Last week, I mentioned a new book by my former colleague at Phoenix Seminary, Dr. Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theological and Biblical Studies. In his new book, Free Grace Theology: 5 Ways it Diminishes the Gospel, he offers a critique of his understanding of Free Grace Theology. Let me give you a taste of his argument.
“The weakening of the gospel message that I discussed in the previous chapter should be a major concern for evangelical Christians today. In spite of the fact that some people come to genuine saving faith under Free Grace preaching, I am deeply concerned that such a weakened gospel message, which lacks any call for people to repent from their sins, will result – and has resulted – in many unsaved people who think they are saved. But they are not.
If you ask them if they are sinners in need of salvation, they will agree. If you ask them if they believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for their sins, they will agree. They heard that teaching in a church one time and decided that they thought it was true. They “changed their minds” about sin and about Christ and about their need for salvation. Intellectually they believed those things to be true facts about history and about themselves, and on this basis some Free Grace pastors and teachers have assured them that they are saved.
But they have never truly repented from their sins. They are still lacking a necessary component of genuine saving faith, according to frequent and repeated New Testament presentations. They still lack genuine repentance, and so they have never had genuine New Testament faith. They are not born again. They are lost because of a weakened gospel message.”
Please notice that at the beginning and the end of the section, Dr. Grudem is concerned that Free Grace Theology presents a “weakened gospel.” At the beginning, he admits that some have heard and believed the Free Grace gospel message and have come to “genuine saving faith” and therefore are saved. But at the end of his comments, he says that, “They are lost because of a weakened gospel message.”
If the Free Grace gospel can save (when a person believes it), then it does not appear to be weak at all. In fact, it is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16-17).
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, PhD
Grace Theology Press