Lordship Salvation and the Gospel of the Grace of God. By Joel Finck. Rapid City , SD : Grace Bible Church , 1998. 83 pp. Paper. No price.
The Free Grace movement is housed under a pretty big tent. Finck represents Free Grace believers, who are sometimes referred to as Ultra-Dispensationalists. (Finck actually calls himself a mid-Acts Dispensationalist.)
In a nutshell the author suggests that the gospel for today is found exclusively in Paul’s epistles. He feels that Lordship Salvation more or less correctly understands the gospel by which OT people and people in the early stages of Acts were regenerated. The problem with Lordship Salvation is that they are caught up in the way of justification in another dispensation.
Thus verses in the four Gospels, Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter, Jude, 1-3 John, and Revelation are all out of consideration for how one is born again in this age. Finck does a good job of explaining how he understands a representative number of texts.
Within Paul’s epistles, Finck typically adopts the positions advocated by Zane Hodges, Jody Dillow, myself, and other Free Grace writers. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he adopts a new view of 1 Cor 15:2, one that I’ve held for some time but have not published yet. He suggests the salvation mentioned there is experiential salvation, that is, being spiritually healthy (pp. 36-37).
Those seeking in-depth exegesis will not find it in this book. Neither will they find any interaction with Lordship Salvation writers. However, those seeking a clear and easy to follow defense of the Free Grace position from an irenic Ultra-Dispensationalist will love this book.
One other thing I liked about this book is that the author doesn’t duck the tough questions. He suggests, for example, that OT saints weren’t eternally secure until they died, and that they didn’t actually get eternal life until they died, that is, if they died still in faith (pp. 73, 79).
Hopefully readers can overlook the fact that four times (by my count) he mistakenly uses the term Armenians when he means Arminians (pp. 70-71).
I will warn the reader, however, that it is disturbing to see a Free Grace person argue that what we must do to have eternal life is not found in the Gospel of John (pp. 17-18, 75-76). This book is not for the person who is new to the faith. Personally I feel if we abandon the primacy of the Gospel of John in anchoring our view of what one must do to have eternal life, then our movement is in trouble. I appreciate the fact that others like Finck disagree. And I’m glad they are in our camp. But I hope the majority position in our camp continues to be that John’s Gospel is the place to start when determining your view of the saving message. And I also hope we continue to hold that justification has always been by grace through faith apart from works.
This is a fascinating book. I highly recommend it.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Irving , TX