By Allen Michael Rea
Up until a year or so ago I was an avid Lordship Salvation pastor. In fact, I was a card-carrying MacArthurite.
I studied theology at a small Baptist college where my OT professor was an Open Theist, my NT professor was a typical Baptist, and my theology professor was a five-point Calvinist.
I considered myself a Calvinist for a while, but I did not truly understand the issues. During my time in Calvinism I expressed no concern for the lost and had no assurance of salvation. Once I understood what Calvinism really was, I disavowed it entirely. Still, I did not realize that Lordship Salvation was such a strong part of Calvinism, and its effects lingered with me much longer.
I started my MDiv at one seminary but was very uncomfortable with the Reformed theology there, so I transferred to Luther Rice Seminary. I first encountered Free Grace Theology (FGT) in my hermeneutics class under J. B. Hixson. I also had a few conversations with our librarian, Hal Haller, who wrote the commentary on Matthew in The Grace New Testament Commentary. And, of course, I greedily consumed all the writings of Lewis Sperry Chafer. But I still held to Lordship Salvation.
I finished seminary and pastored my first full-time church. Those three years are a testimony that Lordship Salvation is a spiritually bankrupt theology.
I was miserable enough to share my lack of assurance with my church members.
I taught and preached from The MacArthur Study Bible.
When Bob Wilkin’s book A Gospel of Doubt was first published, I bought a copy to read alongside my well-worn copy of The Gospel According to Jesus. My primary motivation for getting Wilkin’s book was to defeat it. I pridefully sought to dismantle FGT. But I had developed a straw man that I wanted to burn in my own search for assurance. Hence, I expected that Wilkin’s book would be easy to refute. Instead I found myself at a theological crossroads.
I stayed up late, cried, and prayed.
I came to realize that I was adhering to, advocating, and propagating a gospel of doubt.
And then my life changed for the better.
Free Grace Theology has positively affected my marriage, my parenting skills, and the way that I pastor.
I’ve since read much more from GES, especially the writings of Zane Hodges. And I spent some time on the phone with Ken Yates (GES’s East Coast speaker). I am very grateful for GES’s ministry and hope to be more involved in the future.
Allen Michael Rea is pastor of Higgston Baptist Church in Ailey, GA. He will be speaking at the Feb 10-11 Atlanta Regional Conference, along with Tony Mirabella, Donnie Preslar, Jeff Rutledge, and Bob Wilkin. See faithalone.org/events for more details.