Pristine Grace

What Does Made Sin Actually Mean?
by Brandan Kraft

March 10, 2020

What Does Made Sin Actually Mean?


   For those that don't know, Don Fortner is dying.  His health is failing him, and his body is suffering the ravages of cancer.  I do pray for Don and his health and hope that he recovers.  I consider him to be a brother, and one that has labored in the Gospel for over fifty years.   I wish nothing but the best for this man as his ministry was very helpful and edifying to me when I came to believe the truth in 2001.  His books, sermons, and articles were used by God to teach me the truth.   He was one of many teachers the Lord put into my life in the early 2000s.   Others include Bob Higby, John Gill, John Robbins, Stan Phillips, and Gordon Clark.   I thank the Lord for Don and all of these men that were used to teach me the truth of the Gospel and all of its implications, many of which I'm still learning today.  

   Then around 2006, there was a controversy at the Eager Ave. Grace church where false doctrine was being taught from the pulpit and the congregation responded by removing the teacher.  It was clearly false, teaching that instead of sin being imputed to Christ,  sin was more or less infused into Christ.  "Big Don" Fortner weighed in on the controversy and railed against the men at Eager and my opinion of him was shattered.  I could not believe Don would seemingly defend the teaching from this pulpit. It bothered a lot of people as well, and shortly thereafter, many of the Mahan free grace churches split.  Thirteenth Street church split, Eager Ave. Grace Church split, other churches just stopped talking to each other.  Most thought they were splitting over doctrinal issues.  Others were clearly caught up in the personalities of the leaders.  Very few were calling for unity and discussion.  I was not a member of any of these churches, and could only look on from a distance here in St. Louis.  At times, I thought that maybe Don Fortner had apostatized.  He removed all of his teachings from the internet regarding imputation.  He stopped teaching about imputation.   But he never affirmed infusion either...  His teaching was ambiguous in my opinion.  So I didn't know what to think of him. 

   Don and the churches on his side of the split were teaching something that was hard for me to understand.  Clay Curtis and Todd Nibert spoke of being made something before that something is imputed to you.  It didn't make any sense to me.  I still today do not understand what they mean.   It's a teaching that seems to me to rob from the simplicity of Christ.    But even in doing so, they still were careful to state that Christ was not a sinner - that sin was not infused into Him.   It sounded like double speak to me.    But I want to believe the best of these men.  Their other teachings seem to be clear Gospel teaching.  So it's quite a conundrum for me.  I really don't know what to think about them.  For the most part I avoid them and I do not endorse their churches as I have many other places that I can attend and listen to clear Gospel teaching without getting caught up in the controversy.  I maintain a list of recommended churches on the Pristine Grace website, and in all of these churches, I have evidence that imputation is taught and that infusion is denied.

   Anyway, Don's health is now failing, and he along with the rest of us is about to pass into glory.  I do consider him to be my brother in Christ, and a Gospel teacher.  I do wish for him the best, and I do love him in spite of all that has occurred.  And I am sad to hear that he is suffering with cancer.   And in stating this, I know I will earn some criticism from those on what I consider to be the "right" side of the split.  How could I say such a thing about Don!?!?!   Well for starters, I have never heard him state that which was taught in the pulpit by Mark Daniel.  I have never heard him affirm that sin was infused into Christ.  I have never heard him state that we are justified based on righteousness infused into the believer.   Now I've read and heard him say a bunch of ambiguous non-sensical junk.  I've also seen him bully people around, and reject attempts at discussion.  But I've also seen him teach clear Gospel truth - even recently.   So I'm going to err on the side of caution, and love him as a brother in Christ.   Yes, he is a sinner.  But so am I.  And the Lord came to save sinners.  So I'm going to think well of him.  I'm going to pray for him.   And if I'm wrong, then may God correct me.   But I'd rather be wrong in embracing a false convert as a brother than be wrong in rejecting a true brother or sister.

   I was recently told by a dear brother that I should admit I am now compromising and that I am "riding the fence."  It didn't matter that I affirmed that sin was imputed to Christ and not infused into Christ.  I was expected to jump on the bandwagon and stay on the bandwagon continuing to rail against Big Don.   Folks, I don't want to rail against anybody.  I want the free grace churches to be reunited in fellowship and doctrine!   There are so few of us.   Fifty years from now will these churches even exist?  I don't know.   But would you join me in praying for reconciliation and for unity in the Gospel?   Would you join me in prayer for Don and his family, the church in Danville, and the believers that love him on a personal level?

   The Lord does have it all under control though, and He's got it all planned out perfectly.   Maybe one day the Lord will be pleased to bring us all back together here on earth, and not just in heaven.  May He alone get the glory.

   Gospel Blessings,