A few weeks ago I listened to a conversation between two men who are strong Lordship Salvation proponents. We’ll call them Dave and Bill. In the early going they discussed a pastor of a megachurch who recently admitted to having an affair and who stepped down from his pastorate. The pastor in question preached the free gift of everlasting life, and while he was not associated with the Free Grace Movement directly, he was friendly to our theology.
Dave and Bill then pointed out that several decades ago a leading Free Grace pastor, as well as a leading Free Grace educator, suffered moral falls.
The implication was clear: Free Grace Theology (FGT) causes immorality, or at least makes it more likely that one will fall. Indeed, they were basically suggesting that those of us who proclaim the grace message do so because we wish to be able to justify the ungodly life of a loved one.
On the one hand, I was bothered that they named names. They could have simply said something like, “I know well several Free Grace pastors and educators who have fallen into immorality…” But one man they mentioned by name and they gave enough information about the other two men that their identities were obvious.
I was also offended by their implication that FGT produces immorality. The men in question fell in spite of FGT, not because of it.
Why, I thought, do they not mention the fact that we all know many Lordship Salvation preachers and educators who have fallen into immorality? I realize that might imply the Lordship Theology promotes immorality. But to be fair, they should have admitted that moral failure is not simply an issue for Free Grace Theology. Pastors and leaders of all stripes, Catholics, Orthodox, and all flavors of Protestants, suffer moral failure.
On the other hand, I agree with them to a point. When anyone who names the name of the Lord Jesus Christ falls into immorality, he brings disrepute to our Lord and Savior.
One thing absent from their discussion was a concern on their part that they might fall. They almost implied that they are immune from falling because of their Lordship Salvation Theology.
I fear falling away. It could happen to me. I’m sure that both Bill and Dave are aware it could happen to them. I’m sure they both fear that it would happen. Their theology would be more attractive if they occasionally said, “You know, that could happen to me. I pray often that it does not. But I know it could.”
I doubt that Lordship preachers will say something like that because their theology says that those who are born again cannot have a major fall. They say that the regenerate can fall, but not very far and not very long. If someone has a major fall, then according to Lordship Salvation the person probably has just proved that he is not born again.
So my response to the examples that Bill and Dave raised is that I’m very sorry those men fell into immorality. It is upsetting when anyone falls. It does not bring glory to the name of our Lord. It does the opposite.
But I do think that FGT is actually more attractive when we admit that we are not perfect and that our Pastors and leaders are not perfect. I think it honors God when we don’t throw those who fall under the bus and question their eternal destiny.