My Introduction into the Lordship debate

Last week a big discussion broke out at Team Pyro about the Lordship debate. It was interesting to see what came of that discussion, and also who came out for that discussion (Over 400 comments!). Quite frankly, this is an issue that has always baffled me to a certain degree. It is not because I do not understand the issue, or because I do not have a stand on the issue. I understand the issue, and I have a stand on the issue. What baffles me is that there is a debate. Maybe it would be helpful if I explained how I was introduced to the Lordship Debate.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college I began to develop a burning desire to read about and study theological issues. This all came about because of a professor of mine. He told me that if I did not make myself into a “reader” and engage my mind in theological issues I would never be able to shepherd a church. I took that to heart, and that summer I got my hands on everything I could read. That was the summer that I was introduced to John Piper, and consequently Jonathan Edwards. The next semester my class schedule included a class on the book of Romans (which by the way was very helpful to me). I knew that this class would be interesting because the professor was an old school firmly established classical dispensationalist. I knew that there would be things that I would disagree with, because I held myself to be more of a progressive dispensationalist. I had, and have, a lot of problems with a dualistic view of salvation.

As we progressed through the class it was very interesting to see things from my professor’s point of view. After we went through Romans 9 I remember thinking that “nothing can top that.” I was wrong. The most surprising part of that class, and possibly my entire collegiate career, was that I had a disagreement with my professor over Romans 10:9. I honestly could not believe it. Here is the passage:

“…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Never in my wildest dreams would I think that there would be a debate within evangelicalism over this verse. But again, I was wrong. This was my first exposure to the “Lordship Debate.” I had never heard someone say that a person does not have to submit to the Lordship of Christ in order to be saved. But that was exactly what my professor said. This professor was (and is) a dear and faithful man who I have respect for. This is why I hope that he did not see my jaw drop to the ground when I heard him say that a person did not have to submit to the Lordship of Christ in order to be saved.

Despite never having heard of this issue before I knew immediately what side of the issue I was on. In my mind Scripture is clear; especially in the aforementioned Romans 9 passage. Yet there is still a group of people who would vehemently deny what they call “Lordship Salvation” because they view it as involving works. To be frank this view goes much deeper than just this issue. In my opinion this view is rooted in an incorrect soteriology. Let me try to briefly explain. To the “no-Lordship Camp” it would be a human work to submit to the Lordship of Christ, and thus it cannot be a part of salvation. However, to the “Lordship Camp” salvation is a divine work of God by which the Holy Spirit gives us a new birth and a new ability to repent and believe; thus submission to the Lordship of Christ is a human action that is the result of Divine re-birth. I know that in some ways I have built up a straw man and blown him down; however this straw man is accurately based on my personal experiences with the “no-Lordship Camp.”

If you think that I have dealt with your position unfairly then I will gladly accept biblical arguments, and I will engage in conversation on this issue. I plan on putting some notes up on this issue again tomorrow. This is an important issue because it gets to the very heart of how an individual is saved. This makes it even more important that we depend on Scripture to guide us through this issue.