An Open Letter to the Free Grace Community -- By: Arch Rutherford
CTSJ 12:2 (Fall 2006) p. 2
An Open Letter to the Free Grace Community
Arch Rutherford received his B.S. from the University of Ohio and Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary. He has pastored churches in Ohio, Montana, and California and has taught Pastoral Theology at Chafer Theological Seminary. He currently ministers with Biblical Education by Extension (BEE). You may reach Arch at [email protected] beeworld.org.
October 13, 2006
I believe the Free Grace community, in its journey toward greater understanding and appreciation of the grace and truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, is currently negotiating some very perilous terrain that threatens to break us apart. In my opinion, we would do well to ask ourselves two questions which go right to the heart of this serious breach in our fellowship.
- First, can we enjoy a caring, supportive fellowship with each other if we disagree about what a person must believe in order to be eternally saved?
- Second, if we can enjoy such fellowship, what can each of us do to contribute toward cultivating and encouraging it so that it thrives in our midst?
These two questions go right to the heart of what brought us together as a community in the beginning. From the days of the New Testament, and throughout the history of the church, there has always existed the need to stand up for the biblical truth that divine grace and human works are incompatible when it comes to the eternal salvation of a human soul. In recent years, evangelicalism has been overrun by well-meaning Bible teachers who, in an effort to shore up the lives of shallow Christians and move the church toward more holy living, have succumbed to the temptation to make good works a crucial foundation for finding assurance of salvation. These same teachers have also impregnated the words “faith” and “believe,” which we would never have to explain in everyday usage, with elaborate definitions that go far beyond how anyone would have thought to use these words. For these teachers, “faith” must be artificially qualified with adjectives—“saving” faith or “head” faith or “genuine” faith. Simply saying that someone believed and received eternal life would always be suspect. For them, the faith that leads to eternal salvation must involve a deep sorrow over sin, a clear determination to turn from sin, and a genuine sincerity that can only be authenticated by one’s perseverance in good works to the very end of life.
Seeing the biblical and personal folly of such teaching drew many diverse Christian leaders together—pastors, teachers, authors, scholars, elders, deacons, and local church leaders who knew better and who felt the time had come to stand together against this false teaching that continues to dece...
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