Monday, September 20, 2010

A Valid Defense Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of my review of Rev Lou Martuneac’s revised and expanded edition of In Defense of the Gospel (IDOTG). If you haven’t read Part 1, please check it out before you continue. 

Having spent the better part of 3 years evaluating Martuneac’s views based on the first edition of IDOTG, and now examining his latest edition I’ve come to believe the work is worthy of my full recommendation. This review will continue to be more of an overview and introduction to his work, than a public evaluation. I hope it will inspire many to pick the book up and read it. I am confident it will be a blessing to every heart that hears what it says.

The first edition was a huge blessing to me at a time when I was vulnerable to accepting teachings simply because of the teacher’s reputation. Before I read IDOTG in 2008 I actually believed Lordship Salvation (LS) proponents must have had something more up their sleeves that I just hadn’t discovered yet. Many of these LS men are very intelligent and have an appearance of godliness. I believed this meant they must have known something that I didn’t. I had read, watched and listened to their teachings extensively and yet just couldn’t see why they came to the conclusions they did. Even still they were so popular, so well known, so well respected that they must have been at least partially correct. Right? What Martuneac did for me with IDOTG and what is all the more available for you in this new edition is freedom to evaluate a teaching against Scripture alone.

IDOTG is dispassionate with regard to the people who preach LS. It simply quotes many (if not all) of the most well known, most well respected LS teachers extensively and in context in order to compare what they teach to the Scriptures. The never ending cry from LS proponents is “Misrepresentation!!” but Martuneac gives LS proponents an uncompromised voice in his work. He does not silence any portion of their arguments, and answers what they are actually teaching with Scripture, not emotion or philosophy.  This is what makes IDOTG such a great tool to have in your theological woodshed, and what makes it such a godly gift to any Christian who is exploring the controversy, or has had Lordship Salvation taught to them by those who are most probably well-meaning Brethren.

The picture on the right here shows the corners of pages folded over in my copy of IDOTG at spots where I have found the most valuable points being made. Surely it’s obvious to anyone looking at this picture that I can’t cover that many points, and what should be obvious also is that there is much more in the book than even I have marked.  I do not know if Martuneac intends on publishing a third edition of this work, there doesn’t seem to be much need for it as the argument is well made in this edition, but if he does I hope he will include an index of arguments or perhaps a chart that could help the book be used as a quick reference.

Before Martuneac begins specific arguments he offers a helpful chapter about how to recognize LS teachers, and how to properly approach them with grace. Many LS teachers hide the fullness of their theology behind orthodox sounding phrases, but there is almost always something that will stick out.

The Bibliography of works cited in this 310 page book is nearly 4 full pages long alone, this should give the reader of this review an idea of the scope of IDOTG. Out of all that is covered in the book here are some of the arguments that I found most interesting and helpful. 

Does Regeneration Precede Faith?

Martuneac choose this heavy topic as his starting point noting that the LS definitions of faith & repentance cannot be exercised by an unregenerate person. What should be noted for those who are less familiar is that “regeneration” is merely a more technical term for being “born again.” John Piper is quoted;
“The native hardness of our hearts makes us unwilling and unable to turn from sin and trust the Savior. therefore conversion involves a miracle of new birth. Thus new birth precedes and enables faith and repentance...And so when we hear the gospel we will never respond positively unless God performs the miracle of regeneration. Repentance and faith are our work. But we will not repent and believe unless God does his work to overcome our hard and rebellious hearts. This divine work is called regeneration... New birth comes first and enables the repentance and faith of conversion.” 
This opening argument is foundational and so I’m sure this is why Martuneac tackled it first. However, in comparison to his other arguments his writing is weakest on this point. Choosing to write on refuting Lordship Salvation directly, he offers readers an excellent and complete argument against regeneration prior to faith in an Appendix written by Pastor George Zeller. So, in this chapter Martuneac spends his efforts in explaining the opposing view, and why this particular topic is so important and then takes full advantage of Zeller’s excellent work to shut down the false doctrine.

Next up, Martuneac discusses the differences between Salvation and Discipleship in the Scriptures. He notes that LS proponents will often tell a person to whom they are witnessing to “count the cost.” While many LS proponents use the language of a “gift” they talk of a costly salvation. A salvation that demands a price from the sinner. Here is part of a quote that Martuneac offers from Pastor Steve Lawson.  
“If you want to receive this gift it will cost you the total commitment of all that you are to the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many here who think they are saved, but are not; they have never really done business with God.” 
 And on the same subject from Dr. John MacArthur; 
“That is the kind of response the Lord Jesus called for: wholehearted commitment. A desire for him at any cost. Unconditional surrender. A full exchange of self for the Savior. It is the only response that will open the gates of the kingdom. Seen through the eyes of this world, it is as high a price as anyone can pay. But from a kingdom perspective, it is really no sacrifice at all.”  
Martuneac discusses the incongruence between these statements and compares the unified teaching of LS theology to the Scriptures. In the fight between LS theology and the Scriptures, can you guess which wins?

Can there be a Christian who is carnal? 

LS proponents would have you believe that modern preachers have come up with the idea of “Carnal Christians” to explain away the terrible behavior of many people who claim to believe in Christ. They tell us that this “new” idea is foreign to the Scriptures, is completely in violation of the Gospel that Jesus preached, and they say it is actually a symptom of decades of preaching “Easy Believism.” 

On page 101, which makes me think of all entry level courses such as Christianity 101, Martuneac starts a new chapter by doing what every God fearing Christian should do when faced with a question. He quotes Scripture to answer the question. 1Cor 3:1-4 Just like how he opened his the book by quoting the Gospel that Paul received directly from Christ and that all the Apostles preached and how that should end the debate over what the Gospel is... Martuneac now quotes the passage of Scripture that ought to end the debate about IF a Christian can be “carnal" or not.  

The rest of the chapter is dedicated to how the Bible and LS proponents deal with the implications of carnality. Martuneac quotes Dr. John MacArthur both saying that a Believer cannot have two natures because salvation brings about a radical change so that “The old man has ceased to exist.” and also how Romans 7 is “obviously a poignant account of a person’s inner conflict with himself, one part of him pulling one direction and another part pulling in the opposite. The conflict is real and it is intense.”  These incompatible quotes of John MacArthur are from the same book. 

After an intense rebuttal of the anti-biblical teaching that Believers do not still have their old natures along with the new nature of Christ, we come to page 121. This page number also sparks in my mind, though I doubt it was any more intentional than the chapter starting on page 101. On this page Martuneac offers. 
“Evidence of a changed life ought to be seen, to some degree, in the life of any genuinely born again man. There should be genuine evidence of regeneration and a new life born of the Spirit of God. I do not make room for and I do not stand for the loose living of professing believers. The sad reality, however, is that we will always have carnal Christians in our churches. These need to be counseled, prayed for and guided to live a life that is a shining testimony of the grace of God in their lives. The Christian will struggle with sin as he learns to ‘lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.’ Heb 12:1” 
Hebrews 12:1, on page 121. Coincidences like this aren't really important, but they make me smile nonetheless. :)

I had intended on covering the book in 3 parts, but it is clear now that I will have to do so in 4. In Part 3, I will cover Martuneac’s discussions of the doctrine of Repentance, the nature of “saving faith” and many of the hotly debated passages of Scripture that get brought out every time LS theology is on the table. Some of these are, of course; 1Thess 1:9-10,  Acts 2,  Acts 16, Acts 20:21, Mat 19:16-22 and Rom 10:9.   

1 comment:

Kevl said...


For all parts of this review (I expect 4 parts now) criticism of the review and/or IDOTG is welcome. However, claims about the work MUST include the following -

An accurate page reference and quote.

If it is a claim of misrepresentation then a full and verifyiable quote from the same work that Martuneac is referencing must be given along with accurate reference information.

Each of the chapters in IDOTG have pages of references. Each time another work is quoted there is a subscript number at the end of the quote. Use this number on the references page and you will find the work that Martuneac is quoting.

Do not link to other material.

If these requirements are not met in your post it will not be published.

I do not want to dimmish conversation at all, however, I'm not going to make readers sift through foolishness.