Greetings FGA Members and Friends,
It is unfortunate that in theological parlance, people often find themselves limited to two perspectives, Calvinism or Arminiansim. In the Christian world and in the theological world as well, many people still do not realize the third option is Free Grace Theology. And we must make sure that people know and understand that third option.
Free Grace Theology is a theological system. The best theological system is the one that deals with the most data and brings the fewest assumptions to its system. Free Grace Theology at its core is concerned with Soteriology or the doctrine of Salvation. And so it is essential that we have an understanding of the term "Justification" for it is critical to understanding God's work and His gift.
Let me call to your attention a new book titled "Justification-Five Views" (IVP 2011). As the title indicates, it is a multi-view and multi-author book following the helpful format of a point - counterpoint or writer - responder presentation. Besides being an excellent book to understand what is going on in the academic world, which eventually trickles down to the pulpit and then to the people, this book is of great concern for those who hold to a Free Grace Theology. It is interesting that all of the views either clearly or in some slight camouflaged form, hold to a view concerning the relationship of faith and works that leads to a Lordship Salvation view of the gospel. It also appears that for each of the views, the doctrine of assurance is significantly based on works as the authenticating agent in assurance. This is to be expected in the chapter by a Catholic theologian and the Classic Reformed view as well. But the Neo Reformed view and the ever so close "New Pauline Perspective" view also move in this direction. The unique Theosis view of the Eastern Church ends up in the same camp, but its emphasis is far less focused. Although all of these views have different ways of dealing with the exegetical, theological and historical data; at the end of the day they all lead the pastoral reader and eventually the sermonic hearer to a conclusion and a communication of the gospel that is less than clear.
Howard Hendricks used to say, "Leaders are Readers and Readers are Leaders." This is ever so true today with the communication and technology age in full swing. We do not have a choice about whether we are going to read. The only choice is what we are going to read. Let me suggest that you might want to check this book out--- that is, if you are a leader. It is not an easy read, but it is a most important topic for us to understand.
The wisdom from the past is still good for the present: "The men of Issachar understood the times and therefore knew how to respond".
One of the ways to respond is to "take it to them." In Phoenix this past weekend, Grace Line Ministry, of which I am president, held its 6th annual Spiritual Life Conference. We had over 230 people hear six presentations on "The Cost of Discipleship." Topics included the Mindset, Methods, Menace, Models and Motivation for living the Christian life. Three of the four speakers for the conference were FGA members and three FGA council members participated in the conference.
Let me pose a question to you. What could you do to make a spiritual life conference happen in your city? Let me encourage you to get a few pastors together to brainstorm using sanctified common sense and prayer and see if it could happen. If FGA can help you with input or resources let us know. Game On!
Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, Ph.D.
Save the Date
I hope you will make plans to join us at the FGA National Conference in Dallas, Texas October 8-10. This year's theme is Discipleship. Plenary speakers and workshop leaders include Dave Anderson, Charlie Bing, Jody Dillow, Bob Tebow and many more. Our special guest and banquet speaker this year is Dr. Mark Bailey, President of DTS.