The Gospel of the Christ by Thomas L. Stegall

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Stegall, a former member of the Grace Evangelical Society (p. 21), has written a massive (almost 800 pages) book challenging the relatively new understanding of the gospel as promoted by Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin.  The subtitle says it well, “A Biblical Response to the Crossless Gospel Regarding the Contents of Saving Faith.”

According to Stegall the crossless gospel proponents, as stated by Hodges, believe “all forms of the gospel that require greater content to faith in Christ than the Gospel of John requires, are flawed” (p. 31).  Using John 6:47 as the essence of the gospel (p. 86), crossless adherents believe that “a lost person can receive eternal life by ‘faith alone in Christ alone,’” yet without needing to believe in or even know about Christ’s person and work (p. 32).

In order to come to this conclusion, crossless teachers twist numerous Scriptures from their obvious soteriological meanings to fellowship or sanctification issues.  For example, forgiveness is not a soteriological issue but a condition needed for fellowship (p. 54).  Similarly, repenting is not a requirement for eternal life but a condition for Christians to escape God’s temporary, physical judgment (p. 60).  The book of Romans, in turn, is about escaping the wrath of God for believers not about salvation (pp. 416-417).

Stegall has obviously done extensive research, writes well and scores high marks on much of his exegesis.  On the negative side the book is far too long.  Not many people will bother to read an 800 page treatise on a narrow position on a theological issue.  In order to write so much on the subject the author is quite redundant, chases many rabbit trails and exhausts not only his subject but also his readers.  A more concise 200-page volume would have accomplished the same end and more people would read it.

Overall I believe The Gospel of the Christ is a most helpful analysis of an alarming position on the gospel being taking by a few prominent leaders. 

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