If you are reading this, welcome!
This blog is something that I hope can shed a new light on a situation that has broken out in certain parts of the Christian community, something that I like to call "The Free Grace Controversy."
This controversy is something I have been studying and following for the past few weeks, and I am now feeling ready to start publishing my ideas and opinions regarding the subject.
At the heart of this conflict between brothers and sisters in Christ is something that is being referred to as "the Crossless Gospel." On one side, and what is generally seen as the offensive, are Dennis Rokser of Duluth Bible Church, Tom Stegall of Word of Grace Bible Church in Milwakee, and another man named Lou Martunaec, who at the moment, I do not know all that much about. The message these three men are attacking is one supported by several people who have blogs here on blogspot, (such as freegracer and crossless,) and I believe, also supported by teachers such as Zane Hodges and Charlie Bing.
Before I go any further, let me state that I grew up in Duluth Bible Church, under the teachings of Dennis Rokser. For years, as I attended this church, I went to church every Sunday and Wednesday, memorized hundreds of Bible verses, and was as involved as any person who loves church would be. Unfortunately, just because I loved church, doesn't mean I had a relationship with my Heavenly Father. Yes, I knew I was saved, as I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior at a very early age, but I had no working understanding of what having a relationship with God really means. I would constantly be telling people, when they described me as religious, "I'm not relgious, I'm a Christian, that means I have a relationship with God." I believed that with all my heart. But I didn't realize that those people were right. Despite my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior, ultimately, all I was doing was following a system, trusting that if I did everything right in the system, then that meant I had a relationship with God. (That system meant going to church to hear the Word of God on a regular basis, obeying my parents, confessing my sins whenever I was "out of fellowship," and for me this was a constant struggle to stay "in fellowship.")
Over the past year however, I have come to understand what a relationship with God really means. It has nothing to do with my church attendance, or with how many verses I memorize, or with how often I read my Bible, if I'm just reading my Bible because I know I have to. For almost 15 years I sat in the blue chairs in DBC's auditorium, listening and taking the best notes I could as I listened to the Word being preached. And yes, the Word was preached, but my focus was always intellectual; making sure I had all the blanks filled in correctly, making sure I found every verse as we turned to it as quickly as possible, never questioning anything that came over the pulpit. Not that I was taught a litany of false doctrines, much of what I heard I still believe and stand on firmly, however I was never encouraged to study the Word on my own.
I do remember hearing Dennis say, more than once, "If you're not sure about what I'm teaching, read the Bible for yourself, it's right there." So yes, we were told to check what he said against the Scriptures for ourselves, but always with the connotation that whatever we found would support what he was teaching. His verse by verse teaching method made it extremely easy to just accept what ever was said, because he always supported it with a verse.
Let me clarify by saying that I don't think this method of teaching is necessarily wrong, but the fact that I was never taught to listen to the Holy Spirit within me compounded with this teaching method created in me a spirit of complacency. I never felt the need to study the Word on my own, because I thought I was being taught everything I needed to know in church. (Please note, I saw, and still see, reading the Word as very different from studying it.) I read my Bible on a regular basis, as I knew that was part of what I needed to do in order to be "in fellowship" with God. But I never realized that the reason I have the Holy Spirit, is so that He can guide me. Which includes giving me insight and understanding when I read God's Word.
It's getting late, so I'm going to stop this here, but let me state my main purpose of this blog. I am no longer a member of Duluth Bible Church, and I do not agree with their stand on this issue centered around the so-called "Crossless Gospel." While I do not completely agree with everything the people they are opposing believe either, I neither support nor agree with the way Rokser, Stegall, and apparantly, Martunaec, have been attacking them in order to defend their positions. Yes, they believe they are defending the Gospel, but by doing so, they are sowing discord among the brethren, simply because they haven't taken a good enough look at what it is they are opposing.
But to me, even that isn't the main issue. The main issue is that, on both sides, people have risen up on the offensive and defensive, attacking other brothers and sisters in Christ, and not only causing discord and distress, but causing stumbling blocks for those they could be giving a good testimony to instead. While the message we teach and stand on is important, nothing proves Jesus Christ's work, and the Holy Spirit's presence in our hearts more than our testimonies.
I hope to point people to their commonalities in Christ through this blog, and hopefully show how the discord is as much a problem as the issue itself. Yes, by all means, stand up for what you believe in. But for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father who abounds in grace and mercy, do so in love. We, as brothers and sisters in Christ all have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us; that is our commonality, and no disagreement should come between our ability to fellowship together around who we are in Christ: God's children.