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19:59 Thu 17 Apr 2014

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The “Grace Revolution”, Hyper-Grace, and the Humility of Orthodoxy

I've come across a handful of people recently who won't pray the Lord's Prayer, because they think it's old covenant. They think confessing sin is introspective and legalistic, and asking for forgiveness from God results in works-righteousness, insecurity, and self-obsession. According to them, it would be incoherent for Jeremiah to prophesy that our sins would be remembered no more in the new covenant, and for us still to ask for forgiveness once the new covenant had come. The Holy Spirit doesn't convict us of sin, there is no real difference between conviction and condemnation, confessing sin is something you only have to do when you first become a Christian, 1 John 1 is written about unbelievers, and the Lord's Prayer is not something we should pray this side of the cross. Interesting.

There are people like that in all sorts of churches, whether or not you’ve come across them. The self-description for the theological movement as a whole is the “grace revolution”, and it’s being fuelled by well-known preachers like Rob Rufus and Joseph Prince. From what I can tell, there are a whole host of things these guys are saying about grace that are thoroughly orthodox, and extremely helpful; that was certainly our experience as a church when Rob came to us five years ago, and in many ways I find it awkward to challenge anyone whose main purpose in life is to preach about the scandalous free grace of God (which, I hope it goes without saying, I absolutely affirm and delight in). But there are also some emphases, particularly some of those I’ve just highlighted, that are patently unbiblical and demonstrably unorthodox, and have led to it being described by observers as “hyper-grace”. Whether they are “heretical” or not depends on whether the people in question know that their views are unorthodox, but from what I can tell, most of them do, and think the church needs reformation on this point.
 
Some readers will be inclined not to take this particular quirk of the “grace revolution” very seriously. (Again: I’m talking about the whole not-asking-for-forgiveness thing in what follows, rather than the theological movement in general, much of which I celebrate). The universal church has prayed the Lord’s Prayer for two millennia, and will continue to do so long after the proponents of this particular theological fad have moved on to glory and discovered their mistake; it is a heavily enculturated phenomenon, resulting from a fusion of hyper-Lutheranism and Western therapeutic individualism; and biblical scholars of all stripes will easily debunk the very shaky exegetical foundations on which it rests, particularly its absurd treatment of 1 John and Romans. But although all of this may be true, I have found myself wrestling with it. Not, I should say immediately, because I think it holds any theological water - on some counts it is almost indefensibly ridiculous - but because it is growing in popularity in charismatic circles, and more importantly, because it raises the interesting question of how we engage with and appraise new theological ideas when they emerge at a popular level.

Here’s what I mean. If a new proposal emerges at an academic level, there is a very clear mechanism for establishing whether it should be accepted or not. Extensive research is done, a journal article or scholarly monograph is written, it is peer reviewed, footnotes and bibliographies are provided, a conference paper is presented and critiqued, and experts in the field assess the proposal on its merits. When a new idea emerges at a popular level, though - when, say, it is taught by an influential communicator who writes paperbacks, speaks on television and preaches at large conferences - these mechanisms do not exist. In fact, as I have discovered, they may explicitly be disavowed, on the basis that it was the intellectuals and eggheads in biblical times who rejected Jesus. So if a keynote speaker says that 1 John 1 is written about unbelievers, and substantiates it by saying the word “Gnostics” a few times and quoting a couple of Greek words, it does not count as an argument to say that all scholars would disagree. Of course scholars would disagree. The scribes knew their Bibles better than anyone, you see, and they still killed Jesus. Heads I win, tails you lose.
 
You are in a similar Catch-22 if you try and engage with the idea on the basis of church history. For someone like me, the fact that the universal church has always believed something carries enormous weight; if Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox alike have been praying the Lord’s Prayer together for two thousand years, then to claim that this is unnecessary, legalistic, introspective or sub-Christian is an extremely serious charge, the burden of proof for which is almost unreachably high. But at a street level, this can easily be dismissed as an argument, on the grounds that, after all, the whole of Christendom was wrong about lots of things in the Dark Ages, and somehow managed to lose the doctrine of salvation by grace for 1500 years, and the power of the Holy Spirit for nearly 2000. If the universal church has lost things like that before, then why not now? Historical consensus, then, isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
 
So how do we proceed? There is no way to squash this sort of thing altogether, as far as I can see; one of Protestantism’s great strengths, its stress on the individual believer’s ability to interpret Scripture for themselves, is also one of its great weaknesses, and the internet age has simply made the theological smorgasbord available to anybody, anywhere, much more quickly. Given that availability, some people will stumble across forcefully presented arguments for things they want to believe, by charismatic and gifted communicators, and some of those will swallow them. Clearly it is possible to stop it spreading throughout the church - clear public and private explanation, and where necessary, confrontation of those who are teaching it (if they are) - but how is theological dialogue to take place with those who are happily convinced, like the people in my church and probably yours? If the charges of unorthodoxy and exegetical implausibility do not have any traction, then what can be done?
 
Several things. (1) There is always an important place for patient, thorough exegesis, with a view to showing, for instance, that 1 John 1 does refer to Christians (although how anyone could think it wasn’t once they’d read 2:1 is unclear), that Jesus taught his disciples to ask God for forgiveness, that he then told them to teach others to obey everything he commanded them (which ought to debunk the whole “Jesus is old covenant” thing), and that none of the apostles saw any conflict between believing sins had been forgiven and asking for forgiveness. It may not be enough to persuade people, but it is still very important, and it models a text-centred approach to defining doctrine, which in the long run speaks volumes. (2) It is also important to clearly articulate a hermeneutic that makes our default position one of obedience to New Testament instructions, rather than assuming people understand why we don’t wear head coverings or rip our eyes out when we sin. If everybody began with the assumption that we do what Jesus said unless otherwise stated, it would be be much harder to argue against praying the Lord’s Prayer.
 
(3) We should be careful to avoid anti-intellectualism ourselves, whether or not we or our churches are naturally intellectual; instead of lumping Pharisees, scribes, New Testament scholars and Bible translators together as if they are all much of a muchness, we would do well to esteem scholarship, point out that it’s the only way we even have a Bible in English, and emphasise the vital role Christian scholars played in the Reformation. Lest we forget, the Pharisees weren’t actually Christians, which is a fairly significant difference. (4) Similarly, we have a responsibility, as leaders and teachers, to take issue with popular level distortions of church history (things went well in the book of Acts, then the wicked Catholics got in power and set up the papacy, and that led to grace, the Holy Spirit and the Bible vanishing into thin air for thousands of years, while the powers that be went around burning everybody), and replace them with more accurate ones (every generation has believed in grace, the Holy Spirit and the Bible; every generation has distorted or underemphasised some aspects of biblical teaching; some have done this more than others, especially when access to what the Bible actually said was very low; etc).
 
(5) It is helpful, when talking about theology in public church contexts, to stress consensus more than distinctiveness. If the diet of teaching in a church is repeatedly built around areas where other Christians disagree, then the impression given to the congregation, however unwittingly, will be that Christians disagree all the time about most important things. If it focuses mostly on areas of agreement, and only highlights issues of contention carefully and in an honouring way, then the impression given will be one of unity and solidarity with Christians from other backgrounds and centuries, and this will make unorthodox ideas less likely to gain traction. (6) We should talk about, and act in accordance with, our belief that elders in the church are the guardians of doctrine, and have a responsibility to teach sound doctrine and correct those who contradict it. Practically, this has implications for the way we do Sunday teaching (in our case, elders either deliver or check in advance the content that is taught), the theological education of the leaders (since if this is lower than some in the church, credibility is much harder to achieve), and even the way we do membership courses or equivalent (such that new people understand our view of spiritual authority). None of this will ensure that odd ideas don’t pop up; they should, however, stop them from spreading too far, which is a major concern of Paul’s in the Pastorals. (7) We need to remember that when theological discussions are happening, the debate is taking place at two levels: what people believe to be true, and what people want to be true. Teacher-types will typically focus on the former, but we need to recognise the very important place of the latter, and present the biblical doctrines as attractively and captivatingly as possible. The reason this particular idea has spread so quickly, I suspect, is because so many Christians who say they believe in grace don’t really seem that happy about it, and live in practice like they are still under the law.
 
(8) Finally, and perhaps most challengingly for Charismatics like me, it is helpful to think about and talk about the humility of orthodoxy. Being orthodox, in the sense of affirming what the vast majority of Christians in history have believed, is fundamentally a posture of humility, for it involves believing that the untold millions of faithful Christians, leaders and theologians have been guided by the Holy Spirit into all the truth. It can often be presented as if orthodoxy is heavy-handed, authoritarian dogmatism, and unorthodoxy or heresy simply represent the humble and impish whippersnappers trying to get their gentle voices heard - but in general, there is an arrogance to believing that you are right and almost everyone else is wrong, especially when the “everyone else” includes Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Wesley, Barth and co. That doesn’t mean we can never challenge an orthodox consensus, of course; it would be naive to act as if the church’s historic teaching had never been wrong. But when we do, we must do so from a position of humility, and give the benefit of the doubt to the weight of orthodoxy. Luther began the Reformation, remember, by objecting to an egregious abuse (the sale of indulgences by John Tetzel) that was demonstrably unbiblical and which had not been practised by the vast majority of Christians in history, not by announcing that everyone who lived before 1517 had denied justification by faith.
 
The reason I say this is particularly difficult for Charismatics is that our controlling narrative, at least in its mass market incarnation, can easily sound like a tale of How Everyone Got It Wrong Until We Came Along. The church banished the Holy Spirit to the doldrums, but then we came along and restored him to his rightful place (even if we did call him “it” a lot of the time), and the church responded by kicking us out. The church used to be legalistic, but then we showed them what grace looked like in practice. The church used to be governed without any reference to biblical patterns, until we started doing things properly. And although I have it on good authority that a lot of British churches in the 1960s and 70s were rather dull, lifeless gatherings which had lost confidence in the gospel and were not pursuing a Spirit-filled life as they could have been, the facts remain that (1) the Holy Spirit has been powerfully at work throughout Christian history, and we certainly did not discover spiritual gifts thirty years ago, (2) every Christian in history has believed in grace, even if some have uprooted legalism less comprehensively than others, and (3) telling the story like this makes it sound like novelty, rather than fidelity, is what we should be pursuing, and the fact that something is orthodox has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not it is true. All of which makes contending with novel, unorthodox and even bizarre theological developments becomes much harder, since it involves sawing off most of the ecclesiological and theological branches we have been sitting on for twenty centuries, and thereby implying that doing so is a necessary part of keeping the church on track.
 
Roughly translated: in order to deal with new ideas, particularly ones which emerge at the popular level and are not subject to the normal checks and balances, we need to exegete carefully, presume obedience, honour scholarship, portray history accurately, stress consensus, esteem eldership, teach winsomely, and emphasise the humility of orthodoxy. It may not stop people from picking up funny ideas from time to time, but it should help them see that the real “grace revolution” they’re looking for happened a long time ago in Israel, and is showing no signs yet of fizzling out.
 
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Author’s Note: It has been wisely pointed out in the comments that I shouldn’t attribute views to Bill Johnson on hearsay. The post has been amended accordingly.

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    By Darren Blaney on 02/01/2013 at 10:27

    Thanks Andrew. Very helpful and balanced corrective. And graciously done

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    By James Haslam on 02/01/2013 at 11:15

    Excellent stuff Andrew.

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    By Liam Thatcher on 02/01/2013 at 12:26

    A great article - much needed!

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    By Malcolm Brooks on 02/01/2013 at 13:04

    Thanks Andrew for a very thoughtful and thought compelling piece. I’ve never been happy with praying the Lord’s Prayer, but not because it’s ‘old covenant’ or such like, but rather it always seems to be prayed as a mantra – ‘Ourfatherwhichhartineheaven…amen’ in a monotone. Did Jesus mean us to pray these words? Or rather, did he want us to pray using this as a guideline – glorying God, asking for needs, asking forgiveness, forgiving others, asking for help. I’ve always felt that this is a better way of looking at it. We are all subject to variations of ‘familiarity breeds contempt’, so varying it will make us think.

    There are also your points about church history, new doctrines and so on. I agree that we are too likely to believe what history tells us (it’s written by the rich and powerful) rather than realising that God has His witnesses in all ages, even if they are only heard about when they are persecuted (and even then, their beliefs are perhaps misrepresented, as indeed, Luther’s were). Of course, the church got it wrong – even Luther nods (to misquote the Greek proverb); he called James the book of straw because of the verse ‘faith without works is dead’ (or have I misremembered that?).

    Paul tells us to work out our faith in fear and trembling. I’ve always felt that this means we should seek to understand the basis of our faith ourselves, not accepting anything that’s told us (even by Andrew Wilson! Or me!!) without thought or looking for the biblical basis of such statements. Of course, we need to listen to those who are over us in Christ, that’s why we are put in churches.

    I like these blogs. They are often challenging, making me think about my own beliefs and their basis. I can put in my two pennyworth (like now), but most of all, I have to change when what has been said shows me that I’ve been wrong. Will I pray the Lord’s Prayer in future? If I do, I will try and do it with thought (even if that means I don’t keep up with everybody else!). But I will also try and make my personal prayer life like it as well rather than just dashing off a few words about some people and things, in a mantra like way.

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    By Andy Moyle on 02/01/2013 at 15:39

    Thanks for this - very helpful!

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    By David Wilson on 02/01/2013 at 17:12

    There is another way to respond to this kind of assertion.

    “Forgive our sins” is only the first part of the clause in question. We need to remember that the whole sentence is not, in fact, asking God to forgive all of our sins unconditionally.

    “Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
    is much more powerful than that. It’s not about asking God for grace we already have - we’re calling ourselves to account. If we aren’t passing on God’s gift of grace to the folks we encounter along life’s way, we are indulging in a rebellion against God. The prayer is therefore giving us an opportunity to forgive others.
    Personally, I would say that if we don’t have sufficient grace to do that, we probably do need to ask God for some of his.

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    By Tim Gibson on 02/01/2013 at 18:12

    Excellent stuff. I have encountered a growing number of my church members who an influenced by this hyper-grace teaching (from Joseph Prince mainly as I pastor a church in Singapore). I totally agree with your analysis and find your 8 point approach very, very helpful. Thanks so much :-)

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    By Dave Trigg on 03/01/2013 at 08:34

    Thank you so much for this Andrew, it is greatly appreciated.

    Like many, I was introduced to Rob Rufus when he came to speak at the Leadership Conference. I was stirred up by his messages and started to follow his ministry closely. I learnt a great deal from Rob about grace but as time went on I started to question what I was hearing (i.e. “Christians don’t need to repent”). The turning point came when he preached a message on Christians not having to ask for forgiveness any more due to the New Covenant (this was when he first introduced his 1 John interpretation). I stopped listening to him from that point, though I have occasionally dipped in to his teachings since then but, sadly, found them to be more and more off-base.

    The thing I find most troubling about this is that as far as most in the pew are concerned, Rob Rufus is still endorsed by NewFrontiers even though he is teaching false doctrine. Until your post I’d never heard anyone in NewFrontiers warning people to be careful with Rob’s teaching or with similar ministers such as Bill Johnson, who takes Hyper Grace to a whole new level (his ‘culture of honour’ for instance essentially leads to a practical denial of 2 Tim 4:2 in that no-one is corrected or rebuked because that’s not showing ‘grace’).

    Sadly, we’ve even had people leave our church because of this issue. The problem is that there are many young and immature believers who run to this type of teaching and are unable or unequipped to be able to discern theological error. I think as a family of churches this is a big challenge for us and your post is a timely reminder of the need to bring careful exegesis and appropriate correction Sunday by Sunday. Thank you.

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    By Andrew Wilson on 03/01/2013 at 09:59

    @Dave: thanks for your comment; most encouraging. I have, as it happens, heard Terry Virgo issue some caution on this (he used the term “hyper-grace”, I think), so I’m not the first - but very encouraging to hear it’s been helpful.

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    By Dave Trigg on 03/01/2013 at 12:11

    @Andrew: Great to hear that Terry is acknowledging the problems with this movement. I just hope the concerns filter down to the local church level - it would certainly help clear up the current confusion amongst those who still follow the teachings of Rob Rufus and Bill Johnson et al.

    By the way, let’s not be put off embracing radical grace by those who distort the message. One preacher who I think is really striking the right balance is Tullian Tchividjian. He is zealous for preaching the scandalous free grace of God but remains biblical and orthodox. I think we can learn a lot from his approach.

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    By Mark Heath on 04/01/2013 at 17:55

    Thanks for this excellent article Andrew. I share your concerns with some of the on the ground implications of “hyper-grace”. One is that people can completely refuse to admit that they are ever in the wrong. If you challenge their behaviour in any way, they interpret it as an attack of Satan. Another is the assumption that since God loves us and accepts us, then it must follow that “God doesn’t care what you do”, or that “God isn’t a judge” (these are phrases I’ve heard in contributions in various meetings and are generally met with a round of applause despite being indefensible biblically).

    As for the “How Everyone Got It Wrong Until We Came Along” attitude, I can’t help but feel that this is a bit of the spirit of our age getting into the church. The new atheists are saying pretty much the same thing.

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    By Paul Stanley on 05/01/2013 at 09:17

    I have never come across this hyper grace thing or the message that you talk about and if that is the message being preached then it is helpful to guard the sheep regarding it. We do however need to be careful about tarring ministries with a large brush on hear say. You mention a few names but say that you “have heard” about Bill Johnson. If you are just passing on a third party comment then I am not sure this is wise. Don’t mention someones name and therefore tar their entire ministry as being false teachers without finding out first.
    Someone mentions the culture of honour as a message that you cannot challenge anyone. That is just not true. I have read Danny Silk’s book and listened to the teaching and the message is about the importance of effective and loving confrontation. In fact they would address and deal with people more quickly and in a far more loving fashion than any NF church I have ever seen. Since hearing this teaching it has helped me to be quicker at confronting people and dealing with the root issues in people’s lives in order to avoid the hideous moment when it all blows up because you have avoided the situation for years out of fear.
    Let us love our brothers by bringing correction to them personally and protect our sheep by teaching them biblical grace. We can do both of those without needing to use the Internet to blacken people’s names. We must remember that as people we love to judge. I have had to teach in the past about grace pride, that is, we have it right, you have it wrong, therefore it is ok for us to bad mouth every church in town. Grace should produce love and humility not judgement and pride.

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    By Anthony Hilder on 05/01/2013 at 20:08

    Great article, thank you!

    Just a quick (first-time!) comment. I’m actually based at Bethel currently, so am very familiar with Bill Johnsons teachings, writings and the culture here. I’ve never heard anything taught even close to “hyper-grace” - in fact, I was present in a sermon whereby Bill Johnson actually spoke out against it.

    Kris Vallotton (Bill’s right hand man) also speaks very plainly about the need for repentance in the life of the believer. Bethel aren’t shy about the need for correction & challenge - in fact, responding to an earlier comment the “culture of honour” in essence teaches that as we are all made in the image of God, we should look to honour one another by equipping and encouraging each other in such a way that we can step into the fullness of all that God has for us in terms of calling & destiny. That means that on occasion, the most honouring thing to do is to challenge or admonish each other. Failure to do so isn’t loving or honouring our brother or sister.

    Just for context, I grew up in Newfrontiers, have completed Impact (under Andrew), Wordplus and Leadership Training. So I’m here at Bethel with a solid Reformed-Charismatic heritage. Whilst I don’t agree with everything I’m seeing & hearing at Bethel, I’ve not encountered anything concerning in the teachings of grace or repentance.

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    By Andrew Wilson on 06/01/2013 at 13:09

    @Paul: that’s a very helpful correction, and you’re absolutely right - “I’ve heard” is not the right way of doing this (especially in the light of Anthony’s subsequent comment). I’ve asked for it to be changed in the text, and that should come through as soon as our editor is online. Thank you.
    @Anthony: very helpful remark, and a relief to hear! :)

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    By Dave Trigg on 07/01/2013 at 09:10

    @Paul Stanley If you want to hear Rob’s teaching on 1 John first hand, rather than relying on hearsay, then you can find it here:

    Rob Rufus: Do Christians Need To Confess Their Sins To God?
    http://www.citychurchinternational.net/mp3_2/2008_06_08.zip

    As for Johnson’s ‘culture of honour’ it seems that I have been misinformed, so apologies and thanks for the correction. However, I see a lot of things that go on at Bethel that seem to be way ‘off’ but I never hear Johnson bring any correction.

    @Anthony Hilder: Considering you are currently part of the fellowship at Bethel have you ever heard Bill speak out against the practice of ‘grave sucking’, where people go to the graves of famious saints to receive impartation and annointings? This photo shows Bethel students at the grave of Evan Roberts: http://bit.ly/ZerEWM I know many who are concerned about this practice.

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    By Tracey Price on 08/01/2013 at 10:52

    Thanks for this really helpful article Andrew. You mention about elders being ’ guardians of doctrine and have a responsibility to teach sound doctrine and correct those who contradict it’. What if elders are introducing and endorsing this ‘hyper-grace’ teaching into their churches and it is coming from the leadership, rather than from church members?

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    By Anthony Hilder on 10/01/2013 at 10:42

    @Dave Trigg
    I’ve never heard explicit teaching on the practice you mention, but I think that we need to be wary of assuming that all practices of Bethel students are endorsed or encouraged by Bill Johnson. We probably all have people under our leadership whose actions wouldn’t be consistent with our own teachings or practices, nor would we want to be judged on their actions alone! It’s also worth considering that Bethel have Pentecostal roots, so there will be theological views that differ to many within Newfrontiers. The ‘grave-sucking’ (a loaded term if I’m honest!) could be connected to a different view of anointing. Passages that speak about the woman touching the hem of Jesus’ garment, Paul’s handkerchief and specifically Elisha’s bones are interpreted as showing that anointing is transferrable - similar in principle to the teachings of impartation and the laying on of hands. I think the core belief is that the power of God is not dependent on human agency and can therefore still be accessible.

    @All
    This opens up to a wider issue. As believers, teachers and leaders with a more Reformed perspective we have to ask a responsible question: if we disagree with an interpretation, how do we interpret those same passages? It’s never a problem to disagree, but it’s important to be well-reasoned, measured, considered and scriptural. Otherwise we fail to do our research, risk listening to hearsay and rumours, and from a place of misunderstanding or ignorance put a thick red line through entire ministries. I’m not advocating accepting all things without weighing them, but I am saying it’s a credible and respectful thing to ensure we are wholly and truthfully representing a brother’s teaching before we bring correction. Thank you Andrew for modelling this to us in your original article and subsequent amendments.

    With this in mind, my fear is that we can be quick to label someone as a false teacher when in reality we only differ on a secondary or even tertiary issue. I’m nervous that out of zeal for right doctrine, we throw the baby out with the bathwater and miss out on opportunities to learn from another’s insights. The fact is that historical Reformed theology and our modern-day Charismatic views and practices are uncomfortable bedfellows. None of the major Reformed giants we rightfully love could easily be called Charismatic - Luther or Calvin, to name but two. Yet we’ve decided, through our own scriptural interpretation and experiences, to develop our own beliefs and practices that differ from these great saints. Even in Newfrontiers, we differ from influential thinkers we esteem. We probably all own Grudem’s Systematic Theology - but I bet not many of us share his views on modern day apostleship. John Piper has shaped our soteriology and understanding of the glory of God with books like Desiring God. But is he on the same page as us with spiritual gifts? Likewise is a current favourite, Tim Keller? Or Driscoll? Or Chandler? Yet none of us would say that these men of God are false teachers.

    My point is this: we are already selective in what we choose to accept from other’s teachings. We might not know all that someone is teaching; we may not understand fully what they are teaching; we may not agree with everything that they are saying. But none of this makes it appropriate to label someone a false teacher. If we want all of what God has we must be open to what could well be another expression of the work of God’s Spirit in his Kingdom. We could learn much thereby enriching ourselves, our own ministries, and the sphere God has entrusted to us.

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    By Andy Webb on 13/01/2013 at 18:59

    I’m after sound theology as much as the next person. I’m wary of an approach that separates thinking and leaders into different buckets and requires those learning to choose one bucket or the other.

    I’ve not yet met anyone who claims to have a theology that’s 100% correct, and most would agree that God intentionally reveals himself in part to all of us and we all have something to bring to edify others.

    Elements of a number of different expressions of theology from different streams don’t sit comfortably alongside my own journey and understanding at this time. I also have a lot of respect for others who are seeing God to amazing things, bringing freedom and truth to thousands and with whom I share unity in the faith even if we don’t all think the same. In fact, different approaches and revelation bring strength and freshness rather than stagnation. Sometimes that means handling and letting go of some ways of thinking on the way as God brings ever clearer revelation and if the journey is a little bumpy.

    I’d encourage you to check out the following free resource with different contributors - there are some helpful and well made points based on biblical grounds rather than merely popular opinion.

    http://citychurchinternational.net/ryan/LivingGrace.pdf

    As one well known preacher says ... ‘Don’t eat the bones’. If you find a particular view or approach gives you indigestion, stop eating. If it’s not from God then clearer revelation WILL emerge and anything not hitting the mark will pass away as the kingdom continues to increase. If it is from God then it will come round again for the same reason.

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    By Deanna on 07/07/2013 at 01:09

    I can tell you have never, ever listened to Joseph Prince. I’ve been listening to him for nearly 4 years. He has NEVER said we aren’t to ask forgiveness. Highly doubt you even know anything about the man.
    Stop being judgmental of a man of God whom you never listen too.
    SMH

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    By Timothy James Gibson on 08/07/2013 at 10:14

    @Deanna - I have listened to a few Joseph Prince messages and it’s enough to detect his errors. He has a fundamental misunderstanding and redefinition of grace leading to faulty theology concerning repentance and the like. Go to http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/a-review-of-destined-to-reign-by-joseph-prince for a good breakdown of his errors in his book Destined to Reign.

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    By Lance on 30/08/2013 at 08:46

    It seems to me that any positive attention God would show toward man would, by definition, be radical.  Anything less, would hyper-trivialize human transgression or severly diminish God’s holiness.  The God/man relationship is not an equal partnership -it is not even 99.9% to 0.1% -it is 100% God.

    It says in Corinthians that “God has chosen the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no flesh should boast in His presence”.

    It is either radical grace, and God gets all the glory, or it is something less, and man reserves some glory for himself.  Iwould rather err on the humility side of things.  Who does the work?  Me or God?  It is clear from scripture that He is the alpha and omega, the author and perfector, the fulfillment of the law, and the end of the law to righteousness to him who believes.

    Any theology that focuses on man, and that includes church history as a basis for measuring truth, has missed it!  Alas, its always been the problem -this human-centered religion stuff. 

    It needs to be all about Jesus.  And that is why I appreciate the radical grace message because it puts the focus on Him. 

    He has “given us all things pertaining to life and godliness”.  We don’t have to walk around obsessed by sin, and trying to live holy.  He gives his beloved children everything!  Amen to that, otherwise, what chance to we have.

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    By jim on 25/09/2013 at 01:52

    I think this type of respectful, open discourse is very helpful to ensuring church othodoxy. It promotes prayerful, i hope, examination of our individual beliefs when new teachings or emphases arise. Since the new emphases are being challenged, in humility, it behooves us in wisdom as believers to “test the spirits” amen? Likewise, those who are leaders and elders of our faith can check themselves, in humility, and prayerfully ask for Gods insight in to some emphases that ARE annointed and of the Spirit. As one aptly put it, if it IS false teaching, it will pass. Many expected the Pentecostal “movement” to die, and yet here we are. Do i believe everything that is taught amongst Pentecostals? No. I dont agree with everything Charles Stanley preaches either. Yet those who are Bible scholars should take care that its not a matter of. “If you dont believe like me youre believing false doctrine”. We all can be tempted by pride yes?
    That being said, I believe this exchange shows that those who have commented indeed know the love of Christ and His light shines in us all. While we debate what did Jesus mean, realizing our human need to understand, and realizing the eternal importance of correct theology, we can love each other in truth as we all seek to rightly divide His holy word.

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    By Brian Midmore on 08/11/2013 at 09:24

    An important issue in the debate seems to be ‘what does it mean to fall from grace’.  For the radical grace teachers this means only returning to the law, which they understand in a very hyper Lutheran way. However grace is not only obtained by faith but also through humility ,God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, 1 Pet 5.5. To receive grace we need to be repentant, penitent and contrite before God and his Law. If we are proud and sinning we exclude ourselves from God’s grace.  The man in 1 Cor 5.5 is an example of someone who would need to confess and repent before he could return to the spiritual security of the church and God’s grace. God requires us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with him. Mic 6.8.  Matt 6. 14-15 states that we must forgive others or else remain unforgiven.  Again the grace of God is only received if we are contrite before HIm, in other words in a place where we love mercy and are humble and just to forgive others.  Do we need to confess every sin to gain forgiveness, of course not, but we do need a broken and a contrite heart. Ps 51.17

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    By Deborah A. Nelson on 30/12/2013 at 21:13

    Thank you for this article, Andrew! I heard on on our American TV, Sid Roth’s TV Program, “It’s Supernatural” a man, Dr. Michael Brown, talking about Hyper Graceism today.  Totally surprised me as to his ideas and beliefs.  Of course, he did not name names but I was pretty sure he was speaking of Joseph Prince and perhaps Joel Osteen.  (I had never heard of Rob Rufus.)  Of course, in the US, we have many, many TV programs condemning Radical Grace so I am bombarded by all of this controversy. Your article gave some very very good points. I have to say….I really agree with 99% of what Joseph Prince preaches….even if the naysayers say that this Hyper Grace IS the end times deception! Thank you again.

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    By JT Wong on 23/03/2014 at 04:39

    As an ‘ordinary’ Christian, I would very much like to embrace fully the grace of God as anything less would make life a much difficult journey.I believe whether it is hyper grace or simply grace is a matter of perception and individual faith. It is not about law vs grace or law mix with grace and what is right or what is wrong. Our minds is capable of self deception through our very own imagination and perception depending on our motives and perceive destiny.
    God is concern about our sin because sin leads to death whether in the flesh or eternal. His desire is we have faith in His Son Jesus as our saviour. He also wants us to live a responsible life towards ourselves, our neighbours and towards Him. His laws are written in our hearts and the Holy Spirit is our guide. We don’t have to make excuses to believe this or that. Come to God with simple faith, in sincerety and trust in His goodness and be very patient. Meditate on that which is good and disassociate with what is not.

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