16 October 2006

How Zondervan Acquired The Gospel According to Jesus

How I Got Drawn into the Lordship Debate—part 7
by Phil Johnson

hen I came to Grace Church in early 1983, the "Word of Grace" tape ministry and the "Grace to You" radio ministry were two separate departments under the oversight of a council of Grace Church elders. They were physically located about a half mile apart, with different staffs and different structures. Even though their tasks and constituencies overlapped, the radio ministry was the newer ministry and was still perceived by some in the more staid tape ministry as something of an experiment.

There was also a mild rivalry between the two ministries. The radio ministry was a fun and exciting place to work, with a loose structure and lots of creative freedom. The tape ministry was the opposite.

I spent the first four years of my career here helping reorganize and unite the two organizations. Within a few years, Grace to You spun off from Grace Church to become an independent non-profit organization, and we relocated to a larger facility where the tape and radio ministries finally blended seamlessly into one.

That was a seismic change. It took about 4-5 years to complete and see all the aftershocks subside. Meanwhile, I used whatever "spare time" I had to do editorial work on The Gospel According to Jesus. (I still treated that as a working title. I always assumed Moody Press would retitle the book in the publication process.)

From the beginning, that book was a high priority for me, but I was editing it in my spare time, and on the side I also edited The Legacy of Jesus, a wonderful book by John MacArthur on the upper-room discourse. (I still love that book, but it was something less than a blockbuster.)

The Gospel According to Jesus ultimately turned into a four-year project and threatened to drag out even more. By mid-1987, I was only slightly past the halfway mark in the editorial process.

Then quite unexpectedly in 1987, a controversy erupted at Moody Press over another book they had published.

James Montgomery Boice's excellent little book Christ's Call to Discipleship was a short but very potent look at what "discipleship" involves. In a footnote in the early pages of that book, Boice disagreed with something from Charles Ryrie's Balancing the Christian Life. Boice's book was not about the lordship issue per se, but the issue Boice disagreed with Ryrie about pertained directly to the lordship salvation controversy.

The book had already been in print for a few years, but then Moody Monthly printed an excerpt, and the excerpt they chose included the section where Boice contradicted Ryrie.

Someone fairly well known (I was told at the time that it was Dave Breese) wrote the president of Moody Bible Institute a letter complaining about Boice's criticism of Ryrie. At the time, Moody Press was Ryrie's main publisher; the Ryrie Study Bible was in its heyday; and Ryrie was considered the inviolable standard of orthodoxy by many at Moody.

So an order came down from the administration of Moody Bible Institute that Moody Press was not to publish any more criticisms of Charles Ryrie.

Jerry Jenkins called me and asked me if there was any way that John MacArthur's book on lordship could be re-edited so that it would be in harmony with Dr. Ryrie's published statements on the matter of Christ's lordship and the gospel. And if not, he asked, could we simply omit any reference to Ryrie?

I reminded him that MacArthur's position was the very one Ryrie had anathematized in Balancing the Christian Life, and I assured him it would be impossible to reconcile MacArthur's position with Ryrie's published material. The whole point of the book was to answer Ryrie's charge that proclaiming the lordship of Christ is "a different gospel."

So after discussing the issue at length with John MacArthur, Moody Press graciously relinquished the contract on the book. They have continued to publish the MacArthur New Testament Commentary series, and we have maintained a warm relationship and vigorous partnership with Moody Press, even though they passed on the opportunity to publish that particular book.

I tried to put a good face on the whole episode by consoling myself with the fact that the pressure was off me to meet Moody's deadlines. It appeared I would be able to breathe for the next few months.

But the very next day the phone at my house rang. It was an editor at Zondervan. I don't know how he got my home telephone number, but he said they had already heard about the book and knew Moody was dropping it. He said Zondervan would be eager to publish it, and he was planning to make a proposal to John MacArthur that afternoon. Before he did, he had some questions about the manuscript: how far along was it, and could we have it finished and ready to submit within about 9 weeks? They would be interested in releasing the book at the Christian Booksellers' Association national convention the following year, so they would need the manuscript ASAP. They liked the topic, the timing, and even the working title.

That's how The Gospel According to Jesus came to be a Zondervan book.

I put everything else on hold and devoted the next two months to completing the book. John MacArthur likewise set things aside in order to work through the manuscripts, and amazingly, we were able to submit the finished manuscript in time to meet Zondervan's severely shortened deadline.

I spent the next six months trying to get back into my routine at Grace to You. But from that day until now, I have never had what you could reasonably call a "routine."

The prepublication process with Zondervan turned out to be a grueling back-and-forth exchange of questions, additional documentation, and minor manuscript revisions. I remember taking the final version of the manuscript on a flight to Manila in the spring of 1988. I spent some 12 hours on the trans-Pacific flight proofreading and then sent the revisions back to Grand Rapids via DHL as soon as I landed in the Philippines. I had a headache that took a week to get over, but my work on the book was finally done.

The Gospel According to Jesus was released in (of all places) Dallas, at that year's CBA convention in July.

Within weeks after the publication of The Gospel According to Jesus, we began to be swamped with feedback about the book—some negative, but the vast majority enthusiastically positive. The Gospel According to Jesus still sells briskly almost twenty years later. I think it might be the best-selling non-fiction work devoted to a point of theological controversy since Harold Lindsell's The Battle for the Bible.

The issues in the lordship controversy are vital, and the widespread controversy it has generated reflects that. For three or four years after The Gospel According to Jesus was published, I began to think that this one issue might dominate the rest of my life. I answered most of the mail generated by the book. I have a whole file cabinet full of correspondence related to the book and the controversy it generated.

But when MacArthur published a second book on the lordship issue (Faith Works, subsequently retitled The Gospel According to the Apostles), most of the controversy suddenly died away almost as quickly as it had begun.

For the past dozen years or so, our ministry has received surprisingly few questions about this issue. I have participated in theological discussion forums on the Internet since 1995, and I have never yet encountered anyone who was prepared to make a serious defense of the no-lordship position.

In fact, until about two years ago, I can't recall that anyone even wanted to debate about the issue at all. The Grace Evangelical Society has continued to hold conferences and publish newsletters for their own constituency, but the no-lordship position has been totally discredited in most circles.

Now the topic of "lordship salvation" seems to be oozing back into the discussion, though (in my assessment) not yet in a serious and sober way. In my next installment in this series, I want to discuss why the lordship controversy fell so quickly from the evangelical radar and what seems to be bringing it back.

More yet to come.

Phil's signature

94 comments:

Daniel said...

This series has been my favourite thus far.

BugBlaster said...

My pastor put that book in my hands in 1990. It is very nice to hear the history behind it.

centuri0n said...

Can we start a pool to see who can guess why the no-lordship position is making a comeback?

Carla said...

Phil - this is really fascinating to read. I'm very much looking forward to your insight on why the no-Lorship position is making a return appearance.

I think I already know, but I'm not going to take Frank's bait.

:o)

Gavin Brown said...

The suspense is killing me. Phil, you could just do one long post and get on with it.

Cent,
I'm guessing that a new generation of Ignoramous's are the reason for the recent interest ni said theological controversy.

Gavin Brown said...

i meant "in"

Daniel said...

Can we start a pool to see who can guess why the no-lordship position is making a comeback?...

Um... because watering down the gospel makes it more palatable to the unsaved palate? Who wants a king when you can get into the kingdom some other way?

Craver VII said...

I'm glad you're shedding light on some of the complexities of publishing a book. Boy, I can just imagine the emotionally charged discussions as people must have had different ideas about what was the right thing to do. Those are great opportunities for demontrating not a 50/50 balance, but uncompromising combination of truth and grace to the glory of our Lord. What a tough test!

candyinsierras said...

It is hard to wait for each installment.

It is hard to believe that Zondervan would want to publish that particular book these days. They have changed a bit in their publishing choices it seems.

I am wondering what made the "Lordship Salvation" issue not so controversial in the 1980's and early 90's, the birth years of mega-ministries and psychological self-help ministries.

runninbill said...

Ministries with a big focus on numbers (and that is a lot of them these days) need some sort of theological basis for their records of "decisions." And a watered down gospel (one that "even the non-elect could not reject") gives them just that.

Bill

donsands said...

Great post. Very encouraging to see how the Lord worked in your life.

"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord" 2 Cor. 4:5

"And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Phil. 2:11

MARK JOHNSTON said...

Thanks Phil for giving us the background about the book. I purchased it many years ago as a Youth Minister and remember not being able to put the book down . If I had to guess why the no Lorship position is making a comback I would have to guess it would be due to the EC crowd.

Martin Downes said...

John Owen had some weighty thoughts on no-lordship salvation in his work on justification by faith alone (volume 4 in the Banner collection of his works).

Not that he had the gift of prophecy or anything. He dealt with it as he explored the nature and object of justifying faith.

Owen called the exclusion of Christ's kingly office from saving faith "unbelief" and "rejecting Christ".

Jim Crigler said...

Frank asked: Can we start a pool to see who can guess why the no-lordship position is making a comeback?

If Phil were a Southern Baptist (please don't call us S.B.'s even though we deserve it sometimes), I'd have a faster answer. As it is, I'm gonna have to think about it for a while.

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Too hot for Moody Press? It didn't take much to be too hot for Moody, did it?

This debate is older than most of the people reading this series. It was hot in the mid 70s when I was in seminary. My take on it then was to ignore it completely. I was spending all my time with J.Calvin, J.Edwards and E.Brunner. Who has time for J.McArthur, Jr. or C.C.Ryrie?

SFB said...

I admit that I am terribly stupid, but I have never been able to see how in blazes this no-lorship thing ever got off the ground in the first place as anyone's idea of legitimate theology. Seriously... I must be so intellectually empty. I just cannot imagine that this kind of thing ever existed as anything but the rankest heresy.

Caleb Kolstad said...

Thanks for this!

Tim Brown said...

i'm really disappointed (but not surprised) at Moody's choice of politics over truth.

I had heard that there was some controversy over the book with moody but heard it was just that they didn't like what John had to say. Thanks for clarifying what went on!

Travis McGowen said...

"The Gospel According to Jesus" was an important book in my life and I have recommended it many times. Thanks for giving the history behind it.

Craver VII said...

tim brown, that's one way to look at it. Except of course, if Moody's head honchos sincerely believed in that position. Then it would not be a matter of politics. From what I have seen, MP does not strive to be all things to all men; they have a fairly narrow publishing philosopy, and not publishing this book would NOT be inconsistent with their profile.

I have found stuff from just about every publisher that I wish was printed using disappearing ink, but that's judging the content, and not the motive.

We can certainly pray that the truth is revealed to more folks though, right?

Professionally speaking, it doesn't hurt the author to have multiple publishers working on his books. And while Zondervan doesn't always impress me "content-wise," how shall I say this?...Cha-Chinggg! Them "Z" books have a way of moving off the shelves. Many purchases=many readers.

Webmaster said...

Great series. I'd like to see you post some kind of permanent link to all the articles in this series in one place (when you're finished, that is).

Thanks!

Tim Brown said...

Craver:

This is what triggered my comment. Sounds political to me...

*So an order came down from the administration of Moody Bible Institute that Moody Press was not to publish any more criticisms of Charles Ryrie.*

Craver VII said...

Yes tim brown, you're right that it sounds like politics. And I do agree that it is a possibility that any sinful man could have made a politically driven decision, but I hesitate to conclude that such was the case here. Imagine these scenarios:

Scenario 1:
"Fellas, we've sunk a boatload of dough in Ryrie; let's keep things friendly with our constituents."

Scenario 2:
"That sounds too much like works soteriology to me. Let's not go there."

I think both positions are wrong. Maybe it was somewhere between the two scenarios or something entirely different, and I wish MP had gone through with the project, but unless we have a confession, who can know for certain what the motive was?

Charles Whisnant said...

Phil
My first Shepherd's Conference was in October 1983. And I visited the Tape Ministry and Radio Ministry places. What a wonderful change in my fundamental life when I attended the Shepherd's conference, and the following sixteens years as pastor of one church was blessed by that conference.

And when the book finally came out, what a rich blessing to read.

Thanks for your telling the story behind the work, thanks Phil.

Steve said...

On the story behind the merging of Word of Grace and Grace to You: From someone who was there, you described it perfectly, Phil. I smiled at your choice of the word staid.

On Frank's pool: Surely it's the Emergent crowd giving the no-lordship view new life.

On why Zondervan picked up The Gospel According to Jesus before anyone could blink: Bottom-line-driven publishers move fast when a prime book or author becomes available.

On my personal copy of The Gospel According to Jesus: Literally from the day I got it, I've always wished I'd asked Phil to sign it. John MacArthur and Don H's signatures seem incomplete without Phil's, given all the work he put into the book.

R. Mansfield said...

I was at the 1988 CBA convention (the only one I ever attended), and I have MacArthur's signature on the copy of the book I got there. It was a life-changing read, and that book is a prize in my personal library.

Backwoods Presbyterian said...

I see not only the "No Lordship" debate rearing its ugly head in my Seminary-Pittsburgh Theological-in the guise of ecumenicalism and emergent conversations but also a re-focus of Christ not just beingTHE Lord but A Lord among Lords. It is a very trying time for those willing to stand up for not just Lordship Salvation but for the singularity of Christ's message.

C.H.H. said...

I can hear Antonio knashing his teeth from here.

Caddiechaplain said...

Until I read "The Gospel According To Jesus," I was not much of a John MacArthur fan. I thought he was too legalistic in his theology. Of course, I was a legalistic armenian. It was after having read the book that I begin to search my soul, heart, and most importantly, the Scriptures for the truth of the Gospel and specifically the doctrines of Grace. Boice, Sproul, Nettles, began to have a profound impact on my Christian theological world-view.

I am grateful to God for John and other outstanding reformed thinkers who are prominantly surfacing in the Church today!

GL said...

How does C. Stirling Bartholomew know that "this debate is older than most of the people reading this series"?

Did someone collect empirical data on the ages of Pyro readers?

H K Flynn said...

"...I have never yet encountered anyone who was prepared to make a serious defense of the no-lordship position."

Ouch! As you can guess, Phil, I hope you’re wrong on that one…

Is that comment possibly a wee-bit more chutzpah than subjective observation? My evidence that it is would be:

One, Centurion's rhetorical skills and my lame homeschool techniques still saw Centurion snatching defeat from the jaws of easy victory, with the result that the gentlemen at Pulpit wisely but surprisingly chose not to discuss James' "the demons believe" remark, even though that was one of the main texts back in the 80's.

Two, Matt Waymeyer’s lack of willingness to engage blogger and professor Antonio da Rosa’s series on repentance speaks volumes on “seriousness”.

Three, Dr. Bob the-nicest-guy-on-Earth Wilkin flustered Dr. James White by his friendly peppering of the Reformed crowd and White with Biblical evidence for his Free Grace position, while White angrily tipped into tunnel vision regarding John 6. White has shrewdly turned down Wilkin's invitation to debate him on that one chapter. And btw many of the people in that church felt let down because they assumed White would win.

And finally, MacArthur's request that if he was going to go on with his own scheduled debate with Hodges that there be no recording device, and after getting that concession, he backed out of the scheduled debate altogether.

At any rate, why not debate Bob Wilkin yourself and settle the issue? You and your buds make the rules of the debate, and all of the decorum edicts, and I bet you he’d sign on, since he loves to defend the bare faith in Christ alone position.

Your loyal opposition,

Jodie

Matt Waymeyer said...

Wow. I must say that I'm flattered to be mentioned in the same lineup as CenturiOn, James White, and John MacArthur. Well, James White and John MacArthur anyway.

(A joke, Frank--it's just a joke!)

Paul Doutell said...

Jodie,

Phil said:

I have never yet encountered anyone who was prepared to make a serious defense of the no-lordship position.

Jodie, I say this with kindness, but you are only proving Phil's point when you throw up blog discussions and stage debate taunts as proof that the no-lordship camp is ready to engage in a serious defense of its position.

Have you read _The Gospel According to Jesus_? Even if you disagree with it, you cannot seriously compare blogging and a 60-minute debate to the biblical content of that book.

And in case you're wondering, yes, I have read _The Gospel Under Siege_, _Absolutely Free_, and _So Great Salvation_. I've also done the Greek exegesis on James 2 just for fun.

Not that any of that is necessary to reject no-lordship salvation. It's enough to read the Bible in its context from cover-to-cover instead of playing no-lordship proof-text games.

Phil Johnson said...

HK Flynn:

I said "a serious defense of the no-lordship position."

Juvenile taunts, comment-spam, and hackneyed, prefab, yard-long screeds don't count.

But one thing you said intrigues me: is Antonio da Rosa really (seriously, now) a professor somewhere? What institution would that be?

Paul Doutell said...

"Hackneyed, prefab, yard-long screeds" sounds so perjorative.

H K Flynn said...

Paul,

My comment showed that FG has seriously defended its position, not is ready to. Bob Wilkin's use of evidence from the Bible may not be considered serious in your circles but in mine that is serious.

By doing the Greek exegesis on James, do you mean that you've considered the demons remark as diatribe and have a response to it?

A serious response on your part would mean going beyond the, "we are so right that you must be wrong" position.

Blessings,

Jodie

Jeff Voegtlin said...

More yet to come.

Here I thought seven was the number of completion and that we'd be at the end of the story by now!

I guess Phil knows how to keep us coming back. He'd be really good in VBS.

H K Flynn said...

Phil,

Instead of returning your insult, I’ll compare our models.

Our defense has been Bible-centered, therefore it has been necessarily serious. Our view of the NT is that what is stated explicitly in the NT makes for the foundation of a better paradigm than any based on a number of extrapolations of the NT. It’s one thing to insist that just because something is not explicitly stated in the Bible it may be true; it is another to have a series of unmentioned ideas become the foundation of one’s understanding of the NT. An example here is your order of salvation which leaves regeneration and justification as having different causes, when both are considered as being logically caused by faith in the Bible. (Ro 3:28, Jn 20:29-31) Another example is your emotion seeped conviction that a truly regenerate person can’t apostatize from the faith. This gold-plating of the redeemed is certainly not explicitly taught, nor even vaguely supported in the Scriptures. (1 Cor 11:30; 1 Tim. 1:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:16-18; James 4:4-6; Heb 12:7,8; 2 Pet 1:9; 1 Jo 3:15) What has thoroughly come through in the debates that have occurred, is a Bible-obsessed earnestness and a Creed-weighted chutzpah.

May God shine His generous light on every area of your life.

Paul Doutell said...

Jodie,

So have you read _The Gospel According to Jesus_, cover to cover, or not? Or are you "refuting" something that you haven't even read?

And, as Phil asked, what is the name and location of this institution at which Antonio da Rosa is supposedly a professor? And what, exactly, does he teach?

H K Flynn said...

Paul,

I guess I misread that as a rhetorical question. I read his book "Faith Works" and I understand that it was later retitled as "The Gospel According to Jesus". I haven't read that, so if it's been reworked I'd like to see it. He seemed (to me at least)to state things less provocatively in FW then in GATJ. So I respected that (apparent) decision.

I've also read Packer and Sproul and Gerstner. Gerstner's work "Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth" is my favorite.

I try not to misrepresent the position even if I do draw radically different conclusions about what it represents.

What about the demons remark?

H K Flynn said...

Antonio has said, of the Seminary he teaches at:
_______________________

It is called Southern California Seminary.

http://www.socalsem.edu/

It is an accredited Bible College/Seminary under the ministry of Dr. David Jeremiah.

It is a classical dispensational seminary with a Chafer/Walvoord DTS flavor.
__________________

I'm not sure if he's technically a professor.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

This is a really interesting post.

I am delighted if the Non-Lorship Salvation position really is making a comeback.

I do think it is a shame that so many of you are so dismissive of the Non-Lordship Salvation position.

I found when I discovered Antonio's blog and the works of Zane Hodges that so much of the Bible made so much more sense.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

bluecollar said...

Jodie,

You have mentioned some scholars in church history who have concluded as Dr. Hodges here: "By doing the Greek exegesis on James, do you mean that you've considered the demons remark as diatribe and have a response to it?"

My question is, how are you so dogmatic about this issue? Your only knowledge of those other scholars that arrive at this same conclussions as Zane Hodges on this being a Diatribe in James comes from Hodges' book, no? Doesn't that indicate that all of your history and theology is all coming from only one source, Hodges?

H K Flynn said...

Mark,

I would say that to be more than a small leap in logic. I'm not familiar with the works of those scholars Hodges cites as in agreement that the diatribe in James works as Hodge believes them to work. I was simply listing the scholars he cited.

I’m not sure, Mark, my grasp of scholarship and Christian history may be inadequate compared to yours, but if there are no other examples in all of Hellenistic literature where a diatribe ends at a point other than at the sharp and dismissive response/rejoinder, than that is more than enough evidence for me to conclude that the demons remark has been misapplied by MacArthur and his editors.

Paul Doutell said...

You're not sure if he's "technically" a professor? You called him a professor earlier without qualification.

A gal named Cathy at Southern California Seminary (888-389-7244) said Antonio da Rosa is a *student* and is not on the faculty.

Your credibility is taking a hit here, Jodie.

donsands said...

Some encouraging verses.

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" Phil. 3:8

"And it was known throughout all Jop'-pa; AND many believed in the Lord. ... And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." Acts 9:42; 10:48

"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house." Acts 16:31

"Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Acts 20:21

"Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." Acts 28:31

"Finally, my brethern, rejoice in the Lord. ... Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. ... But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, ...
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." Phil. 3:1,4:4,10,23

donsands said...

Matthew,

"so much more sense."

"The scriptural revelation knows nothing of a doctrine in which Christian love for God is guaranteed by mere fact that one is a Christian". -Zane Hodges

This makes no biblical sense to me.

Also, Zane teaches that it is possible for a believer to become an unbelieving believer. Is this true? If so, that sure doesn't make sense to me.

H K Flynn said...

Paul,

As I’ve said before (maybe on Pulpit), I’m standing in the shoes of William Tyndale’s English "plow boy" when I criticize Phil Johnson’s teachings. I didn’t finish college; I haven’t gone to seminary. If I misspoke and called Antonio a “professor” when he is in fact a teacher, it‘s because I was misusing the term from lack of familiarity. He’s said this:

“I have been very busy with classes that I teach at a Bible college. It has been the end of the semester and I have been grading term papers and finals.”

You seemed to have an opinion on Hodges treatment of James…

H K Flynn said...

Donsands,

With respect, is it so surprising that we believe things that you find hard to grasp? We are arguing a very differnt paradigm of the NT. We think human wisdom has very drastically dampened the biblical narrative.

Aren't there former Republicans and former Fundamentalists? The NT writers speak of people who have dramatically failed (1 Cor 11:30; 1 Tim. 1:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:16-18; James 4:4-6; Heb 12:7,8; 2 Pet 1:9; 1 Jo 3:15) and say nothing of that indicating what the Puritans believed it indicated.

Don, in my view, this key point (the P of tulip) is not taught in the Scriptures, but read into them. It's the claim to be an obedient Christian--that is, a disciple--that must back it up with proof.

Lord bless you.

Paul Doutell said...

Jodie,

Here's the online class schedule for Southern California Seminary:

http://www.socalsem.edu/students/content.asp?id=115

I must have overlooked Professor/Teacher/Instructor Antonio da Rosa, because I don't find him listed *anywhere* under *any* title for the Bible College, Graduate Bible, or Behavioral Science teaching schedule.

Your "Aw shucks, fellas, I'm an uneducated plow boy" shtick is cute and a convenient retreat when the facts apparently contradict you. But it wears thin pretty quickly.

The publishers will probably wait a while before they add an appendix to Tyndale's biography that mentions you as the one who continued his legacy.

H K Flynn said...

Paul,

I guess graduate students don't teach, is that really what your arguing?

Distractions tend to be embraced when the substance seems messy.

Again, reformed bloggers seem to be bailing from the demons remark. Score one for the FG side.

I'm the plow-boy, Paul, trust me.

centuri0n said...

j'know, I'm just trying to take some blog-time off. Seriously -- my sidekicks are doing a completely bang-up job of running my blog (well, except for Daniel breaking the template so now IE viewers with small screens lose the right sidebar, but whatever), and I'm really, really happy posting on Wednesdays here.

But then I get an e-mail from a blog-reader who points me to this comment thread, and I read this:

One, Centurion's rhetorical skills and my lame homeschool techniques still saw Centurion snatching defeat from the jaws of easy victory, with the result that the gentlemen at Pulpit wisely but surprisingly chose not to discuss James' "the demons believe" remark, even though that was one of the main texts back in the 80's.

First of all, I'm not even sure I know what that means -- if Jodie confessing that she "lost" the DebateBlog exchange? Or is she saying that I should have won like Arkansas at Southern Missouri State but instead I "lost"?

Let's assume she's saying I "barely won". I'm pretty sure that (1) I never claimed to win that debate, and (2) I never encouraged anyone to do anything with that debate except read it.

But that said, I'd be glad to take on another topic with Jodie related to this theme of the Lordship of Christ -- like maybe, "Only those who persevere in the faith are saved." Or any other relevant topic in this subject class.

And if Antonio is teaching at a seminary, I'm going to petition the SBC to make me pope of baptists. I am sure I am at least as qualified for that job as Antonio is qualified to teach on any theological topic.

I'll let you know what the SBC exec committee says after I ask them.

centuri0n said...

And on the religion of Demons:

Let's assume for one minute that Dr. MacArthur said something that I disagree with. And let's also assume that I'm right and he's wrong. Does that mean that somehow his whole argument against FG is ruined?

Geez -- I'm a lot more apt to think that, in the same way she mishandles Calvin, Jodie has mishandled Dr. Mac. Why worry about whether we undersatnd the religion of demons as briefly mentioned in James 2? Isn't the unltimate point of that statement that whatever religion the demons have, it doesn't save them? That is: they may have a head-knowledge of God's sovereignty and Christ's supremacy, but they're demons. They act against those things they know ar true.

H K Flynn said...

Sorry, Frank, that is not what James is teaching. That's (close to) the idea he is mocking and refuting. He's strongly disagreeing with the idea that faith necessarily results in an active response and is trying to get his readers to see that there can be a faith that just sits there as dead orthodoxy and that they have to get busy with good works in order to reinvigorate dead orthodoxy. He simply isn’t commenting about the hypothetical situation of whether a dead orthodoxy could have resulted in justification, instead he is speaking of the here and now faith and its here and now results.

But again, the diatribe shows/proves James is mocking the argument about the demons and their shuddering.

But if you'd like to debate, I'd prefer it in Nov. and be either on 1 John, or a statement like this:

An apostate who never repents during his lifetime was never regenerate.

Also, I'd prefer a loosened up format so that misunderstandings can be cleared up right away. In fact, I’d prefer that we each get to write 3 posts on the topic, and then interact in the comments :) What do you think?

God bless.

centuri0n said...

I'll offer you what I offered Antonio, and he said no:

20 questions, double the length limits on Qs and As. The "I post a paper, you post a paper" format is not blog friendly, and if you're just a plain-spoken farm girl, you should prefer to keep it simple.

And I'd be willing to do 20 Qs on the religion of Demons in James, or any of the topics you have listed here.

If you still have my e-mail, we can agree on a topic, and we can start after Nov 1 as I'm not willing to start before then.

H K Flynn said...

Ok, let's go with the religious convictions of the demons ;) and with your (somewhat mysterious) question and answer format. Obviously we'll be bringing in the larger context and meaning of James.

Thanks for the invite, Frank :)

Jerry Morningstar said...

Jodie - I wonder if you are aware that in the first couple of centuries following the Reformation - nearly all Christians believed in a doctrine of perseverance in the faith. Arminians believed you needed to persevere to keep yourself saved. Calvinists - as evidence of one truly possessing salvation. It is merely one more example of the 'fringe' extreme views of the FG position to drop perseverance altogether in connection with saving faith. Also - I am curious as to how a FGer would define antinomianism and what it would mean to be one?

Antonio said...

I am a student at Southern California Seminary, yes. I also taught the last year and a half in their Associate's degree courses called EBI (Equip Bible Institute) that partners with Southern California Seminary and Shadow Mountain Community Church.

If you are so interested, call the Southern California Seminary again and ask for Dr. Gary Woods. He will confirm my teaching for them.

And as if the title "Professor" is anything. Let us discuss the Bible. The whole idea of taking Jodie to task for a comment about me is nothing but a healthy serving of Red Herring.

I see Jodie being quite serious and the Lordship Salvation proponents scrambling.

The whole idea that MacArthur wouldn't debate Hodges with a recording device... Then back out altogether is proof positive that the Lordship Salvation camp is not serious about defending its glorified Romanism against pure "faith alone" theology.

"Professor" Antonio da Rosa

Antonio said...

Michael Horton on the "Gospel According to Jesus":

“Not only does MacArthur seem here to repeat the Roman Catholic confusion of justification and sanctification; he actually makes the forensic declaration depend on a real moral change in the person's behavior. First, the robe is ‘the reality of a changed life’ not the declaration of a changed status, as the Reformers would have understood it. Second, ‘the son cannot receive all the blessedness of the father's table until he is robed in the right robe. And so there must be more than a declaration involved.’ In other words, God cannot declare one righteous before there is moral change. The legal declaration depends on moral transformation in MacArthur's statements here, just as surely as in Trent's[i.e., Roman Catholic position]” (Horton, Christ the Lord, 42-43)

A Roman Catholic Apologist has this to say about "The Gospel According to Jesus":

“MacArthur spent almost all of his 300-page work [TGAJ] exegeting passages from the Gospels, systematically going through many of the teachings of Jesus which specified that works indeed play a large part in our standing and relationship with God. This is not surprising. Catholic theology has always maintained that the Gospels deny faith alone theology most emphatically” (Robert Sungenis, Not by Faith Alone, pg. 597).

“Entrance into the kingdom requires earnest endeavor, untiring energy, and utmost exertion, because Satan is mighty, his demons are powerful, and sin holds us fast” (John MacArthur, Hard to Believe, 149).

How is this not works-salvation?

The book states that entering the kingdom is conditioned on earnest endeavor, untiring energy and utmost exertion! Clearly the endeavor, energy, and exertion are not point-in-time events. They must occur over time.

Antonio

centuri0n said...

OK Professor:

Name the terms. I'll debate any topic of contention between your no-lordship view and the historically-orthodox views of the Christian faith in writing.

You want to trade term papers? You got it. You want to trade Podcasts? I'm in. I am unfortunately geographically limited in my ability to join you in person, but there are so many technological alternatives in this day and age that we hardly have to meet in person to make this discussion into a real event.

Bring your best army of research assistants, and let's talk about Jesus who is both Lord and Christ. You have my e-mail. I ask that you copy/bcc phil@spurgeon.org when you write.

H K Flynn said...

Frank,

The "no-lordship" term is inaccurate because we do believe in the lordship of Christ. The term is also totally offensive. "No-Lordship Salvation" would be accurate. Or just what we're known for, that is, Free Grace.

God bless.

Jodie

H K Flynn said...

Jerry,

Are you aware of the exception to the historical rule you described? Richard Sibbs, John Cotton etc.

Antinomian was what Paul was accused of. In fact, the law of Christ, as you may realize, is a loftier law than the Mosaic law. We are obligated to keep the law of liberty/law of Christ with our attitudes and works.

We will be judged on how well we keep the law of liberty.

I guess one definition of antinomian would be people who are against obeying this law.

Blessings,

Jodie

To Trust is to Obey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gojira said...

Hello my new friend Jodie,

I see that those who extol the love of God can't seem to show you that love. I am very sorry to see that, especially when I have yet to see you take a cheap shot.

By the way, I wouldn't be too frightened of the "Centurian". ;-)

Gojira

Antonio said...

Furthermore,

I am thoroughly engaged when I hear of the editorial task concerning "The Gospel of According to Jesus". Took many years, many revisions. Many people looking at the text.

How is it that after Michael Horton and others criticize the finished text that the writer(s), editor(s), and publishers act like a puppy with its tail between its legs with apologies, back-tracking, and eventual revisions in an "updated" version?

After so much editorial activity on the first edition, why couldn't it be gotten right?

Was it a consideration that what the first edition proposed was not within the bounds of "faith alone" theology?

John W. Robbins, protege of Gordon H. Clark, of the Trinity Foundation ends a critique of John MacArthur's books, the Gospel According to Jesus, and Faith Works, with this The Gospel According to John MacArthur, The Trinity Foundation:
----------
Postscript

On October 31, 2000, Phillip R. Johnson, aide and ghostwriter for John MacArthur, posted this notice to a small discussion group on the Internet:

"Several years ago I [John MacArthur] made some inaccurate statements that have unfortunately confused people about where I stand on the doctrine of justification by faith. While teaching a series on this crucial issue, I made the point that God does not justify anyone whom He does not also sanctify. That is true. Unfortunately, however, I also implied that God's sanctifying work in us may in part provide the ground on which He declares us righteous. That is not true. I also suggested that God's righteousness is infused into believers in a way that makes their justification something more than a forensic declaration. That is emphatically not true.

"This error was confined to a single series preached several years ago. But some of the misstatements were published in a study guide and in the first edition of my Romans commentary. When I realized my error, I withdrew the study guide from publication. It is no longer available. Furthermore, I immediately corrected the Romans commentary. Only a few relatively minor changes were necessary, and those revisions appear in later printings of the book.

"For the record, I have never believed that we can be justified because of anything good in us (Phil. 3:9). Scripture clearly teaches that God accepts us and declares us righteous only because of Christ's perfect righteousness, which is imputed to us by faith alone (Rom. 4:1-6). God's ongoing work of making us righteous is properly labeled sanctification--and should be carefully distinguished from justification. I hereby retract any earlier statements I ever made to the contrary.

John MacArthur"


Although Mr. MacArthur does not mention "The Gospel According to Jesus" or other works criticized in this Review, nor has this statement ever been published in any of his books (at least MacArthur's aide Phillip Johnson failed to provide us with a citation after repeated questioning), we are glad that MacArthur has made at least some attempt to acknowledge and correct the false ideas on justification he taught in tens of thousands of copies of "The Gospel According to Jesus," his commentary on Romans, and other books and tapes. We only wish he had published this closet retraction as widely as he had published his errors.

John Robbins

Gojira said...

Hello Frank,

If I may, I would go a round of brotherly debate with you.

If your answer is affirmative, I will get in contact with you.

Gojira.

Gojira said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
donsands said...

h k flynn,

I would have to see Alexander as someone who believed in vain.(1 Cor. 15:1-2)As I would also Hymeneus, who was also a heretic. (2 Thes. 2:1-3)
Though Paul does excommunicate them, hoping they would repent, I'm sure.


1 Cor 11:30 surely speaks of the Lord's chastening. The Lord disciplines His children for sure. Hebrews 12:6-11

I believe the Holy Scriptures do teach that God's people will persevere.
"I am the good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. ... And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one Shepherd. ... But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." John 10:14,16,26-27

"But he who received the seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." Matt 13:23

"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain". John 15:16

"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." 1 Thes. 5:23-24

"But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one." 2 Thes. 3:3

There's so much more, but this is way too long already.
I see where you are coming from, but I see it as a dangerous way to interpret the Holy Writ.

"But even if WE, or an ANGEL from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed". Gal. 1:8-9

"If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord come!" 1 Cor. 16:22

"Exaime yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves". 2 Cor 13:5

Sorry, I had a couple more that came to mind.

Kymanika said...

Wow, when Phil speaks (or types)the opposition comes our of the woodwork.

This is getting excitingly interesting.

TGATJ is one of my all time favorite books. Thanks for the posts, Phil.

-Josh

Jerry Morningstar said...

O.K. - Since we are throwing around no-lordship quotes - I'll throw in a lordship/ reformed soteriology one.

By the way - if we were trading baseball cards - I wouldn't trade one Robert Reymond for 100 Zane Hodges

Robert Reymond: 'What pastors must understand is that the criterion of true discipleship is continuance in Jesus' words, and that the test of a true faith is perseverance in true piety to the end. Much of the problem that they have with people in their congregations who profess Christ but who live ungodly, uncommitted lives could be redressed if they would proclaim the lordship of Christ and the nature of true discipleship, and make clear that while the saint of God will be preserved by the power of God, he will also persevere in a godly walk throughout his life unto the end. And where that godly walk in true piety is not forthcoming, no professing Christian has the right to assume that he is in fact a Christian, and no pastor has the right to assure him that he is a 'carnal' Christian. [A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, p. 794]

Jodie - you might need to produce a quote for me to believe that Sibbes didn't hold a doctrine of perseverance. I would be glad to know of any exceptions to the rule.

You also stated: 'We are obligated to keep the law of liberty/law of Christ with our attitudes and works.'

This doesn't sound like the Hodges teaching i have read. What if someone chooses to completely ignore the law of liberty/ law of Christ - yet still claim faith in Jesus?

Phil Johnson said...

The comments from various no-lordship aficionados in this comment thread perfectly illustrate what I meant when I lamented the lack of serious interaction on the issue. Virtually every claim made here is demonstrably wrong, misleading, or deliberately twisted.

1. Turns out "professor" Antonio da Rosa is not a professor at all, but a student who teaches on the side.

2. The student teacher himself weighs in by quoting two sources who have said things critical of The Gospel According to Jesus—both of whom (if anything) execrate the no-lordship position even more than MacArthur does. Are Horton and Robbins sources you are willing to stand by as authorities, Antonio? Do you really want to get into everything they have said about the lordship debate, and do you actually accept their judgments on the matter, or are you just cherry-picking every criticism of MacArthur you can find?

3. The retraction quoted in the Robbins hit-piece has nothing whatsoever to do with anything MacArthur actually said in The Gospel According to Jesus. Robbins seems to try to obscure that fact deliberately, but it is nonetheless a fact.

4. The second edition of The Gospel According to Jesus includes a preface that explains the second-edition revisions in detail. Compare the two editions paragraph for paragraph and you'll see that the actual changes are relatively few and all essentially minor, mostly to clarify ambiguities or refine passages that had been misconstrued by a critic or two. A couple of complete chapters were added to deal with the doctrine of justification by faith and the doctrine of the atonement. An appendix was also added to answer critics' questions in Q&A format. None of these changes were made surreptitiously, and nothing in the revised edition secretly contradicts or quietly annuls anything in the original. If Mr. de Rosa wants to dispute this or offer evidence for his charge that "the writer(s), editor(s), and publishers act[ed] like a puppy with its tail between its legs with apologies, back-tracking, and eventual revisions in an 'updated' version," I challenge him to cite actual pages and statements to prove his claim.

5. Mr. da Rosa even stoops to citing a Roman Catholic apologist's spin on The Gospel According to Jesus to try to score a point. Are Mr. Sungenis's opinions on this controversy also authoritative for you, Antonio?

For future reference: se·ri·ous adj. 1. Carried out in earnest. 2. Not trifling or jesting. 3. Concerned with important rather than trivial matters.

Some things we post here at PyroManiacs are obviously not intended to be serious, but I have pleaded repeatedly for this particular subject to be handled seriously or not at all. The posts I have made on the lordship issue here are intended as background material and a personal testimony—not an invitation to move the discussion and debate from the Pulpit blog over here.

In fact, I made one simple request at the beginning of this series: If you do want to engage me in serious debate on the lordship controversy, please do so at the Pulpit blog. If the no-lordship gadflies were truly serious, they ought to have honored that simple request.

Gojira said...

Hello Phil,

I hope you are doing fine today.

You write:
"If you do want to engage me in serious debate on the lordship controversy, please do so at the Pulpit blog. If the no-lordship gadflies were truly serious, they ought to have honored that simple request."

That is somewhat misleading, in my opinion, as I have yet to see you make an appearance over there. Unless, of course, I have totally missed where you have engaged and interacted with anyone. Or perhaps you posted under a different screen name?

You write:
"5. Mr. da Rosa even stoops to citing a Roman Catholic apologist's spin on The Gospel According to Jesus to try to score a point. Are Mr. Sungenis's opinions on this controversy also authoritative for you, Antonio?"

That too would be somewhat misleading, as it would appear that Mr. da Rosa is offering one who has critiqued the LS position in regards to Romism. To reply as you have done shows that not only have you greatly misunderstood Antonio's intent, but that you sidestepped the issue he was bringing up. In regards to the totality of Mr. Sungenis' work, yes, he is far from desirable, but that doesn't make Antonio's offered quote any less valuable. For example, Mormonism is far from desirable, yet I have seen where many Mormons have given glowing reviews of TGATJ.

You write:
"3. The retraction quoted in the Robbins hit-piece has nothing whatsoever to do with anything MacArthur actually said in The Gospel According to Jesus. Robbins seems to try to obscure that fact deliberately, but it is nonetheless a fact."

Very odd for you, the very man who wrote, "...this comment thread perfectly illustrate what I meant when I lamented the lack of serious interaction on the issue." Anyone who has read Robbins' review knows how that is NOT obscuring anything -- at least, that is, for anyone who wants to engage the subject seriously. The truth of the matter is that MacArthur had made very Romish statements in regards to his study on Romans. In the coming week, perhaps you andI can talk about a few of the statements he made at the Pulpit, since you are relunctant to engage anything here.

Gojira.

Antonio said...

Mr. Johnson,

I suppose that the reader must make up his own mind.

Red flags go up everywhere when:

1) Your theological opponents agree whole-heartedly with you (as in the case of the Roman Catholic, Mr. Sungenis)

2) Your theological compatriots chasten you, regarding your doctrine as virtually that of the Roman Catholicism.

3) Even one of your hardcore 5 point Calvinist friends takes the book to task for its Romanism. And as pertaining John W. Robbins, his view is completely against Lordship Salvation doctrine. Both Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin also highly endorse Gordon H. Clark's "Faith and Saving Faith".

Chase the wind with criticisms of me all you want. But when the above 3 items are true concerning your Magnum Opus, legitimate concerns about your theology are raised that your "waving the hand" blanket dismissal does no justice to.

Antonio

Phil Johnson said...

Antonio: "Red flags go up everywhere when . . . Your theological opponents agree whole-heartedly with you."

That's rich, especially in this context. You don't even seem to know who your theological opponents are. I suggest you write John Robbins and ask him for a written endorsement of Zane Hodges' no-lordship theology that you can publish. It might be a very eye-opening experience for you.

Perhaps you haven't noticed that the hit-piece you keep quoting begins with this: "Watching the [lordship] debate is painful, for neither side can get the story straight. It is like watching a debate between Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses about Christ"--John Robbins.

I do realize, of course, that "Both Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin . . . highly endorse Gordon H. Clark's 'Faith and Saving Faith.'" My point is that Robbins does not endorse them or their position.

Incidentally, when a wing-nut like John Robbins is the best "scholarly" support you can find for your position, you are in deep trouble.

Once again, you have proved what I meant when I deplored the lack of any serious defense of the no-lordship position.

Kymanika said...

Red flags go up everywhere when:

1) Your theological opponents agree whole-heartedly with you (as in the case of the Roman Catholic, Mr. Sungenis)


-Should I ditch the Trinity, since Mr. Sungenis agrees with me on that doctrine?

Gojira said...

Dear brother Phil,

It still appears that you are sidestepping the criticism lodged against the LS position by Robbins, as well as those from Horton's book.

By the way, do you always call those who might disagree with you names? I noticed that you called Robbins a "wing nut." One might infer that your comment section is just a ploy for engaging in usless trash talk.

Regardless, it is sadly beginning to appear that one might have a hard time taking you seriously since you seem to demonstrate a proclivity for dodging the issue that is brought before you.

Sad.

Gojira.

John D. Chitty said...

Fascinating tales. Can't wait to read more. Considered publishing these stories in some way (in a hard copy form, of course) as a primer on the history of the debate? I've noticed lately myself that the so-called "Lordship Salvation" view, better known as the practical implications of the gospel call in the light of the perseverance of the saints, seems to have overall won the debate. I know of only two advocates of some form of no-lordship salvation (I could probably identify others, but simply haven't discussed it with them), and most of what I hear from the contemporary preachers, hyper-commercialism notwithstanding, is consistent with our true and historic version of Free Grace, received by a faith that works. Thanks for this barometer of one of the vital issues in Christian theology!

Rose~ said...

FYI -
A former pastor of mine wrote a critique of the book TGATJ and I have been posting it on my blog since October 12. Also - my current pastor (same church) is a friend of Phil and John Mc.
It is very interesting and I appreciate all the inside information that has been provided in these posts.

H K Flynn said...

Don,

Your high regard for the Scriptures shines brightly in the way you examined this issue. Even if my position continues to trouble you, or worse, I count you an honorable man of God. I hope you are a pastor.

I think that the context of Paul's letter to his young protégé would preclude his putting on the best face in his discussion of Hymeneus in his first letter. The fact that by the time he wrote 2 Timothy the matter had not resolved, yet Paul was still considering him as one who has "wandered away from the faith" provides no support for the Puritan understanding of perseverance and suggests a bug in the system.

You say that the 1 Cor situation describes "the Lord's chastening. The Lord disciplines His children." If you accept the idea that they are regenerate and were disciplined unto death how can you also hold on to the perseverance doctrine?

Many of the verses you quoted are just as easily understood as God’s election of His regenerate people (without the corollary that they will succeed in a life of personal holiness) and the great purpose of receiving new life, which is to follow God and love Him. Our argument is that the NT writers write as if that purpose will not happen in every case, although that view can certainly be read into their writings. The NT writers were not speculating that the errors of God's people throughout the OT would be either missing or “not a pattern of life” in the new era. Their Lord had told them a parable that crisply taught them to realize not all the conversions would lead to the same productivity in the spiritual building of the church. The Parable of the Sower assumes the truth of botany, the truth that a shrewd farmer understood. Life begins at germination. All that receive life because of the tossing seed will not become the faithful builders of God's church. Only some will.

You say, understandably, "I see where you are coming from, but I see it as a dangerous way to interpret the Holy Writ." And yet I see the reverse as being true--that all the warnings of the Scriptures are being disemboweled by the epic assumption that the only issue is Heaven or Hell. Terrible here and now discipline and humiliation at the Judgment Seat of Christ are powerful motivators.

Again, thanks for your thoughtful reply.

donsands said...

h k,

Would you say that Diotrephes was a believer?

"Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence ... does not receive us. ... prating against us with malicious words. ... he himself does not receive the brethern, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God." 3 John 9-11

Also, do you believe those in 2 Peter 2:20-22 are believers?

I appreciate your compliments. I was an elder for 11 years, but had to take a leave of absence. Hopefully one day i will be called back by the Lord.
I appreciate blogs like TeamPyro, where I am encouraged and challenged, and kept sharp in His grace, and for His glory.
Have a blessed evening.

Phil Johnson said...

Gojira:

1. What issue have I "dodged"? Bring it to Pulpit, as I have asked repeatedly, and I'll answer any question you have.

2. My correspondence with John Robbins, which your post referred to but you evidently have not read, answers the issues he raised. If you understand his argument and seriously want to bring up those issues in a sober and reasonable way, I'll answer you in detail, too. At the Pulpit blog.

3. If you seriously want to discuss whether the label "wing nut" is appropriate for Robbins, I'll talk about that, too. I'll be eager to see how many of his eccentric opinions you share.

Gojira said...

Mr. Johnson,

"1. What issue have I "dodged"? Bring it to Pulpit, as I have asked repeatedly, and I'll answer any question you have."

The issues you have dodged are the criticisms from both Horton's book and Robbins' review.

In regards to Pulpit, I have seen you make that claim from the beginning of your series. The up coming Pulpit will be what? The third devoted to the LS question? Yet it would appear that you did not show up during the first two. Perhaps this time you will. We will see.

"2. My correspondence with John Robbins, which your post referred to but you evidently have not read, answers the issues he raised. If you understand his argument and seriously want to bring up those issues in a sober and reasonable way, I'll answer you in detail, too. At the Pulpit blog."


You have once again either not read your own posts or you are being misleading on purpose. The post I referred to was your answer to Antonio. You did not offer any answers that he (Robbins) raised; you merely called it a hit peice and obscure. You did not refute anything he said. Nor have you refuted the criticisms in Horton's book.

"3. If you seriously want to discuss whether the label "wing nut" is appropriate for Robbins, I'll talk about that, too. I'll be eager to see how many of his eccentric opinions you share."

It wouldn't matter if I didn't share any of his opinions, sir. It was about you calling him a wing nut. That was wrong no matter if you like the man or not. I would have expected more from a mature brother such as yourself.

Gojira.

Gojira said...

Phil,

I read this in your first linked article: "He is simply engaging, that is, in emotive name-calling."

I find that very odd, since the same could be said of your usage of "wing nut."

As I said, it doesn't matter if I agree with the man or not, it would still be wrong to call him names.

Gojira.

Phil Johnson said...

Gojira: "As I said, it doesn't matter if I agree with the man or not, it would still be wrong to call him names."

But, see, Robbins doesn't agree with you about that, either.

As I have said before, it would help if you guys would actually read some of the discussions that have already taken place before jumping in (20 years late) and insisting that you really, really are serious.

Gojira said...

Ahhhhh Phil, I love ya! Make no doubt about it! I do love ya!

You write:
"But, see, Robbins doesn't agree with you about that, either."

It doesn't matter if he agrees with me Phil. It is still wrong to do that. If I am not mistaken, we are told to treat others as we would have them treat us. That doesn't translate as call someone a name because they think it is alright to call you a name. I mean really Phil, would you also go around advocating something like, "My daddy can beat up your daddy" as well? But you are funny, though! How would you like it if I called you a name, something perhaps like "Phil, the Art Sippo of Pyromaniacs, Johnson"? You would be right in being upset because it would be a cheap shot. AND BY THE WAY, THAT IS NOT HOW I VIEW YOU! But hopefully you will get the point. But as I've said, you are funny! :-)

You write:
"As I have said before, it would help if you guys..."

Who would the "you guys" be that you are placing me into, Phil? If it is in the Horton, Ritchie, Rosenbladt crowd, then you would be correct. If it is in the Grace Evangelical crowd, then you are very wrong.

You write:
"it would help...."

That from a guy who has had two repeated no shows at the Pulpit and won't engage anything posted here? And you actually talk about being taken seriously? Like I said, at least you are funny!

Gojira.

Phil Johnson said...

Gojira: "The issues you have dodged are the criticisms from both Horton's book and Robbins' review."

I haven't dodged them. I told you: I have had reams of direct interaction with Robbins. Same is true of Horton. The fact that you haven't really researched these thigs doesn't obligate me to do your homework for you. If you want to make the actual points they have made, then state the actual points (as opposed to merely throwing Horton's and Robbins's names into the discussion). I'll give you the same detailed answers I have already given them.

What I won't do is respond a broad-brush, cheap-and-easy attack: "Yeah, well, so-and-so disagreed with your position. How do you answer that?" Demonstrate some actual understanding of the arguments they have made and I will interact with you as I did with them.

Failing that, I will stand by assessment that you are self-deluded if you honestly imagine that you are being serious.

"In regards to Pulpit, I have seen you make that claim from the beginning of your series. The up coming Pulpit will be what? The third devoted to the LS question? Yet it would appear that you did not show up during the first two. Perhaps this time you will. We will see."

If there's a comment somewhere at the Pulpit blog addressed to me that I have ignored, you'll have to point it out to me. I can't find any. I promised to interact seriously with those who are serious, and I will. So far, however, your side has seemed to aim at very little other than demonstrating that I am correct in my assessment that no one has come on the scene yet prepared for truly serious discussion.

"The post I referred to was your answer to Antonio. You did not offer any answers that he (Robbins) raised; you merely called it a hit peice and obscure. You did not refute anything he said. Nor have you refuted the criticisms in Horton's book."

Try to understand the point this time: Antonio didn't actually give any cogent presentation of "the criticisms in Horton's book." He merely referred to the fact that Horton had criticisms. If Antonio wants to make an actual argument—even one borrowed from Horton—let Antonio actually make that argument, rather than simply hiding behind Horton's kilt and pointing at Horton's book as if that constituted a serious, iron-clad, irrefutable argument in its own right. It doesn't.

Alternatively, I could answer you this way: I'll see your Horton and Robbins (both of whom reject your notion of "free grace"), and I'll raise you a John Piper, Robert Lescelius, Richard Belcher, Curtis Crenshaw, James Boice, and J. I. Packer. Answer that in detail, and then I'll post a detailed summary of my dialogues and correspondences with both Robbins and Horton.

Incidentally, I know Mike Horton. I've spoken at conferences with Mike Horton. Mike Horton is a friend of mine. And you're no Mike Horton.

"It was about you calling him a wing nut. That was wrong no matter if you like the man or not. I would have expected more from a mature brother such as yourself."

See the link I posted earlier to Robbins's own article defending "The Virtue of Name-Calling." You keep demonstrating what I have said again and again: It is painfully evident that you're not actually familiar enough with Robbins's work to give you the authority simply to drop his name into an argument and demand that I account for his opinions. When you actually read Robbins and show some meaningful grasp of what he believes, then I'll discuss with you the implications of his opinions in the lordship debate. Until then, I'm going to keep tweaking you about your need to take the whole issue much more seriously than you have.

Gojira said...

Phil Writes:
"I haven't dodged them. I told you: I have had reams of direct interaction with Robbins. Same is true of Horton. The fact that you haven't really researched these thigs doesn't obligate me to do your homework for you."

Could you please point to where you have interacted with them? That is what most people who claim to be serious would do. And no, I did not ask you to do any homework for me.

You write:
"If you want to make the actual points they have made, then state the actual points (as opposed to merely throwing Horton's and Robbins's names into the discussion). I'll give you the same detailed answers I have already given them."

That is illogical Phil when you have already said you don't want to do my homework. If you have already interacted with their material, then please point me to it.

You write:
"What I won't do is respond a broad-brush, cheap-and-easy attack: "Yeah, well, so-and-so disagreed with your position. How do you answer that?" Demonstrate some actual understanding of the arguments they have made and I will interact with you as I did with them."

Again, Phil, that is very illogical of you. Since you have said you have interacted with the material, then please point me in that direction. That would be the most logical and time saving thing to do.

You write:
"Alternatively, I could answer you this way: I'll see your Horton and Robbins (both of whom reject your notion of "free grace")"

More evidence that you yourself aren't to be taken seriously since I have already posted to you that I am not from the Grace Evangelical Camp. Do you actually read what people post to you Phil? Or do you just see what you want to see?

You write:
"and I'll raise you a John Piper, Robert Lescelius, Richard Belcher, Curtis Crenshaw, James Boice, and J. I. Packer. Answer that in detail, and then I'll post a detailed summary of my dialogues and correspondences with both Robbins and Horton."

No problem, I will do that. It will be later today, though since I do not have those materials with me, though.

However, it would still seem illogical for you to say that you would post a detailed summary. Your claim is that you have already interacted with the material. If you have, just point me there.

Ypu write:
"Incidentally, I know Mike Horton. I've spoken at conferences with Mike Horton. Mike Horton is a friend of mine."

Hey, that's great! I am glad for you.

You write:
"And you're no Mike Horton."

Correct. He is a different person than me.

You write:
"Try to understand the point this time:" Hmmmmmm.....You also write:"Failing that, I will stand by assessment that you are self-deluded..." More childish name calling. I feel very sorry for you Phil. I did not know that you were going to demonstrate yourself to be such a bully. You also appear to demonstrate that you have failed to grasp my point to you in regards to name calling. Here, allow me to repost something I wrote earlier to you: "If I am not mistaken, we are told to treat others as we would have them treat us. That doesn't translate as call someone a name because they think it is alright to call you a name. I mean really Phil, would you also go around advocating something like, "My daddy can beat up your daddy" as well? But you are funny, though! How would you like it if I called you a name, something perhaps like "Phil, the Art Sippo of Pyromaniacs, Johnson"? You would be right in being upset because it would be a cheap shot. AND BY THE WAY, THAT IS NOT HOW I VIEW YOU! But hopefully you will get the point." I find it incredibly sad that you would persist in being a bully.

Just one question Phil? Are you wanting to get into this here or over at the Pulpit? First you say you don't want to debate the issue here; you want to do so at Pulpit. Now you are complaining because I haven't given you anything here. So my question to you, Phil. Just where do you want to do this?

Gojira

Gojira said...

For Phil

Opening words:

First off, I would like to attempt to clarify this John Robbins debacle. You called him a name sir -- a "wing nut." I called you on that and for some reason next preceeded to to justify your childish remark. Dear Phil, it doesn't matter if even Mr. Robbins advocates the use of name calling, it is still wrong. That however has nothing to do with his criticism of the Dr. MacArthur LS position. Does my disagreement with his advocacy of name calling somehow mean that I can't see as valid his critism of LS? Of course not. If I must, and you so desire it, I will post to you why he is wrong in what he asserts in his name calling article. But it is highly juvenile to assert the very things you have in regards to this matter. If you disagree with someone on something they have said, does that make everything they say invalid? Your antics here would suggest that you would answer yes, although I have no doubt that you would contradict yourself.

THE ATTAINMENT OF JUSTIFICATION:

Part of the problem that I see with the LS position is it's reluctance to use proper terms. For example, MacArthur talks endlessly about salvation but sparingly about justification and what that term overall means. A quick glance at the index of TGATJ is more than enough proof for that. Yes, I know that he included a chapeter on Justification in the reworked addition, as well as a chapter on Tetelestai. However, I Find him inconsistant. Since I do not think that you have even half read anything I have posted to you, I shall return to that later.

Right now, all I want to do is set up the view I am taking and just let you make fun of it.

How does one become right with God? That question presupposes something, that being obviously is there something in the wrong between God and man. To answer that, let's see what the Bible says is wrong with man.

Ephesians 2:1-3 doesn't present a pretty picture of how God sees man. The text states:

"1. And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2. in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
3. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest."

First notice how it says we are in our natures: dead. But notice how Paul bounces things off of the word dead: "walked" and "Lived." I'll return to the past tense usage of those words in a moment. How can those described as dead be said to walk and live? Since tresspasses and sins refers to our spiritual being, Paul is first of all stating that we are physically alive but spiritually dead. We lack the very life of God. Life is more than just physical existance, that is, more than food, more than just our daily activities and so forth. All of those things die when we physically die. True life is the life of God. That doesn't mean simply an everlasting existance, but a quality of existance that is totally pure in all regards. Eternal life also has another facet -- that of actually knowing God. That knowing isn't a mere academic thing, but one of intimacy, not just a knowing of a person, or know about a person, but really and truely knowing a person.

But back to being dead. Being dead means that we are totally seperated from that life of God. Our quality of existance could be compared to a walking dead person who is seperated from true life and from the one True God. And that death makes itself known in many ways. We have them listed out for us:

"in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world"

We follow the worlds ways as it is the only thng dead people know how to do. We follow what the world dictates: "If it feels good do it because it must be good." "Everybody does it, so why not you." "Buy now, pay later." Go ahead an take it, no one is looking." The listing could be multiplied. For right now, though, it isn't the actual doing of those things, it is the philophies behind them, the engine that runs them. Walking according to the course of the world means walking in accaptance of the ideals that the world dictates, and bowing to it as if it were God and accepting it as if it were God. Hey, hence the bowing.

"according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience."

For an interesting take on that see the notes from the NET Bible. For our purposes here, we will take this in the sense it is given: It is talking about the wicked one -- Satan. He is the one who powers the evil in the world system. To walk according to the course of the world is to be energived in your dead spirit by the Wicked one himself. There is no inbetween.

"3. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest."

There are three things listed here:

1) living in lust. Lust here is not meant to refer to how one person can wrongfully want another for sex. It has more to do with the phrase, "You want what you want until you get it, then you want something else." Itis what empowers greed. Greed for this or that because I want it and I gotta have it, and it comsumes me, and I just gotta GOTTA HAVE IT NOW! It is living with that perpetually unfulfilled attitude that wants until it gets and then wants something more and more and more.

2)indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind. This is the actual carrying out of the above.

3)and were by nature children of wrath. That is how we are in our nature. I find it humorous when people think this is talking about being children of wrathful parents. We are by nature in wrath.

All in all, not a pretty picture.

Up next, the reason Paul used the past tense.

Gojira said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
H K Flynn said...

Hi Don,

I almost missed your response in the avalanche that followed.

You bring up interesting texts. About 3 John, yes, I do think he is very likely talking about a person (Diotrephes) he considers saved, and is just a very bossy person in leadership. Obviously his regenerate state is not what he is commenting on or even alluding to at all. But frankly, if a type of perseverance theology had any currency with him, it seems to me, well, he at least could have brought it up here. About the “has not seen God” comment, I see the ideas of 1st John to be derived from the upper room discourse and I see 3rd John as a cover letter for 1st John’s delivery to Ephesus.

See Chapter 14 of John:

"Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?...
...21Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

So in my view, I see that "see" as relative to a serious abiding relationship wtih God, and not everyone saved has that!

About 2 Peter 2, I agree with Bob Wilkins view from back in 1988, that the false teachers are not saved, but those they entice are. He says:

Peter is simply saying that if a believer grovels in a life of sin, his life here and now will be worse than if he had never become a Christian.

I’m glad to hear you’ve been involved in leading God’s people, and suspect that God is preparing your for enlarged ministry.

God bless.

Jodie

donsands said...

"the false teachers are not saved but, those they entice are"

Jodie,

I disagree. However, this is a deep passage for sure. I need to look at it, and study it more.

Two thoughts:
1. "And many shall follow their pernicious ways; and because of them the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."

Jesus said, "You're either for Me, or against Me."

The Lord also said: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you go over sea and land to make one convert, and when he is made, you make him twice the child of hell than yourselves." Matt. 23:15

2. These would have been better off to have NEVER know the truth.

That's a statement that only makes sense if these are apostates.

This verse made me think of how our Savior said about Judas, that he would be better off if he was never born.

I shall be studying this most incredible passage from the Apostle Peter.

Maestroh said...

I read through this and found the Cheap Grace arguments amusing to put it mildly. And btw - I've read it all on this subject, at least by the main players. It's very simple: the lordship salvation side says, "Salvation is by grace alone with resultant works as a result of the new nature" and the Non-lordship folks say, "You can become an unbelieving believer."

I grew up in a church with the latter position; it helped push me to the former. Most of the Non-lordship comments on here are eclectic arguments - a dash of this, a touch of that, and say, "You haven't refuted anything."

By the way - I'm a student at DTS, and the number of profs who hold the No Lordship Position is smaller than that eye of the needle through which the camel cannot go.

Lou Martuneac said...

Greetings:

Sorry I am late to the discussion, but...

I want to dispel the misnomer being spread by some Grace Evangelical Society (GES) members, especially Antonio da Rosa. The misnomer, and it is a major misnomer, is that GES is the voice of the Free Grace movement in general.

The GES has in fact become a shrinking cell of extremists that have fallen into the trap of Zane Hodges’ “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel. This “contrary doctrine” of Hodges and Bob Wilkins’s “Crossless/Deityless” interpretation of the Gospel has been the cause of “division and offences” in the FG camp and churches. (Rom. 16:17-18).

The teachings of Hodges is what has come to be known and accurately defined as the Crossless Gospel,” “ReDefined Free Grace Theology” and the “Promise Only Gospel.” It is largely because of GES’s heretical views of the Gospel; many men in the Free Grace community have separated from GES and do not want their name or ministry to be identified with the GES.

Once the Free Grace Alliance (FGA) was formed it became the new home of many men who departed GES over the egregious errors coming from Hodges and Wilkin.

Exposure of the egregious errors of Hodges, Wilkin, Neimela, Myers, and lesser knowns like Antonio da Rosa has put GES in cardiac arrest. It is my hope and prayer the GES is soon to become totally isolated and outside any relevant discussion of the Gospel. May I share this article with your guests, Is “ReDefined” Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

The article will help them understand that Hodges, Wilkin and especially Antonio da Rosa do not speak for and do NOT represent the general population of men who identify themselves as members of the so-called Free Grace community.

The Free Grace community has been fractured, and it is a good fracture in that large numbers of FG men have withdrawn from GES over the Hodges/Wilkin “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel.

Lord willing not one more unsuspecting believer will fall into the trap of the Crossless gospel.


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

Again, sorry so late to this one, but it is an important distinction readers need to be aware of.


LM