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 email@example.com, 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.
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.
“The problem is the fusing of law and grace, not election. People on both sides of that argument can fuse law and grace together and often do….Notice that who does the work is not the issue. Work period is the issue.”
Protestantism is the foundation of the American church. Our heroes of the faith are those who protested Rome but never left Rome. Augustine, Luther, and Calvin merely believed they could do Rome better. Luther and Calvin in particular were fed-up with the popes and gave birth to a resurgence of Plato’s moral tyranny. The popes were in the tyranny business for money and the fulfillment of sinful desires; the Reformers were in the tyranny business for the glory of God. Their mentor, Augustine, boldly proclaimed that the Bible was useless without Plato’s insight and proclaimed Plato a pre-Christian Christian.
Plato’s philosophical principles and anthropomorphic presuppositions laid the foundation for every political and religious caste system in Western culture. Plato’s DNA is in every tyrant ever born in the West whether political or religious. His philosophy lives in both anemic form and viral, fleshing itself out in either philosophical capitulation or the zealot’s bloody axe. Only God knows the number buried in that landfill named, “The Traditions of Men.”
During the first advent, Christ spoke often of two concerns: the traditions of men and antinomianism. Anti-law of God is made possible to the degree that the authority of men usurp the authority of God’s word. Tradition is powerful and often relegates truth to a metaphysical anomaly. Such is the case with American religious heroes. Their stardom defies logic and truth. While Americans shake their heads in disbelief at documentary films that show Hitler pontificating to swooning masses, we celebrate the Pilgrim Puritans who hung Quakers and baptized women in waters of death. Tradition knows no limits in regard to hypocrisy and ignorance. Better to skim the Cliff Notes of tradition than to suffer a possible stroke by the exercise of thinking.
Calling Charles Haddon Spurgeon the “Prince of Preachers” is perhaps the grandiose example of illogical tradition. Spurgeon was a shameless Calvinistic hack. He once said,
There is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.
The most inconvenient thing ever for admirers of Spurgeon is the truth. He constantly disregarded the plain sense of Scripture, though eloquently. While comparing Augustine and Calvin to the apostle Paul in the same sermon (A Defense of Calvinism), any concern for Paul’s warning of being a proponent of a doctrine named after a man was totally disregarded by Surgeon in open defiance to the truth (1COR 3:1-9).
But the fundamental problem is the fact that Calvin taught a blatant false gospel. He believed that grace was not possible unless Christ fulfilled the law for us (CI 3.14.9-11). He believed that Christians are still “under law” which is the very definition of a lost person in the book of Romans and the premise for Calvin’s total depravity.
Hence, Christians remain under the law for justification and must live their Christian lives by faith alone in order to keep their salvation. If Christians live by faith alone in sanctification, the perfect obedience of Christ is perpetually imputed to us and we remain saved. Of course, this requires a complex doctrinal judgment in regard to what is works in sanctification and what is not a work in sanctification in order to live our Christian lives by faith alone resulting in the maintaining of our salvation. This is the very reason for the anemic sanctification that has plagued Protestantism for centuries. We either throw Law out the window completely, or live in fear regarding what is a work and what isn’t a work in our Christian lives lest we find ourselves in “works salvation.”
The problem is the fusing of law and grace. Not election. People on both sides of that argument can fuse law and grace together and often do. Unbelievers are “under law” while believers are “under grace.” We are justified APART from the law (ROM 3:21). Christ didn’t come to fulfill the law FOR OUR JUSTIFICATION; He came to die for our sins so that a righteousness APART from the law could be credited to our account. If Christ had to fulfill the law…. for our justification, law is still the BASIS for our justification and justification is then NOT OF GRACE. The basis of our justification is not law, we are rather UNDER GRACE. This is what the apostle Paul wrote:
Romans 11:6 – But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
Notice that who does the work is not the issue. Work period is the issue. The BASIS of grace is the issue here, and if the basis of grace is works it is no longer grace. If Christ had to keep the law for us to make grace possible, according to Paul, grace is no longer of grace. To the contrary, Paul states that Christ came so that he could fulfill the law through us in sanctification completely separate from justification:
Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 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, 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.
Notice that a perfect keeping of the law is not required for us in sanctification to please God for justification. Why? Because the two are separate and there is no law in justification for the believer. The two are separate. We are saved apart from the law for justification and the law informs our sanctification (ROM 3:21, GAL 4:21). Calvinism propagates a grace based on works. Its consummation is an antinomianism where Christ must keep the law for us because we are unable to please God through the perfect fulfillment of it in our Christian lives—perfection as a goal not withstanding in sanctification, but not for justification. According to Calvinism, we have no faith that is alive; we are still dead in our trespasses and sins. It is of the variety that separates us from the fulfillment of the law in sanctification as well. Only Calvin was genius enough to devise a doctrine that combined the best of works salvation and antinomianism.
Only truth sanctifies (John 17:17). The idea that Spurgeon ever helped anyone with his preaching is an illusion grounded in the traditions of men.
We now continue our study in the book of Romans, Chapter 12, and verse 9:
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Last week, we looked at some gifts that God has granted to those who call on His name. Christians have different gifts that function within the body of Christ. The apostle Paul used the human body and its anatomy to illustrate this point. If organs don’t function, the body is hindered (1Corinthians 12). Paul also stated that God assigns these gifts with different levels of ability.
Not only do we see this in the Parable of the Talents, but we also see in that same parable the danger of a mentality that likens the function of the body to works salvation (Matthew 25:14-30). Notice that immediately following the condemnation of the servant who hid his talents in the ground, giving back to God what had originally been given, verses 31-46 speak of what? Love. Take note: there is grave danger in seeing your function in the body of Christ as some kind of work possibly tied to salvation. It may point to a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel. We are not under the law. Justification is a finished work accomplished by God only. Sanctification is the work of our love toward God and others.
I see the same kind of fear in contemporary Christians who think that functioning in the body of Christ can be works that are connected to justification if not done exactly right; ie., by faith alone. There isn’t a freedom to work diligently because of the fear that it can affect our original salvation. Tentative body parts—that’s a problem. If you have a tentative heart, they have to fix you up with all kinds of battery operated gizmos. And that’s what we have in today’s church: tentative body parts, parts that don’t know that they are parts, and others who want an excuse for not being a part; ie., it would be works salvation. This idea is either cause for undo fear or an excuse.
But most importantly, it’s not love. God has given us an array of gifts for the purpose of loving others; so, how important are those gifts? Your gifts—the gifts that came with your salvation. Chrsit died to give you those gifts. That makes them paramount, but this other immense privilege we have is to sanctify our works with love.
Yes, we have the privilege in this life to practice the one gift that is eternal: love. ALL the other gifts will pass away, only love will continue into eternity:
1Corithians 13:1 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
We have to practice our gifts in order to love. Love is the only thing that continues after this life. Undoubtedly, love will function differently in eternity, but let us remember that love is defined in many different ways. Christ never partook in anything loveless. Every thought of His life and every action was in love. Think about that for a while. I fear that we have a very narrow view of love in our day.
As Christians, we love ourselves naturally (we discussed that last week), and as Christians, we are called on to love ourselves. Why? Because the best way to love ourselves is to die to self for the sake of others. Seeking self never leads to spiritual wellbeing. He who seeks his life will lose it, he who loses his life will find it (Matthew 10:39). Love is in part a selfish act. That was Paul’s point made to husbands in Ephesians 5. The idea is that not loving your wife is a metaphysical anomaly because not loving your wife is a stupid way of trying to love yourself. It’s curing a headache by smashing one of your fingers with a framing hammer—you’re not even thinking about your headache now because your finger hurts a lot more.
Of course, the world lies and states that the way to love yourself is, “If it feels good, do it.” There is this thing that Paul identifies called the “desires of the flesh.” As we have seen in our study of Romans, the unregenerate are enslaved to those desires, but free to do good. No unregenerate person is perfectly evil. But the direction of their lives is the desires of the flesh. So of course, it is no surprise that “if it feels good, do it” is the motto of their lives. Some boldly name it and claim it, others unwittingly function that way. Saved people are enslaved to righteousness, and free to do evil. Therefore, no saved person is perfectly righteous, but they seek spiritual wellbeing, and they know that is found in dying to self. It’s a matter of being selfish according to wisdom. Obviously, one who seeks to die to self has the goal of finding his/her own life in mind, right?
Argue for or against the intrinsic value of mankind all you want, God has wired us to value life, and that life includes our own self-awareness. To value life is to value yourself—this is inescapable, unless you’re not alive, then I agree that it is a dead issue.
So, the goal of love is to define love, and seek it as our primary motivation. The works of the flesh, or the old nature that was put to death (by the way, we only have ONE nature: the new one), cannot execute love, so we must put off its way of thinking and doing, and put on the ways of the Spirit which are always of love. The old nature is dead, but still has an influence on our mortality. This, I think is a mystery, but some like Dr. Jay E. Adams posit the idea that being habituated through the old ways of living is the key to understanding the Christian’s struggle with sin. That is at least part of it.
That brings us to verse 9. In this verse, Paul teaches us how to obtain genuine love. We are to cling to all that is good, and hate all that is evil. It is a matter of investment. Where your treasure is, your heart will be there also (Mathew 6:21). No doubt, without the inward change initiated by God, there would be no real change, but that doesn’t exclude the biblical fact that outward change also facilitates inward change. The maxim, “All change comes from the inside out” is patently false. Because we believe the truth of God’s word, we make choices to do things outwardly to strengthen the inner man. Falling into sin doesn’t strengthen the inner person, so we make a choice not to enter environments of temptation. The idea that practical outward obedience doesn’t strengthen us is a bad idea and usually rooted in mysticism.
So, the way to “genuine” love is to invest in good and shun evil in the way we think, and what we do. To only dwell on the bad elements of a person is first not true, and second, will certainly lead to hatred rather than love. Divorce is almost always the result of an untrue evaluation of one’s spouse. What you want to think about a person for whatever reason doesn’t make it true. We are to evaluate others and ourselves truthfully. Also, we can invest in others to strengthen them.
This coincides with some of the elements of love Paul pointed to in 1Corithians 13. Love doesn’t delight in evil. This is my primary beef with TV shows that make humor of things that God would disapprove of. That’s delighting in evil. That’s not love. You’re not loving God by laughing about something that is evil regardless of the context. Partaking in such will devalue your appreciation for the fact that God’s Son died to save us from such. Why do we laugh about things that nailed Christ to the cross?
We also need to take heed that we don’t delight when our enemies fall into sin. That’s delighting in evil. Republicans should not delight when a Democrat president gets caught up in some kind of scandal. Treating others the same way we would want to be treated applies to our enemies as well (Luke 6:21). How would you like to be treated by your enemy? If he stumbles upon your lost oxen in the wilderness, would you want him to return it? (Exodus 23:4,5). It was pointed out last week that self-love is a morally neutral metaphysical fact. We are wired to value life in general, including our own. This is assumed in the stated biblical goal to love others in the same we already love ourselves (Mark 12:31, Leviticus 19:18).
Be sure of this: any teaching that posits self-hatred in the vein of the whole total-depravity motif will lead to the devaluing of life in general. This is not only logical, but has been the witness of history. The idea that we can totally dismiss the value of our own lives while valuing life in general is a misnomer. In regard to the caliber of Jonathan and David’s friendship, it is said that Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself (1Samuel 20:17). That standard seems to be the zenith for mortals. It’s neither bad nor good, it’s simply reality. Remember, Paul stated that no person has ever hated themselves (Ephesians 5:29). Often, self-destructive behavior comes from anger, enslavement to “desires,” or escape. People often follow their desires to the detriment of others without consideration of whether or not they would want to be treated that way.
I like some things about cable TV; specifically, those detective shows that document real-life cases. Those shows are a spectacular insight into human behavior. I have seen many of these shows that report the following motive for murder according to the confessions of the perpetrators: they simply wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone. That’s a “desire.” A desire to kill someone for the experience is an evil desire. How would they like it if someone killed them just because they wanted to know what it felt like? This is an extreme example, but it is a primary principle of this discussion and covers the whole spectrum down to the finest details of living by priorities.
And what is the priority? Love is the priority.
Verse 10 builds on this point:
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Let’s consider two of the words in this verse, first, “outdo” (proēgeomai):
To lead the way for others, i.e. show deference, prefer.
To go before and show the way, to go before and lead, to go before as a leader.
This is a good example of how some have the gift of leadership, but everybody is to lead, or set the right examples. We call this “duty,” a word completely out of vogue in our day. In this particular case, the practice of our gift in context of love, or duty is “honor” (timē):
A value, i.e. money paid, or (concretely and collectively) valuables; by analogy, esteem (especially of the highest degree), or the dignity itself. Honor, precious, price, sum. A valuing by which the price is fixed. The price of a thing bought or sold. Honour which belongs or is shown to one of honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds. Deference, reverence.
This is consistent with the rest of the New Testament: leading is setting the example, it has nothing to do with authority. If someone is practicing proper leadership, and you don’t follow them, you are not benefiting yourself (Hebrews 13:17). We are to be persuaded by the proper example.
Moreover, Paul is stating that we should aspire to be the best at showing the value of others. It is the same word used in 1Peter 3:7 for how husbands are to treat their wives—they are to be highly valued. This is also the same word used throughout the New Testament, nearly 40 times, to describe the high value of God’s people. Again, I can’t help to mention that this turns the whole total depravity gig upside down. Compare this to a Reformed funeral I attended just a few weeks ago. The deceased man’s own son stood up and “honored” him by proclaiming to the hundreds there that his father was a “wicked sinner.” Others testified that this was an honorable title because the former pastor was, “all about the grace of God and the gospel.” God help us. The way we love each other in the church today is to proudly proclaim ourselves sinners.
Is this not rejoicing in evil as well?
I will not relent in calling out this great evil in our day. We have indeed arrived there by the absence of tenacious and incessant complaint. Only the absence of a great outcry could result in a man honoring his dead father by calling him a “wicked sinner.”
Let me close with Matthew 24:11, 12 –
And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
Certainly, a lot more could be taught here about love, but I want to close by making the point that love needs to be defined biblically. Christ, in speaking of the latter days, states that lawlessness will be increased by false teachers. The word “lawlessness” is anomia—it means to be contrary to the law of God in particular. The result of that will be the absence of love and a irreverence for life following.
And I believe we are in those days. Let us teach and practice a biblical love.
“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.
“As we learned earlier in the book of Romans, being under the law provokes us to sin against the law. The flesh, which was alive, provoked us to sin against the law leading up to the day when we would be judged by the law. This is what Paul is talking about in one of the most abused portions of Scripture in our day:
“Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
See, see, we live by faith alone in the Christian life. We are still spiritually dead in our Christian life, and it is only Christ who lives in us.’
“That notion needs to be answered with Romans 7:1-6. Dying with Christ made us dead to the law, but alive to the law of the Spirit which is the same law that formally brought forth fruits of death. Let’s look at Galatians 2:20 in the larger context:
“15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
“17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness [earlier ESV “justification”] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
“What do you notice in context regarding the underlined words? The context is clearly justification. Galatians 2:20 is just another way of stating Romans 7:1-6. Paul is saying that it is impossible to be justified by the law because when we died with Christ, we died to the law which made us alive to God and the law of the Spirit. The law was letters of death while we were under it. Hence, Paul concludes his thought in Gal 2:21 by saying that if we are still under the law, Christ died for nothing. We were made dead to the law and alive to God by faith alone in Christ. That’s what that verse is stating. Again, it’s another way of stating Romans 7:1-6.
“In regard to justification, it is not us who live, but Christ. That doesn’t mean we are also dead to the law in sanctification.
“When someone using Gal 2:20 to teach a sanctification by faith alone, you need to correct them with Rom 7:1-6. You should also inform them that they do not know the difference between justification and sanctification. We are justified by faith alone, but sanctification (discipleship) is not by faith alone. James wrote to the 12 tribes of Israel to refute that very idea.”
~ Sanctification: The Love Side of the Law; Romans 13:8
“What imperils the Calvinist soul is a fundamental anti-biblical view of the law. They must be shown the new way of the Spirit.”
Know Calvin’s Gospel
Calvinism is a false gospel that imperils the soul. The apostle Paul made it clear in Romans that there are only two people groups in the world: those under law, and those under grace (ROM 6:14). The lost and the saved. Calvinists declare themselves to be under law. They try to get around this by saying you can be under law and under grace both, but such is not the case. They say it is ok to be under law and covered by grace if we live by faith alone in sanctification; or, living by the same grace that saved us. The whole, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day” is indicative of where they stand on law and grace. According to their other gospel, we need the same grace that saved us every day for one reason and one reason only: we are supposedly still under law. Certainly, all people live under the grace of God whether saved or unsaved—we are addressing the grace that saved us initially.
Calvinists use the book of Galatians in an effort to make the opposite point; supposedly, the Galatians were putting themselves under law by attempting to please God in sanctification by keeping the law. Hence, in the Calvinist mind, attempting to keep the law in sanctification is the same thing as trying to keep the law for our justification—they are still under it accordingly….for justification….IN sanctification. In other words, a demand for perfect obedience to the law in sanctification is still the standard to maintain justification. This was Paul’s actual beef with the Galatians: that the law was still a standard for maintaining their justification. The Galatians were adding law to grace in order to maintain grace. So, instead of the law informing their sanctification, they were putting themselves back under the law to maintain justification. That’s why Paul wrote the following to them:
Galatians 4:21 – Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?
Paul continues from there to drive home the point that justification is a settled issue and obligation to the law is separated from it. We are obligated to listen to the law for sanctification, but there is no longer any law obligation to our justification. To say that justification has to be maintained by perfect law-keeping is to be under the law. The Galatians were being taught that rituals such as circumcision completely satisfied the law. But again, being under law is the point here. That is why Paul stated the following:
Galatians 5:2 – Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
The Galatians were being taught that circumcision satisfied all of the requirements of the law for justification. This led to an antinomianism in sanctification because in these systems there is no distinction between hearing and doing the law in sanctification and the laws relationship to justification. For the unbeliever, the law is the standard for justification because unbelievers are under the law. Christians are under grace and not under the law, so the law has no relevance to their justification. Paul was simply telling the Galatians that if they are under the law, they are obligated to keep all of it for justification. Circumcision or any other ritual does not satisfy the law.
Paul states that we are not under law because the old us that was under the law is dead (ROM 7:1-11), and therefore, the law cannot judge the sins of our mortality (Rom 3:19, 7:8,9). But on the other hand, we are enslaved to the law in sanctification (Rom 8:7,8). Even though we cannot keep it perfectly due to our present mortality, we are enslaved to it and nonetheless strive to keep it in our sanctification. The law was never fulfilled to maintain our justification because there is no law in justification. The law is fulfilled through us in sanctification (ROM 8:3,4). Christ’s death separated the law from justification in the same way that a spouse is no longer under a marriage covenant when the other spouse dies (ROM 7:1-3).
This excludes the necessity for perfect law-keeping in sanctification. Christ accomplished this through His death, not keeping the law for us in sanctification. Calvinists call this, “Christ 100% for us.” Christ’s perfect law-keeping is a given by virtue of who He is and not because perfect law-keeping was part of the Abrahamic covenant of promise which occurred 430 years before the law (GAL 3:17,18).
Which Brings Us to Calvin’s Galatian Error
No works salvation system ever promotes a perfect, intelligent obedience to the law. It posits activity on our part that imputes something that counts for a perfect keeping of the law to maintain our salvation. This always leads to antinomianism because a ritual replaces actual law-keeping. Those under grace strive to please God by law-keeping because they are enslaved to the law, but on the other hand, perfection is not the standard because they are hindered by mortality (ROM 8:3,4) and the law can’t judge them because they are no longer under it (ROM 3;19). They are enslaved to it for sanctification, but not under it for justification. Those under grace are enslaved to the law but will not be judged by it; those under law are enslaved to sin and will be judged by the law. The Bible has an awesome way of stating this: those under the law violate it at all points by one sin; those under grace fulfill the law by loving their neighbors and God. The enslavement hindered by the weakness of the flesh fulfills the law in sanctification.
Calvin’s error/false gospel merely replaced the ritual of circumcision with daily re-salvation for the atonement of sin and the perpetual imputation of Christ’s perfect law-keeping for sanctification in order to maintain our justification (Calvin Institutes: 3.14.9-11). “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day” is a ritual that imputes Christ’s perfect obedience to our sanctification in order to maintain our justification. This was also the fatal error of the Pharisees who replaced the law of God with their traditions and thus, “you have made void the law of God” (MATT 15:6 [most translations : “set aside” and “commandments”). The law is void for justification (the dead letter and covenant of death), but not sanctification.
Therefore, Calvinism keeps the “believer” under the law for justification leading to antinomianism in sanctification because Christ is 100% for us and keeps the law for us in sanctification in order to maintain our just standing. This is well exemplified via the following tweet by a well-known Calvinist:
This was the same result at Galatia as well:
Galatians 5:7 – You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
This rejects the believer’s hindered enslavement to the law in sanctification and only leaves one other alternative: under the law. For all practical purposes: lost. Therefore, the Calvinist must be informed that he/she is still under the law and trusting in a false gospel. What imperils the Calvinist soul is a fundamental anti-biblical view of the law. They must be shown the new way of the Spirit.
Let me recommend that you then teach them through the following booklet (Click on images to enlarge if necessary):
Dr. James White (Calvinist) and Dr. David Allen (Arminian) Keep the Christian Herd Calm While Vying for the Mutton
“Based on the Calvin Institutes 4.1.21,22 alone, how could Dr. Allen say, ‘I do not consider it to be outside the boundaries of orthodox Christianity.’ Does this speak to the condition of American seminaries in general; the brain trust thereof are this clueless? I think it does. Christians are paying thousands of dollars to be educated by theological morons.”
There may be something to Socrates’ theory of intuitive knowledge. I have always suspected that the church is crippled by spiritual caste, but today’s events revealed to me that Protestantism is spiritual caste on steroids. I knew it, but now I really know it. Now I see it clearly.
I have been perplexed for some time over the Arminian/Calvinism debate that Christians never seem to tire of. The reason this is perplexing to me follows: Calvinism is clearly a false gospel. For four years, I tenaciously mapped the history and doctrine of New Calvinism. New Calvinists claim that they are returning authentic Calvinism to the church, a claim that I planned on addressing in volume two of The Truth About New Calvinism. In preparation for volume two, I consulted with church historian John Immel. When I showed him my New Calvinist map, he in essence said, “Yes, that looks an awful lot like what Luther and Calvin believed. I would read the Calvin Institutes.”
And that I did. To my utter shock, I learned that the Calvin Institutes are no more or no less than the New Calvinist playbook. I also learned some other interesting things about Calvinism. In the Calvin Institutes 4.1.21,22, Calvin states in no uncertain terms that Christians need a daily re-forgiveness of sins in order to remain saved, and that forgiveness can only be found in the institutional church under the authority of pastors. He also wrote that pastors are granted authority to forgive sins of condemnation by proxy. Truly, the Institutes are chock full of anti-biblical ideas and outright heresy.
Election versus freewill; Calvinism has been hiding behind this silly debate for more than 500 years while Calvinism is a conspicuous false gospel A-Z. The other day, I was sent some videos that pertained to Dr. James White’s objection to this year’s John 3:16 Conference. Here is what the Baptist Press said about the conference:
While stressing that the discussion between Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention is a family matter, speakers at the 2013 John 3:16 Conference outlined the differences between the two views and what they believe to be the issues hindering unity among Southern Baptists.
Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., which hosted the conference on March 21-22, told attendees that the event would help them “engage in the conversation going on across the nation and the Southern Baptist Convention.”
When I saw Dr. White’s critique of the conference, and other videos that in fact showed the ignorance that was on display at the conference and thereby making White look good, I decided to venture back into the arena of public debate. I contacted White’s ministry, Alpha and Omega, and received this reply:
1. Could you please direct me to any of your published work on the subject?
2. Could you provide me with your credentials (training, degrees, etc.).
3. What work of Dr. White are you familiar with? Please list his books and debates that you have watched, read and perhaps even commented on.
4. I would especially be interested in any publications or sermons where you exegete, at the very least, Genesis 50:15-21, John 6:37-45, Romans 1-3 and all of Romans 9.
The following was my reply:
1. Yes, until 2012, I was the only author to publish a book on the contemporary history and doctrine of the Neo-Calvinist movement. In 2012, a work by Dr. Robert R. Congdon cited my book six times, and referred to it indirectly in several other places. Reviews of my book can be found at The Truth About New Calvinism .com. Volume 2 is in process, and the only book to date that documents the resurgences of authentic Reformed doctrine since Calvin’s oversight of Geneva. It also documents the antinomian controversies between redemptive historical Calvinists and grammatical historical Calvinists. Furthermore, the book will document the specific influences of Neo-Platonism on Calvin’s theology.
I am the only contemporary author to write a book that challenges the Reformation’s justification by faith alone as a works salvation: False Reformation: Four Tenets of Calvin and Luther’s False Gospel, TANC Publishing 2012. It focuses on progressive justification, the fusion of justification and sanctification, Calvin and Luther’s view of the new birth, their methods of interpretation, and the total depravity of the saints. It does not address the doctrine of election as that subject gets the cart before the horse in regard to soteriology.
Besides, it is my contention that Calvinists don’t really believe in election to begin with. They believe election enters you into a faith alone race in which you have to persevere by faith alone in order to keep yourself saved. In essence, a perpetual re-salvation through the process of mortification and vivification that makes the Christian life an experience, and not a work. This leads to an ambiguity regarding assurance that was an Augustinian hallmark. Everyone stands in one last judgment waiting to see if they lived the Christian life by faith alone adequately enough to avert “making sanctification the ground of our justification.”
I have also written a book (“Pictures of Calvinism”) that addresses the Reformed doctrine of the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us and its supposed application to life.
In addition, I have done research for the Institute of Nouthetic Studies and The Journal of Modern Ministry in response to their requests.
2. Credentials other than being Spirit-filled? Sure. I was a proponent of Reformed theology for 20 years, and a Reformed pastor for five. I was a pastor in Dallas TX, and am presently a pastor in Xenia, Ohio. For whatever it is worth, I have attended several Bible colleges and plan to obtain a degree sometime next year. I am also a certified biblical counselor.
3. I have watched several of Dr. White’s debates via video. The one that incited my goal here was in regard to the John 3:16 Conference. Though public debate is not my forte, I am compelled because Dr. White is right: their arguments against Calvinism are utterly pathetic.
4. I am presently preaching through the book of Romans, and the first eight chapters are published: “The Gospel: Clarification in Confusing Times.” You can peruse the archives here: http://paulspassingthoughts.com/the-potters-house/ We are in chapter 12.
In backing out of the debate, here was their excuse coming from the president of Alpha and Omega:
Thank you but I don’t believe that we would have an interest in a debate at this time. Your focus of work seems to be in the area of Calvin and the history of the Reformation which is not something that we have ever pursued as a primary debate topic. Further, we do scholarly work here and after having been accused of ‘picking the low hanging fruit’ on numerous occasions by arminians we have simply raised the bar for the qualifications of our opponents. When you can show me that you have formal training in Greek, Hebrew and Systematic Theology at the very least I will be happy to reconsider whether we could find a topic of interest in common. Further, such a debate would need a primary focus on the scriptures with history being secondary for us to have any interest.
Alpha and Omega Ministries
Let me make a point here Mr. and Mrs. Average Joe parishioner. When you go to your pastors with a concern, in the vast majority of circumstances, this is how they see you: unknowledgeable in systematic theology, Greek, and Hebrew, and uncertified by a Protestant philosopher king institution. While they put on their I am really concerned and respect your spiritual intellect look, they are thinking, “Dude, just shut up and tithe your ten percent—you’re clueless.”
By the way, while these guys claim no interest in history, it would do them some good to know that the father of Reformation doctrine, St. Augustine, was not the least bit studied in Hebrew or Greek. And certification? He was a Catholic till the end. Would James White refuse a debate with St. Augustine based on academic credentials?
While I was waiting for the White camp to respond, I sent this email to one of the Arminian philosopher kings who spoke at the John 3:16 conference:
Greetings. My name is Paul Dohse and I work with a nonprofit LLC that researches Reformed theology and the Neo-Calvinist movement in particular. I published the first book on New Calvinism in 2011, and that book culminated four years of research. The only other work published on this subject followed a year later, and was written by Dr. Robert Congdon. He cited our work (“The Truth About New Calvinism” volume 1) extensively in his book, “New Calvinism’s Upside-Down Gospel.”
I have also published the first outright challenge to Calvin’s soteriology in “False Reformation: Four Tenets of Luther and Calvin’s Egregious False Gospel.” The book contends that Calvin propagated progressive justification, a denial of the new birth, the idea that justification is predicated on a perpetual perfect keeping of the law by Christ in the believers stead (a law that can give life for justification), and the idea that Christians must keep themselves saved by preaching the gospel to themselves every day.
In light of this, I would like to interview you in regard to your comments during the John 3:16 conference Q&A; specifically, to a couple of young men arguing for separation from Calvinists in the SBC. My blog usually conducts these interviews by videotaping me talking to the participants over the telephone, preferably a landline.
Thank you for your consideration,
Paul M. Dohse
Here was his response:
Thank you for the invitation, but I must respectfully decline. While I strongly disagree with many aspects of Calvinism, I do not consider it to be outside the boundaries of orthodox Christianity (hyper-Calvinism excepted).
David L. Allen, Ph.D.
Dean | School of Theology
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Let us ponder the possibilities:
1. None of these people have ever read the Calvin Institutes while holding conferences and posing as experts on the subject.
2. They know what Calvin believed, but they don’t want to spook the herd for financial reasons.
Based on the Calvin Institutes 4.1.21,22 alone, how could Dr. Allen say, “I do not consider it to be outside the boundaries of orthodox Christianity.” Does this speak to the condition of American seminaries in general; the brain trust thereof are this clueless? I think it does. Christians are paying thousands of dollars to be educated by theological morons.
Moreover, on the Arminian side, it is the same. Notice how Dr. Allen summarily dismissed my assertions about Calvinism without a shred of curiosity. Why? See the Alpha and Omega Ministries reply—same reason. So, likewise, even if you are a theologically accomplished layperson, and you have a discussion with one of these Arminian guys, the result is the same:
While they put on their I am really concerned and respect your spiritual intellect look, they are thinking, “Dude, just shut up and tithe your ten percent—you’re clueless.”
Be not deceived, whether Calvinist or Arminian, they both have the same goal: don’t spook the herd. It is a spiritual caste system rivaled by none. Rather than teaching you theology, they banter back and forth to keep you confused, and controllable.
“After all,” says their fears, “if the herd can understand theology, what would they need us for?”
So, the cat is out of the bag. Our Protestant church culture is no different than Rome. Salvation is found in the Protestant caste institution and its supposed “power of the keys.” The Protestant church emperor has no clothes. Now we know why there is a church that can be seen from the highway every two miles with an average $500,000 annual budget: people will pay big money for salvation. These buildings are nothing more or less than Catholic temples.
If you get, if you realize that Christ is the only one who has authority over you and no one else, you are feeling pretty lonely, and wonder where we go from here.
We go to very exciting places, after all, for the first time in your Christian life you are free. The baggage of the institutional church is no longer on your shoulders. And in time, you will be joined by others. In fact, I have to believe that this will be a huge movement if it is truly a return to what Christ wants, and I think it is.
But be sure of this: this isn’t a half-pregnant home fellowship movement that is part home and part institution, this is ALL OUT.
And, just think about it: the Protestant monstrosity is only part of our mission field white unto harvest. And, our message is theological math that people can understand. Two literal different relationships between two literal written laws is NOT hard to understand. Protestants have to make “nomos” a realm and not a written law. This is NOT complicated.
Let’s face it, in the institutional church, evangelism has always been strained. Since I left the institutional church, evangelizing is like a mere natural flow for me. Also, the church does not dictate what I learn this week—I am totally free to learn anything from the Scriptures that God would show me.
Starting a loving assembly of Christ is easy. You are the pastor of your own home. Read Ephesians 5:25-33; where do you see elders in there? You don’t. Every Sunday, gather your family together, read the word and discuss it, have a meal together and recognize the Lord’s table, have prayer, and use your money to help people. Why are you placing yourselves under the authority of people who could care less about the priesthood Christ has assigned you to? Start there and support the movement—the rest will happen.
This is the way to go, and as Christian’s intentionally network together and work this all out, we will be living large in Christ. These are not only perilous times—they are very exciting times.
Paul M. Dohse
PO Box 583
Xenia, Ohio 45385
To Dr. Walter Price and the Board of Trustees of Southern Seminary:
It is no surprise that truth is of low value in our day; the apostle Paul informed Timothy that in the latter days people would not tolerate sound doctrine, and we are in those days. Hence, there are no expectations in regard to this letter, but nevertheless, it is a duty to proclaim the truth.
Southern Seminary now offers academic credits for attending seminars at conferences sponsored by various organizations connected with the present-day resurgence of authentic Calvinism. Though the traditions of men and antinomianism was of primary concern as stated by Christ during His earthly ministry, the evangelical academia of our day follows the crowds in wholesale acceptance of any doctrinal name brand that sells.
This blitzkrieg of resurgent conferences targets youth specifically. The resurgence seeks to turn a whole generation of youth to this doctrine. This represents the future of the American church. Evangelicals, and its academia in particular, seem indifferent to the gravity of future accountability attached to this reality.
Our organization researches the Calvin Institutes, and the trustees of Southern Seminary would do well in following our example rather than the opinions of men like Albert Mohler. Calvin’s gospel, as stated in the Institutes, is a call to keep ourselves saved through the practice of antinomianism, and has a distinctive Gnostic application. It is works salvation by Christ plus antinomianism, and reduces obedience to only experiencing the imputation of Christ’s perfect obedience to the Christian life. An example of this would be on page 215 in How People Change (2006), a book written by Paul David Tripp, a speaker at the recent Cross Conference endorsed by Southern Seminary. He states the following:
When we think, desire, speak, or act in a right way, it isn’t time to pat ourselves on the back or cross it off our To Do List. Each time we do what is right, we are experiencing what Christ has supplied for us. In Chapter 11, we introduced some of the fruit Christ produces. We will expand the discussion here.
Calvin, as well as Luther, believed that all reality is interpreted through the works of Christ in the gospel, or the “objective” gospel and the imputation of those works are experienced “subjectively” in order to remove our works from sanctification. Hence, “the subjective power of an objective gospel” and other such mantras often heard among evangelicals today. This necessitates, in a manner of speaking, interpreting every verse in the Bible as a justification verse; i.e., “Biblical Theology,” a buzz word at Southern. This way of interpreting the Bible was introduced by Christian mystic Geerhardus Vos circa 1938.
Calvin also redefined the new birth as an experience of perpetual rebirth in order to keep ourselves saved by the same gospel that originally saved us. So, the new birth is not a one-time event, it is a perpetual cycle of the same repentance and new birth experience that originally saved us—that’s why we must, “preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” This is the doctrine of mortification and vivification. It is part of Calvin’s systematic theology. This is factually indisputable. The Christian life focuses on our total depravity and repentance only, leading to the experience of vivification, or a joyful experience.
Therein, the human “heart” is redefined as something that is transformed only by its increased ability to experience vivification. This is why John Piper states that joy is essential to the Christian life; if vivification is not being experienced; perpetual rebirth is not taking place:
The pursuit of joy in God is not optional. It is not an ‘extra’ that a person might grow into after he comes to faith. Until your heart has hit upon this pursuit, your ‘faith’ cannot please God. It is not saving faith (Desiring God: p. 69).
Likewise, Southern Baptist Paul Washer states the following:
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 (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).
The new birth is redefined as a “cycle” rather than a one-time event like our physical birth. It is redefined as a perpetual rebirth experience as we focus on our saintly total depravity. We are only righteous positionally; regeneration is a mere experience of Christ’s perfect obedience to the law. This not only keeps Christians under law, but inadvertently calls for a rejoicing in our own supposed total depravity.
This is why authentic Calvinism dies a social death within Christianity every 100 years or so. God’s people eventually catch on to the fact that it is a false gospel. Lighter forms of it survive the rejection while maintaining the label. We are presently within the fifth resurgence since Calvin’s Geneva, and the trustees of Southern are mindless participants accordingly.
We had the wonderful privilege of meeting many, many young people at the recent Cross Conference where you promoted this false gospel. We realize that there will only be a remnant that loves the truth enough to reject this latest academic novelty. But this is a generation of young people capable of great things, and smart enough to know that they only need God Himself to accomplish His mission. We believe that American Christianity has become a mission field in and of itself; namely, YOUR resurgence movement, a movement that bears your name, and we are seeking to reach that remnant of God that loves His truth. This is our duty and calling. A gospel promoting a justification that is not finished cannot save.
Meanwhile, as stated by the apostle Paul, let those who teach another gospel be accursed whether they be angels or men of renown.
Because only truth saves and sanctifies,
Paul M. Dohse
Perry: Thanks for seeing me today pastor.
Pastor: No problem Perry, what can I do for you?
Perry: Um, uh, it’s about something you said in Sunday’s sermon.
Pastor: What did I say Perry?
Perry: Uh, I got the tape so that I could write it down, you said: “I was born in sin. In sin, my mother conceived me. I have broken every law of GOD and I deserve the full extent of His just wrath against me.”
Pastor: That’s absolutely correct Perry, so what’s your question?
Perry: So, since you presently still deserve the full wrath of God, do you still break God’s law on every wise?
Pastor: Absolutely Perry.
Perry: Then I must insist that you go into counseling and resign as pastor.
Pastor: Excuse me? Why do you say that?
Perry: Well, pastor, I am sure you agree that having sex with animals is behavior unbecoming of a pastor!
Pastor: Whaooooooo, Perry, I have never had sex with an animal!
Perry: But you said…
Pastor: Perry, Perry, Perry, we are just saying that the spirit of the law is much deeper than outward conformity. We all break every law of God in our hearts, or what we call the “spirit of the law.”
Perry: Sooooo, you are saying that you fantasize about having sex with animals?
Pastor: Absolutely not!
Perry: So, when did you overcome that fantasy?
Pastor: I never had it!
Perry: So why do you deserve God’s wrath for it?
Pastor: Perry, you take things too literally.
Perry: Whew! Thank you pastor, I assume what you have said here would also apply to pedophilia as well?
Pastor: Perry, you are beginning to annoy me.
Perry: Gee pastor, you seem defensive, are you in fact better than those who practice bestiality and abuse children?
Pastor: No Perry, that’s not what I am saying.
Perry: Then why do you deserve the same wrath that they deserve?
Pastor: Perry, we are done here, you just don’t understand.
No doubt, PAM reveals many problems with the biblical counseling movement that one may expect when it is based on a false gospel. But John Street’s real sin is his participation in a mass propagation of a false gospel.
Dr. John Street, founder of Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio has finally made it big in the biblical counseling movement. This is evident from the fact that he has become a target of PAM (PsychoHeresy Awarness Ministries). PAM is directed by Martin and Deidre Bobgan who, without a doubt, are the most formidable critics of the “biblical” counseling movement.
John Street is an elder at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in California, and the Chair of the graduate program for biblical counseling at the seminary associated with MacArthur’s church. Also, last time I checked, Street is the president of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC).
In the most recent PAM newsletters, (http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/street_tmc&s.html and http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/street_tmc&s_2.html) Street is barbecued for practicing counseling methods that the Bobgans deem unbiblical. PAM primarily decries the biblical counseling movement’s “problem-centered counseling” verses “Christ-centered Ministry” (http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/e-books/CCMpcc-ebk.pdf ).
I am not sure what PAM means by “Christ-centered ministry,” but it seems to be a passive approach regarding the disciple’s role in sanctification:
This is why we say that those who minister to one another need to get in the way and out of the way. They need to be available, but they need to let God work rather than push their own agenda.
The idea of pushing our own agenda could mean “let go and let God” instead of pushing an agenda that just so happens to be God’s agenda. The wording is unsettling. Elsewhere the Bobgans write the following:
Christ-centered ministry encourages spiritual growth and depends on the Lord to do the work in each individual through His Word and Spirit. Therefore, one can confidently assure believers that this ministry is more effective, long-lasting, and spiritually rewarding than problem-centered counseling for those who are willing to go this way.
Depend on the Lord to do the work? At the very least, the Bobgans need to clarify their position more thoroughly because by and large, gospel contemplationism is the primary thrust of NANC counseling. One wonders if PAM is accusing NANC of what they are guilty of: an overly passive approach to sanctification.
And, NANC, when they were (past tense) helping many people, encouraged an aggressive role in sanctification by the counselee. Christians are called to “study to show thyself approved,” and then aggressively apply that truth to their lives in order to have a life built on a rock (Matthew 7:24).
This was NANC’s approach in the past, and it did result in massive professions of faith, and real lasting change. I know; I was there; I am a firsthand witness. This was before David Powlison via CCEF and company infiltrated NANC with the gangrene of progressive justification. Unbelievably, in broad daylight, Powlison admitted (during a lecture at John Piper’s church while Piper was on sabbatical searching for different “species of idols” in his heart) that NANC’s “first generation” counseling was in contention with “second generation counseling” over the very definition of the gospel!
And this is my point: PAM is focused on the supposed evil of “problem-centered” counseling (is the gospel itself not problem-centered? The gospel did not come to solve a problem?) while the real issue is that NANC and CCEF both propagate a blatant false gospel. The counseling is based on the fusion of justification and sanctification with gospel contemplationism as its practical application.
CCEF’s counseling is based on Sonship theology. Dr. Jay E. Adams nailed that doctrine specifically as the fusion of justification and sanctification in his book, “Biblical Sonship” published in 1999. Adams, in the book, decried Sonship’s position that regeneration is powered by the finished work of justification. CCEF then effectively infiltrated NANC and took it over with the same doctrine. I use over 200 pages to document all of this in “The Truth About New Calvinism” (thetruthaboutnewcalvinism.com).
Hence, we must assume that NANC counseling yields many ill results, and I will say this: PAM points them out though they are missing the much larger issue. Case in point:
The truth is that counselors and especially counselors with an agenda (their particular approach) too often take credit for successes and attribute failures to the counselees. The trumping truth is that success is primarily in the hands of the counselees….
And worse yet, the counselee’s “failure” ends up in church discipline!
Problem-centered counseling is typically a one-to-one relationship. Sometimes couples and families are involved, but the relationship is generally artificial and restrictive. The counseling relationship itself usually does not extend outside the counseling room. The relationship lasts as long as counseling is being provided and normally does not extend to other involvement, even in most biblical counseling centers. Problem-centered counselors commonly do not involve themselves with counselees outside the counseling room. That is why both psychological and biblical counselors sometimes use intake forms requesting a great deal of personal information. Because this relationship is generally isolated, the counselor and counselee can be selective as to what they want to reveal about themselves. In fact, as we mentioned earlier, research shows that counselees often lie to their counselors and protect themselves by concealing important information.
The great advantage of Christ-centered ministry is that it is not limited to an artificial one-to-one relationship where one has the problem and the other supposedly has the solution. In the Body of Christ all are growing together. there are many opportunities to know one another and to interact in genuine relationships. When a believer is experiencing problems, more than one person may be involved in ministering to that individual. One may be teaching. One may be reminding. Another may simply be extending support and fellowship. Another may be helping in practical ways. Another may be exhorting. Another may be admonishing. And, in a few cases, some may be exercising the responsibility of disciplining a fellow believer for the sake of restoration. But, all can be praying and encouraging the individual in the direction of the Lord. And, through all this, all are growing together and the relationships may deepen with one another as well as with the Lord.
No doubt, PAM reveals many problems with the biblical counseling movement that one may expect when it is based on a false gospel. But John Street’s real sin is his participation in a mass propagation of a false gospel. It reminds me of Eric Clapton’s ode to one who objects to being accused of shooting a deputy when he really shot the sheriff.
Originally posted on Paul's Passing Thoughts:
“If the Platonist monster is hiding in the church’s big closet, there is no priesthood of believers and pastors/elders are the enlightened ones who must tell us who to marry, what to eat, and what to wear. They must also do whatever it takes to protect the totally depraved zombie sheep from themselves. And look around, we are almost there right now. The mega-church is behaving like Rome and Geneva’s theocracy more and more every day.”
“So now we have this core element of all righteousness remaining outside of the believer. Where do we go from here? What about the new birth? What’s ‘new’ about us if all righteousness remains outside of us?”
“Though New Calvinist elders talk of the new birth and Christ being ‘in’ us, you must understand they’re using earthly language that the totally depraved zombie sheep can understand. They do not believe Christ works in us…
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Originally posted on Paul's Passing Thoughts:
It couldn’t be clearer, after all, we can assume Christ is the master communicator. He created us; obviously, He knows how to communicate with us. If you really want to know God’s intentions for communicating to His people, it can be observed in the Sermon on the Mount.
Christ didn’t preach that sermon at some institution of higher religious learning; He preached it to the blue collar class of that day on a hill in the countryside. The key hermeneutic, or how Jesus expected the crowd to hear His sermon is in Matthew 5: 2; “And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying….” It can be said of the particular verb here “taught” (didasko) that it means, “to cause learning.” To suggest that this crowd was already up to speed on a redemptive historical hermeneutic is of course preposterous.
New Calvinists point to the writings of Paul and the…
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On January 23, 2015, Dr. John Street will make the statement loud and clear on behalf of John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church and the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors that clergy has the right to do whatever they want to the laity in general, and counselees specifically. John Street, the founding pastor of Clearcreek Chapel, is the featured speaker there for the Chapel’s 2015 “Family Enrichment Conference.” Right.
The title of Street’s message for the affair makes it apparent that he has bought into the progressive justification false gospel that has swept the institutional church: “The Gospel-Centered Marriage: Unique Challenges and Hope.” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but what is disturbing is the absence of common decency that is part and parcel with this doctrine. Earlier today, I sent this letter to the executive director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors suggesting that the biblical counseling movement recommend itself with some measure of common decency. Not holding my breath.
God’s people should not be deceived; there is no real disagreement among the tyrants that rule over the institutional church and make merchandise of God’s people. They all fuse justification and sanctification together resulting in some form of salvation via institution.
As one who served as an elder with John Street for five years and even considered him a mentor, this is indeed the deep pains of betrayal. However, it has now come into full focus why my pleadings for intervention were ignored. They all believe the same thing, and always have.
But this is clear: anyone participating in the institutional church is totally on their own. This is spiritual caste on steroids. Think about SGM, ABWE, etc.; there is a reason why the victims are summarily dismissed. There is a reason for all of the silence.
I look forward to the new possibilities ahead now that I see things clearly for what they are: I was naive; there was never any real love in the institutional church. It is void of the common decency that does unto others as you would want others to do to you.
John and I are now separated by differing gospels, and differing fruit for I never passed on an opportunity to defend him. Let it be so, everyone must choose their own path.
Tonight’s Text – Acts 14:8-20
- Lame man of Lystra
- Similarities with the lame man of Acts 3
Lame from birth
In a public place
His healing draws attention
- A resident of Lystra
- There to hear Paul and Barnabas teach
- Perception of faith
- The people misunderstand the miracle
- Astonishment similar to the people in Jerusalem
- Wrongly attribute the source of power
- Gods in the form of men
Barnabas à Jupiter
Paul à Mercury
- Rending of the clothes
- For mourning
- For deep regret or grief
- Paul calls them to turn from “vanities”
ματαιως (ma-tai-ohs) – empty, without purpose
- And turn to
- The Living God
- The Creator
- The One Who is Longsuffering
- The One Who has revealed Himself
- Unable to get the people to stop.
The Jealous Jews
- From Antioch and Iconium
- Are these the same ones from the synagogues?
- Already looking for Paul and Barnabas.
- Discover the uproar.
- Provoke the crowd to action
- Concluding thoughts for consideration
- Jews’ rejection of gospel
- Reaction in Lystra to the miracle
- Jews’ jealousy
Paul M. Dohse
Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
Let me begin this letter with my honest assessment: I believe that ACBC, “the largest biblical counseling organization in the world with certified counselors and counseling training centers in 17 countries,” is an organization driven by the false gospel of progressive justification. Furthermore, sanctification is not a Sabbath rest regardless of what John Calvin believed, and your Gnostic gospel contemplationism will help no one. I realize that it appears you help people by making them indifferent to reality, but that is a false hope. I believe that ACBC is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on God’s people in the history of the church.
Nevertheless, perhaps you can show disagreement by first illustrating that you have some common decency. For certain, Christians should cover many offences with love, but some offences should not be forgotten if they reveal fundamental character flaws that threaten the wellbeing of other people and families. You may believe one family is expendable for the good of the whole, yet the unrepentant judgment of those who destroy one family will continue to destroy many others. Why is that acceptable to you?
Regardless of multiple letters to your board members and others, you insist on endorsing Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio as one of your training centers, and refer hundreds of hurting people there each year. You do this in the face of the facts surrounding their direct actions that wrongly divided my family. They have remained resolute and unrepentant in their outrageous behavior; yet, you will not even require them to admit mistakes were made that will not be repeated. Instead, you proudly endorse them without apology.
Let us review the facts that reveal the character of those whom you readily associate yourself:
In 2007, I issued a letter to the Chapel elders informing them that I was vacating my membership there. In a paranoid cult-like response stemming from fear that I would reveal the doctrine that they were teaching, they sought to exaggerate some struggles I was having at the time and used them as an excuse to bring me under church discipline. As will be demonstrated by the facts, they did not deem these struggles worthy of church discipline before I issued the letter. What they attempted to do follows: they knowingly conspired to make it look like my letter was an attempt to circumvent an ongoing church discipline process that was already in the first step. This is irrefutable and reveals their base character.
Sadly, I was years away from understanding what they were teaching at the time. If they would have simply let me leave with my family, my premonitions would have been ignored by the congregation even if I had ventured to complain to others about it. Again, their overestimation of my ability to articulate what they are teaching can only be attributed to cult-like paranoia.
Some days after my letter of departure was issued, two elders arrived at my home unannounced and attempted to place me under discipline, and demanded that I return to the Chapel with my family. This ambush was inappropriately prearranged with my wife without my knowledge. Dazed and confused by the event, I did have the presence of mind to confirm that this meeting was the “first step” of church discipline, and asked them to state the specific sin that was the cause. In the beginning of what would be a long narrative version of spiritual Keystone Cops, the two elders argued in front of me concerning the specifics of the sins. In other words, they came to my house to place me under discipline, but were not on the same page in regard to the cause.
Therefore, I insisted that the offences be put in writing, and informed them that I would pray about the situation. Meanwhile, I sought counsel from longtime friend, Pastor Rick Wilson. It became obvious that Rick and some of the elders at his church disagreed with what was going on. In fact, Rick Wilson contacted PeaceMaker Ministries and asked them to get involved; this alone should speak for itself. In an act of unparalleled cronyism, the representative stated to Rick that since I was technically declared an unbeliever, and they only involve themselves in issues between believers, they would decline.
Rick then recommended that since I had been a member there for 20 years, and a former elder, that perhaps the best thing to do would be to go back and play along for a “couple of weeks” and thereby leave in peace. I took his advice, but two weeks turned into four months! It became obvious that I was not going to be free to leave without being declared an unbeliever in Reformed circles unless I converted to their doctrine. Also, the longer I foolishly stayed, the more their case was being established that I acknowledged the validity of their church discipline when I only submitted to it for the sake of a peaceful ending.
And by the way, preventing someone from performing a lawful act under threat of public humiliation is a criminal act. For all practical purposes, I was being held hostage under threat of losing the community that had come to define my whole life in regard to friendships and even financial income. Using that reality to control me because of their paranoia speaks further to their base character.
When I finally decided to take my family and leave at all cost, the Clearcreek elders made good on their promise to humiliate me before the congregation. This also greatly disappointed many that I had ministered to as an elder. My testimony and everything I stood for was destroyed for no valid reason. My 20 years of service to Clearcreek Chapel was flushed down the toilet in a twenty-minute ceremony.
But that wasn’t enough. In an attempt to bring me back under their control, they sent a confidential letter to my wife, which I obtained. The letter stated that I no longer had any right to make decisions with my family, and that she was obligated by God to return to the Chapel without me where they could rightfully “shepherd” her. They also coordinated this with a letter writing campaign by the congregation which was suggested by them publically. So, at the same time that my wife received a document from the elders entitled, “Elder’s Resolution,” she was bombarded with love-bombing letters from the congregation. I have copies of the letters, and many confirm the rumors that the Clearcreek elders were circulating about me in the flock groups off the record; charges they would not put in writing. I also received an email from a member that assured me that she saw through the new security measures at the Chapel as a veiled accusation against me. Another member was not fooled (according to the report) by the Chapel elders spending the night in a hotel to send the message that I am a dangerous and violent person. These men are despicable human beings.
In response to a letter that I sent to several Reformed churches and individuals that are on ACBC’s board, a letter begging for intervention, the Clearcreek elders responded by stating (in a letter) that my original letter did not state specifically that I was removing myself from membership. Hence, if I would have used different wording, the departure letter would have denoted a valid departure.
Ironically, this is my primary concern in regard to you referring troubled people to this counseling center; it is run by grown men who collectively participated in a childish downward spiral of telling lies to cover for prior lies. Obviously, if my life was full of sin worthy of church discipline, and my letter was an attempt to flee sin that was in process of being dealt with, why would the specific wording of the letter make any difference? In their correspondence to me they clearly state they were justified to disregard the letter because of the specific wording, not the circumvention of an ongoing process. The silliness of the argument staggers the imagination, but on the other hand, they knew they could not establish that the first step of discipline had been put in motion before the letter.
In other correspondence, they deny that they instructed my wife to divorce me when the wording of their “Elder’s Resolution” clearly states otherwise. Furthermore, the attorney that they hired at the church’s expense to represent my wife has a reputation as being one of the most incompetent lawyers in the Dayton, Ohio area. According to my attorney, this doubled my legal fees because, “this is going to drag on because her attorney doesn’t know the law.” My point here is that this elder body is a perpetual comedy of errors and missteps. They are utterly incompetent.
In another attempt to defend themselves, and in writing, they claimed that I was issued a formal letter by the elders concerning a second step of church discipline. I denied this, and demanded that they produce the letter. I also suggested that they would never produce the letter because it never existed, and accused them of lying about it. Their response, in writing, acknowledged that indeed there was never such a letter, and the claim was made due to the errant recording of minutes during an elders meeting. Keep in mind, this is a church of about 300 people. So, in the process of wrecking my life, the process was obviously marred by total confusion and lies.
Be sure of this: unlike you, I don’t just talk about caring for families, I really do care about families, and that is why I will not stand by while you refer troubled people to this den of spiritual misfits. Our ministry often receives emails from people seeking counsel after dealing with Clearcreek’s counselors, and these are people who have no idea that I have a past history with Clearcreek. The accounts are surreal.
I am sure you stand ready to defend the false gospel that drives your so-called biblical counseling, but surely you agree that such a defense should be adorned in a show of common decency. “Repentance” is a major pillar of your counseling construct, but apparently you do not require it of those who oversee your training centers—that’s hypocrisy.
Mr. Lambert, I have read your concerns about “first generation” counseling that isn’t vertical enough, but what about counseling performed by habitual liars and your endorsement of them? This is your chance to show what you are really about. If you can show some common decency, maybe I will take a closer look at your bogus gospel. But more than likely, the rotten fruit of your organization flows from such. In the final analysis, we will see if you are indifferent to me being wrongfully deprived of living with my son full time during his most formable years.
Look in the mirror Mr. Lambert, what do you see?
Paul M. Dohse Sr.
How shocking that there is so much evil in the institutional church in the name of Christ. Gee, I can’t imagine why.
In the following video, Paul Washer seemingly makes an ironclad argument for the preselection of those who will be saved and eternally damned to a seminary student searching for the truth. And that’s what is sad, God’s people are poorly equipped to give these guys a run for their money. And that is why we are here.
The way Washer sets the agenda for an assured outcome is classic. Notice how Washer lets this guy assume, for now, that total depravity only pertains to the unsaved. To bring the conversation to the ability or non-ability of the regenerate according to Calvinist orthodoxy would put Washer under a whole other set of lights. I would pay hard cash to see a video where someone asks Washer, “Ok, I get it, but are Christians also totally depraved?”
Also, these guys always get a free pass on making election the gospel. The day will come when someone says: “Let’s talk about your view on justification, and if that passes biblical muster, I will consider your view on election. I would hate to think that your view on election is based on a false gospel.”
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. ~ Isaiah 61:1-3
In the following short clip, Paul Washer expounds on Reformed orthodox’s definition of the new birth: the Christian, which remains dead in trespasses and sin, experiences perpetual rebirth under the preaching of preordained prophets of God. This doctrine known as mortification and vivification, or “deep repentance/new obedience,” is well articulated in the Calvin Institutes and is formal Reformed orthodoxy. Hence, when will discernment bloggers say enough is enough and stop playing footsies with “old Calvinism.” No part of a false gospel will heal. Facts used in the commission of a false gospel will not heal. Why is this so hard to understand?
And just in case you need more convincing, consider this excerpt from Michael Horton’s “Christless Christianity,” p. 189ff:
God gathers his people together in a covenantal event to judge and to justify, to kill and to make alive. The emphasis is on God’s work for us – the Father’s gracious plan, the Son’s saving life, death, and resurrection, and the Spirit’s work of bringing life to the valley of dry bones through the proclamation of Christ. The preaching focuses on God’s work in the history of redemption from Genesis through Revelation, and sinners are swept into this unfolding drama. Trained and ordained to mine the riches of Scripture for the benefit of God’s people, ministers try to push their own agendas, opinions, and personalities to the background so that God’s Word will be clearly proclaimed. In this preaching the people once again are simply receivers – recipients of grace. Similarly, in baptism, they do not baptize themselves; they are baptized. In the Lord’s Supper, they do not prepare and cook the meal; they do not contribute to the fare; but they are guests who simply enjoy the bread of heaven.
Once again, as in this post, and this post, we find that people assume much about the clarion call of the Protestant Reformation: the five solas. One assumes that scripture alone means that Christianity draws all of its truth for life and godliness from an exegetical study of the Scriptures. Not so.
Scripture, according to the Reformers, cannot aid the “believer” in wisdom for living life. In fact, living life is not really the business of the believer for that would be works salvation—the Christian life must be EXPERIENCED only through the death and life of Christ.
This is the Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification. The Christian mustn’t seek to learn the Scriptures and apply the principles to their lives; they must rather use the Scriptures to “gaze” upon the “saving works of Christ in all of the Bible.” This “gazing” upon the salvific works of Christ in all the Scriptures then results in a subjective “reflection” of Christ’s glory. Stars are really just huge chunks of rock floating around in space that reflect the sun’s light; in the same way, we are chunks of dead stones that merely reflect Christ’s light (glory) when we fix our sight on Him alone.
Therefore, according to the Reformed camp, the Bible is merely a tool for gospel contemplationism. Its sole purpose is not to learn more of God’s truth and better ways to love God and others, but rather a gospel narrative that enables us to see our own wretchedness more and more as set against the holiness of God. This results in more and more gratitude for the cross which results in Christ’s glory being REFLECTED from our dead, worthless selves.
This is the crux of the Reformed Redemptive Historical hermeneutic. It calls for seeing and interpreting all reality through the suffering of the cross, or the works of Christ seen in the Scriptures. Biblical imperatives are not anything that we are to do, but rather show us what Christ has already done for us.
Scripture alone for seeing Christ alone, so we can live by faith alone.
“If justification is completely finished, and NOTHING that we do in sanctification can change that, what do we need an elitist priesthood for? That question strikes fear in the heart of every Calvinist.”
In another article on the five solas, we looked at sola fide, or faith alone and examined why that is false soteriology. In short, it denies the new birth and redefines it as a mere perpetual death and rebirth experience only. Because the Christian life is merely an extension of the finished work of justification, which is supposedly not finished, one must live their Christian life by faith alone in order to get from beginning justification to final justification.
It also makes law the measure of justification. The Christian life becomes an endeavor to live by sola fide in a way that results in the perfect obedience of Christ being applied to our lives in place of anything that we would do. Hence, if sanctification is not done TO US by Christ instead of us DOING the Christian life—it’s works salvation. We also looked at how this cuts off the believer from the true practice of love.
But, when justification is not a finished work, and sanctification is the progression of justification, EVERYTHING is a work. Even if you are doing nothing so that you are supposedly not involved in finishing justification, you are in fact assuming a role in the process by making sure that you don’t do anything, or closely adhere to prescribed ways of doing things that qualify as doing nothing.
This is how Reformed heresy deceives based on assumption. It is assumed that sola fide concerns justification alone, but it doesn’t. In the same way, it is assumed that solus Christus (Christ Alone) means believing in no other man as a mediator between God and you for salvation. No, solus Christus means literally Christ alone as opposed to the other Trinity members. It also means Christ alone as opposed to anything we would do in what they call “progressive sanctification” which is really progressive justification. This is also known as Christ for us or Christ 100% for us.
It begins with the idea that Christ’s role in salvation was two-fold: he died for our justification, and lived in perfect adherence to the law so that His obedience could then be applied to our Christian lives by faith alone, or sola fide. Therefore, the “believer” must continually revisit the “saving works of Christ in all of the Bible” (sola scriptura) in order to keep themselves saved. It should be called Bachman Turner Overdrive soteriology because of their famous song “Taking Care of Business.” The main refrain is, “I love to work at nothing all day.” In this case, the Reformed work at nothing in order to keep yourself saved.
This is where we get into the issue of Trinitarianism leading to a role for the believer in sanctification other than sola fide. If it is the Father’s righteousness imputed to the believer apart from a perfect fulfillment of the law by Christ, that naturally implies a role for the believer in sanctification. That’s a problem for Reformed soteriology on many levels.
If the Holy Spirit is merely a manifestation of what Christ does, that excludes the enablement of believers to participate in kingdom living apart from the finished work of justification. If justification is completely finished, and NOTHING that we do in sanctification can change that, what do we need an elitist priesthood for? That question strikes fear in the heart of every Calvinist.
Protestantism and Catholicism BOTH see justification (salvation) as a PROCESS. BOTH believe in a beginning justification, progressive justification, and a final justification. BOTH are false gospels—the only disagreement is in the details about how you get from point A to point B, and the disagreement is primarily Trinitarian. Catholics traditionally believe that God does a work inside of the believer to help them finish their justification with the help of the Mother Church. Authentic Protestantism believes that NO work is done within the believer because that enables them to participate in the finishing of justification. True classical Protestantism believes that Christians do not DO anything; they only EXPERIENCE the salvific works of Christ—Catholics believe that you actually do something other than believe. It is not sola fide.
Therefore, in regard to Catholicism, they replace a perfect keeping of the law with a set of rituals to make participation in finishing justification plausible. However, remember, since it is the finishing of justification, it requires the same necessity of returning to the same gospel that saved us; viz, the Mass and absolution because sinning as a Christian is no different than sinning as an unbeliever; in both cases, the “Christian” is still under law and not under grace.
In regard to Protestantism, they cry foul because the Catholics distort the law while they uphold the law by making it the standard for justification, but the dirty little secret is that Jesus keeps the law for us via sola fide. This cuts off love from sanctification. One removes the law from sanctification by ritual; the other removes the law from sanctification by making it the sole responsibility of Christ because the perfect keeping of it finishes justification. In both cases, it is not the righteousness of God APART from the law FOR justification. One is a co-laboring with the church to finish justification, the other is “Christ 100% for us” to finish justification.
So, solus Christus means literally solus Christus…for justification and sanctification both because sanctification is really progressive justification; it isn’t Christ plus us, and for that matter, not even Christ plus the other members of the Trinity. One of the foremost authorities and proponents of Reformed soteriology stated it this way:
Luther and Calvin did not simply stress Christ alone over against the Roman Catholic emphasis on works-righteousness. The Reformers also stressed Christ alone over against all—be they Roman Catholics or Protestants—who would point to the inside of the believer as the place where justifying righteousness dwells. Christ alone means literally Christ alone, and not the believer. And for that matter, it does not even mean any other member of the Trinity! (Geoffrey Paxton: The Shaking of Adventism: p. 41).
For all practical purposes, solus Christus is the controversial modulist view of the Trinty. This is the idea that one of the Trinity members is the one, true God, and the other two members are only manifestations of the one true God. This not only makes realm manifestations that are ONLY experienced possible, but it also makes the separation of justification and sanctification impossible. In other words, a modulist view of the Trinity is the necessary companion of progressive justification. This point is reflected in statements by leading Calvinists of our day like John MacArthur Jr.:
As Christians we have one message to declare: “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 6:14).
Rick Holland understands that truth. This book is an insightful, convicting reminder that no one and nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts.
Christ is the perfect image of God (Hebrews 1); the theme of Scripture (Luke 24); the author of salvation (Hebrews 12:2); the one proper object of saving faith (Romans 10:9-10); and the goal of our sanctification (Romans 8:2). No wonder Scripture describes the amazing growth-strategy of the early church in these terms: “They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). That is the only blueprint for church ministry that has any sanction from Scripture.
The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock. Second Corinthians 3:18 describes in simple terms how God conforms us to the image of His Son: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (emphasis added). We don’t “see” Christ literally and physically, of course (1 Peter 1:8). But His glory is on full display in the Word of God, and it is every minister’s duty to make that glory known above all other subjects.
As believers gaze at the glory of their Lord—looking clearly, enduringly, and deeply into the majesty of His person and work—true sanctification takes place as the Holy Spirit takes that believer whose heart is fixed on Christ and elevates him from one level of glory to the next. This is the ever-increasing reality of progressive sanctification; it happens not because believers wish it or want it or work for it in their own energy, but because the glory of Christ captures their hearts and minds. We are transformed by that glory and we begin to reflect it more and more brightly the more clearly we see it. That’s why the true heart and soul of every pastor’s duty is pointing the flock to Christ, the Great Shepherd.
Notice in this statement that Christians merely “REFLECT” the glory of Christ as a result of meditating on His personhood and works. Notice also that any emphasis at all on anything or ANYBODY detracts from sanctification. This goes hand in hand with MacArthur’s rejection of eternal sonship as well. A debate about that issue is not the point here, the point is why they take this view of the Trinity. The point is to show the relationship between this view and their Catholicism-like progressive justification.