Lordship—What Does It Mean? By R. Alan Day. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1993. 118 pp. Paper, $8.99.
The author, Alan Day, is the pastor of a 3,500-member congregation, the First Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. He has also been an instructor in theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
This book is well written, easy to read, and easy to understand. The chapters are short and they cover many of the important issues in the gospel debate, including saving faith, repentance, discipleship, Christ’s lordship, the question of carnal Christians, legalism, and assurance.
While the author adopts a Lordship Salvation view of the gospel, his style is less vitriolic than some who have written on this subject. His views are a bit softer as well. For example, he not only admits that backsliding and failure are possible, but concludes that Samson and even Demas (2 Tim 4:10) were both examples of believers who fell away from the Lord (p. 83).
As many other Lordship Salvation writers have done, Day is forced to equivocate on many points. Three examples concern commitment, assurance, and perseverance. While he most often suggests thattotal commitment is needed to be saved, he sometimes suggests that something less than total commitment is sufficient. While he often implies that uncertainty and doubt are a part of every believer’s experience, he acknowledges that it is possible to be sure that you are eternally secure. While arguing that true believers rarely experience spiritual setbacks, that these setbacks don’t last long, and that the course of their lives is always toward greater Christlikeness, he also allows for the possibility that true believers may backslide terribly and for a long period of time.
There is almost no effort at exegesis in this book. When the author is faced with the interpretation of a passage, he states his view and assumes that its correctness is obvious. (E.g., “Language could not be plainer,” p. 56. “Nothing could be plainer,” p. 64.) If he feels that proof is needed, he quotes some pastor or theologian who agrees with his view. He dismisses the interpretations and views of those who disagree with him—citing Hodges and Ryrie most often—with comments like “Hodges’ interpretation makes no sense at all” (p. 65). He fails to show via a careful explanation of the Scriptures that his view is correct, or that the views of those who hold to what he calls “Easy Believism,” are incorrect.
I found no references in the book to a colleague of Day, Dr. Charles Stanley, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta. Since Stanley is a fellow Baptist who espouses the same views as Hodges and Ryrie (see his book Eternal Security), it would seem that he would be an even more familiar name in Southern Baptist circles than the other men mentioned. Possibly the reason why he failed to make this connection is because of the enormous popularity of Stanley. However, in the interest of truth, it seems to me that the reader should be told this to show that his is not the position of the SBC or even of some of the best known SBC Pastors. (He does indicate that one of his seminary professors held to the “Easy Believism” position. See pp. 61ff.)
There are a few interesting apparent misstatements in the book. Commenting on Matt 7:21, which says “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven,” Day says, “What we need to say to our generation is that not everyone who calls Jesus Savior and Lord will be saved, but only those who are seeking to do His will (Matt 7:21)” p. 36, italics added. The text says they must do His will, not seek to do it! Possibly Day felt that no one really does the will of the Father, so he softens the requirement to seeking to do His will.
Talking about the necessity for a change of life, he criticizes the so-called Easy Believism position by saying, “The issue for the proponents of ‘easy believism’ is simply: ‘believe the gospel’” (p. 14). That is an amazing admission. Day is saying that believing the gospel is not enough! I will grant that the author probably didn’t realize the significance of what he was writing. While that is probably an unguarded statement, it is very telling. That is indeed the position of Lordship Salvation, though it is not often openly admitted, that believing the gospel is not enough for one to be saved.
I recommend this book for the well-grounded believer who wants a short, easy-to-read primer espousing the Lordship Salvation position.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society