was posting on the FGA message board.

I went over to the FGA website today to see if I could log on to their message board with my old login information. I searched everywhere but couldn't find it.

But I did find something. As a matter of fact, that something that I did find prompted me to post this email, which I also found today in my old emails. That something is a statement by the FGA that is contrary to its stated purpose. The statement I am referring to is this one:

Gospel Clarification

After much discussion and reflection, the FGA Executive Council has concluded that in the light of misunderstandings in our broader Christian community, it is important for us to issue the following statement:

The Free Grace Alliance is not associated with the Grace Evangelical Society and does not endorse the GES Gospel (also referred to as “crossless” or “promise only” by some). We invite those who share our heart for the Gospel's clarity and declaration, of both the Person and Work of Christ, to join hands with us.

----------

I had read that statement before. I get Google Alerts, and one of them is for "Free Grace Alliance". I read this statement when it first came out. Additionally, some who harbor ill-will toward the GES published this statement with much glee on their blogs.

I was surprised, John, that this statement still resided on the Free Grace Alliance's website. You are right that J.B. Hixson is not in any leadership capacity today. That being so, I had imagined that this statement would have been taken down since the Dennis Rokser's, Tom Stegall's and J.B. Hixson's in the leadership stepped down. But much to my disappointment, sadly, it was not.

(to be continued)

March 22, 2012 4:44 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

John,

Since you are an FGA Executive Council Member, and have been so for the last 18 months, no better person than you could apprise us of the reasons why this statement still exists on the Free Grace Alliance's website. Why has this statement been allowed to remain on the Free Grace Alliance's website?

The stated purpose of the FGA is to connect and unite Free Grace Theology leaders. In this movement, I can think of no 2 greater people whom God has used to legitimatize and grow Free Grace theology than Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin. Yet this statement by the FGA serves to alienate and humiliate two cardinal Free Grace theology proponents, and the seminal Free Grace theology organization, GES.

The statement itself is incorrigible! Not only does it perpetuate the heinous libel of the "crossless" gospel, but it actually beseeches other Free Grace people to "join hands" with the FGA in their public excoriation of the Grace Evangelical Society and those who support it!

Furthermore, this is all the more disturbing in light of the fact that the Founding President of the FGA, Dr. Earl Radmacher, is on record stating his agreement with the soteriology of Zane Hodges and the GES.

Added to this is the truth that many people in the FGA member ranks agree with the GES. And even more, during a round-table discussion on the content of saving faith at an FGA conference, only one speaker (and we all know who that was) stated that a man could certainly not be born again without conscious understanding and assent to the substitutionary death and physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The rest stipulated, in one degree or another, that such could theoretically happen!

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not blaming you for the statement. You may not even have been aware that it was there (or continues to be there). I do not believe that you have anything to do with it.

I would just like to ask you if you could seek its removal from the website or explain why you would support its continued existence there.

Will you please seek to have this statement removed from the FGA website, and thus facilitate the unifying (in alignment with the FGA's stated purpose) of the rupture and healing of the damage done to the Free Grace movement caused by Dennis Rokser, Tom Stegall, J.B. Hixson, and to a great degree, by Fred Lybrand?

Its continued posting on the FGA's website is a black-eye and stigma on the movement of Free Grace Theology that has been advocated, heralded, and propagated by sincere men of integrity over the decades, only to be made a theological laughing-stock by the small few named above as of recently.

The perpetuation of the mischaracterizations of the GES and its supporters has to end. I know there will be a zealous, vocal few who demand that their dead fundamentalistic axe continue to be grinded, and the FGA to be their outlet for such endeavors. But we can no longer allow these divisive men to keep Free Grace Theology hostage to their illegitimate reactionary pugilisms.

Soteriology that adds to the conditions of receiving eternal life should be the focus of our Free Grace efforts.

We in the Free Grace community are the ones entrusted with the gospel of grace! Why should our forces be divided when we are such an infinitesimal segment of Christianity to begin with? It is tragic!

John, the FG community at large is looking to you to be the healer, the bridge-maker, and the gentleman. I believe that you have a devoted heart to Jesus Christ, and to Free Grace theology. I believe that you will make the right decisions and facilitate healing in this ruptured community by insisting that this libelous statement be taken down from the FGA website IMMEDIATELY!.

Thank you for your consideration and your time.

Sincerely,

Antonio G. da Rosa

March 22, 2012 4:54 PM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

I went to the 2010 FGA conference and that statement on their website made me feel very uncomfortable and unwelcome.

- Don Reiher

March 24, 2012 10:32 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Don,

I was apprised of an article that you did on your blog about the FGA statement. I read and agreed with our assessments.

Sometime ago, I stumbled on a blog that was written by Fred Lybrand. Here is the link:

http://www.backtofaith.com/biblically-speaking/630/

In it he made two bald assertions:

1) He stated that he (through his open letter to the FGA) and Tom Stegall (through his articles and books) have essentially killed Zane and the GES's view of the saving message.

2) He makes this statement about his book, "In Back to Faith, I basically argue that Zane flirted too much with Easy Believism (bordering on Universalism at times)"

Speaking of his "Open Letter" to the Fred Chay and the Free Grace community, Fred stated, "Nonetheless, to date no one has challenged my analysis in any printed form… and… the issue involved (the errant idea that the cross is unnecessary to know/believe in order to receive eternal life by faith). In fact, God seems to have used the “Open Letter” (along with other’s like Tom Stegall’s The Gospel of Christ) to essentially end the issue."

I recently printed up Fred Lybrand's "Open Letter to the FGA". Reading it with a pen in hand, I couldn't stop marking up the inaccuracies, mischaracterizations, red herrings, other miscellaneous logical fallacies, pejoratives, and faulty understandings I found in those pages.

It was poorly constructed, manifestly un-scholarly, and completely worthless.

I plan on responding to his tripe in full and in print here on Free Grace Theology Blog, and in print to the leaders of the FGA and GES.

Furthermore, in light of Fred Lybrand using statements from Zane Hodges contained in email correspondences with him, I will produce statements made by him from an email conversation I had with him. In it, he discloses his assessment of the GES position on the content of saving faith that he never had the courage to state in public as the president of the FGA.

Please stay tuned. Maybe I will pass the first draft of my response to Fred Lybrand to you for review and editing.

Thanks Don!

Antonio da Rosa

March 26, 2012 9:30 AM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

JB Hixon spoke at the FGA conference in 2011. His message is posted on his web site notbyworks.org. "The Gospel, The Cross, and the Saving Message." I spent a lot of time listening to it and thinking about it the last few days. To be honest, I have pages of notes where I think he made errors in multiple areas (not defining terms, blurring things together, reading things into the text, misrepresenting our view, etc., etc.) I am trying to put myself in his shoes. Why is he saying what he is saying???

I am not sure if it is a good idea to stir up the waters too much here. We need to be careful that we do not add to the "heat" and instead add to the "light." I think it is important to get the facts. I am going to ask Dr. R. exactly what version of JB's book he had, and if he never saw footnote 19 in chapter 3. Let's not deal with speculation. Lets deal with facts. It does seem fishy, in my estimation. It is always possible Dr. R skipped over it. You never know.

Antonio, there is nothing wrong with being passionate about the Saving Message in the Bible. However, it is possible to make such a big deal out of something, that emotions take over on the other side, and useful dialogue shuts down. I think we need to be careful that does not happen.

There is more at stake than just a view here. Some of these guys lobbing bombs at Zane and us the last 6 or 7 years have their jobs and reputations at stake. It is possible that some of them are sincere, and they CANNOT change their views, even if they wanted to. I am not saying they all have good motives. I think many have been conditioned to keep asking the same questions of us over and over again, and give knee jerk responses to our responses, and we go in circles year after year.

Let us break the cycle and not keep responding the same way. Let us shift the burden of proof on them. They need to prove that believing in the person of Christ for everlasting life is not enough because of "Progress of Revelation." Lets do our homework and look carefully at their arguments (or lack thereof) and show them where they have gone off track from the Text, perhaps extrapolating too far. Let's give credit where they are right. After all the "Cross" is pretty crucial content when we evangelize folks. Nobody is wrong about everything.

- Don

March 27, 2012 10:09 PM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

Just a few added notes:
If you listen to the Q&A session, JB sort of jokes that there is no time for questions. You have to give him credit for being honest and nervous. He should not have been nervous if Antonio and me weren't there. . . right? :)

Anyway, the first lady asked a question which went sort of like this. "I was just in India and I can't figure out why anybody would do 'that'", referring to preaching a "crossless gospel." In other words, at least one person interpreted what JB said, that GES people would go to India, preach in the streets, and not preach about the Cross. JB corrects her, and says that GES people would preach the Cross, but that it is optional to us in some sense. So, in his thinking, unless a person is led in a prayer or is given an invitation to believe IN Christ for eternal life, AND believe IN the Cross for eternal life, then they have believed a crossless "gospel."

What Zane meant in his 3 messages on How to Lead people to Christ, and "Decoupling Jesus from the Christ" and his illustration about the Deserted Island, was that in evangelistic conversations (not sermons) to start out by probing if a person believes in Jesus for their everlasting life. Then what he would do is "backfill" in the missing areas in their thinking, answering questions they might have, and giving them as many facts as possible about God, The Bible, the person and work of Christ. He would be sure not to walk away from the person until they understood the "core" which was to believe in Jesus (the person) for their everlasting life. He stressed over and over, "don't omit the core message." He even said preaching the cross was ESSENTIAL in his messages. He said believing in the right Jesus was essential. READ MY 36 page PAPER on "Did Zane and GES change the Gospel!" Those of us who agree with Zane's point, have as our objective to give people dozens of facts about things such as the person and work of Christ (starting out with the Cross) IN ORDER TO get people to be convinced that Jesus grants eternal life to all who believe in Him for it. Our objective is not to convince them to believe IN Jesus for everlasting life and IN the Cross for everlasting life (the second is an awkward restatement of the first). I guess it might be possible to say that we want people to believe THAT Jesus died on the cross for them. Theoretically we want them to believe IN the cross and dozens of other things too. It would be very strange if they believed in Jesus for everlasting life if they did not believe Jesus REALLY died on the cross, and REALLY rose from the dead. There are some strange people out there. It is not unthinkable that there might be someone who is very confused, but gullible enough (or mentally impaired enough) to believe in Jesus for their eternal well being. Their excuse that we will go to India and not tell people about the Cross is a BLATANT misrepresentation of our view. Of course we would spend time explaining the Cross if they never heard of Jesus. It is just that at the end of our conversation with an interpreter, we wouldn't end with, "Believe in Jesus for eternal life AND Believe in the Cross for eternal life." That probably will not make sense interpreted anyway. They just need to believe in Jesus WHO died on the cross.

Hope that makes sense.

- Don

March 28, 2012 7:31 AM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

I hate to leave another comment. Correct me if I am wrong, but if any GES folks were in India speaking to people who never heard about Jesus, I think we would tell them about how God sent Jesus to earth as man, and that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. I think we would then state what the GES doctrinal statement says. I would say something like this, "Are you convinced that the promise of Jesus of the New Testament who died and rose again is true? That is that He promises everlasting life that cannot be lost the moment believe in his promise to do just that? Do you believe that?"

They would have to say yes or no to that statement.

Is that a Crossless Gospel just because it does not ask them to believe in the Cross, but to believe in the one who died on the cross for them?

Would any GES folks reading this think Zane would have or that we would say nothing about sin and the cross to them?

- Don

March 28, 2012 3:18 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

Hey Don, hope to see yo uat GES this year. I was in India with Antonio a few years back, and I guarantee that both of us told everyone we witnessed to about the cross.

April 03, 2012 12:09 PM  
Blogger Sanctification said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 03, 2012 7:57 PM  
Blogger Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

Just thought it would be encouraging to share that none of the Duluthians were in attendance at the last FGA national conference in October. They decided not to come because of theological disagreement with the FGA. And as you may already know Dr. Wilkin and Dr. Steve Lewis were invited to come and did come. In fact Dr. Wilkin stayed a couple minutes after Dr. Hixson's breakout on the content of the gospel in extended conversation. I know I was encouraged.

Blessings,
Michele

April 03, 2012 7:58 PM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

Thanks Michele.

BTW, I will be doing video at the GES Conf. again this year.

I would have felt more comfortable going, had I know the Duluthians were not there, and that Bob W. went. However, I still feel very uneasy about the statement on the FGA web site, and the fact they are advertising anti-GES books on there too. It would be different if they offered books by Zane & Bob W. in addition to the anti Zane & Bob W. books. At least that would be fair. It would be better yet if they gave out copies of my paper, "Did Zane & GES change the Gospel? NO!" I would be happy to provide as many copies as they want. Let people look at the evidence for themselves and decide whether we are teaching a "Crossless" Gospel.

- Don

April 11, 2012 10:02 AM  

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