06 October 2006

Should sinners be urged to worship, love, and obey Christ as Lord?

How I Got Drawn into the Lordship Debate—part 3
by Phil Johnson

lot of people think John MacArthur started the lordship controversy with the publication of his book The Gospel According to Jesus in 1988. But the controversy existed long before MacArthur's book was published. Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges had both written books on the subject years before MacArthur wrote his book.

Ryrie, for example, wrote Balancing the Christian Life in 1969. That book included a chapter titled, "Must Christ be Lord To Be Savior?" Listen to Ryrie's answer to the question his chapter-title raises:

Must Christ be Lord To Be Savior? the importance of this question cannot be over-estimated in relation to both salvation and sanctification. The message of faith only and the message of faith plus commitment of life cannot both be the gospel; therefore, one of them is a false gospel and comes under the curse of perverting the gospel or preaching another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).

So as early as 1969, Charles Ryrie was applying Paul's anathema from Galatians 1 to teachers of what has come to be known as "lordship salvation."

I was assigned to read that book in one of my classes at Moody Bible Institute, but somehow the nature and the gravity of the controversy he was dealing with did not penetrate my consciousness. I glossed over that chapter, thinking Ryrie was merely arguing against works-salvation. And I somehow managed to graduate from Moody with a diploma in theology without fully realizing that Ryrie and his followers actually think Jesus' lordship is a truth better omitted from the gospel message.

I first became consciously aware that the lordship of Christ was controversial a year later, during my one-year stint at a fundamentalist-Baptist college.

The subject came up in one of those hallway discussions in the men's dorm, when a group of students were discussing preachers whom they liked and didn't like. One student said he thought Stephen Olford was positively dangerous. He said it with the utmost force and conviction. And I thought that odd, because Stephen Olford was one of the favorite speakers at Moody during my years there. I had never even met a student who didn't like Olford, much less heard anyone suggest that there was anything "dangerous" about him.

So I asked this fellow why he thought Stephen Olford was such a threat to the cause of truth.

He was quick to answer: "He corrupts the gospel. He teaches lordship salvation."

At that point, everyone in the conversation kind of nodded knowingly. I had just earned a diploma in theology from Moody Bible Institute, and I had never even heard the expression "lordship salvation." So I sheepishly asked, "What's lordship salvation?"

He looked at me with an expression of incredulity and said, "Why, it's the teaching that you can't be saved unless you accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord."

I still didn't have a clue what he was talking about, so I asked, "What's wrong with that?"

He rather impatiently told me that proclaiming the lordship of Christ to an unsaved person is the same as preaching works. Surrender to Christ's lordship must be a post-conversion experience, he said. In fact, he said, it is entirely possible to receive Jesus as Savior and never yield to His lordship.

Surrender to Jesus' lordship is a work, he insisted, and it pertains to one's mature Christian life, not the moment of conversion. If an evangelist calls for the surrender of the sinner's will, or stresses Jesus' lordship in any way as a part of the gospel message to unbelievers, that person has tainted the gospel of grace with a message of works.

That was the first time I had ever heard the expression "lordship salvation," and it is the first time I can remember being aware that anyone believed it corrupts the gospel to proclaim to sinners that Jesus is Lord.

I remember being completely stymied by my fellow student's opposition to lordship salvation. I instantly felt that what he was saying could not be quite right, but at the moment I had no time to think through the issues, so I set the whole matter aside in my mind and determined to think it through when I got a chance. I instinctively could see that it was a huge issue, and I knew because it touched the matter of the purity of the gospel it was important for me to settle it in my thinking before I entered into any vocational ministry. But it seemed such a huge issue that I kept setting it aside and putting off thinking it through.

It was more than three years before I seriously considered the issue again.

(More to come.)

Phil's signature


The Girl in Grey said...

I met the 'Lordship Debate' in university with a couple of American exchange students, in a Bible study in my digs. One of them said that you didn't have to accept Jesus as Lord to be saved, and I (like the person I am) blurted out that I thought she was wrong, and that it was dangerous too. But I couldn't say why!

Another bad American import!

James Scott Bell said...

I had the same experience. When I first heard there was a "controversy" I thought, How could this even be controversial?

Can't wait for the rest.

FX Turk said...


Your ability to leave the girl tied to the rails as the steam engine rushes toward her in telling this story -- about theology -- is frankly amazing.

I'm on the edge of my seat!

DJP said...

GiG -- Another bad American import!


Centuri0n -- to what you said:

1. Chuckle.
2. Ditto!

Greg said...

I posted most of this at Pulpit Mag. the other day and didn't hear back from anyone. SO, I thought I'd try here because of the quality of readers. :)

Can a child (or anyone for that matter) be saved with no clear understanding of Christ’s Lordship? I was 7 when I first believed in Christ. I was shown I Corinthians 15:1-4. I believed Jesus died, paid for my sins, was buried and rose again. I believed that I could do nothing but believe and accept the free gift of eternal life. There was no discussion about Lordship. NOW, with that said…I know I was saved because of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life. I started going to a church where a Godly man (John Dunkin Jr., son of the president of LABC) preached the Word faithfully week after week. My understanding of who Christ was began to grow. I learned over the course of time that in my salvation “I may have believed” BUT it was actually God who “made me alive” and who “drew me unto Himself.” In other words, I realized that God chose me and saved me for His own good pleasure. I also realized and continue to realize just how glorious Christ is AND that HE IS LORD…the One who should be loved and adored and obeyed everyday of my life.

SO…sorry it took so long to get here…BUT, do you all see a problem between a person who may have only heard I Cor. 15 rather than those passages mentioning “Lord” AND the person who has been shown both?

In other words, I won’t explain the gospel today to someone without both sides because I know both sides now.

BUT, what if someone unacquainted with both only shares I Cor. 15 and never mentions Christ’s Lordship? It seems possible someone might do this sincerely (especially in places where there is little teaching or limited access to the Scriptures).

I absolutely believe in Christ’s Lordship and bow to Him everyday. It is a joy and privilege that humbles me every hour. But, I did not always understand. It truly was a process for me since I was saved at an early age.

Any comments would be appreciated!

Jerry Morningstar said...

Greg - my 2 cents. Salvation occurs when a person puts their trust in the person and work of Christ. Where true faith exists - the lordship issue is somewhat of a non-issue. IOW - when someone truly believes in Jesus he knows that He is called to obey and wants to. He knows that he must repent or his faith is a charade. I think that's why you can have people saved under the FG model. The content of the gospel is still that Christ died and was buried and rose again according to the Scriptures - by which we are saved [I Cor. 15:1-4].

The problem and one that MacArthur and many have pointed out is that the heart is deceitful above all else and desperately wicked. Sinful man wants to somehow keep his sin and avoid hell. So - he hears a gospel message and says he believes - even when he really doesn't. The evidence that he really doesn't believe is that he never responds to Christ's lordship or to the word of God with any intention of obeying it.

It's like saying, 'I believe in Jesus - i believe in Jesus - I just don't care what He says' - Oh?

I think the issue in lordship is how we distinguish false from genuine faith.

BTW - I don't think your question was purposely ignored at pulpit - there was an awful lot of idle chatter from the FG side that made the reading tedious and irritating.

David A. Carlson said...

Your series of posts are great. I love testimonies - they are the most encouraging things I hear or read.

Having said that, I never have really understood the "lordship" salvation debate.

I may be simple, but it always to me that Jesus is Lord and Savior - How can you seperate the two?

Greg said...

Thank you Jerry for your comments. I guess I sometimes wonder if this debate is an "adult" debate...

Kids are wonderful and so simple in their understanding (most of the time)! Kids that believe in Jesus, even without explanation of Lordship, want to follow Him and obey Him. It is logical to them and makes sense. Of course, this is because they really are saved and the Holy Spirit is within them.

The debate I hear much about is usually centered on explaining the gospel to adults. What is the content of the gospel? What must a person "do" to be saved? What naturally follows salvation?

Even the title of this post is fodder for “adults” to dissect.

"Should sinners be urged to worship, love, and obey Christ as Lord?"

A child isn’t going to have any trouble with wanting to worship, love and obey Christ. An adult, however, will start picking apart the words and say something like this:

Can a sinner make an accurate assessment of what he/she will do without first being regenerated? Why would a sinner want to do those things? It seems that the apostle Paul urges Christians to worship, love and obey...

Philippians 1:10 - that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
Philippians 1:27 - Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ,
Ephesians 4:1 - I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,

Most of my point is this: I am trying to be consistent in sharing the gospel with people of all ages. In my church, the gospel is being presented to young kids, older kids and all the way up to the adults.

Is the Lordship debate just about distinguishing real/fake faith? Or is it also about the content of the gospel presentation? If it is about the presentation and what words/verses are used…how do we stay consistent with proclaiming it to young kids (who may not have a clue what Lordship means) and to adults? My little 7 year old brain only understood so much…thankfully the Lord continued to fill it through the years!

Does any of this make any sense?

donsands said...

Thanks for the glimpse of a young Phil Johnson in the faith. Must have been incredibly exciting for you to graduate from Moody.

Looking forward to the next post. Enjoyed the comments as well.

Greg said...


If this wasn't the time for questions, I apologize. Perhaps, I should have waited until your final post!

In Christ,

Bill Combs said...

I think I remember from something you said at another time that the college at which this happened was Tennessee Temple. I was just wondering what years you were there?

jerryb said...

Greg in CO
I have that question asked to me all the time.
Here's my answer, 1) No gospel presentation can fully describe what Christ has done, or how I should respond. 2) Some presentations are better than others, 3) The Holy Spirit can even use obscure presentations or weak presentations to draw men and women to Christ, (have you ever read RC Sproul's testimony) 4) The Spirit enables us to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord cf 1 Cor. 12:3. 5) The Spirit grants repentance (Acts 11:18) which is a recognition of Christ's lordship. When I "prayed to be saved" at 4 years old, I did not think much about Lordship, but I knew it was true. A better presentation may have aided me in my earlier years of salvation, but the power is in God not in a formula. The Bible's proof of salvation is not "DID I" back then do it, but "DO I" right now? How do I prove that I was born? Because I am alive now. How do I know that I was born again, because I am spiritually alive now! 1 Cor. 13:5
Our goal should be to present Christ just as the Bible presents Him, in all His glory. To quote a dear friend, Our presentaion of the gospel should be clear enough for those who do not believe to reject it. (JM)

DJP said...

I think that's a very good answer, Jerry. When I've had doubts about my conversion, I look back to that date forward on to today. From that day on, Christ was my Lord. Canaan's been falling -- but it's been city by city, and some have fallen faster than others. And some keep mounting rebellions.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

The first time I remember talking to a real live “Free Grace” person wasn’t until I moved to Dallas (go figure). I was being trained for work and one of the students at DTS asked me if I was a “lordship guy.” I naively said “yes.” The student’s response was, “Oh, so you believe in works salvation.”

The Girl in Grey said...

Ouch indeed!
I go to a little church that's been called antinomian. Let me tell you that our British antinomians have nothing on the non-Lordship people. Even William Huntington taught that the true Christian WILL obey Christ (practically that means yield to Him as Lord). The preachers who come to our pulpit (and some of them have been called antinomian) ALWAYS emphasise following Christ. In fact, when I compare the really 'antinomian' ones with John MacArthur's books I think they just use different words saying the same thing.
And I remember reading somewhere someone saying that you can be justified by faith without understanding justification by faith. Our preachers say that a genuine convert will naturally follow Christ, just like a new-born baby will cry and breathe.

donsands said...

If Christ died for us when we were ungodly rebels, who wanted nothing to do with Him, and loved us, how much more will His love and grace be with us now that we are His, and love Him, becaused He first loved us. It's all pure grace, for His glory.

God works in us to will and to do of His good purpose.

"From that day on, Christ was my Lord"

Michael Herrmann said...

DJP said:

"Canaan's been falling -- but it's been city by city, and some have fallen faster than others. And some keep mounting rebellions."

That's a great analogy Dan.

Bryan Riley said...

yes, you have hurt us... with this painfully pregnant pause.

Lance Roberts said...

I've never understood those who don't want to submit their life to Christ, they just want to be saved and do whatever they please. Ever since I've got saved I've always looked for the ways that I could obey God and change my life to follow his Lordship. I always thought "The Gospel According to Jesus" was a great book on the topic.

Please keep up the story.

Jerry Wragg said...

Greg –
I can appreciate the needed clarifications…and I would echo Jerry’s (Morningstar) comments.

One of the issues that I believe drives much of the pathos behind the non-Lordship perspective concerns those, like yourself, who repent and profess faith at an early age. As you’ve pointed out, it’s not really an issue for an adolescent because we’re not trying to construct an evangelistic presentation. We follow Jesus Christ because He loved us and saved us from certain judgment. But many pre-adolescent professions of faith seem to have little or no transforming impact in the ensuing “years of testing” (say…between 14 and 23). To be sure, the theological sparring has been crucial in exposing the latent free-will theism behind the non-Lordship view. On a practical level, however, I believe it was childhood professions and subsequent adolescent rebellion over which much of the debate began to rage.

(1) Parents have regularly assured themselves (and their young adult children) that early professions of faith will “see them through” the intervening years of debauchery and disinterest. If tragedy strikes during these “years of back sliding”, the youth’s childhood profession becomes the comforting assurance.
(2) Unwitting teachers have turned passages such as the parable of the prodigal and Proverbs 22:6 into guarantees that early professions indicate certain regeneration which will eventually “show-up” in the affections and behavior.
(3) “Backsliding” has been redefined to include anyone whose lifelong pattern of rebellion continues in present and outright rejection of everything Christ-like.

The idea that salvation, as a gracious and supernatural work of God, so transforms the affections (even at the moment of conversion) that true believers universally desire to yield their wills (though beset with competing sinful passions) to Christ as the Master of their lives became a hard truth to stomach. The human heart struggles with this reality from three angles:
(1) A yet immature faith still wants to add human effort to the soul’s conversion. Therefore, when a professing Christian “goes out from us” as a life-pattern, it is easier to make human assessments of the genuineness of another’s profession rather than bow to God’s words regarding sovereign grace and the dangers of apostasy. It’s simply more comfortable to believe that loved ones remain “in Christ” than it is to admit the absence of biblical evidence that the Spirit has regenerated them.
(2) We can’t see the heart…so we genuinely avoid “judging” another’s spiritual state, allowing God to reveal the matter. Unfortunately, we can quickly confuse personal “judgments” with clear biblical evaluations, resulting in our being silent where scripture is screaming.
(3) True Christians can experience a season of sin (though not without manifest chastening and demonstrable agonizing over the broken intimacy with Christ) that brings life-scars and devastation. When this happens with someone close, we rightly become less certain about genuine conversion as the sin continues without repentance. Sadly, however, we often lose our spiritual nerve, minimizing the “signs” of unbelief while allowing for very long “seasons” of rebellion. Ours is not to determine the maximum length someone can be in sin before we consider them unsaved, but rather to call them to repentance, warning them of apostasy.

When I know someone who is acting like an unbeliever, I call them to obedience and love for Christ. If they continue to reject that, I have no obligation to treat them as a severely “backsliden” Christian. I have the privilege of declaring the true fruit of life in Christ, the need for dependent obedience, the warnings against unbelief, and that whom God saves He most certainly transforms. I’m glad your early profession was truly the regenerating work of God. My early gospel responses (from age 7 to 15) were genuine, but not supernatural. How do I know? From 15 to 21, though not ever overtly rejecting Christ, I lived for myself, rebelled without true repentance (I was miserable and “sorry” a lot), and secretly chaffed at the call to holy living. At 21, God was merciful and opened my eyes. I was still full of rebellious habits, but I truly loved Christ and His holiness! I now knew Him as Lord and Master by His grace alone, a reality that all non-Lordship advocates misunderstand.

Sorry for the ridiculous length…


~Mark said...

I'd never heard of this "lordship" debate until this series of postings, and I've gotta join some others in being completely mystified as to how this is even a topic of debate.

It's hard for me to conceive that anyone whose eyes have been opened by the Holy Spirit (salvation) could even imagine Christ NOT being Lord.

Sharon said...

Phil, your iPod offering of "Music for one apartment and six drummers" intrigued me. However, when I clicked on the link, it crashed IE. Three times. Bummer. I was hoping we could feature that work for this Sunday's offertory. . . .

Tim Brown said...

As one who professed being a Christian in the late 70s and early 80's, then bottoming out and being converted in '98, I can tell you there is a big difference.

When I "Prayed the prayer" it was because Pat Robertson on the 700 club told me I needed to. WHen I got done, I remember very clearly thinking "Boy am I glad this doesn't demand any commitment from me!".

I started loading my head with theology. Studying Greek, etc. Went to a Bible Institute for 9 months. THen came back here and forgot all of it. In 1998 I had bottomed out. I was alone at my computer. I think I had a secular CD in my computer. All the sudden, it was like *someone* tapped me on the shoulder and let me see what my life had become like. There were no preachers preaching. There was no Christian music. Nothing of "this physical world" going on to trigger this.

But all the sudden my jaw hit the floor as I understood for the first time that I am a sinner before a holy God.

Did I think of the Lordship issue? No. But when I became aware of it, I embraced it. Two decades ago it was "pray the prayer and do what you want."

No No. That's not transformation. That's not salvation. No way. All things become new if it's real.

Charles e. Whisnant said...

The most common question I have from folks when they return to church after an absent of 20 years
is “Do you think I am saved?” If you have to ask the question, I think you already know the answer.
They would give their child hood experience (what they could remember} when they believed they
were saved, it could have been seven or thirty two. And after reading John MacArthur’s book on
Lordship, I had a better understanding of this matter of salvation. Too often when I would say,
“Where are you today, in your relationship with the Lord?.” Then they would tell this story that most
of us preachers have heard, about their life out side church. . And I would say, “Lets look at what
happens when Christ saves a person.” Sometimes they understand that they had not been born again.
And would trust Christ. The point of their salvation was now, rather than when they were seven.

Too often parents will say of the person mention above, “My child was saved at seven, he just got
out of church, and living as a Christian should.” All too common. They are offended when we
mention what it means to be born again in Christ Jesus as Lord.

They hold on to the idea that their child was saved at seven or five in a revival meeting when Joe
Boyd preached that sermon on Hell. And was baptized by the Pastor the following night. And the
person believes that they are saved because mom believes they were.

Phil enjoy your post.

Phil Johnson said...


Use Firefox to open that link, then. It's definitely one you will appreciate.

Greg said...

Thanks to all who commented on my questions!

Jerry Wragg - it was long BUT worth the read...thanks!

How thankful I am the Lord saved me as a child and that the Holy Spirit continually convicted me and illumined the Word to me through the next 30 years. Was I perfect and really, really knowledgeable through that time? HA! Praise God He will complete the work, although I think it will take at least another 70 years! :)

All praise to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

chamblee54 said...

It is my understanding that the word "Lord" does not have any direct antecedent in the Greek and Hebrew texts that are the foundation of what we call the bible. Rather, "Lord" is a term referring to form of British Aristocracy, and was inserted into the Bible by the translators employed by James 1.
My questions...
1 Is this true?
2 If it is true, how do translations of the Vulgate (what a great word) into other languages deal with this issue?
3 Assuming the answer to question 1 to be yes, then what exactly do you mean when you say, " Jesus is Lord"?
As I have said before, I do not consider the Bible to be the word of God. (In your previous post to this series, you stated "From that day until now, I have never doubted that the Bible is the Word of God " This was in response to a message by Jack Van Impe(?). I would be curious how those verses you quoted convinced you that the Bible was the word of God. This is especially confusing seeing as how they were written several hundred years before the council of Nicea)
It would seem to me that quibbling about whether or not Jesus is Lord is an unnecessary semantic distinction facilitated by an unhealthy reliance on a book written by man.

donsands said...

How about Yeshua is Yahweh. The Word LORD is a translation for Yahweh. There are times when the Word Lord is translated from Adonai, and Jesus is referred to both of these Lord's. He is Lord of lords.

I haven't done my homework on this as much as I should, but I do believe it to be the case.

Tim Brown said...


Your post is appreciated.

I'm 52. When I made my *false* profession, I was 24. That lasted maybe 6 years.

During that time, I met all kinds of people who also profess Christ. They never "backslid". But you know, a few of those people have actually heard my story and said "You were saved then, I KNOW you were".

Well, I know I wasn't.

I know they are just trying to encourage me, but regardless of their intentions, they would be misleading me if they had said that 20 years ago.

One of these people is a pastor.

For those who "come back", it is difficult. The enemy is good at whispering "You fooled yourself then. How do you know you aren't fooling yourself now?".

"Jesus Christ Died for my Sin And I'm Trusting Him".

That's something that never passed my lips 20 years ago.

Again, thanks for the post.

Unknown said...

To answer your post's title and pop quiz:

& there are no excuses not to

striving... said...

The biggest question I have had, and not been able to talk to my pastor about, Is what is free grace? What exactly does their posistion believe? All the comments on pulpit did was confuse me. I do not get it. I know that it is FG vs. apologetics, but then I have read that apologetics is not totally necessary either? MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM? help! :) I am reading Van Tils' apologetics now though, i have to take it very slow. :)

Unknown said...

Striving, I don't think the author wants me to comment so see here for a primary source answer.

Connie said...

I first heard of the "Lordship Debate" in college, shortly after the Lord saved me. Even as a new believer I didn't have any problem with the thought that Jesus must be "Lord" of my life.

Then, while my husband was working on his ThM at Dallas Theological Seminary, MacArthur's book, "The Gospel According to Jesus" came out. One of our profs invited us to join his study group to discuss the book and encourage one another--those were some very rich times which helped me better understand and subsequently embrace Reformed Theology.

Randy said...

Another great McArthur book on the subject of Lordship Salvation is, "The Gospel According To The Apostles". Thanks for the great series Phil.
P.S. I am looking forward to your Q & A with John McArthur at the end of the current GTY series.

The Girl in Grey said...

My Greek's limited, but a more learned Church member tells me the Greek is Kurios, and the Hebrew Adon. Both refer to a person who has rule and authority. I don't know what anyone can mean that the word 'Lord' has no direct antecedent in the Bible unless all they mean is that 'Lord' is not derived from Greek or Hebrew. The concept's in both.
I've done some studies in both languages.

Highland Host said...

You're right, Girl in Grey, I just looked it up in the concordance.

Chablee 54 said: "It is my understanding that the word "Lord" does not have any direct antecedent in the Greek and Hebrew texts that are the foundation of what we call the bible. Rather, "Lord" is a term referring to form of British Aristocracy, and was inserted into the Bible by the translators employed by James 1.
My questions...
1 Is this true?

My first thought is No. This is a bizarre opinion that betrays either ignorance or (more likely) an agenda. I don't know where the idea that it was the 1611 translators who inserted the word 'lord' in the English Bible comes from, but the fact that those Bibles the KJV Only crowd condemn as satanic perversions retain the word ought to tell us something. I read Greek and Hebrew and I can tell you that the words are there in the published texts.

'Lord' in English refers to a person who has authority and power. Both the Greek 'Kurios' and the Hebrew 'Adon' (and Ba'al) have the same basic meaning. Whoever told you that 'Lord' simply applies to someone in the British aristocracy was 100% wrong.

As the Girl in Grey suggested, the original statement may simply mean that 'Lord' is not derived from either Kurios or Adon (or Ba'al). If so it simply a matter of linguistic relationships (etymology) and has exactly no theological significance.
2 If it is true, how do translations of the Vulgate (what a great word) into other languages deal with this issue?
Like I said, it's false. Unless the Girl in grey's surmise is correct, and in that case they would use whatever word held the meaning of 'a man having power and authority' in their language (e.g. Señor in a Spanish Bible). Certainly all my non-English speaking Christian friends have equivalent words in their Bibles.
3 Assuming the answer to question 1 to be yes, then what exactly do you mean when you say, " Jesus is Lord"?"

It means 'Jesus is the one having power and authority'. In any language. To say that is tantamount (if meant) to saying that He has power and authority over ME.

Highland Host said...

More. I found my German Bible, and that says 'Jesum einen herrn'. In other words, 'Kurios' is 'Herrn' in German. This is Luther's New Testament, which predates the AV of 1611. Herr is the German equivalent of the English 'Lord', the Spanish Señor, and the French Seigneur (used in French Bibles for 'Kurios').

Now, I have been reminded that there are some Christian Hebraists who contend that, since 'Kurios' is the word used to translate YHWH in the Septugint (Greek Old Testament) 'Jesus is Lord' means 'Jesus is YHWH'.

My OTHER thought is that the 'Lord has no antecedent' statement MAY be a garbled memory of the fact that the Ecclesiastical Text of the New Testament places 'Kurios' with 'Jesus' in a number of places where modern critical texts of the Greek NT do not. In THOSE places it is proper (in some circles) to state that the English 'Lord' has no antecedent in the CRITICAL TEXT. However, it DOES in the texts from which the AV translators were working.

This is assuming the statement is not just plain wrong and made by a man or woman who knows no Greek and knows nothing about the underlying texts of the AV and modern versions differing.
You do not need to know Greek to do theology, but you DO need to know Greek to make statements like the one I've just tried to dismantle.

I hope I covered everything

Highland Host said...

I said: "My OTHER thought is that the 'Lord has no antecedent' statement MAY be a garbled memory of the fact that the Ecclesiastical Text of the New Testament places 'Kurios' with 'Jesus' in a number of places where modern critical texts of the Greek NT do not. In THOSE places it is proper (in some circles) to state that the English 'Lord' has no antecedent in the CRITICAL TEXT. However, it DOES in the texts from which the AV translators were working."
It ocurred to me you may like an example. I chose a clause in 2 John 3.
In the AV it looks like this: "From the Lord Jesus Christ."
The Ecclesiastical text reads (transliterated) "Para Kuriou Iesou Christou"
In the NASB it looks like this: "From Jesus Christ."
In a modern critical text (United bible Soc.) it reads:
"Para Iesou Christou"
Now, if one was using the AV as one's English Bible, but a modern Critical Greek text, one looks and says "'Lord' has no antecedent in the Greek." One might even make up the story about the translators to explain it. In fact there are two different Greek texts, and the difference goes back long before the AV. The AV translator translated what was in front of him, the NASB translator what was in front of him.
The NKJV, a modern translation using approximately the same texts as the AV, has 'Lord' in our text too.
So why the two readings? Well, that's another matter. Read a book on textual criticism, something like James White's 'King James Only Controversy' is specifically pointed at differences like this.

Anonymous said...

Noooo!!! Phil, that's like the electric organ chord right at the end of a comic book cliff-hanger... except comic books don't have electric organ music... you know what I mean.

chamblee54 said...

Thank you to all those who took this question seriously and gave thoughful answers. So often, when someone asks a question that challenges basic beliefs, nasty personal attacks are the result.
I first read this "fact" in a book by Tom Robbins called "Villa Incognito". A charactar said that as part of an argument with Christians. I am the first to admit this is not the best source.
Some thoughts have occured to me.
Perhaps "Lord" in 1611 DID mean an English aristocrat. Since it was incorporated into the Bible as a name for God, it was used in that fashion, until it did become a synonym for God.
If "Lord" means "someone with power and authority", then it could mean anyone who can boss you around....parent, boss, policeman...anyone with power and authority. Is this really a good phrase to use for God and/or Jesus?
Languages are the product of man. Words have meanings, and the meanings change over time. This is one more reason why I don't like the concept of referring to a book...in any language or translation... as "the word of God".
There is a Chinese concept of referring the Tao as the unnamed one. The idea is when you name something, you place limits on it. Now, the "G word" has a lot of implications, and connections to the Bible and Christianity. For this reason I don't like to use it, although I hastily admit I don't have a good substitute. I feel that when I say God I mean something quite different from what a Christian means when they say God.
There is a bit of circular logic here. People believe in the God of the Bible, and they believe that the Bible is the word of God. Unlike the chicken and the egg, we know which one came first.
Or just go outside and enjoy this lovely Saturday in the World God created, and don't worry about how long it took her.

Highland Host said...

Chamblee. I'm afraid then that the 'fact' has as much relation to reality as most of the 'facts' in 'The Da Vinci Code'. It's one of my pet peeves about some fiction.

Yes, in 1611 'Lord' could (as it still can) be used to refer to an English aristocrat. But then, as now, its meaning was not limited to that.
In fact the 'argument' sounds like (I thought it over during the afternoon) like a conflation of the textual critical issue I discussed earlier and the fact that King James DID instruct his translators to use certain words. 'Lord' was not one of them. However you will see the word 'Bishop' in the AV. The Greek 'Episcopos' literally means an overseer, but in the C of E a Bishop refers to a particular office. So rather than translate 'Episcopos' properly, King James insisted the ecclesiastical word 'Bishop'. which had come to refer to a certain officer, be used. The same is true of the word 'Church' in the AV. The Greek 'Ekklesia' would be better translated (as in the Geneva Bible) 'Congregation'.
'Lord', however, was not on the 'approved word' list. You see, if 'Lord' had held the resticted sense of 'an aristocrat' in 1611 (which it did not) then God would never have been called one. Because in the English aristocracy a 'Lord' is actually UNDER the authority of the King, a thought no-one in 1611 (even King James) would have tolerated.
But there is no English word other than 'Lord' that translates 'Kurios' in the Bible.
The use of words referring to one with power and authority to refer to God or to gods is found throught the word, thus the Apostle Paul refers to the pagans having 'many lords and many gods.' I, and most of the other commenters here, have no problem with using 'Lord' to refer to God, since we (unlike you) make the Bible the source of our religion.

But that is a completely different subject, and I think on this thread we ought to keep on topic. The Pyromaniacs prefer it.

Bhedr said...

"And why not say, "Let us do evil that good may come"? - as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just" Romans 3:8

'Been accused of being antinomian like Paul was lately or are we busy doing the accusing? I think it is unhelpful to the discussion to throw that term around when many of the free gracers have made it clear that God does not approve of sin and will be punished for it. They just don't hold eternal punishment over the believer as a bane to spur him to good works. I may not fully agree with everything within the framework of Zane Hodges theology but I do not think it is helpful to loosely throw around what the Apostle Paul got accused of. Do you ever wonder why he got accused of it? Are you comfortable with being accused of it?

I also hope that some of the Presbyterians, Methodists, Southern Baptist(I used to be one) and sympathizers with Infant Baptism and the State reformers that ignored the Lordship of Christ in favor of the State will consider submitting to Christs Lordship and obeying the simplist comand to come out of her and into an Independent Local Church that is Bible believing and autonomous instead of being yoked with liberals. Thank God for his grace in overlooking this abominable sin in my own life in the past and may we consider surrendering to this most explicit and simple basic command that men like Billy Graham have encouraged us to disobey in lieu of ecumenical tendencies that he himself has in ignoring the Lordship of Christ and obeying this command and instead encouraging many...(some among the MacArthur camp) to disobey. Some of us will find out one day just how amazing this grace is. Including the great evangelist that many support and exhonerate who has openly embraced all forms of Apostacy going out from among us and making it harder and adding affliction to the chains and the cause of the apostle Paul.

Let us take pause and be thankful here that Zane Hodges teaches that Gods grace still stands in spite of this horrible disobedience that stabs our Lord in the back.

donsands said...

"Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Cor. 6:9-10

"For this you know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor cvetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobeidience." Eph. 5:5-6

"Have nothing to do with them". Eph 5:7

Very strong words for us to consider.

Bhedr said...

So whats yourtake Donsands on Billy Graham? Is he going to hell for calling the abomination of the Pope the greatest evangelist of all time? What about Joni Earickson who graces His platform and emphatically supports him who supports all the abominations of his Catholic organization that supports him?

I do not doubt the strong warnings but I also have to measure it with the truth found in Psalms 89 and realize that despite Billy's apostacy and Balaamism and Joni's emphatic support that he is still a believer as he got saved years ago and never lost his salvation but like King Solomon is partaking in something worse that the sin of Molech in the great whore of Revelation.

Personally I am growing tired of this hypocrisy as well as the tie that binds between Daniel Fuller and John Piper as well as the denomination he is in and the evil that he partakes in there.

Lets get honest about all of this and stop lying to God.

Do I respect some of you guys? Yes very much so but lets listen to each other and stop with the antinomianism blasts and taunts. Are free gracers guilty of taunts...yes but lets step back and look for the elements of truth and seek the whole counsel of God. There is plenty of shoulder rubbing and bribery in the Lordship movement that gets overlooked as well. Balaamism in the book market. Trouble is? I think we are all getting away from the Local Church that God intended and when we do that...well all these systems of theology can't patch it up either way.

Have I been guilty in the past? Yes, but I intend in the future to move forward and not seek accolades from the praise of men which is what always leads to this end.

Answering the call to discipleship is a very very difficult tight rope. Very few will finish the fight as the Apostle Paul did when so many of his friends including Titus forsook him in the end.

Fact is all of these sinful works of the flesh that you mentioned are finished in the work of Christ. You cannot negate the new creation who now exists as "such were some of you" when the Corinthians were told in the midst of their horrible carnality and warned of their bodies being a temple and possibly being destroyed if they were disobedient"sin unto death".

Consider these things brethren. Zane Hodges is not wrong in all matters. Neither is he right in all matters. MacArthur is not wrong in all matters and so to neither is he right in all matters.

donsands said...


I think Paul's point here in the Sacred Scriptures is: Don't be deceived, that people can live unrighteously and inherit the kingdom of God.

Seems quite clear to me. Paul says, "Let no man decieve you with empty words".

I don't really think this is the blog to talk about Billy Graham. Perhaps another time and another place.

Have a blessed Lord's day.

Bhedr said...

Thanks for your response Donsands. I have a tremendous amount of respect for you as well and have often considered your insights and at times agreed. May the Lord continue to work His way in your life.

I will stand down on the Billy rehtoric but I hope you will at least consider these thoughts.

May you have a blessed Lords day. It is a good thing for the Sons of God to be indignat about the Lordship of Christ...he paid an expensive price and one day every knee will indeed bow if and if they never will on this side of eternity...it shall be too late. May the soul who has forgotten to get on his knees continue to be miserable by the power of the sealed Holy Spirit until he gets back on them.

Bless you my dear fellow brother and former trucker. Spoke at you later on...toot toot.

Bhedr said...

Also Donsands brother...I hope you will consider the context for Pauls warning of not being deceived in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is lawsuits among the brethren. A most timely verse as the ones so dead heat right now against antinomianism have been engadged in lawsuits. I understand that recently they pulled the lawsuit...but my point is that many of us step back and look at those who are in the ecumenical movement that are warning us of these verses don't seem to be taking heed to the most basic of principles here. Nevertheless our point is that you can still violate these biblical principles and be in the ecumenical movement and ignore seperation engadge in lawsuits as well and yet still be a believer. I know this makes me look bad and I will be accused of being vain...but I have to understand that we are indeed washed in the blood of Christ and are new creations. I will agree there will be false conversions and pretenders, but Paul is telling us to consider how we are living like the lost and to stop it. Nevertheless the Bible teaches the sin unto death and clearly in Psalms 89:30-37 we see that Gods everlasting love will not depart from us in spite of our sin.

donsands said...

Peter denied the Lord, but repented, and was restored, because the Lord loved him, and prayed for him.

Peter was also quite the hypocrite, but Paul rebuked him, and Peter heard his brother.

Peter said, "Therefore, brethern, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure".

4given said...

The "free grace" movement is not synonymous with no-lordship teaching. There are many no-lordship teachers who do not fall into the "free grace" camp. However, all "free grace" teachers do hold fundamentally to a no-lordship viewpoint. But their teaching goes much further than that. Having started with the tenet that one may receive Christ as Savior and not as Lord, they then interpret the whole New Testament in that light.--PLS

In light of your postings on the Lordship debate, I found THIS article to be very interesting.

The Girl in Grey said...

I get very annoyed by these people calling their position 'Free Grace'. Our chapel's Free Grace - which means Calvinist. Free Grace is our phrase, not theirs.

4given said...

The girl in grey,
I find it interesting how people redefine terms or words. It makes even conversation with someone a process of continually clarifying what you are saying.

Here's some examples...
I could have gone to my grandmother and said, "Hey Grandma... I am so gay!"
Grandma would have thought I was happy. If I would have said that to our generation, they would think I was a lesbian. (Which is not the case at all.)
If to one person I say that I am a Calvinist, they may picture hypercalvinism.
If to another I say that I am an evangelical Christian, they may picture 'easy believism, watered down Gospel that does not require repentance.'
If I tell one person I embrace Lordship salvation, they will pin me as a legalist.
In the Bible belt, if I tell someone from California that I proclaim to be a Christian they may think I am possibly a deluded antinomian because everyone in the Bible belt thinks they are a Christian... even if they do not profess Christ at all.
To the Bible-belt-deluded-Christian, being labeled a Christian is just equating that label with being a basically good person.

... and you have seen in that article what has been done to the term free grace.

Bhedr said...

Then there are those that think those of us in the Bible belt are just hillbilly rednecks with a gun in the back seat and snuff in their mouth...{spit}...are hopelessly lost and couldn't possibly be a christian and are automatic antinomians.


Ah the world of labels does help to clarify things huh?

4given said...

Well, BEHDR, you are right, ha... I live in Arkansas. Home of the Clinton's and lots of bare foot and pregnant jokes. Plus I have 6 kids and I homeschool. Oh yes... and I graduated from a high school in the Bible belt that had a farmer as the mascot. We were the "Fighten' Farmers"

But then I am one who falls in the camp of the Biblical view of Lordship salvation. (That would be "legalist" to those who embrace carnal Christianity)

Larry said...

Hello Tim Brown et al --

The things that Jerry (October 06 10:45 am) and Tim (same day, 1:35 pm) say are very intruiging to me.

"Pray the prayer and do what you want," the phrase Tim used, is a good parody to discuss. Since Tim said it I'll focus on the context of it in his post.

I think Tim you believe that there must be a choice between "Pray the prayer and do what you want" and some version of what people call lordship salvation.

The image that this phrase brings up, of some "evangelist" actually saying 'pray the prayer and do what you want,' is repulsive, and rightly so. Anybody who actually says that does not represent the Lord's teaching, and indeed the Lord, who says "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" in Mt 5, contradicts it.

Other than as an exact quote, what use is the parody being put to? Sometimes, that a certain doctrine amounts to, in effect, what the parody refers to.

While we have every right to do a categorization of that doctrine as "oh, that's the 'pray the prayer and do what you want' doctrine," when people are involved who are not convinced of what the doctrine means to us, the methodology of 2 Tim 2:24 comes into play, and there is work to be done that amounts to far more than labelling. Plus, when we think that the person is a believer, another thing comes into play: the doctrine of the body of Christ, in which we look at someone who has this or some error, and have to remind ourselves -- if that person is saved, I have to treat them not only with gentleness and respect, as the verse teaches, but with the attitude that they may be a foot, corresponding to our hand. We have to have the attitude: "Oh, no. My foot's messed up."

Anonymous said...

I think the problem, in general, is an absolute miscommunication on both sides, with a strong desire to differentiate oneself. For instance--I believe I am saved through grace alone through Christ alone, but I believe Jesus is also Lord of my life. The LS folks tend to pull out the extremes of the FG folks, and say: "See, they don't think Jesus has to be Lord of your life at all!!!!" (always said with a large sneer across their faces, in my experience). The FG folks, on the other hand, have sample stories of people who have told someone considering converting to Christianity: "Unless you are ready and willing to submit your entire life, in all areas, to Christ, then you are not ready to become a Christian." In other words, there are instances of people from the LS side actually refusing someone conversion into the faith because they didn't immediately accept the "Lordship of Christ" in every possible area of their lives.

The whole thing is silly.

Honestly, does anyone reading this comment really put their entire lives under the "Lordship of Christ?" And, just as honestly, when you trust in Christ as your savior, how are you not proclaiming Him Lord of your life?

What bothers me is the "LS heavy" folks who say: "If you backslide 'far enough,' then you weren't ever saved in the first place." Hogwash--you don't know who's saved and who's not, no matter what you might think on the matter. So stop trying to tell people when they're saved or not, and start teaching how to reach Christian maturity.

On this front, I think the FG folks do a better job, focusing on the rewards of reaching maturity, rather than scaring people to death with the mantra: "If you do this, you weren't ever really saved in the first place."

Just my 2c.


Anonymous said...

I think it is down right scary. For our eternal souls are at stake, Where we will spend eternity. Surely with all the past theologians of old and today's self appointed leading "thinkers",we can get the doctrine of salvation right? Is it any wonder than, that the world mocks and scoffs and doubts that their is even a God? If we can not even agree if a person is truly saved and yet we want to take the great commission of Jesus to the world? Not to mention the seemingly endless bible translations we proclaim it from. I had a lost person say to me the other day, "You people can't even agree what translation is really God's word and which one is inspired or not"."With all your translations,who has Jesus's true words correct"?.I think we better get it right for our own sakes and stop worrying if we can make today's "top thinker" awards and have man tell us how smart we are.

Anonymous said...

I think it is down right scary. For our eternal souls are at stake, Where we will spend eternity. Surely with all the past theologians of old and today's self appointed leading "thinkers",we can get the doctrine of salvation right? Is it any wonder than, that the world mocks and scoffs and doubts that their is even a God? If we can not even agree if a person is truly saved and yet we want to take the great commission of Jesus to the world? Not to mention the seemingly endless bible translations we proclaim it from. I had a lost person say to me the other day, "You people can't even agree what translation is really God's word and which one is inspired or not"."With all your translations,who has Jesus's true words correct"?.I think we better get it right for our own sakes and stop worrying if we can make today's "top thinker" awards and have man tell us how smart we are.