A Critique of Lordship Salvation

We have gotten a number of questions regarding Lordship Salvation and the historic, reformed position on it. So, today, that is what Jon and Justin talk about. We talk about concerns over the definition of faith, the collapsing of law and gospel, and confusion on the uses of the law. We interact with John MacArthur’s book, “The Gospel According to Jesus,” as well as Michael Horton’s “Christ the Lord.”

Semper Reformanda: The guys talk more on uses of the law–and how confusing the first and third use of the law is particularly damaging. Justin also offers thoughts on how some Puritan theology is unhelpful.

Resources:Podcast: Law/Gospel Podcast: Are You a Legalist or an Antinomian

FREE EBOOK: Safe in Christ – A primer on rest

Giveaway: “Christ the Lord” by Michael Horton

SUPPORT Theocast: https://theocast.org/give/



Podcast Transcript

Justin Perdue: Hi, this is Justin. Today on Theocast, we are going to be talking about lordship salvation. Many of you have asked us questions and have even asked us to give the historic Reformed take on lordship salvation—and so that is what we are going to offer in today’s episode. We hope you enjoy the conversation.

Today we’re talking about lordship salvation. The title of this episode is A Critique of Lordship Salvation. That’s what we’re going to be doing from a pastoral perspective. Hopefully with grace and clarity, we’re going to raise some concerns that we have, as Reformed guys, with so-called lordship salvation. For many people at the pop level, at least, in the church, a figure that is most often associated with lordship salvation is John MacArthur. This podcast is not a review of John’s book that’s entitled The Gospel According to Jesus, but we will be interacting some with that content and some of the other things that MacArthur has said and written over the last 30 years or so.

We will also be referencing Christ the Lord, which was edited by Michael Horton. There were a number of guys that contributed to that volume: Robert Godfrey, Rod Rosenbladt, Kim Riddlebarger, and others had chapters in that book. That’s a response from a Reformed and confessional perspective to the lordship salvation debate that was really, really heated back in the late eighties and the nineties. Inevitably, we’re going to interact with some of that material. This podcast is not a review of that material specifically. We’re going to be talking about lordship salvation in a more broad way.

If we were going to define it just very simply for people, lordship salvation is this conversation about the idea that you can make Jesus your Savior but not your Lord—or is it even possible for Jesus to be your Savior, but not your Lord? There’s this distinction that’s introduced between those two things as though he can be one or thought of as one without being the other.

And of course, the argument from the lordship salvation side or John MacArthur’s side, and guys and gals who agree with him, is that you cannot make Jesus Savior without also consciously making him Lord of your life. And so we’re interacting with that idea and that language that’s often used about submission to the lordship of Christ; what we understand that are at best confusing things that are said from that camp.

Maybe we want to start by outlining the debate as it took place historically just to give people a little bit of context. In the eighties and nineties, there was a debate between John MacArthur and Zane Hodges. Zane Hodges was articulating a kind of theology. His book Absolutely Free articulated this theology that a person is justified by a single act of faith. Now, Hodges is coming at

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