Recently, GES board member Bernie Hunsucker and I were able to conduct a Free Grace pastors’ conference in Costa Rica. Prior to our going, one of the pastors asked if I would teach at a Baptist seminary of which he was president.
He explained that the students were heavily influenced by Calvinism. The president himself had questions about Calvinism but did not know how to address these concerns or how he should present them to the students. He wanted me to explain how Free Grace Theology differs from the theological system his students were so familiar with.
The school conducts classes in different ways. All the students speak Spanish, but some live in different countries and attend online. Some live in Costa Rica and are local residents able to attend classes in person. During the COVID pandemic, however, due to the laws of Costa Rica, all classes were conducted online. Recently these laws were relaxed. When I was there, we had some students—about 20–who were able to attend the classes in person. Others, I don’t know how many, still had to join us through the Internet.
The classes were conducted over a two-day period. I covered the five points of Calvinism. After each point, I pointed out its weakness and how it was contrary to the Scriptures. I then showed how Free Grace Theology would respond to each point.
One of the major emphases of the classes was that Calvinism does not offer assurance of eternal salvation. Nobody can know if they were chosen by God for eternal life (the second point). In addition, nobody can know if they will persevere in good works and faith until the end of their life (the fifth point), or if Christ died for them (the third point). As a result, Calvinists look to their works in an attempt to find some measure of comfort as they ponder their eternal destiny.
I pointed out that Free Grace Theology is the only theology that gives assurance of eternal life. I spoke only briefly about Arminianism because these students had already rejected it. I simply showed the similarity between Calvinism and Arminianism in that both require perseverance in good works in order to finally make it into the kingdom. They differ only in the reasons they give for why that is the case.
The students asked good questions, which showed that they understood that Free Grace Theology was, indeed, something new that challenged what they thought. It was a lot of material for them to digest, and it was an introduction. It is impossible to determine what impact the brief introduction will have on them.
Each student was given Free Grace material that has been translated into Spanish. They received two of Zane Hodges’s books and one by Bob Wilkin. These books explain Free Grace Theology and challenge the reader to consider that their traditional way of understanding certain words and concepts may not be correct. In addition, the students were given ten blogs that GES has translated into Spanish. Hopefully, this material will answer some of the questions the students have and will whet their appetite to know more.
We discussed the possibility of conducting more classes at the seminary. The president was certainly open to it. In fact, he invited me to speak at his church while I was there. While this is new to him, it showed that he is willing to study the matter.
I ask you to pray that, if the Lord wills, GES will be able to continue this ministry in Costa Rica. There are many Spanish-speaking countries that need more exposure to the grace of God. Unfortunately, many students of the Bible there are enslaved by the fear Calvinism teaches as it denies the promise of eternal life by faith alone in Christ.