Steve Schlissel, Messiah Ministries' overseer and senior pastor of Messiah's Covenant Community Church in Brooklyn, New York, is one of the most overtly heretical proponents of the Federal Vision, which is rapidly infecting Reformed circles. He proudly advocates salvation by law instead of salvation through faith in Christ. This can be seen in Schlissel's radio debate with John Otis, available at the bottom of this piece.
Schlissel blatantly denies the law/Gospel distinction. He wrote,
The very idea of a first, second, and third use of the law is illegal and unbiblical. It demands that the law conform to what we want from it, and if it doesn’t do so then we will have none of it. But the law itself is to be our life. “This is your life,” God says. “In the law I have given you atonement. In the law I have given you promises of forgiveness. In the law I have given you the way to live. In the law I have given you the key to life. In the law you will find grace abounding to the chief of sinners.”
We turn it around and say, “No, we will have none of this! That’s law as opposed to Gospel.”
Steve Schlissel, “Auburn Pastors Conference 2002—Covenant Series: Covenant Reading” (January 2002), p. 11.Thus in his denial of the law/Gospel distinction, Schlissel holds that faith and works are one and the same. He writes,
“Nothing in the Bible teaches a kind of faith that does not obey. Obedience and faith are the same thing, biblically speaking. To submit to God’s Word is what it means to believe. To believe is to obey.”In his denial of biblical saving faith, we should not be surprised that Schlissel considers the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism “little,” and wants to reverse the Reformation. While on the Chalcedon Foundation’s podcast, Schlissel commented,
Steve Schlissel, “A New Way of Seeing,” pp. 26-27. Cited in John M. Otis, Danger in the Camp: An Analysis and Refutation of the Heresies of the Federal Vision (Corpus Christi, TX: Triumphant Publications, 2005), pp. 315, 316.
We need to grow past some of the Reformational antitheses that make us think that Catholics are the doom of the world, and not Christian, and the antichrist, and so on. We need to recognize when Christian Catholics are doing something as Christian Catholics, they ought to be encouraged. … The time for us now does not give us the luxury of nitpicking these little differences but rather to encourage the light everywhere we see it to become a flame, and to start blazing.
Law and Liberty Vol. 8–”The Present and Future State of America,” Part 3 with Steve Schlissel (2 of 2) (This is said at the 16:18 mark)
(Note: Chalcedon has since updated their website, so we are not even sure if this interview is still available. However, if one wants to confirm these statements, he can contact Chalcedon.)In denying the distinction between law and Gospel, Schlissel denies the Gospel. In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul distinguishes between law and Gospel:
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?” (Galatians 3:1-4)The Apostle Paul teaches that those who rely on works for salvation cannot be saved (Galatians 5:1-4). And he even curses those who teach a false gospel, which includes a curse upon those who equate the Gospel with the law (Galatians 1:6-9).
Pay attention to Schlissel’s heretical comments from the 27:00 mark onward.