"Free Grace" Theology: 5 Ways It Diminishes the Gospel

by Wayne Grudem


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433551147
Publisher: Crossway
Publication date: 07/31/2016
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 829,897
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.42(d)

About the Author

Wayne Grudem(PhD, University of Cambridge; DD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is distinguished research professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary, having previously taught fortwenty years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is aformer president of the Evangelical Theological Society, a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible, the general editor of theESV Study Bible, and has published overtwenty books.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 13

Introduction 17

A What is the Free Grace gospel? 19

B Why I do not use the term Lordship Salvation 22

Chapter 1 Not the "Faith Alone" of the Reformation 27

The Free Grace movement does not teach the Reformation doctrine of "justification by faith alone,"

A Protestant leaders throughout history have consistently disagreed with the Free Grace position 28

1 John Calvin 28

2 Formula of Concord 29

3 Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England 30

4 Westminster Confession of Faith 30

5 New Hampshire Baptist Confession 31

6 John Wesley 31

7 Assemblies of God Statement of Fundamental Truths 32

B Therefore, the Free Grace movement today is not upholding the Reformation doctrine of sola fide, or "justification by faith alone." 32

C There is no logical difficulty in claiming this 35

D Why is the proper meaning of "justification by faith alone" so important? 38

Chapter 2 No Call to Repent of Sins 41

Free Grace theology weakens the gospel message by avoiding any call to unbelievers to repent of their sins.

A Repentance from sin in the New Testament 41

1 Repentance from sin in many key summaries of the gospel 41

2 Repentance from sin in narrative examples of Jesus dealing with individuals 47

3 Repentance from sin in Protestant confessions of faith 48

4 Why is repentance not mentioned in John's Gospel? 49

B Two different Free Grace explanations for the "repentance" verses 55

1 A necessary "change of mind" 55

2 An optional resolve to turn from sin 66

C However, saving faith does not include obedience 70

D Conclusion: A weakened gospel 74

Chapter 3 False Assurance 77

Free Grace theology gives false assurance of eternal life to many people who profess faith in Christ but then show no evidence in their pattern of life.

A The result of the weakened Free Grace gospel is many unsaved people 77

B New Testament epistles frequently warn church-goers that some of them might not be saved 79

C The Free Grace view says that people can become complete unbelievers and still be saved 82

D Free Grace teaching about assurance makes a fundamental category mistake 84

E The historic Protestant view does not say that assurance of salvation is impossible, but just the opposite 94

Chapter 4 Underemphasis on Trust in the Person of Christ 99

Free Grace teaching overemphasizes agreement with facts and under emphasizes heartfelt trust in the person of Christ.

A Some Free Grace advocates say that faith equals mere intellectual assent 100

B Other Free Grace advocates say that faith includes trust in the person of Christ 101

C Both groups deemphasize the element of heartfelt trust in the living person of Christ 105

D Saving faith requires trust in the person of Christ, and this means that mental agreement with facts about Christ without personal trust in Christ is not saving faith 107

1 Saving faith is pictured as coming to Christ 107

2 Saving faith is pictured as receiving Christ 108

3 Saving faith is pictured as believing something in your heart 109

4 Saving faith is portrayed as believing in a person 109

E Free Grace misunderstandings of B. B. Warfield on the need to decide to trust in Christ personally 112

Chapter 5 Unlikely Interpretations 119

Free Grace advocates have to adopt numerous highly unlikely interpretations of the New Testament because of the need to defend their mistaken understanding of the word "alone" in the phrase "faith alone." A. Some examples of unlikely interpretations 120

1 Luke 16:30 120

2 John 15:1-2 121

3 John 15:6 123

4 Acts 11:18 124

5 Acts 17:30 126

6 Acts 26:19-20 127

7 Romans 10:9-13 128

8 2 Corinthians 13:5 130

9 James 2:14-17 132

10 James 2:26 134

11 James 5:19-20 136

Conclusion 141

A Summary of the argument of this book 141

B Topics not covered in this book 143

C What do I appreciate about the Free Grace movement? 144

D My hope for the future 145

Bibliography 147

General Index 152

Scripture Index 157

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Credence without commitment and assurance without action are the hallmarks of the so-called Free Grace version of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is, however, unbiblical, anti-evangelical, and sub-Christian, as Grudem’s patient and well-informed analysis clearly shows.”
J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College

“The so-called ‘lordship controversy’ has been simmering for several decades now. I’m thankful for several fresh resources that deal with these matters accurately and succinctly. Wayne Grudem’s book in particular is an excellent and very useful digest of the main doctrinal and biblical issues under debate. He answers the questions with uncommon clarity and skill, always from Scripture.”
John MacArthur, Pastor, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California; President, The Master's College and Seminary

“Within evangelicalism, there is a kind of presentation of the Bible’s teaching on grace that actually diminishes what the Bible teaches about grace, while purporting to elaborate and emphasize it. Wayne Grudem carefully, charitably, wisely, and pastorally takes on that kind of teaching in this book. This is an issue that especially pastors and those preparing to be pastors need to think through clearly, because confusion in our teaching and preaching on this will harm the sheep and our witness.”
J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

“Ever so fair and irenic, New Testament scholar and trusted theologian Wayne Grudem gives no quarter to the purveyors of the so-called Free Grace gospel as he exposes their troubling pattern of selective reading of the standard Greek lexicons, as well as of famed theologians, to effect the illusion of support for their position. Grudem does more than demolish a house of cards as he pastorally lays out what the New Testament says about the nature of the gospel, repentance, faith, and assurance. Grudem’s critique is a gift of love to the church universal, and especially to those under the unfortunate thrall of errant teaching.”
R. Kent Hughes, Visiting Professor of Practical Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary

“With grace, patience, pastoral tenderness, and honesty, Wayne Grudem takes a careful look at biblical teaching on the gospel and evangelism as he critically examines the teaching of what is called ‘Free Grace.’ As well intentioned as this position is, Grudem argues it falls short in five areas. He is fair, citing Free Grace materials in full and engaging biblical texts with care. I commend this book as one who has had similar discussions on these topics with people who hold this position, people whom I also respect as Grudem does.”
Darrell L. Bock, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement, Howard G. Hendricks Center, and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

“This book is charitable yet rock-solid in its penetrating insights regarding the Free Grace movement. The soteriology of this movement is thoroughly consistent—and deeply flawed. Grudem has addressed a number of the key issues and texts in a gracious and gentle manner. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the Free Grace movement and its implications for the gospel.”
Daniel B. Wallace, Senior Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

“Wayne Grudem’s book on Free Grace is the best I have read on the subject, and I commend it with enthusiasm for several reasons. First, it is biblically saturated, showing us again and again what the Scriptures say. Second, Grudem’s explanations are so clear that virtually any Christian can read and understand this book. Third, the book is amazingly kind, generous, and charitable. Grudem isn’t on the attack. He loves those with whom he disagrees, and that love shines through the book. Fourth, Grudem recognizes the issue is massively important since it has to do with the nature of the gospel we preach and proclaim. He argues convincingly that works are a necessary fruit of salvation, which doesn’t threaten free grace but upholds what the great Reformers taught about salvation.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

“This excellent and insightful book is much needed in the church today, especially in view of ever-increasing focus on the nature of the gospel. His analysis of the ill-named Free Grace movement is clear, thoroughly biblical, and entirely persuasive. He deals forthrightly yet charitably with the views of those who advocate this mistaken conception of the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. All Christians will benefit greatly from reading Grudem’s analysis. I cannot recommend this book too highly.”
Sam Storms, Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“With care and weighty biblical and historical argumentation, Grudem applies his clear-headed reasoning to show where the Free Grace view has gone wrong. Because this disagreement has to do with the very nature of the gospel, saving faith, and the basis of assurance, it is critical that Christians understand rightly what Scripture teaches on these matters. “Free Grace” Theology provides an excellent guide to understanding why the traditional Protestant and Reformed view of these matters accurately expresses biblical teaching and where the Free Grace view misleads. Every Christian can benefit from reading this book, to grow in clarity and conviction of understanding of what salvation by faith alone truly means.”
Bruce A. Ware, T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

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