Has Lordship Salvation Been Taught throughout Church History? -- By: Thomas G. Lewellen

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 147:585 (Jan 1990)
Article: Has Lordship Salvation Been Taught throughout Church History?
Author: Thomas G. Lewellen

Has Lordship Salvation Been Taught throughout Church History?

Thomas G. Lewellen

Senior Pastor, Grace Countryside Church
Milford, Michigan

Proponents of lordship salvation frequently employ a historical argument to demonstrate the validity of their view of the gospel. The argument is that the long history of the Christian faith stands in united agreement with their message of salvation. The conclusion usually drawn is that if history is on their side, they must be right.

Examples of this line of reasoning abound. Chantry writes,

In the central issue of the way of salvation, large segments of Protestantism are engrossed in neo-traditionalism. We have inherited a system of evangelistic preaching which is unbiblical. Nor is this tradition very ancient. Our message and manner of preaching the Gospel cannot be traced back to the Reformers and their creeds. They are much more recent innovations.1

Or in answering the charge that his message is a threat to the integrity of the gospel, John MacArthur writes, “That is a grave charge. Is it substantiated by church history? I think not. The truth is, the concept of faith that [Zane] Hodges decries as a modern heresy is exactly what the true church has always believed.”2

Sometimes the argument from history is brought in as only a passing comment.3 Often, however, the evidence of history is regarded as having almost decisive value in the debate.4 With this in mind the validity of this argument should be considered. The issue is not the quality of biblical interpretation that is used by either side. The issue is whether or not history can be used as substantial evidence confirming either side in the lordship salvation or free grace debate.

To evaluate this line of reasoning two things need to be examined carefully. First, is the argument true? Does history agree with the tenets of lordship salvation? In other words does the history of the Christian church yield unmistakable evidence that the leaders of Christianity throughout the centuries have substantially agreed on the message of salvation, and that their agreed teaching supports the view of lordship salvation? Second, does it matter? If the leaders of history are united in support of lordship salvation, does that prove that such a view is necessarily correct and that the free grace view is only an incorrect and recent aberration?

What Does History Teach about the Gospel?

The recent disagreement b...

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