The Novelty Of Free Grace Theology, Part 2: The Dangers Of Following The Commentary Traditions -- By: Kenneth W. Yates

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 27:53 (Autumn 2014)
Article: The Novelty Of Free Grace Theology, Part 2: The Dangers Of Following The Commentary Traditions
Author: Kenneth W. Yates


The Novelty Of Free Grace Theology, Part 2:
The Dangers Of Following The Commentary Traditions

Kenneth W. Yates

Editor
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society

Columbia, SC

I. Introduction

In part one of this two-part series, I argued that in the extant writings of the early Church it is difficult to find any significant support for a Free Grace understanding of the gospel. However, the same could be said for any understanding of the gospel that proclaims justification by faith alone in Christ alone. The writings of the Apostolic Fathers and Church Fathers reflect, among other things, a works-oriented gospel that threatened the loss of salvation, the necessity of water baptism for forgiveness of sins, and a harsh understanding of the offer of forgiveness for believers who commit sin.

But it should be just as evident to anybody who reads these writings that a Lordship understanding of the gospel is also absent. Hence, it is ironic that some Lordship proponents reject a Free Grace understanding of the gospel on the grounds that it does not have the support of the very early Church on its side.

However, Lordship teachers are much more likely to point to the Reformers for support of their views. Beginning with the sixteenth century, it is maintained, Lordship Salvation is clearly taught. This gives relative antiquity to these views. Free Grace, on the other hand, is a “newer-comer” to the theological scene. This casts doubt upon the validity of Free Grace theology.

In this article I will address these issues. In addition, the reasonableness and Scriptural basis for Free Grace theology will be addressed.

II. The Gospel And The Reformation

With the coming of the Renaissance and the Reformation, dramatic changes occurred in the church. There was the cry of Ad fontes—“back to the sources.” As far as the gospel was concerned, this meant going back to the original manuscripts of the NT. Instead of what the Catholic Church taught, there was a search to find theological truths in the inspired Word of God.

Most advocates of Lordship Salvation trace their lineage to the Reformers of the sixteenth century.1 They argue that Luther and Calvin’s teachings support Lordship Salvation. Calvin speaks of a false or temporary faith (Institutes 3.2.11). In addition, works at least provide some kind of assurance (3.17.10). Free Grace theology, on the other hand, is not clearly found in extant writings until the Marrow Controversy (late 1600s to early 1700s), Jon Glas and Sandemanism (...

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