Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Request and a Prayer For 2015 and Beyond

Dear Friend of the Gospel,

As you consider year end giving, would you consider helping the Free Grace Alliance? I'm prayerfully asking God to give us $25,000 or more. Would you help?

The FGA turned 10 this year. And the need to "connect, encourage, and equip" is greater than ever! 2014 was a good year. We heard great speakers at the annual conference in October. Dr. Charlie Bing, one of the founding members of the FGA presented a excellent workshop about our history some of the misunderstandings about the Free Grace Movement. You can read his manuscript on our website (http://freegracealliance.com/). We held several regional conferences throughout the year. Many FGA members travelled around the world, helping to connect with, encourage, and equip church leaders who might otherwise not receive much grace-friendly training. As I was typing this appeal, a man who was one of my students in Ghana called me and thanked me (again) for the training we brought. All around the world, we find church leaders who want to learn more about God's amazing grace! We want to explore ways to help those around the world who hold to Free Grace but have limited resources and opportunities to interact face-to-face with us.

But battles are also erupting against Free Grace. One well known reformed theologian chose to publicly critique the Free Grace Movement and the FGA. At one of the national meetings where he spoke, we were denied the opportunity to present a defense of Free Grace. But in a way, his presentation is good news! It means this man thinks the Free Grace message is dangerous enough (from his perspective) to warrant this kind of attention! We provided a lengthy response to this individual and we and made this response available to our members.

The coming year looks exciting. Of course, we will meet again in October for our national conference and we will hold regional conferences around the country. Right now, we are working on one in Salem, Oregon and in Houston, Texas. If you are interested in hosting a regional, contact us and we will be happy to help you. We are also working with the publishing arm of Grace School of Theology to provide opportunities for publishing high quality Free Grace books. We are redesigning our website in general and specifically our church and job opportunity listings.  We are working on a paper for members summarizing grace-friendly views on an often misunderstood concept, repentance and hope to have that available to you mid-year. And of course, in all of this our main thrust continues to be "sharing grace graciously" as we strive to expand awareness the grace gospel and living by grace.

And that gets me back to the original request. Our membership dues are pretty low ($25 per person) and do not cover the cost of running the organization. They certainly do not allow us to expand our scope. That's where we need your help. I am trusting God will provide our needs. In fact, between the time I started writing this letter and the time I finished it, someone handed me a check for $1,000 for the FGA (I'm not making this stuff up!). So, $1,000 down. $24,000 to go. Would you help us? You can give directly on-line (http://freegracealliance.com/support.htm) or you can mail a check to the address below.

Thank you in advanced for your help. I am looking forward to seeing what God does this coming year!

In His grace,

Roger Fankhauser
FGA President

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Membership Has Its Privileges!

Okay, we stole the line. But it is a true statement!

Some of you think you've joined the Free Grace Alliance or that your dues are current, and thus you think you are a current member. Here are a few tests to see if this is true:

  • If you have joined the Free Grace Alliance and your dues are current, you recently received access to the "Members Only" page, which allows access to a "live" membership directory. What a helpful tool if we really want to connect - encourage - equip!
  • If you joined the Free Grace Alliance and your dues are current, you recently received a paper addressing a critique of free grace in general and the Free Grace Alliance in particular given by a prominent reformed theologian. The paper corrected many of the misconceptions this theologian had about free grace.
  • If you joined the Free Grace Alliance and your dues are current, you recently received an invitation to provide literature on your ministry for us to include in the folders given to those who attend the FGA conference October 13-15. 
If you didn't get these, then chances are:
  1. Your dues are not current (you can quickly take care of that by clicking the link http://freegracealliance.com/join.htm), or  
  2. Our e-mail address for you is incorrect (send corrections or questions to julie16689@aol.com). 
Either way, if you are in agreement with the Free Grace Covenant, we want you.

There are a lot of reasons to be part of the Free Grace Alliance. These are just three! By the way, we have done a great deal behind the scenes to improve keeping up with dues and notifying you when they are due (or overdue). And we'll continue to provide valuable resources to our members. 

Membership does have its privileges.


Still not sure if you're dues are current? E-mail Julie (julie16689@aol.com). She'll check and let you know. We DO want you!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Member Update - August 2014

 
Good news... and a headache or two! 
 
Good news #1: The Free Grace message seems to be gaining some momentum. I think this in part because we are getting some "push back." For example, one of the sessions at the next Evangelical Theological Society is called "Salvation without Repentance from Sin? A Critique of the 'Free Grace' Gospel." Why do I consider this good news? Because a prominent, globally known reformed theologian thinks the Free Grace message is worth critiquing at the ETS meeting, and thus sees it as more than just an inconsequential viewpoint! I'll say a bit more about this workshop below.
 
Good news #2: We see the message going around the globe. I recently returned from Ghana, where we  trained church leaders, focusing on a strong emphasis on grace. I know of a number of other "free gracers" who have traveled or will soon travel. And I know of many around the globe, such as a friend of mine in Nepal, who receives grace-based theological training via the internet. Incidentally, in most of the places I've been outside the U.S., the predominant issue has not been reformed theology but rather eternal security.
 
Good news #3: "The mission of the Free Grace Alliance is to connect, encourage, equip and lead the body of Christ to advance the grace message throughout the world." In order to better connect with one another, we will soon be unveiling a "members only" page on our website. One link on this site goes to a new database we are using that will allow up-to-the-minute access to other members of the FGA. It will function like a "live" version of a member directory. And, there are some helpful tools for individual members. More information will be coming soon.
 
Good news #4: The 2014 Annual Conference is shaping up well! Don't forget to enroll by September 10 and receive a free coffee cup. As an avid coffee drinker, I am thinking about enrolling twice!
 
Good news #5: This year marks the tenth anniversary of the FGA!
Of course good news does not preclude a headache or two. It is no surprise that the Free Grace movement in general and the Free Grace Alliance in particular has its detractors. Recently, a well known reformed theologian publicly criticized both in two separate settings. And, as mentioned above, he is scheduled to critique the "problem" of Free Grace Theology at the Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting in November. Unfortunately, some of his critique misrepresented Free Grace thinking. And he's not alone - others have also criticized us while painting an inaccurate picture of our position. Equally unfortunately, ETS declined an FGA member the opportunity to present a workshop defining and defending Free Grace theology. Of course this theologian is free to disagree with Free Grace thinking. But we hope that he would critique an accurate picture of Free Grace theology, not a caricature of it. We wrote a paper which we sent him (and also made available to FGA members) to clarify and explain our position. Only time will tell whether he represents a more accurate picture of Free Grace in the ETS session.
 
While our primary focus should be teaching and promoting grace positively, we sometimes do need to address our critics. When we do so, we need to do so graciously and accurately.  And in all we do, let's "share grace graciously!"
 
Walking with you in grace,     
 Roger Fankhauser, D.Min.
 FGA President   

Monday, July 7, 2014

President's Update July 2014

After having great intentions of writing something each month, I find I am behind a month or two. Please forgive my tardiness! I have lots of excuses that I won't bore you with, but some of them are legitimate!

I want to briefly address four ideas this month.

First, how is the Free Grace message getting spread? I am leaving for Ghana two days after writing this and I know others of you travel to other countries. We'd like to know where you are going! Our mission is to "connect, encourage, and equip," and hearing about what God is doing through your work is a great way to encourage and be encouraged.  I know of trips either "on the books" or recently completed to Ghana, Finland, Burundi, Ukraine, Nepal, Philippines, India, Honduras, and Papua New Guinea. I'm sure there are others. Drop a note on Facebook and/or send a short write-up to our blog master, John Correia (pastorjohn@westgreenway.com), and we'll post it on the blog! Let us know, too, if you are involved in a church plant or other work. We need more Free Grace churches on our own soil! A couple in my church is being transferred to another city in which no Free Grace churches exist (well, to be honest, no Free Grace churches I that I can find). And if you have published something promoting Free Grace, let us know about that as well. In other words, let us know anything you are doing to promote Free Grace!

Second, mark out Oct 13th - 15th for our annual National Conference. This year's theme - "What's God Got to Do With It? - The Divine Side of Salvation" promises to provide fascinating sessions and discussion after the sessions. Dr. Norm Geisler will be our special guest this year. Come if you can! And if you cannot, think about attending a regional conference - or even better, hosting one. Contact us and we'll send you the information you need to set up a conference.

Third, we have had a lot of "behind the scenes" activities going on. We recently sent out a first draft of our directory to everyone who is an active member. If you did not receive the information, has your membership lapsed? Join (or rejoin!) us (http://www.freegracealliance.com/join.htm). In the months ahead, we hope to improve our ability to connect with one another. We have some other activities in the works but which we can't yet comment on. Pray for us as we move ahead on these.

Fourth, even though our overall goal is to positively promote the Free Grace message, sometimes we have to get involved in "fire fights." Some of these we choose not to participate in; others we choose to. Recently, as many of you know, a well-known reformed theologian chose to point out publicly the errors he perceives in the Free Grace message and in the FGA in particular. Some of what he said is based on a misunderstanding of Free Grace theology. We are crafting a response for him to help point out those misunderstandings, without attacking him or his theology. We know many disagree with the Free Grace message we promote, but we want to help them understand our position.  We tentatively plan to send this response to all FGA members for their awareness and for them to use as they see fit.

The more work I do related to promoting the simple message of Free Grace, the more I am in awe of the God of grace and the incredible message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Thanks for all you do to promote this incredible message. Keep on connecting, encouraging, and equipping!
In His grace,

Roger Fankhauser, President

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

And a Good Time Was Had By All!

Three speakers talking free grace and discipleship; 70+ people in attendance; great facilities; delicious lunch. And it didn't hurt that a bald eagle flew over us as I was standing in the parking lot after the conference! The leadership of Lacey Chapel did an outstanding job hosting an FGA regional conference recently (April 30th) in Lacey, WA (although I don't think they are directly responsible for the eagle).
What is Lordship salvation? What is the difference between "salvation" truth and "discipleship" truth? What is the true cost of discipleship? How can we "do" discipleship? Drs. Jack Lewis (of Moody Bible Institute, Spokane, WA), Charlie Bing (GraceLife Ministries, Burleson, Texas), and Roger Fankhauser (Burleson Bible Church, Burleson, TX) each spoke, followed by an intriguing Q&A! By the end of the day, those who already held a free grace view were encouraged, and those who did not hold a free grace view heard a solid explanation of what free grace is all about. It's hard to believe so many good things could be packed into one day!
Of course, it is almost impossible to describe a day like this. There is something about being there, in person, that adds so much more. To those who attended the conference, or knew about the conference and prayed for the day, thanks!

For those who could not attend, look for one in your region. Can't find one? maybe you can be the coordinator! We have guidelines to help you set one up. Contact Charlie Bing, the FGA coordinator for regional conferences, for more information (ccbgracer@aol.com)!



Monday, March 3, 2014

 Fight Fair!

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." (Eph. 4:29, NASB)
2But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20, NASB95)
In any theological debate - whether face-to-face, in writing (journals or books) or even on Facebook, the debaters can easily slide into "the ways of the world" in their approach. This last week, I read or heard two different attacks against free grace in general and, included in the attacks, each criticized the Free Grace Alliance. Such attacks are nothing new. And, like most attacks, the attackers did not "fight fair". Both attacks made incorrect statements about free grace theology, both employed emotional arguments to make their position sound stronger, both used weak logic in some of their arguments.
What they said isn't important here, we address that elsewhere. What I do want to address is, how do we fight the fight? We will face theological challenges, some significant, some less so. But no matter how serious the issue, I hope this principle rises to the top:
Practice grace when talking about grace (or any other topic, for that matter).
I know when I am attacked my initial response is to fight back. The trick is learning to respond differently; to "give grace to those who hear."  I'm not saying harsh words are never necessary, but usually I jump to such words far too quickly. How can we "give grace" and "heap burning coals on their head?
(1) Know your opponents viewpoint. Too often I am too busy defending my view without understanding the other's view. I get irritated when they misrepresent me; it is no longer a "fair fight" if I misrepresent them. If you are really brave, summarize to the other person what you understand their view to be. You might be surprised by their response!
(2) Avoid pejorative terms. In the Lordship / Free Grace debates, those we call "lordship" often refer to our position as "no Lordship" or "cheap grace".  Some labeled the position of Zane Hodge's, et al, as "the crossless gospel". Such terms do not promote discussion; they denigrate both the position and the person who holds it. Granted, the position may be untenable, but we still need to avoid pejoratives!
(3) Avoid bad logic! I've had people say, "If you hold the FGA position, then you believe x, y, z". They then knock down x, y, and z. The problem with their conclusion?  I don't believe x, y, or z! For example,  "If you hold the FGA position, then you believe you can do anything you want"! That's only partially true - I do believe I can do anything I want without fear of hell, but I do not believe I can do anything I want with no consequences, perhaps including severe discipline from God (Heb. 12). Be careful to avoid bad logic when debating someone else's view.
I hope those outside the FGA, will see us differently. I want us to be known as people who believe in free grace (whether or not the person agrees with that view) and practice grace when addressing people and issues. I've heard far too many people shy away from the Free Grace Movement because they perceive too much in-fighting. Let's not be legalistic about grace; let's practice what we preach. We do need to take a stand on certain issues; we need to takes such stands graciously.

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear."

"Just make sure it's your ideas that offend and not you, that your beliefs cause the dispute and not your behavior." (Gregory Koukl, "Tactics"). *



Walking with you in grace;
Roger Fankhauser, D.Min.
President, FGA



* I highly recommend this book to challenge our thinking about how we address those with whom we disagree, Christian and non-Christian alike. Greg Koukl, Tactics, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).


 

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Time of Transition by Dr. Fred Chay

Times of transition cause one to contemplate the state of things. Having been with FGA since its inception, on the FGA council for 6 years, serving as president for the past 4 years, and now having recently stepped down to hand thing off to Dr. Roger Fankhauser, I thought I would reflect on where we are and what has changed. 

Although it is true that we are not in danger of the Lordship salvation debate abating soon, it does seem that there has been a subtle transition in the Lordship camp. It seems that we have seen the moving away, slight as it may it be, from the “frontloading” error evidenced by the early works of the Lordship persuasion demanding that faith be attendant with remorse and a repentant change of life evidenced by obedience, full commitment and total surrender as a condition for receiving the free gift of eternal life.

The subtle transition is seen in that the focus has now shifted to the “back-loading” of the gospel with the fixation on assurance being gained through obedience, submission, and a committed life of holiness to validate the faith on the front end. As to which is worse, I would suggest the former is a far more significant theological problem. It is not that the latter is not worthy of great debate; it is!  But removing the frontloaded elements allows the purity of the free gospel gift of eternal life not to be compromised when presented as “faith being the only condition” to the question being asked, “What must I do to be saved?”

I would suggest that the FGA is partially responsible for this transition within the Lordship camp. The force of “Causation” is hard to determine and there is often more than one change agent involved in the movement of ideas. However, I sense that the Lord has utilized many of the resources whether books, articles, papers and sermons as well as personal dialogue, produced by FGA members to influence and impact  those in the Lordship salvation camp. Of course the greatest asset has been the fervent and diligent prayer by many of our members asking the Lord to lead His Church into all truth.

Let us be thankful for “small victories”.

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay