Here we go again. Zane Hodges has written another article defending his "crossless" gospel. One person said several days ago that Hodges has been quietly studying the Word and not engaging and interacting at blogs. It may be true that Hodges is not posting at blogs, but it seems obvious that he is either reading or is being informed of the goings-on. This article seems to be an attempt at a rebuttal of sorts to his detractors, although it is too short to contain much in the way of real discussion. Instead, the article ends up "preaching to the choir" and falling far short of any kind of well-reasoned defense of Hodges' position... actually it only exposes just how weak his position really is.
There is much I could bring up about this article, but I will try to summarize. I see three primary errors in Hodges' latest article. First, he errs regarding his critics. Errors in this area abound throughout the article, which is why I say that this article seems to be rather polemic. Hodges starts out right from the beginning by attempting to attach a label to the view of those who oppose him - "theological legalism". This quite clearly seems to be an attempt to "get back" at the use of the label "crossless gospel" for his view. It really just comes off as rather juvenile, sort of, "oh yeah, well, I can call you a name too, so there!" Playing this word game is silly and unnecessary.
Hodges then resorts to trying to cast HIS view as traditional Free Grace theology, and claims that requiring the lost to accept Jesus' death and resurrection is "recent" and "co-opt[s] Free Grace theology"! This is beyond ironic. Zane Hodges is the first Bible teacher I've EVER heard teach that a person could be saved without admitting their sins and believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus. If anything is "recent" here, it's Hodges' fringe view. Even some Crossless Gospel advocates often call those of us who oppose Hodges on this point "traditionalists" or "traditional free grace". A view cannot be simultaneously "recent" AND traditional! Hodges is simply going for shock value and well-poisoning to get the reader on his side. This is actually a repeated tactic throughout his article. Hodges tries to make it sound as if his view is the normal, older, common view, and that we have suddenly showed up trying to change things. In fact, the opposite is actually the case. It is ridiculous and utter nonsense to claim that Free Grace theology has always held that the lost only need to believe that Jesus can give them eternal life, and that WE'RE the ones coming along and changing things! The opposite is clearly the case, as any reader of Charles Ryrie can testify. Tom Stegall did a great job setting forth the "traditional" Free Grace view quite some time ago in Part 1 of his series, The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel. Even Dr. Earl Radmacher, who was at the center of a recent Crossless Gospel controversy, is quoted from his book Salvation, "How readily some fall into the trap of adding requirements to the Gospel beyond simply believing that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead." Apparently even Dr. Radmacher did not think that requiring the lost to believe that Jesus died and rose again could be considered "legalism". Hodges is only deceiving himself if he thinks that his view is "traditional" Free Grace, and that it is a new thing to require the lost to believe in and accept Jesus' death and resurrection.
Further, Hodges sets up a strawman by trying to portray those of us with the "traditional" view as if we require some kind of complicated test before a lost person can be saved. He says that if "the legalist" doesn't tell people what they must believe, "no one will ever figure it out!" As if we have some long, complex crossword puzzle of assorted items that the lost must guess at to figure out how to be saved. I'm sorry, but acknowledging that we're sinners and believing in Jesus' deity, death, and resurrection are hardly hidden concepts in Scripture. Reading the Gospels, you can't miss those things. They're quite obvious. Many, many people have "figure[d] it out" just fine. He seems to be trying to convince readers that accepting Jesus' death and resurrection as payment for our sins is somehow difficult to decipher from the Scriptures. Apparently Hodges is stumping for the popular, yet arbitrary and non-biblical, "the simplest gospel wins" argument. No one has explained yet why it is that the 'traditional' gospel is rejected solely for not being "simple" enough (and of course, "simple" is quite relative and subjective, as I've pointed out in the past... what's "simple" to one may or may not be "simple" to another).
Later in the article, Hodges includes a list of things Jesus never specifically asked anyone to believe. He makes it seem like traditionalists include all (or many of) these things as requirements for the lost to believe. Of course, this simply serves as shock value and another strawman, to try to get the reader to agree that the lost don't need to assent to everything on that list for salvation, when no one is suggesting that. Again, Hodges seems to think that requiring the lost to believe in Jesus' death and resurrection is tantamount to requiring them to pass a seminary exam. If he can't see the difference, then there's not much else that can be said.
At the conclusion of the article, Hodges claims that traditionalists "communicate to the unsaved person that he can only be saved if his doctrine is correct ... [and] make[s] him wonder, 'Did I believe enough doctrine to be truly saved?'" The issue of having our doctrine correct for salvation unnecessarily broadens the point. As if traditionalists require every minute doctrinal point to be correct. It is not a matter of doctrine per se, it is a matter of correctly identifying the person and work of the Savior who paid for our sins. Wondering "did I believe enough?" isn't unique to traditionalists and can happen to an RFGer too, i.e. "did I really believe I could never lose my salvation?" We all (should) mature and grow in our faith and understanding, such that we look back on our times of immature understanding and wonder if it was enough. Hodges' attempt to castigate his critics for something that applies to everyone, and to cast his view as "traditional", clearly fails.