As I dialogue with believers across a large spectrum of theological perspectives, it is clear that we often talk right past each other, disagreeing with each other before we even understand each other. Just as often, we uphold our own beliefs by misrepresenting the positions we reject. This does nothing to advance true understanding or dialogue.
While writing Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message, I read the books of the key teachers very carefully, praying that God would show me blind spots in my own life, that he would expose any legalistic thinking within me, and that he would open my eyes to any grace insights these teachers had that I might be lacking.
I did not see myself as God's policeman, and even when a position seemed extreme, I tried to consider the point the author was making rather than reject it out of hand. (To be candid, some positions were so extreme and unbiblical they had to be rejected out of hand.)
I also interacted with some of the key hyper-grace leaders, sharing my differences, making sure I understood them correctly, and even offering to send them parts of Hyper-Grace in advance to be sure I was representing them fairly.
And I listened carefully to the testimonies of those who had been transformed by the hyper-grace message, wanting to be careful to affirm the life-giving truths they had received while correcting the errors that often accompanied those truths.
It is against this backdrop of careful, prayer study and interaction that I present four of the most common hyper-grace fallacies.
1. The reason people reject the hyper-grace message is because they don't understand it. I've heard this objection repeatedly, only for hyper-grace adherents to explain to me exactly what I already knew.
Why can't the disagreement be based on real substance? And with all the claims of a new grace reformation, is it any surprise that committed believers who love the Lord and love the Word are questioning this allegedly new insight into the Scriptures, one which has supposedly been hidden for centuries?
I have stated repeatedly that every hyper-grace teacher I have listened to or read has stated clearly that the message of grace does not give us a license to sin. And I have affirmed with them that the more we love Jesus, the less we will want to sin. Absolutely!
Yet hyper-grace teachers and adherents will constantly say to me, "How dare you say we are giving people a license to sin. It's obvious you don't understand our message."
To the contrary, it is because I understand the hyper-grace message that I reject those parts of it that are unbiblical.
2. Those who reject the hyper-grace message are grace haters. This is as foolish as claiming that those who reject counterfeit money are money haters. (To be clear, I'm not calling the hyper-grace message a counterfeit message, since it contains much wonderful truth; I'm simply making a point by using an analogy.)
Of course, it's convenient to castigate those of us who reject the hyper-grace message, calling us grace-haters and worse. But that's no better than me saying, "Those who embrace the hyper-grace message are holiness haters."
Do accusations like this do anyone any good?
In reality, it is because we love the message of grace that we are concerned about the hyper-grace message, since it represents an exaggerated, distorted form of grace.
3. Rejecting the hyper-grace message means going back into bondage and legalism. It is certainly possible that some people who reject the hyper-grace message swing to the other extreme and fall into legalism. (I describe legalism as rules without relationship, standards without a Savior, and laws without love. In short, legalism is externally imposed religion.)
The fact is that there are plenty of us who reject the hyper-grace message and live without a trace of condemnation, enjoying the goodness of God and responding to that goodness with a life of joyful obedience, walking in glorious, non-performance-based freedom, reveling day and night in the Father's love.
But we reject the hyper-grace message because it teaches biblical falsehoods which pollute the message of grace and, over time, can lead to backsliding and spiritual shipwreck
4. The reason pastors and leaders oppose the hyper-grace message is because they want to control people and make money off of them. This is one of the most ugly, judgmental, fear-inducing comments imaginable, but I actually hear it a lot.
Ironically, some of the leading hyper-grace teachers have become bestselling authors and grown large ministries by preaching hyper-grace, yet their followers don't accuse them of doing it for money. How interesting! For the record, though, I don't accuse them of teaching hyper-grace for financial gain. Instead, I believe they teach it because they believe it to be biblical, just as I reject the teaching of hyper-grace because I don't believe it to be biblical.
Mocking social media comments like this one, attacking those of us who reject the modern grace message, are all too common: "We must restore the TRUTH of the trinity to the Church: Money, Bible and Minister. We will lose our hold over people and our private jets if we don't."
Those who believe such nonsense evidence a lack of grace in their own lives.
The bottom line is that Jesus said that the truth sets us free (John 8:32), and if the message of hyper-grace is not true, as I and many others contend, then it is by rejecting that error and embracing the full testimony of God's Word – thereby embracing God's true grace – that freedom and liberty will come.
That also means rejecting these common hyper-grace fallacies.