What is Easy-Believism? – Monergism.com

Article from here.

The term “easy-believism” is a usually derogatory label, used to characterize the faulty understanding of the nature of saving faith adhered to by much of contemporary Evangelicalism, most notably (and extremely) by such Dispensational authors as Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges. The term was popularized in an ongoing debate between Hodges, to whose theology the label “easy-believism” was affixed, and John MacArthur, to whom the term “lordship salvation” came to be applied.

Essentially, the teaching of “easy-believism” (which proponents prefer to call “free grace,” or some similar term), asserts that the faith which saves is mere intellectual assent to the truths of the gospel, accompanied by an appeal to Christ for salvation (at the end of his life, Hodges embraced the even more extreme position that salvation requires only an appeal to Christ, even by one who does not believe the most basic truths of the gospel, such as his death, burial, and resurrection [which he clearly taught, for example, in “The Hydra’s Other Head: Theological Legalism,” printed in the Grace In Focus Newsletter]). According to proponents of the “free grace” movement (i.e. “easy-believism”), it is not required of the one appealing for salvation that he be willing to submit to the Lordship of Christ. In fact, at least according to some proponents, the person appealing for salvation may at the same time be willfully refusing to obey the commands of Christ; but because he has intellectual faith, he will still be saved, in spite of his ongoing rebellion.

“Easy-believism” is usually connected with Dispensationalism, which serves as a foundational theological support for it. According to classic Dispensationalism, the gospel which Jesus proclaimed on earth was a gospel for the ethnic Jews alone, promising them earthly rewards in the Jewish millennium for their works of submitting to and following Christ; and this “gospel of the Kingdom” is categorically different from the Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone which Paul later proclaimed. In this way, all of Jesus’ teachings that, if anyone is not willing to leave father and mother and take up his cross and follow him, he cannot be his disciple, do not apply to the gospel of grace, but only to the gospel of the Kingdom. But contrary to this flawed method of interpretation, there is only one gospel in the New Testament, which Jesus proclaimed on earth, and which his apostles likewise proclaimed throughout the whole world after his ascension. And this gospel declares that all who repent (that is turn from sin and rebellion to Christ the Lord) and call upon the Name of Christ in true faith will be saved. Even in Paul’s writings, moreover, it is clear that anyone who perverts the gospel of grace alone, and uses it to continue presumptuously in sin, is bringing just damnation upon himself (Romans 3:8).

In much of Evangelicalism, the flippant sort of “once saved, always saved” mentality, which denies that true grace will always prove itself in faith and works, is closely related to an “easy-believism” mindset, which suggests that intellectual belief alone, which does not go on to pursue a life of true holiness, is the kind of faith that saves (see questions 66-68 above). When the gospel is understood biblically, it becomes clear that both faith and obedience assume the prior existence of spiritual life. As J.I. Packer wisely commented, “sinners cannot obey the gospel, any more than the law, without renewal of heart.” Understanding this as foundational biblical truth, we know that salvation not only saves us from the guilt of sin but from its power.


Modern Antinomians Exposed! – Mainly INDEPENDENT FUNDAMENTALISTS

I have found the following men, movements, and churches to maintain a consistent stance against lordship salvation; and instead of that preach a false grace gospel of “faith alone” and antinomianism.

1. Zane Hodges
2. Charles Ryrie
3. Grace Evangelical Society (faithalone.org)
4. Ralph “Yankee” Arnold – Calvary Community Church – Baptist
5. John Ricci – Grace Christian Fellowship – Fundamentalist
6. Ryan Price – Fort Lauderdale Baptist Church – Independent Fundamentalist Baptist!
7. Steven Anderson – Faithful Word Baptist Church – Independent Fundamentalist Baptist!
8. KJV Only – Independent Fundamentalist Baptists – street preachers and “soulwinners”

About John Boruff

John Boruff is a husband, father, blogger, and insurance agent.
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32 Responses to What is Easy-Believism? – Monergism.com

  1. anon says:

    hey man if there is any event that you can outreach more than anywhere it is NC state fair going on right now in Raleigh from october 17 to 27 more than 1 million willl be attending the whole week and they need to be warned this will be the critical year of warning!!!!!!!! if you can bro gather your open air preaching buddies and go out and preach as much as you can!!!!!!!!!!! go everyday if you can exhaust yourself this is a critical event each year to warn them!

  2. I would also add Bob George and People to People Ministries as another antinomian group teaching a cheap grace gospel.

  3. Doug Stier says:

    So how do I understand this I’m going to trust Christ is my savior to get me to heaven so let’s use John 3:16 one of the most easiest versus in the whole Bible about salvation: and that is all you have to do is believe in. God will give to use the free gift eternal life. John MacArthur, if you’re out there, my name is Doug Stier and I will debate you anytime anyplace anywhere, because you take a very strong stand on lordship salvation: why don’t you take the time to teach truth, or I have something better: why don’t you go to Florida Bible College and hear the truth let’s get your act together sir, or resign your post as a preacher thank you this is Doug Stier; and I approve this message. Go Broncos.

    • John Boruff says:

      Hi Doug, John Boruff here. I’m the guy who runs this blog, wesleygospel.com. I’m an Arminian lordship salvationist: the only real area where I disagree with MacArthur is on once saved, always saved (Hebrews 6 and 10). I have a free e-book on my views of salvation in the E-Books section called The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of my views are identical to that of John Wesley and the Puritans, and in some ways, like Martin Luther (see his Commentary on Romans). Luther said that the book of Romans is “the purest Gospel.” I believe that justification is laid out in Romans 3-4; and sanctification through obedience to the moral law is laid out in Romans 5-8, 12-16. Check it out. Regarding the views of salvation quoted below, from Florida Bible College:


      The true child of God is not under the Law but under grace; he is saved by grace and disciplined by grace.

      –It would be good if there were some Scriptures or proof-texts here to back up these views. There are several different views of the phrase “not under Law,” but I would say that Christians who are saved by grace, and live by repentance and faith (Mark 1:15), are then by faith in Christ, led to obey the moral law of the Bible in the strength of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:4).


      Man is saved by undeserved mercy through faith and nothing of man enters into his salvation; it is a free gift. Man’s efforts, regardless of how good or well intended, before or after salvation, have nothing to do with it. Salvation is by the finished work of Christ and nothing can be added to it. Every true child of God possesses eternal life and is, therefore, safe and secure for all eternity, being justified by faith, sanctified by God, and sealed by the Holy Spirit; he cannot lose his salvation. Salvation is not the result of what we do, but is by receiving what God has done for us. Man can be certain of his salvation now, and his salvation cannot be lost because eternal life is eternal.

      –Sounds comforting, but hardly Biblical. Ignores the warnings of Hebrews 6 and 10; ignores “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”…of possibly losing it and going to Hell forever to burn (Philippians 2:12). Good works and man’s efforts don’t matter? Revelation 20:12: “I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” KJV says “according to their works.” Obeying the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount take human effort, but with the help of the Holy Spirit (Exod. 20; Matt. 5-7; Rom. 8:4). Obeying apostolic moral rules also takes effort (Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4-5). It depends on what stage of the Christian life you’re referring to. If you’re referring to that initial stage when a non-Christian becomes a Christian for the first time, then yes, all of his “works” previously done are like filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). But if you are referring to the Christian life in general, one that involves repentance (turning away from sin), faith in the blood of Jesus, empowerment by the Holy Spirit, gradual moral improvement, good works (Matt. 25:41-46), and obedience to God’s moral commands in the Bible, then that is called progressive sanctification, or the entire Christian life, like in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the journey to Heaven, which is a life of resisting temptations: the world, the flesh, and the devil (Eph. 6). Those who don’t live this way don’t use the power of the Holy Spirit, because they don’t have any (i.e., they are not really saved or born again of the Spirit).

  4. Trina S Barnes says:

    You Sir need to listen to ralph yankee arnold, he is not charismatic.

    • Papadeocho says:

      Trina, amen to Yankees’ concise Gospel. With ”Lordship” advocates, eventually it gets to ”i’m a better Christian than you are and you are not good enough to keep your salvation unless your as good(committed) as I am.” My obedience is out of gratitude, not fear.

      • John Boruff says:

        Romans 11:22: “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.”

    • Mark says:

      Amen, most people make salvation hard. That is why most are heading to hell.

      • John Boruff says:

        Peter said, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Hell is the eternal punishment for sin. Hell is not for the punishment of the devout, who give their lives and hearts to God, who walk in repentance and all of his commandments blameless. Antinomianism, the worst of all heresies, is the only theology that says so.

  5. Vestyn Ensign says:

    The Ralph Yankee Arnold type of Christians where you are saved by grace through faith alone in Christ alone is the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. if you are taking the Calvinists salvation approach (lordship salvation), its works based salvation. Hence your preaching a false gospel and gospel that is unbiblical.

    • John Boruff says:

      Everyone’s got to make a choice. Either no-lordship salvation or lordship salvation. Which is the true interpretation of Biblical salvation? I personally believe its lordship salvation.

      • Papadeocho says:

        I admire the zeal of many of the Lordship advocates. I see it as that they’re jealous for Jesus and the service that He is due. They are troubled at ”believers” who do not serve God as they deem necessary to REALLY be saved. I likewise encourage ”believers”,- that is those saved by grace through faith, APART FROM WORKS- to live with Christ as Lord of their life That indeed is the NT teaching to those who HAVE believed and ARE saved. What I oppose is adding conditions to the Gospel of grace through faith. See link http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/salvatio/lordshrq.pdf

      • Joe Cole says:

        Jesus is Lord whether or not I make Him Lord of my life (although Christians SHOULD make Him Lord of their life).

        Would you please explain to me what “free” means in Ephesians 2:8-9? Last time I checked free means free which means there are no strings attached and no obligation on my part whatsoever. I’m not speaking against obeying and following Christ (there is discipline for those Christians who don’t) but we’d better not mix in works with grace otherwise our salvation is void (Ephesians 5).

        Thank you, sir!

    • John Boruff says:

      In reply to Joe’s comment on Ephesians 2:8-9, I don’t know what translation you got “free” from, but I get your meaning. I would say this Scripture is referring to the first step, or the initial stage of salvation. The born again experience, the new birth, justification by faith alone, regeneration, whichever you want to call it. But I would not say it is referring to the Christian life in general–the process of sanctification and living by faith.

      • Joe Cole says:

        Hey good to hear from you!
        The thread I replied on is old enough I wasn’t sure if you were still monitoring it.

        Anyways, you are correct the word ‘free’ isn’t used but the word ‘gift’ is. And we all know that a gift is free (look at Romans 8:32 if you wanna see the word free). You accept a gift, you work for something you need to earn and we know we can never earn salvation.

        May I ask you this? What else besides Jesus’ death on the cross are you trusting in to get you into heaven? Please be specific.


      • John Boruff says:

        My trust is in Jesus’ cross, when my repentance and obedience fail me. But I wouldn’t apply the word “trust” to my repentance or obedience: that would mean I don’t know how to use the English language. Trust implies a level of confidence in something other than yourself. But it also implies a level of risk. What if Jesus is the wrong god? Well, I trust that he is the right one. What if the cross is just a hoax? Well, I trust that it is not. But I also trust that if the cross is what clears my conscience before God when I sin, then out of love and fear of God, it is my responsibility to try not to nail Jesus to the cross with my own hand more than is necessary. Because I love my Savior, why should I abuse the grace of God, and just keep nailing and nailing, and nailing him to the cross insensitively? No, I should try to stop joining the Romans in committing this heinous action. The flesh is powerful, but the Holy Spirit can give us the strength to stop doing it.

        Gift vs. Works. What is the nature of the gift of salvation? Is it like a GI Joe toy to play around with and just use our imagination? Or is it more like a car? I think salvation is more like a car: its a gift, our heavenly Father bought it for us and just gave it to us. It was very expensive, but WE are the ones who have to drive it for the rest of our lives. The gift of salvation is a kind of power from the Holy Spirit (the regeneration of our hearts), but it is WE who have to use that power in the performance of good works (Eph. 2:10). If you don’t use the gift of salvation, its like God gave you a gift, but you never unwrapped it, or took it out of the box to use it: so it is unused. And an unused gift is worthless, and may be even lost, if you are not keeping track of it anymore.

        Too many Christians get all wrapped up in the view that doing any good works as a Christian means that the idea of “earning” salvation is present. I don’t take that view, although for a year or so in high school I held that view, because I didn’t know any better. I think the Bible is more on the side of doing, performing, repenting, and obeying in view of loving God, fearing unbelief and Hell, and using the power of the Holy Spirit. Not earning any salvation, and especially not earning justification (or right standing with God), as the Catholics did in Luther’s day.

      • Joe Cole says:

        So based off of your answer that your trust is based on Jesus’ cross, when your repentance and obedience fail you is showing you don’t trust completely in Him.
        For starters, Galatians 5 states that if you mix in grace with obeying the law (works) then you are under the curse to obey the whole law and grace is of no affect to you. And nobody but Jesus obeyed the whole law.
        Secondly, in Matthew 7 Jesus condemned all those who said they did good works in His name and expected to go to heaven for that. They even called Him ‘Lord’. But He said “I never knew you”
        Lastly, I wouldn’t go too deep on what a gift is. A gift is a gift and you either accept or reject it. Once I accept it what I do with it is up to me but it’s a gift so it’s free and I can’t lose it.

      • John Boruff says:

        1. Galatians 5 has the Jewish minded people in mind. And they held to that Catholic type of view that obedience to God’s law was “earning” justification. I’ve already rejected that idea.

        2. Matthew 7 is about hypocrites who don’t love God in their hearts and only “obey” in an external sense, to be seen by other religious people.

        3. The Parable of the Talents tells me that gifts are meant to be used and turn a “profit” for God’s kingdom.

        The cross is the basis of my trust in God for salvation from Hell. But once that trust has been established, I believe the New Testament has such a high quantity of direct commands to Christians, that it is only natural to think we are morally responsible to follow those directions.

      • Joe Cole says:

        Right, Galatians 5 is written to that church because some were perverting the gospel and saying you needed to be circumcised and combine that with faith to be saved and Paul is saying if you combine faith with ANY works at anytime to ‘help’ with the saving process then grace is void.
        Matthew 7 are people who listed works they had done and were believing those works to gain them entrance into heaven. I’m sure they were very obedient people but they were righteous in their own eyes. It’s not meant to show people who didn’t ‘love’ God but those who didn’t trust in Him for eternal life but their own works.

      • John Boruff says:

        Just be careful, Joe, because it is a slippery tendency for Protestants to lean so much on ideas of justification by faith alone, eternal life, and once saved always saved–that they basically take it to mean they don’t have to resist the urge to look at porn, avoid filthy communications in their mouths, deception, and other types of “respectable” sins. Anyone who thinks that way has no real trust in the cross, at least in my book, because there is no change going on in their lives.

      • Joe Cole says:

        I’ll try and be brief but I used to believe similar to you and it was shear misery and insecurity. I obeyed God because I was afraid that if I didn’t it meant I was never saved or that He’d take my salvation away or something. Once I learned the truth now I obey because I love Him and for the first time I have joy and total security.
        I in no way promote living in disobedience because that says a lot about whether or not I love God but it doesn’t mean I’m not saved.

        Anyways good talking with you and I hope and pray you learn to trust in Jesus alone for your entrance into heaven…it’s the only way.

      • John Boruff says:

        Do you think my way of life makes me miserable? If so, you don’t understand my experience. I have peace in my heart, because I know I’m in right standing with God. I’m not a perfectly obedient son, but since I know that is my orientation, I know that my relationship with God is generally on good terms. I am not a God-hating, law-hating rebel in other words. Remember, the atonement of the cross is the basis for anything else that follows, and “his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). And I do trust in the cross of Jesus alone, as I have said already three times. But that in no way excuses me from obedience to his moral law.

  6. Mark Owen says:

    (“If ye love me, keep my commandments”)(*!❤*!)

  7. Mark Vicino says:

    How can you tell when you lose your salvation? Which sins do that, how many, how often, etc.? That’s not of grace, merciful nor eternal. You people are teaching sinless perfection. Are you aware of that? You are working to be saved. I don’t want to know a God that would tell me he has given me eternal life and then make me fear losing it along the road somewhere when I didn’t know it.

    • John Boruff says:

      Hebrews 6 and 10 have some answers, but the rest is a mystery, particularly the timeline question. It assumes that salvation involves a conscious awareness of God, and a faith that has a present-moment relationship with God: when that is lost, then it is time to be concerned. Unbelievers will not go to Heaven (Rev. 21:8). I don’t believe or teach sinless perfection as my “Faith” page clearly says. The “eternal life” phrase in the New Testament is usually interpreted by Baptists and Calvinists as meaning once saved, always saved–but every other Christian that is not a Calvinist–sees the “eternal life” phrase as life in Heaven after death (glorification, not regeneration).

    • Joe Cole says:


      I’m not surprised he couldn’t answer your question in his reply but I pray he sees the truth!

      • Joe Cole says:

        I mean, I Hope John sees the truth!

      • John Boruff says:

        I did answer his question or I tried to. I guess where I missed it was the idea of specific sins that cause a loss of salvation. Mark asked, “Which sins do that, how many, how often, etc.?” I would put the focus on the sin of unbelief or loss of faith, because it is by faith that we are saved (Eph. 2:8). This seems to be the main sin mentioned in Hebrews 6, 10, and also in 1 Timothy 1:19: “holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.” Loss of repentance (aka impenitence) and faith (aka unbelief) is definitely loss of salvation–that is abundantly clear in the New Testament. Whether its atheism or New Age or agnosticism or non-Christian religions and philosophies; or liberal Christianity.

  8. Matthew says:

    Be Careful in lumping all KJV Independent Baptists in one group. That is why we are independent. We are in no way associated with each other. There may be pastors that get together for fellowship, but Independent Baptists have no, I repeat no responsibility to each other. they are hint, hint, independent. so some may be Lordship churches, others free grace, and some in between, or some totally different I don’t know because I am independent.

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