Lordship Salvation

Theology Thursday - Zane Hodges on Lordship Salvation

In 1988, John MacArthur released The Gospel According to Jesus and the phrase “lordship salvation” rocketed into popular evangelical vocabulary. Of course, the debate had been simmering long before MacArthur published his book, but he helped turn the simmer to a rolling boil. Charles Ryrie published So Great Salvation, in 1989. And, that same year, Zane Hodges finished Absolutely Free! MacArthur and Hodges represent the two opposite sides of the spectrum in this war of words and theologial systems.

Here, in this short excerpt from his book, Zane Hodges introduces the issue from his perspective:1

It would be difficult to imagine a conversation like this between a father and his son:

Son: “Dad, am I really your son, or am I only adopted?”

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The Thessalonian Example and Three Views on Salvation

It is remarkable how much disagreement persists among otherwise likeminded believers regarding how one is saved. Presently there are three basic views (though even more subtle nuances) on how one receives eternal life: (1) the lordship salvation view, (2) what I call ultra-free grace, and (3) the free grace view.

Lordship salvation has been defined and popularized by John MacArthur as synonymous with discipleship. MacArthur says, “Those who teach that obedience and submission are extraneous to saving faith are forced to make a firm but unbiblical distinction between salvation and discipleship. This dichotomy, like that of the carnal/spiritual Christian, sets up two classes of Christians: believers only and true disciples” (John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, Revised and Expanded Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 35-36). MacArthur appeals to Acts 3:19 and Luke 24:47 for his definition of repentance as “turning from sin” (John MacArthur, Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles (Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 1993), 24.). These comments introduce major components of MacArthur’s lordship view: salvation equals discipleship, there is no such thing as a carnal Christian, repentance is a turning from sin, and consequently, believers inevitably must (and will) bear fruit in order to demonstrate they are saved.

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Ethos Statement on Salvation & Sanctification

Republished with permission (and unedited) from Central Baptist Theological Seminary. (The document posted at Central’s website in August of 2010.)


The faculty of Central Baptist Theological Seminary affirms that salvation is found only in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by virtue of His unique personhood, sacrificial death, and subsequent resurrection is the only one who possesses authority to save. The salvation of any soul is an assertion of Christ’s authority or lordship over sin and death. Therefore, we hold that the acceptance of Jesus as Savior implies the acceptance of His authority as Lord. No person can turn to Jesus as Savior while denying Him as Lord. The rejection of Christ as either Lord or Savior is wholly incommensurate with saving faith.

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