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What Luther Says

Paul Washer Preaches 'Another Gospel' of 'Lordship Salvation' And 'Preparationism'

The "old" me used to love Paul Washer. I mean, absolutely love him.

And why not? I was attracted to the "on fire -ness" and "passion" and "zeal" that he seemed to regularly display from the pulpit.

After all, it was quite refreshing and welcomed to hear and see in a world where there are so many crazy things being done and said in the name of God these days.

The irony? I never realized that his was a more subtle form of false teaching that almost completely destroyed my faith!

Thankfully, following my exodus from American Evangelicalism I have since come to realize that he was one of the men -- a false teacher really -- that I allowed to influence my Christian faith more so than the Word of God did. Not good.

In recent days, as I continue to explore various channels of Lutheran doctrine and thought online, I've come across some EXCELLENT critiques of Paul Washer's preaching and theology (which is formally called "Lordship Salvation" and "Preparationism") and why it's so spiritually dangerous.

Now, "Lordship Salvation" I have heard of before. In fact, I was once a big proponent of the un-Biblical doctrine (especially as I was regularly feeding on material by John MacArthur). But I had never heard of this theology of "Preparationism" before.

The way that it's clearly defined by Pastor Jordan Cooper from Just And Sinner is spot on accurate though. I now see the doctrine that I was deceived by for so long for what it truly is, which is why I want to share this with you today.

I know what a mess this kind of theology made of my own life for far too long, how it inadvertently led to me accept the "teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7; Galatians 1:6-10; Colossians 2:22; 1 Timothy 1:3; Acts 20:30), and how it almost led to a "shipwreck" of my faith (1 Timothy 1:19).

PODCAST: A Critique of The Theology of Paul Washer

PODCAST: The Preparationism of Paul Washer

PODCAST: The Lordship Salvation Controversy

I'm so glad that Pastor Cooper discussed Matthew 7:15-22 in relationship to this entire subject.

That passage of the text is so often misinterpreted and misused by the "Lordship Salvation"/"Preparationist" crowd (I was once one of them!).

It's also the same kind of twisted theology that is presented in "Christian" bestsellers like Francis Chan's Crazy Love and David Platt's Radical.

Notice that in that section of Scripture, the emphasis is on ONE'S "GOOD WORKS" IN THE NAME OF JESUS as opposed to THE WORK OF JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF.

In that sense, it becomes none other than a commentary on "works righteousness" and how such a view makes one's faith and standing with God based solely on their own SUBJECTIVE actions as opposed to Christ's OBJECTIVE actions for us all.

Cooper also goes on to talk about how these same people (again, I should know, because I used to be one of them!) will often misinterpret 1 John in such a way that it takes away one's assurance by making a "checklist" or "test" for how you can determine if you're really a Christian after all.

See, this is why Lutheran doctrine (a.k.a. Orthodox Christian doctrine) gives the blessed assurance that God intended to give us through His means of grace, or specifically, through Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, and The Office of The Holy Ministry.

I am extremely grateful to faithful men of God like Pastor Jordan Cooper who have taken the time to prepare these podcasts so that I can share them with others in the hope that it will free them from the slavery of self-righteousness so that they will put their full trust in the objective work of Christ including His objective means of grace.

It's not about a personal experience in the name of Jesus. It's about belief and faith in Jesus who loves you personally that He experienced death upon the cross for your sins so that you could be forgiven, justified, and redeemed, and then have complete assurance of your standing with God.

The emphasis of the Christian life should be upon JUSTIFICATION more so than upon SANCTIFICATION, because one focuses on the centrality of Jesus Christ and what He has done and continues to do for us (for you!) while the other focuses much more on self and what I have done and do in His name.

Clearly, Paul Washer preaches "another gospel" (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:7) of Lordship Salvation and Preparationism that is anything but Biblical.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, remember that you are washed by Holy Baptism, which means you can forget about the teachings of Paul Washer no matter how popular they may be.

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with Lutheran doctrine -- in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word -- so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.


  1. I credit Paul Washer with helping me with his preaching on Total Depravity, which helped to orient me correctly to God's role in salvation (aka I don't do a durned thing to save myself). Unfortunately his ideas on assurance are typical of even the neo-reformed Baptists, which usually revolve around how well you're doing in your Christian life. I'd still call him a brother in Christ, but measuring your assurance on the level of sin in your life, rather than the Word and Sacraments, isn't really assurance at all and tends to make one live in constant fear.

  2. Thank you for visiting and for taking the time to comment. Boy, you said it a lot better and more briefly than I did (haha). You're so right though. That's just it, isn't it? It's like I said at the beginning of this piece, I used to LOVE his preaching and I also credit him with the same thing, but in the end I finally realized that his preaching was part of the problem. Looking to oneself for assurance (i.e., "proof" of one's salvation) instead of looking to Christ and one's Baptism (the Word and Sacraments) is a common deception these days I'm afraid. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope to hear from you again in the future.

    Grace And Peace To You And Yours,

  3. I too, used to listen to Washer. In fact, it was through Washer that I came to believe the doctrines of Lutheranism. The lack of assurance that Washer's preaching produces, coupled with the impossibly high standards of religious experience that he promotes, forced me to seek out criticisms of his theology. After all, how could his "preparationism gospel" be compatible with the "whosoever will, come..." gospel of Jesus Christ?
    It was then that I found Jordan Cooper's critique of Washer, and came to understand the significance and historicity of objective, sacramental, Christianity. I have begun attending a Lutheran Church nearby and cannot bear the thought of returning to Evangelical/Baptist Christianity.

  4. I never heard of "Lordship Salvation" and "Preparationism", nor have I heard of Paul Washer until I saw him in a video, which is the third part of a three part series on Christian persecution on the rise in North America. I think what he says (in the last video at marker 18:45) is unfortunately (for true Christ-abiding Christians) correct. Here are the links if you care to see it; no, please see it...
    (From: Truth Be Told channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgxFdp1O66_b6RBGfrgKV9Q)
    Christian persecution on the rise in North America pt 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-WoFNo1158
    Christian persecution on the rise in North America pt 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plCK_4tiFA8
    Christian persecution on the rise in North America pt 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsUFG7HY5mY
    @18:45: Who is Paul Washer?

  5. I'm not sure we are reading the same bible... Preparationism? Not clear on that belief but I am convinced that David Platt and Francis Chan are biblically sound, and what else can we teach than the gospel itself? The power of the Gospel is what changes lives, not our opinions about other people. The bible says "do not let unwholesome talk even be named among you" Ephesians 4:29-32. Also several verses from Jesus's mouth clearly say that we should be pressing on to not sinning any longer and working towards the goal of Heaven... Phil 3:12, Matthew 5:16, 1 Cor. 9:24, James 1:3,James 2:17, the list goes on. Who are you to "" Christians anyway? I am not saying that our works are our righteousness by no means that comes from the blood of Jesus alone. The only good in us is a reflection of Jesus. We are nothing without him, but filthy rags. Jesus DOES say that faith produces works, and that faith without works is dead. Why? Because if we truly get it, SALVATION in its entirety we will be all in. Of course Jesus said in John 3:16 Whosever will, but in Matthew 16 he also says to take up our cross DAILY. Taking up your cross... I'm not sure what you think that means, but clearly it wasn't fields of roses for Jesus, and it also meant works... Will we still sin? Yes, we are not in eternity yet, but do we still have habits of sin? We shouldn't, God should be all we need, and He changes the heart which in turn changes everything. We so easily point out faults of other people, but to say I almost lost my faith because of so and so... That's idol worship to begin with (I'm not judging, but only God can change the heart, that is fact)... We can't blame our walking away from faith on anyone but ourselves. Luke 8 speaks of the parable of the seed sower, He knows not everyone will have ears to hear. If we are not in God's Word taking in the true Bread of Life, then we should be self evaluating, not blaming others. We have got to stop pointing fingers and start focusing on our own hearts. This post says more about you than any of these men. These are not ear tickling pastors ((Chan and Platt) not so familiar about Washer however, these are passionate men more concerned about getting the Gospel out there, than worrying about what other people think of them, which is what we are all called to be doing in the first place. You also gave more credit to Pastor Cooper than you did God here. New Testament says the only way scripture is revealed to us is through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2) The church is suppose to be a powerful unit, but we have mucked it up trying to get our point across, which is based on opinion not absolute. We should be more Christ focused, getting His message out there to save a lost world, than concerning ourselves with things that will not save anyone. That's where Satan distracts us, when we start looking at each other and getting our eyes off of the mission which is to go and tell a lost world about Jesus Christ and make disciples. I probably wont respond back as I am a busy mom of 3, and I am not trying to offend you in any way although I cant really express my tone on here, but the point is; "Love is the bond of perfection" so let's remember that when writing post especially about other pastors. I am not clear with the Lutheran beliefs so forgive me on that, I am just a bible believing Christian, and those letters in red mean the world to me. No matter what denomination you proclaim, denominations can be an idol so be careful. I don't think that is what Jesus wanted when the first church was around in Acts. He wanted disciples, followers of Christ, making disciples, so that the gospel could reach a lost and broken world. Matthew 28:16-20 That should be our main focus, everything else is just background noise...

    1. Washer, MacArthur, Swindoll, Idleman, etc. (presumably Chan and Platt, although I've never bothered to read any of their stuff) are teaching another Gospel with more in common with medieval Roman Catholicism than the teachings of the Jesus, Paul, and all of the scriptures. They are, in effect, casting doubt upon the Christian who wonders where he stands with God. As Lutherans, we look beyond our selves, beyond our progress, beyond our feelings, beyond our own love and generosity, to the objective promises and power of God outside of us, namely Christ.

      I struggled mightily with these types of Lordship Salvation teachings years ago, mostly spurred on by Idleman's "Not a Fan" book.

      But don't take my word for it. Get into the Word, IN CONTEXT, and read for yourself that justification is by grace ALONE, through faith ALONE, as shown in this thorough study which debunks all the claims of the Jesus + Works crowd:


  6. Nice article, on a cell phone so this is 5% of what i want to say.

    Focus on seen, below is flesh and wrong tree in eden even if good.....
    Tree of Life, Book of Life is HIM.....
    Phil 3....
    2 cor 3 is the same 2 mirrors and glories.....
    1 cor 3 and lake of fire produce articles like this, yet this is the TIP of an iceburg.......
    Cities, men, mat 25, old, new, first Last, romans 5 is a start....
    Redemption vs justification vs reconciliation vs saved......
    Saved is like tylenol and a headache....
    People read into words too much......
    I listened to the talks linked, shared them with peeps who will crucify me, and tip of iceburgh right ahead is what you found here.
    Qwerty keyboard on phone is too much....
    Rom 5, 8:16, 2 cor 3, Col 3:1-4........
    Above, fixing the flesh????
    It is as dead as the old man in Gal 5:24
    Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the all sin of the world....
    What is sin, identity in adam and a tree.


Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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