Dispensationalism and Free Grace: Intimately Linked Part 1 -- By: Grant Hawley
JOTGES 24:46 (Spring 2011) p. 63
Dispensationalism and Free Grace: Intimately Linked
Grace Bible Church
About a decade ago I was introduced to Free Grace theology. At that time I understood discipleship to mean “being a Christian,” the kingdom to often mean “the church,” reward to mean “free gift,” free gift to mean “conditional gift,” justified by works (from James 2) to mean “justified by faith evidenced by works,” and believe to mean whatever I wanted it to mean at the time.1 When I was introduced to Free Grace, I started seeing scholars like Joseph Dillow, Zane Hodges, and Bob Wilkin use the term kingdom to mean “kingdom,” believe to mean “believe,” reward to mean “reward,” etc., and I was dumbfounded. My thought process went something like, “This may provide an answer to the contradictions I was growing uncomfortable with, but do we have to redefine everything to make it work?” The irony certainly does not escape me.
It was not long until I realized that the Bible was really a much more simple book than I had imagined, and that it really was written to be understood. A non-literal
JOTGES 24:46 (Spring 2011) p. 64
approach to Scripture is largely responsible for the widespread confusion and the resulting reluctance of the layperson to study the Bible without undue dependence upon commentaries. The popularity of paraphrases and dynamic equivalence versions of the Bible such as The Message and the New International Version (NIV) is largely due to this misconception, and reflects a growing pre-reformational attitude that the unlearned cannot be trusted with the Word of God without a mediator.2
I have found over the last several years that much of the task of a Free Grace teacher is simply to unravel the confusion woven by a long tradition of non-literal interpretation, to help students pay attention to context, and to let words mean what they say. In doing so, I am reminded of dispensational works such as Prophecy Made Plain by C. I. Scofield, where the author shows that prophecy is not impossible to understand if we simply pay attention to context and let the principle of literal interpretation rule. Soteriology is no different.
As a pastor, I have introduced many people to Free Grace theology in discipleship settings, and those who have accepted it have without fail commented that Free G...
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