The Moody Handbook of Theology seems to have repented of its view of salvation.
A reader pointed us to a significant difference between the 1989 and 2014 editions. The difference appears under Soteriology: Doctrine of Salvation > Man’s Side > Erroneous Views. The 1989 edition says the #1 erroneous view is:
(1) Repent and believe. Repentance should not be understood as a separate condition of salvation for believing in Christ. If repentance is cited as a condition of salvation in terms of feeling sorry for one’s sins, then it is a wrong usage of the term. It should not be understood as a separate step in salvation. Acts 20:21 indicates that repentance and faith should not be seen as separate items in response to the gospel but together they signify belief in Christ. To believe in Christ is to change one’s mind about Christ and trust Him alone for salvation (pp. 330-31).
In other words, in 1989, The Moody Handbook took the “change of mind” view of repentance and affirmed that believing in Christ is the only condition of salvation. That’s more or less a Free Grace view.
But now look what the 2014 edition lists as the #1 heresy on man’s side:
(1) Believe only. Some say salvation need not include repentance nor spiritual fruit in one’s life, for either one adds works to salvation. Yet repentance is a biblical word clearly related to salvation. Jesus began His ministry with a call to repentance (Matt 4:17)…It can readily be seen that repentance involves not only a change of mind, but a change of direction, remorse for sin, and as a result, a change of life…Such change of mind, and of the whole person, means true belief includes a transformed life—salvation includes transformation…Advocates of “believe only” subscribe to what has been called the “non-lordship view” of salvation—that making Jesus Lord upon salvation is adding a work to the simple act of faith…In summary, lordship salvation stresses that in salvation, a person responds, acknowledging Jesus as Lord of his life (pp. 344-45).
The 2014 entry is 4 paragraphs long. I only hit the highlights here. But I think you can clearly see how far The Moody Handbook had gone over to teaching salvation by works. It not only lists faith alone (i.e., “believe only”) as the #1 “erroneous view” of salvation (let that sink in!), but consider the glaring self-contradiction in these two passages:
“Some say salvation need not include repentance nor spiritual fruit in one’s life, for either one adds works to salvation…” (emphasis added).
“It can readily be seen that repentance involves not only a change of mind, but a change of direction, remorse for sin, and as a result, a change of life…Such change of mind, and of the whole person, means true belief includes a transformed life—salvation includes transformation…” (emphasis added).
The Handbook dismisses the idea that adding repentance to salvation thereby adds works to salvation. Then, in the next paragraphs, The Handbook itself goes to add works to salvation! After all, what else does “change of direction,” “change of life,” and “transformed life” mean other than doing “good works”!
This radical change in The Moody Handbook is well reflected in who wrote the respective forewords to it. In 1989, the Foreword was written by J. Dwight Pentecost. And can you guess who wrote the Foreword in the 2014 edition? John MacArthur.
The Moody Handbook has changed its mind about salvation once. Let’s hope that, in a future edition, it will change again and affirm the clear message of faith alone, in Christ alone for eternal life.