John 14:15 has always provoked me to rumination: “If you love me, keep my commands.” Too simple, and it doesn’t compute. Christ is the Lord of lords and King of kings; therefore, it goes without saying that He wants to be obeyed, but kings usually don’t want love—they want respect, and demand obedience according to the laws of the land. The sentence is only seven words, but provokes all kinds of deep theological discussion. Could loving the creator of the universe really be that simple? Is He saying that we know that we love Him by watching our own life ( “If you love me, [you will] keep my commandments”), or is loving Him this way a choice? What does it look like? And what does it feel like? Could accepting this verse at face value get me in trouble by “trying to love God by my own efforts?” Weighty considerations, especially in our day.
Before we answer those questions, let’s look at the biblical correlation between obedience and love. First, Christ’s obedience to the Father is a major component of their love for each other. This is astounding, but no less true: “I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:30,31). This is a deeply profound portion of Scripture. We see that evil in the world only serves God’s purposes, and in this case, to show the world that Christ loves the Father through His obedience to the Father’s will; namely, the cross. Likewise, evil comes into our life so that our love for the Father is shown through our obedience as well. Also, if obedience is a standard of love between the Father and the Son, what are the implications for us? That is definitely a rhetorical question.
Secondly, obedience is paramount in our relationship with the Son and the Father: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14:23). “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:10). Clearly, obedience is critical to being “shown” the Son and “remaining” in His love. There can be no legitimate relationship with God and His Son apart from Obedience. I do not believe that we have to obey to keep our salvation, but I do believe that a life pattern of obedience is indicative of a heart that loves God; it is also critical in regard to having assurance of salvation. That can be drawn from this passage and others such as 2Peter 1:10 and 1John 3:16-24.
I had a light bulb moment while counseling someone the other day. Our conversation incited me to think, “What’s the big deal? Everybody has to obey, I obey Susan all the time.” Then I said to myself, “Did I just say that?” Sure, do that, go to church and tell everyone that you obey your wife. However, the fact of the matter is that I rarely tell her “no” when she asks me to do something for her. I do not always feel like it, and often there are other things I would rather be doing; so, why do I do it? Answer: love. It would seem that the very definition of love is self-sacrifice: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God “gave His one and only Son.” While on the cross, Christ cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). With love comes a plethora of emotions. Certainly, many times we are full of joy when we love, but agony often walks hand in hand with love, albeit temporarily.
So what’s my point? There is a very fine line between a love that submits to the needs of others and obedience, that’s my point. I would contend that the words are used interchangeably in the Bible and the Holy Spirit uses the word that best fits overall truth In context. Obedience, love, submission; practically the same thing. We are commanded to submit to the needs of others: “….submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.” (1Cor 16:16). “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”(Ephesians 5:21). Observe the very close correlation between love and obedience in Ephesians 5:24,25: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Yet, Philippians 2:8 states that Christ was “obedient to death—even death on the cross.” Wives submit the same way the church obeys Christ, and husbands should be obedient to self-sacrifice as Christ was accordingly. It’s mutual submission, and I contend that it is a fine line. Again, remember that God and the Son themselves set the example in their love for each other: “….but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14:31). “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:10).
Yes, I know, authority is in the mix here; but authority, for the most part, takes a backseat to love. After all, didn’t Christ say the greatest among us will be our servants? Didn’t God Himself wash the feet of the disciples? Christ came as a king, and indeed He is the King, but He primarily came to serve: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
My next point is this: the law is the standard for our love. “If you love me, keep my commands.” Theologians have done Christians little good by creating excessively wide dichotomies between “law,” “commands,” “teachings,” “law and the prophets,” “Sacred writings,” “Moses,” “Scripture,” “Ten Commandments”(not a biblical term), “Decalogue”(also not a biblical term), “word,” etc., etc., etc. These are all interchangeable terms used for the whole or specific parts of God’s closed cannon of Scripture, ie., the whole Bible. Good examples of this are Matthew 5 and Luke 24 where Christ uses many of these terms to refer to His word in the same discourse. Really, it only takes a child to argue this. Did the Ten Commandments come from God’s mouth? Well then, “Jesus answered, It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Are the Ten Commandments in the closed cannon of Scripture? Well then, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” And this we can be sure of: the goal of all “teaching,” “rebuking,” “correcting,” and “training in righteousness” is LOVE!
To close on this point we can note Romans 8:7, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Notice the word “submit,” and the fact that an inability to submit to God’s law refers to the unregenerate. The Bible is the standard for love’s obedience.
Lastly, if we now consider some of my opening questions that have not yet been answered above, this love is not so simple after all. It requires a mutual submission in every direction and in every relationship. Regarding those who have no authority over us, we are still require to submit to their needs (1John 3:16-24). If Christ came to be a servant to the world, then how much more should we be also? Paul told the Corinthians they should seek to please all people: “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved”(1Corinthians 10:32,33). The Bible is saturated with this whole idea of submitting to each other in love. Note Matthew 18:15-17:
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
The word used twice in verse 17 for “listen” is parakoo’o, which according to Strong’s Greek dictionary means the following: “To mishear, that is (by implication), to disobey.” This whole idea of humble submission to all is difficult for us to swallow, especially in American culture. It goes against the fallen mortality that we are still clothed in. To constantly submit/love, will at times be a joy, but will also be difficult. And yes, it will take effort, our effort, but it will be a loving act to please God and others in legitimate love relationships.
Though Joni Eareckson Tada has experienced monumental life setbacks, namely, quadriplegia and breast cancer, she has lived a life of experience and accomplishments that others can only dream of. Also, it cannot be denied that she has propagated a gargantuan mass of good works that has benefited much of the world.
And she is a self-proclaimed Calvinist. THEREFORE, her good works and her life testimony have become an endorsement for Calvinism, because that is what she has proclaimed herself to be. Good works are not a pass for who you are, or how you define yourself, they endorse what you believe. And Tada believes Calvinism. She has even proclaimed that all of her good works, even a smile that she might give someone, flows from her Calvinistic beliefs (Crystal Cathedral: Hour of Power ; May 3rd, 2009).
That’s my point here. Everything Tada is, in turn, sells what she believes—that’s the choice she has made. So, the question/issue becomes the following: is Calvinism true?
The very definition of a Christian is someone who loves the truth (2Thessalonians 2:10). In reality, and regardless of appearances, only truth sanctifies (John 17:17). The greatest errors are closest to the truth, and every landfill full of the dead is located at the end of a road paved with good works.
Tada has stated that shortly after her tragic diving accident that left her paralyzed, she was looking for answers (Scott Larsen: Indelible Ink ; Waterbrook Press 2003, Joni Eareckson Tada, chapter 1):
That was when Joni asked a friend to help her understand God’s sovereignty. Wisely, he gave her meat to chew on~hers was no simple, slightly uncomfortable situation~and started her on Berkhof’s Systematic Theology and John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. Still just a few years out of high school, Joni found Calvin too heavy, so her friend replaced it with Loraine Boettner’s The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination.
“Somewhere in its pages I realized I was reading something mansized. Rather, God-sized. Perhaps it expressed the unspoken desire of my soul: to encounter towering biblical doctrine like the Himalayan peaks that rise to the breathtaking height of Mount Everest. To apprehend a God who was much, much bigger than I ever imagined when I was on my feet.”… “I realized that my suffering was the key to unlocking the hieroglyphics of God’s foreordained will. I was about to embark on the adventure of my life.”
Calvinism might have given Tada answers that invigorated her will to live on, but one searches in vain for her concern that Calvin taught a true gospel. And he didn’t. Calvin’s view of God’s sovereignty was the issue, not his gospel. Is there a difference? Obviously there is. Calvin believed that God is completely sovereign, and also believed that we have to ask for forgiveness of daily sins in order to keep ourselves saved:
Secondly, this passage shows that the gratuitous pardon of sins is given us not only once, but that it is a benefit perpetually residing in the Church, and daily offered to the faithful. For the Apostle here addresses the faithful; as doubtless no man has ever been, nor ever will be, who can otherwise please God, since all are guilty before him; for however strong a desire there may be in us of acting rightly, we always go haltingly to God. Yet what is half done obtains no approval with God. In the meantime, by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God. Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).
Calvinism is no different than any other Christ + something else false gospel. In the case of Calvinism—keeping ourselves saved by perpetual re-repentance for sins in sanctification that remove us from grace:
In the meantime, by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God.
Oh, and by the way, Calvin said such forgiveness can only be found in the institutional church and administered by ordained pastors (CI 4.1.21,22). This Protestant absolution was exemplified by Tada confidant John Macarthur Jr. during the 2013 Shepherds Conference. During a general session, MacArthur shared that a young Aids victim requested that MacArthur seek forgiveness for sins on his behalf. MacArthur agreed to the request accordingly.
During the aforementioned message at Crystal Cathedral’s Hour of Power, Tada stated that God brought said grievous trials into her life so that she would live by the cross daily:
And so God, bless his heart, forces us down the road to Calvary where we are not humanly inclined to go. It’s not our natural inclination to go to the Cross every day. And so God gives us suffering like a sheep dog. It is a sheep dog snapping at your heels, driving you down the road to the Cross where otherwise you might not normally go. You’re driven there by the overwhelming conviction that you just have nowhere else to go. And so God permits the broken heart. He permits the broken home. He permits, he allows, he ordains, he plans even the broken neck until we become broken… Even Jesus himself said blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God. Who are the poor in spirit? Those who come to Jesus every day in empty-handed spiritual poverty, asking him to show them the reason for living that day. Because we’re all richer when we recognize our spiritual poverty.
Come now, are born-again Christians spiritually impoverished? We need to seek God’s purpose for our life daily? Our smiles are not even our own smiles, but we have to get them from God?
“I have no strength for a smile for this woman who’s going to come to the bedroom door in just a moment, and I’ve gotta give her a smile. And Lord, I don’t have a smile… So God, please give me your smile. I have no smile for this woman, but you’ve got a smile. May I please borrow your smile?” And not but a moment goes by and I have a smile. It’s already a miracle. I’ve experienced a miracle before 7:30 a.m. when my girlfriend walks to the door and I can smile, not in spite of my paralysis but because of it. My paralysis has driven me every single morning to the cause of Jesus Christ where I tell him how much desperately I need him. And so that smile is already hard-fought for and hard-won by early morning. That’s the first nugget of wisdom. Begin your day needing Jesus Christ desperately (Ibid).
Is this really the essence of the Christian life? We have to plead and beg God for even a smile? It is, if we also have to go back to the cross daily to beg God for salvific forgiveness. That’s Calvinism; daily resalvation. You have eternal security IF you beg God for smiles every day, and IF you were elected.
You are elected IF you practice a daily application of Christ’s death on the cross. You are elected IF you believe that even the slightest sin in your Christian life separates you from grace.
Tada is sacrificing her stellar life on the altar of Calvinism. Her good works point people to John Calvin who plainly taught a false gospel. What she believes and what she does cannot be separated. There is time to go back to the beginning and once again look for answers.
This time, pick up a Bible, not the Calvin Institutes.
TANC (Truth About New Calvinism) is a research organization that seeks to thoroughly understand Reformed theology and its effect on the church and culture. We believe that enough information has been accumulated to draw conclusions, and there are enough conclusions to begin the formulation of solutions.
It is our conclusion that Reformed theology is an ill-advised doctrinal construct for the church and has had a detrimental effect on culture in general. Currently, American church culture is in upheaval (note innumerable discernment/abuse blogs); yet, the new resurgence of Reformed theology began in 1970 and has dominated the American church for the past twenty years. Where are the results that supposedly always spring forth from the Reformation’s Post Tenebras Lux (After darkness….light)?
Though research will continue on the WHAT, there is enough information on the WHY to begin setting the solution in motion. The solution is the New Testament church model. The assumption has always been that the New Testament model was transitional, informal, and deliberately ambiguous to allow morphing for changing times. We now think that this is not the case at all. We think the Bible sets forth a specific model in detail. We think this model is the answer for the present condition of the American church.
1. The general form.
The New Testament church was made up of home fellowships and each church was designated by a geographical area, usually a city. Perhaps the clearest example of this is Acts 20:
17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
It was ONE “church” in Ephesus made up of several households. Paul taught the Ephesian church (singular) from “house to house.” “Public” doesn’t necessarily mean a building where they met corporately. In fact, in all cases where epistles are addressed, it would have to assume that each geography or city only had one church building—this is unlikely.
There were a group of elders who led the home churches in a particular city. This is who Paul calls together to give his last charge before his departure. One of the qualifications of an elder is “given to hospitality,” probably because many of the house fellowships were the homes of elders.
While many point to the seven letters in Revelation for proof regarding one pastor/ one church, again, this assumes there was only one place of gathering in each city. The “messenger” of each city was probably just that: a messenger responsible for delivering letters and other correspondence to each home fellowship in a given geography or city. In the case of Revelation, this could have been an actual angel assigned to each city church as well given the apocalyptic nature of the book.
Remember also that Titus was given the responsibility of appointing elders in “every town.”
2. Leadership structure and purpose.
The New Testament model combines strong structure with free fellowship. It rejects institutional authority while implementing strong planning and order. It focuses on the gifts of believers in order to execute the Lord’s strategic plan for the ages. We see this in Ephesians 4:
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
I am not sure what could be clearer. There is equipping gifts and ministry gifts given to every believer for the building up of Christ’s body. Institutions, by virtue of their very nature begin to devalue individual gifts. Posit the idea if you will, that an institution can function like a body, but it has never been done. That is because caste systems and a body of believers are mutually exclusive concepts. The fellowship of the saints is focused on a purpose that requires all parts to be well equipped and functioning properly while building each other up in love.
Teachers equip an army of ministers with innumerable categories of ministry, love and good works. The floodgates of possibllity are opened. Administration and organization would be the focus of deacons and deaconesses. One must get past the present cultural conditioning that dichotomizes structure and fellowship. It is the same mentality that sets different standards for the church and homes. We act different in each setting; e.g., many would not attend a church that functions like their own home. But in contrast, “an elder must order his household well, for if he cannot manage his own household, how will he manage the household of God?” Homes are as informal as you get, but they need order. Instead of keeping homes separate from church, the New Testament model brings church to the home. In the book of Ephesians, Paul starts with the fellowship in 4:1, addresses the home, and then behavior in the secular realm.
This is not some weird communal concept; it merely puts strong emphasis on planning and order for the informal fellowship of the church. The unique concept is the fusion of informal fellowship with strong planning while eliminating the caste system inherent in institutions.
3. Expected problems.
Where humans are involved in any model, even born again creatures in mortal bodies, problems will arise. That is exactly what the letters to Corinth are about. When you have numerous fellowships led by teachers, the whole FAVORITE TEACHER thing arises followed by competition between the households. In a Reformed church where I was one of the pastors, we had midweek home fellowships as a replacement for Wednesday night services. I saw these Corinth-like problems develop firsthand. The congregants would gravitate to the households where the charismatic teachers taught, leaving the rest of the fellowships to their humble little huddles.
Of course, being ignorant Protestants, we fixed the problem through authority. Rather than not being jaded by tradition and correcting the problem by example and a study of Paul’s letters to Corinth, we implemented a rule that each congregant had to attend the home group in their vicinity. That is not how Paul dealt with the same exact problem at Corinth. By the way, note that the baptisms Paul mentions were unique to the home fellowships where their favorite teachers taught. These epistles shouldn’t be read as if the church at Corinth met together corporately. The problems were inherent throughout many of the home fellowships save a few. Apparently, a fellowship in the home of a woman named Chloe (literally, “them of Chloe”) sent word to Paul about what was going on in the other fellowships at Corinth. The following has also been suggested:
There are three interesting names to consider that come up in the closing of Paul’s letter: Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus were from Corinth and visiting Paul (who was in Ephesus at the time) when he wrote this letter containing Chloe’s name. It seems very plausible that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus were “Chloe’s people.” It is also possible that these three returned to Corinth to deliver Paul’s letter to the Christians there (Theresa Doyle Nelson: Chloe and the Corinthians).
At any rate, the letters to the church at Corinth supply a painstaking detailed account concerning Christian living within the church and the procedure of it as well.
4. Authority and Fellowship
The only authority is Christ and His word recorded in the Bible. This guides the fellowship of believers whose unity is determined by the “one mind in Christ” found in the Bible. Churches have been given authority as Christ’s ambassadors on earth. We represent the kingdom that is presently in heaven and we have been given authority to make disciples on behalf of that kingdom. However, there is no authority among the ambassadors, only fellowship. The assemblies function in a fellowship construct. Elders are to lead by example and equip. The purpose of this treatise is to lay a basic thesis, so I am not going to take room here to build this case, but will touch on the most popular argument for authority in the church:
Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
The word for “obey” in this verse is πείθω (peithō) which means to persuade by argument. The word “submit” is ὑπείκω hypeikō which means “to surrender.” Here is the best rendering according to a heavy paraphrase:
Be persuaded by your leaders’ arguments from Scripture and don’t be stubborn in regard to the truth for this is no advantage to your own spiritual wellbeing. Besides, they have to give an account for how they led you, and let that account be a joyful recital to the Lord rather than a sorrowful report.
There is no authority, but rather fellowship modification in specified instances; for example,
A. We can’t hang out with you if you won’t let us help you with this problem.
B. You’re my brother in Christ, but I can’t have you over for dinner if you won’t work.
There would be no formal membership role. You either fellowship with the group or you don’t. You either recognize your gift and apply it within the body or you don’t. You identify with the group by fellowship, service, and obedience to the word of God, not church leaders.
I might add that almost all of the New Testament epistles are addressed to the church as a whole and not just the elders. Apostolic authority was a charge mandated to the whole assembly—that’s where the authority is, not with the elders.
The examples are consistent throughout the New Testament. The saints met in homes for a meal, general fellowship, a time of teaching, a time of encouraging others unto good works, the singing of hymn’s, and an informal breaking of bread and drinking of the cup to remember the Lord’s return. In the house churches of Corinth, the aristocracy that didn’t work were eating all of the food before the slaves got there. So, the salves were showing up hungry and tired after work and there was no food left. This is one of the issues Paul addressed.
6. Practical Considerations
The Protestant Reformation was predicated on a false gospel with a Gnostic application and has no authority. No Protestant linage of authority can be traced back to the apostolic church. Moreover, the father of the Reformation, St. Augustine, never repented of being a Catholic and never vacated the Catholic Church’s spiritual idolatry or murderous ways. The tyranny of Catholicism and Protestantism is only tempered by the rule of law spawned by the Enlightenment Era. The remnants of its tyranny in our day only has use for threatening to withhold absolution. Its authority model mires the so-called church in all sorts of legal red tape required of institutions in a secular society. In church state societies, its construct does little more than spawn civil wars and inquisitions.
The fellowship model focuses on strong sanctification and wise living. Practically, this New Testament model could begin with one fellowship in a city. This is what we have done here at the Potter’s House. The church is “The Fellowship in Xenia,” and we consider the Potter’s House the first household of faith thereof. Others who would like to join this movement could simply begin by joining us here, or start their own fellowship. The two groups would then work together to refine the movement’s mode of operation moving forward. The applications are without end.
There is no room here to list all of the controversies in the formal church that would become non-issues in the fellowship model. Controversy among fellowships would be resolved within each city. The successful model would then be duplicated in other cities, but issues within those fellowships would be resolved within that geographical fellowship. Of course, the evangelism angle here has deep ramifications.
This model is based on the authority of God’s word and fellowship. The authority is vertical, not horizontal. Its focus is aggressive sanctification leading to a natural outflow of evangelism, and a strong emphasis on individual gifts.
The Lord’s Table was never meant to be an institutional solemn ceremony administered by church hierarchy. Neither was it ever intended that the Lord’s Table impart additional grace. Clearly, especially with the present-day resurgence of medieval religion embodied in New Calvinism, church is a filling station that keeps the gospel gas tank full until we get to heaven. If you don’t partake in the daily fillings consummated by the topping-off on Sunday, your race car self will not finish the “race of faith” alone that requires a perpetual application of the same death, burial, and resurrection that saved you.
The Protestant Reformation was Catholicism Light, and continues to be so today. In the early days, both were harlots drunk on the blood of the saints. Protestants would have slain as many saints save their distraction in warring with their harlot mother. Money is thicker than blood, and there is big bucks in the salvation business.
The first battle over sacramental salvation pitted the Anabaptists against the Catholics and the Protestants. Both tortured and executed the Anabaptists with the same vigor. This is conspicuous history that is inconvenient truth. Later, Protestantism morphed into an exception regarding infant baptism called “Baptist” which rejected the idea that baptism itself imparts salvation, but retained Reformed soteriology (see the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith). Over the years, because it is the same soteriology, Baptists have come to function like their harlot mother while denying the Protestant foundation of salvation through the institutional church.
The Reformers believed that the institutional church held the “power of the keys” which is the authority to forgive sins on earth. Calvin, as well as the rest of the Catholic Light crowd, believed that sins committed as Christians separate us from our original salvation. Hence, a perpetual reapplication of Christ’s death and resurrection must be perpetually applied through the institutional church to maintain salvation (CI 3.14.11 among many other references: see It’s Not About Election available on Amazon and free reading @ 7questions.org). People wonder why New Calvinism is taking over Baptist churches like a wild fire and Baptists seem defenseless against it. The answer is simple: they have functioned like their harlot mother for centuries and New Calvinism is merely helping them to come out of the closet muttering, “Had we been alive during the times of our Protestant fathers we would have not murdered the Anabaptists.”
And that is not a pretty historical sight. Among other examples of cruelty on steroids, Protestants liked to toss Anabaptists in some deep body of water enclosed in sacks while mockingly asserting that they were merely rebaptizing them according to the desire of the Anabaptists. Protestants by and large condoned this cruelty because they believed there was only one thing more terrible: denying infants salvation through the authority of church bishops. Moreover, to suggest that Baptists came from the Anabaptists is a cruel joke; historically, Baptists have always held fast to the institutional salvation of Protestantism. This explains, in every instance, the behavior of Baptists that I have observed over the years:
1. 10% of the members do 100% of the work: it’s not about discipleship; it’s about being saved via membership.
2. Faithful members, on average, comprise 25% of the membership roles: this speaks for itself.
3. The Alter call is Absolution Light.
4. The Lord’s Table is a solemn ceremony and a time of self-examination: see #3.
The list of examples could be much longer, but you get the point. New Calvinists are merely suggesting that a deeper commitment to the local church is needed; whisper: “to get into heaven” who can argue with that?
Baptism has remained as the onetime act that represents the beginning of justification in Protestantism. The Lord’s Table represents the perpetual need for the same gospel that saved you in order to keep yourself saved. It’s New Calvinist Transubstantiation Light. When a New Calvinist states that this “sacrament …imparts grace,” what they are really saying in broad daylight goes right over our heads; you think “grace” means help in sanctification while by “grace” they really mean salvation. We are saved by Jesus, and the Christian life is an endeavor to get more and more Jesus until we can stand at the final Judgment full of grace. And of course, we can only get grace installments through the local church. New Calvinists say this continually in public and outright. Yet, no one can stop the New Calvinist tsunami. Why? Because when it gets right down to it—that’s who we are.
What is the Lord’s Table? First, it is a Jewish tradition. The Lord’s Table must be seen through its Jewishness or it will not be understood. The Lord’s table is a remembrance in regard to a covenant that God made with Israel. God did not make that covenant with anyone but the nation of Israel. By faith, Gentiles are included, they are invited to the Jewish feast, but it is a Jewish feast. Gentiles are invited to the Sabbath rest, but it is a Jewish rest. New Jerusalem’s foundation bears the names of the 12 apostles—that’s future, and the names of 12 Jews. One of the earliest epistles was written to the 12 tribes of Israel because that’s all there was in the beginning of the church.
What is the New Covenant, and who was the covenant made with? Let’s see:
Jere 31:31 – “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.
When will the covenant be fully executed?
Jere 31:38 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”
What will the people there be like?
Jere 31:33 – For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Will this covenant ever be voided because of something Israel did?
Jere 31:35 – Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is his name: 36 “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the Lord, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.” 37 Thus says the Lord: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord.”
This is why Christ first and foremost went to the cross for the Jews; because the covenant was made with them:
Acts 5:31 – God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins…13:23 – Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised…28:20 – For this reason, therefore, I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.”
The setting from which the Lord’s Table comes is no different from the original model set forth during the Exodus. The tabernacle was obviously not made to facilitate regular corporate meetings, and the rest was ordinary tent structures among the people. Small groups met under the leadership of elders for teaching and fellowship. The tabernacle was not for discipleship. During the time of Christ, this is the same model: discipleship took place in homes. The Lord’s Table is not a temple ordinance—it is a remembrance tradition within the venue of discipleship and fellowship.
It is also VERY informal. Christ initiated the fellowship tradition of remembrance (not a “church ordinance” or “sacrament”) during the Passover meal and while all were reclined at the table (Matt 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 13-17?). This event was typical of the house meetings that took place in the lay synagogues. The meetings were in the upper rooms, involved a fellowship meal, a lesson, and a departure by the singing of a hymn. This particular meeting’s lesson/teaching may be completely detailed in John 13-17 which would have been a pretty hefty study. According to the book of Acts, Paul taught a lesson where a disciple fell asleep and plummeted to the ground from the upper room.
The Lord’s Table initiated by Christ involved one cup and eating from one loaf. Christ was very deliberate in using one cup, and the apostle Paul later confirms that the eating from one loaf was the tradition carried forward (1Cor 1:17). This points strongly to the intended relevance of this tradition taking place in a small group. Could it be that the Lord’s Table is the only argument one needs for the home fellowship model as a total replacement for the institutional church? On the one hand, it is a solemn ceremony that should be done with all reverence, but on the other hand, the setting is one that circumvents one of the main points of the remembrance.
But most of all, the fact that the Lord’s Table represents the New Covenant made with Israel is circumvented, and also, the fact that the finalization of the covenant is future. Christ said that He would not drink of that cup again until He could drink of it again in the kingdom. That is a day when all of national Israel is saved (Rom 11:26). Christ inaugurated the New Covenant with His death, the kingdom will be the full consummation of God’s covenant with Israel. The Gentiles have been included in the common wealth of Israel (Eph 2:11,12).
Hence, the true significance of the Lord’s Table has been stripped from Protestantism in the same way that Protestants skewed the true significance of baptism. And likewise, in the same way that the Anabaptists defied Protestant whoredom in their home fellowships—the same needs to be done today in regard to the Lord’s Table. We have little to fear in our day as opposed to the Anabaptists—the New Calvinists can only replace the burning stake with musings of running us over with buses (Mark Driscoll) and throwing us into death with human catapults (James MacDonald). The true spirit of the Baptists is revealed by the fact that they still follow those who espouse such wishful thinking by the thousands.
Each and every Christian is now the temple in which the Spirit dwells permanently. Each and every Christian is a priest. Each and every Christian is a citizen of Israel’s holy commonwealth. This should be remembered informally and in a joyful fellowship as we watch for His coming when Christ the Lord will join us in the lifting of that cup,
Holy be His name, our Glorious King.
We will discuss the historical and philosophical foundations of predeterminism. Also, does the Bible make a case for freewill?
“We are saved by the new birth, not the blind following after confused scholars. Why are you submitting yourself to people who declare you unrighteous in practice when God states otherwise? Why are you submitting to people who deny your literal kinship to God?”
Most Christians, and more pastors than we would like to think, don’t even know who we are. However, in our day, the vast majority of pastors view justification as a forensic declaration only while the individual remains fundamentally unchanged, or unrighteous after “salvation.”
So, did salvation make us righteous, or are we only declared righteous? Most Christians don’t know, and even if they think they know, they can’t defend it from the Bible. If your defense is the words “new birth,” those with the prevailing view can cite a plethora of Bible verses that will seemingly prove you wrong because said verses are not defined in context of sanctification or justification, two subjects that Christians have little or no knowledge of to boot.
Why is it ok that the debate regarding justification rages in conservative evangelical circles? In his review of the book Justification: Five Views, Matthew Barrett states,
This review has only touched the surface of the debate, which is not likely to stop anytime soon. The ongoing centrality of the debate also demonstrates Luther’s maxim, namely, that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. This being the case, it is essential that we think hard about the biblical text lest we fail to understand properly how we are made right before a holy God.
Barrett is a Southern Baptist scholar, and posits a comfortable mentality in Christian circles: how we are saved is such an important topic that we should continue to debate it. Why is this acceptable? Because deep down, most Christians think they are saved by showing faithfulness to a Christian institution of their choice. Secondly, the laity, per what they have been taught for decades, don’t think they are responsible for knowing the truth because they aren’t capable of knowing what the spiritual elite know (as if they have come to any conclusions after 500 years of post “Reformation”).
Therefore, “Christians” en masse, follow those who offer nothing definitive regarding the gospel we claim to be saved by without even blinking an eye. And we think Eastern mysticism is illogical? Renowned Southern Baptist pastor Paul Washer has even said that the truth of the gospel has an eternal depth that we will never fully know which brought objection on that point from likeminded Calvinist Joel Taylor.
One of the views of justification offered in the aforementioned book is that of Dr. Michael Horton. He is the host of a Reformed radio show titled The White Horse Inn. In one show, he critiqued the position of scholar NT Wright regarding justification, and remarked that his show continues to discuss the question “What is the gospel?” In the critique, even though it concerned justification, Horton pointed out the positive aspects of Wright’s teachings, even though one must conclude that Horton was complementing the use of perceived facts in the commission of theological felony. It’s befuddling to say the least.
In regard to justification, Barrett stated his agreement with Horton in the review. And what is that view of justification according to Barrett?
Horton shows that the righteousness imputed is not a substance or commodity but a legal status. Additionally, Wright has neglected a third party, namely, Christ the mediator. It is the active and passive obedience of Christ, not “the essential divine attribute of righteousness” in God that is credited to believers…
Third, Horton gives a needed defense of imputation, reminding us that this doctrine is indispensible since it is the way “God gives this righteousness or justice to the ungodly through faith.” Horton shows that while the exact term may not be used, the concept of imputation infiltrates Paul’s letters at every turn. I leave it to the reader to take an in-depth look into the passages Horton examines, but Horton is correct when he writes, “These passages unmistakably teach that the righteousness by which the believer stands worthy before God’s judgment is alien: that is, belonging properly to someone else. It is Christ’s righteousness imputed, not the believer’s inherent righteousness—even if produced by the gracious work of the Spirit.” If Horton is right, and I think he is, then the other views need some serious adjustment.
This confusion regarding the gospel is unacceptable and there is only one answer: the laity must retake their rightful position as God’s priests in his called out holy nation. In that nation, we must be unequivocal in our understanding of the gospel; we are not only declared righteous, WE ARE RIGHTEOUS born again beings after the nature of God. His attribute of righteousness is imputed to us because we are born of Him and His seed resides IN US (1John 3:1-10). When we were saved, we were made the righteousness of God (2Corinthians 5:21).
We are justified by faith alone, but that faith includes believing that something has actually happened that we desire: the death of the old us with Christ and the resurrection of a new us with Christ. The old us was under the law of sin and death, the new us loves that same law because it guides us in loving God and others. We are saved by the new birth, not the blind following after confused scholars. Why are you submitting yourself to people who declare you unrighteous in practice when God states otherwise? Why are you submitting to people who deny your literal kinship to God?
The contention always presented is that of present sin. This, in and of itself is a smoking gun. This argument makes NO distinction between justification and sanctification. Therefore, it makes no distinction between sins against justification and sin against family relationship. This is a denial of the new birth. It also makes perfect law-keeping justification’s standard.
The apostle Paul spent most of his ministry refuting that idea from many different angles.
Words mean things. This truism often espoused by the political icon Rush Limbaugh is a stalwart against holocaust that is much underestimated. The horrors of history are always paved with something more virtuous than reason and common sense. After all, in this world of shadows reason has an alien pure form, so why make much of reason?
We know the drill; the law was written on cold, hard tablets of stone while the “New Covenant” is an epistle written on the soft, fleshly heart. If you are really spiritual, you don’t live by “a bunch of do’s and don’ts.” The pure is beyond what we can examine with the five senses; “streets of gold” do not really suggest that there will be material objects in heaven, only the unlearned believe such things.
This is why pithy sayings vomited out by Calvinists dressed in the demeanor of Mr. Rogers should make our blood run cold. “Christ is not a precept, He’s a person.” “It’s not a riddle, it’s a redeemer.” Take note of these statements by Calvinist Paul David Tripp in the book How People Change:
Jesus comes to transform our entire being, not just our mind. He comes as a person, not as a cognitive concept we insert into a new formula for life.
That good work begins in relationship to Jesus and is brought to completion within an ever-deepening union with him. This is the most unique aspect of a biblical view of change. It is not less than cognitive change; it is so much more…The Bible gives us more than exhortations and rules for change. The great gift Christ gives us is himself!
These truths are not just cognitive tools to adjust your thinking; they are intended to increase your love for Christ!
One of the first steps of any totalitarian state is to disarm the public. This is why in most countries the citizens can do nothing but watch when acts of unimaginable brutality are performed on innocent people. In fact, they are often forced to watch. But such governments first seek to disarm the public of their abilities to reason as well. In this respect, Calvinism and Islam have always led the way. Robert Ley, the Internal Education Minister for Adolf Hitler, stated the following in his famous speech, “Fate—I Believe!”:
Understanding sometimes is not enough to explain something. Only faith is sufficient. The Führer in Nuremberg said: “Woe to him who does not believe!” He who does not believe has no soul. He is empty. He has no ideals. He has nothing to live for. He has no sunshine, no light, no joy in life. He is a poor, poor man. What is wealth? What are possessions? What does it all mean? Problems come despite them, only faith is left. Woe to him who does not believe!
All of this is best summarized by the words of Rudolf Hess in his speech, “The Oath to Adolf Hitler”:
Do not seek Adolf Hitler with your mind. You will find him through the strength of your hearts!
Indeed. Before the mass graves can be filled, the public and the church must be disarmed of their reason.
We come now to the first verse of chapter 14 in our Romans study. I want to begin by reminding us of a very important issue in regard to studying the Bible individually and understanding it. What I have found in the last few years is that most of what you need to understand the Bible is in the Bible itself. Yes, I am a big grammatical historical guy, and a study of history and culture is helpful in regard to Bible study, but the grammatical is most important. Just let the words say what they say. Take the words at face value.
Let me give you the prime example of that in my own life. I approached Romans with this principle: forget all of your presuppositions, and just let the words say what they say. I began to notice the use of the word “law” a lot in the book of Romans; the law of this, and the law of that, etc. What did Paul mean by the different references to law and was he speaking of the literal written law, or realms, or spiritual laws, or laws of nature?
Upon investigation, I discovered that the simple literal evaluation demanded these references to law to be a literal written law. In all cases, the word used was nomos while there are other Greek words for realm, a force of nature, etc. You don’t need to be a Greek scholar to determine that by any stretch of the imagination. This revelation has made the whole Bible fit together for me. Prior to that, presuppositions taught to me by others was an extreme hindrance to understanding the word of God.
Also, in our study of Romans, context is extremely important, so what is the context of Romans 14? Paul was the apostle of the Gentiles. His calling was the “mystery of the gospel.” What is that? Well, let’s see:
Ephesians 3:1 – For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
The mystery of the gospel is God’s desire to bring Jew and Gentile together in one body to God’s glory. Think about what kind of power is displayed in a wisdom that brings two diverse cultures together in harmony? As we learned early on in our study, the Christians at Rome obviously understood the gospel of first order; i.e., the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Paul wanted to come to them and teach the full-orbed gospel or the full counsel of God to them face to face.
But, he was continually hindered in coming to them, so he decided to write them this treatise instead. Now, why did the Holy Spirit hinder him? It’s obvious; so that Christians in future generations would have this written treatise on the full orbed gospel. We also looked at Paul’s apology in the letter to the Christians at Rome for not being able to come. The Gentiles were deemed as second class citizens in the Judeo Assembly of Christ, and Paul feared that his tarrying in coming would feed this mentality. This is why the first chapters of Romans are a passionate body of doctrine that refutes it. However, by chapter 11, Paul senses that he has made his case very well, and warns the Gentiles against reverse discrimination.
Now listen, the verse we are addressing today may be what incited Paul to panic and the writing of this letter to the Romans. That’s right; we may find ourselves at the issue that sent him running for his quill. Apparently, the Romans had written Paul from time to time about certain issues, and the issue here is what to do about Jews coming into their fellowships. Because of their diversity in the recognition of dietary laws and laws concerning days, should they be allowed in their fellowships? This certainly panicked Paul because this is the crux of the what? Right, mystery of the gospel.
“But Paul, the verse says ‘weak in faith’ not ‘Jews.’” True, but Paul is referring to the Jews. Though the Jews have great advantage in being the overseers of God’s law and His chosen people, the transition from the Old Covenant to the New and its relationship to law has an inherent tendency towards weakness. Paul uses the nomenclature of “weak” in order to not label all Jews accordingly. Many Jews understood the proper relation of law to the New Covenant.
In fact, even though circumcision was no longer required under the New Covenant, Paul had Timothy circumcised in order to get an audience with Jews who still had the conviction that circumcision was required:
Acts 16:1 – Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.
And what letter (“the decisions”) did they bring with them? The letter from the apostles in Jerusalem concerning the circumcision issue (Acts 15). I must say that Andy’s study in the book of Acts has helped me greatly in understanding what is going on in Romans 14 (see ttanc.com). The judgment of the Apostles was not to burden the Gentiles with being circumcised in order to get along with the weaker Jews, but did tell them to observe some Jewish dietary laws.
The weaker brother is to be “welcomed” and connects with Romans 15:
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”
Who are the “you” in this text? It is the Gentiles that Paul is writing to in the letter. Clearly, Paul addresses the wisdom needed for Gentiles to WELCOME the weaker Jewish brothers into the assemblies WITHOUT quarreling about issues of liberty in accordance to the law. At issue is the very mystery of the gospel. AND, without a doubt, the same principles apply to a myriad of other contrary convictions that can come between people.
Just this week I read an article about a church split over the recognition of Christmas. Yes, it’s true, Christmas was founded on a pagan holiday and we are never commanded in the Bible to recognize Christ’s birthday. But is this an issue of separation? Granted, Halloween is a pagan holiday. Granted, I am not sure that Christian children should dress up like the Devil and werewolves. Nevertheless, should that be an issue of separation resulting in Christians not being welcome?
This has major implications for the home fellowship movement. If we want to see God glorified in the mystery of the gospel, one of the things we can emphasize is unity. Wisdom will be key to seeing the results God wants. Let’s start with another basic principle that can be derived from this text. Those welcome should be believers. Home fellowships should indeed be for the express purpose of fellowship between saved people including those who have a weak view of law.
The assembly of believers is not a place for evangelism. All evangelism should take place outside of home fellowships. The gathering of believers for fellowship and edification is never advocated as a place for evangelism in the New Testament. Where did the idea of invite people to church to get them saved come from? Where did the idea of church “revivals” and alter calls come from? It all came from the advent of the 4th century institutional church and the idea that salvation comes through church membership.
This approach has brought many difficulties into the institutional church. Many church leaders bemoan the fact that unsaved people populate the church in large numbers, but what does one expect when inviting lost people to church has been one of its institutional mandates for more than 500 years? I think the mindset that the assembling of believers together for encouragement and edification is exclusive would make a huge difference in Christianity in and of itself. This approach also removes a lot of, “What if…?” scenarios. When you start trying to apply matters of liberty in a group setting where the born again and unregenerate are meeting together—what you have is a mess!
Look at verses 2 and 3:
One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
Stop right there. Have you ever thought of who God welcomes as a standard for fellowship? The context of what Paul is writing about is Christian fellowships. The question posed to Paul previously was who should be welcome or not welcome. The standard is whoever God welcomes. Do you know what this tells me? God sees Christian fellowship as sacred and very important, and anybody and everybody is not necessarily welcome. This answers a lot of “What if…?” situations, no?
This speaks to a public purpose building in which anything but the kitchen sink can come walking in. It would seem that one of the primary purposes of a Christian assembly is unity along with encouragement and edification. The purpose of unity is at a distinct disadvantage with unbelievers present and defies the primary purpose of Christian assemblies.
This puts the rightful burden of evangelism on the individual Christian. This also necessitates the equipping for evangelism in the assemblies. The focus becomes what individual Christians do outside of Christian fellowship, not bringing people to church to get them saved by an expert evangelist. The focus of assemblies is strengthening and equipping each other for the work of the ministry.
That’s verse 1, next week we will further develop Paul’s prescription for unity in the assemblies regardless of varying convictions.
Sigh. The latest novelty among New Calvinist is to teach that Antinomianism doesn’t exist. Elyse Fitzpatrick, who Justin Taylor called the greatest gospel-centered writer among women, posted a hypothetical open letter to an antinomian.
In the letter, she limits the definition of an antinomian to those who use grace as a license to sin, and then insinuates that such a person is a myth:
“Dear Mr. Antinomian,
Forgive me for writing to you in such an open forum but I’ve been trying to meet you for years and we just never seem to connect. While it’s true that I live in a little corner of the States and while it’s true that I am, well, a woman, I did assume that I would meet you at some point in my decades old counseling practice. But alas, neither you nor any of your (must be) thousands of brothers and sisters have ever shown up for my help…So again, please do pardon my writing in such a public manner but, you see, I’ve got a few things to say to you and I think it’s time I got them off my chest.”
Fitzpatrick (hereafter EF) offers the suggestion that she has never met an antinomian in her counseling practice as a profound indictment against the idea of Antinomianism. Sigmund Freud didn’t meet any antinomians in all of his years of counseling either. It doesn’t mean anything when those looking have a distorted view of Scripture, and obviously, EF would be no exception to that. The English word, “antinomianism” is a biblical word. It is the word “anomia” in the Bible and means: without the law; against the law; lawless; lawlessness. Paul called the Antichrist the “anomia one,” and the “man of antinomianism.” Paul also said that we are in an age where the “mystery of antinomianism doth already work.” Christ said that in the latter days, because of antinomianism, “the hearts of many would wax cold.” Christ also said that He would say to many at the judgment, “Depart from me, you workers of antinomianism (anomia), I never knew you.”
For EF to deny antinomianism is patently absurd, but she continues to deny the reality with the following paragraph:
“I wonder if you know how hard you’re making it for those of us who love to brag about the gospel. You say that you love the gospel and grace too, but I wonder how that can be possible since it’s been continuously reported to me that you live like such a slug. I’ve even heard that you are lazy and don’t work at obeying God at all…Rather you sit around munching on cigars and Twinkies, brewing beer and watching porn on your computer. Mr. A, really! Can this be true?”
Yes Elyse, it can be true because your really thick gospel narrative tells us so. Of course, hundreds of verses could be cited other than this: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” The apostle Paul also wrote specifically about “Mr. Antinomian[‘s]” mentality that EF presents as myth: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” This clearly demonstrates EF’s rejection of a literal interpretation of Scripture.
Ef then continues in a New Calvinist approved pastime—erecting straw men:
“So many of my friends and acquaintances are simply up in arms about the way you act and they tell me it’s because you talk too much about grace. They suggest (and I’m almost tempted to agree) that what you need is more and more rules to live by. In fact, I’m very tempted to tell you that you need to get up off your lazy chair, pour your beer down the drain, turn off your computer and get about the business of the Kingdom.”
This is the false accusation that Evangelicals blame grace for Antinomianism; when in fact, the complaint is against a form of Antinomianism known as contemplative spirituality. This is the belief that contemplating the gospel leads to Christ obeying for us. In other words, Antinomianism can approach against the law in several different ways, including the denial that we have been enabled to keep it and are obligated to do so. EF continues in her false accusations via straw men by rewording the evangelical belief in repentance in petty terms: “….what you need is more and more rules to live by.” Notice the “more and more” emphasis that implies a piling on of what we cannot bear as a solution. This, in fact, reveals EF for the antinomian that she is. Evangelicals see “more and more” rules as not just “rules,” but the wisdom of God that sets us free from the former bondage of living in ignorance of how to properly think and act in a way that pleases God.
Ef continues in her shameless twisting of Scripture:
“I admit that I’m absolutely flummoxed, though, which is why I’m writing as I am. You puzzle me. How can you think about all that Christ has done for you, about your Father’s steadfast, immeasurable, extravagantly generous love and still live the way you do? Have you never considered the incarnation, about the Son leaving ineffable light to be consigned first to the darkness of Mary’s womb and then the darkness of this world? Have you never considered how He labored day-after-day in His home, obeying His parents, loving His brothers and sisters so that you could be counted righteous in the sight of His Father? Have you forgotten the bloody disgrace of the cross you deserve? Don’t you know that in the resurrection He demolished sin’s power over you? Aren’t you moved to loving action knowing that He’s now your ascended Lord Who prays for you and daily bears you on His heart? Has your heart of stone never been warmed and transformed by the Spirit? Does this grace really not impel zealous obedience? Hello…Are you there?”
Yes he’s there Elyse, whether you believe it or not. The New Calvinist denial of a battle between the flesh in us and our regenerated spirit can be seen here. The astute Bible student will see many assumptions in the above statement that denies that the flesh wars against us, and assumes that the flesh lays down in surrender as we obtain a deeper and deeper understanding of what Christ accomplished for us, while denying that applying His wisdom to life also gives us a deeper understanding of the former person we were saved from. When the biblical dynamic of inner warfare with the flesh is denied (which is the case, particularly in the NC counseling culture that EF is part of [note the Adams/Welch debate on heart/flesh]), other assumptions tend to fill the void; such as, the perfect obedience of Christ being imputed to us in order to replace any obedience we might perform (because perfect obedience from believers is supposedly required to complete justification[double imputation]), and musings concerning what Christ experienced in Mary’s womb.
The last paragraph is really just a summation of the rest, but she closes with this:
“Again, please do forgive me for calling you out like this. I really would like to meet you. I am,
Trusting in Grace Alone,
Elyse, please forgive me for calling you out like this as well, but as JC Ryle said, it is not proper to say that we are sanctified by faith alone as your departure phrase implies, even though you use the word “trusting” to cover your tracks. And for efficiency sake, let me introduce you to Mrs. Antinomian instead of her husband—look in the mirror.
G.R.A.C.E. stands for “godly response to abuse in the Christian environment.” GRACE is a mediatory organization funded by the institutional church that investigates sexual abuse within Christian environments such as churches, missionary societies, and universities.
Their investigative report process in all cases so far has been slower than mud sliding to the top of Mount Everest. In the case of Bob Jones University, the report will finally be released tomorrow as the Christian community awaits with bated breath. Gag.
I am not going to spend much time on this post because I prefer to let the dead bury their own dead in regard to all of this institutional church drama. GRACE, and their approach, is predicated on Protestant Gnosticism and will not help anyone or do anything towards solving this problem. Boz Tchividjian, the director of GRACE, believes a false gospel and is a blind man leading the blind.
Let me keep this post simple and short because I have written other articles that delve deeply into what the mystical Boz believes, and I will do so by focusing on the closing words of Steve Pettit who read a statement today in regard to the GRACE report. Pettit is the President of BJU. At the end of what he stated must happen as a result of the GRACE report which apparently informed BJU of what was going on in their own university, he said that what must happen will happen by, watch it, here it comes…”the grace of God.”
Right. You see, there is only one thing worse than rape: people bringing about change in their own efforts. The “godly response” must be grounded in what Jesus did, not anything we do. And note that this change comes about by the “grace” of God. Let me rephrase that to clear things up for you: “This will happen by the justification of God,” or “This will happen by the salvation of God,” or “This will happen by the gospel of God.”
They all believe the same thing: we are sanctified by the same gospel that saved us. And you know, this is really “hard work” because of our tendency to do things ourselves, or in our own efforts like you know, Penn State. Sure, they slam-dunked the problem, but God didn’t get any glory. We can’t have that! And as Pettit also stated, the “process” (there is still a process?) is going to take a really, really long time. Hopeful yet?
Apparently, God deliberately takes a long time to deal with these situations so that we will know it has nothing to do with anything we do, but what Jesus has done. That’s the “godly response.”
Now back to the Boz. Why is the mere reporting of all of this such a big deal? Pharisees like us are inclined to say, “A report, so what?” Well, how were you saved? “By faith and repentance.” There you go. The report is designed to elicit deep repentance which results in the manifestation of change brought about by God’s grace, not anything we do. That brings me to the final words of Boz in regard to his statement on the report:
As this historical process comes to an end [no kidding], we continue to pray that the words of this report will fuel hope and healing in the lives of many as well as bring about transformational changes in the life of Bob Jones University. To that end, we look forward to having a front row seat at watching God work.
Right. We only need the GRACE reports to show us how wicked we are, and how much we need God’s grace, then we sit back and watch “God work.” And you know, when it comes to rape God is in no big hurry to stop it lest we believe we did something in the process. If it takes a really, really long time, it must surely be of God.
And these guys are getting paid for this stuff with your hard earned tithe money. You may want to give that some thought.
Go to blogtalkradio.com/falsereformation. Paul will spend the first hour introducing the show’s theme and discussing the 5 solas and the 5 points of Calvinism. The second hour is for people to call in and talk with the host (347-855-8317).
The show will begin automatically after you click on the link.
“If you are not a student of doctrine, you are not a lover of Jesus, you are a liar.”
I heard it again this morning: “They don’t know anything about doctrine, they just love Jesus.” Sigh. I have a confession to make. These types of Protestant truisms often verbalized from habit suck the wind out of my sails. What is it that is so discouraging about being a Baptist? Confusion. We think doctrine is really, really important, and of course our doctrine comes from the Bible, but “love” somehow trumps the nasty “D” word “doctrine.” A pity that it can’t be spelled with four letters. At least Muslims are not confused about their doctrine as displayed in their penchant for beheading people. A good Baptist wouldn’t dream of beheading anyone, we are just morally confused. At least Catholics know the Pope is the “Holy Father” and make no bones about it. Baptists hiss at such a notion, knowing it’s errant, but are completely ignorant about what is true.
American Christianity is in a biblical definition of words crisis. No religious follower can throw around words without really understanding the meanings like a Protestant. “Gospel,” “faith,” “salvation,” “grace,” “perseverance,” etc., are words we use often, but we really don’t know what they mean. No one can say “amen” while clueless like a Baptist. Dear Baptist pastor, don’t be encouraged when you hear “amen” from your congregants on Sunday morning; let’s be honest, they really have no clue what you are talking about. While claiming to be the sultans of salvation, most Baptists don’t even know its correct biblical definition.
“Nonsense! We know what that word means! It means we are saved from our sins by faith alone because of what Jesus did!”
Ok, so what do you do with Paul writing that we need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling? It’s not a contradiction; Paul is talking about salvation in regard to redemption, not justification. But, in order to know what that verse means, you need to know doctrine. So, let me rephrase the truism at hand:
“They don’t have a clue about anything the Bible says, they just love Jesus.”
Well, bless their little hearts, but Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Jesus’ mandate to the church was to “make disciples” (learners), teaching them to observe “ALL that I have commanded.” If you don’t know your Bible, you can’t love Jesus. If you don’t know your Bible, you don’t know doctrine.
Doctrine, law, commandments, and “truth,” are biblically synonymous. The primary characteristic of a saved person is love for the truth (2Thess 2:10). The saved person loves doctrine, law, the commandments, and truth (2Tim 4:2-4, Rom 8:1-8 Psalms 119). There is NO love for Jesus apart from His truth. “Why do you call me Lord and do not what I say?” A person who loves Jesus is a learner of doctrine. A person who loves Jesus is a student of doctrine. If you are not a student of doctrine, you are not a lover of Jesus, you are a liar.
How bad is it? I had three Baptist elders from a conservative Baptist church sit in my living room, and one proudly boasted, “I’m an elder, not a theologian.” God help us. This is beyond horrible. Till this day, I do not regret standing up and screaming at him, “THEN GET OUT OF THE MINISTRY!”
This brings us to the word “perseverance” in regard to “suffering.” Primarily, in the Bible, these two words regard the suffering we will endure for living according to truthful doctrine. The world wages a relentless onslaught against truth, and we are called on to persevere against that onslaught. The world cares little about those who merely love Jesus, but will readily cut you in half for living according to His doctrine. If you want to know what that can look like, see Hebrews chapter 11.
There is a salvation left for the Christian; it is a salvation from this mortal body, what Paul called the body of death in regard to its mortality. This mortality must put on immortality. We call that “redemption,” the other salvation (Rom 7:24, 25 [the word “wretched” refers to perseverance in the Greek]). Something that is redeemed has already been purchased, ie., we are already purchased and therefore justified. We still look forward to our redemption when Christ comes back to claim what He has already purchased on the cross. We are not our own, we “were bought with a price.” Christ purchased us from the world slave master.
Our present salvation (sanctification looking for the blessed hope of redemption) is for reward (Heb 6:10), justification is a gift. The Hebrew writer encouraged the Jewish believers to persevere in the truth, looking to Jesus the author (justification) and finisher (redemption) of our faith. They were told to persevere and put their suffering for the truth in perspective; they had not yet “resisted unto blood” like Jesus had. Look, I understand, in most cases, there are no doctrinally sound churches anywhere near where you live, but those of you who still attend such churches so your children will have friends—you might consider such. Jesus stood for truth unto death while you bemoan loosing “friends” over the truth. The Jews written to had already lost everything they owned, so the Hebrew writer encouraged them by noting that they still had their lives.
“Loving” Jesus apart from loving doctrine is just part of the worldly onslaught against the gospel, and is an excuse not to persevere for the sake of truth. “By much suffering we must enter into the kingdom,” and that suffering refers to “those who live godly in Christ WILL suffer persecution.” I know, I know, we are “only” talking about loss of reward here, but what about our real love for Jesus? Where is your passion to hear, “well done faithful servant” from the one who left the glories of heaven to purchase us from the world?
And remember, loving Jesus apart from doctrine is in fact a doctrine. Everyone lives by some doctrine—it might as well be one that leads to eternal life.
How deep is your real love?
TANC dissects a lot of Reformed theology, but I want to take an opportunity here to remind people of the big picture. In the infancy of Christ’s assembly, Christianity was called “The Way.” There are only two beliefs in the world: those who facilitate God’s way, and those who divert from it. Following God is a way of life—it’s a lifestyle.
The kingdom of darkness employs many, many devices for diverting people from the way. Major devices, perhaps the primary ones, are false mediators, fear, compulsion, and philosophy.
But let’s not forget the major objective: diverting from the way. Man must be shown the way by God, and God has done this with man face to face, and through His written law. When we speak of “law,” we are really speaking of God’s full counsel to man. The law shows us how to be reconciled to God, or justified, and also instructs us on how to follow God—that’s sanctification. It is also God’s full philosophical statement to man including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics.
This is important because people will interpret life through the prism of what they believe to be reality; for instance, what we believe about man will dictate what we accept intellectually in regard to mediation. Does God speak directly to man, or has God preordained a special class of people to interpret reality for the masses? Christ promised that those who seek Him will find Him; can you seek Him directly, or must you seek Him through men that have some gift for interpreting reality?
The salesman who sells a certain reality dictates outcome. And be sure of this: Calvinism primarily seeks to sell a certain reality that assures the outcome they want. Think not that Calvinism is primarily a doctrinal concern; the Reformers created a certain way to interpret reality itself. The Calvin Institutes is first and foremost a philosophical book.
The Bible offers very deep analysis on this, and also very simple analysis. You can look at the big picture and be satisfied with that, but if you want to go deep, the opportunity is there. This post is about the big picture, but the problem we have today in Christianity is the following: institutionalized American Europeanized Christianity is so mindless that the doorway to understanding the thumbnail is a “big theological word.”
We don’t need none of dim big fancy words cause we have Jesus. You hain’t anybody because you throw around 50-cent theo-ology words. Jesus said to believe like a little children.
And the Reformers smile. This kind of caste system comprised of ignorant spiritual peasants being led by an enlightened class is exactly what the Reformers had in mind. It is absolutely amazing: I have had people with doctorate degrees in some liberal art complain to me about using big theology words in my teachings; words like justification and sanctification that are actually IN the Bible! When you go to a Catholic Mass there isn’t a Bible in the place, and the Protestant fruit doesn’t fall far from that tree. Protestant Bible-carrying is more symbolic than substantive. The doctrinal illiteracy of our day is testimony to that fact.
I have friends who would say this reality was created by ignorance of philosophy itself, in other words, the Reformers were able to create this caste system because they were primarily philosophers. I would protest that point little. For those who didn’t buy that package, the Reformers utilized the force of state. This was a complete control package. The Reformers sought to control the masses by selling a certain caste reality, and had those who wouldn’t buy the package executed by the state. This is why America was founded by philosophers—not theologians. Sorry.
Nevertheless, this is about the big picture, and in order to understand the big picture, we will need to understand three big theology words that are in the Bible: justification, sanctification, and antinomianism. If you want to understand the very basics of spiritual warfare, you will need to understand these three words. Sorry.
Antinomianism is the English translation of a Greek word that is used throughout the New Testament, “anomia.” It means, “anti (against) law.” More specifically, it means against God’s law. Interestingly enough, in the book of Revelation, we find a church state ruled by “the man of anomia” (2Thess 2:1-12). The Bible pretty much begins with mankind being diverted away from the way, and ends the same way. It begins with a “mediator” who proposes to explain to us what God is really saying, and ends the same way. This is the big cheese of all sword wielding mediators, those who we affectionately call “philosopher kings.”
They will use every trick in the book to keep you from The Way. This necessarily entails separating you from the law of God. This necessarily entails making you an antinomian. This isn’t a difficult task in our day because most Christians don’t know what an antinomian is. Many are functioning antinomians, and have no time for the big word that describes them; the word in the Bible that the Holy Spirit uses to identify them.
And because they are also ignorant of the other two words, justification and sanctification, they can denounce antinomianism while being one, because the pastor says it’s a big word they can’t understand. They only need to take his word for it; it’s bad, and we are not antinomian.
Yes and no. Antinomianism is a good thing in regard to justification, but a bad thing in regard to sanctification. Let’s compare some Bible verses. First, Matthew 5:17…
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
And now Romans 10:4…
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
And Ephesians 2:15…
by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,
Wait a minute, which is it? Christ said He didn’t come to abolish the law, and then Paul states that He did come to abolish the law. This would appear to be a direct contradiction—if you don’t understand the difference between justification and sanctification. Note in Rom 10:4 that Christ is the end of the law …”for rightousness.”
In the Bible, righteousness, justification, and salvation are practically synonymous. You can’t be saved without being justified, and in justification we are declared righteous. Christ is the end of the law for salvation. Antinomianism in regard to salvation is a good thing.
Now let’s go back to Matthew 5:17. Christ said He came to fulfill the law, and the following two verses tell us in what regard He is speaking of:
For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Putting verses 17-19 together, we find that Christ came to fulfill the law through us…”in the kingdom.” One speaks of salvation, the other speaks of kingdom living or The Way. This is confirmed by Romans 8:1-8…
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.
Antinomianism is good in regard to justification because in justification the law condemns and is the “law of sin and death.” Now, to those who are in Christ, the law is the “law of the Spirit of life” and we are able to love Christ and please Him by keeping the law. Such will be “called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
But not only is antinomianism a bad thing in sanctification, it calls into question a proper understanding of the gospel. Why is this? Because it believes that the law is not changed from the law of sin and death to the law of the Spirit of life at salvation. Antinomianism in sanctification does not acknowledge that the believer’s relationship to the law has changed upon being saved. This proposes that the believer cannot please God (2Cor 5:9), and therefore does not fit the definition of a believer. Not only that, the law of sin and death is categorized with being under law while the law of the Spirit of life is categorized, under grace (Rom 6:14). No recognition in regard to a changed relationship to the law leaves the “believer” in the same category of the unregenerate; i.e., under law.
Calvinism gets around all of this via a different angle: Christ fulfills the law for us; that’s how He is the end of it (Calvin Institutes 3.14.9-11). Calvinists claim to be against antinomianism because the law is the standard for justification. They point to those who say the law has been done away with altogether as antinomians. “No” they say, “the law is good because it is God’s standard for righteousness.” So, the only change is the idea that Christ fulfills the law in our place, and we can therefore be declared righteous. The “believers” ability to obey the law is not changed in salvation, only his/her belief that we are considered justified because Christ keeps the law for us.
Therefore, any attempt by us to keep the law in sanctification is synonymous with keeping the law for our justification. What ensues is sanctification by faith alone as a “true” gospel that maintains our salvation. This is antinomianism in sanctification, and righteousness/justification based on the law. The Reformed negative definition of antinomianism is the idea that the law is not needed for justification. They refute that, but that is exactly what the Bible teaches—justification is apart from the law. That is the point Paul made to the Galatians in regard to Abraham being declared righteous 430 years before the law. “The Promise” was not based on any law keeping, and there is no law that can give life for justification regardless of who keeps it. The standard for righteousness is God Himself, not the law. Abraham “believed God” and that was credited to him as righteousness 430 years before the Law of Moses.
Calvinism makes justification’s standard the law and biblically defines believers as unregenerate due to their inability to keep the law in kingdom living. The position that saints are unable to keep the law in a way that pleases God goes part and parcel with the idea that believers are unable to participate in The Way. The Way is redefined as a life that lives out sanctification by the same gospel that saved us, and by returning to that same gospel over and over again, the perfect obedience of Christ to the law is imputed to our sanctification and we remain justified (Ibid, esp. sec. 11).
Hence, many verses that speak of Christ being our justification are applied to sanctification/kingdom living/The Way. Other verses speak of our success in sanctification only being possible because of Christ’s sacrifice, but are posited as proof that Christ obeys the law for us. This makes law the basis of justification—no matter who keeps it. It also leaves “Christians” by definition as biblically unregenerate—they are still under law and unable to keep it as The Way.
Calvinism is just another road leading to the gargantuan antinomian blitzkrieg predicted to occur in the last days. An inability to keep the law is an inability to participate in The Way, and the Bible is clear, those who don’t get it will be disposed of in the usual way. That is the Calvinism of the past, would be the Calvinism of the present if not for the American Revolution, and will play its part in the end time tyranny predicted in Revelation.
That’s Calvinism’s big picture.
“Hence, the Reformation was a blatant pushback against the mystery of the gospel revealed in the New Testament.”
As Western Protestants, we despise other cultures that blindly follow, en masse, “ridiculous” myths and superstitions such as emperor worship. However, Protestantism is little different and may be the most intellectually dishonest religion of all time. Never before in human history has a culture invested more time and money, especially money, in pure myth.
In March of 2015, renowned Protestant John MacArthur Jr. will host a shepherd’s summit with the following theme: “we” stand in a long line of faithful men, particularly John Calvin and Martin Luther, who stayed true to the inerrancy and supremacy of the Bible, and now “it is our turn.”
Yearly, young evangelicals spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to receive a diploma in Protestant orthodoxy from MacArthur’s Master’s Seminary, but the foundations of what MacArthur et al believe is a cesspool of contradiction and blatantly anti-gospel orthodoxy. We could discuss their real approach to Bible interpretation which is ancient mythology dressed up in Western intellectualism, but this post will focus on their praise heaped upon those who drove a spear through the very heart of the mystery of the gospel.
What is the mystery of the gospel? We are informed in Ephesians chapter 3:
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
After EVERYTHING the Jews did, didn’t do, thought about doing, didn’t think about doing, etc., the mystery of the good news revealed in the New Testament by Paul’s letters is the Gentiles are “partakers” of the promise (the Abrahamic covenant) and “fellow heirs.” The mystery is that Jew and Gentile would be baptized into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13). This is probably why the Holy Spirit was with Old Testament believers and indwelt them from time to time for specials tasks, but now permanently indwells believers until redemption. But admittedly, I lack sufficient study on that particular subject (indwelling in OT versus NT) so that’s not a dogmatic statement. Note “probably.”
We could also discuss, in addition to the Reformed tradition of Bible as narrative (the orthodoxy of mythology; reality as narrative), the progressive justification gospel that the Reformation was founded on, but again, this post only addresses the Reformation’s anti-gospel mystery approach. One of the Holy Spirit’s primary New Covenant objectives was to unite Jew and Gentile into one body. In contrast, the Reformers sought to SEPERATE Jew and Gentile and replace Israel’s place in God’s redemptive plan with the Gentiles. This is known as Replacement Theology and Supersessionism. The fact that this theology is a Reformed tradition is indisputable, and the anti-Semitism of the Reformers is well documented.
Hence, the Reformation was a blatant pushback against the mystery of the gospel revealed in the New Testament. While the Holy Spirit seeks to unit Jew and Gentile into one body with the Gentiles being the “partakers”, clearly, Martin Luther called for a separation between the two and the demarcation of Jews as second class kingdom citizens. To spend thousands of dollars produced on the backs of the laity to uphold Luther as a spiritual hero is the epitome of intellectual dishonesty at best, and a plenary rejection of the gospel at worst.
Intellectual honesty can only call for a complete rejection of Protestantism and everything that came out of it. It is all fruit from the poisonous Reformation tree. The baby needs to be thrown out with the bathwater because the baby is uncleanable. It will only grow up to be the same monster that gave it birth. Protestantism must be repented of, and replaced with a return to the priesthood of believers manifested in home fellowships apart from institutional salvation.
1. When we are saved, we are washed and do not need another washing: John 13:9-11.
2. When we drink of the gospel, we never thirst again: John 4:13,14.
3. When we eat of the bread of life, we never hunger again: John 6:35.
4. When we are saved, we receive all of the fullness of God: Ephesians 1:19, 20.
5. We are called to move forward from repentance of dead works and on to maturity: Hebrews 6:1, 2.
6. Reconciliation only occurs once: 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.
7. The gospel is a foundation that we build on—you don’t continue to build the foundation: 1Corinthians 3:10-15, Romans 15:20.
8. Peter said he wanted to spend his last days reminding believers to add certain things to their faith. If PTGTY (preaching the gospel to yourself) is the paramount vessel for sanctification, why would that not be his emphasis in the time he had left? 2Peter 1:5-17.
“Against Church” Free Writing Notes: The Smoking Gun; Church Discipline and the Impartation of Grace
The idea of salvation via church membership, though vehemently denied in most evangelical circles, is for all practical purposes confirmed by the concept known as “church discipline.” The Catholic version known as “excommunication” needs no discussion here because as previously stated Rome is neither shy nor ambiguous about salvation being found in the Mother Church alone. Membership in the Catholic Church and the practice of its rituals virtually assures one of eternal life.
In the Protestant version called “church discipline,” the subject can be “declared an unbeliever” by church leaders. Unfortunately, many evangelicals assume this to mean that the person is to be treated LIKE an unbeliever (as the text states grammatically) and use of the word declaration is just in a manner of speaking, but such is not the case. In authentic Protestantism from which all of its various stripes come (Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Pentecostals, etc.), the church has the authority to “declare” a person unsaved because they are supposedly God’s authority on earth. The “church” is the God ordained institution that gets people from point A to point B. Salvation is a process, and when people within the church are not behaving according to the salvific process of a particular denomination, or even threatening the salvation vessel with their behavior, they must be ejected from the institution which also removes them from the salvation process. This is why church discipline is referred to as “redemptive church discipline” in some circles.
The Impartation of Grace?
“Grace” is a word in the Bible that is very generic. Primarily, it means “favor.” It also has the idea of “blessings.” Some Bible scholars even suggest that the word merely means “help.” The Reformers incessantly used the word in the strict confines of justification. This gives credence to the idea that Christians must operate within a given orthodoxy in order to receive a perpetual doling out of grace in order to remain saved. It’s justification on the installment plan, and the installments can only be received in the institutional church. As we have observed in former chapters, this boiled down to perpetual forgiveness of new sins committed as Christians in order to remain forgiven, and that forgiveness can only be found in the institutional church. Again, though Protestants have gravitated away from an outward admission of such, the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree and they function that way accordingly. So-called “church discipline” is one of the practices that exposes this reality. Protestants are very much like professed vegetarians who take meat protein supplements, for practical reasons of course.
Hence, everything in the “Christian” life becomes a question of the continued impartation of justification rather than change. We don’t change to be saved, and the Christian life is still about salvation if you are a good Protestant. This “impartation of grace” covers all of life, viz, the “gospel-driven life,” but the example here will be the impartation of grace via speech. Let’s see how the original Protestant idea of justification on the installment plan manifests itself in contemporary teachings.
John Piper, the “elder statesman” of the Neo-Calvinist movement (which is not new at all), spoke of the impartation of grace through our speech while preaching a sermon on Ephesians 4. The Reformed Charismatic Adrian Warnock wrote about the sermon in an article titled, John Piper Friday – Using Our Mouths to Impart Grace. Piper is quoted in that article as stating,
Instead of proposing clean language, he proposes a whole new way of thinking about language. Instead of saying, “You don’t need dirty language to communicate your intention,” he says, “The root issue is whether your intention is love.” In other words the issue for Paul is not really language at all; the issue is love. The issue is not whether our mouth can avoid gross language; the issue is whether our mouth is a means of grace. You see he shifts from the external fruit to the internal root. He shifts from what we say to why we say it. That’s the issue… This is a revolutionary way to think about your mouth…It is not Christian just to stop swearing. It is not Christian just to put good language in the mouth instead. It is Christian to ask the deeper, internal question: am I speaking now to edify? The issue is not whether our mouth can avoid gross language; the issue is whether our mouth is a means of grace.”
In Sonship Theology circles, this is known as “speaking life into people.” Church is a place where we go to receive life installments, or grace installments on the roadway to heaven. Faithfulness to the institutional church pays our grace toll on the way to heaven and eventually gets us in. Contemporary Protestants state in no uncertain terms the primary means of grace: our original baptism that makes us official church members, and has an ongoing efficacious effect as long as we are faithful to the institution, the Lord’s Table, prayer, the Bible (as long as we see every verse in regard to justification), and sitting under the preaching of Reformed ordained elders:
Then, second, let me state what we do intend by “the ordinary means of grace.” To begin, here is the Shorter Catechism answer 88: “The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.” I will unfold this answer in later articles, but for now, note the following: 1) by “grace” we intend the benefits of redemption; 2) only the elect are beneficiaries; 3) the benefits are communicated to the elect, by which we mean that they are appreciably received, for true communication cannot occur in ignorance; 4) the means are instituted by Christ, they are his ordinances; 5) there are three principal means: the Word, Sacraments, and Prayer; 6) by “salvation” we mean not merely the cross of Christ or our individual justification, but the whole work that begins in election and concludes in glorification. The means are of use subjectively, and not all at once, and most extensively in sanctification.
This is set against the supposed Catholic aberration that grace (salvation) is imparted to anyone whose body is dragged within the confines of the Mother Church, and that accusation does have some merit historically, but the Protestant version called “the ordinary means of grace” posits the exact same idea of justification on the installment plan through sacraments within the institutional church. That is the responsibility of church leadership, but according to Piper, and according to Protestant soteriology, parishioners have a responsibility to also impart the means of grace among each other. Therefore, proper sonship or kingdom speech that edifies is not the issue, but imparting salvation to each other is the issue. Let’s remove Piper’s nuance to show clearly what he is really saying:
“The issue is not whether our mouth can avoid gross language; the issue is whether our mouth is a means of [justification].” Or…
“The issue is not whether our mouth can avoid gross language; the issue is whether our mouth is a means of [salvation].”
The replacement word “grace” nuances the point, but Piper’s root and fruit paradigm and his justification instrument construct affirm what he means by the “impartation of grace.” And unequivocally, these are NOT Piperesque ideas, these are accurate portrayals of authentic Protestant soteriology.
The idea that works in sanctification are the “fruits of justification” seems harmless enough, after all, justification makes sanctification possible. But possibility is not what is in view here; what is in view is the idea that sanctification is the fruit of justification. In other words, justification is like a tree that grows. Justification is the root, and sanctification is the fruit of justification. Therefore, justification is a growing tree, and all of its fruit must flow from the roots of the same tree. This is what Piper is talking about in the aforementioned sermon written about by Warnock; if we make a conscience effort to change the way we speak according to Scripture, we are making the fruit the root. We are fruit stapling. We are to merely speak justification to people, viz, “speak life into them,” and experience any fruit produced by the root of justification “subjectively” (see the last sentence of endnote 13).
Another way Piper describes our active obedience as making the fruit the root; i.e., making our own efforts the justification root, is making our own efforts the working of fruits back into the instrument of justification:
One of the concerns that I have about justification, and in particular the biblical understanding of imputation (being counted righteous as distinct from actually becoming behavioral in our righteousness—which are both crucial), is that those who are jealous like I want to be for our holiness, our love, our justice and our mercy in the world can begin to build those fruits into the instrument of justification to make sure that it is not separated. But in the process they undermine the very goal that we are both after.
Here’s what I mean. I’m arguing, as I think historic protestant Christianity and the Bible argues, that the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to me is through union with Christ, where he is for me all that he is, and I am attached to him in that union through faith alone. The only instrument by which I am made a participant in Christ’s righteousness is God’s acting through my faith. I am born into that relationship through faith alone, not through any of its fruits, like mercy and justice and love and patience and kindness and meekness and so on, which turn me into a useful person in the world.
As seen in this citation, Piper is making our fruits in sanctification the same thing as being born into the family of God by faith alone. If we actually do works in sanctification, we are producing justification works, or “build[ing] those fruits into the instrument of justification.” The “instrument” is faith and faith only; it is the instrument of justification that produces its own fruit and not ours. Therefore, all of Christian life is keeping us united to Christ (known as the vital union, or the mystical union) through faith alone which produces the subjective fruit of justification. These works are “subjective” because we really don’t know when they are produced by the root of justification or not. Luther is married to Calvin on this point because Luther defined this subjective experience of justification’s fruit by mortal sin versus venial sin (The Heidelberg Disputation: Theses 3). People are actually damned if they believe they can do works that have merit with God for sanctification or justification, but if one believes that even their good works are evil, they are only guilty of venial sin which is covered by the blood of Christ. And, in the final analysis, Christians have no idea when the works they are experiencing are from the root of justification. That’s the subjective nature of it. This narrows the Christian life down to interpreting everything through salvation, or justification, and leaving the subjective results to God.
This is all a long version of simply saying that any efforts on the part of a Christian are works salvation because we are in the midst of a progressing, or growing salvation. Any effort on our part is an effort to participate in justification. Instead, we must merely partake in the ordinary means of grace administered and qualified by Protestant orthodoxy.
This is where the Protestant version of excommunication comes into play. When people misbehave as members of the church, they are not only jeopardizing the church as the cosmic salvation vessel, they are derelict in their duty to aid the church in imparting grace upon grace unto final grace. In this instance, we are using speech as the example. When people question church authority, or “gossip,” they are actually jeopardizing people’s salvation. Hence, they must be removed for the protection of the salvation vessel and the salvific wellbeing of the other members.
This is also where Protestantism clashes with American individualism. Remember, Protestantism is a European import, and not uniquely American as many errantly believe. The American Revolution invoked the first non-Collectivist government known to mankind. It has been stated in this book that the fruit does not fall far from the tree, but that doesn’t mean there is no distance whatsoever when it does fall. In the 20th century, individualism was in vogue among American Christians and so-called church discipline fell by the wayside. But in 1970, which marked the beginning of a Protestant resurgence in American culture, all of that began to change. Now, many popular evangelicals declare democracy to be “satanic.” By 2009, controversy over heavy handed church discipline became a hot topic even in the secular media, and anti-spiritual abuse blogs began to saturate the internet. By 1986, sixteen years after the beginning of the Protestant resurgence, the problem was large enough that mediatory organizations funded by the institutional church began to emerge in an attempt to keep local churches from being sued in public court.
The primary Bible text offered as a proof for church discipline is Matthew 18:15-20. Nowhere in this text does the idea of “church discipline” appear. Specifically in the Bible, there is a discipline by God within the church (Heb. 12:5-11), and self-discipline that prevents the need for God’s discipline (1Cor. 11:30-32), but a discipline by the “church” is nowhere to be found. There are two primary reasons for this: there is no such thing as formal membership in God’s body, and the assembling of the body together is based on fellowship, not formal membership.
Matthew18:15-20 is based on fellowship issues, not an authority to proclaim someone an unbeliever. It primarily concerns disputes among believers, and a breaking of fellowship with those who are obstinate in regard to wrongdoing. The last resort is to treat the individual like a Gentile or tax collector of whom the Jews would not associate with. Not all Gentiles were unbelievers, and not all tax collectors were unbelievers; so, to make them synonymous with “unsaved” or the authority to declare one unsaved is completely without merit.
“Church discipline” is perhaps the most significant smoking gun in regard to the institutional church being completely without merit. One may notice that elders are not mentioned in this text as well, only “witnesses” and the “assembly.” Even though the steps of resolution in this text are crystal clear, Protestant orthodoxy takes liberties with it for expedient purposes. In the institutional model, it is often barely less than impossible to involve a whole congregation in the situation if the subject will not listen to the offended party or witnesses. In other words, this is obviously not feasible in a church with thousands of members, or campuses in other cities as opposed to a small group meeting in a house.
Also, this discussion between Jesus and His disciples was well before Pentecost, and probably pertained to the existing synagogues which were mostly small gatherings in private homes. Even in our day, synagogues in private homes are a Jewish tradition. Not only that, “witnesses” and “assembly” have been replaced with what appears nowhere in the text, “elders.” According to Protestant orthodoxy, only the elders have the authority to declare someone an unbeliever, but the text clearly assigns that authority, if there is such an authority, to the assembly with no mention of elders at all! Replacing “tell it to the church,” with an announcement to the congregation about what elders have decided to do is nothing more or less than presumptuous. Clearly, added to this text is the idea of formal membership over fellowship, and a supposed authority of those nowhere named to declare people unbelieving.
One can add the following: institutional churches spend thousands of dollars for legal counsel in regard to church discipline issues. If a private home is in view, such issues do not exist. One of the biblical qualifications of an elder is that he is “given to hospitality.” This is because Christian fellowships were in homes. If a group decides not to fellowship with an individual, he/she is simply no longer welcomed in that home which is an indisputable right in any culture; that is, to exclude anyone you want from entering your personal home. If the assembly wrongly sides with the offender, the offended and the two witness can merely start their own fellowship until the assembly repents. That’s the point Christ is making in verses 18-20. In addition, if the offended is being thin-skinned or petty, that can be resolved by the two witnesses before the group is involved. Matthew 18:15-20 fits perfectly into any home fellowship scenario, but in context of an institution, it becomes a convoluted litany of social, personal, practical, and legal controversies.
For instance, in most U.S. states, to humiliate someone publically for something that is not against civil or criminal law is illegal. So-called church discipline in commercial settings is a public announcement and at the very least defamation according to most state laws. A church is especially liable if the subject is employed by someone who is also a member in the same church. If a subject is told that they may not vacate membership because of the church discipline upon pain of public humiliation, that is technically kidnapping in many states. We must remember that the Protestant orthodoxy regarding church discipline was written under the auspices of European church states and will not fit well in a democracy without numerous controversies. Unfortunately, the hard working laity funds the attempt to fit a round peg in a square hole.
Moreover, in regard to membership and church discipline, two questions emerge: What if an unseemly person insists on attending a church, but is not a member, and therefore not under the “authority” of the elders? Also, what if a person vacates membership by letter after first being confronted about an issue to avoid public humiliation? These two questions alone have created a quagmire of controversial debate in the institutional church. Furthermore, the church has applied the text to SIN in general and not what the text specifically addresses: disputes between Christians. The Bible addresses sin issues separately, and the prescription is often different from the Matthew 18:15-20 procedure. The prescription always pertains to an adjustment of fellowship, not an authority to have someone removed from the book of life.
In short, an attempt to fit Matthew 18:15-20 into an institutional setting reveals the folly of Christ’s assembly as an institution of any sort. It replaces simple fellowship with membership, leadership with authority, and aggressive kingdom citizenship with salvation via institution.
11. Dr. Jay E. Adams: Nouthetic .org; Grow By Grace, November 6, 2013.
13. Rev. Bruce Buchanan: Puritan Board .com; The ordinary Means of Grace | Online source: http://www.puritanboard.com/f87/ordinary-means-grace-19104/
14. Online source: http://www.reformationstudycenter.com/Justification-AConcern-Piper.html
15. One example among many is an article written by Pastor James MacDonald. Online source: http://jamesmacdonald.com/jamestoday/blog/congregational-government-is-from-satan/ which has been scrubbed, but agreed with and restated by another popular evangelical ministry here: http://9marks.org/article/congregationalism-is-used-by-satan-like-he-uses-everything-else/
16. Online sources: http://www.myfoxdfw.com/story/24636702/dallas-man-suing-rabbi-neighbor-over
“Christ cannot be torn into parts, so these two which we perceive in him together and conjointly are inseparable—namely, righteousness and sanctification. Whomever, therefore, God receives into grace, on them he at the same time bestows the spirit of adoption [Romans 8:15], by whose power he remakes them to his own image. . . Yet Scripture, even though it joins them, still lists them separately in order that God’s manifold grace may better appear to us.” — John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1960), Bk. 3, chap. 11, sec. 6).
“But the plain truth is, that men will persist in confounding two things that differ–that is, justification and sanctification. In justification the word to address to man is believe–only believe; in sanctification the word must be ‘watch, pray, and fight.’ What God has divided let us not mingle and confuse” (JC Ryle, Holiness: Introduction).
A TTANC 2 Freewriting post and book review of Dr. Robert Congdon’s latest booklet in his New Calvinist series.
Dr. Robert Congdon, according to his own bio, is an “international Bible teacher, conference speaker, author, and radio commentator on subjects relating to current trends in Christianity. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois, a M.Div. in theology from Grace Theological Seminary, and TH.D in theology from Trinity Theological Seminary.”
Dr. Congdon, according to him, was compelled to write a series of booklets on the New Calvinist movement because he has observed its ill effects on the church*; specifically, the dividing of churches and families, fear in regard to assurance of salvation, and a fatalistic mentality leading to a mindset of irresponsibility.
Correctly, Dr. Congdon also charges that New Calvinism is “traditional Reformed/Covenant theology that has been repackaged in post-modern ‘wrappings.’” This is true in that both New Calvinism and Postmodernism interpret reality from a narrative standpoint. This is meta-narrative in regard to metaphysical narrative. New Calvinists believe that all of reality is a prewritten gospel narrative. Postmoderns believe the same thing, but there is a distinction in how we “enter into the plot,” or “make the Bible story our story—the story of every believer.” New Calvinists believe you participate by living the Christian life the same way you were saved, by faith alone. You then merely watch what unfolds in God’s pre-written narrative with a focus on how He is glorified by what happens. Life events merely make us better see’ers in regard to what “Jesus has done, not anything we do.”
Faith is an eye that can only see outward. Inner light depends on how we see the world, and the payoff is joy regardless of circumstances because circumstances are part of the narrative that increases our faith as we see what God is doing in the world. Also, inner light is a partial experience of the light we will actually experience in heaven. This philosophical** side of Calvinism will be addressed in volume III of The Truth About New Calvinism series.
The Postmoderns believe that you “enter into the plot” by doing what Jesus would do. Both camps see “entering into the plot” as an act of faith, but this brings a charge of works salvation by the New Calvinists against the Postmoderns because salvation is seen as a PROCESS and not a finished work, so what people do or believe in the middle between beginning justification and final justification determines justification by faith alone or works justification. The Postmoderns would cry foul by insisting that they are merely participating in works prepared ahead of time in the metaphysical narrative of reality. By participating, they are merely experiencing the works pre-wrought by Christ—the works are being done to us not by us.
* Throughout this book, “church” is used in regard to the institutional church, not the called out assembly.
** The metaphysic is a plenary progression of all things from the material to the spiritual in time.
New Calvinists believe the same thing. Seemingly, the difference is that Postmoderns believe participation is a choice which robs God of His sovereignty.*
As a short aside, Congdon’s mention of the divisive nature of New Calvinism needs to be addressed. The so-called “factious” man of Titus 3:10 (ASV) is interpreted in all English Bibles as pertaining to individuals [who question elder authority]. Actually, the Bible has little to say about individuals who cause strife. The overarching concern is groups who divide with a particular false doctrine. The actual word for this so-called divisive individual in Titus 3:10 is…
g0141. αἱρετικός hairetikos; from the same as 140; a schismatic:— heretic (the Greek word itself). AV (1)- that is a heretic 1; fitted or able to take or choose a thing schismatic, factious, a follower of a false doctrine, heretic.
Therefore, New Calvinism takes its place among one of the mountain peak concerns of the Scriptures: sectarian groups that divide with false doctrine (See Addendum A).
Congdon qualifies as the quintessential hybrid Calvinist. Often, he refers to himself as grammatical, premillennial, and dispensational. In the latest booklet of his New Calvinist series, he reiterates this and describes himself as a former four-point Calvinist. A grammarian interpretation of reality is mutually exclusive from Calvinism which he apparently now realizes because the theses of his newest addition to the series follows:
- New Calvinism is Old Calvinism.
- Both are false gospels.
- He misunderstood what the five points of Calvinism really represented.
- He is now a Biblicist, not a Calvinist.
His journey into researching New Calvinism has led him to this conclusion: (more…)
In a discussion of abortion, let’s set aside Christianity for a moment. Let’s set aside the Ten Commandments. Instead, let’s look at abortion from the viewpoint of logic and philosophy. Don’t worry, God is logical. Don’t worry, God was not on vacation when philosophy was discovered.
Let’s concede, for the sake of argument, that conception is not life. Let’s start with something that no one can deny: conception is the possibility of life. Let’s also add another point that no one can deny: only time can reveal what that life will be. Let’s also add the irrefutable fact that lives result in human milestones for humanity. That would seem fairly evident. Let’s also add the irrefutable fact that because of human conscience, those milestones have been for the better, and not worse.
And let’s add the irrefutable fact that one life leads to many other lives that also have a potential to contribute to humanity—a contribution that only time can reveal.
So what is abortion saying? It is saying that the possibility of life is completely irrelevant because life is irrelevant. Whether a legacy of one life and the lives it spawns contributes to humanity or not is irrelevant because life is irrelevant.
Now we are back to religion. In its most ancient form, religion disdains the material and longs for the invisible. If you can see it, hear it, touch it, feel it, or smell it, it is evil. And that, of course, includes life. Dualism is the foundation of most religions—if not all of them. Christ destroyed the whole notion when He arrived as Deity in human flesh.
Abortion is not a social issue, it is ancient religion. Logically, it rejects the value of life and deems its sum as zero. It is also misguided to think those who partake in abortion services only value their own life; no, because their life is without value, whatever happens in life stays in life, one day we will be free from its bondage to some invisible freedom of one’s own imagination. Decisions made in this life are as irrelevant as life itself.
Logically, abortion can only mean one thing: life in its totality is worthless. While arguing about when life begins, abortion wants to snuff out the very possibility of life itself.
It’s not a complicated social issue, it’s the oldest religion known to man.
The born again Christian is no longer under law but under grace. In regard to justification, the Christian is sinless because Christ died on the cross to end the law, and where there is no law there is no sin.
So, the believer dies with Christ as one born under the slavery of sin, law, and death. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. That is why it is the “law of sin and death” to the unbeliever. The one who is also resurrected with Christ is no longer under any condemnation whatsoever. The law now guides the believer in love, but in no way condemns.
Those whom Satan cannot keep out of the kingdom he seeks to neutralize by keeping them under condemnation. The power of sin is the law’s ability to condemn. Therefore, by a variety of means, he seeks to keep Christians under law and away from love. Not being under law enables the Christian to aggressively obey without fear of condemnation. Fear has to do with judgment and condemnation; those who fear are not mature in love.
Calvinism keeps the “Christian” under law via a particular view of double imputation. Instead of the biblical imputation being OUR sins imputed to Christ and God’s righteousness imputed to us APART from the law, Calvinism teaches that Christ lived a perfect life to fulfill the law so that His obedience to the law, in addition to Him dying for our sins, is imputed to our Christian life in order to keep us saved. This not only keeps Christians under the law, and is not justification apart from the law, but requires the “Christian” to live by faith alone in the Christian life in order for the obedience of Christ to perpetually fulfill the law for justification in order to keep us saved.
It is a satisfaction/fulfillment of the law of sin and death rather than the law of the Spirit of life.
Hence, supposedly, the Christian life must be lived by faith alone so that the law may be continually satisfied by Christ’s obedience and not ours until the final judgment. At the final judgment, if we lived by faith alone well enough, our sins are covered by Christ’s righteousness. This removes the Christian from actual acts of obedience for purposes of loving God and others, and replaces them with faith only in Christ’s loving acts that replace anything we would do lest it be works salvation. So, when Christ says, “well done faithful servant,” He is not going to be talking about anything that we really did, but what we didn’t do by faith alone.
All in all, this keeps Christians under law and condemnation. They must live in constant fear that they are not “trusting” in the works of Christ well enough for the law to be satisfied; or, in Calvin’s words, resting enough. In this construct, sin is empowered because the law’s ability to condemn is still operational. To the contrary, Christ died to end the law (Rom 10:5) for justification, and we are quickened by the Holy Spirit so that the law might be fulfilled by us in our loving acts towards God and others:
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.
Calvinism keeps Christians under the law of sin and death via its double imputation view of law. By faith alone in the obedience of Christ while in the flesh, the law is actually doing something that Scripture clearly says it can’t do: give life in justification. It doesn’t matter who keeps it; there is not a law that can give life for justification (Gal 3:21).
Listen: Christ came to set us free from the law of sin and death, not to fulfill it for us so that His obedience can replace our loving acts in sanctification. He came to end the law of sin and death, not fulfill it. Our sin is not covered, it is ended. Because it is ended, we are free to serve the law of the Spirit of life without fear of condemnation. We fulfill the law of liberty and are blessed in the doing of it (James 1:25), and are not under the condemnation of the law of sin and death. The fulfillment of that law cannot bring forth life—only condemnation.
In the Calvinist double imputation approach, we continually seek to see our own condemnation in order to achieve a deeper and deeper gratitude for our original salvation. If we do so, the law of sin and death continues to be satisfied by Christ’s obedience to it and we remain justified by the blood. Instead of there being no condemnation in the Christian life, we are exhorted by the Calvinists to seek a deeper and deeper understanding of our condemnation to make the cross bigger (deeper gratitude for our original salvation).
This is a satanic objective dressed up in Christian garb. We are helping the accuser of the brethren by continually seeking to accuse ourselves. Instead of seeking to love through obedience, we are told to partake in “deep repentance,” “repentance from good works,” and “revealing the sin under the sin.” They tell us that the Christian life is a sin onion, and that the gospel is made bigger by continually peeling back the layers of sin.
There is NO sin onion. The law is ended, and there is no onion to peel. Sinning as God’s children and the grieving of the Holy Spirit is another issue that has nothing to do with justification. Well, sort of.
Obviously, Calvinism also seeks to grieve the Holy Spirit through us by empowering sin in our lives because sin is empowered by condemnation. And it also denies the primary reason Christ went to the cross…
…to end the law of sin and death, and to set us free to love Him through obedience to the law of the Spirit of life.
Election is scary stuff. Bottom line: before the foundation of the earth, God decided who will be saved and who will not be saved. This is even a gospel in and of itself known as the “gospel of sovereignty” or the “gospel of sovereign grace.”
Did God save me or not? In the final analysis, the Reformed admit that we can’t know for certain. You cannot put any stock in your choice to believe the gospel, because you have no choice—it’s God’s choice alone. In fact, telling people they can choose violates the gospel of sovereign grace and is deemed a false presentation of the gospel for that reason. We are to merely “show forth” the gospel and wait to see what God does or doesn’t do. We are to never tell anyone that they can do anything to be saved—that includes believing itself. Pastor John MacArthur even advocates telling people that they can only do one thing and one thing only; “ask.” Yep, ASK and hope for the best.
Some cynically ask if this is really “good news.” It could also be asked if this is a “promise” because no one really knows who the promise is to for certain.
Ah, but a Protestant institutional church near you offers a get out of election free card. They have a program initiated by John Calvin known as the “power of the keys.” Whatever an ordained Reformed elder or elders bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever they loose on earth will be loosed in heaven as well. So, if the elders like you, and you are a “member in good standing,” you’re in! Or, at the very least it’s your best shot.
So, “be faithful” to your local institutional church and obey your elders—it probably means that you are in fact one of God’s elect. Calvin categorized three classes of elect: nonelected, called, and those who persevere. The “called” are those who are temporarily illumined and do not remain faithful to the institutional church. Those who persevere remain in good standing till the end.
So sign up and remain faithful my dear friend—membership has its privileges.
Additional Reading: Calvinism’s Get Out of Election Free Card
No, because man is not totally depraved. This is simple theological math. Man is not totally depraved by virtue of how God creates us. Every human being born into the world is born with the works of God written on their hearts. They are also born with a conscience that either excuses them or accuses them of wrongdoing.
Romans 2:14 – For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
Those who have the law, that is, the written word of God plus the works of the law written on their hearts, are under the law’s judgment. This is why religious people will be judged more harshly than the nonreligious—they are responsible for two laws, not just one.
Christ came to die on the cross to end the law’s condemnation for those under it, or those under law, and was resurrected so that the same can find life in the law apart from any condemnation. Under grace means that we are now under the “law of the Spirit of life” (Rom 8:2). What does that mean? It means the Spirit now imparts life to us through the same law that condemned us prior to our salvation (Jn 17:17, Eph 6:1-3). The old us that was under law literally dies with Christ, and is resurrected by the Spirit as a new creature who finds life in the law (see Psalms 119).
Andy Young and I were having this discussion this morning. In the garden, there was only one law: you may eat of any tree in the garden except the one. As long as they obeyed, there was life in that law; when they disobeyed, death came into the world.
But, back to babies. Babies are not totally depraved, and in fact go to heaven because they are not yet under law; where there is no law there is no sin (Rom 5:13). Don’t confuse this with the pre-fall of man where there was only one unbroken law. Babies do NOT have a developed conscience; therefore, they cannot negotiate right and wrong as administered by conscience according to the written law or the law written on their hearts. So, babies are born under law like all people, but are not accountable to it, and therefore NOT condemned by it until they have a developed conscience that can ascertain right from wrong. I believe mentally handicapped people would fall under this category as well.
Where there is no law, there is no sin. So if babies cannot know law, they have no sin. And if they have no sin—they are going to heaven:
Roman 7:7 – What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
Babies have no concept of law. People are accountable to the law when their consciences are developed to the point of knowing right from wrong.
Follow The Protestant Money
Early in the Protestant Reformation the subject of total depravity was a big deal. This also included the total depravity of the saints. Simply stated, the Reformers believed little different than Rome in regard to salvation via church membership. The biggest draw for the Protestant Reformation was no fault salvation through church membership. The Reformers clearly stated that new sins committed by “believers” removed them from grace, and continued forgiveness of sins through the perpetual reappropriation of Christ’s death was needed to keep oneself saved (for example: The Calvin Institutes, 3.14.9-11). This reapplication of Christ’s death was only valid when administered by the institutional church through baptism, the Lord’s Table, and the grace-infusion of preaching by ordained Reformed elders, in today’s Neo-Calvinist vernacular, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” Why? Because we need the same gospel that saved us initially to keep us saved daily because the new sins we commit remove us from grace. This would seem fairly evident.
The Reformers believed that baptism initiated church membership, and as long as the baptized remained in good standing as church members, their baptism retained its saving efficacy (Calvin Inst. 4.15.1ff). Salvation is maintained within the institutional church, so baptism doesn’t save you per se, but is necessary for church membership which keeps you saved through faithful attendance to “gospel preaching” by ordained elders and the Lord’s Table. This ministry has compiled a mass of citations by “New” Calvinists who state this in no uncertain terms.
And this is the crux of the infant baptism debate. Protestants were big on baby baptism because it made the babies church members and therefore guaranteed them salvation as long as they remained faithful to the institutional church as they grow up. This led to the birth of Baptists who became half pregnant Protestants over the baby baptism issue. Unfortunately, this boiled down to when a child was old enough to be a church member which was also synonymous with being saved among the Baptists. This closer approximation to truth created the whole never ending “Do babies go to heaven?” debate.
No, Babies are not totally depraved, and yes, they go to heaven. The Baptists only focused on the baby baptism issue without further investigating what was driving the belief to begin with; i.e., salvation by institution.
This began a long deep-seated tradition by Baptists to focus on symptoms and not causes. This is why Presbyterians and Lutherans are far less confused than Baptists—Baptists are both confused and wrong, while the Protestants and Lutherans are just merely wrong…about the gospel.
“Part and parcel with being made a new creature in Jesus Christ is love for the truth.”
This is something that I don’t write about enough. Loving the truth and upholding the truth can be a rough life. I don’t think about them much, but when I do in a thoughtful way I find myself in tears; those who have lost almost everything over truth. I feel their pain when I read their emails and published articles. We are social creatures and losing all of your friends is not a pleasant experience. It causes us to long for the day when we will gaze upon the personification of truth among enumerable truth lovers.
Today this hits close to home. Someone very dear to me is once again faced with a choice: the comfort of compromise, or standing by the truth at all cost. The Bible has much to say about this. Let me repeat that another way: God has strong opinions about this issue.
2 Corinthians 10:5 – We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
Truth is God’s opinion about what makes the world He created tick, and apparently, those who know more about life than He does are very annoying to Him. Equally annoying to Him is the idea that His truth is ambiguous and not near to all. Listen to what Moses had to say about that:
Deuteronomy 30:11 – “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? ‘ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? ‘ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.
God doesn’t appreciate the implication that His truth is not near to us—that it is ambiguous and difficult to ascertain—that we need orthodoxy from a host of mystic academics. No, and by the way, we can’t blame those who we chose to listen to in the end; the truth is near to all of us—we are responsible for the sum and substance of our own lives.
Part and parcel with being made a new creature in Jesus Christ is love for the truth. The apostle Paul, in his apocalyptic letter to the Thessalonians, warned that those who perish have not “received the love of the truth.” Receiving this love also comes part and parcel with an attitude: read about Daniel’s three friends and the bunch in Hebrews 11.
This attitude might also be influenced by something believers know about God. When God made a covenant with Israel as stipulated in the Book of the Covenant, and they broke it with defiant flare while Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving the “tablets of the testimony,” we observe the following scene when Moses returned:
Exodus 32:25 – And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’” 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. 29 And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.”
Christ said God’s word is truth, and ONLY truth sanctifies (John 17:17). Sanctification is separation from the world, and hence, when separation occurs—it is often difficult to distinguish naive Christians from worldly false confessors. A stand for the truth is seen as fanaticism. Perhaps rock legend Alice Cooper said it best:
Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s real rebellion!
Didn’t plan on doing any writing today as I am trying to tie up family chores in order to start back on writing projects tomorrow. However, I always make the mistake of checking in on FaceBook before I get started with my day. Couldn’t resist but to comment on a post, and thought it would make a decent post here as well.
I read the article over at Desiring God.org, and of course, John Piper is the “elder statesman” of the Neo-Calvinist “resurgence” which has been going on since 1970. The movement has all but totally owned the American church for 10 years, but yet we are in an increasingly, according to the article, “secular” and “post Christianity” gospel misinformed society. Hmmmm, whose fault is that?
Truly, the New Calvinist movement has to be the spiritual version of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.” Trillions of dollars have been poured into the program since the 60’s and at the end of the day, it is an abject failure (see “Detroit”). The New Calvinist movement, since its conception in 1970, has escalated into a multi-billion dollar religious empire with a massive sub-culture of church “campuses” and innumerable information networks. Yet, we see the emergence of a never-before-known phenomenon called “the Nones”: people who have given up on church but not God. Like the liberal media, the New Calvinist evangelical industrial complex bears no responsibility for this and continually claims to be the new kids on the block with all the answers to the woes they have created.
Not only do we have the phenomenon of the Nones, but in 2009 spiritual abuse blogs, primarily focused on the New Calvinists, exploded onto the blogosphere. This movement also created the advent of intercessory organizations like Peacemaker Ministries to keep congregants from suing churches. Ironically, these organizations are supported by local churches, and therefore funded by the laity, just in case they would want to sue the institutional church.
Unfortunately, the institutional Protestant church has NEVER advocated individual evangelism because of its Platonist foundation and subsequent spiritual caste system. It has always been the producers bringing people to the expert, or specially anointed evangelist. I shouldn’t have to say anything more than “Billy Graham” to make the point here.
And, neither is said article advocating Christ’s individual mandate, but rather a “community effort.” And be sure of this, Collectivism is always about “community.”
Mailed 4/13/2013 by certified letter:
I am writing to you openly concerning the fact that you now preach Calvin’s false gospel of progressive justification. As an avid follower of your teachings over the years, and one greatly helped by them in the past, I now implore you to repent of preaching another gospel. I am provoked to write this letter after listening to your general session address at this year’s Shepherds’ Conference.
Sadly, for the most part, the message was a shameless pandering to the Calvinist audience with the same worn-out Neo-Calvinist protocol; e.g., us against evangelicalism, redefinition of the plain sense of Scripture to undermine the interpretive abilities of the laity, etc., etc. Per the usual in these settings, you also insinuated that this movement has a “fresh” take on evangelism and understanding the Scriptures in a “deeper” way.
On the one hand, you expounded on the importance of evangelism and the idea that it is the church’s primary purpose for being here, and then on the other hand propagated the idea via John 3:3 that God is going to do what He is going to do regardless of anything we do. And you also proffered the idea that it is wrong to call unbelievers to do anything in our gospel presentation other than believe, and that was only forthcoming at the very end and stated once.
Primarily presented was the idea that we proclaim the new birth and inform individuals that there is nothing they can do to obtain it. They are simply to “ask” and hope God had decided to save them before creation. In your third party presentation of the question, what can we tell them to do? you are clear: ask only and hope for the best. Shockingly, you also suggested that Reformed elders can “ask” for others as mediators (your personal experience shared about the young man suffering with aids).
Other than the fact that you have harshly criticized Rick Warren for not including repentance in his gospel messages and your hypocrisy is therefore staggering, this idea contradicts a mass of other biblical texts. One of many would be Paul’s description of his ministry that implored people to be reconciled to God. In other instances Paul simply called for repentance. The Calvinist you proudly proclaimed yourself to be in the same message has transformed your prior teachings into confusing messages that raise more questions than are answered.
But these are all symptoms of the basic problem: your false gospel. In one article written by you, the following was stated:
“If sanctification is included in justification, then justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete” (emphasis added).
But yet the fourteenth chapter of Calvin’s Institutes is entitled: “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive?” So, what’s our first clue? Indicative of your Calvinist theology that a child could even dismiss is the simple fact that Paul categorized the lost and the saved in Romans as “under the law” versus “under grace.” Calvin taught that Christians are still under the law. This is plain from his writings in ICR 3.14.9-11 in which he states that Christians cannot please God in sanctification because their works are judged by the law as a continued standard for justification. Calvin makes it clear that no “believer” has ever earned merit with God because their works are judged by the law (first sentence of 3.14.11). In 3.14.10, he even cites James 2:10, a verse that concerns those under the law, to make his case.
As I think you would know, Paul makes it clear in Romans that being under the law is synonymous with being enslaved to sin, unable to keep the law, and destined to a future judgment by law. Under grace is synonymous with having a mind enslaved to the law and free to do righteous acts, and declared righteous apart from the law. But in fact, Calvin’s total depravity also applies to the saints and deems them still enslaved to sin. You often cite Calvin’s concept of total depravity, but when are you going to start being honest and also mention you believe, as Calvin, that it applies to Christians as well?
Calvin stated in no uncertain terms in 3.14.11 that Christ’s “reconciliation with God” is “perpetual” and “not promulgated” in the beginning only. This is because the same forgiveness that saved us needs to be continually applied to our lives according to Calvin:
“For since perfection is altogether unattainable by us [which is not the point because we are under grace and not law], so long as we are clothed with flesh, and the Law denounces death and judgment against all who have not yielded a perfect righteousness, there will always be ground to accuse and convict us unless the mercy of God interpose, and ever and anon absolve us by the constant remission of sins” (3.14.10).
Hence, there is not one complete “washing,” but according to Calvin, a perpetual washing is needed (see JN 13 and 1COR 6:11).
This doctrine always dies a social death and needs to be resurrected again after carnage from the previous “Resurgence” is forgotten. The present movement was resurrected by Robert Brinsmead in 1970. Coming forth from its sectarian womb, it has divided countless families and churches. The seminary you are president of pumps out hundreds of sectarian Calvinists on a yearly basis. One of your graduates split a church two blocks from where we live.
This is your shameful legacy unless you repent.
Paul M. Dohse
Great pizza party last night with an author who is writing a sci-fi novel. As I sat and listened to him share his shocking plot designed to invoke terror in his future readers, my recent research for “Reformation Myth” made the chilling plot seem mundane in comparison to sexy witches being hung, burned, and impaled with images of Mary fitted with large spikes.
On the one hand, the Reformers were supposedly brilliant for recognizing Plato’s theory that pure truth and beauty is immutable, while on the other hand, their brutality was merely the “mentality of the age.” It is also understandable why Reformed folks are so big on, “all truth is God’s truth” because the Catholic church had a lot of ideas that the Reformers thought were pretty cool; specifically, that because of Eve, women in general are predisposed to evil, or Eveil.
Between sips of mocha that could barely be executed because of my fixated attachment to the narrative, the little angel on my right shoulder kept saying, “Excuse me, this is history, and it really happened.”
Indeed it did happen, and the war declared on witches by the Catholic Church and the Reformers resulted in casualties that surpass many, many wars waged throughout history. And, to say the least, the due process of law that determined who was a witch was, well, shall we say, a little lean. Since it was thought that 90% of all witches were women, if you were a woman, and dragged into court, your gender was a bad start to the process. In at least one case, a particularly pious woman didn’t even take her arrest seriously and was sarcastic towards her accusers—who later executed her. I guess there is only one thing worse than a witch—a sarcastic woman. Then, there was this also:
The climate of fear created by churchmen of the Reformation led to countless deaths of accused witches quite independently of inquisitional courts or procedure. For example, in England where there were no inquisitional courts and where witch-hunting offered little or no financial reward, many women were killed for witchcraft by mobs. Instead of following any judicial procedure, these mobs used methods to ascertain guilt of witchcraft such as “swimming a witch,” where a woman would be bound and thrown into water to see if she floated. The water, as the medium of baptism, would either reject her and prove her guilty of witchcraft, or the woman would sink and be proven innocent, albeit also dead from drowning (Helen Ellerbe: The Dark Side of Christian History,Chapter Eight: 1450 – 1750 C.E.).
It all started with the Catholics first, and the Reformers later joined the campaign that supplemented the inquisition:
Pope John XXII formalized the persecution of witchcraft in 1320 when he authorized the Inquisition to prosecute sorcery. .” Thereafter papal bulls and declarations grew increasingly vehement in their condemnation of witchcraft and of all those who “made a pact with hell.” In 1484 Pope Innocent VIII issued the bull Summis desiderantes authorizing two inquisitors, Kramer and Sprenger, to systematize the persecution of witches. Two years later their manual, Malleus Maleficarum, was published with 14 editions following between 1487-1520 and at least 16 editions between 1574-1669. A papal bull in 1488 called upon the nations of Europe to rescue the Church of Christ which was “imperiled by the arts of Satan.” The papacy and the Inquisition had successfully transformed the witch from a phenomenon whose existence the Church had previously rigorously denied into a phenomenon that was deemed very real, very frightening, the antithesis of Christianity, and absolutely deserving of persecution.
It was now heresy not to believe in the existence of witches. As the authors of the Malleus Maleficarum noted, “A belief that there are such things as witches is so essential a part of Catholic faith that obstinately to maintain the opposite opinion savors of heresy.” Passages in the Bible such as “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” were cited to justify the persecution of witches (Ibid.).
The following gives us an idea as to the extent that this was going on:
Contemporary accounts hint at the extent of the holocaust. Barbara Walker writes that “the chronicler of Treves reported that in the year 1586, the entire female population of two villages was wiped out by the inquisitors, except for only two women left alive.” Around 1600 a man wrote:
Germany is almost entirely occupied with building fires for the witches… Switzerland has been compelled to wipe out many of her villages on their account. Travelers in Lorraine may see thousands and thousands of the stakes to which witches are bound (Ibid.).
The general mentality of the Eveil motif was part and parcel with the war on witches:
The witch hunts were an eruption of orthodox Christianity’s vilification of women, “the weaker vessel,” in St. Peter’s words. The second century St. Clement of Alexandria wrote: “Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman.” The Church father Tertullian explained why women deserve their status as despised and inferior human beings:
“And do you not know that you are an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert that is, death even the Son of God had to die.”
Others expressed the view more bluntly. The sixth century Christian philosopher, Boethius, wrote in The Consolation of Philosophy, “Woman is a temple built upon a sewer.” Bishops at the sixth century Council of Macon voted as to whether or not women had souls. In the tenth century Odo of Cluny declared, “To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure…” The thirteenth century St. Thomas Aquinas suggested that God had made a mistake in creating woman: “nothing [deficient] or defective should have been produced in the first establishment of things; so woman ought not to have been produced then.” And Lutherans at Wittenberg debated whether women were really human beings at all. Orthodox Christians held women responsible for all sin. As the Bible’s Apocrypha states, “Of woman came the beginning of sin/ And thanks to her, we all must die”(Ibid.).
And the Reformers were completely onboard with the Eveil rage of that Day:
St. Augustine of Hippo (354 to 430 CE). He wrote to a friend:
“What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman……I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children.”
Martin Luther (1483 to 1546):
“If they [women] become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that’s why they are there.”
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 to 1274 CE):
“As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.”
But the Reformers did way more than stand on the sidelines and cheer. When doing a pdf document search on Witch Hunts In Europe And America, An Encyclopedia by William Burns, “Calvin” got 32 hits including the following:
There are about five hundred recorded witch trials in the 150 years after Calvin’s arrival in Geneva. Given the high rate of survival of Genevan records, this probably represents the majority of cases that occurred. The witch-hunt in Geneva peaked relatively early, in the 1560s and early 1570s. The records show that, outside the witch-hunt of 1571, Geneva had one of the lowest rates of execution in Europe, about 20%. Geneva magistrates seem to have used banishment as an alternative to execution in cases where the guilt or innocence of the subject was in doubt, rather than following the practice of other areas which simply tortured until a confession was obtained. The relatively mild torture practiced by the Genevans kept individual witch cases from developing into large hunts, and in some cases the magistrates were uninterested in following up accusations even when an accused witch named others…
The comparatively small kingdom of Scotland, whose legal system blended English and Continental elements, had from the mid-sixteenth century on a zealous Calvinist clergy intent on creating a godly society. It executed the most witches of any British region. The other British area of high witch-hunting activity was the legally anomalous Channel islands….
William Perkins was Elizabethan England’s leading Calvinist theologian, and his posthumously published A Discourse on the Damned Art of Witchcraft (1608) had an unrivalled influence on subsequent Puritan demonologists in old and New England. Perkins’s approach was intellectually austere. He shunned reference to previous demonologists or actual cases of witchcraft, and based his argument almost entirely on the Bible, particularly Exodus 22.18, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Perkins saw the essential nature of witchcraft as the making of the satanic pact, or “covenant,” which inverted the covenant relation between God and his elect that was basic to Puritan Calvinist theology. So closely does Perkins relate the witch’s contact with the Devil to the good Christian’s contact with God that he claims that to deny the possibility of physical contact with devils would be to deny the possibility of covenant with God. Perkins describes the making of the covenant as a simple agreement, without the necessity for the witch to sign in blood or kiss or have sex with the Devil. Other central aspects to the witch stereotype as the sabbat or the Devil’s mark he also ignored. Even maleficia played a minor role. Perkins’s principal target was not the maleficent witch, but the “good witch,” whom he described over and over as even more worthy of death than the evil witch. Perkins believed that all power to perform “magic” could only come from Satan.
William Perkins was the elder statesman of the very same Calvinist Puritans that boarded the Mayflower and landed on Plymouth Rock. John Robinson, their pastor and follower of Perkins, gave an impassioned speech to them before they boarded the ship. The Pilgrims, who were really political refugees, set up a Geneva style Calvinistic theocracy known as the American Colonies and was the spawning grounds for colonial Calvinism.
Go figure, not long after, in Salem Town and Salem Village, the infamous Salem witch trials occurred. The Puritan Cotton Mather was heavily involved and attended the execution of Salem Town’s pastor, George Burroughs, who was accused of aiding and abetting a covenant of witches. An actual account of the sad proceedings follow:
George Burroughs was executed on Witches Hill, Salem, on the 19th of August, the only minister who suffered this extreme fate.
Though the jury found no witches’ marks on his body he was convicted of witchcraft and conspiracy with the Devil. While standing on a ladder before the crowd, waiting to be hanged, he successfully recited the Lord’s Prayer, something that was generally considered by the Court of Oyer and Terminer to be impossible for a witch to do. After he was hung, Cotton Mather, a minister from Boston, reminded the crowd from atop his horse that Burroughs had been convicted in a court of law, and spoke convincingly enough that four more were executed after Burroughs. Below is the original account as first compiled and published in 1700 by Robert Calef in More Wonders of The Invisible World pages 103-104, and later reprinted or relied upon by others including Charles Wentworth Upham and George Lincoln Burr,
Mr. Burroughs was carried in a Cart with others, through the streets of Salem, to Execution. When he was upon the Ladder, he made a speech for the clearing of his Innocency, with such Solemn and Serious Expressions as were to the Admiration of all present; his Prayer (which he concluded by repeating the Lord’s Prayer) was so well worded, and uttered with such composedness as such fervency of spirit, as was very Affecting, and drew Tears from many, so that if seemed to some that the spectators would hinder the execution. The accusers said the black Man [Devil] stood and dictated to him. As soon as he was turned off [hung], Mr. Cotton Mather, being mounted upon a Horse, addressed himself to the People, partly to declare that he [Mr. Burroughs] was no ordained Minister, partly to possess the People of his guilt, saying that the devil often had been transformed into the Angel of Light. And this did somewhat appease the People, and the Executions went on; when he [Mr. Burroughs] was cut down, he was dragged by a Halter to a Hole, or Grave, between the Rocks, about two feet deep; his Shirt and Breeches being pulled off, and an old pair of Trousers of one Executed put on his lower parts: he was so put in, together with Willard and Carrier, that one of his Hands, and his Chin, and a Foot of one of them, was left uncovered.
Now, in our day, and unbelievably, the proud children of this Calvinist legacy pronounce themselves the experts on “biblical manhood and womanhood.” Specifically, an organization was formed in 1987 called “The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” It is funded, organized, maintained, and directed by the who’s who of the American Neo-Calvinist movement including, Ligon Duncan, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and Al Mohler. They formed a statement/declaration on this subject that was so well attended by their forefathers called the “Danvers Statement.” It is called the Danvers Statement because their declaration was finalized in—get this— Danvers, Massachusetts.
So, what’s relevant about that? Well, Danvers is the modern day location of Salem Town, the location of the Salem witch trials. In fact, these guys made it a point to have the meetings there that finalized the document. Ok, I mean, really, if you are a bunch neo-Nazis who want to start a forum on Judaism, would you make it a point to finalize your declaration at Auschwitz?
Furthermore, the Reformers didn’t get up one morning and decide to start burning witches—it all began with their Eveil doctrine. And the proponents of this movement not only swear by the theological genius of Calvin, but what they teach about the fall and Eve’s participation is word for word. Also, in regard to what is actually going on as far as treatment of women, all that is missing is the gallows. Whether it be women locked in basements as punishment, being spanked by their husbands, deprived of education, or their children being held hostage through manipulation of relatives by church elders—it is at least Witch Hunt Light.
Have I read the Danvers Statement? No, why would I? Christ said that false teachers are known by their fruit. The root of the fruit is the doctrine. Good trees don’t bear bad fruit, and Reformed leaders are little more than Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin in priestly garb.
You can’t separate the gospel of the Reformation from New Calvinism, and you can’t separate that gospel from its practice. Part and parcel with the Reformation gospel is the insistence that church and state be united for the purpose of purifying “the realm.” The church is over the spiritual and the sacraments, and the civil magistrate should enforce the edicts of the church. The civil authorities may have oversight of practical matters, but to not enforce the edicts of the church in spiritual matters is to override God’s “power of the keys.” Ultimately, the state is the servant of the church. Be sure of this: the present-day New Calvinist movement sees America as a rogue government unwilling to submit to the power of the keys. They will gravitate towards any party willing to get in bed with the church as opposed to a government that is contra principles of persecution. The Reformation was predicated on principles of persecution.
What we need to understand in situations like the SGM class action lawsuit is that Mahaney et al think they are being subjected to authority that God has not approved. They will improvise as much as possible in creating a persecuting sub-culture while working to bring America into the beginnings of a church/state government, and any kind of ugliness thereof would be better than what we have now. Also, the outright rejection of an idea that the New Calvinist tsunami is a segue to remarriage with Rome and the prophesied coming super church/state empire of the antichrist is a naïve out of hand dismissal.
The persecuting principles of the Reformers were its first cries coming forth from the womb; specifically, in Scotland where the Reformation first found formidable life. This series of posts are based on William Marshall’s The Principles of the Westminster Standards Persecuting (William Marshall, D.D., Coupar – Angus. Edinburgh: William Oliphant & Co. 1873).
The book’s inside cover quotes contemporaries of the Reformation to frame the thesis of the book:
Persecution is the deadly sin of the Reformed churches, that which cools every honest man’s zeal for their cause, in proportion as his reading becomes more extensive—Hallam.
In regard to this thesis, every holocaust has had its cowardly bystanders wearing the uniform of the prosecutors while raising a safe objection. The following statement by John Owen exemplifies such:
I know the usual pretenses for persecution. “Such a thing is blasphemy,” but search the Scriptures, look at the definitions of divines, and you will find heresy, in what head of religion soever be, and blasphemy very different. “To spread such errors will be destructive to souls.” So are many things which yet are not punishable with death. Let him who thinks so go kill Pagans and Mahometans. “Such a heresy is a canker,” but is a spiritual one, let it be prevented by spiritual means; cutting off men’s heads is no proper remedy for it. If state physicians think otherwise, I say no more, but I am not of that college—Owen.
So, I disagree, but if the state agrees with the church, well, then I have to bow to their authority, but I disagree. And such will be the commentary of some New Calvinists if they ever obtain force from the state which apparently makes the sin sanctified—the fact that there are some goodhearted souls within the movement. Good men should keep their peace while heads roll because to label the movement as tyranny would be a “generalization.” The ideology is not to blame, only the men who don’t see things exactly the way we see them. The persecuted should also understand this and shrug their shoulders in agreement while gladly placing the noose around their own neck voluntarily.
In regard to the Scottish Reformers, Marshall stated the following:
The Protestant Reformers in leaving Rome did not leave all Romanism behind them. In particular, they brought with them the prosecuting principles of Rome, and worked them freely and vigorously in support of the Reformed faith. They changed the Pope but not the popedom,
Rightfully and nobly did the Protestant Reformers claim religious liberty for themselves; but they resolutely refused to concede it to others.
John Knox, the vaunted Scottish Reformer, though primarily concerned with Catholicism, made it clear that no aberration of Reformed doctrine should be tolerated by the state. According to Marshall:
Knox, the father of the Scottish Reformation, and the presiding genius of it, brought with him to his native country the Geneva theocracy; and it was copied as closely as the differences between the Swiss republic and the Scottish monarchy would permit….Such was the Church and State system of the Scottish Reformers in those days; and hence the melancholy selections from their history which I have now to offer.
The first Parliament, in which the Reformers became ascendant, was held in 1560. It adopted a Protestant Confession; a “summary of tenets constituting the essence of the Reformed religion;” one of the “tenets” being the theocratic one, “that to kings and rulers it belongs to reform and purify religion.”
Marshall continued to state that the same Confession prohibited the practice of Catholicism or any other aberration of the Reformed gospel, and such violations would entail confiscation of goods for the first offence, “suffering” and “banishment” for the second, and “death” for the third violation. Marshall then concludes:
Thus the very first legislation of the Scottish Reformers was deeply tainted with persecution.
The same year  the First Book of Discipline was framed by a Committee of the Kirk, of which John Knox was a leading member….”Seeing that Christ Jesus is He whom God the Father hath commanded onely to be heard and followed of His sheepe, we judge it necessary that His gospell be truly and openly preached in every church and assembly of this realme; and that all doctrine repugnant to the same be utterly repressed, as damnable to men’s salvation….that the obstinate maintainers and teachers of such abominations ought not to escape the punishment of the civill magistrate….We dare not prescribe unto you what penalties shall be required of such, but this we fear not to affirm, that the one and the other deserve death.”
Apart from this committee, according to Marshall, Knox stated the following in a public sermon:
None provoking the people to idolatry ought to be exempted from the punishment of death.
I will conclude this first part with Marshall’s assessment of how the Scottish Reformers took control of the Scottish press:
Our early Reformers claimed like control over the press. “Immediately after the Reformation, the General Assembly took particular notice of the four printing presses then in Scotland, and they were careful that nothing should be published, at least by ministers, till it was communicated to the brethren, and revised by persons appointed by them.”
Marshall’s book is widely available and cites extensive sources. It should have its own place on every Christian’s bookshelf. In part two, we will look at Marshall’s assessment of persecuting principles found in the Westminster Confession.
“Church” is a word that should be associated with institution and NOT body. Much will be said in this book about the need for a body to be organized, but much will also be said about authority and attempts to invoke life from a so-called body via a spiritual caste system. Though many will find the title of this chapter shocking and absurd, the institutional church’s war against the Holy Spirit is well-defined. If Christ’s called out assembly is a body of Spirit indwelled members, and it is, that could pose significant problems for a top-down institutional authority, and it does.
We will begin where chapter three ended with the rise of the Catholic institutional church that waged all-out war on home fellowships through academic intimidation. Finally, after a nearly 300 year effort, the church at Rome married with the state in order to enforce its orthodoxy upon the masses. Constantine The Great (AD 272-AD 337), the first Roman emperor converted to “Christianity,” consummated the marriage and his rule began the epoch of force and faith in Western culture.
Constantine was the consummate double-minded man, and like the bishops of Rome, integrated paganism with Christianity. What Victor could only verbalize at the first church counsel in AD 193, Constantine made law in the first ecumenical church council (First Council of Nicaea AD 325); that is, the recognition of Passover versus Easter. The reason this is key follows:
“This marked a definite break of Christianity from the Judaic tradition. From then on the Roman Julian Calendar, a solar calendar, was given precedence over the lunar Hebrew Calendar among the Christian churches of the Roman Empire” (Wikipedia: Constantine The Great…citing, Life of Constantine Vol. III Ch. XVIII by Eusebius).
The adoption of “church” nomenclature, as we shall see, was also very deliberate in marking that departure, but for purposes of this book, we would be errant to focus primarily on anti-Semitism; a major problem was the Jewish focus on body versus institution. Like all nations – and of course the Jews were and are a nation – institutions are relevant and needed, but religiously, the Jews always functioned as a body with heavy focus on the individual. A person is normally concerned with their own body parts in equal measure. If Christians are members (as in body parts) of one body, and they are, there should be equal concern and care for each member. This is much different than institutional membership. What the world needs are more functioning body members versus church member-ship. The teachings of Jesus, as well as Jewish traditions, are saturated with a focus on the individual life. When we think of Jewish worship, our minds, unfortunately, gravitate towards the formality of temple worship, but the temple was only a focal point of a broader interpersonal sharing of the faith.
The best example of this is the tabernacle during the exodus. Obviously, the small dwelling was not a central meeting place for millions of Jews who were part of the exodus. Even then, there were elders who led small groups among the people in the learning of the word, prayer, and fellowship. Seventy of these elders were summoned to meet with God on Mt. Sinai with Moses (Exodus 24:1,9). As we know, the temple was not always available for the Jews, and was never the central place of fellowship around the learning of the word, or discipleship, but rather a place of ritual sacrifice. Historically, that was always the norm. Even when the temple existed, the Passover meal was experienced in private homes (Matthew 26:14,15). This is also indicative of the 1st century home fellowships that met together for discipleship and mutual edification. There was fellowship around a meal, a teaching and sharing from the word of God, and singing of hymns.
There are many reasons for anti-Semitism, but one of Judaism’s foremost threats is against spiritual caste systems that have always dominated world history. Judaism emphasizes the authority of God’s word, and the ability of the individual to understand it:
Deuteronomy 29:29 – “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 30:11 – “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
Herein is a major distinction between individualism and collectivism. In collectivism, there is in fact an hierarchy that must “ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it… go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it.” The word, or truth, is not near to the individual, it must be brought to bear by others who are “specially gifted” to understand. Historians believe there were about 400 synagogues in Jerusalem alone during the ministry of Christ. These were mostly small groups meeting in private homes. These groups were focused primarily on the reading and study of God’s word.
This is where we begin to examine four ways in which the institutional church of Rome began to wage war on the Holy Spirit. Primarily, the newly appointed religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine sought to remove the private interpretation of the Bible from the common people. Let us remember, the word is the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6:17) and what the Spirit uses to sanctify (John 17:17).
At that time, New Testament Scriptures were a far less problem than Old Testament Scriptures which were painstakingly preserved and canonized by the Jews. The Old Testament Hebrew had also been translated into Greek (the Septuagint) circa 250 BC. Greek and Latin were the most common languages during the Roman era, but Latin was the language of bureaucracy, law, and the military.
This is when two primary theologians of the Roman church emerge and seek to demonize the people of God making a strong distinction between the Jews and Christianity. Remember, one of the primary objectives of the Holy Spirit was to make Jew and Gentile ONE body in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:11-22). This is/was one of the primary objectives of the Holy Spirt. The church’s two foundational theologians in its 4th century infancy were St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Jerome. Both were Saints and Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. And…
“Church Fathers like St John Chrysostom, St Ambrose, St Jerome and St Augustine (second only to St Paul as a Christian authority for the Western world) had by the end of the fourth century AD crysallised a demonic image of the Jew who combined superhuman malevolence with total spiritual blindness…The monkish, ascetic St Jerome, embittered by the spectacle of successful missionizing in Antioch by the large Jewish population, denounced the synagogue in theses terms: ‘If you call it a brothel, a den of vice, the Devil’s refuge, Satan’s fortress, a place to deprave the soul…you are still saying less than it deserves’” (Robert S. Wistrich: Anti-Semitism|The Longest Hatred; Pantheon Books 1992, p. 17 ).
“This theology is for the first time institutionalized in the fourth century AD, when Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire” (Ibid p. 19).
To divide Jews from the body is an audacious throwing down of the gauntlet against the Holy Spirit. But Jerome and company were far from going to war with the Holy Spirit on that front alone. Jerome set out to translate the Bible in the bureaucratic language of the empire and make it inaccessible to the laity and common people via the Latin Vulgate. Eventually, Rome made it against the law to translate the Bible or even teach from it unless accredited by the Church upon pain of death. This was Rome’s mandate for about 1000 years:
Decree of the Council of Toulouse (1229 C.E.): “We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.”
Ruling of the Council of Tarragona of 1234 C.E.: “No one may possess the books of the Old and New Testaments in the Romance language, and if anyone possesses them he must turn them over to the local bishop within eight days after promulgation of this decree, so that they may be burned…”
Proclamations at the Ecumenical Council of Constance in 1415 C.E.: Oxford professor, and theologian John Wycliffe, was the first (1380 C.E.) to translate the New Testament into English to “…helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence.” For this “heresy” Wycliffe was posthumously condemned by Arundel, the archbishop of Canterbury. By the Council’s decree “Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed and publicly burned and the ashes were thrown into the Swift River.”
Fate of William Tyndale in 1536 C.E.: William Tyndale was burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English. According to Tyndale, the Church forbid owning or reading the Bible to control and restrict the teachings and to enhance their own power and importance.
~ Source: Huffington Post .com: Why Christians Were Denied Access to Their Bible for 1,000 Years; Bernard Starr, Ph.D. 5/20/2013.
The Church also took it upon themselves to establish the formal canon of the New Testament which was only in the form of letters written by the apostles and others. There were many copies of these letters circulated among the laity and commonly accepted as Scripture:
2 Peter 3:15 – And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
Colossians 4:15 – Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”
1Corinthians 14:37 – If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
Therefore, the idea that there was no agreed upon collective Scripture for New Testament era believers is unfounded, and the body of Christ hardly needed Gnostic academics to tell them what was inspired and not inspired. Nevertheless…
The Council of Nicaea called by the Emperor Constantine met in 325 C.E. to establish a unified Catholic Church. At that point no universally sanctioned Scriptures or Christian Bible existed. Various churches and officials adopted different texts and gospels. That’s why the Council of Hippo sanctioned 27 books for the New Testament in 393 C.E. Four years later the Council of Cartage confirmed the same 27 books as the authoritative Scriptures of the Church.
~ Source: Huffington Post .com: Why Christians Were Denied Access to Their Bible for 1,000 Years; Bernard Starr, Ph.D. 5/20/2013.
In 382, Pope Damascus therefore commissioned Jerome (c. 347-420) to translate the Bible into Latin, a task which took him twenty years to complete. This Bible came to be known as the versio vulgata (common translation) and became standard for the Western Church.
~ Source: gbgm-umc.org: Three Early Biblical Translations.
Attempting to obstruct the Spirit’s work in baptizing the Jews and Gentiles into one body, and confiscating the sword of the Spirit from the laity was manifested in a third way. In translating the Bible into English from the Septuagint (LXX), and for the most part not the original Hebrew, the English translators substituted the word “assembly” for “church.” The Greek word for assembly is “ekklesia” as translated from the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal, or edah.
This is a very significant fact in the transition period that produced another version of the institutional Catholic Church, Protestantism. These are merely two sides of the same institutional church that waged the exact same war against the Holy Spirit and continues to do so in our day. As aforementioned, it was against the law to translate the Scriptures without the permission of the Catholic Church, but this happened anyway because of the “Lollard movement, a pre-Reformation movement that rejected many of the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church” (closed quotation from Wikipedia).
In the early Middle Ages, most Western Christian people encountered the Bible only in the form of oral versions of scriptures, verses and homilies in Latin (other sources were mystery plays, usually conducted in the vernacular, and popular iconography). Though relatively few people could read at this time, Wycliffe’s idea was to translate the Bible into the vernacular, saying “it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence”.
~ Source: En Wikipedia .org: Wycliffe’s Bible.
Although unauthorized, the work was popular. Wycliffite Bible texts are the most common manuscript literature in Middle English. More than 250 manuscripts of the Wycliffite Bible survive.
The association between Wycliffe’s Bible and Lollardy caused the kingdom of England and the established Catholic Church in England to undertake a drastic campaign to suppress it.
~ Source: Ibid.
However, by no means did the Protestant Reformation abandon the core fundamentals of the institutional Church’s war against the Holy Spirit which was a devotion to the separation of Judaism from the body of Christ, and academic authority in regard to private interpretation of the Scriptures. Though the Protestants presented themselves as commendable for the distribution of Bible translations to the common people, they never believed the laity could interpret it for themselves, nor did they ever state such. To the contrary,
“The Protestant Reformers in leaving Rome did not leave all Romanism behind them. In particular, they brought with them the prosecuting principles of Rome, and worked them freely and vigorously in support of the Reformed faith. They changed the Pope but not the popedom… Persecution is the deadly sin of the Reformed churches, that which cools every honest man’s zeal for their cause, in proportion as his reading becomes more extensive—Hallam… Rightfully and nobly did the Protestant Reformers claim religious liberty for themselves; but they resolutely refused to concede it to others” (William Marshall’s The Principles of the Westminster Standards Persecuting (William Marshall, D.D., Coupar – Angus. Edinburgh: William Oliphant & Co. 1873).
The English translators did something in the English translation of the Bible that Rome did not even do in the Latin Vulgate. They translated “assembly” as “church” which had no validity whatsoever. The Greek word for assembly and the Greek word for church are two entirely different Greek words with completely different meanings. The Hebrew words for assembly and the Greek word for assembly allowed for a connection between the Judaism of the Old Testament and the Christianity of the New. The word “church” puts forth the idea of a completely different program and plan of some sort. In the like institutional core fundamentals, the Catholics kept the Bible from the laity, while the Protestants skinned the cat a different way by taking liberty with translation. Tyndale was much more virtuous on this wise, translating assembly as “congregation,” but unfortunately was executed by the Catholics for the effort.
We will make this point here, but will revisit this issue in a later chapter because the rendering of “assembly,” “synagogue,” and “church” in Protestant translations of the Bible present an egregious distorted dichotomy in regard to the Jewishness of God’s overall plan for the ages. It is best to delve into this while discussing the fact that the 1st century home fellowships were merely a continuation of the Jewish synagogue, and that word seems to suggest some sort of institution, or temple-like mini-institution.
To the contrary, some sort of substructure or mini temple version would have been a blasphemous notion to the Jews. Furthermore, for the most part historically, the Jews have had little choice to do anything other than worship in the privacy of their own homes. Moreover, synagogues were of the laity and far removed from any priestly authority whatsoever. The intended model for Christian fellowship and assembly has never changed since the exodus and before. It is a body and ground-level family unhindered by the musings of bureaucratic control. It is not a machine controlled by men, it is a body that lives and grows.
The Protestants never sought to separate from the Catholic Church and indeed they did not. It was a protest, not a revolution by any stretch of the imagination. Institutional accreditation was vital to the Protestants, and critical to their credibility. This means they NEVER left the Catholic Church. Protestants retained solidarity with the Doctors of the Catholic Church for this reason, particularly St. Augustine. The most prominent fathers of the Reformation, Luther and Calvin, were avowed Augustinians till the day they died. No citations will be noted here due to the immense common knowledge of it. Contemporary Reformers constantly strive to outdo each other in quoting Augustine at every opportunity, but God’s people are completely unmiffed by the exaltation of this serial anti-Semite Platonist. Why? Because what happens under the roof of an institutional church is mostly inconsequential; it is the depot that punches your ticket to heaven.
There are four primary ways that the institutional church wages war against the Holy Spirit, and this is a joint effort that includes Catholic and Protestant alike. We have examined three of them, but the fourth is what separates the Catholic from the Protestant. This war is not as absurd as it sounds, for the permanent indwelling of the Spirit suggests ability on the part of the individual. Both sides endorse the incompetence of the individual and need for enlightened mediators between the great unwashed masses and God; in other words, an efficacious caste system.
This fourth war strategy involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the new birth. The Catholic Church acknowledges the indwelling of the Spirit and the new birth, but insists that this only enables the salvation candidate to cooperate in the finishing of the salvation process; primarily by faithfulness to the Mother Church. As we discussed in the first two chapters, Rome is not shy or ambiguous about this idea. Yes, Catholicism and Protestantism alike hold to an unfinished progressive justification. Again, this was addressed in some detail in chapters one and two.
Protestants deny the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the new birth all together. Let’s think about this: if the Holy Spirit permanently indwells the believer, salvation MUST be FINISHED, there is simply no way around that. A permanent indwelling of the Spirit makes a progressive salvation dependent on the church completely unnecessary.
So, what are the specific differences in this fourth aberration of the Spirit’s work, and what are the specific differences in their progressive justification constructs? In addition, how does authentic Protestantism explain away the new birth, and how is the new birth redefined by them?
In the next chapter, these questions are answered in detail.
9. Collectivism defines the worth of an individual by their ability to contribute to the common good. That adds up to the “collective good” which determines the overall wellbeing of a society.
10. Talmud: Bavli Ketubot 100a; there were 394 synagogues in Jerusalem. Yerushalmi (Ketubot 8:1); there were 460 synagogues in Jerusalem. Yerushalmi (Megillah 3:1); in Jerusalem, there were 480 synagogues.
Calvinists often intimidate us with oceans of ink left behind by the brilliant, spiritual, educated children spawned by John Calvin: the Puritans. Calvinists like John Piper display their spiritual swagger by quoting the Puritans and making everyone aware that they read them daily. Of course, this plays on the utter ignorance of present-day Christians. Their authority is no longer the really thick pamphlet dropped down from heaven called the Bible—its orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is an analysis of God’s mass publication to people indwelt by His illumining Spirit by the church’s “Divines” of whom many were Puritans. They repackaged God’s word for consumption for the unenlightened masses.
So, when these brainiacs took the urine of accused witches and made cakes from it, and then fed the cakes to dogs in order to watch their reaction for a verdict, we need to understand that what the Divines do at times is the “foolishness of the cross.” We wouldn’t understand. This is activity that is on another spiritual plane; so, recite Luther’s Small Catechism and keep your mouth shut. The Small Catechism is one of Voddie Baucham’s recommendations for use in family devotions. He is really big on husbands being the “family shepherd” and leading the family Bible studies with….orthodox creeds, not anything that would come from their own brains.
Much could be discussed in regard to the lovely traditions that the Puritans brought with them when they were driven out of Europe as political refugees. But let’s talk about urine. Actually, urine tasting was the state of the art research born of European theocracies during Medieval times. How the urine of the subject tasted was used to determine what ailed them. Several examples of medical charts are displayed below for your educational enjoyment. Click to enlarge them, but if you are a Calvinist, don’t try this at home—it’s not orthodoxy!
“But Paul, didn’t the Puritans have a lot of awesome things to say about God? Isn’t there much to be learned from them?” No, not in the long run because of their flawed logic. Notice that they aren’t around anymore. Why not? Because Puritanism cannot function without theocracy. Their logic led to the persecution of the Quakers via hanging etc., and when society had enough, an end was forced in regard to their theocracy. No theocracy—no Puritanism. And frankly, the same goes for authentic Calvinism. Calvinism exists today because their logic had to be adjusted for survival. Here at TANC, we call them “sanctified Calvinists.” Yes, they have done the church some good because they don’t share the same logic.
I really wonder if this latest resurgence of authentic Calvinism will put an end to it because of the Information Age that we are in. Nobody calls themself a “Puritan” in our day. Will the day come when few will call themselves a Calvinist? Authentic Calvinism doesn’t work, and people will only use a clock that doesn’t work for so long; the fact that it is useful twice a day does not end up being enough. Once again, the same old superstitions of authentic Calvinism are showing themselves in the contemporary church. The basis is the idea of spiritual caste: the idea that preordained enlightened mediators should rule over the unenlightened masses. Theocracy comes part and parcel with that logic.
“But Paul, Neo-Calvinism is thriving right now in America and America doesn’t allow theocracies.” Oh really? Many New Calvinist “ministries” in our day are nothing less than Little Geneva. They have their own in-house police stations, and control parishioners by almost every means of the past save the death penalty alone. This ministry is compiling a list of various means that these ministries are using to control people through first-hand testimony. Other than the intimidation of armed in-house security forces, they are using “biblical counseling” to compile information on people that can be used to control them. That angle can be seen in living color via the public transcript of CJ Mahaney telling the cofounder of SGM that confidential counseling records would be made public if he left SGM for doctrinal reasons. Let there be no doubt: this is standard protocol in New Calvinist churches. And if they don’t have the dirt on you, they will fabricate it. That’s just fact.
Getting back to superstition—that is also the inevitable result of caste logic. Many blogs document the weirdness in this movement that gets crazier each month. And dismissal of comparisons due to medieval ignorance doesn’t cut it. Sure, urine isn’t used in counseling today (at least not yet), but instead we have rapists counseling their own victims in the church office!
It’s the logic. And in the Information Age, what happens in Salem doesn’t stay in Salem.
Thanksgiving Day: Democrats, Pilgrims, Islam, and Republicans, the Gospel of Freedom, and Why That Gospel is Important to Every Soul
Thanksgiving Day is upon us, and of course, this is the day we remember those brave Pilgrims who came to America for religious freedom. And of course, there were struggles in the new land and the Pilgrims got some advice from the Indians on how to plant corn and such. So, at harvest time, the good Pilgrims invited the Indians for a feast of “thanksgiving.” Hence, Thanksgiving is adorned with images of Pilgrims, Indians, and tables of food with a big fat turkey as the centerpiece.
In all of history, no propaganda proffered by the worst of despots could hold a candle to this story. In historical context, who were the Pilgrims, and what should Americans really be thankful for?
The idea that the Pilgrims came here for religious freedom is not exactly true and should incite a qualifying question: “What kind of religious freedom”?
First, let’s start with the right mental framework: “Pilgrim” is a soft term for, “Puritan.” The Pilgrims were European Puritans. They came from Europe. This is a short post, so let me compare Puritanism to something you may be more familiar with: Islam. Puritanism WAS predicated on the same basics of Islam; namely, a spiritual elite must rule over the unenlightened masses for their own good and the overall good of humanity. Secondly, the spiritual status of all people is predetermined; you are of the gnosis class, or you aren’t. Mobility between these classes is/was strictly forbidden. I emphasize “was” in regard to the Puritans and “is” in regard to Islam because the Puritans no longer exist.
Why do the Puritans no longer exist? You can thank Benjamin Franklin and company for that and add it to your list of things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day. The “religious freedom” that the Puritans sought in the new land was that of the church state. The Puritans were political refugees that dreamed of creating the ideal church state In America. In their mind, the church state was the way to go; it had just never been done correctly. That’s why they left Europe; supposedly, Europe was doing the right thing the wrong way.
We are all familiar with the story of Jesus exorcising demons from a man, and their request to be allowed to enter a heard of pigs. Some surmise from this that demons have to operate in a living entity of some sort. That’s speculation, but the fact that Puritan religion, like Islam, must have a body of political government to live in is not speculation, it’s a fact. That’s why Puritanism doesn’t exist today; the American founding fathers took their body away. Nothing has changed. Islam is in America seeking to find life in our political body. If they are kept out, they will die. Puritanism, like Islam, can only live when the spirit of faith is united with the body of governmental force.
Puritanism, like Islam, is a bad idea that must survive on the blood of the people. It is an idea that is not self-sustaining. The idea must enslave the masses and feed off of them. This is the reality, in every case, of the third world country: an elite that won the cosmic lottery, ruling over the totally depraved masses. They will tell you what you are capable of doing for the state. They will tell you what to eat. They will tell you how many children you can have. You are incompetent by virtue of the class you were born into.
The American colonies were originally ruled by the Puritans. The traditions they brought with them from Europe included the sport of witch hunting that had to be vacated in Europe because it threatened to wipe out an important element of humanity: the female. In some German cities, only a handful of women survived the European witch wars. The sport had to be vacated because the brilliant Puritans started doing the societal math: women minus producer class equals no church state. Brilliant. And did they learn their lesson? Answer: ever heard of the Salem Witch Trials?
The Puritans also created the first public school system in the colonies. In many cases, these were boarding schools where children were removed from their homes by law because the Puritans didn’t trust the commoners to raise their own children. Many Puritan laws concerning the American Indians were also the inspiration for the genocide that later occurred in American history. The Puritans were also primarily responsible for bringing slaves to America. Slavery was one of the European traditions they brought with them. Among the first slaves brought to America arrived at Jamestown. Remember that the Puritans were also second wave Calvinists embodied in the Presbyterian church which later became the primary champions of slavery in the South. The fruit never falls far from the tree.
This is the tyrannical environment that the founding fathers grew up in. Tradition holds that Benjamin Franklin attended the first Puritan public school in Boston. The European tyranny they grew up in inspired the American idea. This idea was predicated on the competence of the individual. This idea was predicated on the belief that all men were created equal and free. The founding fathers said that this truth was intuitive. They stated specifically that it was “self-evident.” As a result, the Puritans were ever a thorn in their side; for example, the Puritans claimed that Benjamin Franklin, a prolific inventor, did so by demonic powers.
“Gospel” means “good news.” The true American gospel is not far from the biblical gospel. Christ preached the good news of God’s forgiveness and a future kingdom. But He also preached the freedom of man to be responsible for the sum and substance of his own life—a responsibility to maximize the gifts God has given. A responsibility to “the life that bears your own name.” It is both freedom and responsibly: “to whom much is given, much is expected.” The founding fathers emphasized the part of the gospel that was paramount at that time: the freedom of man. This gospel inspired slave and commoner alike. It was the true gospel of the Great Awakening.
To associate American evangelicalism with the Republican Party is surely a mistake. American evangelicals confuse the American gospel with the biblical gospel. Both are good, and one is very good, but Christ never converted anybody with the sword. Man is created free, competent, responsible, and free to choose.
Anyone who thinks they are above the fray of American politics and religion is a fool. Anyone who doesn’t concern themselves with these questions is a fool. You cannot separate your freedom from religion or politics. A man once said, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” Let me borrow that wisdom and say, “You may not be interested in religion or politics, but they are interested in you.” These will eventually own you one way or the other.
Certainly, those who are not free have nothing to be thankful for other than the predestined crumbs of life handed to them by sin or the tyrant that rules over them. This is now their abysmal plight due to their ignorance.
And it’s a pity, for the tyrant is always unworthy to rule over the free. The big fat turkey in the middle of the table wasn’t obtained by the Pilgrims because turkeys are hard to hunt. Surely the same Indians who had to plant their corn brought it to the feast. Pilgrim-like religionists are always pathetic beasts who must be fed by those ignorant enough to allow their oppression. Those ignorant of the gospel of freedom.
We must remember that the Dark Ages were a European thing. And we must remember that Greco-Roman philosophy was the source and then it was turbocharged with the integration of European style religiosity. European religion has always been grounded in Plato’s disdain for humanity. Hence, one philosopher stated well that faith and force together are the destroyers of the modern world. One of the most notable historians of our time, K.R. Popper, fingered Plato specifically in regard to the logic that has wreaked havoc on Western culture through Communism, Islam, Catholicism, and Reformed theology. Augustine, one of the fathers of the Reformation, called Plato a pre-Christian Christian, and the juggernaut of faith and force was thus born.
And primarily, American religion was imported from Europe via the Puritans who were a European style religious political sect. They wanted to create a theocracy of their own in the new world. That’s the “religious freedom” they sought in America—a political one. Ironically, this importation of a European pandemic is romanticized by the Thanksgiving holiday. Somehow, deep in our evangelical American psyche, we think the Puritans could have led us to the religious utopia that we all lust for. And in fact, deep in our evangelical psyches, we think the war still rages between our Puritan foundations and the evils of Enlightenment philosophy. And if Enlightenment philosophy would surrender, all would be well and the heavenly Jerusalem would finally come down to Earth.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Enlightenment thought, even with its many abhorrent shortcomings, launched America to unprecedented greatness as a nation because of three basic principles that God agrees with: man is free; man is capable; and man is responsible for the sum and substance of his own life before God. Men “small and great” will all stand before God. Plato’s philosopher kings do not stand before God in our stead regardless of the priestly garb that the Reformers have adorned them with.
In the movie Moneyball, based on a true story, the General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team set all time league records with a meager budget and has-been players by breaking tradition with the ways big league teams have always been built. The player’s manager of the team was against the plan, and was a constant hindrance to its implementation. But when the Oakland A’s became the talk of the sports world because of the plan, the player’s manager got all of the credit. In the same way, the manager of American Christianity, the one of 95 Theses fame, Martin Luther, is given credit for America’s greatness. God has blessed America because of the Puritan missionary children that he spawned. Their roots are the lifeblood of America. We were “founded on their Christian principles.” This is a significant departure from reality.
Luther despised reason. He believed that reasoning was a dangerous stunt that the unenlightened masses shouldn’t try at home. And because they are not capable, they have to be protected from themselves; hence, neither are they free. To the degree that we are free the world is in a spree. Man must be saved from himself; by force if necessary, and for the good of the world. Martin Luther to the rescue. Stalin to the rescue. Muhammad to the rescue. The Moral Majority to the rescue. And on every Thanksgiving Day, deep, deep in our American psyche, a small still voice cries out: “Oh but for the Puritans! What could we be?” It’s all the same logic. You can dress it up in different doctrines, but it’s all the same. Logic comes in many doctrinal forms—both secular and religious.
The founding fathers of this country were children of the Enlightenment era. Until America popped up on the history radar screen, force and faith was the big league tradition. Our founding fathers proposed something different: government as the protector of man’s right to be free, capable, and responsible. And a government that served at the pleasure of the people to do so. It is a testimony to the power that is displayed when merely three ideas from God are implemented in our realty. Three ideas from God made America the envy of all world history. In the end, the motif that any child can perceive in the book of Revelation will fill the world with blood up to the horse’s bridles: force and faith. To what is said here, the proffers of force and faith, the Reformed of our day, answer in all of their Puritan glory, “I beg your pardon! Jesus Christ should be the envy of the world!” But which Jesus Christ? The Puritan Jesus Christ? And enlightened minds want to know: “Are we free to decide that for ourselves?” And: “Are we capable of even knowing that?” We fear that the answer to both of these questions is, “No.” And that is why giving you power in our lives at any level is a really bad idea.
Hence, To the degree that the Reformed Dark Age feigns, darkness in the American church does rein. And we are in that Dark Age. It came in essence as logic stowed away in the Mayflower’s diseased European rats bringing the same plague with it. I could drag out all of the apocalyptic data and its many faceted manifestations, but a recent televised top of the hour newscast introduction will suffice:
Here we go again, another sex scandal in the Evangelical church.
You notice they said, “Evangelical” and not “Catholic.” Anybody that knows the facts knows that sexual abuse and the subsequent cover-ups are just as prevalent in the Protestant Evangelical Church as it is in the Catholic Church. The scandals are the same, and the silence among clergy is the same, along with the same disregard for victims. Different doctrines—same logic—same results. Logic always has an endgame; there are many different doctrines that can get you there.
But the American Dark Age takes on a different appearance than the open fires of European religious wars and unspeakable terrors for it is tempered with freedom, capability, and responsibility. In the same way that God’s spies found refuge with a harlot, the American church has been saved from itself by Enlightenment thought. The result has been Reformed Light, and the carnage has been greatly limited. The European Reformers believed that children should be seen and not heard; American Reformed Light allows their children to play in a sandbox. Children are happier when they have a sandbox to play in, and they can form all kinds of ideas in what they make in the sand. But when it is time for dinner, it’s also time to put our little buckets and shovels away, run to the dinner bell, and obey mommy and daddy. They protect us from truth that can cause division because we are unable to handle truth, and they make truth a storybook that we can understand. They read it to us at night, and we are much comforted. We can pretend in the backyard, and we feel safe because mommy is watching from the kitchen window.
But the children of Reformed Light do not grow up. For certain, the American church is every bit like grown adults playing in a sandbox. The real Reformers now come forward and scoff at the pathetic sight, and say they are the answer. Yes, not playing with ideas at all must be the answer. Adults in a sandbox is not the problem, the sandbox is the problem. Sandboxes tempt people to play with truth. The Reformers to the rescue—those half breed Semi-Pelagian parents be damned.
Children in adult bodies will always rape, hate, pillage and steal. It is what it is: spiritually, they were born slaves, born incapable, and born irresponsible. Reformed theology is a bus of misfits, but all believe that it is the only bus going to heaven—the bus of faith alone in Puritan sanctification. All kinds are on the bus, but the tie that binds is womb to the tomb total depravity.
Some do not persevere in accepting their total depravity and the total depravity of others. Some do not trust God’s anointed to get the bus of misfits to heaven, so an Inquisition is needed. The European Reformers used the gallows and the burning stake (if the victim was lucky), brainwashing, and orthodoxy. The American Reformers can use brainwashing and orthodoxy, but because of the founding fathers, the American Reformers must replace the gallows and burning stake with character assassination, authority to condemn eternally, and false criminality. And all of the aforementioned paints the portrait of the present-day American Dark Age in the church. There is a little metal plate on the bottom of the spectacular painting hanging in the gallery of human history, and it reads:
Here we go again.
The Bible is written for mass consumption. All Bible books, save a few, were written to assemblies and not leadership. God has also written his word on the hearts of every person ever born into the world (Romans 2:14). We are all responsible before God, free to obey Him or not Obey Him, and obviously, must exercise our minds for understanding. We also live in the information age; so, if man was without excuse in the days of the apostolic church (Romans 2:1) we are certainly without excuse today.
Nations, particularly the USA, have used heavy bombers to drop propaganda leaflets on cities before an invasion or in an attempt to turn the population at large against the enemy leadership. Each bomb usually weighs about 250 lbs. and rains about 60,000 leaflets on a given area. During the Iraq/US war, leaflet bombings resulted in the mass surrender of Iraqi soldiers. In the same way, regardless of what’s going on in the world, God has a message of truth for every person. Invariably, it is man’s responsibility to do what God wants him to do in any given situation.
God has given the truth to all men, and only the truth will set us free. We need to pick up and read the leaflet and surrender to the Chief Shepherd. The Reformation is responsible for this present Dark Age in the American church. It is a doctrine that must be rejected with prejudice, and we must disdain anything that has touched its filthy garments.
A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
Calvinism is the “golden chain of salvation.” Justification by faith alone, one of the five solas, means that we are justified by faith alone, but Calvin taught that justification is a PROCESS that extends from when we were saved until final justification at the resurrection where the sons of God will be “made manifest.” This is opposed to seeing justification as a finished work, a onetime factual declaration. We are practically just because we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit via the new birth which is also a onetime final work. A birth is a onetime event.
However, if you see justification as a PROCESS from salvation to glorification, the Christian life must be lived by…what? Right, faith alone. This is just another dirty little secret behind the Reformed bumper sticker. Justification by faith alone also means sanctification by faith alone. And since justification is not a onetime finished work, we can never be worthy of not needing justification; hence, total depravity also pertains to the saints—another devil in the detail of a Reformed bumper sticker.
Furthermore, if justification is a process, we need to stay in that process till the end, right? How? Well, the same way we have always been justified, by faith and repentance alone for justification. If we are in the justification process, we need to live by the same repentance and faith that saved us—alone. This is how Calvin stated it:
Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death—viz. ablution, satisfaction, expiation;
Hence, it stands to reason that new sins separate us from justification, and the perpetual need for Christ’s mediation is needed:
…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God.
Calvinists call this “deep repentance.” So, the Christian life, according to Calvinism, focuses on a “lifestyle of repentance and faith” (Paul David Tripp).
Now consider Hebrews 6:1-6. The Hebrew writer seems to be introducing this same idea of revisiting the doctrine of our original salvation rather than moving on to something else:
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit.
The Hebrew writer says to not lay again the “foundation” of faith and repentance. This is in direct contradiction to Calvinism and its “lifestyle of faith and repentance” within the PROCESS of justification. But what the Hebrew writer says after that is even more interesting:
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Note: the Hebrew writer is saying that it is impossible to return to the same repentance that saved us. Again, this is in direct contradiction to Calvinism. Also, Calvinism teaches that when one re-repents (mortification), they experience “vivification.” The specific Reformed theological term is mortification and vivification. Vivification can certainly be classified as a “heavenly gift… and the powers of the world to come.” New Calvinists refer to it as a “treasure trove of joy” (John Piper). It is “living out our baptism” (Michael Horton). But the Hebrew writer is clearly saying: that is impossible if one falls into a state where the same repentance that saved us is needed again. This is a contradiction to mortification and vivification.
And lastly, even if it were possible: “seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Remember, Calvin said that the death of Christ continues to be a mediation and perpetual ablution (washing).
Is Calvinism a return to the same heresy that plagued the Hebrews? It sure looks like it.
In part one of this series, we examined the notion of the “church” being the “bride of Christ” and how this is a false doctrine. We examined from scripture that the “Lamb” does indeed have a “wife”, but the “wife” is actually the New Jerusalem come down from heaven, according to Revelation 21. We also compared two parables which portrayed elements of a traditional Jewish wedding. These parables reveal that the assembly, which is made up of converted Jews as well as Gentiles from every nation, is not the “bride”, but they are the “guests” at the wedding.
This would seem pretty straightforward. Despite the fact that a simple search of scripture reveals that the expression “bride of Christ” is nowhere to be found, this doctrine continues to breathe life. Contributing to this is the existence of several New Testament passages that seem to refer to the “church” in “spousal” terms.
I’ll tackle the easy one first. But this one also requires the most exegesis and so it will require the most space in this article. It is probably also the most familiar and widely used to support the “bride of Christ” doctrine.
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”
Now, the first thing I want us to do is for us to read this passage with the correct terms. So, read through that passage again, and in each place where you see the word “church”, replace it with “assembly”. Believe me, this will have a tremendous impact on the way you understand this passage. “Church” connotes building, place, institution. “Assembly” connotes “body”, for that is the meaning of the word. It is a “called out” body of individuals. It is also a secular, political term. A political body of individuals called together to accomplish a specific task. Moreover, this assembly is the “Body of Christ”, and that is especially significant in this passage.
Paul reinforces this idea at the end of verse 23 when he says “and he is the saviour of the body.” This is not a stand-alone statement. And it is not a reference to your physical body or mine. It is a parenthetical clause that further establishes the main clause just prior to it. Notice the colon that appears at the end of the previous clause.
“Christ is the head of the [assembly, ‘called-out ones’]:”
The very next clause modifies this statement.
“- and he is the saviour of the body”
This is the actual Greek word for “body”, σωμα (“soma”). The structure of the end of this verse is interesting. The word “and” is the Greek word και (“kai”), and it is used as a joining word, just like a conjunction creates a list or connects words or clauses or ideas. It is also used to show equivalence or parallel thought. This kind of writing style is common in Hebrew writing, especially in poetry, this parallelism. And you can see Paul’s Hebraic style of writing in the parallelism in this verse. Paul is stating that Christ is the head of the assembly, and furthermore, not only is He the head, He is the Savior of the whole body of the assembly. In this one verse, Paul has established that the assembly is the body and Christ is the head. Paul is not establishing a husband/wife relationship, he is establishing a head/body relationship. Keep this relationship in your mind because I’ll say more on this in a bit.
Now, when someone wants to make the case that the “church” is the “bride of Christ”, they usually go right to verse 24 and pull this one particular phrase out of context:
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church,…”
Their reasoning goes something like this:
“Husband” is to “wife” as “Christ” is to “church”
Christ = husband
church = wife
The church is the bride (wife) of Christ.
And while that may seem to be a reasonable logical conclusion, it fails because it is beginning with the wrong premise which results from failing to understand the context of the entire passage. Paul is instructing men on how to love their wives, but he is not using a metaphor of a husband/wife relationship. He is using the metaphor of a head/body relationship. The reasoning of the metaphor is better understood like this:
Husbands are to love their wives
- How do they do that?
Well, no man hates his own body.
Man loves himself (i.e. his body).
Therefore, love your wife in the same way you love your own body.
This is the context of the entire passage. Period. Nothing more. It’s that simple. Now Paul goes on to elaborate on that point by giving examples of how one loves their own body. He says that man shows that he loves his body because he feeds it and nourishes it and cherishes it. Thus, men thus show love to their wives by treating them just as they would their own body, by feeding, nourishing, and cherishing. Obviously he means from an emotional standpoint.
To further emphasize his point about loving one’s own body, Paul draws a comparison to Christ and the assembly. Christ is the head, and the assembly is the body. Just as a man loves his own body, Christ also loves His own body, which is the assembly. Christ also shows his love towards His body/assembly by feeding, nourishing, and cherishing it. And Paul is also quick to point out that Christ gave himself for His body/assembly. More than that, He also sanctified and cleansed it. How? With the washing of water by the word. These are the very same words that Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth!” once again showing that the believer is sanctified by the law.
This whole portion of the passage regarding Christ and the assembly is actually a parenthetical thought apart from the main thought. The main thought of the passage, as already pointed out, is about how men are to love their wives. But Paul digresses into this parenthetical aside as an illustration- man loves his own physical body; Christ also loves His body, the assembly of believers. It appears that Paul even recognizes that he has digressed from his main point. At the end of verse 32 there is one particular clause that sticks out,
“but I speak concerning Christ and the assembly,”
and in the very next verse we read,
“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so [thus, in this manner] love his wife even as himself;”
Here in verse 33 Paul brings his readers back to his main point by offering a final summarizing statement: love your wife as you love your own body. To take this passage and make it a treatise on how the assembly is the “bride of Christ” is reading more into the illustration (eisegesis) than Paul intended.
There are a few other passages in the New Testament that need to be dealt with where the writer seems to be addressing the assembly in “spousal” terms, such as Romans 7:4 and 2 Corinthians 11:2, but for the sake of time, I will deal with those in part 3.