sábado, 1 de agosto de 2009

Easy Believism and Cheap Grace

Easy Believism and Cheap Grace
By Gary Tebbe

Recently, a school of thought has grown up within evangelicalism that insists that repentance and the acceptance of the Lordship of Christ is not necessary for salvation. All that is necessary is faith, defined merely as belief and acceptance. To “be saved” all you have to do is agree with the statement that Jesus died for you and perhaps pray “a prayer of faith.”

Proponents would say that faith only involves trusting Christ as Savior, and that submitting to him as Lord is an optional later step that is unnecessary for salvation. For many who teach this view, saving faith only requires an intellectual agreement with the facts of the gospel. (Grudem p. 714)

The source of this view of the gospel is apparently the well-known Dispensationalist theologian Lewis Sperry Chafer, especially in his Systematic Theology Vol. 3, where he says,
“The New Testament does not impose repentance on the unsaved as a condition for salvation.” (p. 376).

“Chafer recognizes that many verses call upon people to repent, but he simply defines repentance away as a “change of mind” that does not include sorrow for sin or turning from sin (pp.372-375).

Thus he can say, “Repentance, which is a change of mind, is included in believing” (p. 375).
He argues that “the added demand that the unsaved must dedicate themselves to do God's will in their daily life, as well as believe upon Christ” is as “confusing intrusion into the doctrine that salvation is conditioned alone upon believing” (p.384)
Chafer provides a basis for the view that people must first accept Christ as Savior, and later as Lord, when he says that the preacher has the obligation “of preaching the Lordship of Christ to Christians exclusively, and the Saviorhood of Christ to those who are unsaved” (p. 387).

The most vocal contemporary proponent of this view has been Dallas Theological Seminary professor Zane C. Hodges: see his book The Gospel Under Siege (Dallas: Redención Viva, 1981).

Evangelical Responses
A controversy over this point erupted in American Evangelicalism when John MacArthur, himself a Dispensationalist [like Chafer and Hodges], published The Gospel According to Jesus (Grand Rapid: Zondervan, 1988, rev. ed. 1994). This excellent book criticized the views of writers like Chafer and Hodges on evangelism and the nature of saving faith.
MacArthur argued very convincingly from many New Testament passages that one can not truly accept Christ as savior without also accepting him as Lord, or in other words, that there can be no true saving faith without genuine repentance as well. He said that any other view preaches a cheap gospel that offers unconverted people false security, telling them that they are saved simply because they agreed the facts of the gospel were true or prayed a prayer, but they had no true repentance and no real change of life.
MacArthur argued that such unbiblical evangelism has never been the teaching of the church through history, and that the weakened gospel heard so often heard so often today has resulted in a whole generation of professing Christians whose lives are no different from the surrounding culture and who are not really saved at all.”
-quoted from: Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Grand Rapids, IVP 1994) pp.714-715 footnote #5
Hodges responded to MacArthur with another book,
Zane C. Hodges, Absolutely Free! A Biblical Reply to Lordship Salvation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989) In which he accuses those who preach that repentance and faith must go together in conversion of proclaiming “Lordship Salvation” and a gospel of works. Apparently repentance is thus regarded as a “work” that somehow invalidates faith.
For another rebuttal to Hodges and Chaffer's view from an evangelical Baptist theologian see
Millard J. Erickson, The Evangelical Mind and Heart (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993) Chapter 6

Cheap Grace and Scripture
Defenders of “Cheap Grace” post-pone repentance. They contend that repentance is required for discipleship, a secondary and higher plane of the Christian life. Repentance is not necessary for salvation. Disciples repent, converts only believe.

However this is a false distinction. Salvation and discipleship are nearly synonymous in Scripture. In the Great Commission to evangelism in in Matthew 28:19 Jesus commands his followers to “go and make disciples.” To be converted to Christ is to become a disciple of Christ.

When in Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus invites sinners he says,
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
However he immediately adds,
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me...”
To come to him involves taking his yoke upon us, being subject to his direction and guidance, learning from him and being obedient to him. If we are unwilling to make such a commitment, then we have not truly placed our trust in him.

When Scripture speaks of trusting in Christ it frequently connects such trust with genuine repentance.
Isaiah 55:6-7 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: [7] Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Here repentance from Sin and coming to God for forgiveness are both mentioned. In the Bible there is not one without the other.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer called a Christianity that offers salvation without repentance “cheap grace.”
see Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: MacMillan, 1963) pp.45-47

It is not enough to simply intellectually “believe in Jesus” and accept the offer of grace. There must be a real alteration of the inner person. If there is no conscious repentance there is no real awareness of having been saved from the power of sin. Any attempt to increase the number of disciples by making discipleship as easy as possible ends up diluting the quality of discipleship instead

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Works cited:
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: MacMillan, 1963)
Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology Vol. 3,(Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947-1948)
Millard J. Erickson, The Evangelical Mind and Heart (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993)
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Grand Rapids, IVP 1994)
Zane C. Hodges: The Gospel Under Siege (Dallas: Redención Viva, 1981)
- Absolutely Free! A Biblical Reply to Lordship Salvation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989)

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