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)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Disturbing news concerning the new book by Dr. J.B. Hixson, Director of the Free Grace Alliance

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.

As you all know, I spoke to Dr. Earl Radmacher at length a few weeks ago about the state of affairs in the Free Grace theology movement. In the course of our discussion, Dr. Radmacher told me that he was asked to write the foreword to Dr. Hixson's book, and, he added, that he was ambivalent to do so. Since we were discussing issues concerning Free Grace theology, he stated quite confidently and certainly that Dr. Hixson's book did not mention whatsoever the current controversy that has been instigated by a very small, yet vocal, sectarian branch of Free Grace theology. In spite of his reasoned hesitancy to write the foreword, he did so.

Dr. Earl Radmacher was the Founding President of the Free Grace Alliance. During our discussion, he mentioned that when the antagonists from Duluth started publishing their offensive articles that he wrote them to object to several things. In addition to criticizing their ill-conceived methods and misrepresentations of consistent Free Grace theology, he stated that he does not believe that Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, or the Grace Evangelical Society preaches a 'crossless' gospel at all! Dr. Radmacher thinks that such a designation is flat-out disingenuous and inaccurate.

The following is taken from Dr. Earl Radmacher's book, Salvation, Word Publishing, in the Acknowledgments section, pg ix:

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.

These are high praises of Zane Hodges by Dr. Earl Radmacher! Dr. Radmacher expresses his indebtedness to Zane for his "exegetical expertise and hermeneutical care". Zane is characterized by Earl as one who "rightly divid[es] the word of truth" and one whose "humility before the Word of God" is a model for him.

In the text of his book, Dr. Radmacher reserves over half of a written page, 22 sentences, for a block of text written by Zane Hodges. The exact content of this excerpt is Zane's explanation of saving faith, particularly what it means to soteriologically believe that Jesus is the Christ. The interesting thing is that the premise of Zane's argument found in the text that Dr. Radmacher chose to use is the point of contention for those select few sectarians who have hoisted division upon the Free Grace world.

In the text of the book authored by J.B. Hixson, director of the Free Grace Alliance, J.B. makes disparaging comments about Zane Hodges. He even goes so far as to state that Zane Hodges preaches a false gospel!

If Dr. Earl Radmacher knew that such material would be included in J.B.'s book he would never have written the Foreword to it!

Just two weeks ago I spoke to Dr. Earl Radmacher concerning issues facing Free Grace theology, and just two weeks ago he was unaware that such material was in J.B. Hixson's book on the gospel that he wrote the foreword to! Dr. Radmacher stated ever so matter-of-factly that no talk of objections to the consistent Free Grace theology of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the Grace Evangelical Society was in J.B.'s book!

But lo, and behold! The book is now being published, containing glowing endorsements by Tom Stegall and Dennis Rokser, two of the prime instigators in the destruction of Free Grace theology. Additional content has been added that Dr. Radmacher was unaware of, material that disparages his friend and biblical model of Scriptural precision and care, Zane Hodges, going so far as to state that Zane preaches a false gospel! Is this not ‘red meat’ intended partly to encourage and satisfy the Duluthian Antagonists?

I called Dr. J.B. Hixson today on the phone. I told him that I had a discussion with Dr. Earl Radmacher and that Earl was quite certain that J.B.'s book did not contain a whit of objection to Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, or the GES. I therefore asked him if the manuscript that was given to Earl to read before he wrote the foreword contained the material which accuses Zane Hodges of preaching a false gospel. He bluntly told me that it was none of my business!

Readers of Free Grace Theology Blog:

Dr. Earl Radmacher would have never endorsed a book that contained material condemning his friend and mentor, Zane Hodges. Obviously, Dr. J.B. Hixson knew this! The only logical explanation that can be inferred by this information is that Dr. J.B. Hixson, director of the Free Grace Alliance, purposely kept Dr. Radmacher in the dark concerning this material! Can you come up with another explanation?

Why would J.B. Hixson wish to have Dr. Earl Radmacher endorse and write the forward to his book? Why has there been such a great attempt on his part to get Earl to speak at FGA functions now? It is obvious that Dr. J.B. Hixson is trying to consolidate a strong anti-GES Free Grace party in the FGA by showcasing Dr. Radmacher, a long time advocate and beloved patriarch of Free Grace theology (yet whose position closely parallels Zane Hodges and the GES!) to the Free Grace public. Thus by close association, it appears to the public, ipso facto, that Dr. Radmacher sides with the Duluthian faction, which in fact, he is opposed to!

If in fact Dr. J.B. Hixson has purposely kept Dr. Radmacher in the dark concerning material that he knew Dr. Radmacher would find offensive (and would thus keep Earl from endorsing his book and writing the foreword) he is guilty of a gross deception and is worthy and in need of strong admonishment! In this, and in email correspondences that I have had with him, and in phone conversations, I have not found Dr. J.B. Hixson to be of sufficient maturity and discernment to be director of the Free Grace Alliance. It is because of this that he will receive my vote of No Confidence.

If in fact this was a deliberate deception on Dr. J.B. Hixson’s part, he should step down from the leadership of the FGA. Such behavior is not commensurate with the responsibilities and spiritual duties of leadership necessary for a director of the Free Grace Alliance.

In the frequently asked questions (faq) section of the Free Grace Alliance we find this in answer to the question, “How is the Free Grace Alliance (FGA) different from other organizations?”:

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, “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 he lift up his fellow Free Grace brothers who associate with the Grace Evangelical Society? No. He stipulates to his FGA speakers that they aren’t even to mention Zane, Bob, or the GES.

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 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.

The Free Grace Theology public deserves to know if the Director of the Free Grace Alliance is guilty of deception. 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. If he did not include this material to Dr. Radmacher, it would be some oversight!

It is publicly known that Dr. Earl Radmacher does not believe that Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, or the GES preaches a false gospel. As a matter of fact, Earl holds Zane in the highest of esteem, calling him a “model” for him, and his soteriology closely parallels Zane’s! It is a fact that Earl was certain that no such material was in J.B.’s book just two weeks ago. It is a fact that if Earl would have known that Zane was so disparaged, and condemned as preaching a false gospel, that he would have never written a foreword to J.B.’s book. It is a fact that J.B. included that material unbeknownst to Dr. Radmacher, possibly on purpose keeping him in the dark.

This is not a scandal that will go away without being dealt with. Unless J.B. Hixson comes out and states something public, either exonerating or implicating himself, stepping down from the executive committee of the FGA, it will not be forgotten.

We must have confidence in our leaders. J.B.’s acts of divisiveness, un-fair representation of other Free Grace brothers, deception (as found in our email conversation) and potential scandal as identified in this post, does not inspire a whit of confidence in his leadership.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Free Grace Theology is under attack!

There has been much ado coming from a very small few vocal objectors to the GES. They state that Free Grace theology is fractured, and they state other misinformation and out-right lies, which will be documented in a post coming discussing the sentiments of Dr. Earl Radmacher. The fact of the matter is that dissention is very small in the Free Grace world and on the whole, unity and charity are desired.

Charles Ryrie, Dr. Earl Radmacher (founding president of the FGA), Dr. Fred Chay (on the FGA executive council), Dr. Fred Lybrand (on the FGA executive council), Dr. Stephen R. Lewis (on the FGA exectutive council), Dr. Charlie Bing (on the FGA executive council) do not think that the Zane Hodges or the GES teaches heresy. They may have some issues with certain doctrines within the family of Free Grace theology, but consider Bob Wilkin and Zane Hodges as Free Grace brothers and advocates worthy of respect.

Free Grace theology is under attack by a vocal minority! These in the minority do not have doctorates or have had much sway in Free Grace circles. They are obsessed with disputes and arguments.

One of the very few who have a problem with the GES and consistent Free Grace Theology wrote recently:

The real question is not: "What does Radmacher say?" but "What does the Scripture say?" (Rom.4:3; Gal. 4:30). If the risen Savior disagrees with your "promise-only" position (Jn.2:22,19:35, 20:19-21:14), does it really matter what a man named Earl Radmacher says?

First, I disagree with this person. It does matter what Radmacher says. He is a well-respected figure in the Free Grace community, also one that has experience and terminal degrees. His advice and opinion, although falling infinitely short of scripture, ought to be taken into consideration! He is a brother, and elder, and a Christian statesman who has taken up the banner of Free Grace theology! We ought not to disregard his testimony with a wave of the hand! I still do intend to write some of what we discussed some weeks ago.

Second, I do insist that we ought to listen to the risen Savior and His apostles.

"If anyone... does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ... he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men..." --The Apostle Paul

"You have the words of everlasting life!" --The Apostle Peter speaking to the Lord Jesus Christ

"The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life." --The Lord Jesus Christ

"I solemnly assert to you, whoever believes in Me has everlasting life." --The Lord Jesus Christ

"I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." --The Lord Jesus Christ

I consent to the prima facie rendering of Jesus' words in the context in which He uttered them.

The Duluthian faction has been "obsessed with disputes".

They are my Free Grace brothers. But they are erring.

The questions are not over what I believe, but how I do evangelism. Let it be known here on this thread that my mandate is not to do evangelism but to make disciples. If any products of my evangelism do not endure, or proceed into heresy, it is a problem for them in the sight of God. At any rate, no sound church will welcome them.

I preach the cross and resurrection. I preach faith in the real Jesus Christ. If someone professes faith in Jesus, I endeavor to plug them in and get them discipled. If they end up bailing, or creating heresy, that is their problem and God will sort it out. If they grow and mature, then I have done my job. And I do not rest until they grow and mature!

Evangelism is only a means to an end. My purpose is to herald the proclamation of the King whereby He invites all to be companions with Him and sit with Him at His banqueting table in the Kingdom. But such requires two conditions to be met:

1) Faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life
2) Sanctification and endurance in confession of Jesus Christ until the end.

As such, I preach sanctification, I preach doctrine, I teach the wonderful truths of our Savior, I encourage, admonish, and exhort!

I want unity in the Free Grace world. The discord is being used of Satan to reak all kinds of havoc! Their problem with me is how I do evangelism. But the bottom line in my evangelism is with a view to discipleship! I am not out there looking solely for professions of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! I am seeking to make disciples of Christ who will love Him, grow and mature in their understanding of the Savior, and take up His challenge to persevere until the end, keeping their garments unsoiled.

Those from Duluth need to see things from another perspective. My insistence that I preach the death and resurrection, which I will do as long as their is breath in me, and my determination to make disciples, fully instructed in both doctrine and the ways of righteousness, should suffice them!

Any who would turn away from discipleship will not be a problem for the churches nor a blight on the glorious message and gratuitous promise of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am not satisfied with a profession of faith! I will not rest until those who profess the name of Jesus depart from iniquity and until those who profess the name of Christ consent to the doctrines which accord with godliness.

Properly understood, there should not be a single Free Grace brother out there who should continue to dispute this!

The disputes have caused "envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings," even to which I have become involved in such. For this I genuinely apologize!

Brothers and sisters in the Free Grace world, I am sorry for my attitudes and behaviors that have increased to more ungodliness.

I preach the Christ crucified, I preach the Christ resurrected, I preach the deity of Christ, and I preach faith alone into the bonafide Jesus Christ alone for eternal life, apart from works of any kind. I endeavor to make disciples of Christ, fully prepared for every good work and fully instructed in the docrtines of Christology. I will not rest until I die, preaching Christ, and Him crucified! I will not rest until everyone who names the name of Christ will be fully instructed.

I am reaching out my hand to those of Duluth and those associated with their concerns. I am your Free Grace brother, sharing a rich heritage and common theology with you!

Let their be peace so we can join with each other proclaiming Christ's saving work, in preaching faith alone in Christ alone, and in informing others against the errors of Lordship Salvation!

All of you who are sympathetic with my concerns for Free Grace theology, please pray! Pray for unity, pray for peace, which can only be had when TRUE understanding has been accomplished! Pray for understanding! The GES and I are on the same page as those from Duluth! We want strong advocates of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! We want to proclaim the cross of Christ and His death for sins! We want to preach resurrection from the dead and new resurrection life!

Join with me brothers!