Hyper-Grace Horror Stories

March 18, 2013
by Michael Brown
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Hyper-grace teachers frequently emphasize that they do not condone sinful living and that God’s true grace will produce a holy life, and I believe they sincerely mean this. One hyper-grace author even states at the beginning of his book, “We are not propagating immorality, because if we truly believe in God and love Him there will be corresponding works (because faith without works is dead).” Absolutely!

There are boatloads of testimonies these teachers can point to, documenting how thousands of believers have found freedom and deliverance by embracing the message of grace. In previous years, these believers had lived under a weight of condemnation, thinking if they just worked a little harder God might accept them, feeling as if they never measured up. Then they encountered God’s amazing grace and were transformed.

This is wonderful news, and I rejoice in these testimonies too. In fact, that is the message of grace I believe in and preach as well.

Unfortunately, there are now boatloads of stories of believers who have been terribly injured by the hyper-grace message. In fact, since my article “Confronting the Errors of Hyper-Grace” was posted last week, I have not been able to keep up with all the horror stories that have been sent my way.

This one is typical, from Jessica:

“I have seen firsthand the changes that come with people who embrace this message.

“I joined a small group 3 years ago that went from having regular prayer meetings and living holy connected lives together to stating ‘prayer is a work and denies grace’ and ‘sin allows grace to do its great work.’ All of our prayer meetings and Bible studies were traded in for game-nights and nights out at the bar to ‘witness’ where many from the group got plastered … all in the name of ‘grace.’

“My heart has been so broken for my dear friends who I walked so closely with. As a group, they have embraced sin as not only acceptable, but justified and desirable. I have been completely ostracized and mocked for my stand in holiness. They don’t even call me by my name anymore—they call me ‘Pharisee.’ Unfortunately, I have had to step completely away from these loved ones and am spending my life in prayer for them.”

Another wrote this:

“I had a loved one who was an intense follower of hyper grace start to lie and cheat in his business. … He was a different person before he started following hyper grace. … He wasn’t greedy, in fact he was selfless, humble and very much in integrity. Also I can’t mention to him the fact that he lied and withheld info in order to steer people to invest … Why? Because he says there is no condemnation in Christ. So no one is allowed to mention that aspect of his behavior to him … or else.”

A worship leader wrote to me, describing what is happening among prominent worship leaders he knows, where “the drinking partying thing is rampant. Totally excused because they were under grace not legalism.”

Of course, my hyper-grace friends will protest: “This is not the fruit of our message. Our message produces love for Jesus and holy living. These people obviously misunderstood what we were teaching.”

But it’s not so simple, otherwise pastors and believers from around the country (and other countries) wouldn’t be contacting me day and night to talk about the destructive effects of the hyper-grace message.

Without a doubt, my colleagues who preach hyper-grace have discovered some wonderful truths that are liberating and transforming, and all of us should embrace those truths. Unfortunately, the hyper-grace message (in contrast with Paul’s message of abundant grace) is unbalanced and highly reactionary, to the real detriment many believers.

Here are three major concerns (out of many more) that must be addressed:

  1. Hyper-grace teachers (and their followers) denigrate those who differ with them, calling them legalistic Pharisees, branding them manipulators and tyrants who preach a counterfeit gospel, and sometimes even claiming that leaders who don’t preach hyper-grace are doing so for monetary gain (“sin management is lucrative;” there is an almost endless stream of quotes like this from respected hyper-grace leaders). This is destructive and divisive and needs to stop. (For the record, I use the term “hyper-grace” to be descriptive, not insulting, and some within the movement say, “Yes, we believe in hyper-grace!”)
  2. In their zeal to exalt God’s grace, hyper-grace teachers often make extreme statements that lead believers to think that they are not responsible for their sins. After all, if we are always perfectly holy in God’s sight, we don’t really sin. Our bodies do! This is dangerous and unbiblical.
  3. Hyper-grace teachers commonly claim that the words of Jesus no longer apply to us. Instead, they argue, Jesus’ teaching was for the Jews under the Law before the new covenant was inaugurated, whereas Paul brought the message of grace. If this false dichotomy doesn’t raise a red flag of warning, nothing will. Simply stated, any teaching that minimizes (or even ignores) the teachings of Jesus should be rejected.

I appeal to you, my brothers and sisters who are leaders in the hyper-grace camp (or, in your view, who are preaching the message of grace) to take these things to the Lord and make some serious course corrections before more lives are destroyed. Many have been helped by the truths you have taught, but many others have been damaged by your errors, and you cannot rejoice in the good without taking responsibility for the bad.

We don’t need any more horror stories.###

Source: http://www.fire-school.org/media/articles/hyper-grace-horror-stories/; accessed 3-15-13.
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Pertinent Scriptures appended to the above article by the Editor (emphases added):

Romans 6:1-18
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
(2) May it never be! How shall we who DIED TO SIN still live in it?
(3) Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
(4) Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
(5) For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
(6) knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be SLAVES TO SIN;
(7) for he who has DIED is FREED from sin.
(8) Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
(9) knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
(10) For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
(11) Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
(12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
(13) and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
(14) For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
(15) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
(16) Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness
(17) But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
(18) and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6-9)

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with FALSE WORDS; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Pet 2:1-3)

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Dr. Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. Dr. Brown served as a leader in the Brownsville Revival from 1996-2000 and birthed FIRE School of Ministry in 2001. He has preached throughout the United States and in more than twenty nations and has written twenty books on revival, holiness, radical discipleship, and Jewish-Christian issues, along with scholarly works in Old Testament and Hebrew studies. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. He hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, The Line of Fire, he is a featured columnist on TownHall.Com et al., and he is the author of many books, one of the latest of which is Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur\’s Strange Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
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