Free Grace Theology on Trial: A Refutation of “Historical Protestant” Soteriology. By Anthony B. Badger. NP: np, 2017. 370 pp. Paper, $24.95.
This is not designed to be a general work covering global aspects of the Free Grace vs. Calvinism vs. Arminianism theological debate. If one is seeking that kind of work, I highly recommend Dr. Badger’s other recent text, Confronting Calvinism. In this book, Badger presents “a careful, point-for-point defense against the five charges of Wayne Grudem in his book (“Free Grace” Theology: 5 Ways it Diminishes the Gospel) and D.A. Carson’s three allegations of fallacious hermeneutics leveled against the Free Grace method of interpretation in his book (Exegetical Fallacies).”
Free Grace Theology on Trial is two works in one. Part One covers the answers to Grudem’s five charges. Part Two counters Carson’s three attacks on certain Free Grace positions, primarily as expressed by Zane Hodges in his 1981 edition of The Gospel Under Siege.
To introduce the book, Badger presents a very brief recounting of a long forgotten historical event—the trial of Anne Hutchinson by the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Colony (Nov. 7, 1637). The analogy is profound and unmistakable. I am presently struck by how much one might learn from this fragment of history (that goes way beyond its current application) to present-day sociological and political occurrences.
After an important preface that notes the author’s motivations there are six detailed chapters, five covering each one of Grudem’s key arguments and one his overall conclusion. Each chapter contains a brief summary of the argument and the Free Grace response, followed by introductory remarks, and then a point by point deconstruction of each argument. They are most readable but do require attentiveness to detail.
Part 2 is much shorter (43 pp.) and covers three technical, logical allegations presented by Carson in his text Exegetical Fallacies (1984), 1996) that until now do not appear to have been formally refuted in print. These require more than a rudimentary understanding of formal logic. Fortunately, Dr. Badger has provided precise analysis and several accompanying illustrations such that the lay reader can understand the points. It does require an attentive read and will clearly serve as a reference volume in one’s library. The first discussion could be especially useful as “real world” supplementary material to anyone taking a course in logic.
The book ends with nine appendices covering several items of Free Grace interest, including four doctrinal statements, a discussion on carnal Christians, the “Present Tense Solution” as applied to 1 John 2:27 ff., the Pothole in the Romans Road and Romans 9-11, a simple hermeneutical guide, and the tenses of salvation. A bibliography, Scripture index, and author information round out the book.
The defenses/arguments presented in Free Grace Theology on Trial are devastating to those who desire to refute the Free Grace position, or relegate its adherents to some deviate offshoot of Protestant theology. It is stunning to see the logical errors and contradictory statements coming from a person of Grudem’s stature and reputation. More than once he contradicts himself within the same paragraph of his text!
Dr. Carson fares no better. A detailed dissection of his supposed fallacies are often found to be either misunderstandings or deliberate misrepresentations of Free Grace positions or failures in his logical arguments. Several times it is clearly shown that Carson employs the same logical errors he accuses Free Grace advocates of supposedly using.
In summary, Free Grace Theology on Trial provides a Biblically based very credible, logical defense of the Free Grace position against specific targeted attacks by two of the best known luminaries of the Reformed persuasion. Their scholarship is found to be wanting in this case, perhaps colored by years of indoctrination into a “system” rather than openness to the Biblical text. One wonders if anything has changed since 1637. I highly recommend this book, and urge evangelicals of all positions (Free Grace, Reformed, or Arminian) to secure a copy.
Managing Scientist/Environmental Chemist, Retired