Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Voice from History: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There are times when the significant voices of the historical chruch must ring in our ears.  If we forget the lessons of our past, we lose touch with the heart of our heritage and that is a shame.  This reminder from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the twentieth century theologian, pastor, and spy, was spoken in his youth about the divide between the Lutheran church in which he flourished and the Roman Catholic Church that he was exposed to as a teen.  Nevertheless, if we hear these words they can apply every bit as much between the Free Grace Alliance and Lordship Salvation.  Hear the words!

 

Has this world [of the Catholic church [sic]] really remained the church of Christ? Has it not perhaps become an obstruction blocking the path to God instead of a road sign on the path to God? Has it not blocked the only path to salvation? Yet no one can ever obstruct the way to God. The church still has the Bible, and as long as she has it we can still believe in the holy Christian church. God’s word will never be denied (Isa. 55:11), whether it be preached by us or by our sister church. We adhere to the same confession of faith, we pray the same Lord’s Prayer, and we share some of the same ancient rites. This binds us together, and as far as we are concerned we would like to live in peace with our disparate sister. We do not, however, want to deny anything that we have recognized as God’s word. The designation Catholic or Protestant is unimportant. The important thing is God’s word. Conversely, we will never violate anyone else’s faith. God does not desire reluctant service, and God has given everyone a conscience. We can and should desire that our sister church search its soul and concentrate on nothing but the word [1 Cor. 2:12-13]. Until that time, we must have patience. We will have to endure it when, in false darkness, the “only holy church” pronounces upon our church the “anathema” (condemnation). She doesn’t know any better, and she doesn’t hate the heretic, only the heresy. As long as we let the word be our only armor we can look confidently into the future.[1]

 

I love this idea: “as long as we let the word be our only armor we can look confidently into the future.” Let us allow Bonhoeffer’s words to sink deeply into our ethos of discussion with our friends and family and acquaintances whose heritage and confession is committed to Lordship Salvation.  We stand upon God’s word, desire for our brothers and sisters to search their soul, and recognize the similarities we share and rejoice in them. 

 

That, my friends, honors Christ, stays true to our confession, and builds bridges of dialog that are far more fruitful than any amount of bickering or arguing can ever hope to do.

 


[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as quoted in Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson Publishers. 2010. Page 57. The bracketed text is original, except for the [sic].

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The President's Letter-March 2012

Greetings FGA Members and Friends,


The Free Grace Alliance is truly an alliance of a variety of people. Although we have many views in common regarding our theology, we have a variety of ministry venues and spiritual gifts that are utilized within the Free Grace Alliance. Let me give you a partial list of how some of you are mightily involved in proclaiming the message of God's grace. (I know that it is always dangerous when you give a list of names because you can never be complete or comprehensive, so please remember, this is only a representative list.)

Many of our members are involved in a variety of mission trips with a number of agencies. We are grateful for The Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association that has taken many Free Grace Alliance members to the Philippines and seen much fruit from a purely grace gospel in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people. Also, Grace Life, led by Dr. Charlie Bing, routinely travels to Africa to set up pastoral training programs. Their goal is to train indigenous pastors to carry on the work of ministry with a clear and gracious message. Many of you have gone on these trips and come back reporting a tremendous sense of God's moving. Finally, many local churches also regularly take mission trips to foreign countries to serve and share the Free Grace message.

There are many others who are engaged in the academic world. They seek to proclaim the gospel of grace within an academic institution and impact the next generation of pastors and ministry leaders. Institutions like, Grace School of Theology led by president Dr. Dave Anderson, Chafer Theological Seminary, led by president Dr. George Meisinger, Baptist Bible Seminary under the leadership of Dr. Mike Stallard, Academic Dean, and Free Grace Seminary with Dr. Mike Halsey as President, all have a distinctively Free Grace Theology. Many members of FGA teach at schools that are somewhat friendly to the Free Grace message, although not fully endorsing all of our theology. This would include schools such as Corban University, Moody Bible Institute, Arizona Christian University, Southern California Seminary, Dallas Seminary, Carolina Bible College, and Phoenix Seminary.

There are also many others who are providing both academic and popular resources to help the Free Grace Movement answer the important questions of the day. Dr. Ed De Zago, in Ohio, is working on a four volume, scholarly systematic theology from a totally Free Grace perspective. This will be a very helpful tool that will service the Free Grace Movement for decades. Pastor/Professor John Correia is working on a book helping to define, defend and show the deficiencies within both Calvinism and Arminianism, as well as presenting a Free Grace theological perspective. Pastor/Professor Sam Sacco is in the process of not only planting a new Free Grace church, but also is working on a book based on the Seven Churches seen in the Book of Revelation. Dr. Dave Anderson is working on a publication on Romans 5-8 and perhaps a second edition of his notes on a Free Grace Soteriology. Dr. J.B. Hixson also has provided his recent book, The Gospel Unplugged. Marty Cauley is continuing a massive research project on "The Outer Darkness" which will be coming out soon - we hope. Dr. Ken Wilson has submitted his dissertation at Oxford University in England for final approval. It is a massive work on the evaluation of St Augustine's theology. We hope it will be published soon. Finally, Dr. Jody Dillow is continuing the rewrite of Reign of the Servant Kings, a book that has been very helpful to the Free Grace Movement. We hope it will be out soon. I'm sure there are many others who are working on books, booklets and tracks, and I do not mean to convey a lack of appreciation for publications I do not know about. I simply wanted to give you an idea of what I do know about, and that I am very happy to see us all moving forward toward making the Free Grace Theology more visible and accessible. 

There are also those who are spearheading the work of evangelism training: Good Seed Ministries in Canada under the leadership of John Cross; EvanTell, led by Founder and President Dr. Larry Moyer is training up hundreds and thousands of people in not only the message of the gospel, but also a method to present it.

There are also those who are working on the technological side. John Correia is the FGA blogmaster and is helping us get into the 21st century with both blogging and tweeting. Jody Dillow and others continue to develop BEE International. Todd Mathis is in the research phase of a new technology that will provide both biblical and theological resources that will be readily accessible worldwide on the web.

I know all of us in FGA have a story, a ministry, and perhaps projects we are working on. For some, it is church planting, for others it is being a faithful pastor-teacher or elder. Some of you are mentoring while others are writing resources, teaching courses, or sharing your faith at home, at work, or on the mission field. All of this combined illustrates why "The Alliance of Free Grace Leaders", FGA, is an alliance of men and women committed to the gospel of grace and committed to encouraging, educating and connecting others so we can get the Free Grace message out to the world. 

 One of the ways we demonstrate that we are in alliance is by being a part of FGA. This involves membership. I know many of you have recently become members and many of you also have renewed your membership. If you have not reaffirmed your membership for 2012, may I invite you to do so. You can simply go to our website and apply for membership or renew your membership. You can also pay your dues at that time, whether you are a previous member or a new member.

Since we are a non-profit ministry, membership dues (and gifts) are our sole means of paying for administrative costs. Even our annual National Conference, which will be in Dallas this year October 8-10, is a non-income producing event. Our conference committee is already finalizing plans for this year's conference. We do hope you will put this on your calendar and plan to participate in this great time of fellowship and instruction with other FGA members and friends. 

In closing, please know the leadership of FGA is praying and working to grow FGA and improve its ministry effectiveness each year, for the benefit of the body of Christ to His glory. 

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, Ph.D.
President, FGA