As reflected in Paul’s inbox, it’s evident that the TANC conferences have played a pivotal role toward educating believers on the Platonic philosophy driving the Protestant bus. Therefore, PPT is introducing a weekly video segment called “Gnostic Watch Weekly” wherein Paul and Susan discuss and decipher readers’ contributions of the many examples plaguing Christianity of every denominational stripe. We welcome contributions from any denomination and all nationalities! Please send articles, posts, and sermon examples to firstname.lastname@example.org, then tune-in to “Gnostic Watch Weekly” every Friday at 7pm.
LIVE @ 7PM 10/24/14. A HD recording will be posted after the live viewing.
Preamble: An anonymous person sent me the following satire of New Calvinist Ernest Reisinger’s article on how to take over a church covertly. Reisinger left the Earth in 2004. He was one of the forefathers of the present-day New Calvinist movement. I detail Reisinger’s departure from Presbyterian circles for the sole purpose of taking over the SBC with the Australian Forum’s doctrine in my fifteen-page addendum to The Truth About New Calvinism: Volume One (TANC Publishing 2011). Reisinger and his brother John were part of a small group of men associated with the Forum who believed that they had rediscovered the true Reformation gospel. And they were right. But key was the fact that they were also armed with the Forum’s brilliant systemization of the doctrine for contemporary consumption—a feat that has given New Calvinism its staying power.
This small group of men set the precedent and procedure for covert takeovers. The protocol was further articulated in Dan Southerland’s book, “Transitioning: Leading Your Church Through Change” (Zondervan 1999). Ghostwriter is a member of a church in America, which means that it is in the process of being taken over by New Calvinists or the takeover is complete; hence, good reason to remain anonymous because these guys will utterly ruin your life if you stand up to them. How? Well, for one, most American Christian wives just want to be a member of a church and enjoy the community of it without any controversy. It’s just the way Protestants have been programmed over the years. This is one of the points of exploitation, among many that are used. And unfortunately, a change of membership will more than likely find the same problem.
The only answer is to reject the New Calvinist premise altogether and come out from among them. Unfortunately, much more carnage will have to be displayed before that happens to any significant degree.
Recipe for a Hostile Takeover
It’s the “Little Red Book” of hostile Reformed church takeover, publically available for all to see. (My italics are the satire, obviously)
“Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”
“whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
REFORMING A LOCAL CHURCH
STRENGTHEN THE THINGS THAT REMAIN
by Ernest C. Reisinger
“Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die…”
“Yet you have a few people…who have not soiled their clothing.”
SOME PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR THE CONTEMPORARY SCENE- ( i.e. an unsuspecting, biblically sound free-grace preaching Church in need of radical reform )
Some who read this pamphlet are in, or will be in a reforming (hostile takeover) situation. And each situation has some different obstacles to deal with. The size of the church and the staff will make some difference in the approach as will the kind of membership, (discerning Christians- avoid these churches like the plague, or ripe-for-harvest mindless troglodytes already under the influence of Nicolaitanism, seek these for takeover) the spiritual caliber of the leadership (see above). I wish we had some little pamphlet with ten rules to success (we don’t now but one is probably forthcoming, every other dictatorship on earth has a pamphlet like the little red book, etc), but it is not that simple. There are not ten rules to guarantee success. There are some principles, however, that will always be helpful and will save some shipwrecks .
1. Don’t try any reformation until you have earned some spiritual credibility with the church (Pretend you are what you aren’t, hide your true views from the search committee and the congregation until you have suckered them in, be sure to throw in an old-time revival/gospel meeting every now and then to woo the wary).
2. The first suggestion is study the biblical principle of accommodation. There is a little pamphlet on this subject (The Principle of Biblical Accommodation as Applied to the Invitation System), (shows you how to pretend to be a free-grace preacher until you have your hand-picked elders and a quarter of the congregants under your sway) and an excellent message on tape by Thomas K. Ascol. This is available through The Christian Gospel Foundation, 521 Wildwood Parkway, Cape Coral, FL 33904, or Pastor Thomas K. Ascol, Grace Baptist Church, 204 SW 11th Place, Cape Coral, FL 33991.
3. Three questions should be asked, and carefully answered:
a) What is the right, biblical thing to do?
b) How should these changes be implemented?
c) When should they be implemented? Don’t try to do too much too soon. Many mistakes have been made by doing the right thing in the wrong way or at the wrong time (because even ignorant congregants were able to quickly see through the cloak.
4, The principle of priorities must be applied. You can’t change everything at once–first things first (go slow, it will take time to deceive).
5. The principle of two churches must be before us at all times.
a) The church as it should be, conceived from the scriptures (actually the Calvin Institutes, Westminster, various Baptist confessions of faith), in idealism–never abandon this.
b) The church as it is–the one you look at 11:00 on Sunday morning (you know, the one that has real people with real Scriptural beliefs in it?). One must realize that the two shall never meet on earth, but you will find joy and satisfaction in narrowing (weeding out the Arminian Free Grace miscreants) the difference between them, that is, when you see the one you look at on Sunday morning make some steps toward the (Calvinist) ideal one.
6. The principle of church membership. Don’t make church membership any narrower than the New Testament (suck in as many poor saps as you can before you uncork the bottle).
7. The principle of restraint. Don’t tackle the whole church at one time (this will never work for reasons stated above). Choose a few men who are sincere, teachable (unwary, biblically unlearned, unwilling to engage brains in coherent thought, nice guys but mindless) and spiritually minded (religious but not holding to any solid beliefs except that somehow Christ died for them) and spend time with them (indoctrinating them in your intellectually superior beliefs ) in study and prayer. They will help you to reform (because they don’t know any better). This principle is found in Titus 1:5: “For this cause left I thee behind in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.” Acts 14:23: “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” Acts 1 1:30: “Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.” Acts 20:17,28: “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Don’t get bogged down with what you call these men until they are trained (indoctrinated)–they are called overseers–elders (putty in your hands, yes-men).
8. Don’t get hung up on secondary matters (like preaching the Gospel, helping the poor, widows in the congregation).
9. Don’t use theological language that is not in the Bible, in the pulpit, such as, Calvinism, reformed, doctrines of grace, particular redemption etc. (duh, these aren’t in the Bible for a reason, moron. We are trying to take over a church here, not preach the truth). Most people will not know what you are talking about (because it is not found in the Bible and any discerning Christian will throw you out on your ear if they hear these terms, indoctrinate them slowly with simplistic language).
10. Use sound literature, not indiscriminately, but wisely. Little things at first, that is, pamphlets and books with some doctrinal and experimental substance (written by John Piper, RC Sproul, perhaps Jonathan Edwards… Those first two are the most important).
11. Don’t use the pulpit to scold people. You cannot scold people into reformation (you can only trick them into reformation).
12. Exercise common sense (see above. Don’t be an impatient idiot and get yourself canned).
13. Depend on the only weapons we have: prayer, preaching and teaching (wielding the newfound power of your inner circle of yes-men).
14. Be sure that you understand the foundational doctrines and how they are related to each other and to your situation (you freakin well better have completely aced the TULIP test).
15. I would suggest that you check the history of your church in respect to early constitutions or declarations of faith. Often you will find, particularly, in older churches, a statement expressing the doctrines which you desire to establish (in other words a Church that has already tried reform theology but it blew up in their face, don’t worry, our new brand will work). A gracious appeal to this document will help to give you credibility, at least they will know that you are not coming from Mars (just from infiltrated seminaries completely out of touch with reality and the laity and completely under the influence of the doctrines of men). Hide behind these articles of faith (I can’t even think of anything sarcastic to say to this, can’t believe it is so blatant). Hide behind our Baptist fathers, such as Bunyan, Spurgeon, Fuller, Boyce, Dagg, Broadus, Manly, W. B. Johnson, R. B. C. Howell and B. H. Carroll (because they will love you if you quote their founding fathers until you are ready to reveal your true colors).
Most of these suggestions come from experience, and, she is a queer old teacher. She first gives you the test and then the lesson. Unlike other teaching (which relies on Scripture to give the lesson).
Susan and I had a glorious fellowship with another Christian couple this afternoon. They are in a ministry of significant influence and will be unnamed. At some point, the conversation turned to New Calvinism. As Susan and I sat and listened to the husband’s testimony concerning what he valued in John Piper’s teachings, I was filled with an understanding in regard to why Piper’s teachings are so attractive. I might add that I was very impressed with his calm, articulate answer immediately following my comment that I believe Piper to be one of the premier heretics of our day.
What this brother described was the fact that serious Christians were looking for an alternative to the fallout from the first gospel wave in contemporary Christian History: raise your hand, sign a card, don’t drink, smoke, chew, or hang out with girls that do. Christianity had been reduced to living by a list of do’s and don’ts by people who didn’t have any life to show for it. Fair enough. Guilty as charged.
But the fact of the matter is that Jay Adams did offer a viable alternative. It was based on hearing the word of God and applying it to our lives according to the whole counsel of God’s wisdom and not just, “stop doing that.” I saw firsthand how this “first generation” biblical counseling movement changed lives in radical fashion, including my own. And the movement continues to do so today even though the fact of that matter is covered up by a whole lot of New Calvinist noise.
To me the crux of the matter is in this brother’s testimony. New Calvinists have effectively sold the idea that they are offering the only alternative to easy believeism in our day. That’s only true because they got rid of the other alternative through slander and persecution, and they know it. Jay Adams’ “first generation” biblical counseling was a threat to the emerging New Calvinist tsunami. Why? 1) Because it worked and God used it to change lives. 2) It was/is the antithesis of New Calvinism because the latter fuses justification and sanctification while first generation counseling doesn’t. Furthermore, this is what New Calvinist David Powlison said was the fundamental difference between the two while teaching at John Piper’s church:
This might be quite a controversy, but I think it’s worth putting in. Adams had a tendency to make the cross be for conversion. And the Holy Spirit was for sanctification. And actually even came out and attacked my mentor, Jack Miller, my pastor that I’ve been speaking of through the day, for saying that Christians should preach the gospel to themselves. I think Jay was wrong on that.
If we associate justification with “conversion,” and we do, Powlison’s statement can be reworded as follows for clarification:
Adams had a tendency to make the cross be for justification (justification cannot be separated from conversion). And the Holy Spirit was for sanctification.
Second generation counseling/New Calvinism is sanctification by justification, and that was also propagated by his mentor that he mentions. New Calvinists choose their words carefully. Imagine how far the movement would get if they didn’t replace “justification” with “gospel”:
The same finished work of justification that saved you also sanctifies you. Or, we must preach justification to ourselves every day. Or, sanctification is the finished work of justification in action.
I explained to the brother that the other alternative was relentlessly persecuted, and that’s why it would seem that there is only one alternative. He concurred that he perceives criticism of Adams taking place on a continual basis. Why? Because the truth he teaches is the competition. It’s a threat.
This is an approach that I have never used before: 1) Powlison admits a fundamental difference between first generation and second generation counseling; ie, sanctification by the cross (justification) verses sanctification by the Spirit apart from the finished work of justification. 2) An alternative is confirmed. 3) You only have the New Calvinists’ testimony that they are the only alternative. 4) Why not investigate and find out for yourself?
He agreed, and was sent off with a copy of The Truth About New Calvinism. Please pray for the situation. Christianity doesn’t need a second gospel wave. The first wave devalued sanctification by focusing on justification only; the second devalues it as well by making it the same thing as justification. Both are just as deadly, and when the novelty of New Calvinism wears off, the results will be worse.
B0007 print ready do it yourself booklet-pdf.
Catalog # M0010: 18 mp4 video files.
“Are two different gospels operating under the same nomenclature of ‘help can be found here’ acceptable or not? Both are not the truth, and one or the other will help, or add further hurt.”
Heath Lambert recently published the book The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams. The contemporary motif of our day is the idea that Dr. Jay E. Adams started the biblical counseling movement (first generation), and then others such as David Powlison of Westminster’s CCEF built on the foundation laid by Adams. The ever-morphing result is called “second generation” biblical counseling. Lambert’s book is a lengthy treatise that supposedly informs us of the differences between the two generations.
I am going to bypass all of those issues and focus on the one difference that matters—how each generation interprets the gospel. As the president of the annexed NANC used to say, “Fasten your seatbelts and put on your crash helmets,” because my thesis is that one of these generations is founded on, and operates by a false gospel.
As many know, especially my wife, I have spent almost five years researching the present-day New Calvinism movement. The movement has its roots in the Progressive Adventist movement fathered by Robert Brinsmead. The magnum opus of that movement was their interpretation of Romans 8:30. I will pause now and quote an individual who witnessed that remarkable movement firsthand:
In 1971, Brinsmead scheduled a flurry of summer institutes to bring us his latest emphasis. There was more excitement than usual; the latest round of tapes had prepared us for something big. Bob had been studying the Reformation doctrine of justification by faith, comparing it to Roman Catholic doctrines. Reading Luther, he saw that justification is not just a means to the end of perfect sanctification. When we are justified by faith, not only does God impute Christ’s righteousness to us but we also possess Christ Himself—all His righteousness and all His perfection. Eternity flows from that fact.
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified’ (Rom. 8:30).
The same ones he justified he also glorified. We began to realize we had inserted extra steps into Paul’s chain of salvation: sanctification and a final atonement brought about by blotting out sins. Those added steps, in fact, were the heart of the Awakening message—but we had ignored the heart of the real gospel: being justified by faith, we ‘rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’ Our righteousness is in heaven, said Brinsmead:
“The righteousness by which we become just in God’s sight, remain just in His sight and will one day be sealed as forever just in His sight, is an outside righteousness. It is not on earth, but only in heaven…only in Jesus Christ” (Martin L. Carey: Judged by the Gospel: The Progression of Brinsmead’s Awakening )
Brinsmead further articulated this magnum opus in the theological journal, Present Truth:
Then in the golden chain of salvation, Romans 8:30, justification spans our Christian life all the way from calling or conversion to glorification: “Whom He called, them He justified; whom He justified, them He also glorified.” Here justification, our standing before God, is coterminous with sanctification, our being conformed to the image of God’s Son, in Romans 8:29. In 1 Corinthians 1:30 the apostle mentions Christ as our righteousness or justification before he names Him as our sanctification. But in 1 Corinthians 6:11 the order is reversed: “You are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Accordingly, Luther taught that to accept justification by faith in Christ is our whole work for the whole Christian life. We never learn this too well. For the forgiveness of sins is a continuous divine work until we die. Christ saves us perpetually (Luther’s Works, American ed. (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press; St. Louis: Concordia, 1955- ), Vol.34, pp.164, 167, 190) [Present Truth: volume 25, pages 11,12].
Now, the term “golden chain of salvation” did not originate with Brinsmead, but when that term was used by theologians of old, it doesn’t seem to be in reference to Romans 8:30. The term seems to have a contemporary meaning when associated with Romans 8:30, and that is how it will be used in this post. Furthermore, Brinsmead attributes the magnum opus of Progressive Adventism to Martin Luther, and Carey attributes it to Brinsmead who again, states that he learned it from the writings of Luther.
But the need for further research aside, this post will focus on the what. And the what is the following:
 Brinsmead’s interpretation of Romans 8:30 combines justification and sanctification, and perpetuates the need for a just standing before God until glorification.
 And the need for a progressive justification until glorification, ie.,“Christ saves us perpetually.”
 And sanctification is missing from Romans 8:30 because it is “coterminous” with Justification. “Conterminous” means, 1. having the same border or covering the same area 2. being the same in extent; coextensive in range or scope.
 This Romans 8:30 golden chain can be definitively traced throughout the New Calvinism community as a single mainframe that holds the doctrine together and determines its modus operandi.
 The Romans 8:30 golden chain manifests itself as Gospel Sanctification, Sonship Theology, New Covenant Theology, and Christian Hedonism which all dwell in the community of New Calvinism.
Hence, New Calvinists can run, but they can’t hide—their interpretation of Romans 8:30 identifies them. And it also identifies what they will teach, and how they will counsel.
The Two Romans 8:30 and Their Gospels
Therefore, one version of Romans 8:30 suggests that sanctification is missing from the verse because justification and sanctification are the same, and justification is perpetual till glorification. The second interpretation of Romans 8:30 suggests that sanctification is missing from the verse because justification and sanctification are completely separate; and justification is a finished work that makes sanctification possible, but does not directly power it. This position would hold that sanctification is powered by regeneration, and not justification. Hence, Romans 8:30 is missing sanctification because justification is a finished work that guarantees glorification.
These are two completely different gospels. One is monergistic substitutionary sanctification, and the other is monergistic justification and synergistic sanctification. How the gospel is presented from each of these different viewpoints must necessarily be radically different. Moreover, counseling is necessarily and radically different as well.
And these two views of Romans 8:30 define the difference between the two generations of biblical counseling. David Powlison says so. In a seminar presented by David Powlison at John Piper’s church while Piper was on sabbatical, Powlison stated the following:
This might be quite a controversy, but I think it’s worth putting in. Adams had a tendency to make the cross be for conversion. And the Holy Spirit was for sanctification. And actually even came out and attacked my mentor, Jack Miller, my pastor that I’ve been speaking of through the day, for saying that Christians should preach the gospel to themselves. I think Jay was wrong on that. I – it’s one of those places where I read Ephesians. I read Galatians. I read Romans. I read the gospels themselves. I read the Psalms. And the grace of God is just at every turn, and these are written for Christians (David Powlison: What is Biblical Counseling, Session 4, May 8, 2010. Online source for MP3s; http://www.hopeingod.org/resources/seminars/topic/313).
David Powlison’s mentor, Dr. John Miller, whom he mentions in the above citation, was the father of Sonship Theology. Jay Adams wrote a book in contention against the doctrine in 1999. By way of reiterating Powlison’s articulation, Adam’s made the following statement on page 34 of Biblical Sonship:
The problem with Sonship is that it misidentifies the source of sanctification (or the fruitful life of the children of God) as justification. Justification, though a wonderful fact, a ground of assurance, and something never to forget, cannot produce a holy life through a strong motive for it….On the other hand, regeneration, (quickening, or making alive; Ephesians 2:25) is the true source of sanctification.
The major difference between the first and second generations of biblical counseling is their gospel models. One model will attempt to help people with the reductionist gospel of sanctification by justification. The other will attempt to help people with the full armor of regeneration.
Though CCEF is a lost cause and was wicked from its conception, the realty of how counselors interpret Romans 8:30 is a gut-check for the president and board members of the critically ill NANC. Are two different gospels operating under the same nomenclature of “help can be found here” acceptable or not? Both are not the truth, and one or the other will help, or add further hurt.
Let’s be honest, how important is truth to those who claim to be in the truth business?
Very little, and arguably no applicable difference at all. Every now and then I read a post written by Dr. Jay Adams. He had a very interesting one today that examined the intent behind atheism:
The wicked arrogantly thinks “There is no accountability since God does not exist.” Psalm 10:4 (HCSB).
No doubt, no accountability is a strong motive and incentive for conveniently dismissing the existence of a just God, but are Calvinists any different? They are in regard to believing strongly in the existence of a just God, but what about accountability? In both cases, there is no accountability for sin.
The atheistic side is easy in regard to zero sum accountability, but on the Calvinist side it is a little more complicated. There is a just God who holds people accountable, and “people” would be other than Calvinist. Calvin believed law-keeping is futile because the standard is perfection; so, if you break one law, you might as well break all of it—same difference (he cited James 2:10 in order to make his case [Calvin Institutes 3.14.9,10,11]). Of course, James was talking about an attempt to keep the law for justification and not a general rule for life.
Calvin also believed new sins we commit cause us to fall from grace, so we supposedly need daily forgiveness, and that absolution can only be found in the institutional church, and baptism is efficacious for church membership. “No, no, we are not saved by baptism” Calvin would say while stating from the other side of his mouth that absolution can only be found in formal church membership…which can only be obtained by baptism (Calvin Institutes 4.15.1,3).
“To impart this blessing to us, the keys have been given to the Church (Mt. 16:19; 18:18). For when Christ gave the command to the apostles, and conferred the power of forgiving sins, he not merely intended that they should loose the sins of those who should be converted from impiety to the faith of Christ; but, moreover, that they should perpetually perform this office among believers” (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.22).
“Secondly, This benefit is so peculiar to the Church, that we cannot enjoy it unless we continue in the communion of the Church. Thirdly, It is dispensed to us by the ministers and pastors of the Church, either in the preaching of the Gospel or the administration of the Sacraments, and herein is especially manifested the power of the keys, which the Lord has bestowed on the company of the faithful. Accordingly, let each of us consider it to be his duty to seek forgiveness of sins only where the Lord has placed it. Of the public reconciliation which relates to discipline, we shall speak at the proper place” (Ibid).
“…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God” (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).
So, not unlike Catholicism as well, do whatever you want during the week and then obtain absolution on Sunday. Whether Protestant, Catholic, or atheist, there is no accountability.
The title of this post may seem a little strange as it seems hardly the case that Calvinism needs saving; Calvinism has already taken over American evangelicalism lock, stock, and barrel which includes Arminians that function according to Calvinism while denying some elements of its ideology.
But really, Calvinism does need saving. I was made aware last night of yet another New Calvinist mega church in our area that is dying out. In regard to the recent Mark Driscoll fiasco, is he more wily than we give him credit for? Does he see his recent demise as an opportunity to jump a sinking ship? (You might consider the conferences that he is being invited to). What is going to be more ugly and depressing than the slow death of all of these New Calvinist campus infrastructures?
Don’t be mistaken, the goal of this ministry is to educate God’s people in regard to authentic Calvinism so that it can’t make another comeback in the future. The present resurgence movement will die once again, and it’s in the process of doing so presently. Staying at the foot of the cross and not moving on to maturity can only yield one result: little spiritual babies in adult bodies getting run over by real life.
Actually, New Calvinism is a Godsend. It will finally cause God’s people to come to grips with Protestantism in general and the institutional church in particular. Many of us have known for years that there is something fundamentally wrong with church, but have never been able to put our finger on it. Thanks to New Calvinism, that is no longer the case.
When folks once again find themselves in the vicious cycle of the church caultasack called “new” and its false hope of something finally happening in the institutional church, we hope the simple theological math of Protestantism’s false gospel will be apparent. What is that?
It is the idea that the law is the standard for justification. And since that is the case, a perfect keeping of it must be maintained by Jesus THROUGH faith alone by us in sanctification. That’s the simple math of Protestantism’s soteriology of death. Instead of the law being ENDED for justification paving the way for it to be the guiding instruction of the law of the Spirit of life for sanctification, the law is restricted to the single dimension of condemnation, sin, and death.
Hence, sin maintains all of its power over us because its ENDING for justification, or APART from justification, does not exist in Reformed orthodoxy. Clearly, the power of sin and death is the law’s ability to condemn, and “Christians” are kept under that condemnation with the prescription being a COVERING for sin by institutional absolution and the “active obedience” of Christ.
When those who have sense enough to be disillusioned take another look, this simple fact of law and gospel will be obvious to them. And during the resurgence of real Protestantism in the 70’s, a man named Jon Zens knew that this simple math posed a problem for the Resurgence in the future. He was viciously attacked by Reformed Baptists early on like Walter Chantry, but like all of the rest, Chantry was clueless. Zens was only trying to correct the faulty theological math.
What was his solution? It follows: Christ in fact came to end the law, and replaced it with…depending on which New Calvinist theology (NCT) camp you are referring to…the single law of love. Instead of ONE law with two different applications/perspectives/dimensions, two different laws: one abrogated, one ushered in. A helpful book that explains the many variants of this viewpoint is “All Old Testament Laws Cancelled: 24 Reasons Why All Old Testament Laws Are Cancelled And All New Testament Laws Are for Our Obedience” by Greg Gibson. Like all of the Reformed, Gibson is confused and fundamentally full of it, but he does an excellent job of explaining all of the variant positions of NCT. However, in the final analysis, all of it is the same old progressive justification song and dance.
Let me also add another caveat here, slightly off point: if I correctly understand NT Wright’s New Perspective on Paul, he asserts that when Paul speaks of “justification by the law,” Paul is primarily speaking to the application of the traditions of men added to and taking away from the truth of the law. I agree with that, though Wright is in the Reformed camp and should therefore be dismissed out of hand in most other cases. When the law is still the standard for justification, it must be dumbed down and fulfilled by some kind of ritual. For the Judaizes, that was circumcision and other traditions. For the Reformed, it is…
If you do this, that, or the other, Jesus will keep the law for you.
NCT, in some rare cases among those who are like a nonfunctioning clock that is right twice a day, the following proposition may be presented: “Wait a minute Paul, if some forms of NCT posit the OT law as the law of condemnation, and its ending, while the New Testament is a new law that doesn’t condemn, and we can actually obey it without condemnation, what’s the difference?”
Well, by far, this is the least egregious of all Reformed heresy. In this construct, justification can also be separate from sanctification making us true colaborers with the Holy Spirit. The problem is that it eradicates half of the law for sanctification and proffers a New Testament only approach to the law; that’s a really, really big no, no.
Furthermore, it denies an interpretive cooperation between the OT and NT other than the NT interprets the OT hermeneutic. Moreover, that assertion invariably leads back to the same progressive justification of Reformed orthodoxy. In the final analysis, it should not surprise us that NCT has demonstrated the Reformed camp’s uncanny ability to add confusion upon more confusion. At last count according to the NCT think tank, The Earth Stove Society, NCT has 82 tenets. Count them: 82. Also note that the first tenet states that ALL reality is interpreted through redemption; i.e., the same old-same old redemptive historical hermeneutic of Reformed theology.
As we will discuss in this Friday’s Gnostic Watch Weekly, the Reformation was just another player in the field of world philosophy with its interpretation of reality. NCT is an attempt to reconcile the glaring contradiction in the theological math for those who have not yet been fully assimilated into seeing reality in an anti-normative Protestant way.
A prerequisite for Gnostic Watch Weekly 10/31/2014:
Materials for discussion:
We are inserting another interlude into our Romans series, the very important subject of atonement.
A clear definition of the word atonement, or at-onement, is critical to the discussion. The word primarily means to be reconciled as “onement” would imply. Unfortunately, atonement is often defined as “a covering” which is not the primary meaning of the word. “Covering” is not consistent with the idea of things separated becoming one. Mankind is at enmity with God and needs to be reconciled to Him.
It could be argued that covering is the result of reconciliation, but really, the result is an EXCHANGE. The exchange can be best summarized as an exchange of death for life. According to John J. Parsons, author of Hebrew 4 Christians .com, the English translation for the Jewish Day of Atonement is Yom Kippur which can mean “ransom,” “substitute,” or “redeem.” In Parson’s estimation, the overarching idea is an exchange of one life for another.
The idea of a covering for sin in the way you would cover something over to hide it is prevalent in the Old Testament. The word for covering something over appears in the Old Testament roughly 160 times, and about half of those pertain to a covering of sin. These are variations of kipur, kapar, kasa, and are usually translated in English as “cover” or “atonement.” The word atonement has a late etymology (16th century) and has religious implications. This shouldn’t surprise us because the Old Testament pointed to the eradication of sin on the cross while the Old Covenant covered, or held sin captive until Christ exchanged His life for ours:
Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
In the New Testament, the word atonement doesn’t appear. The KJV translates katallage as atonement, but elsewhere in Romans 5:10,11, 11:15, 1Cor 5:18, 7:11, 2Cor 5:19,20, the only other places the word appears, it is translated “reconciliation” or to be reconciled.
The word for “cover” in the New Testament (kalypto) appears four times; once for the admonishment to not use our freedom as a covering for sin (1Pet 2:16); twice in regard to love covering sin among Christians (1Pet 4:8, James 5:20), and one Old Testament reference to Psalm 32:1,2 in Romans 4:7. But the real test is in the Old Testament narratives which exemplify EXCHANGE. The first is the account of Abraham and Isaac:
Genesis 22:1 – After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.
The angel of the Lord waited long enough to establish the fact that Isaac was as good as dead before stopping Abraham. The ram was then sacrificed in place of Isaac—this is an exchange of death for life. We learn from Hebrews that Abraham assumed God was going to raise Isaac from the dead, so Abraham may have understood far more about the coming Messiah than we would imagine (Heb 11:1-19).
The next example may be sanctified speculation, but I would like to enter it into the lesson:
Hebrews 11: 4 – By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
Hebrews 12:24 – and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Genesis 4:1 – Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
God set a mark on Cain to preserve his life. This is the death of a righteous one that results in the preservation of one undeserving of life. Again, this may be speculative, but I offer it up for your consideration. Less speculative is the sacrifices demanded under the Old Testament law, particularly the Day of Atonement:
Leviticus 16:6 – “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel [scapegoat/goat of departure]. 9 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.
Leviticus 16:29 – “And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. 30 For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins. 31 It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. 32 And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments. 33 He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.” And Aaron did as the Lord commanded Moses.
Leviticus 14:49 – To purify the house he is to take two birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop. 50 He shall kill one of the birds over fresh water in a clay pot. 51 Then he is to take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet yarn and the live bird, dip them into the blood of the dead bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 He shall purify the house with the bird’s blood, the fresh water, the live bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn. 53 Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields outside the town. In this way he will make atonement for the house, and it will be clean.”
In addition, these sacrifices, especially the Day of Atonement, signified the taking away of sin rather than a mere covering:
Leviticus 16:21 – And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.
John 1:29 – The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
When we believe in Christ, we are persuaded that He laid down His life for ours. We are persuaded that He bore all of our sins and paid the penalty of death for them. He also was resurrected as well. His death and resurrection resulted in three exchanges that mark the true gospel. These are three exchanges that exhibit true atonement.
1. An exchange of the old us for the new us. When we believed on Christ, the old us literally died with Christ, and the new us was resurrected with Him. This is the meaning of baptism; it pictures that transaction:
Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
The denial of a literal spiritual death and resurrection resulting in a new person is NOT tantamount to the true gospel.
2. There must be a transaction of law. There must be a transfer of jurisdiction in regard to law. There must be an exchange of “under law” for “under grace.” It is an exchange of the law of sin and death that condemns for the law of liberty/law of the Spirit:
Galatians 4:21 – Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written…
Romans 3:21 – 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
We are justified apart from the law, but there is a law that bears witness to us. Unless we have a different relationship to the law than condemnation, there is no true gospel. A gospel that posits the idea that Christians are still under a law that can condemn us is a false one.
3. There must be a transaction of slavery. No unbeliever sins perfectly, and no believer obeys perfectly. Unbelievers are enslaved to unrighteousness and free to do good—believers are enslaved to righteousness and free to sin (Romans 6:20-23). Christ purchased us with His blood for service to His kingdom, and we were purchased from the slavery of the world (1Cor 7:23). Redemption is our resurrection when Christ takes full possession of us into His presence (Luke 21:28).
A true gospel must speak of these three transactions; you cannot have one without the other.
In researching the Reformation, one finds the “terror” of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) wanting in regard to its overall threat to civilization. Islam has always been inept in the politics of logic that despises life. Even many who agree with them will not buy into their means or politics. Per the usual since the 6th century, the likes of them only succeed in stirring up what little wrath there may be in the most passive among us.
A far greater threat, if not the threat, is Protestantism. While it is thought of by and large as a force for good in the world, if not the force for good in the world, its core logic is no whit different from Islam. Both are rooted in zero sum life value (not to be confused with life as zero sum game). The fallen creation is not merely weak by God’s metaphysical standards, it is utterly evil. If you can see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, or hear it—it is evil. The definition of faith is to believe that and nothing else, and a man’s highest calling is to set the masses free from placing value in this life. Protestant leaders are selfless souls in their own estimation, enduring the horrors of life for the sake of those who are in bondage to finding happiness here.
What people think they believe and how they function are two different things. This is where the intelligence of Martin Luther and John Calvin were far superior to their Islamic kinsmen. The latter think it important for people to know why they function the way they do; that wasn’t important to Luther or Calvin at all. In fact, they didn’t think the average person has the ability to know that anyway. Islam is considered fringe because they openly proclaim zero sum life. In contrast, Protestants claim to uphold the “sanctity of life,” but the core value is Luther’s doctrine of death. Islam is always too hasty—Protestantism is patient in its endeavor to plunge the whole world into its identity of darkness and death.
This fact is undeniable: while Protestants proclaim life, their father was a purveyor of zero sum life. Protestants have an appearance of loving life, and many actually think they do, but the core value of their hero and founder is death—this is an unavoidable metaphysical fact. We will first examine what Luther believed about life and reality, how that functions in life, and finally, why it is the greatest threat to the wellbeing of civilization in the 21st century.
The doctrine of zero sum life ALWAYS has three primary elements: material is evil and invisible is good; preordained mediators between the material world and the invisible world, and the goal of utopia. Though the varied assessments in each category are vast, the three fundamentals remain fixed with the SAME results: death and darkness. The only difference is the quality and experience in getting to the predictable end. These are ancient principles found in the cradle of civilization that play themselves out in myriad cyclic progressions of history. The Protestant Reformation was nothing new; it was a biblical version of the same worn-out caste system that has wreaked havoc on the earth since the Garden of Eden, and continues to do so in various and sundry expressions.
Obviously, the Protestant Reformation was not founded on Luther’s 95 Theses. That was a “Remember the Alamo” sort of thing. The doctrinal foundation of the Reformation came about six months later in Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation of 1518 to the Augustinian Order. In it, we find the three basic elements of ancient spiritual caste defined by zero sum life. Luther equated ALL human works with the natural and material:
Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end (Theses 2).
The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness (Theses 20).
That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened (Theses 22).
In other words, nothing that man does in this life can be based on wisdom from the invisible because he can’t comprehend it. He is enslaved to “natural precepts.” ALL visible things are defined by “human nature, weakness, foolishness.”
Because the material is supposedly evil, Luther believed that the deprecation of everything human and natural was the only way to experience wellbeing. Man cannot do anything good, but can experience wellbeing that comes from the invisible realm through suffering. Luther believed that Christ came to suffer in order to establish suffering and the annihilation of the natural as an epistemological gateway to the wellbeing of the invisible realm:
The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness. The Apostle in 1 Cor. 1:25 calls them the weakness and folly of God. Because men misused the knowledge of God through works, God wished again to be recognized in suffering, and to condemn »wisdom concerning invisible things« by means of »wisdom concerning visible things«, so that those who did not honor God as manifested in his works should honor him as he is hidden in his suffering (absconditum in passionibus). (Theses 20).
Viz, ALL knowledge of God is hidden in suffering. This is suffering as a plenary epistemology. Stated simply, spiritual wisdom cannot be known, but only experienced through suffering. The material cannot produce anything good which of course includes mankind. By the grace of God, mankind can experience the glory of heaven, but he cannot perform any work that has merit in the material realm.
This brings us to Luther’s preordained mediators for the great unwashed masses between the visible and invisible. He called them, Theologians of the Cross, or in other words, theologians of suffering:
That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the »invisible« things of God as though they were clearly »perceptible in those things which have actually happened« (Rom. 1:20; cf. 1 Cor 1:21-25).
This is apparent in the example of those who were »theologians« and still were called »fools« by the Apostle in Rom. 1:22. Furthermore, the invisible things of God are virtue, godliness, wisdom, justice, goodness, and so forth. The recognition of all these things does not make one worthy or wise (Theses 19).
He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross (Theses 20).
These are men specially gifted, if that’s your perspective, in interpreting ALL reality, or at least reality that means anything significant, through redemption or the suffering of the cross. This was Luther’s version of Plato’s philosopher kings. While Plato’s epistemology was based on immutable elements in the shadow world such as geometry and math, for Luther it was the cross of suffering. The gateway to freedom from the bondage of “natural precepts” is the study and meditation of suffering, and better yet, the experience of it.
This is where Luther prescribed law and Scripture as a tool to pursue suffering as an epistemology and way of life. The Bible’s purpose, according to Luther, is to show us the depths of our depravity and worthlessness:
The law wills that man despair of his own ability, for it »leads him into hell« and »makes him a poor man« and shows him that he is a sinner in all his works, as the Apostle does in Rom. 2 and 3:9, where he says, »I have already charged that all men are under the power of sin.« However, he who acts simply in accordance with his ability and believes that he is thereby doing something good does not seem worthless to himself, nor does he despair of his own strength (Theses 18).
Luther’s focus was on the wellbeing of the individual and not necessarily that of society, but obviously, individual wellbeing defines the collective wellbeing of community. The use of the law for self-depravation and the embrace of suffering are key to experiencing wellbeing. Humble, broken individuals lead to a humble society.
The payoff for this way of life is a well-known Reformed doctrine till this very day: Vivification. Luther saw the Christian life as a perpetual cycle of death and rebirth. As man strives to see his depravity in the Scriptures and is driven to despair, the result is a recurring and deepening experience of future glory. This is the formal Reformed doctrine of Mortification and Vivification supposedly pictured in baptism. Hence, baptism doesn’t picture a onetime transformational event—the old self dying with Christ and then resurrected to new life, it is supposedly a picture of Christian life defined by perpetual death and rebirth:
He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand (Theses 24).
Protestants of our day are in no wise confused about the doctrine Mortification and Vivification:
Progressive sanctification has two parts: mortification and vivification, ‘both of which happen to us by participation in Christ,’ as Calvin notes….Subjectively experiencing this definitive reality signified and sealed to us in our baptism requires a daily dying and rising. That is what the Reformers meant by sanctification as a living out of our baptism….and this conversion yields lifelong mortification and vivification ‘again and again.’ Yet it is critical to remind ourselves that in this daily human act of turning, we are always turning not only from sin but toward Christ rather than toward our own experience or piety” (Michael Horton: The Christian Faith; mortification and vivification, pp. 661-663 [Calvin Inst. 3.3.2-9]).
At conversion, a person begins to see God and himself as never before. This greater revelation of God’s holiness and righteousness leads to a greater revelation of self, which, in return, results in a repentance or brokenness over sin. Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, for he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable. This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ. Not only this, but a greater interchange occurs in that the Christian learns to rest less and less in his own performance and more and more in the perfect work of Christ. Thus, his joy is not only increased, but it also becomes more consistent and stable. He has left off putting confidence in the flesh, which is idolatry, and is resting in the virtue and merits of Christ, which is true Christian piety” (Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance).
This is Luther’s utopian ideal: perpetual death and rebirth towards ultimate freedom from the natural.
What is the appeal of such a belief? It is the same as it has always been: this life that we are in bondage to does not have to be taken seriously; don’t worry, be happy. Life is worthless, and we are therefore not obligated to invest in it. This life is not what really matters, so don’t sweat it. Sure, if you want to excel in the shadow world, that’s fine, but it’s not really relevant. You can experience life in a completely relaxed mode because it is all just an illusion anyway. As with all trifold spiritual caste systems, EVERYTHING is predetermined, therefore, you are really not responsible for anything that happens. Neither is this point missed among Protestants as well:
What is the appeal of such a doctrine? I think it was stated best by the popular Reformed Mockingbird blog. They wrote an article entitled, The Subjective Power of an Objective Gospel. The following is an excerpt:
What, then, is the subjective power of this message? Firstly, we find that there is real, objective freedom, the kind that, yes, can be experienced subjectively. We are freed from having to worry about the legitimacy of experiences; our claims of self-improvement are no longer seen as a basis of our witness or faith. In other words, we are freed from ourselves, from the tumultuous ebb and flow of our inner lives and the outward circumstances; anyone in Christ will be saved despite those things. We can observe our own turmoil without identifying with it. We might even find that we have compassion for others who function similarly. These fluctuations, violent as they might be, do not ultimately define us. If anything, they tell us about our need for a savior (David Zahl and Jacob Smith: Mockingbird blog). (Paul M. Dohse Sr.: Pictures of Calvinism; TANC Publishing 2013, p. 34).
When it gets right down to the crux of it, this is the appeal in a nutshell. And what are the consequences for our 21st century culture? Dire. A return to the original articles of the Reformation and a proper understanding of it has been growing since 1970. In our day, “New Calvinism” which is a return to Reformation fundamentals has all but completely taken over the evangelical churches worldwide. The political consequences, especially in the United States, could be catastrophic.
Why? For the first time in world history, the American idea adopted a government for the people and by the people. It was the first government in history to reject the ancient threefold caste system of man’s inability, oligarchy, and utopia. The common three-fold caste system has never produced anything other than suffering and tyranny. Protestantism is merely one of many different versions of three-fold spiritual caste. American Protestants of the past have been a strength for freedom because of their integration with capitalism, but with Protestantism returning to its original European roots, that has already changed dramatically. New Calvinists are markedly anti-American, and this should not surprise us in the least.
Compounding the problem is the aforementioned issue of beliefs versus function. American Protestants profess to believe in individual responsibly and capability, but they function as those totally dependent on experts to understand reality. While they would verbally reject the three-fold caste system based on beliefs, they clearly function by all three elements.
This is confirmed by what evangelicals profess as set against blatant contradictions. The most glaring contradiction is the idea that America is a “Christian nation.” Worse yet, we must be a Christian nation because if we weren’t, that only leaves “secular,” and secular equals evil because, well, it’s not Christian. This is a mentality spawned from element one of spiritual caste: material is evil—invisible is good, and Christianity represents the invisible. My wife Susan, after being a Christian for more than 50 years, is beginning to recognize this. Though she would have always rejected the idea of spiritual caste as a lifelong professional educator, there was a time when she thought the only good teacher was a Christian teacher. In her mind, only Christian teachers had a proper grasp of reality. Where did she get such ideas?
In regard to groups that threaten American liberty, patriots would do well to add Protestants to the list. And unwitting Protestants who think they are patriots should wise up and do their own research. To the New Calvinists, anybody being in control is better than “We the people.” American exceptionalism is based on individual ability, not total depravity. For the most part, New Calvinists do not vote, and if they do, they vote socialist. Why? Because there is only one thing worse than communist rule in their minds: the collective will of totally depraved individuals. This ministry researches in the realm of New Calvinism, and anti-American rhetoric is a constant theme among them.
First, New Calvinism is a huge movement, and growing; second, if America goes south, so goes the world. Right now, America has, at the very least, a 45% leaning towards socialism, and the ever-growing New Calvinist movement will continue to chip away at the remaining 55%. What needs to be done?
Those who get it must stop arguing with New Calvinists on their own terms. They must be confronted in regard to their interpretation of reality and what their mentors really believed. In light of their massive and blatant contradictions to the plain sense of Scripture, why does this movement continue to grow by leaps and bounds? Answer: most Christians would say that we must interpret Scripture for ourselves, but we don’t function that way. If a leader states something that seems like a blatant contradiction to us, we chalk it up to our own inability and assume them to be the experts.
We must come to grips with the fact that these “experts” are no different from the chanting Buddhist monks sitting on the ground dressed in orange bath towels and shaved heads. Such do not benefit American freedom—you have never seen any of them in line at a voting location. New Calvinist numbers are growing at an alarming rate among what is left of evangelicalism, and that could very well tip the balance of influence and America’s future political landscape, and where America goes, so goes the world.
That’s why Protestantism is now the greatest threat to civilization in the 21st century.
I recently wrote a two-part article on the qualifications of overseers or “elders” (see part 1 and part 2). It occurred to me the other day as I was preparing the lesson for the Tuesday Night Bible Study, that while we spend much time studying the elder’s qualifications, we don’t usually go on to the next step, and that is to ask the question, what actually is the job of an overseer. What does he do? What is his job description?
Now those of reformed and protestant orthodoxy will talk much about elders, or bishops, or shepherds, or apostles, or whatever they want to call themselves, using terms like “authority”, “ordained”, “gifted”, “rule”, and “obedience”. The emphasis is clearly one of a spiritual caste system, as Paul Dohse often makes reference. We are the “elders”; you are the lowly pew-sitters. We interpret; you follow and obey. After all, we have to give an account at the judgment, and you don’t want us to not have any joy in performing our leadership over you. That would not benefit you at all (paraphrasing the often abused Hebrews 13:17). The thinly veiled threat implied in that statement being that the elders have some say in how things work out for you come judgment day. It got me to thinking- does the Bible give us any list of duties of an overseer? The answer should come as no surprise to us, but, yes, it does! The Bible speaks very plainly what an overseer is to do and how he is to act.
The major body of the overseer’s job description is found in Acts 20:28-35
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the assembly of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
“And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
The apostle Paul is making his way back to Jerusalem. He makes a stop in Miletus which is near Ephesus, and he calls for all the elders of the Ephesian assemblies to meet him there. He gives them one last personal exhortation because he knows in his spirit that they will never see him again. Along with a stern reminder to them to remember everything that he has taught them, Paul also gives them a list of tasks for them to carry out. These are the things an overseer is to do:
This imperative command in the Greek literally means, “to hold the mind”. Pay attention! Be aware! This is the primary role and the very definition of “overseer”. The word “overseer” contains the word σκοπος (sko-pos), which refers to a watch or a sentry or a lookout. This is also the origin of the English word “skeptic”, or “skeptical”. One who is a skeptic is by definition cautious. He is always on guard. He doesn’t automatically believe what he is told. He confirms and verifies. He is on the lookout for lies and deceit.
Paul’s first instruction to the overseers was to be on the lookout for trouble to come into the assembly. He warned that grievous wolves would come in as soon as he left, and not just from outside, but from within as well. Wolves are pack animals. They never hunt alone. And often times they do not present themselves as wolves. Paul described wolves this way in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15:
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
This was the reason for Paul’s earnest exhortation to the overseers of Ephesus. They needed to take heed to protect the flock by watching out for wolves. They needed to take heed even among the overseers, for a wolf would seek to work his way in to a position of leadership among an assembly. There is nothing more deadly to the flock than for a wolf to be its shepherd.
Feed the assembly…
This is the word ποιμαινω (poy-my-noh), which means to tend as a shepherd. There is more than just feeding involved here. Notice now this relates to the first point. Paul again uses this familiar metaphor of tending to sheep to illustrate the same kind of care and watch over the assembly beyond just being on the lookout for wolves. If you want a full description of the shepherd’s role, just take a look at Psalm 23, paying special attention to the highlighted phrases:
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Follow my example in labor…so (thus, in this manner) laboring
In this phrase, Paul may be indirectly referring to his example in how he performed the previous two roles, but he is specifically referring to the fact that he earned his own wages through independent employment. He did not depend solely upon the assemblies to support him financially. Rather, he saw the importance of the assemblies using their resources to support the poor, weak, and needy among them. Remember how we read in Acts chapters 2 and 4 how the assemblies brought all their offerings together and distributed to every man according to his need so that no one lacked? Paul reinforces this message by exhorting them to remember the words of Jesus – that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
The overseers were not to be a burden to the assemblies, but as much as was within their means, they were rather to see that the needs of the assemblies, both spiritual and physical, were met. Their role as overseers was not self-promotion or material gain but a Godly example after which the assemblies were to pattern themselves. The apostle Peter echoed these same sentiments in 1 Peter 5:1-4 when he wrote:
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”
Paul addresses two more roles of the overseer in his letter to Titus. In Titus 1:9 he writes:
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”
Holding fast the faithful word…
I found this word in the Greek to be rather interesting. It is the word αντεχομαι (an-teh-koh-my), from the words “anti”, meaning against, and “echo”, meaning to hold. Literally the word means to hold against, or to stand in opposition to. Why would Paul be instructing overseers to stand in opposition to the faithful word that he’s been taught? The answer is, he isn’t. The context of the verse states that as overseers remain faithful to the word as they have been taught by the apostles, they are to stand in direct opposition to any false teaching. Stand in opposition to any false teaching that would be contrary to the words of scripture as you have been taught.
Paul writes in Romans 16:17-18,
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
This instruction applies to all believers, but is especially needful for overseers. Notice we are to “mark them”. This is the verb form of the word “skopos”, σκοπεω (sko-peh-oh), and it literally means to take aim at. Find the ones who teach false doctrine. “Scope” them out. Watch for them. Aim your sights in on them, as if you are looking through the “scope” of a rifle. Make them a target. Stand against them, and then avoid them. Notice it does not say to take them head on. Point them out, not for the purpose of removing them, but for the purpose of going around them. In doing so, you make them irrelevant. And this leads in to the last role of the overseer.
Exhort and convince the gainsayers
This is the way that we are to mark and avoid false teachers. There are actually two parts to this. The first is to exhort using sound doctrine. This is the familiar word παρακαλεω (par-ah-ka-leh-oh) that means to come along beside. This is in relation to believers. The overseer must come along beside other believers and remind them of the truth of what scripture says and encourage them to continue in it. In doing this, they present the contrast of the false teacher, convincing the “gainsayers.” A gainsayer is one who speaks against something, in this case the truth of scripture. The word “convince” is ελεγχω (el-eng-kho) and is better translated as “expose”. Exhorting believers to sound doctrine serves to expose those who speak against it. In this way, false teachers are marked so that they can be avoided, and the assembly is edified, because if believers are able to effectively spot a false teacher, then the false teacher no longer has any influence there.
You should notice that all of these roles of the overseer are defensive and not offensive. Neither are they self-serving. Everything is for the benefit of the assembly to protect them and edify them and bring them to maturity. There is no emphasis on authority or rule or obedience, in fact this is expressly prohibited. Rather the emphasis is on that of a servant. An overseer is not there to make sure the assembly follows orders. The assembly is made up of individual believers that must each grow into maturity. They must grow into maturity so that they can fulfill their commission- their role as ambassadors of reconciliation, bringing the Gospel of the Kingdom to the lost. An overseer’s job is to make sure that those in the assembly have what they need in order to carry out their role, to see that they are properly equipped, and to protect them from danger along the way.
New Calvinism’s Beef With Teaching Children to Ask Jesus Into Our Heart and Voddie Baucham’s Reformed View of Children
Now look, I believe children are born sinful, and I also believe children not properly reared can grow up to be monsters, but we need to also remember that every human being is born with the works/law of God written on their hearts and their consciences either excusing or accusing them. That’s why I don’t go for this total depravity stuff along with the dirty little secret that this also supposedly applies to believers. Man is by nature sinful, but if you go through life looking at the unregenerate as nothing more than barely a step above the animal world, they will know that and it will create issues in your life to say the least.
New Calvinism will die a social death. Authentic Calvinism always does because five things finally come home to roost:
1. Folks finally take a stand against the tyranny it produces.
2. Folks finally catch on to the fact that authentic Reformed theology is Gnosticism (Neo-Platonism) dressed up in Bible verses.
3. Folks grow weary of its pessimistic mindset/outlook on life that came from Plato and Augustine.
4. Folks get bored with the constant recycling of Christology as if that is the only subject in the Bible (Susan and I are hearing this a lot lately).
5. As a result of 1-4, people’s lives start going to hell in a hand basket. Authentic Calvinism always ends up yielding very bad results as it did in Geneva and Salem MA.
But for the first time since the conception of Reformed theology, there has never been a resurgence of it that has been this well systematized and funded (ie, New Calvinism). And, there has never been a time when American parishioners were dumbed down like they are in our day; so, number 2 is going to take a while. In other words, the former resurgent movements haven’t left enough damage for people to remember, and dots usually aren’t connected (ie, the Salem witch trials were an identical event to what took place in Geneva under Calvin’s reign of terror). So, every hundred years or so it makes a comeback and then dies out again. The goal is to limit the carnage and educate to prevent another resurgence.
Now back to my original point about children. New Calvinists get this Reformed, abysmal view of man from Plato and Augustine. And the following quote by New Calvinist Voddie Baucham depicted in the illustration should be all that needs to be said.
Keep New Calvinists away from our children.
This chart needs a lot of work, but in regard to Christian living versus salvation, the cause for confusion in our day follows: Protestantism and Calvinism in particular fuse the different applications of single words together to mean one thing…for the most part…justification. Take the word “repentance”: it has a different meaning and application for the Christian versus the unbeliever. This chart is meant to get the ball rolling in the direction of teaching people to interpret the Bible according to the sanctification/justification dichotomy. Protestantism and Calvinism make sanctification and justification the same thing, and make under law/under grace the same thing, and call for an interpretation of Scripture in this way which makes their false gospel feasible. Again, this chart merely gets the ball rolling; I trust that your own independent study can improve upon it greatly.
Tuesday Night Bible Study
October 21, 2014
Study of the Book of Acts
|Tonight’s Text – Acts 14:21 – 15:6Brief review
To produce maturity
χειρ (keer) – “hand”
τεινω (tee-no) – “to stretch.”
Casting a vote in an election
- No apostolic authority
- Laity selects their elder
Opening the door of faith to the Gentiles
- Most important aspect
- Not expected to happen.
III. Contention with Circumcision
- From Jerusalem
- “They of the circumcision”
- Authority to teach this doctrine?
- Law fulfilled by circumcision
- Under law vs. under grace
“EXACTLY like Calvinists, Olson decries the Christian message of ‘Do, do, do, do,’ while unwittingly propagating the false gospel of keeping ourselves saved by doing nothing. Making sure that we don’t do anything is in fact doing something while begging the question: why is it so important that we continue to do the same thing that originally saved us lest it be a false gospel?”
“Be not deceived: antinomianism is defined by an aversion to the law in sanctification. Antinomianism is defined by ‘one way love’… Be not deceived by the philosopher kings of the institutional church, or simply ‘church.’ When they decry ‘Do, do, do do,’ they are really decrying, ‘Love, love, love, love.’”
There is one reason and one reason only why New Calvinism has completely taken over the institutional church; fundamentally, Protestantism has always been predicated by weak sanctification because of its foundational beliefs in regard to justification. In other words, our functional sanctification is the true indicator of what we believe about justification. And in Protestantism, that has never changed. Therefore, the institutional church has always been primed for a return to the original article.
In the same way, all outlaw biker clubs should unite into one happy family; after all, they all believe in hedonism by unfettered lust alone. Why quibble about the best way to rob a liquor store or beat your “biker bitch”? Those are matters of hedonology. If I am not mistaken, a famous biker once said…
In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.
However, bikers wouldn’t let some Protestant sins be named among them once; e.g., pedophilia. One biker club has even formed an effective child abuse advocacy program where they support victims through the legal process and accompany them when they testify in court. This is in stark contrast to Protestants, like their Catholic kin, who defend the pedophiles and blame the victims. Pedophiles have to be isolated in prison, but among Protestants they find that good old fashioned “grace.” While many Neo-Calvinists tacitly support ISIS, biker clubs in Europe have joined the Kurds in fighting ISIS on the ground in Iraq. So, a unification of outlaw biker clubs and Protestantism is unlikely—the bikers wouldn’t have them, but there is still hope for the unification of Protestant factions and even the Catholic Church that spawned them.
Roger Olson, the Mr. Rogers of Protestantism, bemoans the reality that he was forced into a situation where he must defend Arminianism. It is a gig he didn’t want. Good Protestants should be above the fray of public debate. After all, public brawls are biker-like. He argues that Calvinists and Arminians believe the same gospel, and he is absolutely correct about that. And what is that gospel? According to Olson’s spot-on assessment, progressive justification. Of course, he doesn’t use those particular synonyms because it undresses the Protestant emperor, but as we shall see, it is the same thing. Calvinists and Arminians believe the same false gospel that is foundational to Protestant “essentials.”
At one point in Olson’s call for Calminianism, he notes his respect for moderate Calvinists as opposed to the radical Young, Restless, and Reformed (YRR). But of course, he loves the Calvinist, but hates the Hyper Calvinism, not the moderate Calvinism. This is the constant mantra of Baptist leaders who say that a playing card can barely be slipped between moderate Calvinism and Arminianism, and again, they are absolutely right about that. Only one adjustment needs to be made: there is no difference between “moderate” Calvinism and “radical” Calvinism. That’s the same difference between moderate and radical Islam. To show that he knows what he is talking about, Olson cites examples of moderate Calvinists from his contemporary church history mojo. He cites Donald Bloesch and G. C. Berkouwer as examples of moderate Calvinists.
Only problem is, Bloesch, as I document in The Truth About New Calvinism, was one of the forefathers of the present-day New Calvinist movement. He was a champion of the “gospel recovery” movement that was spawned by the Australian Forum. As documented, he promoted the Australian Forum study groups in Presbyterian circles. One of the Forum’s most quoted Reformed teachers was G.C. Berkouwer, who stated unequivocally that Reformed soteriology is predicated on the belief that there is absolutely NO difference whatsoever in an unbeliever and a believer in their state before God. Bloesch was a strong advocate of the EXACT theology that drives YRR.
And what is that theology? What is that gospel? Olson tells us in his Calminian treatise:
Evangelical Calvinists and evangelical Arminians need to reach an accord, an agreement, to put down the long knives and cooperate with each other in opposing the real “default heresy” of American Christianity—moralism.
And what is this “moralism” that is the common foe of the Calminians?
The true, biblical, evangelical gospel is difficult to find in American churches or hear from their pulpits…Not far from my house is a church that purports to be evangelical. For weeks now the marquee has said simply “Decide to grow.” Decide to grow? What does that mean? Ah, much to my dismay I think I know what it means: “Being a good person, even a good Christian, is totally up to you. Use your will to decide to change and become the person that pleases God.” The missing all-important truth is that no one can do that by themselves, on their own, just using their will power.
This is Calvinism to a T including its Gnostic either/or emphasis interpretation of reality. Notice that Olson excludes any discussion of colaboring between us and the Spirit. It’s either ALL of our will, or ALL of the Spirit. We hear this coming forth from the Calvinist camp constantly along with the deliberate use of the words “us alone” as a red herring to throw you off the antinomian scent. When you read, “no one can do that by themselves,” which goes without saying, what isn’t discussed is the truthful discussion of colaboring: out of sight, out of mind.
Olson then goes on to present the same worn-out misuse of Scripture used by Calvinists constantly:
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” End of story, for most American Christians. Do, do, do. Work harder at being a disciple, a good citizen, a church person, a good neighbor, a successful person.
But Philippians 2:12 can no more be taken alone, without 2:13, than 2:13 can be taken alone without 2:12. “For God is at work in you, to will and to do for his good pleasure.” The Greek word translated “work” in 2:12 is not the same translated “work” in 2:13. So it’s not a sheer contradiction or even a paradox (as many have claimed). The message is: “Carry your salvation out to its best possible conclusion in being Christ-like and do it with care knowing all the time that you aren’t really doing it at all because God gives you everything you need to do it and is even the one doing it in you.”
From beginning to end, everything about being a Christian, in more than a merely nominal sense, is gift. All we have to do, all we can do, is receive the gifts—forgiveness, regeneration, justification, sanctification, glorification. At no point in the process does anyone have the right to claim some good accomplished or achieved as his or her own.
The American gospel, however, is that you must use your will power to change and grow. It’s totally up to you—so just “do it.” The vast majority of sermons focus on that message of moralism. “God would be more pleased with you, you would be more pleasing to God, if you exercised your will to change and grow and become a better person than you are.” That’s not the gospel. The gospel is that you can’t do it. As songwriter Jeremy Camp said in a song popularized by Amy Grant: “Being good is just a fable; I just can’t ‘cause I’m not able. Gonna leave it to the Lord”—the “Lord” being the Holy Spirit.
That’s Calvinism plain and simple that can be tagged with all the Reformed essential truisms: “Christ 100% for us” (in both sanctification and justification), “The vital union” (we keep ourselves “in the love of Christ” by faith alone), “Justification by faith alone” (in sanctification also), and the idea that the Christian life is a “rest” in which we “rest and feed on the saving works (plural) of Christ.”
EXACTLY like Calvinists, Olson decries the Christian message of “Do, do, do,” while unwittingly propagating the false gospel of keeping ourselves saved by doing nothing. Making sure that we don’t do anything is in fact doing something while begging the question: why is it so important that we continue to do the same thing that originally saved us lest it be a false gospel?
Because it demonstrates the fact that both Calvinists and Arminians believe that justification is not a finished work and that it must be maintained the same way it was initiated—by faith alone.
This is irrefutable and unavoidable: note once again the very words of Olson:
From beginning to end, everything about being a Christian, in more than a merely nominal sense, is gift. All we have to do, all we can do, is receive the gifts—forgiveness, regeneration, justification, sanctification, glorification.
Hence, all we can do is receive, and this includes love. Sanctification, like justification, can only be received. Pray tell, what is the difference between this and Tullian Tchividjian’s Liberation 2014 theme “One Way Love.”?
Christ stated clearly what the results of the latter-day religion of lawlessness (anomia) would be: “the love of many will wax cold.” Are we to assume that this love doesn’t include love for God? Just what would be our first clue in all of this? What does “one way” mean? What does it mean to “receive” only?
And lest Olson fall short of defining himself as a pure Calvinist, he dissed the first thinkers in human history to stop the constant flow of blood from determinism’s spiritual caste system of the church state:
This is the gospel, folks. But, by and large, we have lost it. For it we have substituted false gospels of morality, prosperity, “success in life,” niceness, effort, churchmanship, citizenship, the “American way.”
Sigh. Again, we see Olson’s kinship with Calvinism’s Gnostic dualism: if you believe in individualism, you are also guilty of everything in column A, including a prosperity gospel. If you believe you can do anything, that means you believe you must do it all, etc. It’s either material evil, or invisible good. It’s either Luther’s cross story, or the glory story. It’s either all about your glory, or Christ’s glory. It’s either about what you do, or what “Christ has done.”
It’s all the same antinomian false gospel. Sure, “the law is good,” but Jesus must keep it for us lest we do something. Be not deceived: antinomianism is defined by an aversion to the law in sanctification. Antinomianism is defined by “one way love.”
Olson put the icing on the cake by stating the following:
Now I’m sure some readers are wondering how this is not Calvinism. Well, it is! It’s also Arminianism!
Precisely. He goes on to say, in essence, that It’s Not About Election. That’s a title of a book. It’s about Protestantism’s false gospel of progressive justification which both Calvinists and Arminians hold to. Both deny the new birth and new creaturehood that is troubled by a profession of faith not accompanied by a changed life, or denoting a changed life as works salvation. Love is one way. Love is redefined as believing you are loveless. That’s what Calvinists and Arminians alike are saying when they say they love you: it is a statement that you are both loveless.
Also, Olson, like the Calvinists, makes sanctification the exact same gift that justification is.
So what is the true gospel? The true gospel demands a radical gulf between justification and sanctification. How wide is that gulf? 430 years apart. As far as the east is from the west. It also denies that regeneration is powered by the finished work of justification. It also denies that sanctification is a rest. There remains a rest for God’s people, and it is not sanctification. No, the heretic Roger Olson has it wrong: justification is the free gift, sanctification is a responsibility. We have been assigned as “ambassadors.” That’s not a gift—it’s a job. The Hebrew writer stated that God would be “unjust” if he forgets our works and service of “love.” Unjust? How can that be? Because sanctification has to do with rewards, and that is totally different than justification. Rewards are earned, the free gift of justification cannot be earned. Roger Olson, like the Calvinists he pines away for, is a false teacher who will lead many to hell at worst, and will rob many Christians of their reward at best.
Why? Because not doing something to maintain your salvation is doing something. You may not do anything at Mass to get absolution, but you had to do something to get there in order to keep your salvation. Progressive justification is no different.
Justification is a finished work and there is no law to judge the Christian. The law that formally condemned us is now our instruction for loving God and others. In regard to justification, we are perfect because there is no law to judge us and we are literally born of God. We are the holy ones of God saved by grace, NOT “sinners saved by grace.” Where there is no law, there is no sin. We are born anew and long for salvation from mortality. There may be fear in working out that salvation, but there is NO fear in love. Our sanctified life of love drives the fear of judgment far from us. We are free to labor aggressively in love without fear of condemnation.
Be not deceived by the philosopher kings of the institutional church, or simply “church.” When they decry “Do, do, do, do,” they are really decrying, “Love, love, love, love.”
Come out from among the wicked false teachers and their false antinomian gospel of lovelessness.
by Paul David Tripp and Timothy S. Lane
Punch Press: Winston-Salem (2006, 2008)
Reviewed by Donn R. Arms
The Journal of Modern Ministry: Volume 8, Issue 1, Winter 2011
Jay E. Adams Founder and Senior Writer; Kevin Backus General Editor
The traditional view of the gospel’s relationship to change is that salvation is foundational to change. Once a person is justified before God by believing in Christ’s saving work on the cross, and made a new creature, he then begins the work of co-laboring with God in the growth process, also known as sanctification. The traditional view sees our role, after being made a new creature (born again), as many-faceted in regard to biblical instruction—the primary role being the learning of God’s Word and the application of it to life via obedience in how we think and behave (Matthew 7:24).
The traditional view makes a significant distinction between justification (redemption), sanctification (growing into Christ-likeness), and glorification (complete transformation). It sees justification and glorification as acts of God alone apart from human participation or monergistic, but sees sanctification as synergistic or a cooperative (but none the less dependent) work with God. Obviously, an accurate view and description of our participation is vital to affecting real and lasting change.
For Tripp and Lane, the gospel message is not only for the unregenerate, but efficacious for real and lasting change in the life of a believer. Certainly, as Christians move into our relationship with Christ as not only Savior, but also Lord, we should never leave behind an appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ that saved us. The authors claim, however, that the same elements of justification must be carried forward into sanctification without anything being added. In fact, for believers to even make an effort to align our thinking with Scripture is an act on our part that denies Christ as Savior:
. . . and the Bible does call us to change the way we think about things. But this approach again omits the person and work of Christ as Savior. Instead, it reduces our relationship to Christ to “think his thoughts” and “act the way Jesus would act” (p. 27, 2006 edn).
Throughout the book, the authors embrace parts of the traditional view, but view the traditional elements through a non-traditional prism, and give the traditional elements of change a different meaning. In this case they trade the traditional idea that Christians are to make an effort to align our thoughts with Scripture with the idea that we should do something else instead that leads to biblical thinking as a natural result of the “living Christ” acting on our behalf and apart from our initial efforts. According to the authors, the traditional approach omits the “work” of Christ in our sanctification and omits Christ as “Savior.”
Lane and Tripp do not deny that Christians have a role in the sanctification process. But what exactly is that role? If the traditional view of our exertion (effort in aligning our life with Scripture) in sanctification is out, what is in? Answer: deep repentance, the second major thrust of the book.
Repentance is a form of emptying the heart . . . Along with deep repentance, Scripture calls us to faith that rests and feeds upon the living Christ. He fills us with himself through the person of the Holy Spirit and our hearts are transformed by faith. (p 28)
Our efforts are out; a faith that “rests and feeds” is in. So, like justification, sanctification is limited to the narrow elements of faith and repentance only. We don’t apply effort to align our lives with Scripture in order to be saved, and we don’t for sanctification (real and lasting change) either.
Throughout HPC, Christ is referred to as “the living Christ.” Believers have no ability to perform works, or add works to their faith because believers are still spiritually dead, and the only life within us is Christ. On pages 64 and 65 of the 2006 edition Christians are described as being dead, powerless, enslaved, alienated from God, enemies of God, fools, and those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. In other words, our condition is not changed from what we were before salvation. Referring to believers, the authors write: “when you are dead, you can’t do anything” (p. 64). Therefore, we can’t do anything leaving only the “living Christ” to perform works on our behalf.
This is a synthesizing of justification and sanctification. Our ability to perform works pleasing to God is in the same context as those who are unregenerate. We are clearly unable. The authors illustrate this with the story of Andy:
In both phases of his Christian life, the work of Christ on the cross was radically minimized by Andy’s own efforts. The first three years evidenced a Christ-less activism that produced pride and self-sufficiency (p. 184, 2006 edn).
Andy’s “own efforts” in “his Christian life” are in direct relation (according to the authors) to how prevalent redemption (“the work of Christ on the cross”) was in Andy’s life. The fact that Andy’s efforts to obey might have been misguided is not the point that the authors are making here. The authors only cite Andy’s “own efforts” in “his Christian life” with no traditional consideration of erroneous efforts to obey that are inconsistent with the Scriptures being rightly divided.
In essence, it resembles an ongoing need to be saved (redeemed) daily through the works of Christ only. Referring to 1 Cor. 10:13-14 the authors state:
What Paul envisions here is not just the change that takes place when we come to Christ, but the lifestyle of change that results from an ongoing sense of our need for redemption (progressive sanctification) [p. 102, 06 edn].
Progressive sanctification is redefined as “an ongoing sense of our need for redemption.” However, the redemption he is speaking of is the same redemption that originally saved us (“when we came to Christ…and the ‘ongoing’ need for it”). Tripp and Lane believe that there is little difference between justification and sanctification. If we can’t do works to be saved, neither can we do works in the sanctification process.
But what about all the commands in the Bible that are obviously directed toward us? Are we not supposed to obey the principles and commands of Scripture? Yes, but . . .
. . . a behavioral approach to change is hollow because it ignores the need for Christ and his (sic) power to change first the heart and then the behavior. Instead, even the Christian version of this separates the commands of Scripture from their Christ-centered, gospel context. [p. 26]
By “Christ-centered, gospel context,” they mean obedience via the cross (works of Christ, not ours). This can also be seen in their view of the use of Scripture as instruction, or “directions” to be read and then followed:
One of the mistakes we make in handling God’s Word is that we reduce it to a set of directions on how we live. We look for directions about relationships, church life, sex, finances, marriage, happiness, parenting, and so on…..This does violence to the very nature of the Word of God and robs it of its power. The Bible is the world’s most significant story, the story of God’s cosmos-restoring work of redemption. The Bible is a “big picture” book. It introduces us to God, defines our identity, lays out the meaning and purpose of life, and shows us where to find help for the one disease that infests us all—sin. If you try to reduce the Bible to a set of directions, not only will you miss its overall wisdom, you will not make sense of the directions. They only make sense in the context of the whole story (p. 92, 2006 edn).
Seeking, then, to find in the Scriptures instruction in Godliness (2 Tim 3:16) “does violence to the very nature of the Word of God and robs it of its power.”
The second tenet advocated by Tripp and Lane is deep introspection, or “deep repentance.”
Repentance is a form of emptying the heart….Along with deep repentance, Scripture calls us to faith that rests and feeds upon the living Christ. He fills us with himself through the person of the Holy Spirit and our hearts are transformed by faith. [p. 28]
Deep repentance, also called “intelligent repentance” by the authors, is a necessarily embellished form of orthodox repentance because of the narrow approach (faith and repentance only as our role) the book’s theory takes in regard to change. Heart idols must first be identified. Then repenting of them leads to the elimination thereof, creating a void that is filled by Christ and the release of His power accordingly.
Elements of deep repentance include asking God to forgive us of our own efforts, i.e, “repenting of righteousness” (p.190, 2006), and “seeing the sin beneath the sins” (p. 190, 2006) which requires an understanding that it is impossible to violate commands 4-10 (of the 10 commandments) without first violating commands 1-3, which are the commands that speak to heart idols. Therefore, you must get to the heart of why you sinned (idols of the heart covered in commands 1-3) before the violation of all other sins can be prevented. On pages 163-165 Lane and Tripp suggest a list of “X-ray questions” to determine types of desires linked to heart idols to aid in this “deep repentance.”
The third tenet is that of “the Bible as a narrative for change.” The authors say that the Bible is a simple story that all Christians can understand, and that God uses creation to write the book in word pictures (p. 93, 2006). The very purpose of the Bible, according to the authors, is to supply believers with a model of change that involves four basic elements: heat, thorns, cross, and fruit (p. 96, 2006). The authors say the Bible is a grand gospel story that encompasses all of the necessary elements needed for life and godliness in regard to our life story. Therefore, God calls us to come to the grand story with our story, and He invites us to place our life story into the grand story, discovering where our experience of life fits into one of the four elements of heat, thorns, cross, and fruit:
This big picture model is the story of every believer. God invites us to enter into the plot!”(p. 94, 2006).
All of Scripture falls under one of these categories, and these categories form the grand gospel story, which is the sole purpose of the Bible—to present a gospel story of real change that reveals God’s grace and provision accordingly.
By seeing our circumstances in heat (circumstances of life), thorns (desires and idols of the heart that cause us to sin), fruit (Christ working in us, or the consequences of sin), and God’s provision for all three (cross), we gain wisdom, encouragement, and a mentality that seeks to know a deeper need and dependence on Christ. Using Scripture for this purpose exalts Christ in our minds, makes us desire Him more, and deepens our sense of dependence on Him. This deepening sense of our dependence on Christ, which results from using the Scriptures in this way, creates a lifestyle of change because we come to realize that we need redemption every day, not just when we were originally saved. Total dependence on Christ becomes synonymous with faith to the exclusion of almost everything else. The Bible, then, is designed for the sole purpose of aiding the believer in faith (total dependence on God) and deep repentance.
How People Change is a pronounced departure from the traditional (or nouthetic) model of biblical change. It starts by synthesizing justification and sanctification, and narrowing our role in spiritual growth to faith and repentance only. The authors then present a “big picture” model of interpretation that describes their view of the proper use of Scripture in the change process, and the role the Bible plays accordingly. Their model presents the Bible as a gospel narrative, and to the exclusion of all other purposes. The authors of HPC present a strange picture of believers who are still dead in trespasses and sins while being indwelled by Christ who is the only life within us, and therefore the only one working in the change process. Accordingly, total dependence on Christ is the key to real change—a Christ Who obeys for us!
Christ referred to the Holy Spirit as our “helper” in John 14:16. Who is he helping? And what is He helping with? The verse begins with a coordinating conjunction that connects it to the idea presented in the preceding verse, which says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to help us obey Christ. Let’s teach counselees to do just that.
Of course, it is no surprise that God’s creation is most fascinating and teaches us many things about Him. Creation teaches us that God is good, and is a God of order…and good ideas:
“It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong. It’s nature’s way of telling you in a song… Something’s wrong, something’s wrong, something’s wrong.”
Such is creation and its order; hence, Dr. Phil asks the rhetorical question: “How’s that working for you.” God created the Earth to work well when good ideas are implemented. This is the order of creation. God said to multiply and subdue the earth; ie., make it work well with good ideas. In that, God is glorified—good ideas and good results verify that God is a God of order and goodness.
Spiritual abuse in the church is the hot topic of our day. Discernment blogs exploded in 2008 without anyone stopping to ask why. In that same year, a massive covert church subculture was dubbed, “New Calvinism.” Now, a truth is emerging that no one wants to deal with: New Calvinism is a resurgence of the original article of the Reformation. And the discernment blogosphere is a sandbox where we play with toys representing a reality that we would think is hell on earth if we didn’t know better. It is the same difference between a child playing with a toy tank in the back yard versus a tank commander on the ground in Afghanistan. The blogosphere is playing with issues that are better understood by those who were tied to two horses running in opposite directions.
I am presently working through a recent post by church historian John Immel, a much valued friend of this ministry. If you want to partake in relevant “deep repentance,” read his materials and then surf the discernment blogs as well as your own former take on contemporary church history. For certain, I am not charitable enough with some and forget my own former ignorance as a Reformed pastor. I was primarily duped on the issue of self-esteem. Like all good Reformed pastors, I was a proponent of self-death. I was a proponent of ALL love being an outward focus. Like all good Reformed pastors, I despised Dr. James Dobson.
As the saying goes, a clock that doesn’t work is right twice a day. There is some rightness to the idea that others are important. Luther’s self-death will work and free you from the emotional investments of this world—it is VERY effective…and cowardly. As I work through John’s post, I find my red pen underlining and writing, “Luther-Heidelberg Disputation, Luther-HD, HD theses 28,” over and over again. Calvin expanded Luther’s treatise in the Calvin Institutes and presented it to Francis 1 as a political document, a fact never mentioned in our day. The masses thinking well of themselves has never been good news for many governments. Those who think themselves worthless are much easier to control. And when you have a fancy to kill them, they will report to the gallows with joy. Of course, due to their powerful faith in God. Ahhhmen.
Let’s talk Bible. I believe the Bible is God’s full-orbed metaphysical statement to mankind; specifically, to the individual. It is His metaphysics, epistemology, ethic, and politics. It is written to the individual. I am not dismissing the need for teachers, but be sure of this: the you need me to help you understand what God is really saying ploy was first used on Eve in the garden and is the mainstay employed by the kingdom of darkness till this day.
Simply stated, the Bible teaches that we are wired to value ourselves. Wisdom is deep and a matter of Biblical balance. No man is “totally depraved.” Biblically, we are instructed to love others as much as we already love ourselves. That’s not a bad thing; that is how God created us. God even wants us to use that fact to “treat others as you yourselves would want to be treated.” The apostle Paul stated that NO man has ever hated himself—so treat your wife accordingly.
A goal of hating ourselves, the essence of Calvinism and Reformed doctrine in particular, is just a really bad idea with the results following. And it’s NOT Biblical. And it leads to all kinds of goofy ideas that have filled mass graves for centuries. And self-esteem is something we earn—it is a truthful evaluation of ourselves. The apostle Paul wrote: “Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought.” The Bible calls for a truthful self-evaluation and assumes you are able to do so.
In fact, it gives us confidence that we can love others and help them. James Dobson still isn’t my cup of tea, but you will never find him presiding over a death panel. When I was a Reformed pastor, I despised James Dobson because I was in fact a dangerous person. My ideas were dangerous because I was of the Reformed tradition. Sure, nevertheless a good guy amongst that camp; I would have never manned the ovens at Auschwitz. I would have merely kept my silence and said, “But for the grace of God, there go I.”
What in the world prompted this post? Well, note carefully what a commenter wrote to me on another blog yesterday which is incredibly ironic given that I am still working thorough John’s article:
The problem is with the human heart. We think too highly of ourselves and not highly enough of those around us. Those with power tend to use it to dominate others. (Like males over females) Only through accurately understanding the Gospel can godly humility replace the ugliness of human pride. Boasting in oneself will then cease. We will begin to respect others enough to speak the truth in love and not in arrogance… I’m sorry PPT. I will try to be more careful in the future. However, by focusing on scapegoating Calvinism as the source of this problem (as you are doing), you miss the crucial point that because other groups are also guilty of this abuse, your premise is wrong. I get it that you hate Calvinism, but don’t let that bias blind you to the real cause: the prideful human heart that is not truly humbled by the Gospel. One must be convinced of and transformed by the Gospel in order to produce godly fruit. True humility cannot be faked. Boasting, arrogance, domination of others, are just a few characteristics of an unbelieving heart. It is dangerous to think that such deceitful pride can only affect others and never us.
Truly ironic. The commenter is anti-spiritual abuse, yet holds to the same self-worth = pride philosophy that is the crux of every “gospel” written to the likes of Francis 1. I close with a comment from another on the same stream:
We are missing each other, I think.
The question for me isn’t whether spiritual abuse can happen in any denomination or religion. It does. The REAL question is: Do certain doctrines attract abusers / evil perps? To say that since abuse happens across the board in all religions, so abuse could never be problematic to certain doctrines/religions is a logical fallacy.
The doctrine of total depravity teaches people they don’t have personal responsibility. It is God who orchestrates it all as the grand puppet-master. That is quite problematic, IMO.
Right. If you are worthless, if you haven’t been gifted by God, if you need someone else to interpret reality for you, it is the Staples easy-button of life. It is the easy road trodden by those that sing merrily on the way to the gallows…
…because we have so much faith in God.
When I didn’t know any better as a Christian, I was indifferent to politics because it made no sense to me. My problem was the following: I was always focused on outcomes. It never made any sense to me that regardless of outcomes, people would vote the same ideologues into office time and time again. In my frustration I would think, “Politics is a waste of time because people are stupid. Regardless of outcomes, they vote these same people into office time and time again.” This made absolutely no sense to me.
Until recently, church never made any sense to me either. Consider this picture: vast institutions pregnant with ultra-educated people coming up with ideas that plainly contrast Scripture. Again, regardless of the poor outcomes, the SYSTEM remains intact. The system seems to offer a devil that we know, and have become comfortable with, as opposed to a devil that we don’t know.
If you think about it, what is the difference between contemporary Christianity and the slave caste system of the Civil War era? To stand up against injustice is really the same thing as challenging the system. Action is stalled because people hope that the system will change (good luck with that)—that’s easy, changing the system is hard. However, we will fight harder to not change the system, as opposed to changing the system because it’s what we know. Hence, the system takes precedent over God’s justice and is protected by political spin dressed in biblical garb.
But people aren’t stupid, they just prefer whatever the normal is for the day—especially if they aren’t the ones being tied between two horses running in opposite directions. Pathetic, but it is what it is. And both politics and religion are kept alive by the same heart in this regard; the epic question of, “Who owns man?” Ownership is the soul of politics and religion.
Since the day that the framers of the American Constitution posed this question and answered it with the resolve of “Give me liberty or give me death,” be sure of this: the question of who owns man is the soul of American politics and always will be. Whether the American public realizes it or not, those who vote for Obama think government owns man. People who vote for Romney (albeit not their preferred choice) believe that we own ourselves, and are responsible to no other than God for the sum and substance of our life.
That’s the crux, until the day that the former wins the day—then politics will not be necessary because everything is decided in regard to the arena of ideas—there won’t be any arena—the government decides what a good idea is, and what it isn’t.
And religion is no different. That’s because the American framers of the Constitution were home wreckers. They caused the divorce between the European marriage of church and state. In Europe prior to the Enlightenment era that gave birth to the framers; as it was in the government, so it was in the church. There was no arena of ideas save the think tanks that devised efficient machines to eliminate free thinkers with as much pain as possible. Never before in human history has more science been poured into the technology of death machines than in Medieval Europe. And as part of the totally depraved masses, suggesting ideas privately or otherwise was extremely hazardous to one’s health.
It was a very efficient marriage. The church came up with the ideas and controlled them, and the government enforced the churches’ ideas. But there was a problem. The problem can be seen in one Bible verse among God’s full philosophical statement to man regarding truth: “Come, let us reason together saith the Lord.”
Reason. Even God presents His truth in an arena for man’s hearing. In the book of Job, we even find God challenging Satan in that arena. Like no other creatures, we are the ones called to reason—it is how we are wired by God. The results of shutting down man’s ability to think are abundantly evident from European history. Man is created to think. A man who is not allowed to think is exactly like a fish out of water. Eventually, he will start flopping around.
The framers understood this. They knew that any attempt by government to control ideas would only result in a repeat of European history. They also knew that religion is the fundamental gene pool in that regard. But systems die hard. Regardless of the eight-hundred-year European raging fire that could not be extinguished with blood, European religious tyrants who came to setup shop in America could only propagate their system in the government protected American-made arena of ideas.
The divorced couple must play by American rules thus far. In the American political system, it’s communism/socialism. In the religious realm, it’s European Reformed theology. The fight between the Europeans and the yanks continues in the arena of ideas instead of the battlefield. But be also certain of this: every drop of blood spilled in human history has been over ideas. The American framers of the Constitution, for the first time in history, invented a caste system that could implement ethics through politics without blood. Preferable in my book. And I am allowed to say so.
The soul of politics and religion is therefore the same. Who owns man? What could be more obvious? Does government own man? Or does man own man? It could be rightfully argued that God owns man, but even he says, “Come, let us reason together” while the European Reformer Martin Luther called reason a “whore” who should have “dung rubbed in her face to make her ugly.” The separated spouse, government, thinks they know best as well. Thinking, ideas, and reason, in the hands of the masses are supposedly the same as handing an eight-year-old a loaded gun as a play toy. And in the American arena of ideas, many are convinced that this is true.
Now you know the heart of the election that is now upon us. Obama has clearly stated that it is common sense that man exists for the government, and doesn’t build anything: “I hear business owners say, ‘I built this or that.’ You didn’t build that.” And obviously, the idea that led to the building project had nothing to do with it as well. The contrast can be pointed out in a recent speech by Romney at the Dayton, Ohio International airport in which he said that FREEDOM of IDEAS are critical to the overall American economy and wellbeing. It is also reflected in his recent bemoaning that 47% of Americans are dependent on the government and will not vote for him. Right. Exactly. That’s the crux: who owns man? And is he created to reason and think? And is it ok with God when man’s ideas produce positive outcomes?
What is at stake in this election? You only need to look at the government’s estranged spouse—the church. For the most part, European Reformed theology has won out in the arena of ideas. The caste system formed by the Westminster Confession and rabid Puritans has been embraced willingly by those convinced that the church owns them. Sure, there is rape. Sure, there is the denial of ideas. Sure, there is injustice. Sure, there are no other answers but “the gospel.” Sure, we are still totally depraved and helpless. Sure, church is boring. Sure, the church is full of mindless followers. But what else is there? If not for the system, then what? If not for the system of Reformed “orthodoxy” enforced by church “polity” and executed by various and sundry unpleasantries that replaced the burning stake forbidden by our American forefathers, then what?
Ownership by government always leads to the same thing. Always. There are no exceptions. Regardless of outcomes, many American voters who like to be owned by their religion will also vote to be owned by the state. I also wonder how much this might be connected to the whole issue of culpability before God. After all, if we are unable to think for ourselves, and our ideas are dangerous to our own wellbeing, how can God hold us responsible? This provokes one to think of Nazi Germany and that people’s refrain, “The government made us do it.”
“One thing we don’t discuss in mixed company is politics and religion.” Right, because there is no doubt; that divorced couple is a volatile subject, especially when the two are poligion. We do know the devil of poligion, but change is hard and inconvenient. Luther suggested that reason be consigned to the “closets of the house” and we have obeyed. And whatever you do, don’t look in the closet—the monster of history is in there.
Nevertheless, when you pull the lever in November, the question isn’t, “Romney or Obama?” The real question is the soul of politics and religion: “Who owns you?”
“Protestantism speaks of being saved from the condemnation of the law to a rest from obedience to the law of the Spirit of life. This is a rejection of the new birth and leaves the Christian enslaved to sin. This denies the good news of the incorruptible seed that Christians are born of. Protestantism makes the case that “the law” cannot produce righteousness, but this totally neglects the true biblical relationship between the believer and the law of the Spirit. A one-dimensional law necessarily rejects the new birth and circumvents the Christians ability to love God and others.”
In the parable of the talents, the slothful servant wasn’t sent to hell because he was lazy, what sent him to hell is the logic that caused the laziness. In other words, his laziness was a symptomatic cause of what he believed about God.
All liars will be thrown in the lake of fire, but it’s not the lying that paves the way—what they believe paves the way. How they act is merely a natural result of what they believe. Likewise, how Abraham lived is not what made him righteous, what he believed made him righteous—his life as set against the weakness of his mortality was the result.
BUT we cannot stop there because what we believe is not the direct thrust of what we do. Yes, it’s a symptom, but not the main thrust. What we believe leads to God recreating us or not recreating us through the new birth. The argument is better defined by behavior flowing from a particular type of human creature: born again of the Spirit or not born again of the Spirit. We must be careful to not say it’s belief alone while excluding the regeneration of the new birth.
It is also very important to know that regeneration is a colaboring with the Spirit that puts us in the love-loop. If we are not truly recreated into new creatures born of God who actually participate in righteous doing, we are not really participating in loving acts. Simple belief only watches the love being performed or manifested by the Spirit with no involvement by us. When Jesus says, “well done faithful servant,” he supposedly isn’t really talking about anything we did other than simply believing, which also ironically includes, “as much as you did it to one of these, you did it to me as well.”
Now let’s use this paragraph to dismiss some stupidity. The title of this post does not include people who consider themselves Protestants, but really have no idea what the Protestant gospel states. But would you go to a Kingdom Hall church because you have points of agreement with them? No, and why is that? Because you know the fundamentals of their gospel are false. So, if the official stated gospel of Protestantism is false, you need to get out of there. And that is the case. Secondly, Protestants like to interpret reality via either/or. This is because it is a Gnostic religion founded on all reality being interpreted by two categories only: material evil or invisible good. What you are discussing, whatever that may be, is one or the other. In contrast, OUR doing is not either evil or good, it can be one or the other, or both. In Protestantism, man’s doing must be totally good, or totally evil according to its Platonist/Gnostic foundations, and it is therefore the latter because man is part of the material world. The Reformers then went to the Bible and stuffed the Bible into that prism come hell or high water.
Protestantism is a false gospel because it redefines the new birth and denies the biblical definition of it. How is this done? We will use Romans 8:2 to explain.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
This is not complicated. Protestantism denies the new birth by making the law one-dimensional. The law can only do one thing: condemn. Therefore, you are not set free to “serve,” you are only set free from the condemnation of the law. YOU do not pass from death to life functionally, only positionally. By faith alone in Christ’s death and resurrection, the Spirit performs all of the acts of love described in the Bible in our stead. That becomes the Protestant definition of being free in Christ: Jesus performs all obedience in your stead through the Spirit. The Christian life of faith is a “rest.” As Joseph Prince has stated,
When we work, God rests, when we rest, God works.
And that my friends is good old fashioned authentic Protestant soteriology. That is almost word for word from John Calvin himself.
When the law can only condemn, we must stay clear of it because it demands perfection as a standard for righteousness. Its righteous demands must be fulfilled by the law-giver Himself. And again, there is no dynamic from which any person can please God because they are of the material realm in which only evil can come. Therefore, the new birth must be redefined as a position rather than something that results in a function performed by humanity. A command to love is really a command to see what you are unable to do while watching its manifestation by the Spirit…
When we work, God rests, when we rest, God works.
Rather than the new birth being defined as an actual new creature able to please God through loving obedience to the law, it is defined as a rest that merely perceives the works of the Spirit apart from us. We do not love functionally because belief does not bring about an actual new creature—only an ability to perceive works done by proxy. Christ said, “You MUST be born again”; therefore, a true gospel must properly define the new birth. Is it being set free to rest, or is it being set free to serve as literal new creatures reborn of God?
In the former, note that the law of the Spirit of life is something that the Spirit does and not us according to Protestantism. The law of the Spirit of life is a realm in which the Spirit performs obedient acts of love in our stead. This frees us from the condemnation of the law of sin and death and its demands for perfect obedience. Any attempt to obey the law directly is not of faith—the law must be obeyed for us as a result of complete rest “in Christ.” The law can only condemn.
In Protestantism, some teach that the law of the Spirit of life is a realm, and the law of sin and death is an actual written law while others teach that both are a realm; viz, Spirit realm versus sin realm, or material versus invisible. But either way, the Christian life is a rest.
In addition, according to them, remember that the Christian life must continue by faith alone, the same way we were saved. This necessarily connects the Christian life to our original salvation; in other words, salvation must be maintained the same way it began: by faith alone. If works must be eradicated in the Christian life save the work of faith only, it must be concluded that salvation is an ongoing work. If it wasn’t, we could safely leave the gospel that saved us and move on to something else. The who’s who of Protestantism warn continually that this would be a false gospel.
Start with Christ (that is, the gospel) and you get sanctification in the bargain; begin with Christ and move on to something else, and you lose both (Christless Christianity: published by Dr. Michael Horton in 2008, p.62).
It’s remaining in a rest to keep yourself saved by faith alone, the same way you were saved. Working in the Christian life is made synonymous with works salvation and law-keeping for the same.
Now, let’s look at this from the biblical point of view. In Romans 8:2, in both cases concerning the law of the Spirit and the law of sin, the word is “nomos.”
g3551. νόμος nomos; from a primary νέμω nemō (to parcel out, especially food or grazing to animals); law (through the idea of prescriptive usage), genitive case (regulation), specially, (of Moses (including the volume); also of the Gospel), or figuratively (a principle):— law.
The strict grammar calls for the meaning to be a prescriptive application of principles or regulations. There is a law of the Spirit, and a law of sin and death, and both refer to a prescriptive standard. It is such with a different dimension for the saved and another dimension for the unsaved—one law with two different perspectives and result. To the unbeliever, the law is the law of sin and death because sin within provokes the unbeliever to sin against the law. Therefore, it can only condemn the unbeliever; the power of sin is the law’s condemnation. Sin can provoke the unbeliever to compounded wages of judgment and wrath.
More than likely, “sin” is the seed of the serpent, and those born again of the Spirit have the seed of God within them.
Genesis 3:15 – I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [seed] and her offspring [seed]; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
1John 3:9 – No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[b] seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
1Peter 1:22 – Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
… 1Peter 2:1 – So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
This exchange of seeds is vital. Notice that being born anew with an imperishable seed is actually “the good news preached to you.” Notice also that this gospel preached to us is PAST TENSE. And by the way, the “grow[ing] up unto salvation” is NOT salvation in the justification sense, but salvation in the redemption sense. Justification is a onetime finished act by God, the redemption of the body (glorification) is future. What is telling is that Peter doesn’t say that the gospel IS being preached to you (present continuance). Moreover, Peter states in his second epistle that we are to add several different actions to our faith, not continue in the same faith.
Let me also add this: it is an “imperishable seed.” Once you are born of it, it is irrevocable. The seed doesn’t qualify you to help God finish your justification (Catholicism), it is an eternal seed within you whether you are silly enough to attempt to finish a work that is already finished or not. Granted, if you believe justification has to be finished, you are probably not born of the seed. In addition, to say the seed of God is not in us (Protestantism) is equally egregious.
When the ground of justification moves from Christ outside of us to the work of Christ inside of us, the gospel (and the human soul) is imperiled. It is an upside down gospel.
The new birth and the seed of God within us makes it possible for us to obey God according to the law of His Spirit, which is the Bible—a written standard. Christ said we must love Him by keeping His commandments, and immediately after stating that, He added a very significant caveat: He would send a “helper/counselor” to aid us in doing so. The indwelling Holy Spirit HELPS us, he doesn’t love Himself in our stead. Neither does He grieve Himself by not obeying for us all of the time—that’s our job. To deny that is to deny the new birth and the gospel of the kingdom.
When we died with Christ, the old us that was born with a perishable seed also died. We were then born anew with the same Spirit that raised Christ from the grave. This set us free to SERVE…not rest.
Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
Now, please note: “the old way of the written code.” What is that? That was servitude to the Old Covenant which was a will with the inheritance being eternal life. All sins committed against the law were imputed to that covenant.
Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Hebrews 9:15 – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
The Old Covenant still has a function today. All those who do not know Christ are still provoked to sin against it, enslaved to its condemnation, and all of their sins are imprisoned in it. When they believe in Christ, that law, signified by the marriage covenant of the dead spouse in Romans 7, is ended along with all sins imputed to it and its condemnation. There is then no law to judge us, and where there is no law there is no sin. The Bible never says that the Old Covenant is presently ended for all purposes (Hebrews 8:13).
But now, the newly born spouse is free to “serve” Christ. The Spirit uses His law (word) to counsel us, encourage us, and instruct us in regard to life and godliness. To “serve” (in the new way of the Spirit) is the following word:
g1398. δουλεύω douleuō; from 1401; to be a slave to (literal or figurative, involuntary or voluntary):— be in bondage, (do) serve (- ice). AV (25)- serve 18, be in bondage 4, do service 3; to be a slave, serve, do service of a nation in subjection to other nations metaph. to obey, submit to in a good sense, to yield obedience in a bad sense, of those who become slaves to some base power, to yield to, give one’s self up to.
It is an exchange of seeds from death to life, and an exchange of slavery from sin to righteousness:
Romans 6:5 – For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[c] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
This brings us full circle back to Romans 8:2. We are set free from the law of sin and death “in Christ,” that is, His death on the cross to obey “the standard of teaching to which you were committed.” That would be the law of the Spirit.
To deny that the Christian is able to please God through their own obedience aided by the Holy Spirit is to deny the new birth. Christ said we must be born again. Protestantism speaks of being saved from the condemnation of the law to a rest from obedience to the law of the Spirit of life. This is a rejection of the new birth and leaves the Christian enslaved to sin. This denies the good news of the incorruptible seed that Christians are born of. Protestantism makes the case that “the law” cannot produce righteousness, but this totally neglects the true biblical relationship between the believer and the law of the Spirit. A one-dimensional law necessarily rejects the new birth and circumvents the Christians ability to love God and others.
Romans 8:3 – For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
….and by the way, we are all totally depraved; so you know, stuff happens.
In this video, Piper forgets a lot of history about Calvin. Listen to the short clip, and then read the following excerpt from a church historian. Listen, I’m really busy today, but it’s ok, I know the smartness/intelligence of my readers; they are not going to take Piper’s word that ONE of the people Calvin had murdered taught false doctrine about the Trinity. Remember, New Calvinists believe that emphasizing the other two members of the Trinity as much as Jesus is misguided “emphasis” and therefore a false gospel (please don’t make me dig up the Michael Horton quote on that one).
In preparation for TTANC volume 2, I am studying the teachings of theologians who contended against Calvin in his day. Very interesting, seems that some of them had a problem with Calvin’s view of the relationship between sanctification and justification. Sound familiar?
Furthermore, Piper states that the melding of church and state didn’t serve the Puritan legacy well. Oh really? This ministry is inundated with information that I unfortunately don’t have time to pursue regarding consolidated attempts by the New Calvinist movement to get in bed with the government. Trust me, they would luuuuuuuvvvvvv to silence their critics through law enforcement—starting with bloggers. In fact, the present cases on this are not that hard to find: lawsuits; outrageous defamation of character; bogus church discipline; blackmail; coercion border-lining on outright kidnapping ; etc. On the last one, I know of an actual case right now and am working with the situation. The New Calvinist church is holding an individual hostage (in regard to remaining under their authority via church membership) because of what the person knows about the church. They “have something” on the individual and are using it to control them. Which, by the way, is a criminal act according to the state law where the church is located.
Piper is right about one thing: job one for the founding fathers of America was to make sure the church did not get back in bed with the government on this side of the pond. Particularly, churches of the Reformed type, which were barely less forgiving than Rome towards those who disagreed with them. Also like Rome, the Reformers were a little uncomfortable with the free reasoning of mankind in religious issues. Consider this soundbite from Martin Luther:
“Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom… Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.”
—Martin Luther, Works, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148.
“Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not—struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”
—Martin Luther, Table Talks in 1569.
“Heretics are not to be disputed with, but to be condemned unheard, and whilst they perish by fire, the faithful ought to pursue the evil to its source, and bathe their heads in the blood of the Catholic bishops, and of the Pope, who is the devil in disguise.”
—Martin Luther, Table Talks (as quoted in Religious History: An Inquiry by M. Searle Bates, p. 156).
In other words, Luther would not have thought much of the
“NOBLE” Bereans. And again, Piper is right because the founding fathers of America were a product of the Enlightenment era. I’m thinkin’ they didn’t agree with Luther’s attitude toward free thought; unless of course, it was Reformed, and preferably Augustinain, a forefather of Gnosticism.
As the Institutes of the Christian Religion greatly influenced the theology of the Reformation, Calvin’s Ecclesiastical Ordinances greatly affected the structure of many Reformed churches and their relation to the community. One major element of the Ecclesiastical Ordinances was the Consistory, the central church governing apparatus, composed of ministers and elders. Its purpose was to maintain ecclesiastical discipline and theological orthodoxy, but when the social community of the city is identical to the church community, the result is that ecclesiastical discipline and religious heterodoxy have social implications. Very quickly church offenses become civil offenses or at least offenses with civil consequences, as the medieval Church came to see.
The Consistory oversaw the conduct of the believers-citizens of Geneva down to the minutest detail, intervening with disciplinary measures such as public rebuke and excommunication. But because the civil and the ecclesiastical authority were so closely intertwined, condemnation by the Consistory could lead to civil punishments such as public fines and even exile and execution. People were brought before the Consistory for every sort of offense, including petty ones such as singing jingles critical of Calvin, card playing, dancing, and laughing during a sermon. The Consistory also sent out members to each parish to look for transgressors, who, if discovered, were tried by the Consistory. Every household was visited annually, before Easter, to ascertain the status of prospective communicants. If Geneva was the “Rome of the Reformation,” the Consistory was its Inquisition and Calvin its Pope.
Geneva under Calvin’s influence controlled its citizens’ lives, including their private lives, well beyond what the medieval Church did. The individual Christian in the Church of Geneva was “free” to interpret the Bible for himself, provided he interpreted it exactly as Calvin did.
Was Calvin a “dictator”? Surely not in the conventional sense. He held no elected office, nor did he exercise direct political power in Geneva. He was mainly a pastor, not a politician. And yet we mustn’t go as far as some of Calvin’s supporters, who say he was “simply” a pastor. He possessed tremendous influence in the political community, well beyond that of a mere civic leader. And that influence translated directly into civil law strictures and punishments. Geneva was not an absolute State, in the modern sense, but neither was it a free state, except perhaps for those who already accepted its rigid norms of conduct.
A prime example of Calvin’s influence in Geneva is the case of Pierre Ameaux, a member of the city council, who had criticized Calvin as a preacher of false doctrine. The council told Ameaux to retract his statement, but Calvin wanted a harsher punishment. Ameaux was forced to go through town dressed only in a shirt, with a torch in hand.
Ameaux’ fate was a mere embarrassment; the embryonic freethinker Jacques Gruet was executed for criticizing Calvin, for blasphemy and for protesting the stringent demands of Calvin’s Geneva. He was tortured and beheaded. Calvin also got Jerome Bolsec banished for the Frenchman’s disagreement with Calvin regarding predestination, thus proving that, while Geneva was a haven for Protestants throughout Europe who agreed with Calvin, it could be oppressive for those who did not.
But the most celebrated case is that of Michael Sevetus, who didn’t get off as lightly as Bolsec. The Spanish physician-writer took it upon himself to reformulate the doctrine of the Trinity in what were essentially Gnostic categories. But Sevetus made the mistake of sending Calvin an advance copy, which led, by a rather Byzantine route, to Calvin tipping off the Catholic magistrates in Vienna that the heretical Sevetus was practicing medicine in their city. That brought the apparatus of the Inquisition down on him. Sevetus managed to escape and wound up, in all places, Geneva, en route to Naples. Calvin had him arrested, tried and sentenced to death. As an act of mercy, Calvin requested that Sevetus be beheaded, instead of burned, but in this case Calvin’s request was not honored (http://goo.gl/1Y1u5) [sic].
“A single dimension law is a false gospel. It produces works that are anti-law. It replaces love with the traditions of men in Jesus’ name.”
I could write a dozen posts about what has transpired in my life and those close to me in the past couple of weeks, but I think I can stay on-topic and write about the primary subject from which all of these events flow.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus didn’t participate in a large field of theological issues? If you examine Christ’s primary concerns, His positive message was the gospel of the kingdom, and His primary negative concerns were two and two only: the traditions of men and lawlessness.
The present-day church is completely indoctrinated and saturated with lawlessness which results from the traditions of men. The stage is set for the exact same play that was taking place when Jesus was ministering—only the props are different because of technology. The institutional church of that day is the exact same institutional church of today—only the names are different.
Yes, in fact, there is a heretic behind every bush. Yes, in fact, the sheep are without valid shepherds. Yes, in fact, the VAST majority of what comes out of the mouths of Christians is mindless dribble leading to death. We are confused, ignorant, failures in life building, without answers, but yet…
… “Christianity” has never been bigger. Christian movies abound in the secular market; Christian musicians abound in the secular top 40; and dynamic Christian teachers are hanging on trees everywhere in a seemingly utopic evangelical Garden of Eden. “Revival” is in the air. Holy hands are lifted up to GeeeeJussss everywhere. When you ask any Christian anything, they look at you with those glazed-over eyes and psychotic grin while saying, “GeeeJussss.”
And so it was when Jesus was ministering. The religious culture was awash in orthodoxy. What is more obvious than the fact that when Jesus showed up, He completely ignored the institutional leaders of that day and went to the common people? His Sermon on the Mount was a shocking indictment of the orthodoxy prevalent in that day: “You have heard it said…but I say….” The orthodoxy of our day is the same lawless orthodoxy of that day, and Christ deconstructed it point by point. The religious leaders of that day had redefined every word used to convey the thoughts of God.
And so it is today: Christians have a fundamental misunderstanding of every word used to convey spiritual truth. We are so mentally handicapped in our thinking that discussion over “What is the gospel?” is just another discussion. We are not completely undone in sackcloth and ashes that we are still asking that question 2000 years later, but we should be. Think about it: though an astute preserving of the law was a Jewish tradition, when Jesus showed up, the people understood little of it. Why? Orthodoxy, that’s why. Please think about what Jesus said to the who’s who of religious leaders in that day: “You do error concerning the Scriptures and the power thereof.” People observed in awe as the deliberately informally educated Jesus publically rebuked the spiritual brain trust of that day.
Hence, Pastor Jesus brought true revival, and true revival in our day will not happen to the glory of God until we stop listening to men and start listening to Jesus. One man, one Bible. It starts there…because the most innocent of those who lead in this day are simply regurgitating the raw sewage flowing from the broken cisterns of orthodoxy.
I suppose now I can keep my sanity by hating the orthodoxy, but loving the lawless sinner. After all, I am guilty myself of propagating its satanic filth as a former Reformed pastor. I myself helped to create the monsters I despise. I myself quoted the heroes of orthodoxy to make myself look smart as the hordes of hell applauded.
As you read all of this, you might think I have had a rough couple of weeks. You might think it has caused me to ponder. And it has. But I am a very busy man, and it behooves me to discuss the least common denominator here. In my stricken soul what are the words that I want to cry out to the world? What do I want to scream out in love to some and defiant rage towards others? Here it is…
Law is love.
Law is not far from us that we must have the arrogant ascend to heaven in a rocket ship built by their own visions of grandeur to bring it down to us. Law is very close to us, it is in our mouths, and we are able to do it. It is life to us, and its justice even holds all of our sin in escrow. The record is cancelled by the cross, and now, closeness is measured by distance: God’s love for us can only be measured by the distance from the east to the west. The departure of our sins are as infinite as the closeness of God’s love. There is no condemnation from the law of justice—only love. In the huge void that was once our guilt we cry out it in desperation: How can we love such a merciful God! Is there now nothing we can do with the burden removed? Please tell us! Is it wrong to try to please you with our whole being? And then the clamorous storm is calmed with these simple words,
“If you love me, keep my commandments.”
Christ is no longer a Lord of justice to us, He is a Lord that wants His subjects to fulfil His kingdom law of love without condemnation.
Sometime in the cradle of society, the redefining of law by religious minions was hell’s finest hour. They redefined law as having a single dimension, that of justice only. Orthodoxy has but one theme; death. Mankind is enslaved to the condemnation of the law’s perfect standard. The law, for the unbeliever, presently condemns while promising life.
“The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.”
Orthodoxy only tells the story of the law’s death, and conceals its herald of wisdom and life:
“ I set before you this day life and death, choose life!”
Law is justice and death to the unbelieving, but life, blessings, and love to those who rightly believe the gospel. Justice is death to the unbeliever, but to the believer—it is an act of love. One thing we mustn’t forget is that Arminianism is part of the Reformation’s orthodoxy. Therefore, it shares the same Calvinistic belief that “Christians” are still under the possible condemnation of the law. Love becomes tricky. But love isn’t tricky—it’s apart from any possible condemnation whatsoever. The loving Christian now experiences the life that the law promises. If you doubt that, read Psalm 119.
So, how do we minister to a lawless church and society? We start by incessantly defining law to God’s people. That’s where it starts. We must say, “You have heard it said, ‘the law can only condemn,’ but we say, ‘the law is the way of love and gives life.’” We must cry out to professing Christians to remove themselves from being under the law and its condemnation. We must also expose the traditions of men and their orthodoxy that sells a false road to heaven while under law. “Under grace” is not salvation while being under law, the two are mutually exclusive. The Under Grace bus going to heaven does not have Under Law as a passenger. The Under Law passenger trying to get on the Under Grace bus with an orthodoxy ticket is like the man who showed up at Christ’s feast without a wedding coat. Such will be rejected.
A single dimension law is a false gospel. It produces works that are anti-law. It replaces love with the traditions of men in Jesus’ name. The traditions of men, whether religious or secular is the only thing that can fill the void where there is no love. ANY thought that replaces an accurate assessment of God’s law is “anomia” a word often translated “lawlessness” in the Bible.
“BECAUSE of anomia, the love of many will wax cold.”
Though a single dimension law speaks of love and “many wonderful works in Jesus’ name,” they are works proffered by lawless orthodoxy defined by the traditions of men. And on one wise, no more slaughter of men has taken place by any other name than orthodoxy’s use of Jesus’ name, and the full measure of wrath slumbereth not accordingly. Be certain that you do not stand in such a camp actively or passively.
In orthodoxy, condemnation remains with the law. It is not enough to proclaim the law good, we must profess that without it we cannot love God and others. We must embrace it as the sum and substance of our own lives. When our precious Lord of love returns, we must offer Him the Holy sacrifices of our members offered up in love, not the body that cancelled the law of sin and death. Why would we offer back His own body and deny Him the sacrifices that we were purchased to perform? Try to dig His body up from the grave as an offering if you will, but it is not there, HE has risen! And if you have not died with Him and left the law of sin and death behind, and embraced the law of the Spirit of life that is your love…your works, or lack of them, will condemn you. Your love does not save you, and your lack of it does not condemn you, it merely shows that you believe that you are still under the condemnation of the law of sin and death—that’s a false gospel that is defined by a one dimensional view of the law.
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
Love is defined one way, and one way only: a grammatical plain sense interpretation of the law and its life application.
We are all guilty, and thereby suffer the torment by those we have helped to create. We have listened to men and offered a confused gospel that will not produce blessed lives. We are heinous cowards who do not really believe that such a man as Noah really existed. We offer fellowship offerings to the god of orthodox majority—his human credentials intimidate us, and thereby show that we spend little time with Jesus. Our cowardly offerings recognize their use of facts in the commission of treason for fear others will think ill of us.
This is where true ministry to a lawless church and society must begin, with one man and one Bible resulting in one love—the love Christ has called you to fulfil.
Will you be that man or not?
The writing of The Truth About New Calvinism—Volume 2 is in full throttle. From time to time, I would like to share some things that I am stumbling upon as I define my research of the past three years.
Many thanks to those who have helped me define the direction of volumes two and three. Volume 2 is guaranteed to be understandable. This is the unveiling of Calvinism’s fundamental detriment to Christianity and humanity in general. It doesn’t matter whether you understand the doctrine or not; volume 2 will trace and define the logic that formed the doctrine. From there, the assumption that the ideology is dressed up in Bible verses to look, sound, and feel biblical is a correct one. Volume 2 is for the layman, volume 3 will be an in-depth theological evaluation for those who want it. Once the ideology that formed the doctrine is understood in volume 2, volume 3 may be easier to understand.
If it can be confirmed that the Reformers used the Bible to sell an ideology, and it can, and they did, what they came up with is fairly irrelevant. Not only that, volume 2 will examine the fruits of the doctrine which is also telling. In order to sell the ideology, the Reformers proffered a theological treatise from the Bible. Volume 3 will demonstrate why that doesn’t even hold water.
One character trait of New Calvinism is to exploit the overall lack of education concerning its history, ideology, doctrine, and character. New Calvinism, the authentic Reformed article, is looking for a result based on covert assimilation. The result that is sought is CONTROL. This control is sought through justification by faith alone which is a doctrine that is literally justification alone because it eliminates sanctification. Stated in layman’s terms: it emphasizes the work of God while deemphasizing anything the Christian does in salvation or post-salvation. This is done by out of sight, out of mind. If you only teach justification (salvation) to the exclusion of sanctification (the Christian life), the masses will eventually live according to the Reformed version of justification alone. The Reformers were masters at redefining the terms and teaching sanctification in a justification way.
This leads to the Reformed practice of infiltrating religious movements throughout history as a stowaway and then taking over the movement. The prime example is the Great Awakening (1730s – 1790s). The Great Awakening was a pushback against Reformed ideology, not the result of it. The Pilgrims created the need for the Great Awakening. The Pilgrims, a soft idiom for “Calvinistic Puritan political refugees,” brought European tyrannical polity with them. The motif that the Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom is patently false—they came to establish their own vision of a church state. To this point:
Throughout the colonial period, and even in the early years of the independent United States, most colonies or states had established churches—churches legally recognized as the official state church. Different colonies privileged different Christian sects, for example, Congregationalism (the descendent of Puritanism) was the official state church for Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire; and Anglicanism was the established faith in most colonies, including Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia. Along with official recognition came special privileges, like financial support from public taxation. Before the Great Awakening, colonial Americans harbored no expectation that there should be any separation between church and state.
In reality, there are NO religious movements that could be considered legitimate revivals post apostolic church until the Great Awakening which was ignited by the Age of Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was predicated on the ideas of all men being created equal by God, and mankind’s ability to solve problems through reason. This resonated with colonials and slaves alike that were under European tyranny:
Joseph Tracy, the minister, historian, and preacher who gave this religious phenomenon its name in his influential 1842 book The Great Awakening, saw the First Great Awakening as a precursor to the American Revolution. The evangelical movement of the 1740s played a key role in the development of democratic thought, as well as the belief of the free press and the belief that information should be shared and completely unbiased and uncontrolled. 
Enlightenment ideas were completely contrary to Reformed thought as exemplified by the Westminster Confession. Most of the Westminster Divines were Puritans. Colonial Puritans believed in slavery according to their extreme European caste mentality, and executed doctrinal detractors. Contra Enlightenment ideas that ignited the Great Awakening can be seen in the present-day New Calvinist movement; for instance, an article written by New Calvinist James MacDonald bearing the title, “Congregational Government is From Satan.”
Nevertheless, Reformed hacks like Jonathan Edwards infiltrated the Great Awakening, and to a large extent hijacked it. The Great Awakening was a revolt against the organized institutional church state, and was a gargantuan human mass of people searching out new ideas. Hence, the thousands who showed up to hear Reformed teachers during that time were not necessarily enthralled by the supposed gatekeepers of the Awakening, but were flocking to hear anyone who had an idea. Edwards et al proceeded to connect the movement to the Reformers of old who were the ones directly responsible for the tyranny that the colonials were experiencing in the first place.
Moreover, the colonial Puritans wasted no time in trying to infiltrate the American Revolution, its founding declarations, and constitution. James Madison fought the infiltration tooth and nail with his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.
Unfortunately, the colonial Puritans did succeed in identifying Reformation thought with the Great Awakening. The many denominations and groups that were created by the Awakening usually, and unwittingly, identified themselves as Protestants. As a result, the primary Reformed institutions of learning were built with money from the children of the Great Awakening who were really the product of Benjamin Franklin’s contra ideology. Incredibly, and undoubtedly the zenith of historical misrepresentation, those of Reformed thought who hijacked the Great Awakening have been credited with the Abolitionist movement. The Abolitionist movement was nothing more or less than an Enlightenment idea, while the Puritans were the first to bring slaves to the shores of America (ironically, slaves brought many cultic beliefs with them that in part incited the Salem witch trials). The Enlightenment era was directly responsible for the massive conversion of slaves to Christianity shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The ideas of freedom and reason ignited colonial revivalism, not the contra idealism of the Reformation. Franklin was an abolitionist while he was governor of Pennsylvania, and the epicenter of revivalism among the slave population was Philadelphia.
This form of parasitic deception and covert assimilation is a Reformed hallmark. Those of Reformed idealism, historically, do not build anything. The Pilgrims were utterly inept in fending for themselves in the new world. They latch on to what is alive and feed off of it. Their very institution is a historical Ponzi scheme. A contemporary example is the home church movement in America. Because of the fundamentals that came out of the Great Awakening, the American church remained fundamentally Reformed in its overemphasis on justification because sanctification infers human ability. Therefore, per the usual outcome, a mass exodus from the institutional church began in circa 2000. This resulted in the home church movement. According to the Reformed mode of operation, New Calvinism hijacked that movement as well, primarily for self-preservation. This is the motivation for flock groups and “churches” like Apex. However, they are not purely home churches, and are connected to a central institution in order to maintain control.
A proper understanding of church history is the key. Until then, Reformation thought will continue to suck the life blood out of anything that lives in Western church culture.
1. Shmoop Editorial Team. “Religion in The American Revolution” Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.
2. Wikipedia.org: Great Awakening.
3. Paul Dohse: Inseparable: The Reformation’s Principles of Persecution and its Gospel; Paul’s Passing Thoughts .com, August 31, 2013.
4. Columbia University (King’s College, 1754, Anglican), Brown University (Rhode Island College, 1764, Baptist), Rutgers (Queens College, 1766, Dutch Reformed), and Dartmouth College (1769, Congregationalist).
5. 1619: Slavery begins in the colonies, as twenty Africans are brought by a Dutch ship to Jamestown for sale as indentured servants. 1664: Maryland makes lifelong servitude for black slaves legally mandatory. Similar laws are later passed in New York, New Jersey, the Carolinas and Virginia. 1667: The Virginia House of Burgesses passes a law that binds blacks to servitude, even if they convert to Christianity.
Show me the Money.
Why has New Calvinism taken the American church by storm? Because the American church was already primed for it. Before authentic Calvinism was rediscovered by a Seventh-Day Adventist in 1969, America was, and always has been half-pregnant with the Puritan form of Calvin’s Geneva.
Calvinism makes everything about justification while excluding sanctification for a very simple reason: control. If justification is a finished work, and all that is at stake is eternal rewards in heaven, the church would not be nearly the institution that it is today. Why is there big money in religion? Why is there a church every two miles in America with a 500,000 dollar annual budget? Why did 3,000,000 people show up on a beach to see the new Pope? Why does the Catholic Church have so much power? Because salvation is big business my friend. If salvation is found in an institution, it will all but rule the world.
Plain and simple: the Reformers taught that the same forgiveness for sin that saved you needs to be continually sought out to maintain salvation (justification), and that forgiveness can only be found in the Protestant church. Sola Fide indeed, there is no money in sanctification; the big bucks are in justification. From a worldly perspective, Christ had a horrible business plan:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
There is no money or power in making disciples; the money is in making saved people and requiring them to be faithful to the institution in order to stay saved. In business, we call that RMR (reoccurring monthly revenue).
A finished justification and focus on discipleship empowers the individual, not the institution. Who the Master is—is a settled issue and the focus is preparing for His return by making maximum use of the individual talents given by grace. But when keeping our justification is the focus, individual responsibility to the Master is relegated to the closets. Come now, let’s be honest, how many Christians in the American church even know what their spiritual gifts are? How often do we see church “services” where we “encourage each other unto good works” as opposed to being there to “receive more Jesus.”
The parable of the talents is teaching about a servant who sought to only give back to the Master what he had originally received. And that is exactly what the Reformers promoted. Calvin et al believed that sanctification replaced the Old Testament Sabbath. We will make it to heaven if we “rest” in our salvation.
Enter a conversation I had with a brother not but two days ago:
Ya know Paul, this New Calvinism stuff is supposedly so great, but I have been a member of this church for ten years now, and what? Maybe five people have been saved in that time.
Exactly. Let’s face another fact, people aren’t being saved, if anything, they are just being shuffled around or convinced they were never saved to begin with. The reason for this is simple: Christ said to let our good works shine before men so that our Father in heaven would be glorified. That concept was anathema to Calvin. The fact that sanctification is a Sabbath rest should speak for itself.
The double myth of Arminianism.
Arminianism is another Protestant myth. It centers on the election debate, a doctrine that Calvinists don’t even believe to begin with. The Arminian/Calvinist debate is a double myth. Start thinking for crying out loud, what power and control would there be in election? There is no money in election either. Election portends a settled eternal destiny. If there is election, what do we need the institutional church for? “Election” only gets you into the race for “final justification,” but the race must be run in the church so that you can get your perpetual forgiveness that keeps you in the race. My friend, always follow the money. Always.
While arguing for free will versus total depravity, Arminians have always functioned like Calvinists. Since the Pilgrims Puritans landed on our Eastern shores, we have had Calvinism Lager and Calvinism Light. Arminianism is closet Calvinism. Both devalue sanctification. Calvinism completely rejects sanctification as “subjective justification.” Arminians give tacit recognition to sanctification while completely rejecting it by the way they function. The lager form proudly shows forth Calvin’s doctrine of ecclesiastical justification while Arminians live by John Calvin bumper stickers:
We are all just sinners saved by grace.
This is Calvin’s view of Christians remaining totally depraved while receiving justification in the present-continuance tense.
Just this week, I saw the following John Calvin bumper stickers posted by people who would vehemently deny that they are Calvinists:
This is based on Calvin’s Redemptive Historical hermeneutic and Luther’s Cross Story epistemology. The idea is that the Bible was not written for the purpose of grammatical exegesis, but rather to contemplate the redemptive narrative only leading to subjective, perpetual justification that is necessary to achieve “final justification.” Knowing the Bible factually is Luther’s Glory Story, knowing the Author is Luther’s Cross Story. In other words, every verse in the Bible is about justification and not wisdom for sanctification, the proverbial, “living by lists” and “do’s and don’ts.”
Right, because sanctification is “subjective justification.” Any concern with our outward behavior is, as Calvinist hack Dr. Michael Horton states it, “trying to BE the gospel rather than preaching the gospel.” This fosters the very thing that makes Christianity contemptible to the world—preaching the gospel and not living it. It is the Sabbatical sanctification fostered by John Calvin himself and promoted by Arminians wholesale.
Calminianism is the real reality.
So ok, the Bible has much to say about justification by faith alone, but where is this standalone subject of sanctification that is a different matter of Christian living altogether? One place among many would be 1Thessalonians 4:3ff:
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
Obviously, sanctification is all about KNOWing HOW to control our bodies. And even more obvious is the fact that justification has nothing to do with that at all. And also obvious is the fact that the two aforementioned Calminian metaphysical bumber stickers totally reject this biblical definition. Let’s have another moment of honesty. How many Christians know more about controlling their body today than they did yesterday? And does that affect how the world sees us, and God?
Fusion and dichotomy.
Sanctification is a continued endeavor to learn more and more how to control our bodies from the Scriptures. Calvinism rejects that as the Glory Story. A focus on controlling our own bodies makes life about us and “eclipses the Son.” It fuses justification and sanctification together while dichotomizing anthropology. The opposite should be true in regard to both categories. Calminianism is an upside down Christian life.
Anthropological concepts; i.e., what makes people tick, are deemed pragmatic and unspiritual. Rather than seeing these subjects as wisdom where Christians ought to be outdoing the world, they are rejected as “living by lists” and “living by do’s and don’ts.” I like what one pastor had to say about those truisms:
They are telling us the following: “Don’t live by do’s and Don’ts.”
A prime example is something that everyone is born with: a conscience. The only Psychiatrist in history that really had a track record of helping people was O. Hobart Mowrer. The main thrust of his therapy was an emphasis on keeping a clear conscience. He believed that most mental illness was caused by a guilty conscience. He cured people by insisting that they deal with unresolved issues of guilt. Mowrer, once the President of the APA along with a long list of distinguished awards and appointments, wrote The Crisis in Psychiatry and Religion. The book rejected the medical model of Psychology and fustigated Christianity for relegating the care of the “mentally ill” to Freudian Psychology. Mowrer was not a Christian.
Nevertheless, he is the one who most inspired the father of the contemporary biblical counseling movement, Dr. Jay E. Adams, who applied Mowrer’s practical approach to biblical counseling. Adams did this because he observed Mowrer’s astounding results while doing an internship with him in the summer of 1965.
This only makes sense. The apostle Paul instructed Christians to “keep a clear conscience before God.” The Bible has much to say about the subject of conscience. Christians should use the Bible to be wiser in all areas of human practicality and should excel at it far beyond those who live in the world. Let’s have another honesty moment: how many sermons do we hear on the importance of practicality in the Christian life? Subjects such as, planning, accountability, etc. Unfortunately, these biblical subjects are dichotomized from the “spiritual” and deemed pragmatic.
At the same time, justification and sanctification are fused together in an effort to live out a Sabbatical sanctification; i.e., sanctification by faith alone. This is nothing new, James rejected the concept in his epistle to the 12 tribes of Israel that made up the apostolic church. It is also a Gnostic concept that sees the material as evil and only the spiritual as good. Therefore, since anthropology is part of the material realm, any practicality thereof cannot benefit the spiritual. Supposedly.
Another concept, along with conscience, is that of habituation. Through discipline, habit patterns can be formed that lead to change, ask anyone who has been in the military. People who inter the military come out as changed people. Because of our Protestant heritage and conditioning, these concepts seem grotesquely pragmatic. But according to the Bible, we are to make use of them.
Sanctification is a many-faceted colaboring with the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit’s power is unleashed through wisdom and obedience (James 1:25). We must know assuredly that justification is a finished work, and absolutely nothing that we do in sanctification can affect it for better or worse. This is what purifies our motives in our love for Christ in sanctification. “If you love me, keep my commandments” has absolutely nothing to do with our justification. It’s for love only, not a working for justification. We are thankful for our justification, but that thankfulness doesn’t save us or keep us saved. Only Christ saves—the new creature now loves Christ because that’s who he/she is. Christ’s love made it possible for us to love Him in sanctification, but nothing in sanctification keeps us saved. Sanctification looks not for a “final justification,” but readies itself for the Master’s return and longs to hear the words, “Well done faithful servant!”
When I was a young boy, I often lived with my grandparents during the summer. My grandfather was a real-life John Wayne type. He worked as a construction foreman for a large company. And he was my hero. Before he left for work in the morning, I would sheepishly await for him to depart before beginning a flurry of tasks around their small farm. I would always have the tasks done well before his arrival home and waited at the end of the drive to hear his truck’s humming wheels come down State Route 125. I would then take him around the property and show him the finished tasks. His smile and compliments were my reward. These are tasks that I didn’t have to do; our love for each other was always something totally different from those tasks. I knew assuredly that he would love me whether I did those tasks or not because I was his grandson—his pride and joy. Some idea that the withholding of serving him in order to elevate the reality of his love for me would have been a ridiculous notion.
Justification and sanctification must be separate. Anthropology and the spiritual must be fused. Our bodies must be controlled and set apart for good works. This will lead to the showing forth of our good works and the glorification of the Father leading to salvation for others, not sheep redistribution.
Spiritual abuse and disdain for justice.
A devaluing of our own holiness for fear that it will eclipse the holiness of God, coupled with salvation being sought in the institutionalized Calminian church, has led to the same indecencies seen in the mother of the Reformers; the Roman Catholic Church. Rome has never repented of its abject thirst for blood, and the fruit does not fall far from the tree.
The family split for the time being, but the Reformers never departed from Rome’s ecclesiastical justification found through absolution by church leaders. When this is the case, any vehicle going to heaven will suffice for heaven’s sake alone. The institution will never be threatened for the sake of the few. To the leaders, their existence and power is threatened, to the parishioners, their salvation is threatened. The institution must be preserved.
This is no new thing, in the minds of the Jewish leaders; Jesus Christ was sacrificed to preserve the Jewish religious system. If even Christ Himself was expendable in this mentality, what will be of the molested and raped? Besides, we are all just sinners saved by grace anyway, right? Is justice therefore anywhere on the radar screen in this discussion? Hardly. Besides, the raped and spiritually abused should be thankful because what they deserve is hell anyway, right? Once this is understood, the landscape we see today in the American church should be no surprise whatsoever.
What is the answer?
The church is a sanctified body and not an institution for final justification. We are in the business of making disciples and not keeping people justified by faith alone in sanctification. The sanctified body doesn’t justify, it is God who justifies. Men must stop worshiping at the altar of ecclesiastical justification. Justification is free to us and finished, sanctification isn’t. Sanctification is where we show our love to the savior as servants, not leaches. Evil men like Paul David Tripp who posit the idea that the Christian’s whole duty is to “rest and feed” and wait for “new and surprising fruit” because Christians only “experience” fruit and don’t participate in it must be rejected with extreme prejudice. Their evil seed was spawned in 1970, but they have been in firm control of the American church for 25 years while proclaiming each year a “resurgence.” What do we have to show for it?
It is time for men and women to recognize their calling, their new birth, their indwelling counselor, their gifts, and the authority of Christ and His word alone. There is NO traceable lineage back to the apostolic church like the genealogy documents burned by Titus. Murdering mystic despots have no claim on any authority of the church.
Godly authority is continued wherever a spirit-filled Christian picks up a Bible and obeys its words. A church is a sanctified, obedient fellowship, not a justified institution drunk with its own visions of grandeur.
Caste Systems: Are They the Key to Understanding Rape, Tyranny, Impotence, and Reformed Theology in the Church?
“So, it begs the question: how much of Calvinism and Reformed doctrine in general is part of a caste system philosophy? Are the elect, non-elect , ruling elders, and totally depraved more spiritual social strata than doctrinal truth?”
Regarding my upcoming book projects, volume two of The Truth About New Calvinism will merely trace New Calvinism back to its Reformation roots. Volume one traced it from present-day, back to the resurgence movement of 1970. However, The Reformation Myth (TRM) will delve deep into Reformation philosophy, history, its false gospel of progressive justification, and its bogus motif. The so-called Reformation is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind—that’s the thesis of TRM.
During my research for TRM, I stumbled onto the whole issue of Caste Systems. Woe, what an eye opener. What is also very intriguing in regard to the discussion thereof is the topics ability to organize and lend understanding to complex philosophical issues. That makes the concept dangerous to those who prefer their parishioners dumbed down.
Let’s begin by stealing some definitions:
A caste system is a type of social structure which divides people on the basis of inherited social status. Although many societies could be described in this way, within a caste system, people are rigidly expected to marry and interact with people of the same social class. India has a well known example of a caste system, although various forms of caste systems can be found in many other cultures as well (Online source: http://goo.gl/tcCzX).
Yes, India is caste on steroids, but that only serves to lend understanding to caste systems in general. We must also thank Indian culture for demonstrating how caste systems interact and integrate with religion. Often, caste systems come from religion, and determine the social strata, especially in theocracies. The following chart is helpful accordingly:
The roots of the Indian caste system can be found in the Hindu scriptures, although the caste system was adopted by other religions in India as well. According to scripture, Indian society could be broken down into a number of different groups, known as Varnas. Brahmins, the highest caste, were scholars and priests, while Kshatriya were warriors, rulers, and landlords. Vaisya were merchants, while Sudra were manual laborers. Beyond there four basis Varnas are the Untouchables or Dalit, and the system also has a space for outsiders and foreigners who do not conform with the system (Ibid).
Massive research has been done by sociologists on this subject—it is a treasure trove of understanding. I am 56 years old, done my share of schooling, and have never been exposed to this vast topic and its implications. And as we will see, the absence of consideration regarding caste systems, and its very, very likely influence on Calvinism is downright scandalous. Add it to the list of why Calvinism is a “scandalous gospel.” Moreover, the understanding gained via this topic in the realm of spiritual abuse and tyranny is absolutely priceless.
Caste systems can take on many forms, but for now, let’s stick with the more naked forms. These are caste systems that have actually been enforced by civil and criminal law throughout history. As the former and latter excerpts note, caste systems, social and religious, are not exclusive to Indian culture. In fact, European culture has been inundated with caste systems throughout history:
According to Haviland, social systems identical to caste system elsewhere in the world, are not new in Europe. Stratified societies were historically organized in Europe as closed social systems, each endogamous, into for example nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie and peasants. These had distinctive privileges and unequal rights, that were neither a product of informal advantages because of wealth nor rights enjoyed as another citizen of the state. These unequal and distinct privileges were sanctioned by law or social mores, confined to only that specific social subset of the society, and were inherited automatically by the offspring.
In some European countries, these closed social classes were given titles, followed mores and codes of behavior according to their closed social class, even wore distinctive dress. Royalty rarely married a commoner; and if it did, they lost certain privileges. This endogamy limitation wasn’t limited to royalty; in Finland, for example, it was a crime – until modern times – to seduce and defraud into marriage by declaring a false social class. In parts of Europe, these closed social caste-like groups were estates.
Along with the three or four estates in various European countries, another outcast layer existed below the bottom layer of the hierarchical society, a layer that had no rights and was there to serve the upper layers. It was prominent for centuries, and continued through middle 19th century. This layer was called serfs. In some countries such as Russia, the 1857 census found that over 35 percent of the population was serf (крепостной крестьянин).
While the serfs were of the same race and religion, serfs were not free to marry whomever their heart desired. Serf mobility was heavily restricted, and in matters of who they can marry and how they lived, they had to follow rules put into place by the State and the Church, by landowners, and finally families and communities established certain social mores that was theirs to follow because the serfs were born into it.
In modern times, regions of Europe had untouchables in addition to the upper castes and serfs. These were people of the same race, same religion and same culture as their neighbors yet were considered morally impure by birth, repulsive and shunned, just like the Burakumin caste of Japan and Osu caste of Nigeria.
A sense of hereditary exclusion, unequal social value, and mutual repulsion was part of the relationship between the different social strata in Europe. In late 19th century through the early 20th century, millions of the outcasts, downtrodden and socially ostracized people from Europe migrated on their own, or transferred as indentured laborers to the New World (Online source: http://goo.gl/Fx4VU).
Caste systems form naturally from our tendencies to be prejudice against, in varying degrees, what makes us uncomfortable. And different usually =’s uncomfortable. Therefore, the formation of caste attitudes come naturally to us, and unless restrained, become caste systems. And, unless the brakes are applied to caste systems, the mentality can deprecate to the point of the upper social strata viewing the lower strata as less than human, and a threat to the purity of the upper strata. Can we say, “genocide” ?
This gives new brevity to the basic idea of “love” which strives to value others as much as we value ourselves. The antithesis leads to all kinds of formal, informal, spoken, and unspoken caste systems according to what people look like, talk like, have, have not, etc., etc., etc. Does Hollywood have a caste system? Do high schools have a caste system? Do churches have a caste systems? Yes, yes, and yes.
Interestingly, in regard to the founding fathers of this country, they resisted caste systems. You were pretty much judged by the game you brought to the table regardless of how you got the game. That is why there were African American congressman, mayors, and notable educators early in American history. However, the same cannot be said of the Southern states who implemented a racial caste system that was civil and criminal law:
The term caste entered American debates long before the American Civil War, in the antebellum era and has continued through modern times. Frederick Douglass, William Garrison, Horace Greeley, Harriet Stowe, William Seward, Gerrit Smith, Charles Sumner, Theodore Parker, and Cassius Clay used the term caste, rather than race or class, in their writings and speeches to discuss and inspire America to abolish slavery.
And by the way, Calvinism was the predominate religion in the South during the Civil War (at least in regard to backing the South’s apologetic). Just sayin’.
Like falling off a log, the documenting of Plato’s influence on the father of the Reformation, St. Augustine, is equal in task. The same goes for Augustine’s connection to Martin Luther and John Calvin. And to say that Martin Luther had a caste mentality would be the understatement of the century. And caste systems were part and parcel with medieval history. Even more evident is the hyper-caste mentality that influenced the views of Plato. According to Dr. TS Girishkumar:
Plato had a theory of soul which has three parts, reason, courage and appetite. The development of them shall be different in different people. When reason is dominant, and other part dormant, it is the philosopher. Courage is dominant, the warriors. Appetite is dominant, the traders and cultivators. When all three are dormant, the slaves.
This is just the copy of the Varnashrama system in Indian Philosophy. Four Varnas according to the quality of individuals, and unlike Plato’s theory, the quality is acquired and not by birth. The Brhamanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and the Sudras (Online source: http://goo.gl/JuuGU).
So, it begs the question: how much of Calvinism and Reformed doctrine in general are part of a caste system philosophy? Are the elect, non-elect , ruling elders, and totally depraved more spiritual social strata than doctrinal truth? I intend to research that question thoroughly.
How much of the abuse/tyranny problem in the church today can be related to a caste mentality? What about the indifference regarding church abuse/tyranny that we see in our day? In a caste system, the system answers to nobody about anything. Is this the dynamic that we are experiencing?
What about impotence? In society, lack of social mobility is proven to cripple society because the possible contributions of the lower strata are ignored and shunned. In the church, do caste systems limit spiritual mobility? Certainly, a plenary pushback regarding such attitudes by Christ and the apostles can be seen throughout the New Testament by word and lifestyle.
And we should not expect that the natural degenerative activity of a caste system will behave any differently in the church. Indifference towards justice, abuse, and tyranny will be the same result.
We can rest assured that our Father doesn’t want us to be confused. He gave us a brain and is honored when we use it, but know this: He doesn’t want us to use it to vet every theory running amuck in the world regarding the meaning of life. His word to us is clear: we have His Spirit; we are not to be deceived; test every spirit; and we have all that is needed to be fully equipped for every good work. But according to New Calvinist David Powlison, the church forgets stuff. Therefore, it needs a research and development purpose to rediscover lost truth and apply it. Buyers beware; you only need to follow the money.
As stated in The Truth About new Calvinism, it all boils down to the enemy’s agenda: 1) keep people out of the kingdom 2) deceive kingdom citizens into living spiritually anemic lives 3) which leads to a lack of testimony and thereby facilitates purpose number one. If the kingdom of darkness couldn’t keep you out, it can at least use you to keep others out. And we only need to examine that in context of what worked so well: “Did God really say….” The apostle Paul warned us many times in regard to being led away from the truth by vain philosophies.
New Calvinism is a reductionist theology. Reductionism is two-fold. First, in an attempt to make much of God’s grace and little of man’s efforts, the role of man is reduced as much as possible in theological systems. Secondly, this entails diminishing the primary instrument for man’s participation in God’s work—the law. Therefore, something needs to be done about the new birth because it implies the ability to participate in upholding God’s law in sanctification. New Calvinists have several different ways of denying the new birth; this post is about what they replace it with.
The primary tenet of New Calvinism is the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us as developed by the Australian Forum, a think tank for the Progressive Adventist Movement. One reader commented in regard to part 5 of the New Calvinism for Dummies video series:
One of the things that popped into my mind when you were talking about “objective” and it occurring outside ourselves. It also seems like the NC is inviting the person to stepoutside themselves to be an observer of themselves. Like they are being invited to emotionally remove themselves from who they are, becoming the unemotional observer, which would also lead to some coldheartedness. With the emotions corralled, as such, it just sort of reminds me of Spock on Star Trek.
That’s a good assessment, and speaks to the fact that New Calvinists are very coldhearted and indifferent, also lacking in having a sense of justice about them. That’s one of the bad results of partaking in anti-word philosophies:
….and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of anomia, the love of most will grow cold (Matthew 24:11,12).
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law (Psalm 119:70).
The centrality of the objective gospel outside of us (COGOUS) is the mainframe that holds all of the various movements within New Calvinism together and gives it a hyper-ecumenical flare. The various groups within New Calvinism all have their own way of making this doctrine work with real life, but the overall goal of the doctrine is the same: gospel contemplationism leading to a passive manifestation of a realm. This is merely a device of the only primary goal of the kingdom of darkness from the beginning of redemptive history; specifically, “Has God really said.” It is meant to divert God’s people from Christ’s simple counsel:
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24).
If every verse in the Bible is about what Christ has done and not what he SAYS; ie, “these words of mine,” biblical wisdom for kingdom living is circumvented. Secondly, if our only “do[ing]es” is a passive yielding to a realm, the kind of intentional application of God’s word necessary for a life built on a rock is also circumvented. This will lead to the circumvention of Christ’s goal stated in Matthew chapter five:
14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Therefore, the simple biblical approach of learn/hear>>>obey>>>God glorified, must be replaced with a more passive formula. Opponents of the biblical model would say they only want to exclude man’s efforts so God will get all of the glory, resulting in contemplation/meditation>>>_________>>>God’s works manifested, not ours. The blank is filled in by various and sundry techniques which New Calvinists point to. This often confuses the real issue. But getting back to the main point, the new birth must be refuted because it makes the contra formula possible. And because the latter formula is reductionist and narrow, it must be embellished. Hence, Christian Hedonism, Heart Theology, unbiblical forms of prayer, Neuro-Linguistic-Programming, reorientation of desires, etc, etc. This is vital in selling the product because we were created for work (you know, feet, hands, stuff like that), and passive theologies therefore contradict the conscience. So the blank between meditation and work must be filled in with some plausible stuff that sounds good. Please note: I am stating all of this in context of sanctification. COGOUS>>>life application>>>manifestation of works verses new birth>>>learn and apply>>>obedience.
Furthermore, the application must not only supply a feasible life application, but must also appeal to human desire. This brings us back to the astute comment by the aforementioned reader. This whole idea of COGOUS giving one the ability to step outside of themselves and be an observer of their own life. Some would call this Nature/Freedom philosophy; this is the freedom from the laws of nature, and in the case of New Calvinism, God’s written law as well. There is no better way to demonstrate this than by a quote from one of the most popular New Calvinist articles ever written:
What, then, is the subjective power of this message? Firstly, we find that there is real, objective freedom, the kind that, yes, can be experienced subjectively. We are freed from having to worry about the legitimacy of experiences; our claims of self-improvement are no longer seen as a basis of our witness or faith. In other words, we are freed from ourselves, from the tumultuous ebb and flow of our inner lives and the outward circumstances; anyone in Christ will be saved despite those things. We can observe our own turmoil without identifying with it. We might even find that we have compassion for others who function similarly. These fluctuations, violent as they might be, do not ultimately define us. If anything, they tell us about our need for a savior.
Secondly, this freedom gives us permission to confront and confess our pain. We can look our self-defeating and regressive tendencies in the eye for once. We no longer have to pretend to be anything other than what the Gospel tells us we are: hopeless sinners in need of mercy. Honesty and repentance go hand in hand – freedom puts us on our knees, where we belong. A subjective Gospel turns repentance into a frightening affair, evidence that God is far away from us. An objective Gospel provides the assurance that actually produces repentance, forging the pathway to the place where we find forgiveness and redemption. We can finally grasp hold of the truth that it is always better to be sorry than to be safe. The pastoral implications for marriage alone are staggering.
(David Zahl and Jacob Smith: Mockingbird blog, “The Subjective Power Of An Objective Gospel”).
I think this quotation says it all. It is a freedom from obedience to the law (because we are totally depraved sinners that can’t keep it anyway), freedom from consequences, and supplies a mentality that we can use to detach ourselves from the burdens of life. It is Nature Freedom philosophy to the max and could be accompanied by the song, “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin:
Here is a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy……
Ain’t got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
Don’t worry, be happy
The land lord say your rent is late
He may have to litigate
Don’t worry, be happy
Look at me I am happy
Don’t worry, be happy
Here I give you my phone number
When you worry call me
I make you happy
Don’t worry, be happy
Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style
Ain’t got not girl to make you smile
But don’t worry be happy
Cause when you worry
Your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down
So don’t worry, be happy (now)…..
There is this little song I wrote
I hope you learn it note for note
Like good little children
Don’t worry, be happy
Listen to what I say
In your life expect some trouble
But when you worry
You make it double
Don’t worry, be happy……
Don’t worry don’t do it, be happy
Put a smile on your face
Don’t bring everybody down like this
Don’t worry, it will soon past
Whatever it is
Don’t worry, be happy
….because everything that matters is outside of you—the cross. Just sit back and let life make the cross bigger; stop trying to be the gospel instead of living the gospel by faith alone. That’s one of the many allurements of New Calvinism, but primarily, it’s a theological framework that allows us to fill in the practical application line in any way we would like to. And we like that.