Evans, Lutzer, Swindoll: An Evang-elastic Gospel
Preachers like Anthony T. (Tony) Evans or Charles R. (Chuck) Swindoll may appear to stand for truth and the Christian gospel, but if their teaching on salvation by grace allows a professing Christian to continue in willful rebellion against God’s moral law without fear, they destroy with one hand what they attempt to build with the other.
“Fundamental Christianity in our times,” noted A. W. Tozer, “is deeply influenced by that ancient enemy of righteousness, antinomianism.”1 Enemy of righteousness indeed. The term Dr. Tozer used, antinomianism,sounds like a confusing, theological term. It simply means, however, against law. Antinomianism is the lawless teaching of an antinomian. Have you ever heard the term dear reader? If not, you’re not alone as most in the modern church have not. Dr. Tozer, who hosted Moody Broadcasting’s “Talks From a Pastor’s Study” throughout the 1950’s, continued…
The creed of the antinomian is easily stated: We are saved by faith alone; works have no place in salvation; conduct is works and is therefore of no importance. What we do cannot matter as long as we believe rightly. The divorce between creed and conduct is absolute and final. The question of sin is settled by the Cross; conduct is outside of faith and cannot come between the believer and God. Such, in brief, is the teaching of the antinomian.2
The teaching of the antinomian? Shouldn’t A.W. Tozer have written, “Such, in brief, is the gospel?” I mean, what he describes seems like the teaching of many modern teachers. “Works have no place in salvation.” Surely all of us have heard or even said such things, yet A. W. Tozer, who was a featured guest at Moody Bible Institute, labeled such teaching as “antinomian.”
The word antinomian comes from the Greek words anti meaning against and nomos meaning law. The antinomian is against God’s law. The antinomian is lawless. Though many modern teachers such as Anthony T. (Tony) Evans, Charles R. (Chuck) Swindoll, Erwin Lutzer and many others would never plainly speak against God's law or promote lawlessness they are still antinonian in doctrine. Martin Luther originally coined the term. He used it to describe the distorted, grace abusing theological views of Johannes Agricola, a former student. Agricola, like the preceding teachers (as well as the institutions that support and promote them namely, Moody Press, Moody Radio and Dallas Theological Seminary) misunderstood and therefore misrepresented the true gospel themes of salvation by grace, justification by faith and freedom from the law.
“Art thou steeped in sin, an adulterer or a thief?” queried the zealous Agricola. “If thou believest, thou art in salvation.”3Antinomian teaching is an abuse and misunderstanding of thefreedom provided for in the gospel. It is unscriptural and unhistorical. Martin Luther’s treatise, Against the Antinomians, exposed and argued against the dangerous teachings of Agricola. The antinomian teacher exchanges gospel “liberty for an occasion to the flesh” (Gal 5:13). Clearly, “the divorce between creed and conduct is absolute and final,” as Tozer wrote, in both the gospel according to Johannes Agricola as well as that of Anthony T. (Tony) Evans, Charles R. (Chuck) Swindoll and Erwin W. Lutzer. Consider the following minute sample from what is available from these esteemed teachers:
God accepts a Christian who persistently lives in sin, but God is not honored by the life of such a Christian.4
Regardless of how you choose to live you can’t live so bad that God says to you, ‘you’re no longer mine.5
Nobody is born a drug addict or a homosexual. Christians may be performing in these unacceptable ways, but that’s not who they are. It’s an identity issue.6
Dear reader, do you see the glaring similarities between the assertions of the heretic Johannes Agricola and the doctors of the modern church? Do you see that the accepted teaching of our day mirrors that of the theologically wayward Agricola? O’ that Martin Luther’s cry, “Antinomian!” fell from one million tongues in every quarter of Christ’s holy church, exposing every modern, lawless leader who again make faith without works alive by lending the “steeped in sin” a false hope of salvation!
Antinomianism is so deceptive because it is cloaked in gospel rhetoric. The ideas on which it is based (grace, justification by faith, freedom from the law) are indeed genuine gospel ideas. But these themes are pushed to ridiculous ends. High fiber diets are healthy, but if all we ever ate was high fiber we would be in trouble! Only when pushed to unscriptural extremes does grace eliminate works in regard to final salvation. Only when pushed to unscriptural extremes does freedom from the law make obedience optional to final salvation contrary to many passages such as Romans 8:13. “For if ye live after the flesh,” wrote Paul, “ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
Biblical truths do not exist in a vacuum. When we consider the subject of grace, the gospel, justification by faith and salvation we must base our doctrine on all the bible says on the topic. Antinomians emphasize certain biblical principles, but they emasculate others. Adding meritorious works of law to initial justification is lethal, but the rock upon which a faith without works crashes is no less lethal! The former is legalism and the latter, antinomianism. “It is always dangerous,” noted A. W. Tozer, “to isolate a truth and then press it to its limit without regard to other truths.”7 The antinomian isolates the idea of gospel grace and liberty without regard to related truths.
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar. Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? James 2:17-22
“To the antinomian,” declared R. A. Torrey, “who is boasting that he has faith and is justified by it, but who does not show his faith by his works, we must say ‘what doth it profit, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? Can that faith save him?’”8 R. A. Torrey succeeded D. L. Moody and did not teach what is currently pushed in the Moody name. Dear reader, antinomianism is the theological offspring of Satan's lying promise: “Ye shall not surely die.”
1 A. W. Tozer, Paths to Power, Christian Publications Inc.
3 Johannes Agricola, quoted in Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries, 9/2002, p.5
4 Erwin W. Lutzer, Failure The Backdoor To Success, Moody Press, 1976, p. 80
5 Chuck Swindoll, Shedding Light On Our Dark Side, tape sld 1A
6 Anthony T. Evans, Free At Last, Moody Press, 2001, p. 28
8 R.A. Torrey, What The Bible Teaches,Ages Software, Albany, OR.,1997, p. 286
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel LaLond Jr. is a seminary graduate, published author and bible teacher. LaLond, his wife of 23 years and their four children attend Living Waters Church in Grayslake, Illinois where he currently serves as an elder and worship leader.
The Lying Promise, published by DTG Books is Daniel LaLond Jr.'s latest book. With 400 pages, over 800 footnotes, 3 appendices and 2 indexes The Lying Promise tests the gospel according to several popular Christian teachers. For more information about Daniel LaLond Jr or The Lying Promise please visit http://www.defendingthegospel.org/.
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