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Monthly Archives: April 2010

One of the things I find most interesting/disturbing/irritating/sad about non-Lordship theology is the combative nature of many of its proponents. Take the headstone carving from Sandeman’s tomb, just a couple of posts down.  Robert Sandeman was not exactly well known for his gracious character or charm.  In other words, it appears that many people considered him to be a petulant man-child.

Now I do want to be careful in insinuating that a person’s stated beliefs always manifest themselves in the rest of their life and practice.  (I mean, it’s not as if there is some hotly debated and discussed big name pastor who has a ginormous church in a valley in California, an obsession with number forty and a penchant for apocopating the Gospel, who might have recently professed a dead theologian as his personal hero, and demonstrate that very point…)

Yet to some certain (albeit vaguely indefinable) extent, doctrine should (and will) drive practice, both ecclesiastically and personally. It’s why conservative Evangelicals hate abortion- because we believe Genesis 1-3 to  be a trustworthy account it drives our personal and corporate opinions on the sanctity of life.  (There’s thoughts about the Waltke situation buried in there somewhere as well. )  So the question is, ‘Why is it that non-Lordship folks seem so stinking belligerent?’  There are a few options here, and I want to think about a bit.

1. They believe that Lordship Salvation so distorts the Gospel that it cannot save.

Or, as I like to label this, the Galatians 1 defense.  Some do, in fact, believe this- and to them I have no real answer other than, we will never agree. You’ve be answered by others with more wisdom and wit.  I’m not big on casting pearls before swine.

2. The specific individuals who are so belligerent are either not actually converted or they are fairly immature in the area of personal relationships, which God will purge from them sooner or later.

Let me clarify this: I do believe that there are Free Grace guys that have genuinely trusted in Jesus Christ and are actively working out their salvation with fear and trembling. They have and are producing in parts of their lives- even though they claim that it is not a requirement for salvation.  This is the Hodges category. That guy demonstrated great personal holiness over the long haul, and was undeniably brilliant- and yet the way in which he seemed to snipe in his books was atrocious.  However, I do think there are people in the pews who took the idea of non-Lordship, used it to glorify and justify their own sinful lives, and will fight you to the bitter death over this issue. I’ve heard stories about people hating guys like MacArthur and Boice and so on, and it was mostly because they didn’t really like the idea that God actually changes people with the Gospel.

3. In addition to the other (legitimate) reasons, is there something inherent to the theology of the Free Grace movement which tends to breed in people and/or attract generally argumentative and belligerent people?

And to that I have to say yes. A Gospel that promises that we can have our cake and eat it to will most often do terribly little to transform the life of the one that ‘believes’ it (although I am convinced that FG belief is incomplete, I’ll roll with it for now).  I praise God that He keeps us from fully carrying out the possible logical extremes of belief systems. It keeps me from being a fatalist, classical Arminians from being Open Theists, and Free Gracers from living lives of total antinomianism.

I also look at many Free Grace arguments and get dizzy from what might be called ‘exegetical gymnastics’. In the words of my favorite squid-like alien, “It’s a Trap!” Just because an argument looks more intelligent and sophisticated, doesn’t mean that it is.  Folks without a knowledge of Greek look at this stuff and say, ‘Well that looks smart, so it must be true!’  When I was in college, I had a Prof who lamented that he had watched many young and intelligent Baptists leave a Reformed/Calvinistic Baptist perspective for Presbyterianism because it seemed more intellectual and academic.

All that to say, I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that a position which attracts guys (and gals, at the risk of sounding Roger Nicole-ish!) by it’s intricate exegesis will also tend to attract those most bent upon arguing and defending in long-winded and often irritating ways.

And now, I’m off to remove my own log and meditate on the fact that I claim a high view of grace and can so often show so little of it. If grace isn’t making us gracious we need to check the label- it just might  not be grace after all.


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