Paul's Passing Thoughts

Dr. Jay’s Hopeful Post and the Evil Twins

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on July 22, 2010

On the Institute For Nouthetic Studies blog, the comment option is turned off, so I will have to make my own here. Actually, of all people, I thought about foregoing any reaction to this very unique, if not historic, post (“Contemplation?” http://www.nouthetic.org/blog/?cat=39 second from top) Why? I ain’t tellin’, but I will discuss why I think it is at least unique, if not historic. But, I am going to exercise caution here because Adams does not name any specific doctrine, and it would also seem that it is the policy of INS not to name names (kinda reminds you of my blog, doesn’t it?) so, I want to be careful not to attach any references of my own not intended by the (run-on sentence ahead) father of having a clue of how to help people with the God breathed word and the terminator of the rumor that Sigmund Freud is smarter than God and often the victim of pretentious snot-nosed theologians who are jealous of what God has done through him and who often self-aggrandize themselves at his expense. Ooops, I let that slip, and it also reveals why I almost passed on this post; I have very strong opinions concerning the matter at hand. My conclusion will give you some idea as to why.

As one blogger put it, the doctrine of Gospel Sanctification is a “pet” of mine. Amen brother, and if you don’t like it, be sure to report me to the Humane Society because I mercilessly beat that doggy every day, because it is worthy of the hellish pit that it comes from. However, the subject of the Adams post is synonymous with the primary attribute of Gospel Sanctification; Adams did not say (in the post) that he is talking about Gospel Sanctification, but what he did say is the following: “The problem with the teaching is that it tends to confuse justification with sanctification.” That’s exactly what Gospel Sanctification does (as the title implies). So apparently, if Adams isn’t talking about the same doctrine, there could be  at least one set of doctrinal evil twins running about. Now, this is what’s unique about his post, if not historic: nobody, as far as leaders who have national recognition; have ever discussed, or are talking about, these evil twins. The Adams post is a first. This is amazing because the one twin that I know was born around 1980, at Westminster hospital. Several leaders like John MacArthur, RC Sproul, and others, hang-out at conferences with those who propagate the evil twin I know, but they never talk about the evil twins. Therefore, it has been suggested to me by others that the evil twin I know isn’t really evil. But I don’t know about that, because here is what Dr. Jay said about the evil twin he has seen: “Will this seemingly Romish quietistic mysticism—or, at least, what borders on it help one to grow?” [the question is rhetorical]. Hmmm, maybe the problem is what Dr. Jay also said about the twin he has seen: “….it is ill-defined, and hard for those who don’t believe it to express it in words.” Yep, just like the twin I know; and therefore, I offer my excuses for  Sproul and MacArthur.

Before I go on, let me use this paragraph to further bolster my theory that there are two doctrinal evil twins running about. The following attributes described by Adams are also exactly like the doctrine I have come to know, and therefore, I assume they are twins:

1. “The problem with the teaching is that it tends to confuse justification with sanctification.” Apparently, the twin I know is a little more forceful. Her minions make every effort to synthesize the two, often using Scripture that pertains to justification to make sanctification points.

2. ….”they [the several verses he cites in his post] all emphasize that one must put forth effort in order to grow more like Christ….it [the evil twin he has seen] seems to set forth the opposite.” Hmmm, I must admit, this is a little different from the one I know, which doesn’t “seem” to say that, but says in no uncertain terms that our efforts in the sanctification process is a false gospel. Could my theory be wrong?

3. “While properly emphasizing the cross of Christ as central to our Christian faith, it goes on in one way or another to suggest that contemplation of what Jesus did on the cross is the way to spiritual growth.” Oh yes, this is exactly like the one I know. Her minions say: “the same gospel that saved us, also sanctifies us”; “behold [contemplate] as a way of becoming”; “we must preach the gospel to ourselves every day”; “never, never [stated 21 more times] teach that we are saved by the gospel and then move-on to something else”; “there is a gospel application to every event of life, that’s why the Bible is so big”; [no, I swear, I didn't make that one up] “If not only the unregenerate but the regenerate are always dependent at every moment on the free grace of God disclosed in the gospel, then nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ’s flock but the Spirit working through the gospel.”

4. “….this method of sanctification seems to be a substitute for effort extended in the process of growth.” Right. The one I know teaches that “we can no more obey the law than we can overcome the law of gravity.” Likewise, not only does it teach that we don’t exercise effort in the sanctification process, it teaches that Christ obeys for us; they call it the “imputed active obedience of Christ.”

Here is a good summary quote from a minion of the evil twin that I have seen:

“Where we land on these issues is perhaps the most significant factor in how we approach our own faith and practice and communicate it to the world. If not only the unregenerate but the regenerate are always dependent at every moment on the free grace of God disclosed in the gospel, then nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ’s flock but the Spirit working through the gospel. When this happens (not just once, but every time we encounter the gospel afresh), the Spirit progressively transforms us into Christ’s image. Start with Christ (that is, the gospel) and you get sanctification in the bargain; begin with Christ and move on to something else, and you lose both.”

Wow, so if you don’t believe the doctrine of the evil twins, “you loose both” [justification and sanctification]. Soooo, does Mac and RC still believe in synergistic sanctification? They aren’t hanging out with people who think they are lost are they? Hey, I’m just asking!

I promised to tell why this issue is so dear to me. In, or about 1988, I barley got myself to a counseling appointment located in Springboro, Ohio. I had one foot in a mental institution and one foot on a banana peel. I would have made a great poster child for Gospel Sanctification and Christian Hedonism. Though I was a hard worker (career wise), I was spiritually lazy except for studying “the gospel”; and my own joy in the Lord was certainly the goal beyond all else. I arrived at the counseling appointment perplexed as to why my “total dependence” on God found me in such a state. The counselor, In a manner of speaking, was a disciple of Jay Adams. Much to my dismay, he emphasized obedience to the weightier matters of God’s word in regard to life and godliness. I had been to seminary, and was well-schooled in the Scriptures (supposedly), but in fact, was clueless.

But I had a new hope. Instead of only crying out to God on my knees for hours, and from the deepest parts of my soul, I learned that no matter how bad I felt, I could do something; and it would actually please the God of our universe sitting upon his thrown. This seemed to be an awesome privilege to me. “The War Within,” a book by Adams, also supplied a profound help during this time. Furthermore, though it was difficult, I continued to work, and listened to John MacArthur tapes while doing so. The series I was listening to was from the book of Daniel. MacArthur, in the series, strongly emphasized the spiritual character of Daniel as revealed by the Holy Spirit. I remember driving home, encouraged from the tapes, saying to myself: “look at me, look at me, I don’t want to be like this! I want to be like Daniel!” Again, I thank my God that I was not listening to some spiritual guru who thinks that every verse in the Bible  is about the good news (however glorious), relegating the awesome example of Daniel to “pictures of the gospel.”  Additionally, I thank God that I did not instead, end-up in the hands of someone who would have merely shown me a better way to do what I was already doing.

It is time for leaders with national recognition to get a spine, a bag of sand, and a stick. They need to empty the bag of sand between them and others, and draw a line in that sand, thus distinguishing between themselves, and the latter-day antinomians that Paul the apostle said would come.

Adams said the following in the same post regarding the doctrine in question: “People are confused by it, and have begun to ask questions” In regard to people starting to ask questions; I hope this is certainly the case, but the confusion of God’s people still continues to reap the indifference of leaders with national recognition, while applauding those who write books that would be the envy of Timothy Leary.

It is my prayer that we will all hear these words from our Savior: “Well done faithful servant.” But for the love of everything on Earth; it’s a verb phrase and we are the subject. Have we completely lost our minds?

paul

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4 Responses

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  1. tadwyoming©2010 said, on August 4, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Dallas Willard said, loosely speaking:

    We mustn’t use the fact that we can’t earn grace as an excuse not to earnestly seek grace, both to be saved and to be sanctified. “The Great Omission,” 76.

    Willard predates Piper and Tripp and the rest. He has a very balanced approach to sanctification, which begins at the heart level, which he defines as the spirit or the will of a person. But the process works out from there. Know and meditate on the Word, seek to obey Christ as extolled in the Word, seek to engage God by practicing disciplines, like solitude, prayer, study of the Word, Meditation, fasting, silence, etc. Then go out and do some more horizontal disciplines, like service, submission, simplicity and the like. In the midst of this process, which he justifies well in “The Divine Conspiracy” and explains better in “Reformation of the Heart”, we place ourselves in an envrionrment of action where God can change us at the roots of our character. In doing so, we just have to work to reform our thought patterns and our outward actions, using our will, as sanctified by the purification of our hearts.

    Now, Lane & Tripp’s “How People Change” is clearly a rip off of Willard’s ideas, and I think they do tend to take the concept that only God can make us grow (1 Cor 3) to an extreme.

    I disagree, Paul, that he is trying to say we should not read our Bibles and meditate and learn to think better, aligning our wills with that of Christ.

    I do agree he likes to minimize outward action in an attempt to obey. He gets this, in part, from Willard, who echoes Christ’s open and obvious point in the sermon on the mount that outward actions don’t cut it if they don’t match the heart: e.g., lips praise but heart far from me; call me lord and not do what I say; know them by their fruits, but their fruits are a function of what they’ve stored up in their hearts, and the whole sermon on the mount concept that you are still as guilty of the sin if you treasured it in your heart but did not outwardly do it, or if you suppressed your murderous or adulterous outward actions, all the while playing it out in your heart, actions must match the heart, but the heart must match the actions lest ye be a hypocrite, on and on. Heart/actions, actions/heart, heat/actions … Obviously, I think L&T are a bit over the top on this theme, and out of balance. They deemphasize outward action because they have stolen Willard’s theme, without attribution: 173 All true obedience flows from a transformed heart. Where they get original is where they say, what you–and I mean you–might call psychobabble crap like this: 189 We should reject a view that denies God is fighting the war raging within us daily, for us and with us. But I think the reall problem these boys have is the same problem nearly all practical theologians have: Deplorable vagueness. They use rhetoric that implies a lot of things they won’t hold to if you press them. They like to imply this sort of romantic notion that God does it for us as we cease striving.

    Willard would deny that. He says we must take off the old self and put on the new. He says we put ourselves in a place where God can change our hearts when we meditate on the Word and then seek to obey it, even proactively going out and doing disciplines that expose us in a sort of dry run to what we might face later when we are put “on the spot” in the usual temptations, trials, testings and tribulations of life. So, Willard is deep into the heart, and he predicates all change on both our efforts and God’s work, as we work in Him.

    In the end I feel that Willard makes many fundamentally great points about how to approach our proactive, progressive sanctification. But, really, other than trying to give the body a can-do attitude about it, and a refreshing optimism about what reading the Gospels and the rest of the Bible can do to transform the mind and through it the heart, I find his methodology intentionally vague and indeterminate to the point that it is surely bound to fail for most who read his work and try to “become apprentices of Jesus.” He self-limits his approach to the point that two things surface, (1) the failure to distinguish his method from what people are already vaguely doing, especially as it concerns transformation of the heart, and (2) the failure to investigate and report what can be learned about the heart that is of practical use to those who truly do want to have the heart of Christ, that they might do what He did, the way He did, with His consistency and good fruit. (Indeed, his explanation of how to transform the heart basically leaves it all up to God, quite mysteriously. At least L&T try to get a much more detailed understanding of what is going on in an individual’s heart, though they appear to know very little about what to do about it, except, as Willard would have it, to engage in spiritual disciplines. For they believe that most of the work is just becoming conscious of what evil lurks in there.)

    On the other hand, and more to your point, I see your theological frustration about equating sanctification with justification and being saved each day. As much as you feel this makes all the difference, I think this is more rhetorical than substantive. I think these guys like Piiper and Tripp think that kind of talk is deep and spiritual and cool, as if they are throwing off all that superficial outward conformity crap and directly embracing the authentic savior. But I sincerely agree with you that this beating the drum about not striving to earn our salvation is getting rather vomitous. Ok, already, we won’t be proud because we are Christians. Fine. Now, stop trying to limit everything else the Bible has to say to that one concept. This deification of grace is getting really saccharine. I feel like I’ve been eating cotton candly for breakfast lunch and dinner for four years with nothing to wash it down but creme soda.

    I know that rhetoric can launch and sink ships, but here, if you press these guys, you’ll find they back off of their extreme comments here and there. Their greatest crime, again, is that their analyses pretend to be practical theology, when in fact they are as vague and practically useless as a textbook on systematic theology. They are glib, vague, full of inuendo and implication and pizazz, sort of teasing the sin nature to like what they are saying.

    After all, who wouldn’t want to be told that they don’t have to worry about outward conformity to the law of Christ until they felt like it? Oh, God will do it for me? Great. I guess I’m off the hook, and if I am to change, he will change me, and if he doesn’t it just wasn’t his timing, and I can handle this not sinning by striving to be good anymore. Love it.

    My friend, I feel we could all survive their theological equivocation if they would do what a good theologian like Willard should have done, quit pretending you can’t just spit it out about how to walk in the Spirit, live by it, be controlled by it, and kill off the old man with it and put on the new man by its power. TELL US HOW. NOW. Or quit tintilating us with your great insights into how superficial we all are.

    There, I said it. I hope you feel better now, becuase I sure do. tw

  2. tadwyoming©2010 said, on August 4, 2010 at 3:34 am

    Oh yea. I can’t say L&T only want us to identify the iniquiteis of our hearts. They also want us to repent of them. Now, I agree that we must ID the iniquities of our hearts and repent at heart of them. What I disagree about is that (a) L&T know all it takes to repent, (b) that they have explained how to engage God to repent, and (c) that they have fully explained all the steps necessary to purify the heart so that we will obey out of the ‘natural’ overflow of our hearts. Moreover, they don’t understand walking in the Spirit very well or its relationship to permanent change. Nor do they understand the interfaces between the heart, mind and body, and how we must pursue repentance at all three levels. Willard, to his credit, does recognize the idea of reforming the mind and outward body, not to mention what he describes as the soul or whole man, on top of reformationof the heart itself. He sees us, once our heart is right, acting to change our habits and attitudes and patterns, etc.

    On the other hand, L&T go beyond Willard, inthat they do emphasize identifying the iniquities. In fact, Willard is very, very light on repentance. Instead, he likes to talk about aligning our will with that of Christ. He wrongly equates the heart with the will, which prevents him from really understanding the heart. Instead, he is stuck in some 17th-20th century philosophical concept of the will as a faculty, with no serious penetration into what makes it tick. He leaves that to God’s mysterious intervention there.

    But alignment of the heart with God’s heart is what repentance is, though that’s a very general statement. And L&T do pick up Willard’s idea of the will and aligning it with God’s. Unfortunately, that is not at all the complete explanatino of what repentance is. That’s both a step in repentance and an outcome of repentance, but Willard does not discuss the rest of the repentance process and does not even call it by name as a means to purify the heart, which is to ignore James’ teaching and especially Christ’s, who in Revelation not only emphasized the condition of the heart and keeping His deeds, but also the need to repent so one could have the right heart and keep his deeds:

    Revelation 2:5
    Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
    Revelation 2:4-6 (in Context) Revelation 2 (Whole Chapter)
    Revelation 2:16
    Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
    Revelation 2:15-17 (in Context) Revelation 2 (Whole Chapter)
    Revelation 2:21
    I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.
    Revelation 2:20-22 (in Context) Revelation 2 (Whole Chapter)
    Revelation 2:22
    So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.
    Revelation 2:21-23 (in Context) Revelation 2 (Whole Chapter)
    Revelation 3:3
    Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
    Revelation 3:2-4 (in Context) Revelation 3 (Whole Chapter)
    Revelation 3:19
    Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
    Revelation 3:18-20 (in Context) Revelation 3 (Whole Chapter)
    Revelation 9:20
    The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.
    Revelation 9:19-21 (in Context) Revelation 9 (Whole Chapter)
    Revelation 9:21
    Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.
    Revelation 9:20-21 (in Context) Revelation 9 (Whole Chapter)
    Revelation 16:9
    They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
    Revelation 16:8-10 (in Context) Revelation 16 (Whole Chapter)
    Revelation 16:11
    and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.
    Revelation 16:10-12 (in Context) Revelation 16 (Whole Chapter)

    These considerations are why I am writing my book on How to Become Like Jesus Now, none of which have I ever posted on my blog. I have experimented with the blog only to talk ABOUT the subject, sort of the way Willard and L&T like to talk about it. But teaching how to do it is what my book is about. I am seeking to avoid all this generality, inuendo, empty rhetoric, vagueness and glaring incompleteness of these methodologies to become like Christ. I don’t just want to teach myself and others ABOUT how to obey Christ. I want to be taught and teach to actually obey Him. I want to want to actually obey Him. And that is the first step, no typo.

    (Willard even makes that point, that we must desire to desire Him, and Foster in Celebtatyion of the disciplines says we must pray to desire to pray. They know what we need, but so far no one has presented an effective way to achieve it.)

    Indebted to your insights, tw

  3. tadwyoming©2010 said, on August 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Of course, I’m probably wrong about all this. tw

  4. pauldohse said, on August 6, 2010 at 3:42 am

    tw, I am trekking through the rest of your stuff today since work is shut down because of an internet failure. Will resurface later. paul

    > —–Original Message—– >


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