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