Friday, March 11, 2016

Hyper Grace: Sin and conviction of sin, sanctification

Brown's next charge against the hyper-gracers is that they deny that believers should confess their sins to God, with a focus on their denigration of 1 John 1 as being a polemic against the Gnostics. In this, Brown is absolutely correct that the hyper-gracers have invented from thin air a false context for 1 John 1, a text which in fact is directed to Christians, contrary to what the hyper-gracers say. Brown's next charge is that the hyper-gracers deny that the Holy Spirit ever convicts people of sin, and that the repentance demanded of believers is merely a change of mind (based upon the distortion of the meaning of the Greek word metanoia and cognates). To the former, evidently the hyper-gracers deny John 16:8-10 among other texts. To the latter, Brown basically threw the books (lexicons etc) at the anti-intellectual hyper-gracers, who pretend to be scholarly and use Greek words, while distorting the actual meaning of these words.

The next area of Brown's critique concerns hyper-grace's essentially perfectionist understanding of sanctification. Hyper-gracers are perfectionists, denying the need for progressive sanctification. Living the Christian life to them is "effortless," the subject of Brown's critique in chapter 9. Here, Brown's critique of the necessity of progressive sanctification, and of actually striving towards holiness (Brown, 91-148) is appropriate.

Perhaps the most disturbing within the hyper-grace camp is the radical and outright heretical conclusions some of the leaders are taking the movement. In his chapter "The New Gnostics," Brown detailed some of the even more heretical stuff that some hyper-gracers are promoting in order to preserve their perfectionism. According to one blog post written to counter Brown, and now cited by him, the author Michael Reyes claimed that he was not the one sinning but just his "flesh" (Brown, 229). Hyper-grace teacher Ryan Rufus is criticized by Brown for saying that Christians no loner have a sinful nature (Brown, 230). Even more disturbing is the mysticism of hyper-grace heretic John Crowder, who brazenly comes up with a version of union with Christ that has Christ replacing the believer and thus sinning is impossible for the believer, an error worse than that of Andrea Osiander and more akin to pantheism.

The last major error criticized by Brown lies in the hyper-Dispensationalism of the hyper-gracers. In this area, there might be some overlap with the anti-Lordship free grace camp. Andre van der Merwe attacked the Old Testament as being a book of confusion that shouldn't be added to the New Testament (Brown, 168), an assertion that is plain ridiculous and shows he has no idea how the canon of Scripture was formed. Van der Merwe made that statement because, like Marcion, he does not like the Old Testament's 'god of wrath.' Other hyper-grace teachers are less overtly Marcionite. Prince for example distorts 2 Corinthians 3 to claim a contrast between the Old Testament as being a book that brings death and thus not applicable in the dispensation of grace (Brown, 201; Prince, 43, 92-3). Hyper-gracers claim that the Mosaic Covenant is in essence a covenant of law (works) since the people rejected God's grace and wanted law (Brown, 193-6, Prince, 222-4). Thus, Christians can disregard most of the Old Testament since we are under the new dispensation of grace. All of these follow the path of the heretic Marcion and are to be rejected.

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