18 October 2006

The Aftermath

How I Got Drawn into the Lordship Debate—part 8
by Phil Johnson

t seems rather obvious that no-lordship doctrine is historically linked in an inextricable way with Dallas Theological Seminary. It's hard to think of a single major proponent of the view who is not tied in some significant way to DTS. The connection is so obvious that in his Romans commentary, Dr. James M. Boice referred to no-lordship soteriology as "the Dallas doctrine."

I think it is fair to suggest (as John MacArthur did in Faith Works) that the no-lordship position is a product of Dallas Seminary's unique approach to dispensationalism, which was shaped by Lewis Sperry Chafer, refined by Charles Ryrie, and later taken to its logical conclusion by Zane Hodges.

Within a year or so after The Gospel According to Jesus was published, both Ryrie and Hodges responded with books of their own.

Ryrie's book, titled So Great Salvation, was somewhat lacking in substance and depth. In my judgment—and I know this opinion was shared by many on the no-lordship side as well—Ryrie's book was not a very thorough or well-presented defense of the classic Dallas position, and it failed badly as a reply to MacArthur. Reviewers' comments and sales figures were both disappointing. The original version, published by Victor Books, went out of print within a relatively short time. I believe Moody republished the book in 1997, but I've never even seen a copy of the Moody version.

Hodges took a much more extreme (but more logically consistent) stance than Ryrie did. His book was also more thorough and more passionately argued than Ryrie's. Hodges' Absolutely Free! was at first slated for publication by Redención Viva, Hodges' own publishing company. But Zondervan picked it up, packaged it in a cover that mimicked the style of their artwork for The Gospel According to Jesus, and aggressively marketed the two books head to head in a large bookstore display.

Lots of people complained that the Zondervan marketing campaign was crass and tasteless. Even some of our ministry's most devoted constituents wrote to say they were unhappy with John MacArthur for allowing the lordship controversy to be milked for bookstore profits like that. One correspondent said it seemed like Zondervan was setting MacArthur and Hodges against one another like Sonny Liston versus Cassius Clay.

Actually, MacArthur had no knowledge of Zondervan's promotional strategy before it hit the stores. He certainly did not appreciate the campaign, and he immediately expressed his dissatisfaction to Zondervan. The editor there was somewhat cavalier about the whole matter, retorting that John MacArthur would thank them when he got his royalty check.

And that's why Word, rather than Zondervan, published the sequel to The Gospel According to Jesus.

The whole controversy over "lordship salvation" began to diminish shortly after Faith Works was published. Neither Hodges nor Ryrie has written any more major books on the subject.

Earl Radmacher, who has long been a cheerleader for no-lordship doctrine, wrote a book in 2000 titled Salvation that is both overpriced and unremarkable. Some of the pre-publication hype about the book promised it would re-ignite the lordship controversy. It didn't. Despite all the forewords and recommendations Radmacher had supplied to other books touting no-lordship doctrine, his own contribution to the debate was surprisingly meager.

In fact, the only book of any real significance promoting no-lordship salvation has been Jody Dillow's work titled The Reign of the Servant Kings. Dillow's version of the no-lordship position is set forth purely and simply as a wholesale renunciation of the classic Calvinist doctrine of the perseverence of the saints. He attempts to reinterpret Calvin to make him friendly to no-lordship doctrine, and he paints the Puritans as theological bad guys who supposedly invented lordship doctrine. Dillow's book was published by a fairly obscure publisher and has had a limited distribution.

So except for the newsletters and journals that are regularly cranked out by the Grace Evangelical Society, little fresh or significant material has been written to promote the no-lordship position for more than a decade.

These days, support for the no-lordship gospel is mostly confined to a small but prolific group of speakers and writers. Dallas is still the geographical hub of their movement. The Grace Evangelical Society has published their journal since 1988. In fact, for the past 15 years or so, GES has almost singlehandedly kept the drumbeat alive for the no-lordship position.

I'd like to think that Faith Works was so definitive that our side simply won the debate. But I think the truth is that a few other things also helped quell the controversy. One factor, surely, has been the seismic changes that have taken place at Dallas Theological Seminary since Dr. Ryrie retired. Ryrie was always the strongest, sanest voice arguing for the no-lordship position, and since his retirement, the no-lordship position has been commandeered by a much more extreme and often offbeat perspective. It is by no means the dominant view at DTS today.

So why did the controversy suddenly decline from a hot boil to a slow simmer in the early '90s? My assessment would be that the dispensationalist movement got sidetracked. Controversies over "progressive dispensationalism" on the one hand and the so-called "pre-wrath rapture" on the other hand refocused dispensationalists' energies in those years.

In short, it seems many leading dispensationalists are more concerned about the timing of the rapture than they are about the purity of the gospel message. In 1992, a group of dispensationalists from both sides of the lordship debate joined forces to start a think-tank known as the "Pre-trib Research Center," which publishes papers and sponsors high-level meetings exploring every facet of the timing-of-the-rapture question.

If that gets someone's theological juices flowing, go for it. But where is there a similar concern to settle the more important debates about the gospel?

More important? Yes. It seems to me that the debate over lordship salvation is infinitely more important than debates about the timing of the rapture. And as much as I hated the heat brought on by the lordship controversy, I wish the dispensationalist movement had been more committed to resolving that issue—or at the very least, willing to explore it with as much zeal as they poured into the "pre-wrath rapture" debate.

Whatever the future holds, I am convinced we have not seen the last of the lordship controversy. There is far too much confusion in churches about the proper way to proclaim the gospel, and the issue will keep resurfacing until it is settled or Christ returns. Inevitably, this controversy must come to the forefront of discussion again.

Lately, it seems to me that several young people influenced by Hodges ("Zanies," as I like to call them) have surfaced in the blogosphere and other public forums looking for debate on the lordship issue, and focused pretty much on that one issue alone.

Ironically, I think the biggest factor in the resurgence of Zane Hodges' view has been the long-term effects of the same theological megashift at DTS that originally helped quell the debate in the mid-'90s. The lordship issue offers a unique rallying point for people pining for the glory years of Dallas-style dispensationalism, and no-lordship theology simultaneously appeals to young people who are doctrinally naive and coming of age in an era when the church is more shallow and more worldly than practically any time since Pentecost.

So I don't think we've heard the end of the lordship issue, and we probably won't for some time. But that is the end of my short retrospective and personal testimony. I hope to continue my thoughts on the lordship debate at the Pulpit blog sometime next week, and I'll invite feedback from those who disagree with my position. I hope you'll join me over there for the rest of this discussion.

How I Got Drawn into the Lordship Debate
The Complete, Canonical List
  1. A Word of Personal Testimony
  2. A New Song in My Mouth
  3. Should sinners be urged to worship, love, and obey Christ as Lord?
  4. A Brief Interlude about History and Terminology
  5. My Short, Eye-Opening Stint as a Youth Pastor
  6. Meeting John MacArthur
  7. How Zondervan Acquired The Gospel According to Jesus
  8. The Aftermath

Phil's signature

49 comments:

Gojira said...

Hello again Phil,

I will look forward to interacting with you at the Pulpit next week.

Gojira.

Carla said...

Phil,

I appreciate the time you took in addressing this, it's helped me considerably to understand quite a few things about this issue that I didn't quite understand before.

Your closing comment though, really stuck out to me in this way:

"_____________ appeals to young people who are doctrinally naive and coming of age in an era when the church is more shallow and more worldly than practically any time since Pentecost."

When Frank suggested in the comment section of the last entry on this subject, that we might guess what brought this about again - this was exactly the line of thinking I had. I wish I were wrong, and I wish you were wrong, but the fact is, the church is incredibly shallow and worldly, with more and more S&W churches being planted all the time.

For me, it's part of the reason I'm so glad you post the Spurgeon quotes that you post. I know others will agree that reading such timely admonitions is like a breath of fresh air.

Just a few thoughts. Thanks again for taking the time to post this series.

SDG,
Carla

centuri0n said...

I should have said it when I oppened the pool, but my guess was going to be "DTS dispensational distinctives".

DJP said...

What a pity. The same hermeneutic that produces dispensationalism should be the death of the gutless grace position.

donsands said...

Thanks for the splendid series on lordship salvation. Well done. It was very edifying.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Phil writes, "It is by no means the dominant view at DTS today."

I would agree and add that it is an extreme minority. There is a large contingent at the Pre-Trib conferences though.

Thanks for the history, Phil. It was very interesting!

Jo Anne said...

I followed the Lordship debate during the late 90's (being that all my teachers have been DTS men and my library is full of their books) but frankly I got weary of the endless *debate*. No one is going to change anyone's mind. I realized that I needed to be studying God's Word instead of spending my time and money trying to understand other men's interpretation of it and why I should believe them.

We have two pastors in our Church; both DTS graduates. The senior is of the 'old school', the younger a dispensationalist with a heart for the Puritans' holiness, respect for MacArthur's "perserverance doctrine", and a passion to know *THE TRUTH*. Sometimes his preaching is almost convoluted because his spirit is torn in both directions.

So I've quit the ego thing which I think initially lead me to try to be *in the know* about this monumental Christian "debate" and concluded that there are evidences of truth in each camp. I lean more towards the Progressive Dispensationalism movement in my theology but don't peg me. I loved Dillow's "Reign of the Servant Kings". So now my goal is to study God's Word from His Book and not so much from the books of men with their endless discussions and writing of books. Give me the Word, the Holy Spirit and a couple of good Biblical Dictionaries and I pray for more intimacy with Christ and a life that is in obedience to Him.

Kymanika said...

Bravo!

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve said...

Phil: This series was an outstanding read. Thanks for taking the time to write it all.

You said: "In 1992, a group of dispensationalists from both sides of the lordship debate joined forces to start a think-tank known as the "Pre-trib Research Center," which publishes papers and sponsors high-level meetings exploring every facet of the timing-of-the-rapture question.

If that gets someone's theological juices flowing, go for it. But where is there a similar concern to settle the more important debates about the gospel?"

In fairness to the Pre-Trib Research Center, the think-tank and annual seminar didn't just somehow spontaneously materialize because a bunch of people had a passion for the topic. It really started with just two people--really, one person who rolled up his sleeves and did an enormous amount of work contacting others, inviting them to present papers, etc. They had a small beginning, and have grown slowly but surely since. Sure, I realize there's a constituency of prophecy buffs out there who help to keep the thing going and growing. But there's no question none of it would even happen without literally hundreds of hours invested by one key person who coordinates it all.

It's going to take someone with a similar commitment and vision regarding the Lordship issue a similar amount of groundwork to get something of that caliber going. Much like the enormous behind-the-scenes labor that has made The Shepherds' Conference, the Desiring God conferences, and the T4G conferences what they are. For that matter, the T4G conferences would seem a natural outlet for bringing up the lordship issue.

Caleb Kolstad said...

Great series Phil.

My personal take is that men like Ryrie have themselves surrendered to the Lordship of Christ though they teach that is not necessary for others to do in order to be saved. This is tragic since the biblical gospel/true discipleship is clearly defined in passages like Luke 9:23 among many NT texts.

The non-Lordship gospel is also held by many PARENTS in Lordship salvation churches. You will find this in counseling quite freq. Parents hold onto a childhood profession of faith even though their kid(s) have not been walking with the Lord for many, many years.

This doctrine needs to be taught and retaught. Youth Pastors and Sr. Pastors alike need to always contend for the biblical gospel.

Blessings-
CK

Kim said...

The history that you've provided with regard to DTS has just clarified many things about my pastor about which I have wondered. He is a graduate of DTS, and would have been a student when such debates were at their peak.

JSB said...

Well done, Phil. I'm not really up on Dispensational theology. Perhaps you could briefly explain the link between that view and no-lordship...or was it just a coincidence? IOW, is there something within Dispensationalism (or the DTS version) that makes no lordship inevitable?

Steve said...

Incidentally, the Zondervan editor who brushed off John's concerns by saying he would be thankful when he got his royalty check gets a big red "F" in the author relations department. That's no way to take care of an author. Sad to say, "pacify them with money" is an approach that's all too common in certain circles of the Christian publishing industry.

Castusfumus said...

I have not read Chafer's Systematic Theology and it has been a long time since I have read TGATJ. I agree that a welcomed post would be an explanation of true DTS dispensationalism. I do know that S.L Johnson refers to Chafer often and would like to know how he viewed this topic.

Is this basically the same dogma that Clarance Larkin taught which so many Baptists cut their teeth on?

donsands said...

jsb,

I found a book that deals with "the link" in some ways. It's, "Dispensationalism Rightly Dividing the People of God", by Keith Mathison.

I still disagree with his eschatology, but it's a good book to read.

BReformed said...

This has been a great read.

The eschatological and soteriologcal mix is intriguing to me, Phil, because I have had discussions about the same thing over the years, with people like the late Herman Hoyt, Marv Rosenthal, Renny Showers, and others.

Since the early 1990's, I have found a common thread which I think has some merit, and that is this: those who most forcefully promote a no-lordship position usually, if not always, hold to the DTS (and Grace Seminary, for that matter) dispensational model; those who reject the extreme logical conclusions of dispensationalism often embrace a pre-millenial view, but are not necessarily dogmatic (some are, of course) on pre-trib, mid-trib or the pre-wrath position. Finally, I have observed that those who embrace covenant theology reject dispensationsim and almost always lean toward a post-tribulational or a-millenial position. Those are interesting progressions that can be demonstrated with remarkable consistency.

Now, I live in a tiny little world and I do not for a moment suggest that these are universally true progressions, theologically. But there is a consistent effort by no-lordship people to preach, as Marv Rosenthal has said, a "tip-toe through the tulips" message concerning the rapture. In fact, I was with Marv on Saturday at a banquet in Cincinnati where he made several comments in his sermon on Abraham that clearly supported lordship salvation. Among the audience were Presbyterians, Baptists, Grace Brethren, Old German Baptist Brethren -- a cross-section of Christians who have (as conversation revealed) rejected most of the dispensational privy pot, and have subsequently recognized that their soteriology (i.e., no-lordship salvation) was grossly defective.

I agree wholeheartedly that the debate over lordship salvation is infinitely more important than debates about the timing of the rapture. But there is a fishy smell, in my view, over the tight-knit relationship between no-lordship savlation, dispensationalism, and pre-tribulationism. When the thread of no-lordship salvation unravels, the other two views fray and fall apart as well.

Connie said...

This has been a very interesting and helpful chronology of the Lordship debate from a "non-DTS" perspective. We were attending (and working for) DTS during the height of the "Lordship" debate.

Believe it or not, God in His wisdom, grace, and mercy had placed several Calvinists on the faculty during that time and we did everything we could to take their classes as long as they were still on the faculty. Sadly, two of them left in the late 80's after apparently being encouraged to do so.

One DTS prof. even formed a small group--which we enjoyed being a part of--to discuss MacArthur's "new" book!!! That was like a breath of fresh air to us in those days--even though it clearly "marked or labeled" us at the time.

We were indeed among a very small minority at DTS in those days. I still can clearly recall a casual conversation along the lines of the Lordship debate with one of my bosses at DTS. At one point he said to me, "Ohhhhhhh, you're a fruit inspector", and without any hesitation I calmly replied, "No, I'm a fruit EXPECTOR".

That seems like a lifetime ago, but when we left DTS we left with graditude for the education God had provided, but no "devotion" to the institution. As a matter of fact, when someone asks my husband where he earned his ThM, he smiles and says, "DTS, but please don't hold that against me". :-)

I'm glad to say, God has indeed caused all things to work together for our good and His glory...

candyinsierras said...

This was very interesting and I knew nothing of all of this in the 1990's. I was just a blundering Arminian with little theological understanding. I would like to see a series of posts on Dispensationalism and Covenantal positions.

I also did not realize that there was progressive dispensationalism, etc. Maybe someone can explain a little what defines these particular understandings of dispensationalism.

Peter M. Head said...

Re: "The editor there was somewhat cavalier about the whole matter, retorting that John MacArthur would thank them when he got his royalty check."
How much royalties have there been from the book?

Robert said...

Well the evolution of Dispensationalism has been very interesting to me. It seems to be (IMHO) that the "classic" view of Darby, Scofield, and Chafer has been dying the death of a thousand qualifications. If Progressive Dispensationalism keeps "progressing", it may eventually end up somewhere near classic CT, with only some differences in EMPHASIS.

runninbill said...

Phil--

Thanks for standing for orthodoxy in terms of the Gospel rather than in terms of eschatology, particularly rapture timing. Some of your readers may not know that there have been dispensational groups that thought orthodoxy was defined more by eschatology than by any other facet of theology.

Bill

Paul Doutell said...

Phil said:

"No-lordship theology simultaneously appeals to young people who are doctrinally naive and coming of age in an era when the church is more shallow and more worldly than practically any time since Pentecost."

Amen, Phil. Yet it seems that some of them are actually emboldened by their ignorance, as if their lack of training actually qualified them to critique Greek lexicons and define soteriology for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"[They want] to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions" (1 Timothy 1:7).

"In all [Paul's letters there] are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16).

"Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur stricter judgment" (James 3:1).

CalvDispy said...

As an avid reader there are few books that I can say have been life transforming; however, Faith Works has been at the very top of the list.

For several years I had been dismayed and confused by my understanding of the gospel as I had been taught it having sat under several DTS pastors. I knew something was amiss in the teaching but couldn't put my finger on it with much precision. I had heard of MacArthur and vaguely perceived him to promote a legalistic works-salvation based on the naive comments of DTS types floating around in those days.

Then I secured a copy of Faith Works and it changed my world; affirming, clarifying and expertly articulationg for me what made Biblical and logical sense. That book was also instrumental in my decision to train at TMS. I thank God for the clarity of MacArthur's teaching and preaching.

I love - "No, I'm a fruit EXPECTOR"!

DJP said...

Perhaps I didn't say it loudly enough. < clearing throat >

The same hermeneutic that produces dispensationalism should be the death of the gutless grace position.

Connecting the two makes precisely as much sense as saying that, if you're a 5-point Calvinist, you must believe in attaching religious significance to spattering water on babies. Lots do, none necessarily.

BReformed said...

Perhaps I miss your point, djp, but I disagree. The hermeneutic that produces dispensationalism reinforces the gutless grace position. That hermeneutic has no capacity to kill the gutless grace position.

Having been raised in the Grace Brethren fellowship, arguably as much a force in the development of dispensational teaching as DTS, I was, for years, a product of the logical conclusions dispensationalism leads to: gutless grace and gutless eschatology.

Jerry Morningstar said...

I really appreciated this series, Phil.

Do you see any prospects for a reformed/ dispensational systematic theology anywhere on the horizon by Mac or any Master's guys?

Jo Anne said...

If someone were to clarify what a dispensationalist is at this blog, I think it's only fair that a dispensationalist be allowed to state what he believes it is, as opposed to someone from the opposite perspective claiming to be an expert in it's theological persuasion.

(Just a thought)

H K Flynn said...

Phil,

I agree with your treatment of the rapture obsessed culture, which saw the gospel debate as an upsetting of the apple cart.

Eschatologically speaking, it is the fearful expectation of the Judgment Seat of Christ that I see in the NT, not an over focus on the rapture. That focus profoundly lights the burners under our willingness to examine ourselves and our willingness to apply the Scriptures.

But your model fails under close examination. The FG model has its foundations explicitly taught in the NT, yours very much has to be assumed as being implied. I hope your readers explore the Pulpit series with a Bible open.

Your offensive use of the blatantly inaccurate "no-lordship" is a disservice to Christ. We extol radical obedience to Christ and His word.

Blessings.

Jodie

CalvDispy said...

Breformed:
Make the connection for us, just don't state that there is one. We need proof of your proposition.

DJP said...

(OK -- Blogspot gave me html insanity. Sorry the links have to be ham-fisted!)

Preface -- this blog's focus is not dispensationalism, up or down. Other blogs can obsess about the CT/dispensationalism cage match if they like. I may foment some more focused articles sometime over at my blog.

http://bibchr.blogspot.com

But not here.

Having said that, some brief responses to questions/comments.

Jo Anne -- for a little something about dispensationalism, check this out:

http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2006/02/what-dispensationalism-isnt.html

breformed -- that's just silly, and it's a slander.

The sort of hermeneutic --

http://www.bibchr.com/sobr.html

--that produced dispensationalism is the conviction that we should take every word of Scripture in its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and fundamental and axiomatic truths, clearly indicate otherwise.

There is no honest, sane, rational way that the application of that hermeneutic would produce the gutless grace position. It is its opposite. In fact, it is its antidote.

That many dispensationalists also, in contradiction to their own stated approach to Scripture, adopt this approach, is a heartache and a shame. But, as I mentioned before, imagining a necessary connection between the two is like saying that if you're a 5-point Calvinist, you must believe in attaching religious significance to spattering water on babies, just because many who affirm the former also embrace the latter.

The two are incidental to each other, at best.

Paul E said...

Phil,

I have very much appreciated these articles! I am very thankful for you brother.

djp, I share your conviction of what the dispensational hermeneutic should produce. Indeed it does! It is regretable that dispensationalism was packaged together early on by Chafer (both in his systematic theology and in seperate articles), with a non-reformed soteriology. This indeed cracked open the door which is even now blown wide open to this peculiar teaching of a non-lordship salvation.

Lou Martuneac said...

To All:

Knowing this is partly a shameless plug, here goes...

My new book In Defense of the Gospel:Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation addresses the problems with John MacArthur's Lordship Salvation from a unique perspective.

I do not come to the debate from the positions of Hodges and Ryrie.

Throughout my book I avoided the frothy rhetoric that sometimes enters into the debate to provide objective and balanced scriptural answers. I have presented and defended the historic position on the gospel that has been held throughout church history. I have sought to bring clarity to the issue.

None of my work should be taken as a personal attack on any advocate of the Lordship position. I have treated the Lordship advocates with dignity and respect. The debate is focused on the doctrine of the gospel. Personality is not the issue!

LM

www.indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com

Bhedr said...

I never knew a time when God worked and gave honor via strength of flesh or even once gave place to a shade of mammon.

Playing the private didn't know sir? You sure thats going to hold water at the judgment Seat of Christ? Did you guys pick up that check by the way?

The bottom line is that you really can't say that God gets the glory for your debate as Zondervan's saleman tactics have thrown in their mite. So Zondervan by your own admission will have the boast in the matter.

Remember God winnowed Gideons men down to 300. He doesn't like men to boast in numbers or strength of flesh...certainley He likes to be clear of money. The Apostle Paul went out of his way to do so.

I really wonder if God is celebrating of rather if he weeps over this.

Come out of her people. It seems were building Empires...Not the Kingdom of God.

Janet said...

This series has been great Phil. Thank you.

H K Flynn said...

The whole controversy over "lordship salvation" began to diminish shortly after Faith Works was published. Neither Hodges nor Ryrie has written any more major books on the subject.

Forgot to comment on this. Clearly Hodges book on repentance, Harmony with God A Fresh Look at Repentance is major in terms of new ground. In fact, it is significantly more ground breaking than Absolutely Free. His commentary on James and 1 John are also major works. And I would include Rene Lopez's book on Romans, Romans Unlocked, as a major new FG book.

Also of importance is Bob Wilkin's books, Secure and Sure, on assurance, and The Road to Reward. And Hodges' Six Secrets of The Christian Life is indispensable because it collapses the idea the FG has an inadequate theology of the new birth.

These are the books that establish FG as a self-examination theology that puts the warnings of the NT on center stage.

Frankly, Phil, I see these as significantly more important than Absolutely Free. So I am afraid you have some research to do before you become up to date on the literature!

God bless!

Phil Johnson said...

H K Flynn:

No one—no one—outside the no-lordship ghetto would agree that the books you named are significant. I've already read most of them and I'm not aware of anyone who has no agenda to promote no-lordship antinomianism who has recommended them as either helpful or important.

By the way, I just noticed that my review of Hodges' James is at Amazon.com. I think that's the only review I have ever contributed there.

Paul Doutell said...

To add to your point, Phil:

Four of H K's "major works" were self-published by The Grace Evangelical Society: Zane Hodges on James and 1 John; Robert Wilkin on _Secure and Sure_ and _Road to Reward_.

Two of these "must read books"-- _Harmony with God_ and _Six Secrets of the Christian Life_--were published by Redencion Viva. Their web site catalog is devoted almost exclusively to books and tapes by Zane Hodges:

http://www.he.net/~zhodges/
index.html

There's nothing inherently wrong about self-published books. But when an author or his sycophants hail such books (that other publishers haven't touched) as "major," "ground breaking," and "indispensable," to the world of Christian theology . . .

Words fail me. Hubris? Shameless? Pathetic? Blatantly self-serving?

I gotta go work on my vocabulary. It isn't sufficient to describe what I'm seeing.

bluecollar said...

Phil,

Thanks for sharing that review at Amazon. Good thoughts.

H K Flynn said...

Hey Phil and Paul,

I’d recommend choosing between Free Grace as the panacea to the masses and Free Grace as the despised and homeless loner, appealing to both only works for the initiated. The latter is closer to the truth so I’d stick with that.

These self-published books are major to plow-boys everywhere.

H K Flynn said...

Hey Phil,

Now that I’ve read your review of Hodges James commentary, I look forward to engaging you on the topic of James when Pulpit resumes, since you’ve premised this series with that invite. “Our friend Antonio and others who want to engage me on that subject can take it over to Pulpit.” The Carson quote, which you use on Amazon, channels the spirit of Charles the 5th: "It is certain that a single monk must err if he stands against the opinion of all Christendom."

This is the Free Grace argument: mankind is corrupt. Mankind loves works religion and distorted by-faith salvation so much that it has throughout church history rejoiced in a badly distorted misreading of James. His original readers however did not make that mistake. And this can be shown by looking carefully at the text of James.

BReformed said...

djp said: That many dispensationalists also, in contradiction to their own stated approach to Scripture, adopt this approach, is a heartache and a shame.

My point exactly. The hermeneutic we both profess does lead, not should lead, to the lordship position. The hermeneutic which ostensibly leads to dispensationalism and no-lordship salvation is plain quirky.

calvdispy: Come now. This blog is nothing if not a place of propositional statements of what the commentors (not the blog hosts) all think they believe, minus the chapters and footnotes of explanation. However, I am making the connection in a paper I am writing. After 14 years of gathering background information from as many original sources as I can, I started compiling (a little over a year ago) that research on the various proponents of dispensationalism, their expressed hermeneutic, their soteriological leanings, what they teach concerning the doctrine of sanctification, what they teach eschatologically, and a few other things. Just as you "knew something was amiss in the teaching but couldn't put [your] finger on it with much precision" (regarding salvation), I also believed something was amiss in the logical progression of the dispensational hermeneutic. I can now say that I see the connection with increasing precision. (I so wish that a certain man, to whom "The Gospel According to Jesus" was dedicated, had not died a couple of years ago. He was on the right track in all of this.) Send me your e-mail and I will send you a draft when it is ready for your critical review. But to give a brief answer, the connection between dispensationalism and soteriology is made by Ryrie himself in chapter 6 of "Dispensationalsm" (Moody, 1995). It is also made by Blaising and Bock in "Progressive Dispensationalism" (Victor, 1993, pp. 112-ff; 244). The connection is also made by Larkin, most notably in "Rightly Dividing the Word" (Larkin, 1920, chs. 15-18). Same with McClain, Hoyt, James Boyer, Walvoord, Pentecost, Showers, LaHaye, Ice...

Paul Doutell said...

So helpful to know, H K, why we disagree with the interpretation your crowd puts on James 2. It's not that we've done honest exegesis; it's that we love works religion! Now I understand! We secretly hate biblical grace!

(Sigh.)

Edify us all and answer this question. Why did God pass over every major Bible teacher since the apostles and entrust the true understanding of James (and salvation) to Zane Hodges? Are the Scriptures so unclear that *everybody* but Zane got it wrong? And the rest of us twist the passage so we can worship at the altar of our own works?

H K, that's . . . that's . . . *zany*.

[And lest anyone think I'm exaggerating what no-lordship people think about their views, here's what Zane Hodges himself said about his interpretation of James 2:14-26:

"All of the major ways of reading this text are wrong. *And not simply wrong, but seriously so*" (_Dead Faith_, p. 7, emphasis in original)."]

Paul Doutell said...

And how appropriate that definition #7 for "zany" in _Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language_ is: "a slavish attendant or follower" (p. 2208).

Jason said...

Phil,

Thanks for the outstanding series. I appreciated the history. Excellent writing and reading!

Jason

Bhedr said...

>Now I understand! We secretly hate biblical grace!<

I am now begining to wonder as you guy keep insulting these free gracers as small potatoe runts that are not worthy of your blogspace and repetoire'

If anything this whole deal has been eye opening for me. I used to have a little sympathy for MacArthurs camp but I remember old fundamental preachers warning me back in the 80's and 90's of the ecumenical tide in these publishers like Zondervan. I guess they were right after all. Is it possible that you guys are deeper into the New Evangelical movement than you realize and don't even know it when the signs come up out of the water and stare you in the face.

All the money and all the masses are not worth a mite when I have to stand before my Lord and give an account. Each day I am praising him for waking me up from this. I was buying into this intoxicating rationale'. If anything these posts have helped me realize something, even if the ones that ushered in these movements don't see it.

But one day God is going to give some of you all a loving reminder that you can't boast outside of his grace. We all need that reminder. We are so forgetful and yes, Jodie is correct...we love works religions and will retreat to them in a New York minute when given the opportunity to start boasting again.

H K Flynn said...

Paul,

You say:

So helpful to know, H K, why we disagree with the interpretation your crowd puts on James 2. It's not that we've done honest exegesis; it's that we love works religion! Now I understand! We secretly hate biblical grace!

This is what I stated:
Mankind loves works religion and distorted by-faith salvation…

For the record, I consider you and your buds to be of the later category.

But, Paul, you again say that you’ve done exegesis on James, just like you stated on #7 of this series. As you may have noticed, I took the bate heavily then and at least twice asked you to expand on your views of James. Maybe you’ll expand at some point, and I’m not sure why your being so closed to the vest on James. I suppose your “honest exegesis” doesn’t include specifically examining what Hodges is arguing, like a Berean would. But I hope I’m wrong on this and you have done that.

My view is that there are several aspects to Hodges views on James that are blatantly superior than the model now embraced “by the masses”. And his overall understanding of its structure is light-years superior. So I’m with Hodges: "All of the major ways of reading this text are wrong. And not simply wrong, but seriously so. So incorrect are these views , that if James himself had heard them, he would have been both astonished and appalled!” (p.7 Dead Faith)

Blessings

Faith Pedaler said...

Phil,

Sorry for the late comment. I hope you read this and consider it. Mal Couch, in typical poison pen fashion, has put some incorrect info up on the web concerning Dr. MacArthur and the Lordship debate, which would be nice to see publicly challenged. Couch has a small following but he does publish a number of books. The link to comments he posted today about MacArthur can be found here: http://www.scofieldprophecystudies.org/Questions/Question29.htm. He specifically states that MacArthur coined the term "Lordship Salvation" and the teaching. If you or the guys at Pulpit Magazine get a chance to enter a post referring to and refuting Couch's accusation, that would be great. I appreciate you guys.

Secret Rapture said...
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