The class action law suit brought against SGM has been revised. And with new allegations added, the narrative can now describe SGM as a house of horrors. I will leave the gory details to the Calvinism would be a good thing if not for the Neo-Calvinists crowd and their Reformed versions of the National Enquirer.
In a recent interview, John Piper discussed a few [!] faults that Calvin had; namely, his idea of integrating church and state. Piper then proceeded to propagate the outrageous idea that Reformed Baptists were responsible for reversing that concept. Funny, no matter how many times you read James Madison’s Memorial Remonstrance Against Ecclesiastical Establishments the Reformed Baptists don’t seem to be mentioned. Last year, Piper announced his post-retirement plans to spread “the light” of Calvinism—on location in Geneva as a way of presenting Calvin’s Geneva as a model for the renovation of humanity. If you believe Piper thinks the marriage of Church and state is a bad idea, I have an oceanfront property in Dayton, Ohio I would like to sell you.
CJ Mahaney and company may not think too much of what their pedophile friends have done, but to them, a bigger issue is at hand here: the preservation of their theocratic subculture. Mahaney et al don’t think that they should be subject to civil law. The way they state it: “The church should be free to shepherd their people as they see fit.” And the way they prefer to handle these situations should be evident by now and is directly linked to their Reformed ideology.
I have written on that extensively, and frankly, I am too lazy this morning to rehearse it all. It’s just exhausting: this behavior, though shocking, should not be surprising when their gospel is understood. Calvin and Luther considered the whole concept of Justice to be a joke and part of the “glory story” and not the “cross story.” These are people who function from a total different reality than normative metaphysics. If you believe that you are capable of interpreting your own reality you are living the glory story; if you trust them to interpret your reality for you according to the cross story, you are living in the gospel meta-narrative.
But back to my original point. New Calvinists have simply improvised and built a theocratic subculture. Again, I have written extensively on this and am weary of it. New Calvinist churches are ruled by elder law and have various ways of enforcing that law apart from the state. They would prefer the state, but the likes of James Madison, whom they despise, messed that plan up big-time on this corner of the globe.
Yawn, ugh, let me repeat a few improvisions: in-house security forces; control structure; covenants; church discipline; brainwashing; networking with likeminded government officials willing to operate off the record; etc.
Hence, the New Calvinists see this as an opportunity. If they win this case based on separation of church and state, the implications are staggering. Don’t miss this: that is why the rest of the New Calvinist community is watching this in silent, anxious anticipation. If you think they see this as a bad thing, if you think this puts New Calvinism on the ropes—you are dead wrong—they see this as a grand opportunity to set precedent and further strengthen their theocratic subculture.
How do Calvinists reject the Trinity? Basically, they make God the Father and the Holy Spirit lesser forms of Jesus Christ. Their rejection of the Trinity is based on Plato’s theory of forms. This shouldn’t be any big surprise as one of the forefathers of the Reformation, St. Augustine, was a Plato groupie. My wife Susan will address the Plato/Augustine love affair in significant detail at this year’s TANC conference.
Plato’s basic idea of forms led to the Reformed Emphasis Hermeneutic, also known as the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic. Plato’s trinity was the good, the true, and the beautiful, and all other forms, or solid matter if you will, are lesser forms of the true form. In one sense, Calvin believed that Jesus Christ brought the two together, but that is a philosophical angle we will not pursue here because other manifestations of this heresy are more plainly and easily seen. Calvinists merely make Jesus Christ the full expression of the good, true, and beautiful while representing the other members of the Trinity as lesser forms.
Hence, Jesus Christ, and His works become the stargate to all understanding of reality. The “gospel” is a term that encompasses the personhood of Christ and His works—this is the gateway to understanding ALL reality. The saving act (singular) of Jesus Christ is not something done in history as part of the Trinity’s plan to reconcile them to mankind, but is the key to understanding all reality. Therefore, many Calvinists refer to the “saving acts” (plural) of Christ and His personhood as keys to understanding. The Bible is therefore 100% about the gospel i.e., the personhood and works of Christ. More on this further along.
This is abundantly evident via the everything Jesus mentality of today’s churchianity. The books, the sermons, and the music are everything Jesus. This is why; it is a Protestant family tradition set on fire by the Neo-Calvinist movement. And it all begins in a galaxy far, far away known as Western philosophy. Calvin notes the following in his Institutes of the Christian Religion:
For this reason Augustine [who he quotes on average every 2.5 pages in the Institutes], treating of the object of faith (De civitate Dei lib. 11 c. 2), elegantly says, “The thing to be known is, whither we are to go, and by what way”; and immediately after infers, that “the surest way to avoid all errors is to know him who is both God and man, It is God we tend, and it is by man we go, and both of these are found only in Christ.
Therefore, supposedly, the “only” sure way to avoid error is to focus on Jesus Christ only, the idea that spiritual reality and physical reality are only seen in Christ notwithstanding. A clearer way to see how this all fleshes out is in the first tenet of New Covenant Theology which is a spinoff of Neo-Calvinism:
New Covenant Theology insists on the priority of Jesus Christ over all things, including history, revelation, and redemption. New Covenant Theology presumes a Christocentricity to the understanding and meaning of all reality.
Considered to be the foremost authority on Reformed hermeneutics in our day, Graeme Goldsworthy stated the following on page 48 of Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics (InterVarsity Press 2006):
If the story is true, Jesus Christ is the interpretative key to every fact in the universe and, of course, the Bible is one such fact. He is thus the hermeneutic principle that applies first to the Bible as the ground for understanding, and also to the whole of reality.
Calvinism concurs. ALL reality is Chrsitocentricity. The gospel is a stargate to the pure form of the good. Geoffrey Paxton, an Anglican theologian and authority on the Reformation, stated the following on page 41 of The Shaking of Adventism (Baker Book House 1978):
Christ alone means literally Christ alone, and not the believer. And for that matter, it does not even mean any other member of the Trinity!
This statement is both shocking and representative of Reformed trinitarian thinking. Paxton is absolutely right, Solus Christus means just that. Another way of understanding this is via the solar eclipse. This is the most popular example of how Christ must be the gateway to pure understanding. Christ is the Sun, the life-giving rays of light. To let anything obscure that light, no matter what it is—is to deprive ourselves of wisdom and life to that degree. When we let objects, even objects that are factual and true obscure Christ, we are “living in the shadows.” This is the theses of longtime John MacArthur confidant Rick Holland’s book, Uneclipsing The Son. The book is a Platonist/Gnostic treatise that is not even ambiguous. On page 11, Holland writes that the book of James presents Christ as the “rule and standard of all spiritual instruction.” On the same page, Holland asserts that Christ is the “one true God” and then cites five Scripture references that say no such thing.
John MacArthur wrote the Forward to Holland’s book being presently considered, and made these statements:
Rick Holland understands that truth. This book is an insightful, convicting reminder that no one and nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts.
The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock.
No greater subject exists than Jesus Christ–no greater gift can be given than uplifting His glory for another soul to see it and be changed by it. This book will be a wonderful help to anyone who senses the need to orient one’s life and message properly with a Christ centered focus. It is full of fresh, practical, and memorable spiritual insight that will show you how to remove whatever obstacle is blocking your vision of the Son and allow His light to blind you with joy.
Christ, while praying to the Father, referred to the Bible as “your word” and “your word is truth” (John 17:17). We pray to God the Father, not Christ, and we baptize in the name of all three Trinity members. The Bible is not Chrsitocentric. The Bible has many major themes. The father of our faith looked for “a city built by God.” This contradicts the plain sense of Scripture, which brings me to my next point.
The Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic calls for a contemplation on Christ and His works only, or the gospel, and a logical conclusion drawn from the formation of verbs, nouns, adjectives, prepositions, etc., must be disregarded for a Chrsitocentric conclusion or a “truth” that “shows forth the gospel.” In the aforementioned book, on page 39, Holland has the audacity to make the following statement under the heading “When Bad Grammar Makes Good Theology”: “The rules of grammar are intended to be guardrails for communication. But sometimes they prevent it.” Insinuated is the idea that Christ’s greatness transcends mere grammatical rules, and therefore, one must break those rules to communicate how consumed our life must be with Christ.
A good example of this is a statement by Paul David Tripp on page 27 of How People Change (Punch Press 2006). Tripp acknowledges that the Bible in-fact does state that we should apply biblical commands to our life, but to take that literally, and not in its “Christ-centered gospel context” (p. 26) is to “omit” Christ in our life as “Savior.” Therefore, a literal approach to the Bible harkens to works salvation. The results of this can be seen in this approach to preparing Bible lessons:
At this time, resist the temptation to utilize subsequent passages to validate the meaning or to move out from the immediate context. Remembering that all exegesis must finally be a Christocentric exegesis.
Look for Christ even if He isn’t there directly. It is better to see Christ in a text even if He isn’t, than to miss Him where He is (Biblical Theological Study Center: A Christo-Presuppositional Approach to the Entire Scriptures; Max Strange. Online source: http://goo.gl/5sGjP).
Another authority on the Reformation, Robert Brinsmead, states this perspective concisely:
That which makes the Bible the Bible is the gospel. That which makes the Bible the Word of God is its witness to Christ. When the Spirit bears witness to our hearts of the truth of the Bible, this is an internal witness concerning the truth of the gospel. We need to be apprehended by the Spirit, who lives in the gospel, and then judge all things by that Spirit even the letter of Scripture (Brinsmead, Robert D. ”A Freedom from Biblicism” in The Christian Verdict, Essay 14, 1984. Fallbrook: Verdict Publications. Pgs. 9-14).
In other words, the meaning of Scripture according to the letter [i.e., logical interpretations from the grammatical construction] must be judged by “that Spirit” which “lives in the gospel.” All bets are off concerning any interpretation that seems to be the plain sense of the text.
Moreover, New Calvinists take this concept dangerously close to disparaging God the Father. In the book here cited by Holland, he suggests that Christ saved the world from God. In fact, the heading on page 23 reads, “Saved—From God.” So, apparently, hell is a God the Father sort of thing. On page 43 and following, Holland presents God as “our most pressing problem.” And, “man’s greatest problem is God, God Himself.” And of course, it’s Christ to the rescue, right?
Though few would reject the idea that Christ saved us from God’s wrath, it’s hardly the whole story and promotes the subtle New Calvinist goal of making Christ more significant than God the Father. Holland gives no Scripture references for this concept of Christ saving us from God because there isn’t any. God was just as involved in the salvation solution as Christ was, and Christ is also a God of wrath just as much as the Father is (Rev. 6:16,17 and 19:11-16). This whole concept is a subtle, but dangerous distortion. At the very least, making a strict dichotomy that associates wrath with God and salvation with Christ is ill advised and smacks of Marcionism.
Holland is hardly alone in this approach among New Calvinists. Paul Washer suggested to an audience of European college students that the goodness of God is man’s biggest problem (Online source: http://wp.me/pmd7S-1A3). At any rate, a standalone dichotomy of wrath versus love associated with Christ and the Father that is unqualified, is a concept that should make Christians very uncomfortable.
Calvinism promotes a Platonist-like distortion of the Trinity. It shouldn’t surprise us as the Plato/Reformed love affair is well documented. New Calvinists in our day even sport ministry subtitles with Platonist themes: “Between Two Worlds,” “Between Two Spheres,” and in regard to Plato believing that pure truth is static, “Truth Unchanging.”
Like all cultic false religions throughout history, they distort and therefore reject the Trinity.
Calvin presented the priority of Christ over the other two Trinity members in the following way as explained by Mark Driscoll associate Justin Holcomb:
According to Calvin, the object of faith’s knowledge is Jesus Christ. He defines faith by proceeding to the center of a series of concentric circles: God’s existence, God’s power, God’s truthfulness, God’s will “toward us” as revealed in Scripture, and finally Christ. All these circles are implied in faith, but only the last is properly understood as the object of faith. Calvin goes so far as to say that those who say that God is the proper object of faith “rather mislead miserable souls by vain speculation, than direct them to the proper mark” (Institutes III.2.i). Christ as mediator is necessary if humans are to know God. Christ is not set over against God. Rather, Calvin asserts, Christ is the means—the only means—by which we can believe in God (Online source: http://theresurgence.com/2009/07/10/calvin-on-faith-christ-and-his-gospel).
One might consider the ruckus that was created over my suggestion that salvation involves all members of the Trinity and not Christ alone. I think this is telling. The following is a reprint of the controversy on Pastor Joel Taylor’s blog that resulted from some comments I had made on that subject:
5 pt salt .com
JUSTIFICATION IS NOT OF CHRIST ALONE
POSTED BY JOEL TAYLOR ON DECEMBER 15, 2011 IN GENERAL | 24 COMMENTS
I’m not even sure I like the title of this post. Not because it’s not true, but because it’s confusing.
Let me explain.
A few days ago I posted this piece promoting the book by Paul Dohse entitled The Truth About New Calvinism: It’s History, Doctrine, and Character. It’s worth reading. In fact, I think his book is an important one, and yes, I highly recommend you get it.
But, of course, not everyone feels that way.
Yesterday, after reading that post of mine, one 5ptsalt reader left this comment to me regarding Dohse and his book:
I’m pretty shocked you are promoting this book. Taking a peak inside reveals some pretty far out stuff. Just one example:
“First, justification is not by Christ ALONE. If God didn’t elect Christ, elect the elect, and draw them to Christ, along with sacrificing His only Son, what Christ did would have been for naught. So, justification is not by Christ alone.”
Buyer beware. This is dangerous stuff.
Well brethren, don’t be shocked that I promote this book. Be glad. And for you buyers, no need to beware.
Dohse is Right
Fact is, Paul Dohse is spot on, and even though he doesn’t need me to defend his statements, this reader’s comment gives us the opportunity to look at Scripture and, hopefully, instruct all of us. As Martha Stuart is apt to say, “That’s a good thing.”
See, it’s always important to look at statements in their proper context, a practice often overlooked and disregarded in the heat of defending what one is doctrinally comfortable with. But we need more importantly to examine all things in light of Scripture, it being – yes, I’m saying it again – the final authority in all things.
This comment by Dohse can be found from this post [link] of his which itself is a response to a series of questions by one of his readers. Here’s the question of the reader, followed by Dohse’s response:
Q: You have raised many issues in the last post that would take a book to answer. If I may, I would like to ask a few questions that might help us to clarify the issues on which we disagree. First, I want to state a couple of points on which I think we agree. Incidentally, I am convinced Piper and others would also agree.
2. Justification is based on the work of Christ alone and our works do not contribute to it at all.
Dohse responds to the second point:
2. First, justification is not by Christ ALONE. If God didn’t elect Christ, elect the elect, and draw them to Christ, along with sacrificing His only Son, what Christ did would have been for naught. So, justification is not by Christ alone.
Now, as I said earlier, Dohse is right. In fact, spot on. Here’s why: In a nutshell, it took all three persons of the Trinity to accomplish our justification. Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. If one dogmatically asserts that the Son alone is responsible for our salvation, including our justification, such a statement is clearly, from the Biblical testimony, an error.
Yes, the basis of our justification is the finished work of Christ alone, apart from our own works. That is true. Yet Dohse is merely pointing out the fact that unless the Father had predestined some to salvation, there would be none. The Father sent the Son to redeem us. The Holy Spirit works in us to make us holy. So Dohse is pointing out the involvement of the Trinity in our complete salvation. Although the basis for justification is Christ alone, there would be no justification without the involvement of all three persons of the Trinity in our redemption.
First, let’s give a simple definition of what justification is. Be sure and learn this, I implore you. When this is learned, hopefully, much confusion will be dismissed altogether.
Justification is a declaration from the throne of God the Father concerning our legal status before His law. It is a single act, occurs one time, is never again repeated and is definitely not a process.
God the Father is the Author and Origin of Our Justification:
since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. – Romans 3:30
But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, – Romans 4:5
and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. – Romans 8:30
By the way, who predestination the elect unto salvation? Jesus Christ the Son? No! God the Father predestination us, according to Scripture. You see, it is God the Father who makes the declaration of justification, so to think justification is of Christ alone, well, that is simply not a biblical position.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him – Ephesians 1:3-4
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; – Romans 8:33
When anyone objects to statements like “Justification is not by Christ alone”, I would suggest one needs to pull back, calm down, and search the Scriptures and strive towards of a biblical understanding of precisely what justification is, a declaration from God the Father.
Brethren, I hear far, far, far too much praying for the Holy Spirit to “come down” and manifest Himself. I strongly object to such, and I would encourage pastors, and elders who are allowing such to continue to rethink what they are encouraging.
Listen. The Holy Spirit, third person of the Trinity, points us to Christ, not to Himself, and does not anywhere in Scripture ask us to ask more of Him! (John 16:13, 14).
Listen again, please. Christ Jesus points us to the Father! He is the way to the Father, not just to Himself! John 14:6.
Look at Ephesians 2:18, 19 brethren, and for all you New Calvinists, contemplate this:
for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household
Now, why do so many focus only on the Son? For you to be redeemed, it took the entire Trinity, the triune Godhead, in perfect agreement together regarding a predestined, glorious plan of redemption of those given by the Father to the Son by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Sonship theology, indeed. Paul Dohse is right, because Paul Dohse is listening to God’s written Word, not the latest guru of truth.
Brethren, in love, I ask you not to ignore two members of the Trinity. Christianity is not wearing a Calvinistic t-shirt, boasting of your reformed views, and getting people to contemplate on the Gospel more.
That is utterly absurd. It is ignoring the whole counsel of God. This business of “Gospel sanctification” and Sonship theology is a dangerous – and exceedingly popular movement. And it is a movement that endangers souls.
So get that book, read it, be alert, and learn and be aware of anything and anyone who, in your heart, trumps the Word of God. May we all strive to better acknowledge the final authority of God’s Word, and rest our beliefs on its veracity alone.
DECEMBER 15, 2011
Did you believe this before Dohse made his statements or did he lead you to this understanding?
DECEMBER 15, 2011
What then are we to think about the following scripture, relating to the reasoning in this post? In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word
was God. John 1:1
JOEL TAYLOR, PASTOR-TEACHER POST AUTHOR
DECEMBER 15, 2011
You should think that Jesus was in the beginning, eternal, and was with God, with God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and was/is God Himself, and created all things, and all things are upheld by Him, for Him and through Him.
DECEMBER 15, 2011
I like John 3:16
DECEMBER 15, 2011
I believe that if we are to truly accept the doctrines of grace as being true, we cannot do so sincerely, and yet fail to understand the crucial role that all three Persons of the Godhead play in our salvation.
In covenant theology, there is a sense whereby that which we know as the covenant of grace, flows directly out of an agreement within the Godhead made before creation, known as the counsel of peace, and sometimes as the covenant of redemption.
It was in this coming together of the Godhead to form a plan of creation, redemption and salvation, that each Person of the Godhead took upon their role. (I realise this is a pretty poor description on my part, so please excuse me). Each Person of the Godhead being indispensible to the other, and the faithful work of each Person, utterly vital for the plan of salvation to succeed.
Although I can sort of understand peoples reaction to this post generally, I have to agree that I think it more emotional than intellectual. It is undoubtedly true to say that there is absolutely no sacrifice for sin that is acceptable to God, other than Christ. However it would also be true that without the sovereign election of the Father, giving a people to His Son to redeem through His own blood, His sacrifice would be for nought. And were it not for the Holy Spirit, sealing those who have been chosen and redeemed, acting as the deposit that guaranteed their inheritance in Christ, then none would be brought to glory anyway.
DECEMBER 15, 2011
However it would also be true that without the sovereign election of the Father, giving a people to His Son to redeem through His own blood, His sacrifice would be for nought.
Why would His sacrifice be for nought? The Father knows that some will and some will not believe.
DECEMBER 16, 2011
Why would His sacrifice be for nought? The Father knows that some will and some will not believe.
If you read through John 6:37-44 you will see what I meant more clearly. Christ did not come to the earth to do His own will, but the will of the One who sent Him. Namely the Father.
It is the Father who elects those who are to be saved and gives them to His Son to raise up on the Last Day, and we are told that ALL those who are given by the Father shall come to the Son.
The willingness of Christ to lay down His life to save us as the redeeming price, can only redeem those the Father has given Him to redeem. Therefore without being given a people by His Father, His sacrifice would purchase nothing.
DECEMBER 15, 2011
I’m a little confused. I want to ask a clarifying question, just to make sure I have read your article correctly. Aren’t you denying a central tenet of the Reformation? I mean, yes, salvation involves all persons of the Godhead but how was that salvation accomplished? Through Christ right?
JOEL TAYLOR, PASTOR-TEACHER POST AUTHOR
DECEMBER 15, 2011
What ‘central tenet’ of the reformation would I be denying? The Father is the one who justifies, according to Scripture.
Pingback: God Making His Appeal Through Us. « Kevin Nunez
DECEMBER 15, 2011
JOEL TAYLOR, PASTOR-TEACHER POST AUTHOR
DECEMBER 15, 2011
Tim, the Father elected those who would be saved, and gave them to the Son to be redeemed, which He did at the cross. That is the testimony of Holy Scripture. We must be careful not to make being ‘reformed’ more important than being biblical. Solus Christus is not about the doctrine of justification brother.
DECEMBER 15, 2011
Thanks. That is why I was making sure I understood what you were saying. Appreciate your answer bro.
DECEMBER 16, 2011
It seems to me that this is the result of a sloppy question/statement followed by a precise answer. I’m not saying that to lay blame on anyone, but merely to say that where matters of doctrine are concerned, precision in our language is essential. All the JW’s do is add one little letter “a” to John 1:1 and it turns the whole Gospel on its head!
The statement made was: “2. Justification is based on the work of Christ alone and our works do not contribute to it at all.” To which the response made was bang on. The intent of the statement maybe obvious enough to some, but it is far from being accurate, and may well lead to wrong doctrine developing if left unchallenged.
DECEMBER 16, 2011
It doesn’t seem to me the statement should be shocking at all (Jam 2:24). I think reformers have placed too much emphasis on “alone” and is so often misleading. Not that it is incorrect but can potentially detract from man’s response and action.
DECEMBER 16, 2011
The real issue is not whether all three persons of the Trinity are involved in the work of salvation, That should go without saying for anyone who has read the Scriptures. The question that I originally asked to Paul Douche concerned the basis of the sinner’s justification before God. Is it the work of Christ alone or is it the work of Christ’s work or Christ’s work plus our obedience. Whether you like it or not, the Father’s work in electing believers was not the basis of our justification; the Spirit’s work in regeneration was not the basis of our justification. Were those works necessary in order to justify us? Of course they were! Were they the basis of our justification? No way! The basis of our justification was the obedience of Christ alone.
JOEL TAYLOR, PASTOR-TEACHER POST AUTHOR
DECEMBER 19, 2011
The basis of our justification is the finished work of Christ, absolutely. However, this post never mentions you, nor is it about you. it concerns a comment left on 5ptsalt in regards to PD.
DECEMBER 16, 2011
“Solus Christus is not about the doctrine of justification brother.”
If it is not about justification. what is it about?
JOEL TAYLOR, PASTOR-TEACHER POST AUTHOR
DECEMBER 17, 2011
Acts 4:12 – and there is salvation in no other One, for neither is there any other name under Heaven having been given among men by which we must be saved.
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
1Ti 2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
DECEMBER 17, 2011
You stated that there is something inaccurate about the statement I made. I would be interested in knowing what part of that statement you find sloppy. Do you think it is inaccurate to say that God’s declaration is based on [not by] Christ’s finished work alone or do you think it is inaccurate to state that our works do not contribute to justification at all? If it is not based on Christ’s finished work, on what basis do you think an absolutely holy God could declare sinners righteous and remain righteous himself?
DECEMBER 17, 2011
Firstly I do fully believe that our justification is based upon the finished work of Christ on our behalf. I also believe that the very reason that God is willing to justify sinners, can only be because by faith we have accepted and put our trust in the only acceptable sacrifice that can be made for our sins, and that is the One who God sent as that sacrifice. Our own works have nothing to do with it, apart from maybe fighting against the process.
The thing I disagree with is your initial statement “Justification is based on the work of Christ alone”, which is not fully true. Our justification can only come through repentance and faith, both of which I would consider the works of Father and Holy Spirit, as opposed to Christ Himself.
I only object because unless we are elected by the Father, given the gift of faith and drawn by Him, and regenerated and convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit; then the completed works of Christ alone do not justify us at all. To believe otherwise leaves pitfalls such as universalism wide open for us to fall into.
God bless you, and please excuse me if I have come across harsh in any way. John.
DECEMBER 17, 2011
Thanks for your reply. I don’t think we disagree re: the statement I made. It seems our only areas of disagreement have to do with the difference between the basis of justification and how justification is received. Justification is clearly THROUGH faith which includes repentance, but we are never told that justification is BASED ON, that is on account of or because of the sinner’s faith.
It is important that we distinguish between redemption planned, redemption accomplished and redemption applied. Although the Father and the Spirit were both involved in the offering up of Christ’s obedience unto death, it was his obedience that formed the basis upon which the Father declares us righteous in his sight. It is his righteousness that is put to our account and forms the basis for the Father’s declaration that we are righteous before him. The Father’s primary work in the process of redemption occurred in the area of redemption purposed or planned. He is also involved in the application phase, i.e., effectual calling. The Spirit’s primary work occurs in the application phase. As essential as these works of the Father and the Spirit are, none of those activities on their part form the judicial basis upon which God justifies sinners.
DECEMBER 17, 2011
One additional thought. Part of Christ’s redemptive work is reconciliation that not only effects the putting away of the Father’s holy wrath toward the elect, but also guarantees the putting away of our unholy hostility toward God. It is this redemptive accomplishment that the Spirit applies to the elect in regeneration. If we are believers, we have now received the reconciliation (Rom. 5:11) that Jesus accomplished objectively on the cross. That is, Jesus’ accomplishment has now been applied.
Volume one of The Truth About New Calvinism sought to primarily do one thing: document the contemporary history of New Calvinism and address some of its doctrinal quirks. New Calvinists claim to have rediscovered the authentic Reformation gospel; I didn’t address that question in volume one because much additional research was required to answer that question. Volume two answers that question, and the answer is “yes.” New Calvinists have the authentic Reformed doctrine down pat, and if not for them, we probably would have never known what the Reformers really believed. I believe John MacArthur has adopted New Calvinism because he was rightfully convinced by John Piper and others that this is what the Reformers believed. In other words, MacArthur’s enamoration with the Reformation motif has led him astray.
What makes Calvinism, the articulation of Lutheranism, so deceptive is the emphasis on two metaphysical realities and the interpretation of all reality through that dualism: our sinfulness and God’s holiness. Much can be written and agreed upon in regard to these two points. So, Sunday after Sunday we hear sermons based on these two biblical concepts only, and probably without much complaint and in many cases much praise.
But this isn’t the full counsel of God, and the overemphasis on these two points and the exclusion of all else eventually leads to the unenviable results. The apostle Paul equated teaching the full of God from house to house night and day with not having the blood of men on his hands.
This brings us to the Emphasis hermeneutic. This is THE Reformation epistemology. This is their key to putting the Bible into use. Luther laid the framework in his Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustine Order and Calvin articulated it in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. In the first sentence of chapter one, Calvin introduces Luther’s dualism, and the rest of the Institutes flow from this concept. All of the Institutes build on the very first sentence that states wisdom is known by knowing us and knowing God more and more. For all practical purposes, the knowledge of good and evil. This is Luther’s Theology of the Cross in his disputation which was written six months after the 95 Theses. The latter was the moral protest; the former is the foundation of Reformation theology. Almost everything that the New Calvinists teach can be found in Luther’s Disputation including John Piper’s Christian Hedonism.
Luther believed that all reality was to be interpreted through the cross story. And by the way, as an aside, this is the first tenet of New Covenant Theology. Luther’s construct was strictly dualist: God’s story, or our story—the cross story or the glory story. A matter of emphasis. Certainly, Luther concurred that many things other than the cross story are TRUE, and to some extent VALUABLE for lesser concerns apart from the Christian faith, but in Luther’s view, any religious matter that distracted from the cross work of Christ diminished God’s glory and in most cases emphasized us instead; i.e., the glory story—our glory, not God’s.
The Emphasis hermeneutic is a Gnostic concept. This shouldn’t surprise us as Augustine’s penchant for Gnosticism is well known and Luther/Calvin were his mentorees. Calvin cites Augustine, on average, every 2.5 pages in the Institutes. Earthly things are a shadow of reality and the “true and the good.” Through education and knowledge one can obtain understanding of the true and the good. In Luther’s construct, Christ was the full representation of the true and the good. Christ is the true and the good; as New Calvinists state it, He is “THE gospel.” The gospel is the true and the good. He is the SUN (Son). The sun/shadows interpretive illustration is key to understanding this Gnostic/Platonist concept.
This interpretive method enables Calvinists to deem many things true, but to the extent that we allow these things to take away from a laser focus on the source of all wisdom and life, THE SUN, sanctification is diminished. Let me repeat that, because it is the crux:
This interpretive method enables Calvinists to deem many things true, but to the extent that we allow these things to take away from a laser focus on the source of all wisdom and life, THE SUN, sanctification is diminished
The diminishing of sanctification: to the extent that we focus on anything else but Christ and the reason for the cross—our wickedness. The focus must be Christ’s crosswork. EVERYTHING points to Christ and interprets Christ. Anything that is true but doesn’t lead to more understanding of Christ casts a SHADOW on reality and wisdom. It is focusing on the shadow caused by whatever is blocking the Sun/Son. Anything that is not seen in a Chrsitocentric reality “ECLIPSES THE SON/SUN.”
Hence, seeing biblical commands in the Scripture as something we should see and do is the what? The glory story. It’s about “what we do, not what Christ has done” a favorite New Calvinist truism. Therefore, biblical imperatives are to be seen in their “gospel context” as a standard that Christ kept for us and imputed to our sanctification. The cross story is then lifted up because it shows Christ’s holiness as set against our inability to uphold the law in sanctification.
To do otherwise is to “eclipse the Son.” Once you know how to look for this, you can see it everywhere in the American church. John MacArthur wrote the Forward to the Rick Holland book, “Uneclipsing the Son” in which this Gnostic paradigm is the very theses. In the Forward, MacArthur states in no uncertain terms that to emphasize “ANYTHING” or “ANYONE” other than Christ is to diminish sanctification. “Pastor” Steve Lawson, in an address at the 2012 Resolved Conference implored young pastors to “come out from the shadows.” Pseudo biblical counselor Michael Emlet framed it as “CrossTalk” in his book that bears that same title. It is a cute play on words that frames any talk other than Christ’s crosswork as crosstalk, a technical communications term that refers to interference from multiple telephone lines transmitting over each other resulting in many jumbled conversations being heard. In this case, shadows and confusion are the same.
Also, another way that this is framed is in regard to our fruits, or good works. By emphasizing anything we do, we are “making a good thing the best thing” or “making the fruit the root.” In other words, to emphasize fruit obscures the root that gives the tree life: Christ. We should focus on Christ only which results in “transformation.” But “transformation” isn’t personal transformation. If we are transformed, that is the what? Right, the glory story. Here, the Calvinistic lingo is very subtle; instead of us changing via the new creaturehood of the new birth, we are transformed “into the image of Christ.” We don’t change, we experience MANIFESTATIONS.
In the recent 2013 Shepherds’ Conference MacArthur used John 3:3 to make a case that our good works are like “the wind blowing.” We feel its effects, we see its effects, but of course, we have no control over the wind. Like Luther, and according to authentic Reformed doctrine, MacArthur believes that these experiences of the wind are rebirths experienced by joy. That’s the Reformed definition of the new birth: a joyful experience of the wind accompanied by joy. This is why MacArthur made the absurd statement in the book “Slave” that obedience is never bittersweet, but always sweet. Right, apparently, Abraham was singing praises while on the way to drive a knife through his son.
This doctrine utterly dismisses any and all work, even by Christ, occurring inside the believer. “Faith” is in us, but according to Reformation doctrine, is not a work. Therefore, anything spoken of as being IN US, is actually, BY FAITH. Which is not a work. FAITH is therefore the conduit that makes ALL works taking place outside of us possible. This is why the doctrine is referred to as “The Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us.” Anything inside of us is subjective, or shadowy, because it involves the glory story.
Moreover, the work that we see outside of us is also subjective because it deals with wind-like occurrences. And because we are a “reflector” of the image, it will be difficult to know whether the occurrence are through our “own efforts” or the wind. This is why Luther stated in his Disputation that Christians should not be concerned with works or their manifestations. Even when it is the wind and not us, we “see through a glass dimly” and the wind is using a “dull instrument.” New Calvinists call this, “the subjective power of an objective gospel.” We focus on the objective through gospel contemplationism, and leave the manifestations to Christ. This is why John MacArthur has stated that it is his job to explain the biblical text, and then leave the results to the Spirit.
But even in regard to the Holy Spirit and God the Father, they are seen as members of the Trinity that better define Christ. To do otherwise would be to “eclipse the Son.” Remember, MacArthur said, “anything” or “ANYBODY.” It means just that, and is indicative of a large body of Reformed thought.
This undermines and denies the full counsel of God, the new birth, and the Trinity.
Forward to Uneclipsing the Son by John MacArthur:
As Christians we have one message to declare: “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 6:14).
Rick Holland understands that truth. This book is an insightful, convicting reminder that no one and nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts.
Christ is the perfect image of God (Hebrews 1); the theme of Scripture (Luke 24); the author of salvation (Hebrews 12:2); the one proper object of saving faith (Romans 10:9-10); and the goal of our sanctification (Romans 8:2). No wonder Scripture describes the amazing growth-strategy of the early church in these terms: “They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). That is the only blueprint for church ministry that has any sanction from Scripture.
The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock. Second Corinthians 3:18 describes in simple terms how God conforms us to the image of His Son: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (emphasis added). We don’t “see” Christ literally and physically, of course (1 Peter 1:8). But His glory is on full display in the Word of God, and it is every minister’s duty to make that glory known above all other subjects.
As believers gaze at the glory of their Lord—looking clearly, enduringly, and deeply into the majesty of His person and work—true sanctification takes place as the Holy Spirit takes that believer whose heart is fixed on Christ and elevates him from one level of glory to the next. This is the ever-increasing reality of progressive sanctification; it happens not because believers wish it or want it or work for it in their own energy, but because the glory of Christ captures their hearts and minds. We are transformed by that glory and we begin to reflect it more and more brightly the more clearly we see it. That’s why the true heart and soul of every pastor’s duty is pointing the flock to Christ, the Great Shepherd.
After more than four decades of pastoral ministry, I am still constantly amazed at the power of Christ-centered preaching. It’s the reason I love preaching in the gospels. But I discovered long ago that the glory of Christ dominates Romans, Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews, Revelation—and the rest of Scripture as well. Focusing on that theme has led my own soul and our congregation to a fuller, richer knowledge of Christ—loving Him, worshipping Him, serving Him and yearning for the day when we shall be like Him, having seen Him in His glory (1 John 3:2).
Our prayer is that of Paul: “that I may know Him!” (Philippians 3:10). The apostle knew Him well as Savior and Lord (having been privileged to be the last person ever to see the resurrected Christ face to face, according to 1 Corinthians 15:8)—but never could Paul plumb the rich, sweet depths of the glories of Christ, the inexhaustible, infinite Treasure. Far from allowing Christ to be eclipsed—even partially—by any other object or affection, every believer should pursue with relentless zeal the “full knowledge of the glory of God” provided by a fervent concentration “on the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
The Christian life is Christ—knowing Him in the height and breadth of His revelation, loving Him for the greatness of His grace, obeying Him for the blessing of His promises, worshipping Him for the majesty of His glory, and preaching Him for the honor of His Name: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
No greater subject exists than Jesus Christ—no greater gift can be given than uplifting His glory for another soul to see it and be changed by it. This book will be a wonderful help to anyone who senses the need to orient one’s life and message properly with a Christ-centered focus. It is full of fresh, practical, and memorable spiritual insight that will show you how to remove whatever obstacle is blocking your vision of the Son
and allow His light to blind you with joy.
Pastor-Teacher, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California
John Piper: Don’t Waste Your Life (pp. 58-59).
The sunbeams of blessing in our lives are bright in and of themselves. They also give light to the ground where we walk. But there is a higher purpose for these blessings. God means for us to do more than stand outside them and admire them for what they are. Even more, he means for us to walk into them and see the sun from which they come. If the beams are beautiful, the sun is even more beautiful. God’s aim is not that we merely admire his gifts, but, even more, his glory.
Now the point is that the glory of Christ, manifest especially in his death and resurrection, is the glory above and behind every blessing we enjoy. He purchased everything that is good for us. His glory is where the quest of our affections must end. Everything else is a pointer – a parable of this beauty. When our hearts run back up along the beam of blessing to the source in the blazing glory of the cross, then the worldliness of the blessing is dead, and Christ crucified is everything.
This is no different than the goal of magnifying the glory of God that we saw in Chapter 2. Christ is the glory of God. His blood-soaked cross is the blazing center of that glory. By it he bought for us every blessing – temporal an eternal. And we don’t deserve any. He bought them all. Because of Christ’s cross, the wrath of God is taken away. Because of his cross all guilt is removed, and sins are forgiven, and perfect righteousness is imputed to us, and the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are being conformed to the image of Christ.
Therefore every enjoyment in this life and the next that is not idolatry is a tribute to the infinite value of the cross of Christ – the burning center of the glory of God. And thus a cross-centered, cross-exalting, cross-saturated life is a God-glorifying life – the only God-glorifying life. All others are wasted.
“You must be born again.”
~ The Lord Jesus Christ
“By the way, the term, ‘gospel-centered’ saturates the Pyro blog, and it means much more than you think it does. Understanding the meaning of this term is key to understanding why they think the crying out on behalf of raped children is gossip…. This is much more than just a common understanding of how we are saved—this is a radical worldview.”
“Susan also came from such circumstances and slept one night in contemplation with a gun under her pillow. ‘Survivor’ is a word that is only worthy of irony in the minds of New Calvinists like Frank Turk who have a twisted worldview. And one only needs to read the SGM legal brief to know exactly who Frank Turk is mocking.
As the New Calvinist cartel circles the wagons around CJ Mahaney, an abnormal number of blog posts concerning “gossip” have appeared on the Evangelical blogosphere. I checked my calendar to see if perhaps February 12 is Gossip Awareness Day. Hmmmm, not finding it on the calendar.
Dan Phillips is one of the authors of the Team Pyro blog along with Frank Turk. Phil Johnson, most prominent in the John MacArthur venquilitrist show, is a former author on the blog. Phillips posted the exact same article that Justin Taylor posted (and the same day) on the Gospel Coalition blog. The post insinuates that the survival of a local church is paramount to all else. “Gossip” is a “church-killer.” Bill Gates would be asking me for money if I had a nickel for every time we hear this from the who’s who of New Calvinism:
Yes, yes, what they did to you is horribly wrong! But exposing this under any circumstances could destroy that church, and whoever destroys the temple of God will be destroyed by God!
Per the normal, an exegetical argument from the Bible was not executed, but rather run of the mill Reformed orthodoxy. That brings us to the gospel-centered motif that drives almost everything in the American church in our day. By the way, the term, “gospel-centered” saturates the Pyro blog, and it means much more than you think it does. Understanding the meaning of this term is key to comprehending why they think the crying out on behalf of raped children is gossip. And it starts with orthodoxy. In the Reformed construct, elders receive the word from God, and then repackage it in a way that can be understood by the totally depraved unenlightened masses. Hence:
It is wholly an issue of whether or not authority comes from God through the Scripture to the elders and pastors of your church and is therefore the basis for their credibility and their exercise of spiritual responsibility.
This was a comment made by Frank Turk in the comment thread of a Post by Johnson entitled “Should Type-R Charismatics Get A Free Pass?” Type-R refers to Reformed Charismatics. And yes, according to Team Pyro, they should get a pass because….
I have warm affection and heartfelt respect for most of the best-known Reformed charismatic leaders, including C. J. Mahaney, Wayne Grudem, and Sam Storms. [Let's call them "Type-R Charismatics."] I’ve greatly benefited from major aspects of their ministries, and I regularly recommend resources from them that I have found helpful. I’ve corresponded with the world-famous Brit-blogger Adrian Warnock for at least 15 years now and had breakfast with him on two occasions, and I like him very much. I’m sure we agree on far more things than we disagree about. And I’m also certain the matters we agree on—starting with the meaning of the cross—are a lot more important than the issues we disagree on, which are all secondary matters.
Got that? ALL other issues apart from their “meaning of the cross,” i.e., gospel-centered are “secondary.” This is the tie that binds. “Cross-centered” and “gospel-centered” are often used interchangeably. This is much more than just a common understanding of how we are saved—this is a radical worldview. The uniqueness of it can be further demonstrated by this:
We are glad that you admit it Frank. Refreshing. But before we continue, let me interject an example of the kind of hypocrisy that comes part and parcel with this worldview. Here are the five points outlined in the post by Pyro and TGC blogs:
1. Ask, “Why are you telling me this?”
2. Ask, “What’s the difference between what you’re telling me and gossip?”
3. Ask, “How is your telling me that thought, that complaint, that information going to help you and me love God and our brothers better, and knit us closer together as a church in Christ’s love?”
4. Ask, “Now that you’ve told me about that, what are you going to do about it?”
5. Say, “Now that you’ve told me about that, you’ve morally obligated me to make sure you talk to ____ about it. How long do you think you need, so I can know when this becomes a sin that I will need to confront in you?”
But yet, consider this by Phil Johnson:
Shortly after that (in early 1992), John MacArthur, Lance Quinn, and I met with Paul Cain and Jack Deere in John MacArthur’s office at Jack Deere’s request. Deere wanted to try to convince John MacArthur that the charismatic movement—especially the Vineyard branch—was on a trajectory to make doctrinal soundness and biblical integrity the hallmarks of Third-Wave charismatic practice. He brought Cain along, ostensibly so that we could see for ourselves that Cain was a legitimate prophet with a profound gifting.
But Cain was virtually incoherent that day. Lance Quinn remarked to me immediately afterward that it seemed as if Cain had been drinking heavily. (In retrospect it seems a fair assumption that this may indeed have been the case.) Even Deere apologized for Cain’s strange behavior that day, but Deere seemed to want us to assume it was because the Spirit was upon Cain in some unusual way. They both admitted to us that Cain’s “prophecies” were wrong at least as often as they were right. When we cited that as sufficient reason not to accept any of their prophecies at face value, they cited Wayne Grudem’s views on New Testament prophecy as justification for ignoring the errors of prophecies already proven false while giving credence to still more questionable pronouncements (Ibid.)
If Johnson and Quinn confronted Cain about their concerns before they gossiped to Deere about it, they may have known exactly why Cain was acting the way he was. Furthermore, why was his demeanor relevant to what he specifically stated? Moreover, unbeknownst to Deere or anyone else for that matter, Cain could have been on medication for a medical problem. That is why Matthew 18 states that if you have a concern or issue with someone; first, go to them “ALONE.” This is only a grain of sand on the beach in reference to the kind of hypocrisy that is constantly vomited out of the Pyro blog and is indicative of their grossly distorted worldview.
What is that view? I have written on this extensively, but here I go again. Volumes could be written about this, but I am stating what coincides with the subject of justice. Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation was written about six months after the 95 Theses disputation. It is really the magnum opus of the Reformation. Calvin then took Luther’s HD worldview which he got from Pope Gregory/Augustine and developed it into a full orbed philosophical statement adorned with Bible verses. That would be the Calvin Institutes.
Reformed theology sees all reality from Luther’s Theology of the Cross. Basically, there is only two prisms from which to interpret the world: the glory story (existentialism), or the cross story (all reality is seen through objective redemption history outside of us). The cross story objectively categorizes all of life into two categories: God’s holiness and our sinfulness. Reality is the difference between the two and defines each more fully leading to greater and greater understanding. The first known counseling manual written by a clergyman was based on this concept; i.e., Gregory’s “Pastoral Care,” which is the model for most Reformed pastoral counseling in our day. Everything else is the glory story which is considered to be a gargantuan cesspool of subjectivism; specifically, anything at all about us.
….I think that the idea that Christians have been given The Truth, and The Truth is utterly embodied in Christ, and that we shouldn’t pretend like other explanations of reality have any worth because they have no eternal worth is, at its core, the only true monotheism. Its unquestionable that this is the reason we evangelize and not merely discuss our faith as if it was one of several viable choices (Frank Turk: Unleash the Response; Pyro blog).
It’s really a great gig if you want to believe in it. You can totally separate yourself from the realities of the world by focusing your whole mindset on our worthlessness, powerlessness, and hopelessness. All of our hope is in Christ and everything He has done—not anything we do. At all. To the degree that we are able to empty ourselves, we can detach ourselves emotionally from the world. This mindset enabled Puritan Christopher Love’s pregnant wife to write him a seemingly celebratory letter prior to his impending execution for meddling in English political affairs. Love could have escaped execution and not left his wife with a quiver-full to care for on her own by merely promising to mind his own business. He refused. Luther’s worldview, articulated by Calvin, spawned the most radical religious sect ever known to man—the Puritans, who are the envy of New Calvinists—particularity Phil Johnson.
Therefore, all of the misfortunes and tragedy of life serve to humble us. They eradicate the glory story, and lift up the cross story. Luther specifically states this idea in his HD. Life is about deathly humbling that brings about resurrections. These resurrections are experienced by joy in our deprivation for the clay vessel is being shattered and thereby allowing the glory of the cross to shine forth into the world. We have this treasure in earthen vessels; the glory of Christ, which can only be manifested when we suffer the way He did. All suffering is a cross event. Are we not to take up our cross and follow Him daily? Got cancer? Awesome! Another cross event! Been raped? What an awesome opportunity to show forth the forgiveness you have received! There aren’t any victims, just preordained cross opportunities.
This is why the Reformers were indifferent to suffering and didn’t take the concept of justice seriously. Calvin called justice, “mere iniquity” (CI 3.12.4). This is why New Calvinists disdain the idea of victims, justice, and “survivors.” They often preface these words in what we grammatically call scare quotes. Scare quotes preface the word with the idea of “supposedly,” or “so-called.” So, let me give you an example from Pyro blog:
OK: enough is enough. I’m opening this post and the comments below for one reason only: SGM “Survivors”.
Note the scare quotes utilized by Frank Turk. Interesting. You see, Susan and I counsel people who have left abusive church organizations, and when we asked one counselee to tell us about other families that left—this is what we heard:
Some turned their back on the faith. Some do church at home, and some committed suicide. Not many marriages survived.
Susan also came from such circumstances and slept one night in contemplation with a gun under her pillow. “Survivor” is a word that is only worthy of irony in the minds of New Calvinists like Frank Turk who have a twisted worldview. And one only needs to read the SGM legal brief to know exactly who Frank Turk is mocking.
This would also explain why Pyro continually defends the president of SGM, a defendant in the class action sexual abuse lawsuit filed against SGM. The following screen shots from Pyro illustrate this below, including Frank Turks indictment of SGM whistleblower Brent Detwiler:
This Reformed worldview is the reason for the present-day tsunami of spiritual/sexual abuse in the church. While the Reformed accuse dispensationalists of escapism their doctrine is a gnostic-like escape from the here and now. It has always appealed to intellectual elitists and run along the upper socio-economic paths. It avoids the messy, painful experience of fighting for the most vulnerable among us. Embracing pain and suffering as the gateway to joyful resurrections is the pastoral easy-button. This gives them time to blog about the “deep things” of God and supply cover for abusers.
The logic is the same, the mentality is the same, and the behavior is therefore the same: coldblooded, vindictive, and controlling.
“Don’t misunderstand: the problem of ‘victim mentality’ is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary.”
“Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story.”
Martin Luther had more on his mind than silly Popes when he nailed his 95 Theses to the front door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. That protest launched the Reformation, but six months later Luther presented the systematic theology of the Reformation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation laid the foundation, and John Calvin later articulated and applied its basic principles to the full spectrum of life in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.
The Cross Story and the Glory Story
Luther’s cross story, or theology of the cross is the crux of the Heidelberg Disputation and introduced in the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes:
Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.
That’s Luther’s theology of the cross: a deeper and deeper knowledge of our putrid humanity as set against God’s holiness. And NOTHING in-between. All of creation, all events, and all reality contribute to deeper knowledge of one of these two, and then both as a deeper knowledge of each gives more understanding to the other; knowledge of both, and the experience of both. Hence, every blessing, including our good works which are done by the Holy Spirit to begin with, lends more understanding of God’s glory. Every evil event, sin, and tragedy lends deeper understanding in regard to our total depravity and worthlessness. But of course your mother is dying of cancer; I am amazed that God would give anyone as many years as He has given her. Who are we to think we deserve even one year of life? And what a wonderful opportunity for her to suffer the way Jesus suffered for us!
This is the cross story. See the illustration below. This is a contemporary depiction from that camp—this is their assessment:
Anything else at all that gives any credit to humanity—Christian or non-Christian is the “glory story.” That would be our glory specifically, and not Christ’s. To the degree that humanity is considered, the glory of Christ is “ECLIPSED.” This is the theses of a book written by John MacArthur associate Rick Holland: Uneclipsing The Son. Everything is perceived as speaking through one of these two perspectives. ANYTHING coming from what is perceived as the “glory story” is summarily dismissed. Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think. This is their worldview.
In one of the former Resolved Conferences sponsored by John MacArthur and Holland, in one of his messages, Holland extols a letter written to Puritan Christopher Love by his wife as he awaited execution. Holland forgot to mention to those listening that Love was executed for espionage against the English government while letting the audience assume he was executed for loftier spiritual-like reasons. The following is excerpts from the letter:
O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations. I desire freely to give thee up into thy Father’s hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ…. I dare not speak to thee, nor have a thought within my own heart of my own unspeakable loss, but wholly keep my eye fixed upon thy inexpressible and inconceivable gain. Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory…. Thou dost but leave earth for heaven and changest a prison for a palace. And if natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that the spirit of grace that is within thee will quell them, knowing that all things here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above. I know thou keepest thine eye fixed on the hope of glory, which makes thy feet trample on the loss of earth.
Justice? That implies that humanity has some sort of value. That implies that life itself has some sort of value. That implies that humanity should be protected through threat of punishment. That’s the glory story. Therefore, Calvin stated the following:
Those who, as in the presence of God, inquire seriously into the true standard of righteousness, will certainly find that all the works of men, if estimated by their own worth, are nothing but vileness and pollution, that what is commonly deemed justice is with God mere iniquity; what is deemed integrity is pollution; what is deemed glory is ignominy (CI 3.12.4).
Death by Biblical Counseling
The church must face up to a sobering reality in our day. The vast majority of biblical counseling that goes on in our day is based on this construct—you will be counseled from the perspective of the cross story, and anything that smacks of the glory story will be snubbed. You are not a victim. There is no such thing as a victim. Christ was the only true victim in all of history. Don’t misunderstand: the problem of “victim mentality” is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary. “Victim” is part of the glory story; Christ as the only victim is the cross story. I am not a victim. That’s impossible because my sin nailed Christ to the cross. Thank you oh Lord that I was raped. Thank you for this opportunity to suffer for you. Thank you for the strength to forgive the one who raped me in the same way you forgave me. What a wonderful opportunity to show forth your gospel!
Hence, when the leaders of a Reformed church came to inform parents that a young man in that church had molested their toddler, this was the opening statement:
Today, we have before us an opportunity to forgive.
The parents were then counseled to not contact the authorities. Those who do are often brought up on church discipline. Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story. And be not deceived: this is the logic that drives Reformed organizations that are supposed to be mediators in the church; specifically, Peacemaker Ministries and G.R.A.C.E. A major player in the Biblical Counseling Movement is Paul David Tripp. In 2006, he wrote a book that articulates the horizontal application of Luther’s theology of the cross: “How people Change.” Of course, the title is a lie; if he really believed people change, that would be the glory story. Notice also that it is, “How People Change” and not, “How Christians Change.” That’s because this bunch see no difference in the transforming power of the new birth and ordinary Christ-rejecting people.
In the book, Tripp, like all who propagate Luther’s theology of the cross, posits the Bible as a “big picture” narrative of our redemptive life. The Bible is a mere tool for one thing only: leading us more and more into the cross story and away from the glory story. This is accomplished by using the Bible to enter into the cross narrative and thereby seeing our preordained part in the “big picture” narrative of redemptive history. Though Tripp is not forthright about it in the book, this is known as the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic. By seeing our life through the cross story, we are empowered to live life for God’s glory. This is done by seeing ALL circumstances in life (Heat) as preordained in order to show our sinfulness (Thorns) and God’s goodness (Fruit) for the purposes of having a deeper understanding of both resulting in spiritual wellbeing. In other words, all of life’s circumstances are designed to give us a deeper understanding of the cross story: God’s holiness, and our sinfulness. I have taken his primary visual illustration from the book and drawn lines to the cross story illustration to demonstrate the relationship (click on image to enlarge):
Understanding this lends insight to Tripp citations on the Peacekeepers Ministries website:
Paul Trip wrote a great post over at The Gospel Coalition blog all about the need for pastors to pursue a culture of forgiveness in their ministry. Pastors (and anyone serving Christ) have a choice:
“You can choose for disappointment to become distance, for affection to become dislike, and for a ministry partnership to morph into a search for an escape. You can taste the sad harvest of relational détente that so many church staffs live in, or you can plant better seeds and celebrate a much better harvest. The harvest of forgiveness, rooted in God’s forgiveness of you, is the kind of ministry relationship everyone wants.”
Then he describes three ways forgiveness can shape your ministry. I’ve listed them, but you can read how he explains them in detail.
“1. Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection.
2. Forgiveness produces patience.
3. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in relationships grows.”
He closes with this exhortation:
“So we learn to make war, but no longer with one another. Together we battle the one Enemy who is after us and our ministries. As we do this, we all become thankful that grace has freed us from the war with one another that we used to be so good at making.”
And concerning another author, they also stated:
Last week, Steve Cornell at The Gospel Coalition blog posted some really great insight into the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. They also offered up some excellent and biblically sound steps in dealing with a situation where an offending party is hesitant to reconcile.
Here he summarizes a key distinction:
“It’s possible to forgive someone without offering immediate reconciliation. It’s possible for forgiveness to occur in the context of one’s relationship with God apart from contact with her offender. But reconciliation is focused on restoring broken relationships. And where trust is deeply broken, restoration is a process—sometimes, a lengthy one”…. His ten guidelines for those hesitant to reconcile are rooted in scripture and, I think, incredibly helpful.
1. Be honest about your motives.
2. Be humble in your attitude.
3. Be prayerful about the one who hurt you.
4. Be willing to admit ways you might have contributed to the problem.
5. Be honest with the offender.
6. Be objective about your hesitancy.
7. Be clear about the guidelines for restoration.
8. Be alert to Satan’s schemes.
9. Be mindful of God’s control.
10. Be realistic about the process.
Notice the overall blurring of distinction between the offended and offender with the subject of forgiveness.
The Cross-centered Anti-justice Pandemic is No longer Exclusively a Reformed Thing
Apart from Calvinism, the redemptive historical cross-centered approach is crossing denominational lines en masse. We at TANC see doctrines that were born of Luther’s theology of the cross in non-Reformed circles constantly; specifically, heart theology (deep repentance), exclusive interpretation of the Scriptures through a redemptive prism, Gospel Sanctification, and John Piper’s Christian hedonism. And we also see the same results. It is not beyond the pale for a pastor who has raped a parishioner to be the one counseling the victim sinner. You know, the “sinner saved by grace.”
God is a God of justice, and throughout the Scriptures He demands that we be people of justice. He demands that we come to the defense of the victim. I close with fitting words from church historian John Immel:
And this is the challenge. This is the challenge that I have as a man who is passionate about thinking: to inspire people to engage in complex ideas that drive tyranny. So here’s my challenge to those who are listening.
Do not be seduced into believing that righteousness is retreat from the world.
Do not be seduced into believing that spirituality is defined by weakness and that timid caution for fear of committing potential error is a reason to be quiet.
Do not be intimidated by vague, hazy threats of failure.
Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality. I’m going to say that again to you. This is good. Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality.
Do not mistake the simple nature of God’s love for a justification for simple-mindedness.
Do not deceive yourself with the polite notion that you are above the fray, that your right to believe is sufficient to the cause of righteousness. There is no more stunning conceit.
Do not pretend that your unwillingness to argue is the validation of truth.
Know this: Virtue in a vacuum is like the proverbial sound in the forest–irrelevant without a witness. Character is no private deed. To retreat is nothing more than a man closing his eyes and shutting his mouth to injustice.
Virtues are not estimates to be lofted gently against evil.
Virtues are not to be withheld from view in the name of grace.
Virtues are not to be politely swallowed in humble realization that we are all just sinners anyway.
Love is not a moral blank check against the endless tide of indulgent action.
Love is not blind to the cause and effect of reality.
Love is not indifference to plunder and injustice and servitude.
The time is now, you men of private virtue, to emerge from your fortress of solitude and demonstrate that you are worthy of a life that bears your name. The time is now, you men of private virtue, to answer Mick Jagger and all the nihilists that insist we are living on the edge and we cannot help but fall. It is time for you men of private virtue to take up the cause of human existence and think.
~TANC 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny: John Immel; session 1, “Assumptions + Logic = Action.”
Who can forget James Carville’s motto to keep people focused in Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign? “The economy, stupid.” Carville didn’t want Clinton’s campaign workers to expend energy on matters that would not ultimately persuade people to vote one way or the other. Likewise, Christians love to pile-up Bible verses in a heap that doesn’t serve change in the least. Carville knew how to get change; Bush’s 90% approval rating could not keep him in office.
At the 2007 “Shepherds” Conference held annually at John MacArthur’s church in California, he opened the conference with a devastating, complete undressing of amillennialism. The controversy among the Reformed raged for several months. The often touted “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity” was taken out with the morning trash. Per the usual, most of the Reformed gang who had spent their parishioner’s money to go to the conference moaned and screamed like alley cats in the night that MacArthur dissed “Reformed orthodoxy.” In the debate, also per the usual, Scriptural arguments were replaced with the endless droning of dead mystics and rabid Puritans.
But what’s the real issue? The real issue is sanctification by justification. That’s the authentic Reformed gospel; i.e., progressive justification. Bottom line: if there is a literal millennial kingdom before the new heavens and new earth, there must also be two resurrections and two judgments. That strongly insinuates two different groups and two different purposes in regard to the types of judgments. In the Reformed construct, there must be one judgment that determines everybody’s just state. MacArthur, even with all of his education doesn’t get that; his gospel of progressive justification doesn’t fit the eschatology that he dragged into his partial conversion to the authentic Reformed gospel.
This brings us to the four types of pastors in our day:
1. Authentic Calvinist: Luther and Calvin’s Gnostic progressive justification. These are the Neo-Calvinists wreaking havoc on the church in our day. Progressive justification (justification and sanctification are both monergistic because sanctification finishes justiifcation)/amil. Examples are Al Mohler, David Powlison et al.
2. Sanctified Calvinist: Leftovers from the periods in church history when authentic Calvinism dies a social death because of the tyranny that comes part and parcel with it. They change their soteriology but retain the eschatology of progressive justification. Monergistic justification/synergistic sanctification/amil. Examples are Jay Adams, and many other Presbyterians, and Baptist acadmiacs.
3. Inverted Calvinist: Converts to progressive justification that retain their former eschatology that is some form of dispensationalism. The best example is John MacArthur.
4. Biblicist: The Bible is their authority; not orthodoxy. This breed is an endangered species in our day.
Here is what many are missing: you can’t separate the gospel from eschatology. Your eschatology will be consistent with your gospel or inconsistent.
“In that Disputation, Luther postulates Pope Gregory’s take on the gospel which is the exact same calling card of present-day New Calvinism.”
“Powlison points to Pope Gregory and Augustine as the pioneers of biblical counseling using a ‘Christ-centered,’ ‘full gospel’ approach. And what was that approach?”
Let’s just take one contemporary example: a Presbyterian church that is now a mere shell of what it was; the remains of a war over the arrival of a New Calvinist pastor who exhibited outrageous behavior and leadership style. Today, some parishioners stand dumbfounded that the Presbytery took positive steps to keep said pastor in place.
As TANC, our newly formed think tank that researches Reformed theology continues to journey into church history for answers, the reasons for present-day tyranny in the church become clearer every day. First, it is driven by the gospel that founded the Reformation. Simply put, it is a gospel that does not believe that people change, but are rather called to contemplate the saving works of Christ in order for His righteousness to be manifested in one of two realms. Whether Baptist, Methodist, or whatever, this Reformed seed, the idea that people really don’t change is at the core of their function though they would deny it verbally. The Western church as a whole buys into this basic concept.
Secondly, the basic concept of spiritual elitists ruling over the totally depraved. You know, the they really can’t change crowd. The Reformation clarion call of total depravity—what’s our second clue if we need one? The spiritual is accessed through the chief contemplationists, and since they have the dope directly from God, they should rule over the totally depraved. Look, I have been a Baptist since 1983, and this is how it works. Again, we wouldn’t verbalize that, but to some degree it is true of all Western denominations because we are the children of the Protestant Reformation. What were we protesting? Naughty philosopher kings; past that, not much.
If we don’t change, the church doesn’t either. Think about that. And we wonder why things are a mess. Apparent growth in numbers is being driven by something else other than a true gospel. And the Reformers deny that while pontificating total depravity. It is testimony to the depth of which this Protestant construct has dumbed down the average parishioner; i.e., the totally depraved change. And nobody blinks. The assumption is that total depravity only pertains to the unregenerate, but that’s not the case according to the Reformed gospel and its time for people to start doing the math on that. The “Nones” and the massive exodus from the evangelical church is taking place for a reason.
I’m not ready to declare Pope Gregory the Great the father of the Reformation and present-day New Calvinism just yet, but recent discoveries reveal some things that should be fairly obvious. We aren’t stupid, just trusting, and that needs to end. Christians need to take advantage of the information age and start studying for themselves as the Christian academics of our day refuse to be forthcoming. They didn’t forget to mention that sola fide is also for sanctification. They didn’t forget to mention the total depravity of mankind AND the saints. They didn’t forget to mention that the new birth is a realm and not something that happens in us—it’s deliberate deception because the Reformed gospel is “scandalous.” The totally depraved are not “ready” for what the enlightened class of philosopher kings understand. By the way, many seminary students will testify to the fact that they are told as much by their seminary professors. Seminaries are where you go to be certified for the purpose of ruling over the totally depraved in order to, in Al Mohler’s words, “save them from ignorance.” Sorry, I prefer to let the Bible and Google save me from ignorance. Thank goodness for the Gootenberg press.
Monks. That’s what we are missing here. Martin Luther. Ever heard of him? He was a monk. What is the very premise on monkism? It’s the idea that the spiritual is obtained by contemplationism. And monkism is not unique to the Catholic Church—it is the link from the Catholic Church to the ancient concept of mystic dualism. Though it pans out in various different ways, it’s the idea that matter is evil and spirit is good. In other cases, it holds to the idea that both good and evil are necessary to understand true reality. Good defines evil, and evil defines good. The more you understand both, the more “balance” you have in the universe. Then there is the goal to birth the spiritual into the physical through meditation/contemplationism. Like I said, there are many takes on the basic approach.
Monks believe that the physical or world realm is a distraction from the spiritual realm. In some cases, they believe that all matter is merely a form of the perfect, or spiritual. Hence, monasteries. Traditionally, monasteries have been clearing houses for the dope from God through contemplationism. And since they have the dope, they should rule the totally depraved for their own good. In some spiritual caste systems, the monks rule directly, in others like the Catholic Church, the monks are the Scribes and Prophets for the rulers; i.e., the Popes.
The fact that monkism would be part and parcel to any doctrine formulated by Martin Luther is a no-brainer. Mysticism is simply going to be a significant factor, and so it is with Protestantism. This becomes more apparent when you consider the core four of the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther, John Calvin, St. Augustine, and Pope Gregory the Great. Luther’s 95 Theses was a protest against naughty Popes, but he was completely onboard with the Catholic caste system. When his 95 Theses resulted in the unexpected societal eruption that took place, he presented a doctrinal disputation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. And don’t miss this:
In that Disputation, Luther postulates Pope Gregory’s take on the gospel which is the exact same calling card of present-day New Calvinism. In theses 27 of his Disputation, Luther states the following:
Thus deeds of mercy are aroused by the works through which he has saved us, as St. Gregory says: »Every act of Christ is instruction for us, indeed, a stimulant.« If his action is in us it lives through faith, for it is exceedingly attractive according to the verse, »Draw me after you, let us make haste« (Song of Sol. 1:4) toward the fragrance »of your anointing oils« (Song of Sol. 1:3), that is, »your works.«
There could not be a more concise statement in regard to the New Calvinist gospel. Deeds in the Christian life come from the same acts in which Christ saved us. Secondly, they are not our acts, but the acts of Christ applied to our Christian lives by faith alone. Thirdly, when the works of Christ are applied to our Christian lives by faith alone, it will always be experienced by the exhilarating emotions of first love—this is the mark of Christ’s active obedience being manifested in the spiritual realm through the totally depraved. We “reflect” the works of Christ by faith alone. Even John MacArthur has bought into this nonsense, claiming that obedience to the Lord is “always sweet, never bitter.” Francis Chan states that it always “feels like love.” And of course, poke John Piper’s rhetoric anywhere and this same monkish mysticism comes oozing out.
Moreover, Luther states this same concept from many different angles in his Disputation, and theses 28 is clearly the premise for John Piper’s Christian Hedonism.
No wonder then that New Calvinists of our day sing the praises of Pope Gregory. Here is what heretic David Powlison stated in an interview with Mark Dever’s 9Marks ministry:
Caring for the soul, which we try [try?] to do in biblical counseling, is not new. Two of the great pioneers in church history would be Augustine and Gregory the Great. Even secular people will credit Augustine’s Confessions as pioneering the idea that there is an inner life. Augustine did an unsurpassed job of tearing apart the various ways in which people’s desires become disordered. Gregory wrote the earliest textbook on pastoral care. He pioneered diverse ways of dealing with a fearful person, a brash and impulsive person, an angry person, an overly passive person. He broke out these different struggles and sought to apply explicitly biblical, Christ-centered medicine—full of Christ, full of grace, full of gospel, and full of the hard call of God’s Word to the challenges of life.
Powlison points to Pope Gregory and Augustine as the pioneers of biblical counseling using a “Christ-centered,” “full gospel” approach. And what was that approach? It was primarily contemplationism and dualism. In fact, Gregory practically saw “doing” as a necessary evil. In Roland Paul Cox’s Masters dissertation, Gregory the Great and His Book Pastoral Care as a Counseling Theory, Cox states the following:
The overall theme in Gregory’s dichotomies is balance. It is possible that this comes from Gregory’s own struggles in balancing his desire for the contemplative life of a monk versus his reluctant, but active, service as ambassador to Constantinople and pope.“The Regula Pastoralis was in large part devoted to describing how to reconcile the two types of life. He came to the conclusion eventually that while the contemplative life was the better and more desirable of the two, the active life was unavoidable, and indeed necessary in order to serve one’s fellow man.…There could be no better exemplar of the two lives than Gregory himself, but he would have been less than human had he not from time to time mourned the fact that so much of his time must be given over to the active at the expense of the contemplative” [Jeffrey Richards, Consul of God : The Life and Times of Gregory the Great (London ; Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), 57.].
Powlison, in true Reformed tradition, invokes the either/or hermeneutic, or the either cross story or glory story hermeneutic of Luther’s Disputation by suggesting that any denial of this “Christ-Centered” approach is a wholesale denial of an “inner life.” In other words, suggesting that doing something should be emphasized as much as contemplationism is paramount to denying that there is an inner life. Such statements by Powlison are indicative of his utter lack of integrity.
In addition, Gregory’s penchant for mystic dualism is seen in the same dissertation:
Gregory’s view of health revolved around balance. In Pastoral Care 34 dichotomies are given. For each one Gregory discusses how either extreme is detrimental. The following are a few examples of Gregory’s dichotomies: poor/rich, joyful/sad, subject/superiors, wise/dull, impudent/timid, impatient/patient, kindly/envious, humble/haughty, obstinate/fickly, and gluttonous/abstemious. Further, Gregory explains how certain traits although they appear to be virtues are in reality a vice. For example, in describing the dichotomy of impatient and patient, Gregory says the following about the patient: “…those who are patient are to be admonished not to grieve in their hearts over what they suffer outwardly. A sacrifice of such great worth which they outwardly offer unimpaired, must not be spoilt by the infection of interior malice. Besides, while their sin of grieving is not observed by man, it is visible under the divine scrutiny, and will become the worse, in proportion as they claim a show of virtue in the sight of men. The patient must, therefore, be told to aim diligently at loving those whom they needs must put up with lest, if love does not wait on patient” [Pastoral Care: pp. 109, 110].
In other words, self-control is a vice. Unless cross-centered love is mystically applied according to Luther’s Disputation (theses 28), the latter evil of self-control is worse than the former sin of being offended since such offences serve to humble us (LHD theses 21).
What goes hand in metaphysical hand in all of this is good ole’ ancient spiritual caste tyranny. As Cox further observes,
Shortly after becoming pope, Gregory wrote Pastoral Care. In addition as pope, he reorganized the administration of the papal states, he maintained papal authority in the face of encroachments from the Patriarch of Constantinople, he established links with the Frankish Kingdoms, and most importantly (for these English writers), he sent a party of monks, led by Augustine, to convert the Anglo-Saxons.
Gregory was very influenced by the Rule of St. Benedict and Benedictine monks who came to Rome after the monastery that St. Benedict founded was burnt. In some letters, Gregory calls his work Pastoral Rule. “There is every reason to assume that Gregory in conceiving the plan for Liber Regulae Pastoralis [Pastoral Rule] intended to provide the secular clergy with a counterpart to this Regula [the Rule of St. Benedict].
….This culture of rulers and emperors also helps explain why Gregory saw Pastoral Care and Pastoral Rule as one in the same. By modern day standards, Gregory would be considered overly authoritarian.
A culture of “rulers and emperors” had precious little to do with it, but rather ancient spiritual caste systems that answered the supposed preordained call of God to control the totally depraved. With the sword if necessary. While many of these systems were based on mythology prior to the 6th century, Plato systematized the idea and gave it scientific dignity. But his trifold theory of soul consisting of king, soldier, and producer called for a sociological counterpart that was a mirror image to fit the need. Sir Karl Raimund Popper, considered the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, fingered Platonism as the primary catalyst for religious and secular tyranny in Western culture. And Plato’s mystic dualism (shadows and forms) added not just a little to the MO of the Reformers. According to church historian John Immel:
Calvin’s Institutes (1530) is the formal systematic institutionalization of Platonist/Augustinian syncretism that refined and conformed to Lutheran thinking and became the doctrinal blueprint for the Reformed Tradition [Blight in the Vineyard: Prestige Publishing 2011].
Christ promised us that He would build His Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The idea that the Reformers rescued His church from the gates of the Roman Catholic Church is both laughable and the biggest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind. The idea that Christ needed, and continues to need the services of Plato’s philosopher kings is arrogance on steroids. Somewhere, God’s church moves forward. Let us shed the Reformed load that hinders and find our place in that true church.
“Diverting the saints away from a many-faceted application of truth to the narrow mystic prism of Redemptive Historical hermeneutics is the focused and intentional blitzkrieg of the Reformed oligarchy. The sole purpose of this hermeneutic is to stifle independent thought and free thinking.”
“One should note with much ado that ‘sin’ is anything that Reformed elders say it is. Parishioners often assume that Reformed elders define sin worthy of church discipline by a literal biblical definition. While such naivety is adorable, it is far from reality.”
“And ‘church autonomy’ was not intended to protect either church or state from each other. With Reformed history fresh in their minds, the framers of the constitution sought to prevent cooperation between the two for the expressed protection and well-being of the people.”
“The First Amendment has an ‘ embedded theology’? Really? I will say this as lovingly as I can: if you sign a membership covenant with any church, you need your head examined—the Reformed claim that church membership equals being saved notwithstanding.”
TANC, our organization that is in the process of being formed for the purpose of educating the church about Reformed theology, ultimately seeks to have Reformed theology, and Calvinism in particular, labeled as a cult. That is what we will be aggressively propagating with all diligence. And your support is appreciated.
Like all cults, Reformed theology seeks to control their subjects. But why? The reason stems from ancient spiritual caste systems in which an enlightened minority leads the masses. Proponents will include people who merely lust for power along with those with the best of intentions. Initially, governments and religious institutions were one and the same, ruling on earth in God’s behalf. Supposedly. Large numbers of people will buy into this because it offers them some sort of comfort /security, and it is also easy: “I belong to the fill in the blank ; therefore, heaven is guaranteed no matter what I believe or do.”
When these cults are old and survive a long time, they begin to be classified as “religions.” When individuals start religious movements (and ironically) with the exact same elements, they are often labeled, “cults.” Some cults that are poorly managed, and make bad decisions regarding their ancient presuppositions concerning mankind crash with a big bang. Jim Jones’ “People’s Temple” is a good example of this. Others like the Reformed tradition die a social death, but continue on with acceptable adjustments while retaining the same nomenclature. But from time to time the authentic article will resurface as new movements that have “rediscovered” the “true gospel.” This is the exclusiveness claim that is indicative of all cults.
This spiritual caste system always results in tyranny. How cult leaders manage the ebb and flow of comfort versus tyranny determines whether or not their particular brand will reach religious status, or even that of “denomination.” BUT, the same philosophical ideas that drive every cult are always present and operating. In the “success” thereof, the subjects believe that they are receiving something from the religious caste system (cultic religions/denominations) that they otherwise could not receive from God directly. That’s key—direct access to God =’s NO CONTROL.
The proof is in the pudding and John Calvin’s rule over Geneva is well documented and nothing less than Cult 101. The recent “Neo-Calvinism” surge in the church is merely an excellent contemporary study of the same exact elements that drove the tyranny in Geneva. It is a Geneva that the New Calvinists lust for. The only difference is the pesky separation of church and state that exists in many democracies such as the USA. So, they improvise.
Many New Calvinist “churches” pursue close relationships with local authorities with intentionality. A saved policeman that buys into the theology is considered to be a prized possession in Reformed churches. Such individuals can be used to intimidate unofficially, and in some cases, in a construct that is unlawful. For instance, if a Reformed church wants to ban an individual from church premises because of what they know while posing no objective threat to the safety of the parishioners, such a ban may have no lawful merit. And to obtain a restraining order is a due process that may expose the “church” to information that they do not want known. Here is where a phone call from a local police officer, or in my case, someone claiming to be a Springboro, Ohio police detective comes in handy. Churches, in most states, cannot ban members from the premises that do not pose a physical threat to parishioners or create a disturbance (for example, see the Wall Street Journal report here: http://goo.gl/zgf4R). In-house security details are also becoming popular in Reformed churches. They are used to intimidate and escort individuals from church premises making use of assumed authority by those who submit to their intimidation.
The following are the primary elements of a cult and ever present in Reformed churches as well:
I. Control mechanisms.
A. Small groups.
D. Unearned fast friendships.
a. Part of a reporting structure.
E. Time control.
a. Lots of events scheduled.
II. Love Bombing
A. Love is from the heart and transcends propositional truth.
A. The “unadjusted,” “underestimated,” “scandalous” gospel.
IV. Authoritative interpretation of truth.
A. The elders are the final authority on what the Bible teaches.
B. Parishioners have no authority to interpret the Bible for themselves.
C. Spiritual growth must include elder preaching.
D. Thinking for yourself is a dangerous stunt that shouldn’t be tried at home.
V. Authority to proclaim salvation status.
A. If the elders proclaim an individual unregenerate, whatever they bind on earth will be bound in heaven.
Reformed theologians control independent interpretation of the Bible through academic intimidation and the Redemptive Historical hermeneutic. To say that most parishioners of our day have been brainwashed into to thinking that they are not qualified to interpret the Bible on their own is a gargantuan understatement. But on top of this, the Redemptive Historical hermeneutic (uniquely of the Reformed tradition) demands a redemptive application for every verse in the Bible. Exegetical propositional truth has been replaced with gospel contemplation and an art (seeing the gospel in every verse of the Bible) reserved for the spiritually enlightened Reformed elders. The totally depraved herd should only be concerned with Jesus saving them more and more each day and not drawing any objective conclusions from the Bible that might disagree with Reformed ideas. Diverting the saints away from a many-faceted application of truth to the narrow mystic prism of Redemptive Historical hermeneutics is the focused and intentional blitzkrieg of the Reformed oligarchy. The sole purpose of this hermeneutic is to stifle independent thought and free thinking.
Yesterday, a reader sent me a review of a new book published from the monstrous New Calvinist propaganda machine which has all but completely polluted mainstream Christianity. A vast majority of Christians now depend on para-Bible information as the “subordinate” truth to live by. While recognizing its subordination to the Bible, they also recognize that they can’t understand the Bible. God’s anointed must interpret it for us.
The email heading was entitled, “Geneva Coming?” Probably not, but only because this is America. However, it is more than fair to say that Calvin’s Geneva was cultish to say the least, and New Calvinists will do everything they can to improvise within the present restrictions. It’s who they are—they can’t help it—they are driven by the same philosophy that drove Calvin. And that is what the new book is about: how to control people with church discipline without getting sued, or at least winning the court case if you do get sued as a church.
This is a necessary book for New Calvinists because what drives their church discipline is not based on a literal interpretation of the Bible—it’s based on controlling ideas and free thinking. Furthermore, non-New Calvinistic churches do not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up against the rampant bogus church discipline plaguing the church. Hence, out of frustration, many seek justice in the civil courts—especially because some of the issues are criminal in nature and not merely civil. In many cases, victims are held hostage at New Calvinist churches; elders disallow departure from membership because the reasons for leaving are “not biblical.” Departure would then result in excommunication. Calvinists believe they have the authority to declare someone unsaved, and whether right or wrong, God will honor it. Hence, to disobey the elders could cause you to lose your salvation. Furthermore, in Reformed circles, to be a member of a church is synonymous with salvation; as one Reformed elder has stated: “Since the church is the Body of Christ, a person cannot be “in Christ” unless he is in the church.” Therefore, to be excommunicated for any reason is synonymous with NOT being “in Christ.” In many states the threat of excommunication to control or stop a decision to leave a church is technically kidnapping. Ohio is a prime example:
Route: Ohio Revised Code » Title  XXIX CRIMES – PROCEDURE » Chapter 2905: KIDNAPPING AND EXTORTION
(A) No person, with purpose to coerce another into taking or refraining from action concerning which the other person has a legal freedom of choice, shall do any of the following:
(1) Threaten to commit any offense;
(2) Utter or threaten any calumny against any person;
(3) Expose or threaten to expose any matter tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule, to damage any person’s personal or business repute, or to impair any person’s credit;
(4) Institute or threaten criminal proceedings against any person;
(5) Take, withhold, or threaten to take or withhold official action, or cause or threaten to cause official action to be taken or withheld.
(B) Divisions (A)(4) and (5) of this section shall not be construed to prohibit a prosecutor or court from doing any of the following in good faith and in the interests of justice:
(1) Offering or agreeing to grant, or granting immunity from prosecution pursuant to section 2945.44 of the Revised Code;
(2) In return for a plea of guilty to one or more offenses charged or to one or more other or lesser offenses, or in return for the testimony of the accused in a case to which the accused is not a party, offering or agreeing to dismiss, or dismissing one or more charges pending against an accused, or offering or agreeing to impose, or imposing a certain sentence or modification of sentence;
(3) Imposing a community control sanction on certain conditions, including without limitation requiring the offender to make restitution or redress to the victim of the offense.
(C) It is an affirmative defense to a charge under division (A)(3), (4), or (5) of this section that the actor’s conduct was a reasonable response to the circumstances that occasioned it, and that the actor’s purpose was limited to any of the following:
(1) Compelling another to refrain from misconduct or to desist from further misconduct;
(2) Preventing or redressing a wrong or injustice;
(3) Preventing another from taking action for which the actor reasonably believed the other person to be disqualified;
(4) Compelling another to take action that the actor reasonably believed the other person to be under a duty to take.
(D) Whoever violates this section is guilty of coercion, a misdemeanor of the second degree.
(E) As used in this section:
(1) “Threat” includes a direct threat and a threat by innuendo.
(2) “Community control sanction” has the same meaning as in section 2929.01 of the Revised Code.
Effective Date: 01-01-2004
The name of the book that was the subject of the review is, “A Tale of Two Governments” by Robert J. Renaud and Lael D. Weinberger. The review was written by David V. Edling (http://goo.gl/gvPed). Edling is co-author of “Redeeming Church Conflicts”(Baker, 2012) and was the director of church relations at Peacemaker Ministries before his retirement. Peacemaker Ministries was formed to deal with the onslaught of lawsuits resulting from the recent resurgence of authentic Geneva style Calvinism and its tyranny.
The authors and the reviewer bemoan the fact that lawsuits may prevent churches from moving forward with church discipline, and the book apparently offers a clear path to overcoming those fears by implementing protocols that will prevent lawsuits or prevent a negative legal judgment against a church. According to Edling:
While fear of having to interact with the secular courts and fear of man may dampen the zeal to follow the biblical prescription when a church member hardens his or her heart and remains stuck in sin, these authors effectively refute the idea that such excuses hold any validity. The most significant contribution these authors make to life together in the church today is to provide church leaders and members with confidence—confidence that these common fears can be replaced with the knowledge that being biblical is protected by the laws that govern both church and state.
One should note with much ado that “sin” is anything that Reformed elders say it is. Parishioners often assume that Reformed elders define sin worthy of church discipline by a literal biblical definition. While such naivety is adorable, it is far from reality.
Edling continues with the following statement that is chilling to anyone one who knows the real truth about Reformed doctrine and history:
The foundation for their argument is Scripture. They effectively exegete the relevant passages, including an explanation of how Jesus proclaimed he would build his church by giving men “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 16:18-19), that is, the unique authority both to open the kingdom (through the preaching of the gospel) and to regulate its internal administration (through the practice of church discipline, binding and loosing sin). Using a threefold approach of (1) church history (specifically a “high point” review of 2,000 years of church-state relations); (2) a concise review of the common law and American jurisprudence (the development of the current legal doctrine called “church autonomy”); and (3) practical theology (how to keep your church out of court), Renaud and Weinberger deftly weave together their “tale” that leaves the reader with only one conclusion: if we are wise, we need not fear the courts or the reaction of our church members as we fulfill the call of Christ to love his people and build his church as he has directed using church discipline to restore, protect, and keep pure that for which he died.
Did Christ give Reformed elders a “unique” authority to “bind and loose sin” on earth? The apostles claimed no such “unique authority,” but rather constantly referred to the authority of Scripture and the ability of the saints to interpret it for themselves (Acts 17:11). The apostle Paul called on everyday saints to judge what the true gospel is for themselves (Galatians 1:8), and to only follow leaders AS they follow Christ. Furthermore, you can be certain that the authors only cover the “high point[s]” of Reformed history as it is saturated with the blood of those who disagreed with the Reformers. In the same way that people pick their noses in their cars and somehow think others cannot see them, Reformed elders think that the bloody oligarchy of Reformed history cannot be read. And “church autonomy” was not intended to protect either church or state from each other. With Reformed history fresh in their minds, the framers of the constitution sought to prevent cooperation between the two for the expressed protection and well-being of the people.
The reviewer continues with the following statement that can only be said to reveal how ignorant they believe the saints are:
What does it mean for the church to “be wise” from a secular legal perspective in light of the many court cases that have been decided over the years? As these authors summarize, church leaders must be aware of legal principles that will protect the church in its practice of discipline. Failure to stay within these boundaries may leave the church unprotected. The “church autonomy” doctrine is built on the First Amendment’s embedded theology that God established two separate but equal governments, but the First Amendment doesn’t necessarily bar all claims that may touch on religious conduct. To protect the legal distinction church leaders must understand that their jurisdiction to practice discipline depends on following the law. Central to understand is the “implied consent” that exists in a truly voluntary relationship between church and member (typically through formal membership), that an act of discipline must be grounded in a church’s doctrinal commitments that have been clearly articulated and are supported by recognized religious belief and practice, and that the church must have a clearly stated policy for the practice of biblical church discipline (usually set forth in its constitution or bylaws). Further, church leaders must help members understand the limits of confidentiality because church discipline, by definition, requires others knowing of the continuing sin in the life of one who fails to repent and change.
Here is the assertion that the church and the state are two separate “governments” with the church having its own “jurisdiction.” This mentality should send cold chills running up the back of any thinking person while running to reread the membership covenant they signed. The First Amendment has an “ embedded theology”? Really? I will say this as lovingly as I can: if you sign a membership covenant with any church, you need your head examined—the Reformed claim that church membership equals being saved notwithstanding.
In his conclusion, the reviewer states the following:
Consider whether your church may be failing to obey God’s appointed means of soul care through the faithful and consistent practice of redemptive church discipline.
“Redemptive church discipline”? What’s that? The Scriptures never use the term “church discipline” let alone the former. That term should alert you that something may not be exactly right. I address church discipline issues in detail via a free ebook available on this blog: http://paulspassingthoughts.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/ebook-church-discipline.pdf and for good measure: http://paulspassingthoughts.com/2012/02/09/new-calvinism-and-hotel-california/
Meanwhile, don’t join a little Geneva. And if you’re in one get out. You’re in a cult. A doctrine/philosophy of control equals cult regardless of the nomenclature.
No doubt, PAM reveals many problems with the biblical counseling movement that one may expect when it is based on a false gospel. But John Street’s real sin is his participation in a mass propagation of a false gospel.
Dr. John Street, founder of Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio has finally made it big in the biblical counseling movement. This is evident from the fact that he has become a target of PAM (PsychoHeresy Awarness Ministries). PAM is directed by Martin and Deidre Bobgan who without a doubt are the most formidable critics of the “biblical” counseling movement.
John Street is an elder at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in California, and the Chair of the graduate program for biblical counseling at the seminary associated with MacArthur’s church. Also, last time I checked, Street is the president of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC).
In the most recent PAM newsletters (http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/street_tmc&s.html and http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/street_tmc&s_2.html) Street is barbecued for practicing counseling methods that the Bobgans deem unbiblical. PAM primarily decries the biblical counseling movement’s “problem-centered counseling” verses “Christ-centered Ministry” (http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/e-books/CCMpcc-ebk.pdf ).
I am not sure what PAM means by “Christ-centered ministry,” but it seems to be a passive approach regarding the disciple’s role in sanctification:
This is why we say that those who minister to one another need to get in the way and out of the way. They need to be available, but they need to let God work rather than push their own agenda.
The idea of pushing our own agenda could mean “let go and let God” instead of pushing an agenda that just so happens to be God’s agenda. The wording is unsettling. Elsewhere the Bobgans write the following:
Christ-centered ministry encourages spiritual growth and depends on the Lord to do the work in each individual through His Word and Spirit. Therefore, one can confidently assure believers that this ministry is more effective, long-lasting, and spiritually rewarding than problem-centered counseling for those who are willing to go this way.
Depend on the Lord to do the work? At the very least, the Bobgans need to clarify their position more thoroughly because by and large, gospel contemplationism is the primary thrust of NANC counseling. One wonders if PAM is accusing NANC of what they are guilty of: an overly passive approach to sanctification.
And, NANC, when they were (past tense) helping many people, encouraged an aggressive role in sanctification by the counselee. Christians are called to “study to show thyself approved,” and then aggressively apply that truth to their lives in order to have a life built on a rock (Matthew 7:24).
This was NANC’s approach in the past, and it did result in massive professions of faith, and real lasting change. I know; I was there; I am a firsthand witness. This was before David Powlison via CCEF and company infiltrated NANC with the gangrene of progressive justification. Unbelievably, in broad daylight, Powlison admitted (during a lecture at John Piper’s church while Piper was on sabbatical searching for different “species of idols” in his heart) that NANC’s “first generation” counseling was in contention with “second generation counseling” over the very definition of the gospel!
And this is my point: PAM is focused on the supposed evil of “problem-centered” counseling (is the gospel itself not problem-centered? The gospel did not come to solve a problem?) while the real issue is that NANC and CCEF both propagate a blatant false gospel. The counseling is based on the fusion of justification and sanctification with gospel contemplationism as its practical application.
CCEF’s counseling is based on Sonship theology. Dr. Jay E. Adams nailed that doctrine specifically as the fusion of justification and sanctification in his book, “Biblical Sonship” published in 1999. Adams, in the book, decried Sonship’s position that regeneration is powered by the finished work of justification. CCEF then effectively infiltrated NANC and took it over with the same doctrine. I use over 200 pages to document all of this in “The Truth About New Calvinism” (thetruthaboutnewcalvinism.com).
Hence, we must assume that NANC counseling yields many ill results, and I will say this: PAM points them out though they are missing the much larger issue. Case in point:
The truth is that counselors and especially counselors with an agenda (their particular approach) too often take credit for successes and attribute failures to the counselees. The trumping truth is that success is primarily in the hands of the counselees….
And worse yet, The counselee’s “failure” ends up in church discipline!
Problem-centered counseling is typically a one-to-one relationship. Sometimes couples and families are involved, but the relationship is generally artificial and restrictive. The counseling relationship itself usually does not extend outside the counseling room. The relationship lasts as long as counseling is being provided and normally does not extend to other involvement, even in most biblical counseling centers. Problem-centered counselors commonly do not involve themselves with counselees outside the counseling room. That is why both psychological and biblical counselors sometimes use intake forms requesting a great deal of personal information. Because this relationship is generally isolated, the counselor and counselee can be selective as to what they want to reveal about themselves. In fact, as we mentioned earlier, research shows that counselees often lie to their counselors and protect themselves by concealing important information.
The great advantage of Christ-centered ministry is that it is not limited to an artificial one-to-one relationship where one has the problem and the other supposedly has the solution. In the Body of Christ all are growing together. there are many opportunities to know one another and to interact in genuine relationships. When a believer is experiencing problems, more than one person may be involved in ministering to that individual. One may be teaching. One may be reminding. Another may simply be extending support and fellowship. Another may be helping in practical ways. Another may be exhorting. Another may be admonishing. And, in a few cases, some may be exercising the responsibility of disciplining a fellow believer for the sake of restoration. But, all can be praying and encouraging the individual in the direction of the Lord. And, through all this, all are growing together and the relationships may deepen with one another as well as with the Lord.
No doubt, PAM reveals many problems with the biblical counseling movement that one may expect when it is based on a false gospel. But John Street’s real sin is his participation in a mass propagation of a false gospel. It reminds me of Eric Clapton’s ode to one who objects to being accused of shooting a deputy when he really shot the sheriff.
“MacArthur had a choice: the authority of Scripture or Reformed orthodoxy; he chose the latter.”
“And, what exactly are the ‘implications’ that John MacArthur ‘explains’ from the text? If you assume a many-faceted full counsel of God, your assumptions would be dead wrong.”
Progressive justification is the gospel of John Calvin and present-day neo-Calvinists of all stripes. Forget the freewill/election debate; forget all of the haranguing over the residual issues; progressive justification is simply a false gospel.
It teaches that the power for our Christian living comes from our salvation or justification. At first, you may object to my objection on the bases that salivation makes Christian living possible, and I agree, but making Christian living possible and being directly powered by it are two opposing ideas with a crucial difference.
If Christian living is powered by our salvation (justification), and if our salvation does more than change our standing, position, or status, Christian living (sanctification) remains connected to our justification. This makes sanctification a spiritual minefield with endless and sobering implications.
Of which the least is not: preaching. When justification and sanctification are fused together, we are interacting with our justification throughout life; this would seem evident and terrifying to those who understand the implications because we can supposedly do things in our sanctification that can affect our standing before God.
Hence, in this fusion of the Reformed “golden chain of salvation” (what’s a chain?) we must be careful in how we (according to John Piper) participate in the links because we are not home free and there is a danger in sanctification. No kidding. There would be when justification and sanctification are fused together.
Furthermore, because this makes sanctification very tricky, the children of God (according to Doug Wilson) will be manifested at the last judgment. I sometimes receive complaints here at PPT that John Piper et al seem to state that we cannot know for certain whether we are saved or not until the last judgment. I am not surprised by these questions; they would be consistent with the logical conclusions one must draw from the theology.
This now brings us to our discussion about preaching. Obviously, Reformed pastors are going to be very careful not to preach in a way that will lead us in making our sanctification the ground of our justification. Or, leaping from the imperative to obedience. If we do not pre-bathe all obedience in our salvation, it is “making our sanctification the ground of our justification.” In Reformed circles, they call this, “The biblical command is grounded in the indicative event.” The indicative “event” is the crucifixion of Christ—all obedience flows from that event directly as the empowerment thereof—not a possibility that we participate in.
Therefore, all true obedience in the life of a believer is a mere natural flow experienced by joy and a willing spirit IF it is powered by our salvation. This is obtained through using our Bible to meditate on our salvation, and the works of Christ, and then just letting the Spirit take things from there. If the Spirit then instigates the obedience, it’s the Spirit applying justification to our sanctification and not us. Hence, we are safe from “making our own sanctification the ground of our justification.” Again, this is supposedly manifested and verified by joy (which Piper makes absolutely synonymous with saving faith and the struggle thereof dependent on our salvation [When I Don’t Desire God p.35]). Likewise, John MacArthur mimics the same nonsense as documented in the following PPT post:
Hence, creepy similarities to Piper’s theology appear in “Slave,” especially Pipers belief that true Christian obedience is always experienced as an unhesitating, natural response accompanied by joy. Throughout the book, MacArthur describes Christian obedience as “pure delight” and “joy-filled.” On page 208, he describes our experience as slaves to Christ as “not partially sweet and partially sour, but totally sweet.” This, despite what the apostle John clearly experienced as recorded in Revelation. But regardless of the fact that there is nothing sweeter than being a slave of Christ, to suggest that our experience is never mixed with bitterness (taste, not attitude) is just plain nonsense. A believer who has lost an unbelieving relative or close friend would be an example. Also, even though I realize the importance of joy in the Christian life, I make this observation in “Another Gospel” (page 78):
“Only problem is, among many, is the eleventh chapter of Hebrews contradicts everything in Piper’s statement above. Hebrews 11 is one of the more extensive statements on saving faith in Holy writ. The Hebrew writer defines the faith of at least twenty believers in regard to the decisions they made and obedience. Joy or pleasure, even pleasure in God, is not named once as being an attribute of their faith. The only semblance of feelings or emotions mentioned is that of strife and fear of God more than man. The truth of Hebrews 11, as well as many other Scriptures, makes a mockery of Piper’s theory of Christian hedonism.”
According to John Piper, if we find ourselves in a situation where we find no joy in the obedience—go ahead and obey, but be sure to ask God for forgiveness because of your sinful obedience (John Piper: Treating Delight as Duty is Controversial; pdf booklet available on Desiring God .org). Moreover, this paradigm, according to many Calvinists in our day including John MacArthur, asserts that Christians often obey and experience biblical truth that they are unaware of intellectually. A prime example of this would be the following excerpt from an article written by New Calvinist Bill Baldwin:
Give me a man who preaches the law with its terror and Christ with his sweetness and forgets to preach the law as a pattern of the fruit of sanctification and what will result? In two months his parishioners will be breaking down his door begging to be told what behavior their renewed, bursting with joy, hearts may best produce. And when he tells them, they will be surprised (and he will not) to discover that by and large they have produced exactly that. And where they haven’t, take them back to Christ again that they may contemplate him in all his glorious perfection so that they may better understand what sort of God and man he was and is (Bill Baldwin: Sanctification, Counseling, and the Gospel 08/02/1996).
My best information is that MacArthur bought into this nonsense circa 1994. He was persuaded by, among others, John Piper and Michael Horton that the Reformers in fact held to a progressive justification. MacArthur had a choice: the authority of Scripture or Reformed orthodoxy; he chose the latter. Therefore, MacArthur’s preaching will ape that of most Reformed teachers: heavy on the glory of God and very light on practical application or specific instruction. As Baldwin states it: “….the law as a pattern of the fruit of sanctification.”
And even though MacArthur is far more subtle in his anti-instruction/application than most Calvinists (probably due to the habits of his prior preaching which was heavy on sanctification elements), Christians have nevertheless noticed his lack of application (most likely due to the contrast) and questioned him on it. His defense reveals his dastardly selling out of the truth.
In, “Why doesn’t John MacArthur add much application to his sermons?” (Online source: http://goo.gl/P0eR9), MacArthur defends his Reformed Application Light sermons. But for you skeptics, let me get your attention. In regard to my accusation that this paradigm doesn’t require intellectual knowledge for experience or application, MacArthur concludes his defense by stating the following:
So now you know. You’ve been experiencing this. You had no idea what you were experiencing, right? (Applause) Okay.
The “applause” part of the transcript is the barf factor when one ponders the mindless following of philosopher kings such as “Pastor” John MacArthur Jr. Nevertheless, MacArthur continues:
Now let me tell you what happens when you preach effectively. You do explanation. In other words, you explain the meaning of Scripture, okay? The explanation carries with it implication. In other words, there are implications built into this truth that impact us. You add to that exhortation. And I’ve said things tonight to exhort you to follow what is implied by the text. Now when you deal with the text and the armor of God, like tonight, all I can do is explain it. That’s all it does. There aren’t any applications in that text. It doesn’t say, “And here’s how to do this if you’re 32 years old, and you live in North Hollywood.” “Here’s how to do this the next time you go to a Mall.” “Here’s how to do this when you go in your car and you’re driving in a traffic jam.” It doesn’t tell you that. And if I made my message mostly a whole lot of those little illustrations, I would be missing 90 percent of you who don’t live in that experience.
Unfortunately, MacArthur has gone the way of New Calvinist ungodly communication. He makes application of Scriptures the same thing as applying it to petty life concerns; such as, going to the mall. It’s the classic New Calvinist demeaning of biblical application and obedience. What is really behind it is an antinomian spirit. Let me point out MacArthur’s error in regard to the above quote concerning the idea that there is no application in Ephesians 6:16-20, only “explanation.” That text is full of imperatives and applications in regard to the full armor of God: “Put on…., stand against…, take up…, that you may be able…., having done all…., having put on…., Stand therefore…., having fastened…., and having put on…., in all circumstances [what circumstances? It would be wrong to draw examples from our life?]…., with which you can…., to that end…., [etc., etc., etc].” To imply that Ephesians 6:16-20 doesn’t contain instruction for practical application is ludicrous.
Also, adding to the absurdity of MacArthur’s statement is the fact that “putting on” is a major theme of that passage. This refers back to Ephesians 4:20-24, and the Apostle Paul’s discussion of putting off the old nature and putting on the new. So, MacArthur is not only denying application from our life experience, but specific life application specified in Scripture. Dr. Jay E. Adams notes 45 life applications to the putting off/putting on concept that he didn’t deduct from life observation, but are specifically mentioned in Scripture regarding life application (INS Training in Biblical Counseling by Extension: Introduction Principles and Practices; pp.22-24).
Surely, other than what good preachers should be able to draw from life for biblical application, specific biblical applications regarding life are too numerous to list. For example, Paul states in I Corinthians 7:41 that Christians should only marry “in the Lord.” The life application is what Nehemiah stated about Solomon when he didn’t follow that mandate; ie., even a man of his spiritual wherewithal fell into grievous sin by violating said spiritual principle.
Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women.
No life application in that? Really?
It’s not for me to do that. Application belongs to the Spirit of God. All I’m interested in is explanation and its implications [What about 2Timothy 3:16,17 and the issue of "instruction" ?]. And the power comes in the implication and the Spirit of God takes the implications of what I’ve said tonight, all these things I’ve said, I don’t need to say all kinds of little scenarios to you and paint all kinds of little individual circumstances. All I need you to know is this is what the Word of God says and the implications are powerfully brought to bear with authority on your life and I exhort you to respond to those implications, it is the Spirit’s work to drive those implications into direct and personal application. That’s why you’re not going to, like so many preachers, you’re not going to hear me create all kinds of practical scenarios about how this all fleshes out in everybody’s world because you may hit somebody, you may hit a person here or there, that’s kind of a rifle-shot approach, the shot-gun approach that sprays everybody is the implicational essence of Scripture. That’s the power. And that’s when everybody walks out and says, “Wow, that hit me!” because you already have a commitment to the authority and the power of Scripture.
So, Reformed preaching merely explains Scripture, and the Holy Spirit applies it. So what do we need “instruction” for? (2Timothy 3:16,17). As we have clearly seen, this is an iffy proposition. If this is the case, why does the Bible command specific life application? Does the Spirit need to inform Christians as to what He may or may not do in their lives? I contend that this is MacArthur’s nuanced way of propagating the whole Reformed idea that the Holy Spirit obeys for us, so that our sanctification will not be the “ground of our justification.”
MacArthur further explains:
You already have a commitment to the truthfulness of Scripture. All I want you to understand is what it means. And in the meaning expanded beyond the given text to other texts so that you build all the theological implications, I leave you with the implications and an exhortation to be obedient and I leave the application to the Spirit.
Obedient to what? Obviously, there can be no specific instruction from the pulpit, only “explaining.” Instruction would imply specific application of the text. So, not only does the Holy Spirit apply the text, does he also teach the Christian how to apply it specifically? Or does that just come as a mere natural flow? Well, since, “So now you know. You’ve been experiencing this. You had no idea what you were experiencing, right?” Answer: like Baldwin, and for that matter, all New Calvinists, the “obedience” is “experienced” (not personally applied) without necessary intellectual understanding or knowledge. Let me reiterate MacArthur’s exact words:
So now [present tense] you know. You’ve been [past tense] experiencing this [experiencing what? Answer: obedience]. You had no idea [this should speak for itself….] what you were experiencing, right?
Right John. Whatever you say.
And, what exactly are the “implications” that John MacArthur “explains” from the text? If you assume a many faceted full counsel of God, your assumptions would be dead wrong. MacArthur makes it clear what should be primarily mined from the Scriptures in his Forward to Rick Holland’s Gnostic masterpiece, Uneclipsing The Son:
As believers gaze at the glory of their Lord—looking clearly, enduringly, and deeply into the majesty of His person and work—true sanctification takes place as the Holy Spirit takes that believer whose heart is fixed on Christ and elevates him from one level of glory to the next. This is the ever-increasing reality of progressive sanctification; it happens not because believers wish it or want it or work for it in their own energy, but because the glory of Christ captures their hearts and minds. We are transformed by that glory and we begin to reflect it more and more brightly the more clearly we see it. That’s why the true heart and soul of every pastor’s duty is pointing the flock to Christ, the Great Shepherd….The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock.
What MacArthur endeavors to “explain” in every verse of Scripture is Jesus and His works (as stated by many New Calvinists), “not anything we would do.” As can be seen in the above MacArthur quote, he also follows the Reformed tradition of making God the Father and the Holy Spirit of lesser significance than Christ. Sadly, throughout church history, those of Reformed tradition has burned many at the stake for misrepresenting the Trinity while they are in fact guilty of the same thing.
There is certainly no reason to believe that MacArthur has not completely embraced this doctrine which also suggests that the saints can only get an adequate explanation of the Scriptures from Reformed elders. Saints dare not even fill up half of their plate with anything but Reformed elder preaching:
You think, perhaps, that [you] can fill up the other half of the plate with personal study, devotions, or quiet times, or a radio program. Beloved, you cannot. Scripture is relatively quiet on such practices. But on preaching, the case is clear and strong. Neglect preaching and neglect your soul (Elder Dr. Devon Berry: How to Listen to a Sermon; Clearcreek Chapel .org).
MacArthur’s defense of his preaching being discussed here implies the same idea:
But I want you to understand, if you don’t already understand, what I think should happen in effective biblical preaching. You heard a testimony tonight in the waters of Baptism from Juan about how he kept coming to Grace Church. And in spite of the fact that he wanted to be a hypocrite, the power of the Scripture began to overwhelm him.
Notice that the “power of the Scripture,” which should be understood in context of what we are discussing here, is not the primary crux of the point, but rather, “….he kept coming to Grace Church.” The “power of the Scripture” coming from the pulpit at Grace Church seems to be the point, and would also fit with the Reformed view of anointed elder preaching. MacArthur’s Bible Commentary is now published in the official New Calvinist translation of the Bible, The English Standard Version. It is published by Crossway, which is totally in the tank for New Calvinism. In the following promotional video clip, MacArthur hails the translation as the best ever: http://youtu.be/L1VxhQqsGXU. Again, MacArthur is now a dyed in the wool New Calvinist in the same order of the ones he supposedly despises like Mark Driscoll. While whining about their view of alcohol use among Christians and other residual issues, he is a believer in the same gospel (progressive justification).
The fact that John MacArthur is one of the most popular preachers in church history should be a chilling realization for those Christians who still love the truth.
He is also an excellent acid test for those who really want to know if they are followers of men or followers of the truth.
Join a New Calvinist Church if you will, but let it be known: they now own you. Newsflash for the husbands: Calvinist elders believe they have the ultimate say and authority in your home. And another thing: the gospel they hold to rejects synergism in sanctification as works salvation. So, guess what? If your wife buys into that, you are now in what they call a mixed marriage. You are now dangerously close to divorce court as the divorce rate in these churches has skyrocketed.
In our recent TANC 2012 conference, author John Immel nailed it—it boils down to who owns man: in the Christian realm; does Christ own you or Reformed elders? In the secular realm, does man own man or does government own man? Recently, our President stated that government owns man. Recently, in a trilogy of articles by three Reformed pastors published by Ligonier Ministries, it was stated that the church owns Christians, and I will give you three wild guesses as to who represents the authority of the church. That would be the elders.
So it’s all about the “O.” It’s all about “ownership.”
True, elders have authority, but not beyond the Scriptures that call Christians to interpret them according to their own biblically trained consciences. As we shall see, these articles plainly state the Reformed tradition that came from Catholic tyranny. The Reformers never repented of the same underlying presuppositions concerning man’s need to be owned by enlightened philosopher kings. The Reformation was merely a fight for control over the mutton with the Reformers seeing themselves as the moral philosopher kings as opposed to the Romish ones. Their doctrine was just a different take on how the totally depraved are saved from themselves. But both doctrines reflect the inability of man to participate in sanctification.
The three articles posted were: Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Albert Mohler; Where and How Do We Draw the Line? by Kevin DeYoung; and, Who Draws the Line? by Sean Michael Lucas. All linked together for your indoctrination convenience.
Al Mohler states in his ownership treatise that Christians have “no right” to leave one church for another because of preferences. Emphasis by underline added:
Far too many church members have become church shoppers. The biblical concept of ecclesiology has given way to a form of consumerism in which individuals shop around for the church that seems most to their liking at that moment. The issue can concern worship and music, relationships, teaching, or any number of other things. The pattern is the same, however – people feel free to leave one congregation for another for virtually any reason, or no reason at all.
Church shopping violates the integrity of the church and the meaning of church membership. When members leave for insufficient reason, the fellowship of the church is broken, its witness is weakened, and the peace and unity of the congregation are sacrificed. Tragically, a superficial understanding of church membership undermines our witness to the gospel of Christ.
There is no excuse for this phenomenon. We have no right to leave a church over preferences about music, personal taste, or even programming that does not meet expectations. These controversies or concerns should prompt the faithful Christian to consider how he might be of assistance in finding and forging a better way, rather than working to find an excuse to leave.
Where to begin? First of all, while many New Calvinist churches will bring you up on church discipline for leaving because of “unbiblical” reasons, those reasons vary from church to church. So, not only do the reasons for leaving vary among parishioners, but what constitutes proper “biblical…. ecclesiology” in regard to departure varies as well. Mohler states in the same post that doctrine is a valid reason to leave a church, but yet, one of the more prominent leaders of the New Calvinist movement (CJ Mahaney), who is strongly endorsed by Mohler, states that doctrine is not a valid reason to leave a church. CJ Mahaney substantiated that New Calvinist position and clearly indicated what New Calvinists are willing to do to enforce that position when he blackmailed the cofounder of SGM, Larry Tomczak:
Transcript of Phone Conversation between C.J., Doris and Larry Tomczak on October 3, 1997 pp. 10-11:
C.J.: Doctrine is an unacceptable reason for leaving P.D.I.
Larry: C.J., I’m not in sync with any of the T.U.L.I.P., so whether you agree or not, doctrine is one of the major reasons I believe it is God’s will to leave P.D.I. and it does need to be included in any statement put forth.
C.J.: If you do that, then it will be necessary for us to give a more detailed explanation of your sins [ie, beyond the sin of leaving for doctrinal reasons].
Larry: Justin’s name has been floated out there when there’s statements like revealing more details about my sin. What are you getting at?
C.J.: Justin’s name isn’t just floated out there – I’m stating it!
Larry: C.J. how can you do that after you encouraged
Justin to confess everything; get it all out. Then when he did, you reassured him “You have my word, it will never leave this room. Even our wives won’t be told.”
I repeatedly reassured him, “C.J. is a man of his word. You needn’t worry.” Now you’re talking of publically sharing the sins of his youth?!
C.J.: My statement was made in the context of that evening. If I knew then what you were going to do, I would have re-evaluated what I communicated.
Doris: C.J., are you aware that you are blackmailing Larry? You’ll make no mention of Justin’s sins, which he confessed and was forgiven of months ago, if Larry agrees with your statement, but you feel you have to warn the folks and go national with Justin’s sins if Larry pushes the doctrinal button? C.J., you are blackmailing Larry to say what you want!―Shame on you, C.J.! As a man of God and a father, shame on you!
This will send shock waves throughout the teens in P.D.I. and make many pastors’ teens vow, “I‘ll never confess my secret sins to C.J. or any of the team, seeing that they‘ll go public with my sins if my dad doesn‘t toe the line.”―C.J., you will reap whatever judgment you make on Justin. You
have a young son coming up. Another reason for my personally wanting to leave P.D.I. and never come back is this ungodly tactic of resorting to blackmail and intimidation of people!
C.J.: I can‘t speak for the team, but I want them to witness this. We’ll arrange a conference call next week with the team.
Doris: I want Justin to be part of that call. It’s his life that’s at stake.
(SGM Wikileaks, part 3, p.139. Online source: http://www.scribd.com/sgmwikileaks)
Of course, this example and many others makes Mohler’s concern with the “integrity” of the church—laughable. But nevertheless, Mohler’s post and the other two are clear as to what common ground New Calvinists have on the “biblical concept of ecclesiology.”
Besides the fact that parishioners “have no right” to leave a church based on preference, what do New Calvinists fundamentally agree on in this regard? That brings us to the article by Sean Michael Lucas :
Because the church has authority to declare doctrine, it is the church that has authority to draw doctrinal lines and serve as the final judge on doctrinal issues. Scripture teaches us that the church serves as the “pillar and buttress of the truth.”
So, even in cases where New Calvinists believe that doctrine is an acceptable reason for leaving a church, guess who decides what true doctrine is? “But Paul, he is speaking of doctrine being determined by the church as a whole, not just the elders.” Really? Lucas continues:
In our age, this understanding—that the church has Jesus’ authority to serve as the final judge on doctrinal matters— rubs us wrong for three reasons. First, it rubs us wrong because we are pronounced individualists. This is especially the case for contemporary American Christians, who have a built-in “democratic” bias to believe that the Bible’s theology is accessible to all well-meaning, thoughtful Christians. Because theological truth is democratically available to all, such individuals can stand toe to toe with ministerial “experts” or ecclesiastical courts and reject their authority.
Creeped out yet? Well, if you are a blogger, it gets better:
Perhaps it is this individualistic, democratic perspective that has led to the rise of websites and blogs in which theology is done in public by a range of folks who may or may not be appropriately trained and ordained for a public teaching role. While the Internet has served as a “free press” that has provided important watchdog functions for various organizations, there are two downsides of the new media, which ironically move in opposite directions. On the one side, the new media (blogs, websites, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter) allow everyone to be his own theologian and judge of doctrinal matters. But because everyone is shouting and judging, the ironic other side is that those who are the most well known and have the biggest blogs gain the most market share and actually become the doctrinal arbiters of our electronic age. In this new media world, the idea that the church as a corporate body actually has authority to declare doctrine and judge on doctrinal issues is anathema.
Lucas continues to articulate the Reformed tradition that holds to the plenary authority of elders supposedly granted to them by Christ:
For some of us, again reflecting our individualism, such understanding of the church unnecessarily limits voices and perspectives that might be helpful in conversation. But restricting access to debates and judgments about theology to those who have been set apart as elders in Christ’s church and who have gathered for the purpose of study, prayer, and declaration actually ensures a more thoughtful process and a surer understanding of Christ’s Word than a pell-mell, democratic, individualistic free-for-all. Not only do we trust that a multiplicity of voices is represented by the eldership, but, above all, we trust that the single voice of the Spirit of Jesus will be heard in our midst.
So, bottom line: the priesthood of believers is a “pell-mell, democratic, individualistic free-for-all.” Still not creeped out? Then consider how they answer the question in regard to elder error:
Of course, such slow and deliberate processes do not guarantee a biblically appropriate result. After all, the Westminster Confession of Faith tells us that “all synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred” (WCF 31.3). Sometimes, entire denominations err significantly as they prayerfully consider Scripture and judge doctrine. Such error, however, does not negate Jesus’ own delegation of authority to the church and set the stage for a free-for-all.
This brings us to another issue that DeYoung propogates in his post: since Reformed elders have all authority, their creeds and confessions are authoritative and not just commentaries. Hence, they declared in the aforementioned confession cited by Lucas that even though they error, they still have all authority. Whatever happened to the Apostle Paul’s appeal to only follow him as he followed Christ?
Those who wrote the ancient creeds, such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Chalcedonian Definition, were not infallible, but these creeds have served as effective guardrails, keeping God’s people on the path of truth. It would take extraordinary new insight or extraordinary hubris to jettison these ancient formulas. They provide faithful summaries of the most important doctrines of the faith. That’s why the Heidelberg Catechism refers us to the Apostles’ Creed, “a creed beyond doubt, and confessed through the world,” when it asks, “What then must a Christian believe?” (Q&A 22–23).
FYI: If you see something in your own Bible reading that contradicts a Reformed creed or confession, you are partaking in visions of grandeur.
This is the crux of the matter; the question of authority. It is almost crazy that Christians don’t have this issue resolved in their mind before they join a church. You could be in a church that is subtly indoctrinating your family with the idea that they are owned by the government; in this case, church polity.
Let there be no doubt about it, New Calvinists are drooling over the idea of another Geneva theocracy with all the trimmings. And someone shared with me just the other day how this shows itself in real life. “Mike” is a local contractor in the Xenia, Ohio area. He is close friends with a farmer in the area who lives next door to a man and his family that attend a New Calvinist church.
One day, His new New Calvinist neighbor came over to inform him that he needed to stop working on Sunday because it is the Lord’s Day, and the noise of his machinery was disturbing their day of rest. Mike’s friend told him, in a manner of speaking, to hang it on his beak. Mike believes what transpired after that came from the neighbor’s belief that he was a superior person to his friend, and that his friend should have honored the neighbors request by virtue of who he is.
The neighbor has clout in the community, and to make a long story short—found many ways to make Mike’s friend miserable through legal wrangling about property line issues; according to my understanding, 8” worth. It was clear that Mike’s friend was going to be harassed until he submitted to this man’s perceived biblical authority.
New Calvinists have serious authority issues, and you don’t have to necessarily join in official membership to be considered under their authority. A contributor to Mark Dever’s 9 Marks blog stated that anyone who comes in the front door of a church proclaiming Christ as Lord is under the authority of that church.
It’s time for Christians to nail down the “O.” Who owns you? Are you aware of who owns you (or at least thinks so)? And are you ok with that?
“Not only that, Prince et al are kinder, gentler Calvinists who wouldn’t dream of endorsing a serial sheep abuser like CJ Mahaney.”
I have seen something for some time that I just haven’t had time to write on: Joseph Prince, the charismatic prince of Singapore, knows the Reformation gospel to a “T” and does a phenomenal job of articulating it from the pulpit. Really, the big boys, Piper et al, can’t touch this guy when he talks about the Reformation gospel of progressive justification from the pulpit. Check out the video series from when Prince preached at Joel Osteen’s church. It is the Reformed Justification by Faith Alone [for sanctification also] par excellent bar none.
Yes, yes, Prince has a different application of that gospel in some areas of life. He uses progressive justification to promote prosperity. It is not true that Prince promotes a “prosperity gospel”—that’s a red herring to throw folks off the scent—his gospel is the Reformed gospel of Justification by Faith Alone [for sanctification also] to a “T.” In fact, Prince’s application of the gospel is actually less harmful than the New Calvinist spiritual despots. And there are no charges of spiritual abuse or control issues coming from Prince’s camp as yet. Indeed, the prosperity Gospel Sanctification camp seems to be a kinder, gentler Reformed theology (by golly, that’s a tweet).
I was given the opportunity to squeeze this post into my schedule via a Facebook conversation I stumbled into yesterday. Jo Bowyer of The Reformed Traveler blog stated the following on her FB page:
The Resurgence [I am assuming the New Calvinist Resurgence blog] now quoting Joseph Prince? Seriously?????!!!! The quote they used is this:
“The law justified no one and condemned the best of us, but grace saves even the worst of us.” – Joseph Prince
I wasn’t the least bit surprised. It’s the same gospel. The New Calvinist crowd then picks and chooses who they will associate with according to the application thereof and other criteria. Certain biblical anomalies are acceptable because such and such “has the gospel right and the other issue is secondary” while some have “secondary” applications that they deem unacceptable. This not only explains the strong ecumenical flavor of New Calvinism, but exposes it for its pervasive hypocrisy.
What better example than John MacArthur who continually rags on Joel Osteen and the likes of Prince while he believes the same gospel. Gag, his hypocrisy makes me sick! Not only that, Prince et al are kinder, gentler Calvinists who wouldn’t dream of endorsing a serial sheep abuser like CJ Mahaney. Like MacArthur does.
Yes, the internet is a wonderful gift from God. While the European oppression of the Scriptures was cured by Gutenberg’s press, the deep deception of Reformed theology is exposed by Google. As Joseph Prince would say, “Thank you Jesus.” I said to self: “Self, I am very busy, what’s the best infogoog for this?” So I typed in, “Joseph Prince John Piper” and came up with a jewel.
It was a post by some Reformed guy objecting to the fact that many people think Justification by Faith Alone “for the baptized as well as the unsaved” is all of Joseph Prince’s idea. He makes the case that the Reformers had the idea first, and posted two videos by John Piper and RC Sproul to prove it. Too rich.
Now look, I am really busy and must move on, but you bloggers out there, with the help Gootenberg, can have a lot of fun with this. Trust me, the infogoog on this is vast.
But perhaps the whole issue should be narrowed down to the most glaring contradiction in all of this. While MacArthur states that justification and sanctification cannot be separated, but are distinct, like all neo-Calvinists, he then complains that Rome “blends” the two. According to the standard New Calvinist MO, the cardinal sin in regard to this blending is “progressive justification.” Note once again the following excerpt in this post by JM:
If sanctification is included in justification, then justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete.
But MacArthur is a Calvinist, and progressive justification is exactly what John Calvin propagated. Again, they accuse Rome of exactly what they are guilty of themselves. Calvin entitled chapter 14 of the third book of the Calvin Institutes, “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive.” Calvin then makes the same case throughout the rest of the chapter that all New Calvinists constantly make–that a believer must continually return to justification for their sanctification. Seeing these kinds of blatant neo-Reformed contradictions in MacArthur’s teaching is truly sad to watch when one considers what he once was.
Note: Click on illustrations to make bigger.
Let me state something right out of the gate: the church has never been in a Dark Age. Christ said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). Imagine that. Peter wasn’t anybody—he was an everyday Joe—a blue-collar guy in that culture. Then one day God shows up personally and informs everybody that He would oikodomhsw “be building His church,” or some translators, “I shall be home building”….mou (of me)….the ekklhsian (out-called, not “church” which is not a biblical word) on Peter. You can trust me on this one: Jesus has been home building His out-called, and the construction project has never slowed down or stopped. The building project has always been on schedule and within budget—funded by the Blood. And Christ didn’t choose a John MacArthur Jr. of that day—He chose an ordinary Joe.
Right here, two pillars of the Reformation myth are found wanting. There has never been an out-called Dark Age, and Christ doesn’t primarily use renowned scholars like Martin Luther to get things done. Today’s “Reformed” “church” is built on the foundation of lofty creeds and confessions written by men of fleshly renown. The very name, “Reformed” is fundamentally false—our Lord’s building project has never needed a “reformation”—especially at the hands of murdering mystic despots.
But two days ago, Susan and I had the rare privilege of sitting down with four men who exemplify what Christ is using to build His out-called. We held siege at the restaurant for three hours. These men so encouraged me that it is a wonder that the local police were not called accompanied by men in white attire. They bore four marks of God’s true out-called:
1. Ordinary men.
2. Thinkers who constantly wrestle with understanding.
3. Wholly devoted to truth.
4. Sold-out to the sufficiency of the Scriptures as their only authority.
Somewhere in the world since the day Christ showed up and walked into the everyday lives of twelve men, He has been slowly building His out-called. He has been building with those who possess the same spirit of Noah and is in-fact a fifth mark: they will stand alone if they have to. In the present day neo-Reformed blitzkrieg, it is, and will be two or three families who come out from among them, weeping with sorry, often leaving the only church they have ever known while the door is held open for them by the young, petulant Reformers of our day that despise the sweat and blood that built the work that they have covertly sieged. As our brother Jude said of these brute beasts, they slip in “unawares” (v.4).
Basically, the problem is the same as when Christ showed up to found His out-called. The religion of the day was founded on the authority and institutions of self-important men. People where amazed that Christ didn’t check in with the academics before He launched His ministry, nor quoted the spiritual brainiacs of that day. Likewise, if Christ came today, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, and the insufferable likes of obnoxious men like Steve Lawson and Paul Washer would watch with incredulities as Christ would ignore them and make a b-line for the ghettos—choosing His workers and confidants from among them.
So how should I view an article sent to me by a reader that was written by John MacArthur regarding the Reformation motif of “Justification by faith.” First, as I am presently teaching my family, ALL ideas presented by men, and I believe that MacArthur fits into that category, will entail a litany of propositions that lead to a conclusion. Therefore, let us examine and wrestle with the propositions presented by MacArthur in this article (Justification by Faith: online source: http://goo.gl/xJyFO).
Proposition 1: “The Reformation doctrine of justification by faith is, and has always been, the number one target of the enemy’s attack.”
The “Reformation doctrine”? Excuse me Mr. MacArthur (hereafter, JM), but we get our doctrine from the Bible, not the Reformers, who, as I have noted, are an oxymoron to begin with. In the first sentence of this article, JM sets up an authority between the out-called priests (that’s us) and the word of God. Therefore, his article is predicated on a proposition by men who are not original authors chosen by God— buyers beware. Hence, if we are discerning, JM has raised the propositional ante to a considerable level. By citing the preapproved authors of the Bible, additional consideration could have been avoided.
JM goes on to state that this doctrine, “….provides the foundation of the bridge that reconciles God and man — without that key doctrine, Christianity falls.” This should now incite interpretive questions for the proposition:
1. Could the Reformers have been wrong?
2. Even if they were right, is there a danger in making Reformed epistemology a standard of truth?
3. Is the claim that the church stands or falls on this doctrine establishing Reformation doctrine as a significant authority? And if so, is this wise?
Proposition 2: “Social and political concerns have brought evangelicals and Catholics together in recent years to unite against the forces of secularism. Under the influence of ecumenism, it’s difficult for either group to remember what it was that divided them in the first place.
The pragmatists and ecumenicists are aided in their forgetfulness by new theological movements that redefine justification in more Catholic terms. Under the influence of liberalism and postmodernism, proponents of the New Perspective on Paul, the Emergent Church, and others have so confused and redefined the doctrine of justification that it has become shrouded in darkness once again
The Christian church today is in danger of returning to the Dark Ages. The seeker movement has Christianity turning in its Bibles; the ecumenical movement urges Christians to use worldly means to accomplish temporal ends; and current theological movements look through the lens of philosophy — Enlightenment rationalism and postmodern subjectivism — rather than Scripture. The departure from sola scriptura has led to the departure from sola fide — justification by faith alone.”
JM asserts that the Reformation was a marked contrast between Catholicism and the Reformers. Catholic influence is dragging the “church” back into a “Dark Age.” Regardless of the nomenclature of which he frames this proposition, he begins to articulate the Reformation motif in a way that is traditional, and packaged for fairly easy digestion—if you understand the premise of the motif, and we soon will.
The key here is this part of JM’s proposition: “….and current theological movements look through the lens of philosophy — Enlightenment rationalism and postmodern subjectivism — rather than Scripture.” First, throughout his post, JM uses the term “Reformation doctrine” and “Scripture” interchangeably. Hence, he is proposing that the two are synonymous—he is asking that you accept this proposition as fact. But what we want to focus on here as a gateway of understanding is the word “subjectivism” in his proposition. This is key to understanding my counter proposition:
1. There was no difference in Reformation doctrine and Catholic doctrine.
2. Subjective verses objective is key to understanding the Reformed denial of the new birth that predicates its false gospel.
MacArthur begins to propagate the traditional Reformed dogma of subjective verses objective; that is, as I have previously stated, the crux of their doctrine.
And is that biblical? Is Reformed doctrine biblical doctrine? Is the Reformed gospel the biblical gospel?
The History of the Reformation Motif / Myth
We will take an interlude on the way to our understanding to examine the very significant contemporary contribution to understanding Reformation doctrine by its own proponents and advocates. It is true that Reformation doctrine has experienced times of low recognition followed by “rediscovery,” “resurgence,” and “revival” since the Sixteenth century. The last resurgence began in 1970. It was a rediscovery of authentic Reformed theology that launched the SDA Awakening Movement. Until then, the doctrine had never been framed in a subjective verses objective model of understanding. “Subjectivism” was fingered as the root of all evil verses the, and here it is: objective gospel outside of us. More specifically, “The Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us.” Hereafter, COGOUS.
This apt method of framing Reformation doctrine was the brainchild of SDA theologian Robert Brinsmead, who was joined by Anglican theologians Geoffrey Paxton and Graeme Goldsworthy, and later by Reformed Baptist Jon Zens. They attributed all contra Reformation beliefs and movements such as the Enlightenment era to “subjectivism.” JM shows his kinship to this contemporary understanding of Reformation theology via his propositions in said article, of which the sender asked, “Does this muddy the waters?” Answer: no, in-fact, it clarifies MacArthur’s participation in the endeavor to save the church from a supposed “Evangelical Dark Age.”
The theological think tank formed by this “core four” was known as the Australian Forum and their theological journal was Present Truth Magazine which was the most publicized theological journal in English speaking countries during the Seventies. They compiled a vast amount of documentation that clearly shows that the Reformation gospel of Luther and Calvin was the Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us. It contends that if the power of God is infused into the believer, it will enable him/her to, as the truism states, “know enough to be dangerous.”
Because the Reformers saw justification and sanctification as the same thing, they argued that any enablement infused into the believer would automatically contribute to the justification process which they saw as progressive. Please note: this is exactly what JM et al accuse the Catholics of, but as we shall see, they are both guilty of this same thing: the fusion of justification and sanctification together.
Hence, in contemporary lingo, the outcry of the Reformers against Rome was the “infusion of grace into the believer—making sanctification the ground of his/her justification.” In other words, all enablement and spiritual life must remain outside of the believer. All of the power of grace must remain ‘objective” by staying outside of the believer. This Reformed paradigm was brilliantly illustrated by the Australian Four, hereafter A4, by the following pictorial illustration:
Also let me demonstrate by another A4 pictorial that they believed justification was progressive:
I will later explain the application of the two-man chart in this post. I can most certainly read your mind as you look at it: “How in the world does that work in real life?”
We will now further my contra proposition by substantiating some of my sub-propositions. Let’s first establish that one of the elder statesmen of the neo-Reformed movement, John Piper, and a close confidant of JM, agree with the AF’s contemporarily framed assessment of authentic Reformed doctrine, hereafter, ARD. Graeme Goldsworthy, one of the original A4, recently lectured at Southern Seminary on the Reformation. John Piper wrote an article on Goldsworthy’s lecture (Goldsworthy on Why the Reformation Was Necessary: Desiring God blog, June 25, 2009). Piper’s assessment of Goldsworthy’s lecture is a major smoking gun in regard to agreement on ARD:
In it [Goldsworthy’s lecture at Southern] it gave one of the clearest statements of why the Reformation was needed and what the problem was in the way the Roman Catholic church had conceived of the gospel….I would add that this ‘upside down’ gospel has not gone away—neither from Catholicism nor from Protestants….
This meant the reversal of the relationship of sanctification to justification. Infused grace, beginning with baptismal regeneration, internalized the Gospel and made sanctification the basis of justification. This is an upside down Gospel….
When the ground of justification moves from Christ outside of us to the work of Christ inside of us, the gospel (and the human soul) is imperiled. It is an upside down gospel [emphasis Piper’s—not this author].
Note, if you think about it, it is impossible to “reverse” justification and sanctification unless they are on the same plane. Nor can you turn a two-part object upside down unless both parts are attached—making either one the “ground” or otherwise. Hence, a careful observation of Piper’s use of words betrays his subtleness in regard to believing in the fusion of justification and sanctification together. Furthermore, Piper’s beef with Catholicism is not the fusion of justification and sanctification together per se, but rather the infusion of grace into the believer. The AF two-man illustration depicts Piper’s contention to a “T.” Note the exact same issue: Christ within, or Christ without. Just grasp that for now, and put the absurdity of it on the back burner—it will come together for you later.
Basically, if God’s grace/goodness is placed within the believer, he/she becomes enabled enough to become dangerous leading to all of the terrible things inside of the guy looking down. Everything must remain outside of the believer, leading to all of the good things listed on the right side of the chart which are listed outside of him. Don’t miss that. Today’s church owes Robert Brinsmead a tremendous debt of gratitude for publishing this chart.
A Major Key to Understanding: John H. Armstrong and SUBJECTIVISM
Now, let’s take yet another sub interlude to further my contra proposition. The following illustration shows how the AF made the objective/subjective / Christ within / Christ without the major crux of ARD:
A theologian named John H. Armstrong eludes to this exact survey in Present Truth to make a point in an article that he wrote (The Highway blog: Article of the Month; Sola Fide: Does It really Matter?). Armstrong was the general editor of a combined work called The Coming Evangelical Crisis (1996 by Moody Bible Institute) that included the who’s who of the neo-Reformed movement: R. Kent Houghs; John MacArthur; RC Sproul; and heretics Michael S. Horton and Albert Mohler Jr. Armstrong stated the following in the aforementioned article:
The sixteenth-century rediscovery of Paul’s objective message of justification by faith [and sanctification also because justification is supposedly progressive] came upon the religious scene of that time with a force and passion that totally altered the course of human history. It ignited the greatest reformation and revival known since Pentecost.
Now, if the Fathers of the early church, so nearly removed in time from Paul, lost touch with the Pauline message, how much more is this true in succeeding generations? The powerful truth of righteousness by faith needs to be restated plainly, and understood clearly, by every new generation.
In our time we are awash in a “Sea of Subjectivism,” as one magazine put it over twenty years ago. Let me explain. In 1972 a publication known as Present Truth published the results of a survey with a five-point questionnaire which dealt with the most basic issues between the medieval church and the Reformation. Polling showed 95 per cent of the “Jesus People” were decidedly medieval and anti-Reformation in their doctrinal thinking about the gospel. Among church-going Protestants they found ratings nearly as high….
I do not believe that the importance of the doctrine of justification by faith can be overstated. We are once again in desperate need of recovery. Darkness has descended upon the evangelical world in North America and beyond, much as it had upon the established sixteenth-century church.
As JM said in our observation of the article at hand:
….the doctrine of justification….has become shrouded in darkness once again. The Christian church today is in danger of returning to the Dark Ages.
Enlightenment rationalism and postmodern subjectivism — rather than Scripture. The departure from sola scriptura has led to the departure from sola fide — justification by faith alone.
JM, John Piper, Armstrong, Graeme Goldsworthy, and what they call the “Justification by faith” doctrine—all the same camp, and the same belief: The Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us.
How in the World Does COGOUS Work in Real Life?
As far as how this doctrine functions, there are two camps. But in both camps, the believer remains unchanged and totally depraved. The crux of COGOUS is that sanctification is a total work of God because it finishes justification. The doctrine then frames man’s role in regard to Gnostic ideas. In fact, the very first sentence of the Calvin Institutes is a Gnostic idea. Calvin claims therein that all knowledge is contained in the knowledge of ourselves and knowledge of God. Since we already know that Calvin believed in the total depravity of man, this is the knowledge of good and evil.
Calvin, right out of the gate, states that this is the core of all true wisdom. So, what you begin to see when reading the works of various Reformers of old and new, is the idea that change begins with wisdom, and as we see our own depravity in deeper and deeper ways, and the holiness of God in deeper and deeper ways (which the former facilitates as well), a transformation takes place. Not in us, of course, we are totally depraved—we therefore cannot change—we rather manifest a realm. As it was explained to me by a fairly well known Calvinist, there is a Spirit realm, and a flesh realm (not an old nature within us), and both put pressure on us if we are saved, and we either “yield” to one or the other realms at any given time. But again, we don’t change, we merely manifest a realm. Out of this comes terms like, “Pastor of Spiritual Formation,” and “heart formation,” or “spiritual transformation.” Notice that the “spiritual” is being transformed, not us. I am presently doing research to get a more refined understanding in regard to “what this looks like.” Apparently, an exercise of our own will to obey is creating our own reality instead of “His preordained story.”
A rough sketch follows: all reality points to Christ’s glory, and all reality is wrapped up in the gospel and interpreted by it (the first tenet of New Covenant Theology). All history is “redemptive.” Therefore, all historical events, and events period, are preordained by God to show us wisdom; ie, the knowledge of the good (Christ), and the knowledge of the evil (our own depravity), and both point to God’s glory and “show forth the gospel.” So, all events in life are preordained by God to show us our own depravity, and His holiness. That’s the first way we gain wisdom of ourselves and God, and when we see it, our manifestation results in part of the grand gospel narrative preordained by God.
The second way that we manifest the gospel is through seeing historic events in the Bible that represent the same kind of events that happen in redemptive history. The Bible, in the same way that redemptive history does, gives us wisdom in regard to our own evil and God’s holiness, again resulting in redemptive historical manifestations. If we respond improperly to the redemptive historical event (whether good or bad), we reap “bad fruit” (ie., a bad manifestation) which lends further opportunity for deeper understanding of our own depravity and more glory for God. If we participate properly in the gospel story, we are assured peace and joy regardless of our circumstances (because we are in essence detached from reality in my view). Many Reformed thinkers such as David Powlison and Paul David Tripp call this,
The big picture model is the story of every believer. God invites us to enter into the plot! (Paul D. Tripp: How People Change, p.94).
As I said before, there are two camps: one rejects any kind of work at all by Christ in us, but Tripp is of the other camp that teaches that we remain totally depraved, but Christ does do a work in us, albeit His work in totality. Tripp states that as we gain deeper understanding of our own evil (deep repentance), our hearts are emptied of idols which then results in a filling of Christ resulting in spiritual formations or manifestations (Ibid, p. 28). Others believe that whatever we see in the Bible ( like a circumstance of Christ’s love) is imputed to us as we see it and understand it. Many of Reformed thought call this “such and such ( love or whatever) by proxy.” It is also known as the “active obedience of Christ” or progressive imputation. Following is an illustration of some of these ideas presented here (Ibid, p.100):
But you can also see some of these concepts if you refer back to the two-man chart. The gospel man meditates on “Grace, Justification, Perfection, Security, immortality, Law,” but these things remain outside of him as manifestations of the objective gospel. But the Christ within man has these things inside of him because that is where his focus is (subjective). Following is another Reformed illustration of what we are talking about. Notice that the cross gets bigger—not us. We don’t grow—the cross does. The cross represents grace outside of us; so, the cross is seen as bigger (ie, God is glorified) while we don’t change. These manifestations make God look bigger while not being connected to anything recognized as us being new and improved. Michael Horton refers to this as “preaching the gospel instead of being the gospel.”
MacArthur often conveys ideas that do nothing in regard to separating himself from this absurd mysticism. In writing the Forward to the Gnostic masterpiece, Uneclipsing the Son by former associate Rick Holland, JM states the following:
As believers gaze at the glory of their Lord—looking clearly, enduringly, and deeply into the majesty of His person and work—true sanctification takes place as the Holy Spirit takes that believer whose heart is fixed on Christ and elevates him from one level of glory to the next. This is the ever-increasing reality of progressive sanctification; it happens not because believers wish it or want it or work for it in their own energy, but because the glory of Christ captures their hearts and minds. We are transformed by that glory and we begin to reflect it more and more brightly the more clearly we see it. That’s why the true heart and soul of every pastor’s duty is pointing the flock to Christ, the Great Shepherd.
Let’s now return to the article at hand and address the more relevant parts. In the section entitled, “Back to the Beginning,” JM sates the following:
In the 1500s a fastidious monk, who by his own testimony “hated God,” was studying Paul’s epistle to the Romans. He couldn’t get past the first half of Romans 1:17: “[In the gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” (KJV).
One simple, biblical truth changed that monk’s life — and ignited the Protestant Reformation. It was the realization that God’s righteousness could become the sinner’s righteousness — and that could happen through the means of faith alone. Martin Luther found the truth in the same verse he had stumbled over, Romans 1:17: “Therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith” (KJV, emphasis added).
JM then fails to mention that Luther believed that this justification passage also applies to sanctification. Then JM sates the following under the next heading, Declared Righteous: What Actually Changes?:
In its theological sense, justification is a forensic, or purely legal, term. It describes what God declares about the believer, not what He does to change the believer. In fact, justification effects no actual change whatsoever in the sinner’s nature or character. Justification is a divine judicial edict. It changes our status only, but it carries ramifications that guarantee other changes will follow. Forensic decrees like this are fairly common in everyday life….
Similarly, when a jury foreman reads the verdict, the defendant is no longer “the accused.” Legally and officially he instantly becomes either guilty or innocent — depending on the verdict. Nothing in his actual nature changes, but if he is found not guilty he will walk out of court a free person in the eyes of the law, fully justified.
In biblical terms, justification is a divine verdict of “not guilty — fully righteous.” It is the reversal of God’s attitude toward the sinner. Whereas He formerly condemned, He now vindicates. Although the sinner once lived under God’s wrath, as a believer he or she is now under God’s blessing.
This all looks to be very solid theologically, but I want you to notice that JM fails to mention that Justification is a finished work. That’s key. And it’s key because of what he states next:
Justification is more than simple pardon; pardon alone would still leave the sinner without merit before God. So when God justifies He imputes divine righteousness to the sinner (Romans 4:22-25). Christ’s own infinite merit thus becomes the ground on which the believer stands before God (Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 3:9). So justification elevates the believer to a realm of full acceptance and divine privilege in Jesus Christ.
The problem here is the implication that a pardon is not enough, and that our “standing” must be maintained lest we find ourselves “without merit”…. “before God.” This is problematic because any kind of standard that would maintain merit before God for justification is voided (Romans 7;1-4). There is simply no merit or standard left for a Christian to be judged by in regard to justification.
But the smoking gun that convicts MacArthur in fusing justification and sanctification together in this same article follows under “How Justification and Sanctification Differ.” JM starts out well with this statement:
Justification is distinct from sanctification because in justification God does not make the sinner righteous; He declares that person righteous (Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16). Notice how justification and sanctification are distinct from one another:
After stating this, JM, evokes the classic neo-Reformed double-speak sleight of hand for fusing justification and sanctification together without appearing to do so:
Those two must be distinguished but can never be separated. God does not justify whom He does not sanctify, and He does not sanctify whom He does not justify. Both are essential elements of salvation.
JM also clearly states that progressive sanctification is part of the same “salvation” process that justification is also a part of ; hence, they supposedly can’t be separated. But the Bible authors only speak of sanctification as salvation in a manner of speaking because there are three sanctifications: positional (1Cor. 6:11), progressive/practical (2 Cor. 7:11, 2 Peter ch. 1), and complete (1 Cor. 6:11[those who are sanctified positionally are glorified as well]), but only one justification that is a onetime legal declaration (Romans 8:30).
Furthermore, JM’s use of the distinct but never separate sleight of hand is the exact same mantra constantly used by many in the neo-Reformed crowd:
Though justification and sanctification cannot be separated they must be distinguished.
~ Ernest Reisinger
It would also stand to reason therefore that MacArthur, like all of the neo-Reformed, would not see any role for the believer in sanctification other than gospel contemplationism. This can be confirmed by reviewing the previous excerpt from Holland’s book.
Classic Reformed Kettles Calling the Pot Black
We now observe a trait by JM that was never true about him before he went over to the dark side—blatant contradictions that assume the utter stupidity of his followers. He follows the neo-Reformed protocol for drawing the line of distinction between the Reformers and Rome in this way:
Roman Catholicism blends its doctrines of sanctification and justification.
So, the two cannot be “separate,” but they can be blended? But what JM states next brings us full circle to what we observed in John Piper’s article on the Goldsworthy lecture at Southern:
Catholic theology views justification as an infusion of grace that makes the sinner righteous. In Catholic theology, then, the ground of justification is something made good within the sinner — not the imputed righteousness of Christ.
Please note JM’s either/or interpretive prism, (a neo-Reformed distinctive) that eliminates the possibility that the believer is empowered by the Spirit internally for something that is separate from justification; namely, kingdom living. Notice that the issue is specifically “something good” inside the believer verses the “imputed righteousness of Christ.” Obviously, JM rejects the idea that it can be both, and whatever it is, it must point back to justification if it is something “good” inside of the believer.
Rome’s motive for fusing the two together is beside the point, both the Reformers and Rome believe the two cannot be separated. Hence, for Rome it was easy: Christ forgives all of your past sins, but now you must do certain things to complete your justification because salvation is linear with both justification and sanctification on the same plane. Likewise, the Reformers believe in the same linear gospel, but pardon it by making everything that needs to be done to complete justification—totally of Christ alone. This requires us to remain totally depraved in the process and utilizes Gnosticism for whatever application can be surmised. Frankly, this is the first time that I have seen writings from JM that totally remove all doubt that he has bought into this doctrine , hook, line, and sinker.
If sanctification is included in justification, the justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete. Our standing before God is then based on subjective experience, not secured by an objective declaration. Justification can therefore be experienced and then lost. Assurance of salvation in this life becomes practically impossible because security can’t be guaranteed. The ground of justification ultimately is the sinner’s own continuing present virtue, not Christ’s perfect righteousness and His atoning work.
The contradictions here are mindboggling. Again, “If sanctification is included in justification….” Is somehow different from, “… . but can never be separated.” Like all in this camp, JM complains about those who combine the two, while at the same time stating that they cannot be separated.
But perhaps the whole issue should be narrowed down to the most glaring contradiction in all of this. While MacArthur states that justification and sanctification cannot be separated, but are distinct, like all neo-Calvinists, he then complains that Rome “blends” the two. According to the standard New Calvinist MO, the cardinal sin in regard to this blending is “progressive justification.” Note once again the following excerpt in this post by JM:
If sanctification is included in justification, then justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete.
But MacArthur is a Calvinist, and progressive justification is exactly what John Calvin propagated. Again, they accuse Rome of exactly what they are guilty of themselves. In fact, Calvin entitled chapter 14 of the the third book of the Calvin Institutes, “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive.” Calvin then makes the same case throughout the rest of the chapter that all New Calvinists constantly make–that a believer must continually return to justification for their sanctification. Seeing these kinds of blatant neo-Reformed contradictions in his teaching is truly sad to watch.
What is it going to take to overcome this kind of error in the church? Christians who think, and love truth enough to wrestle with it long and hard. That’s going to be a small percentage of Christians as thinking is also not in vogue.
Nevertheless, they are out there—Christ said they would be in increasing numbers as He continues to build His out-called ones.
It’s time to get a grip. Susan and I have been visiting many churches and reading a mass of recommended sermons on, “forgiveness,” “judging others,” “humbleness,” and “pursuing peace” that are saturating the internet. These sermons, like the ones we are hearing Sunday, after Sunday, are geared to control people via the following principles; albeit ever so subtle, and of course, by proof texting:
1. In comparison to Christ, everything on Earth, including life in general, is a pile of dung. So, all the bad things that happen are irrelevant. I mean, what do you expect? God allows these things to happen to draw us closer to Him and wean us from our desires for things on Earth. Oh that we would have no desires whatsoever other than “Christ and Him crucified!” That is our goal. No desires at all other than Christ is the ideal.
2. “Justice?” [add sarcastic smirk that begs the question: are you really that clueless?]. “You want justice? If we all got what we deserved, we would all be in hell!” “In regard to everything in life, remember the Puritan who looked upon a marcel of meat that was his only meal for that day and said, ‘What? Christ?? And this also???!’” Being interpreted: any dissatisfaction with life at all directly relates to your unthankfullness for being one of the chosen ones. Yes, I had a sinful thought the other day: I was thinking about how nice it would be to take Susan on a cruise. Just the two of us out on some boat in the middle of God’s vast ocean. How dare me! Those thoughts could have been better expended on the excellency of Christ!
3. The saints are incapable of righteous indignation because of our total depravity. Righteous indignation is arrogance. All anger is sin. We are always angry because we didn’t get our own way.
4. A sense of accomplishment is pride. Jesus does it all for us. We are totally depraved and every good work we do was preordained by God for His glory, and the rest of our life is left to us to muddle through to teach us not to depend on any of our fleshly “strengths” or “abilities.” It’s all good—both what God has predetermined and our own sins point us back to Christ and His works only, “not anything we would do.” “It’s not our doing—it’s Christ’s doing and dying.”
5. The preordained elders of the church must use the law to control the totally depraved zombie sheep. However, remember, every verse must be seen in the context of the historical Christ event, and this takes a special anointing given to those who have been preordained to lead the zombie sheep to heavenly safety despite themselves. “I’m sorry, you who question the elders, it just so happens that your marriage doesn’t ‘look like the gospel’ so we must tell your wife to divorce you. Yes, I know it seems like a contradiction to the plain sense of Scripture, but you don’t have the special anointing that enables you to see the ‘higher law of Christ’ that we can see.”
6. And remember, even though they are God’s chosen and specially anointed, they are still totally depraved like us. See, this is a huge problem—this whole problem with evangelicals wanting Reformed elders to “be the gospel, rather than preaching the gospel.” In other words, trying to manifest our own behavior, rather than manifesting the gospel; ie., Christ’s “active obedience” that is continually imputed to us in sanctification.
7. Conclusion: Keep your stinking mouth shut, buy the books that translate the Bible into “Chrsitocentric gospel truth,” tithe 10% or else, sit under elder preaching as the only way to manifest the historic Christ event, rejoice that all evil in the church makes the cross bigger, and report people who ask questions.
Certainly, the wholesale brainwashing of the saints in this country, and in our day, may be unprecedented. I see it daily in this ministry through correspondence from battered sheep: “Are my elders wrong in their wrongdoing?” How would we know? They supposedly can see things we can’t see. The rest of the congregation is told to “trust the elders who are close to the situation and know all the facts.” Saints stand perplexed and ask, “How can they do that when it is plainly against the Bible?” The answer is simple: they don’t read their Bibles the same way we do. The “gospel” is an objective truth (by the one word only) that is an unknowable eternal truth that the “knowers” can only know.
The Reformers bought into all this stuff, and it is nothing more than a Gnostic perspective that despises life. The statements that vouch for this are everywhere in the Calvin Institutes and Luther’s commentaries, as well as things spoken by contemporary Neo-Calvinists, but we simply don’t want to believe that they are saying what they are saying. Could they be wrong in their wrong? Could they be erroneous in their error? Is their hatred really hatred? Is their law-breaking really a violation of the law? Where do I even begin here? I had a Reformed elder call and tell me that another elder told him that God will bind in heaven whatever elders bind on earth—even if they are wrong. He then added that he didn’t really believe the guy said it. He was standing there, did he say it or not? And if he did, do they really believe that? Hhhheeeellllooo, yes they do!
This is just all a repeat of history. It all boils down to whether men own men by proxy, or whether God owns man. And if God owns man, to what point does He want us to be responsible for ourselves? To what point does our participation in life matter? How are we to think about the full philosophical spectrum of life? Bottom line: we are letting spiritual despots determine these questions and not our Creator. And yes, what God wants to be accomplished in His kingdom is being affected. The world is watching, and they are not impressed, and the answer is not “keeping it all in the family.” And, “What happens in the church, stays in the church because the world doesn’t understand the ‘historic Christ event.’”
“Deb,” or “Dee,” I forget which, over at, I forget, “The Whatburg blog”? or something like that, got it right: the internet is the modern-day Gutenberg press. Yes, there is a lot of pain out there, but there will be a lot more if what is done in darkness is not exposed to the light. This is exactly what God’s word instructs us to do when professing Christians refuse to repent of serious offences against each other: “TELL IT TO THE CHURCH.” Then what? Those who are aware of it are to “stay aloof” from them. It is a fellowship issue. And the willingness of MacArthur et al to fellowship with serial sheep abusers shows what their true love for biblical truth is: not much, if any.
Do you think I am being extreme? Then explain the following to me:
1. The rampant cover-ups by “respected” church leaders.
2. The utter indifference to abuse by the leaders of our day.
3. The blanket acceptance of ridiculous ideas by the who’s who of national religious leaders; such as, John Piper’s “Scream of the Damned.”
4. The wholesale fellowship of leaders with blatant mystics like Tim Keller.
5. Rape and pedophilia swept under the rug and ignored—an atrocity that was once identified primarily with the Catholic Church.
Whether Rome or Reformed, the behavior is the same because the underlying presupposition is the same: the totally depraved must be enslaved to “enlightened” leaders; supposedly, by God’s approved proxy. And there are a hundred different doctrines that seek to reach that goal—we argue over the correctness of each doctrinal nuance, but the goal of all of them is the same: CONTROL. As author John Immel aptly states, these men speak for God, but the problem is….God is not standing there to personally object. Immel states this as a manner of speaking—God is standing there to object, if the mental sluggards of our day would open the Bible and listen for themselves.
But nevertheless, this is way Reformed theologians want to make the Bible a mystical gospel narrative rather than a full philosophical statement on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and interpersonal application to be understood and interpreted by the individual born again believer with the help of elders—not the dictation thereof. The latter is for purposes of control—job one for most churches in this country.
The state’s worst fear is an uncontrolled populous, and religions have always come knocking on their doors offering a belief system that will produce a docile mass, and by the way, “if they won’t believe what we tell them to, you can kill them for us.” Do some historical googling on your own—Rome nor the Reformers have ever been any different on this wise. Oh, and you can add the Puritans to that list as well. They called their place of landing “New England.” New location—same England, complete with witch hunts and persecution of those who disagreed with them. Uh, do you think it is coincidence that their only Bible was the Geneva Bible? Now research the city council archives from Geneva during the time Calvin ruled there. Yes, it really happened. And yes, Rome would do what they have always done if the Enlightenment had not put them in their place. Historically, whether Reformed, or Romish, their tyranny has gone underground when they are contended against. A good illustration of this is the book. “House Of Death and Gate Of Hell” by Pastor L.J. King. Pushed back by the Enlightenment, the Catholic Church merely went underground with the Inquisition. Therefore, all of the whining about the evils of the Enlightenment among the Reformed is no accident. The freedom of ideas has always been the tyrants worst enemy.
“Oh now Paul, you can’t just paint the whole movement with one big brush.” Why not? That’s how Jesus painted the Pharisees. When did Jesus ever say, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, but they aren’t all bad. I can’t just paint the whole movement with a big brush. Some of those guys are ok. We have to take from the shelf what is good and leave the rest where we found it.” See my point on how the Bible is a comprehensive statement on how to live and think for the individual? We can’t use it for that if it is a mystical gospel narrative. And that’s the point: control, by removing our ability to think for ourselves. When we read that Luther despised reason, we don’t think he really meant it just because he wrote it. Oh really?
So, in case you aren’t keeping track, that’s reason number three why discernment bloggers need to keep up the blogging: it’s a call to come out from among them. That’s the biblical model: ducks swim with the ducks and birds fly with the birds. Congregations that support abusive ministries need to be confronted about it, and most certainly, others need to be warned that they shouldn’t support those ministries either. Statistics show that 80% of all parishioners who visit a church will google it—exactly, why should the other side of the story not be told? Because abusive churches are masters of deceit, and centralist doctrine is slowly assimilated into the minds of people like the proverbial frog in boiling water, many people are simply in too deep before they realize what is going on. I deal with people who are simply too spiritually weak (through indoctrination designed to do just that) to do what they have to do to leave a given church. Let me state something in regard to what John Immel calls “private virtue.” If warning a sleeping family that their house is on fire is not a private virtue, which Immel rightly fingers as an oxymoron, neither is blogging about abusive churches. Far from it. There is no place for private virtue in our duty to stand against spiritually abusive leaders.
Another reason that the bogosphere must continue to take a hard stand is because the Bible specifically states that we are to do just that. Consider 2 Corinthians 10:4,5;
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Christians have a duty to contend against EVERY “thought” that is contrary to God’s truth, and they are to use truth to do that. I don’t think much needs to be added to this point.
Like our belief that the Popes of our day wouldn’t repeat the horrors of the inquisition, even though they clearly did up until the early 50’s after being forced underground by the Enlightenment, we imagine that the Neo-Calvinists of our day would never repeat the behavior of the Reformers and Puritans. We are sadly mistaken. The spiritual abuse tsunami that we are seeing in our day is Reformation light. The gallows and the stake stoked with green wood has been replaced by bogus church discipline with excommunication following, character assignation, commanding people to divorce their spouses, ruining people’s careers, and false incrimination. It is now protocol for many New Calvinist church leaders to make a concerted effort to get in tight with local law enforcement in case they would need a “favor.” In my contention with Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio, I received a very inappropriate phone call from a police detective who ordered me to do certain things that were clearly outside of his authority. I immediately contacted an attorney and started compiling data because I didn’t know what was coming next. My life was also threatened via email. Whatever the present abuse might escalate to, I think it prudent to do all we can to end it where it is at.
The present-day Neo-Calvinists are absolutely correct: they have “rediscovered” the true Reformation gospel. Ministry themes like “Resurgence,” “Modern Reformation,” and “Resolved” are absolutely correct in their assertion that the true Reformation gospel has been recently rediscovered (circa 1970). But where did it go? “The Enlightenment and Existentialism suppressed It.” Hardly. The Enlightenment and Existentialist movements were a pushback against the tyranny that is part and parcel with the Reformation gospel. The Reformation gospel dies a social death every 100-150 years because of the following:
1. The idea of the plenary inability of man leads to a significant decrease in quality of life.
2. The saints eventually discover that said philosophy imposed an interpretation on the Bible regarding the gospel, instead of a gospel understood from exegesis. Another way of stating it: The Reformation gospel is false, fuses justification and sanctification together so that all works are of God only, denies the new birth, is Gnostic, and is accompanied by bad fruit accordingly.
3. The tranny that cannot help but be a part of this doctrine eventually peaks; ie., the saints finally get fed-up.
4. The Gnostic concept of continually recycling a narrow concept that is supposedly the gateway to higher knowledge eventually gets boring. In this case; gospel this, gospel that, gospel the other, gospel driven marriage, gospel driven music, gospel driven child rearing, gospel driven drivers education, gospel driven weight loss programs, and 52 different versions of the gospel a year parsed out on each Sunday. People also get tired of 7/11 music: seven verses about Jesus repeated 11 times.
5. A narrow sanctification dynamic begins to wreak havoc on the saints; ie., ruined lives become the norm.
6. An air of indifference becomes evident. Everybody starts acting like Dr. Spock.
7. Like its kissing cousin, Communism, it just eventually sucks the life out of people, and they start looking for something else. The doctrine simply does not deliver in the long run.
8. The light bulb finally turns on: when the doctor says: “there is nothing we can do,” that =’s no hope. The saints begin to wonder why the Christian life is any different.
And that’s what we are seeing right now. Big time. And regardless of the various stripes of those who are in the fight—we are united on the following: the tyranny and abuse must stop. And what will stop it is the same thing that has always stopped it: the truth proclaimed from the housetops. An incessant, relentless, tenacious proclaiming of the truth hastens the rightful death of tyranny.
It is true, “the keyboard is mightier than the sword.”
In my recent post, The Doctrine of Centralism and the “Cult” Misnomer, I explain the doctrine of control, or centralism. First, Western culture is predicated on the idea that philosophers should rule over the ignorant masses. This was formulated in the first philosophical think tank and institution of higher learning located in Athens Greece circa 400BC. From there, the philosophy moved forward and made its impact on Western culture through the secular realm and the religious realm.
In the religious realm, Plato’s philosopher kings became popes and Reformation elders. That is why the Reformers and the popes both believed (and still do) in the integration of religion and state for purposes of enforcing “God’s law” on society. The state gets a unifying belief system that unites the populous in the deal, and the philosopher kings get an army to enforce discipline on the totally depraved sheep if necessary. The whole idea that the Reformation was a contention for the true gospel of grace is just really bad history—it was a fight for control of the mutton.
The founding fathers of America were contemporary observers of the results, which have never been good. The U.S. constitution was predicated on the idea of keeping the church separate from state with the latter being in complete servitude to the people. But centralism remains dominate in American religion. However, it can’t enforce its control by the stake or gallows, so it improvises through indoctrination. In years past, popes and the likes of John Calvin did not have to be good at indoctrination because the state enforced their doctrine—contemporary proponents of centralism have to craft their doctrine well in order to gain control of people.
And the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) pastor kings are among the very best. We will now examine the art of centralism indoctrination. Keep in mind that a lot of the indoctrination is already in place via years of “preaching” by Jack Hyles and his recently fired son-in-law who had sex with a sixteen year old girl. We will focus on the centralism being used to deal with this recent scandal, and paving the way for business as usual at the First Baptist Church of Hammond and IFB churches in general.
Because of my busy schedule, I do not have time to document the actual footage I have seen in this situation that fit into the following criteria, but perhaps readers could comment and add the citations for each.
1. The philosopher king has fallen. The emphasis is on the great loss of this vital pastor king whom the totally depraved sinner-saints depend on. He will be mentioned 100 to one in comparison to the victim. “Oh my! The sheep are without a shepherd!”
2. Enlightened, but still of the earth. Remember, though pastor kings are enlightened and “called” of God to lead the totally depraved zombie sheep home through the dark maze of sanctification, they are still SINNERS. These poor souls have been called of God to vex their righteous souls among the totally depraved, and bless their hearts, sometimes they “fall.” How dare we judge them when they have forfeited their rightful place in heaven to lead us amidst this pigpen called Earth!
3. It’s the congregations’ fault. I have heard several comments by IFB big guns who have been brought in to apply the centralism protocol that implements this element, including the interim pastor king. Basically, the idea that because of the inherent selfishness of the zombie sheep, too much pressure was put on Schaap—leading to his “fall.” The kingdom of darkness targets the pastor kings specifically, and the congregation has been an unwitting accomplice with the devil. THEY SHOULD BE ASHAMED!
4. Certification/reassurance by secondary pastor kings. The sub-pastor kings at FBCH reassure the totally depraved zombie sheep that Schaap is still God’s anointed pastor king. They point to his many years of faithful service as proof [this guy was fairly good, it took 11 years to catch him]. As one sub-pastor king noted, “I love this church.” Ah, and if a pastor king loves that church—you must also. Thou pastor king has spoken—let it be written. Who can forget the infamous words of daddy Jack Hyles: “Now I want you to close your Bibles and listen to me.”
5. Dualism. All that IFB does that manifests heaven is a testimony to godly unity, and proof that there is an IFB temple in heavenly Jerusalem. But when something bad happens, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the heavenly IFB. Because after all, they are “independent” of each other. You idiot, can’t you read the “independent” in “IFB”? In all of their “unity” (IFB has a cooperative network unmatched anywhere on Earth), is heaven manifested on earth, but when they fall get caught, that is a manifestation of the “independent” church’s evil matter. “You can’t just swath a big brush across all of IFB because of this!” Oh yes you can. All IFB affiliated churches run by the same playbook that is driven by the same philosophy. Hence, the results will be duplicated. Look, this prism is exact across all denominational, religious, and cultic lines. It is based a specific presupposition concerning mankind as opposed to a true emphasis on the priesthood of believers. This protocol can be seen to a “T” in the SBC, and especially SGM. Therefore, the massive network based on a given philosophy that produces the behavior is preserved.
6. Us against them. The “world” and competing philosopher kings would love to see the heavenly IFB’s representation on earth fall. Don’t let that happen! Be a team player! “Please, stick with us.”
Yes, much is at stake. IFB philosopher pastor kings could be deprived of the concubines that they so deserve—a small price for us to pay for their sacrifice for us in the evil realm of earthly matter. Fathers should feel privileged and proud as their raped daughters sign confessions for being the devil’s advocates in bringing down the great pastor kings.
And this isn’t just IFB, this is a mirror image of the SBC, SGM, LDS, GARB, etc., etc., etc., etc..
“The sheep are catching on. They are pushing back against being owned by anyone other the Lord who purchased us with His own Blood.”
In our day, most pastors, indeed, most, fit into two categories: the philosopher kings of the first gospel wave, and the philosopher kings of the second gospel wave. First, I will explain what a philosopher king is, and then I will explain the contemporary eras in which they function. Thirdly, I will describe some of the contemporary wars between them and the saints. Then I will explain the theory of the third gospel wave.
The contemporary reign of philosopher kings in the church began in circa 1950. The concept of the philosopher king as pastor began with St. Augustine. He got the concept from the fraternity of philosophers that has shaped Western culture; ie, Plato’s Academy, which was the first institution of philosophy and higher learning in Western culture. This philosophy was founded on four basic principles:
1. The total inability of man (Augustine projected that into Christian discipleship as well).
2. The ability of some to connect with the true, beautiful, and good (those who love knowledge).
3. Those who have striven and succeeded in knowing the true, beautiful, and good, should rule over the remainder of mankind; ie, philosopher (lovers of knowledge) kings.
4. The laws of men are necessary to restrain the ignorant, but are empirical, and not intuitive, and therefore not the most expedient in all cases for the philosopher kings.
Until the second century A.D., churches were primarily led by a group of common people. Various pressures that eventually culminated with Augustinian thought ushered in the one church—one bishop concept. In essence, a philosopher king for each congregation. Today’s seminaries have become Plato’s Academy where men go to become philosopher kings, and then go to congregations to lord it over the flock.
The First Gospel Wave
This era is from 1950 to 1970. It was primarily predicated on the inability of the saints. Just believe only and get your fire insurance. Commendable kingdom living was devalued because of a fundamental belief in inability on the part of the saints who are still “sinners saved by grace” instead of holy ones empowered by the Holy Spirit and aggressively colaboring with Him. The clarion call of the first wave philosopher kings was to get people saved in church under the auspicious of the enlightened ones. Hence, the same gospel that saved us was the predominate theme, not discipleship and kingdom living par excellent. Christians in our day are theologically illiterate because the philosopher kings of the first wave did not teach congregants the theology that they learned in seminary—deeming them unable to understand it. “Change” was just a pipe dream in the realm of theory. “You can’t fix stupid.” Pastors refused to counsel with the word of God and farmed counseling out to the secular philosophers. As one pastor told me: “I am not going to let counseling distract me from the gospel.”
The Second Gospel Wave
The second gospel wave not only devalued discipleship, it returned to pure Augustinian thought which rejected it all together. Man is so inept—even after conversion—that he can have no significant role in either salvation or discipleship. Augustine believed that biblical imperatives only exemplified God’s desires and besought Christians to pray that God would bring about His desires in the lives of Christians. He believed that goodness was manifested in a spiritual realm—not by Christians. Hence, theology only focuses on the works of Christ and our own depravity which continually magnifies the same gospel that saved us. Therefore, the primary goal of the second wave philosopher kings is Comfort Care until God comes for those whom He has predestined. This entails a constant, “showing forth of the gospel” that saved us and constantly reminding us of our total depravity.
In both waves, the survival of the philosopher king is paramount for the comfort of the sheep and the salvation of souls. Though enlightened, they are still totally depraved like the rest of humanity with expected behaviors following. Hence, some philosopher kings fall into deep sin, but must be protected for the benefit of the whole. Their fall would result in lost souls (first wave) and horrendous discomfort (second wave) among the pathetic, pitiful sheep. Those who are victims of the philosopher kings must be sacrificed for the benefit of the whole.
Eventually, the sheep begin to reject this notion. Because of this rejection, pure Augustinian theology eventually dies a social death within Christianity. Some examples are Colonial Calvinism and Confederate Calvinism. The saints begin to rise up. But after the pain and the memories of the tyranny subside, coupled with a historic shortfall of appropriate action/ education to prevent its return, the door is opened for the rebirth of the philosopher kings. This is commonly known in Reformed circles as “Gospel Recovery movements.” We are now seeing the beginning of this social death in our own day via the Philosopher King Wars. The following are examples of a few major battles, and are by no means exhaustive.
First Wave Wars
Jack Hyles is the premier philosopher king of the first gospel wave. For years, his family members and understudies reined unfettered terror upon God’s people. Regardless of this, fellow philosopher kings in the same denomination refused to confront him, and even went as far as to name a Christian college after him. Finally, after years of crying out from victims falling on deaf ears for the betterment and comfort of the whole, the organization Do Right Hyles-Anderson has struck a powerful blow for the justice God loves. Their ministry statement reads as follows:
This group was created to be supportive to all the victims of FBC/HAC and the IFB community. This is not a group started out of hatred, resentment or bitterness. The core of our group is grace, unconditional love, and redemption. We support all the victims. We want our voice to be heard. We will hold IFB churches accountable for abuse and corruption. And we will report any and all cases of abuse that are brought to our team of victim advocates. We’re not going away…this is a life long mission and we will help the helpless.
Undoubtedly, this organization played a large role in the very recent dethroning of Hyles’ son-in-law as pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond which at one time had the largest Sunday School program in the world. His sins, though criminal, are tame compared to the past terrors of the Hyles cartel. The fact that he has been dismissed by FBCH is a gargantuan step in the opposite direction from the tolerance of the past. This is about Christ’s 1 of 100, and the Jewish proverb, “He who saves one life—saves the world,” and not Socrates’ sinful sacrifice of the few for the sake of the many.
The ABWE Bangladesh Missionary Kids verses Philosopher King Donn Ketcham
For some 20 years, the abuses of GARB hero Donn Ketcham fell on deaf ears. Other ABWE/GARB philosopher kings such as Wendell Kempton covered for Ketcham in a massive and shameful cover-up. Nevertheless, Kempton is presently being honored with a multimillion dollar sports complex on a Christian college being named after him. For the most part, the GARB community has shown only token distaste for what has occurred. Again, protecting the enlightened ones is best for the community as a whole. Because of the ineptness of the great unwashed—the likes of Ketcham and Kempton must be protected due to their irreplaceable contribution to the totally depraved.
Second Wave Wars
SGM Survivors .com verses Philosopher King CJ Mahaney
SGM Survivors is one of many such organizations pushing back against philosopher king CJ Mahaney, who among other various travesties was taped black mailing SGM cofounder Larry Tomczak. Regardless of this, the who’s who of second wave philosopher kings are protecting Mahaney and investing in media spin on his behalf (John MacArthur, Mark Dever, Al Mohler et al). This has resulted in him being reinstated as president of SGM. However, the pushback against second wave philosopher kings is becoming more formidable by the day.
Julie Anne Smith verses Beaverton Grace Bible Church
There is perhaps nothing more representative of the revolution against second wave philosopher kings than the everyday Oregon housewife Julie Anne Smith. When big name second wave philosopher kings came to BGBC’s defense against this humble soccer mom—she didn’t even blink, calling out the likes of John MacArthur lackey Phil Johnson who has recently stopped blogging (supposedly by his own choice). MacArthur hack and executive director of his media, Fred Butler, recently published unconfirmed smut/slander concerning Smith’s daughter after she prevailed against BGBC in a 500,000 dollar lawsuit. After years of striking fear in the hearts of pastors coast to coast, the second wave philosopher king pastors are incredulous in the face of Smith’s unsinkable courage. Their fears of her are warranted as others will follow including American pastors who exemplify a spirit of spinelessness never before seen in any other generation.
The Third Gospel Wave?
The sheep are catching on. They are pushing back against being owned by anyone other the Lord who purchased us with His own Blood. He owns us, not the philosopher kings. Nor do the philosopher kings own us by proxy. We are only slaves to Christ, not cruel masters who demand our children to be their willing and unwilling concubines. We will follow those of the Lord who lead us by His example. We remember our brother Paul who exhorted us with tears to only follow him as he followed Christ. And trust me, the philosopher kings of our day are no Apostle Paul. Not only can they not even carry his water, they are the clouds without water that Jude spoke of. As clouds come and promise nourishment for the crops, they come with the same promises—but they have nothing but lies instead of rain.
Authority only resides in the full, complete, and infinite philosophical statement of the Scriptures. The only authority elders have is truth as judged by the Bereans. We are not obligated to follow delusional hypocrites because of their Reformed accreditation and name-brand clothing, but only the Chief Shepherd. We detest those who say that the very breath of God is nothing more than a narrative for mystic gospel contemplationism. The Scriptures are written for Bereans who’s hearts are set on fire by our Counselor and Helper—the blessed Holy Spirit. The Bible contains its own hermeneutic, and we do not need the arrogant to teach us how to read it or listen to it as it supposedly comes from them.
We pray for a third gospel wave that endeavors to make disciples, not “saved” mindless followers of philosopher kings. We pray for leaders who will equip us to be full of goodness, full of knowledge, and able to counsel each other (Romans 15:14).
Not those who suffer us to glory in our supposed total depravity in order to satisfy their own lust for control.
Chick-Fil-A, The Olympics, Jonestown, Julie Anne Smith, John Immel, Communism, Calvinism, and Redneck Suicide
“Stuff happens” is perhaps the most untrue truism tossed about in our society today. Everything happens for a reason. “Stuff “ doesn’t just “happen.” We often wallow in the symptoms, pooling together a collection of ignorance on the what rather than the why. And with a lot of confusion following unless you know the formula.
The determining factor in regard to most of what happens in Western culture centers on the question of “Who owns man?” Now, like all good Christians, you will answer this way: “God owns man!” Amen brotha! You go sista! Yes, God certainly owns man, but unfortunately, that often translates into some men owning others….on God’s behalf of course. In fact, that’s an excellent description of Reformed theology: men owning other men on God’s behalf. And if you don’t go along with the program—things get ugly.
The likes of Christian philosopher/church historian John Immel makes people nervous when he discusses issues like “who owns man?” and issues of self-esteem, but reality will come to his defense in every instance. For example, why did 900 people drink poison at the behest of Jim Jones? Who did they think owned them? Trust me, if someone tells you to drink poison, and you do it, you obviously think they own you—albeit on behalf of God notwithstanding. By the way, Pastor Jones’ theology was a blend of Marxism and biblical theology.
Between the 3rd and 6th century B.C., a fraternity of philosophers laid the groundwork for what utterly causes our culture to tick. Whether psychology, the penal correction system, public schools—you name it—the fundamental philosophy that drives it came from this fraternity. Socrates and Plato were chief among them. Even in casual conversation, their fundamental philosophical assumptions rule the day. Ever heard someone say, “You can’t help me unless you have experienced what I have experienced”? That’s Protagoras, a contemporary of Plato. Got “rule of law”? Well, my friend, Socrates died for it 2500 years ago.
Why did he think it was so important to ignore the cell door that was left open for him and wait on the cup of hemlock the next morning? Because even though the ruling was plainly unjust, he wanted to make a statement about what he believed: though democratic rule of law was imperfect, it is best upheld for the better good of society as a whole. Better to die unjustly than to slight what holds society together. But what was the underlying assumption that led Socy to die for this truth? The underlying assumption was the inability of man , and the need for the enlightened to save man from himself through government force.
Socy, bless his heart, wanted to set the right example for the totally depraved. Trust me, as one of the enlightened ones, he didn’t think he needed the law. He, and his understudy Plato, believed rigorous study in the realm of ideas (intuitive theory) led to enlightenment, and therefore the duty to rule the great unwashed who lived in the shadows of objectivity. This is the very reason why, in our day, that obtaining a license to practice psychiatry is so rigorous. It is eight years of study in the realm of mostly theory. The conflicting sum of 200 different psychological theories is irrelevant, Socy believed that truth was found in the mind through ideas, and the pursuit was higher than the Neanderthal concept of drawing conclusions from the obvious.
Any of the above ringing a bell? How many sexually abused in the church have been told that it is best for the church as a whole if they just keep their mouth shut? Ever heard the following? “No church is perfect.” What that really means is that rightness isn’t the point—this is the point: the church (with orthodoxy and polity) is the authoritative law that saves the great unwashed from themselves, and wielded by Reformed elders. Therefore, don’t be “selfish,” be like Socy, keep your mouth shut and drink the hemlock. I mean for crying out loud, Socy didn’t even claim to be a Christian! Can’t you at least show the same “humbleness” displayed by a pagan philosopher you totally depraved piece of crap?
This isn’t rocket science. A cursory observation of history reveals how the philosophy of Who owns man? left Athens in two different directions: secular and religious, with each having their own sub-propagators/philosophers. On the one hand, Plato+Hegel+Marx =Communism, and on the other, Plato+Augustine +Luther +Calvin =Reformed. In fact, among secular academics who don’t have a dog in the fight—this is a commonly held routine observation from a historical perspective. Christian ignorance about this historical paradigm would surprise them—or maybe not, but it explains almost everything on our side of the globe. For instance, I used to be perplexed about American politicians that are sympathetic towards communism; not anymore. They are sympathetic because they share the same fundamental assumptions about who owns man (government, or himself? God owning man is an entirely different consideration all together). Think, welfare state. Think, inept man needs government to take care of him. Even though it doesn’t work because you eventually run out of other people’s money, that is making a judgment on empirical observation—the “true,” beautiful,” and “good,” (Plato’s trinity) can only be realized intuitively. This is why Communists and Calvinists alike will not repent—their philosophy will not allow it because it refuses to be judged by results. The Athens fraternity was notorious for remaining resolute in their beliefs regardless of outcomes. Likewise, Reformed elders ape this mentality with, “This must be right because the conclusion was drawn from a gospel context.”
Christ Himself arrived on the scene when this Platonist philosophy was at its zenith in the form of Gnosticism. It is no accident that He deliberately shunned formal education and chose the beggarly leftovers of Greek/ Roman society. His Kingdom Gospel absolutely flew in the face of this philosophy on every level.
Albeit an unbalanced approach, the founding fathers of America grounded the Constitution on the ability of man (great, though flawed): man owns himself; the state is subordinated to the will of individuals, and truth can NEVER be the property of the state. The founding fathers were children of the Enlightenment which pushed back against the tyranny that always follows Platonist assumptions. This is why America is the greatest nation ever to exist on Earth. That didn’t just happen. Things happen for a reason:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such
Now again, the good Christian comes forward to protest: “America is great because God (pronounced more like “Gaaawwwwdddd” by the pious. Likewise, Gospel is pronounced, “Gaaaawwwwsssfffuuulll”) chose her!” True. But God, in case you haven’t noticed, uses things to bring about His ends. Look at Europe’s history, and then look at America. Choose one. What would you like the world to look like between the two? Throughout history, we have had to save Europe from their own philosophy, and their greatest leaders have always been advocates of the Enlightenment; namely, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. Other than that, Europe’s claim to fame has always been the Dark Ages. It should be self-evident that God allows ideas to have their own results, and something should be learned from those results.
The rats of European philosophy stowed away on the Mayflower and soon brought the Salem witch trials—generally thought of as a bad idea, but uniquely Reformed. Eventually, Southern Presbyterianism (=’s Calvin) became the underpinnings of Confederate thought and brought us the Patriarchy Movement. Again, one can find the European Reformed idea of who owns man in Confederate Presbyterian thought via a cursory observation of their writings—even to the point of disdaining the North’s industrial revolution and its implications regarding man’s ability. God isn’t opposed to innovation. Really, he isn’t. But farmers are easier to control. And, once you know how to plow a field, there is no need to reinvent the plow blade. And, it keeps the populous busy working rather than thinking. Thinking and IDEAS have always been the tyrant’s worst nightmare. I will never forget the words of the Reformed elder who shut down my blog when I still attended Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio: “Paul, what is the web address of where you are putting forth your ideas?” Precisely.
This is what is driving the whole Chick-Fil-A controversy and much else that happens in our society from the mundane to the spectacular. This is about controlling ideas. In this case, Stalin’s gun is the one that fires the “bigotry” bullets, and the defamation is mental, not physical. If mental defamation does not work, defamation of the flesh will follow. This is the way it has always been—Calvin by no means excluded on any wise. In the Chick case, you have the following on one side: the social liberals, socialists, and the indifferent Reformed (who are supposedly “above the fray”). Besides, patriots (who love country more than Gaaawwwwwddddd), homosexuals, and dispensationalist evangelicals are no different to begin with. On the other side, you have evangelicals and patriots with misguided priorities. BUT, they yet understand something that is extremely important: tyranny against the freedom of ideas is a really, really, bad idea. Give them credit for knowing what a grave threat is at hand.
But the Olympics play into this? Absolutely. America is thumping everybody on the medals, and with extraordinary life stories to boot. A 15 year-old American girl is dominating the swimming competition. Because she sees herself as inept? Hardly. Because Jesus is swimming for her? I kinda doubt it. If that’s the case, she hasn’t mentioned it yet. Not to mention the judo gold medalist from Middletown, Ohio who was sexually abused by her coach in the same sport. Instead of buying into a no-can-do euro victim mentality, she had the coach who violated her trust and her dignity thrown in jail, and left for Europe to conquer the world of judo. You can tell her if you would like that what was done to her is not that big of a deal because we are all just a bunch of totally depraved numbskulls, but that is probably a really bad idea given her talents. And there is only one reason why the other nations can even compete with us over there—because they leave their socialist philosophy behind while competing. The ineptness of mankind can pass for social engineering, but not for Olympic excellence.
All our hope is in God. I get that. But there is also inspiration in a woman from Oregon named Julie Anne Smith. I don’t know a lot about her, but it seems that she was just an everyday house wife minding her own business until she began to notice that her pastor was a bully. Reformed of course. I wasn’t able to find the original post of a blog that she authored in protest of the pastor’s tyranny, but it alluded to her assertion that it was almost as if having ideas was a crime in that church. Again, the mere fact that she mentioned that is no accident. That idea drives the very soul of that pastor, and resulted in a big-time head-on collision in civil court. Julie Anne, as she prefers to be called, kicked some serious Reformed butt, and a sigh of relief could be heard from the blogosphere worldwide. Little ole’ Paul’s Passing Thoughts .com gets its share of downloads from attorney office IP addresses located in particular geographies that share the same venues as churches that I write about. Crushing ideas is a Reformed thing—they can’t help themselves. Here is what Martin Luther himself thought of reason (Webster: “reflect, think”), regardless of the fact that God himself said, “come, let us reason together”:
“Die verfluchte Huhre, Vernunft.” (The damned whore, Reason).
“Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom … Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.”
Martin Luther, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148
“Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but — more frequently than not — struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”
“Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and … know nothing but the word of God.”
“There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason… Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed.”
Martin Luther, quoted by Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic, (Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1963), p. 75
“Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.”
“Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his Reason.”
“To be a Christian, you must “pluck out the eye of reason.”"
“People gave ear to an upstart astrologer [Copernicus] who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred scripture tells us [Joshua 10:13] that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”
Martin Luther, “Works,” Volume 22, c. 1543
It’s an American thing. If a housewife from Oregon disagrees with being served up for an elders buffet, she can do something about it, and she did. And the Reformed crowd isn’t happy about it. Pastor John MacArthur (who has a personal relationship with Julie Anne’s former pastor) sidekick Fred Butler is now shooting Chic-Fil-A bullets at Julie Anne’s daughter. These controversies drag on for some time in American culture because neither the socialists or Reformed pastors can end disagreements quickly with the gallows. Not yet, anyway, but they are working on it. Luther himself said of Calvin’s Geneva: “All disagreements are settled by sentence of death.” But the most inspiring thing about Julie Anne is the way she is seeking to come to an understanding about why all of this happened to her family. She understands that things happen for a reason.
This brings me to the last subject of my title. “Country” and the whole stupid hillbilly thing is all the rage in this country right now. “Blue Collar” comedy that glorifies undignified stupidity and fixing lives with duct tape is the spice of entertainment for many—even in the church. At this year’s TANC conference, the “Hillbilly Ten Commandments” were discussed and the perceived cuteness of it among Christians while Reformed elders listen and wink knowingly at each other: “This is a good thing.” It may be fun, but it puts our freedom in danger. Stupidity is the blood that tyrants feed on. Act stupid if you will, and have fun doing it, but let it only be an act, even a ploy to fool Reformed elders and Communists. But only an act—our freedom depends on it.
Therefore, for the first time in my life, I will be standing in line at Chick-Fil-A. Why? Because I’m for Christian values? No, though I am. Because I’m a patriot? No, though I am one. I will be standing in line as a statement concerning the importance of freedom of ideas—the great enemy of every tyrant who has breathed upon the earth.
What’s in a name? With “The Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us,” much. This is the core doctrine of Reformed theology.
Reformed theology puts strong emphasis on the works of Christ to the exclusion of the other Trinity members. In fact, given their concept of “emphasis,” the other members of the Trinity are relegated to insignificance. Reformed theology distorts the Trinity. “Emphasis” is an actual Reformed hermeneutic that has its roots in Gnosticism. Again, let the Reformed scream and cry like alley cats in the night—their theology is deeply rooted in Gnosticism, and if you’re looking for it—it’s easy to see. The very illustration of the two men, one with Christ within, and the other with Christ without, is a Gnostic concept. It’s based on the idea that matter is evil, and spirit is good. That’s why the likes of Piper et al have a problem with “infused grace” as discussed in part 2. The righteousness of Christ (by the way, the Bible always refers to the righteousness of God the Father being imputed to us, not Christ) must always remain outside of us because we are still evil and of the earth. The biblical concept of the new birth flies in the face of Gnosticism. This is at the heart of the recent “Jesus in my heart” controversy of late.
“Centrality” makes Christ (or “gospel”) the key to all truth and relegates all else to insignificance. This clever Gnostic concept enables Reformed academics to agree that something is indeed truth, but insignificant. And in fact, if the insignificant is emphasized, it is an aberration of the truth because a “good thing is being emphasized, but not the BEST thing.” Which is always Christ and the gospel. This comes from the Gnostic concept that reality cannot be seen through the material world, but must be obtained through the spirit world. Matter, and the objects thereof are shadows of reality, or inferior copies of reality and goodness. Life is experienced via the “two worlds” with a minority having insight into the world of reality. Plato, the father of Gnosticism, believed that philosophers who had (through striving) come to see spiritual things, should rule over the masses who function in the shadows of reality.
Reformed theology merely makes “the gospel” that reality, and everything else “shadows.” And they aren’t even ambiguous about it. This concept is a major theme of Rick Holland’s book, “Uneclipsing The Son.” Holland is a former associate of John MacArthur who wrote the Forward to said book. MacArthur’s statements in the Forward are nothing short of shocking:
Rick Holland understands that truth. This book is an insightful, convicting reminder that no one and nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts….The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock. Second Corinthians 3:18 describes in simple terms how God conforms us to the image of His Son: ‘And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another’ (emphasis added). We don’t ‘see’ Christ literally and physically, of course (I Peter 1:8). But His glory is on full display in the Word of God, and it is every minister’s duty to make that glory known above all other subjects.
This, of course, is not the truth, and gives license to acknowledging the other two members of the Trinity and the new birth as truth while rendering them insignificant due to “emphasis.” In Gnosticism, emphasizing the shadows over the life giving sun is to emphasize a mere reflection or inferior copy of the truth. Hence, challenges by Holland/MacArthur associates like Pastor Steve Lawson to “come out from the shadows” are no mere coincidental use of words. Major Reformed ministries of our day have “Between Two Worlds” and “Between Two Spheres” (well- known Gnostic themes) as their major themes. Am I here right now? What could be more obvious?
According to Gnosticism, all reality (objective truth) is outside of man, and in another realm. Reformed theology merely makes Christ and the gospel the totality of all reality in the other world. Like Gnosticism, the gospel is deemed a higher knowledge that can’t be obtained by observing the shadows of the gospel, but the gospel itself must be meditated on to obtain the higher knowledge. That is why the importance of “always getting to Christ and the gospel in every passage” is strongly emphasized. On a Reformed website entitled the “Objective Gospel,” there are several videos posted that are lectures from the who’s who of today’s Reformed teachers. In one video, Paul Washer teaches that the gospel is eternal knowledge and can’t be completely known. I am not sure what I can add to that in order to make my point. Reformed teachers are merely Plato’s philosopher kings in my book. The Earth Stove Society, a Reformed think tank for New Covenant Theology, states the following in regard to tenet number one of New Covenant Theology:
New Covenant Theology insists on the priority of Jesus Christ over all things, including history, revelation, and redemption. New Covenant Theology presumes a Christocentricity to the understanding and meaning of all reality [emphasis mine].
Outside of Us
According to Gnosticism, man cannot possess goodness because he is of the material world. This is why 1st century Gnostics taught that Jesus didn’t really come in the flesh and continually drove the Apostles nuts. The New Testament is replete with contentions against Gnosticism. Hence, Reformation theology rejects the idea that Christians change for the better. The cross illustration in part 2 should make that case. This Reformed concept is articulated well by Reformed pastor/blogger Terry Rayburn:
There are several problems with that essentially Legalistic view of Sanctification, as reflected in the following observations:
1) Our flesh cannot get better. In Romans 7:18 Paul wrote, “For I know that NOTHING good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh…” Your flesh cannot be improved. Flesh is flesh, and spirit is spirit.
2) Our new nature, on the other hand cannot get better, because it has already been made new and perfect through regeneration. We have been given a “new heart” (new nature, or new spirit), and not a defective one, which would be absurd. This new spirit has been made “one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17), such that when we “walk according to the Spirit” (i.e., the Holy Spirit), we also walk according to our own new spirit.
3) Those who deal with Sanctification by zeroing in on so-called “Progressive” Sanctification as the main point of Sanctification, are at best in Kindergarten.
Therefore, if one carefully examines the words used by Reformed teachers, they rarely, if ever state specifically that we actually change as born again people. If we are totally depraved, how can we really change? Obviously, we can’t. Therefore, when Reformed academics seem to say that we change, that’s not what they really mean. “Spiritual Transformation” is the term most often used. Or, “Christ is formed in you.” In other words, we somehow manifest a spirit realm without really changing ourselves. Admittedly, I do not have the Reformed details of how this works nailed down completely, but without a doubt, the answer will be found in a deeper understanding of Gnosticism itself. Again, it’s obvious that the totally depraved do not change.
Reformed theology is a form of Gnostic antinomianism that has plagued the church from the beginning when Satan said to Eve, “Has God really said….,” and claimed to have a higher knowledge called “good and evil.” The goal for the believer is justification—not Paul’s imperative to make it our goal to please God. Pleasing God can’t be the goal because we are not free to aggressively obey and apply the word of God to our lives lest we unwittingly, as discussed in part 2, “make sanctification the ground of our justification.” Reformed theology promises to be a greater danger to the church than any cult would ever dream of. It must be exposed.
Anytime that aggressive sanctification is circumvented, lack of assurance fills the void—the Apostle Peter makes this clear in the first chapter of his second epistle. Also, the world is not impressed with a philosophy of incompetence among God’s people—they will not be convinced that he who fathers the inept can save their souls.
I will finish with a last word on the question by a reader that prompted this three-part article. Part of the question concerned the perseverance of the saints. This, of course, is tied closely with the subject of assurance. Unfortunately, false assurance or lack thereof will be rampant in Reformed circles because of the circumvention of free and aggressive sanctification. Like many other aspects of the Christian life, perseverance is a joint colaboring with God. The effort is many faceted. First, God promises to keep us (Jude 24). But that doesn’t mean we have no role in the process. God’s commands are to us, not the Holy Spirit. Secondly, God controls circumstances in order to prevent us from falling (John 18:4-9, 1Cor. 10:13). This indicates that theoretically we could fall away, but He intervenes in circumstances so that we are able to bear it. So, whatever he allows to happen—we can bear it. Thirdly, applying the word of God to our lives builds up our ability to persevere (James 1:2, but especially Matthew 7:24-27). Fourthly, God encourages us by promising rewards for perseverance (James 1:12, Rev. 2:26). But much more could be added here. God’s word and its life applications are deep and rich—not narrow according to Reformed theology.
Lastly, Reformed theology is works salvation by antinomianism, and its practical application, what there is of it, is Gnosticism. The Apostle Paul said that if anyone comes preaching another gospel, “let them be accursed.” And I say amen to that, and I really don’t care what their names are.
The next snippet of profound unction in the 2012 Resolved Conference promotion video (http://youtu.be/3BbyzPkE_kc) is that of Al Mohler, president of Southern Theological Seminary. Along with CJ Mahaney, he is one of the “core four” of the Together For The Gospel conferences. Again, a close examination of words used in this video speak to the false doctrine they teach, and Mohler’s excerpt is no exception.
Mohler refers to us being continually “rescued” by the Scriptures. Per the usual, the verbiage is deliberately ambiguous, and could apply to initial salvation or our life as Christians, or both. There is a sense in which the Scriptures continually save Christians from the consequences of sin and instruct us on how to please the Lord. But Mohler is speaking of using the Scriptures to contemplate on the gospel with the result being, as stated by others, a “mere natural flow” of obedience. This is because it is not really us obeying, it is a manifestation of the active obedience of Christ. John Piper would say that we experience the manifestation of Christ’s active obedience in our lives when the obedience is accompanied by a willing spirit and joy. If we are confronted with the necessity to obey, and have not the joy, Piper’s counsel is to go ahead and obey, but ask for forgiveness:
I am often asked what a Christian should do if the cheerfulness of obedience is not there. It’s a good question. My answer is not to simply get on with your duty because feelings don’t matter. They do! [Especially since he makes joy synonymous with true salvation in When I Don’t Desire God]. My answer has three steps. First, confess the sin of joylessness. ( John Piper: Treating Delight as Duty is Controversial ebooklet; ch3, Desiring God.org )
This is simply the Bibliology of their doctrine: the Bible has one primary purpose; it is for contemplating the gospel and the works of Christ. Biblical imperatives are a fruit catalog of things we can’t do, and are in the Bible to evoke thankfulness to Christ for obeying the imperatives for us. The result of this Gospel Contemplationism is what they call, “new obedience,” or what Piper calls, “Beholding as a way of becoming.” If you read the Forward to Uneclipsing The Son by Rick Holland, you will also find out that John MacArthur Jr. has bought into this nonsense. The secondary use of the Scriptures is for controlling the totally depraved zombie sheep and church polity.
Of course, they are not going to say it plainly, but this all boils down to the idea that we are resaved every day. Their motto is, “The same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us.” It’s a progressive justification. They call it “progressive sanctification,” but that’s deception. Likewise, New Calvinist Paul David Tripp teaches that Romans 7:24 refers to a “daily rescue” (Paul David Tripp: Playing With The Box; Southeastern Theological Seminary chapel service, Spring 2007). Couple that with the New Calvinist maxim, “We need the gospel just as much today as when we got saved,” and the kind of “rescue” they are talking about is apparent.
And this is also exactly what Mohler means in the promo clip when he said we are “rescued by the Scriptures.”
“For the most part, these are the most influential pastors in the country being challenged with an exclusive gospel. How can that not send cold chills up the backs of discerning Christians?”
My YouTube page is not something that I promote; it is really just a workshop for my videos that are used on PPT. So, any hits on them directly on YouTube are just incidental from web surfers. However, the amount of hits on the 2012 Resolved promo clip, even in the short time that I have had it uploaded is astounding, not to mention my surprise that incidental surfers are also commenting on the video. The video has received nothing but negative comments, zero likes, and to date, 12 dislikes. Apparently, the promo clip doesn’t play well with the world in general. Keep in mind that these videos are not posted on YouTube in any particular context.
But that’s no big deal with this bunch; as others have aptly pointed out, they do not target individuals, unregenerate or otherwise, they are targeting churches, and rich ones. Note the locations of their conferences; even if many could afford the entry fee, most folks can’t afford to take one step in Palm Springs. Of course, a lot of this is being funded out of church budgets; i.e., churches (and the hard working average Joes that support them) are paying for their leaders to learn a false gospel, and to come back to take over their church with it.
Since Grace Community Church has been the promoter of this conference for nine years, the order of the pontification in the promo clip by the enlightened ones are of logical order. First, the big cheese, MacArthur; second, former GCC staff member and primary promoter Rick Holland; third, Al Mohler; fourth, Steve Larson; lastly, CJ Mahaney.
The words used by Holland are very specific and telling. The conference is very “serious” about, “God,” “sin,” “commitment,” and “the gospel.” The clear implication is that most churches don’t really know God in a significant way, what sin really is, or what the gospel really is. Farfetched? Well, words mean things. Holland states in the clip that the conference is an “opportunity” to “INTRODUCE” how to “experience” God in an “intimate” way. The clear assumption is that attenders don’t already know that. For what other reason would there be an introduction? For the most part, these are the most influential pastors in the country being challenged with an exclusive gospel. How can that not send cold chills up the backs of discerning Christians?
The biblical definition of “heretic” in the Bible is really “sect.” The word primarily refers to groups that promote false doctrine, or individuals who belong to such groups. Specifically, they are groups that divide the church with false doctrine. That is the specific biblical definition of heresy, and it is always linked to division in the church. Quibbling about the color of the carpet may cause divisions in the church, but the Bible never mentions it. Again, division is always linked to sectarianism.
Hence, churches might as well be efficient and hire Dr. Kevorkian to come in and do the job forthwith. It’s cheaper, faster, and far less painful. Congregants can also get a head start with “moving on with their lives.” And also, they won’t have to be offended by hearing about how all the sacred sacrifice that built their church was for naught, and performed by people who didn’t even know what the gospel is.
Ya, pay for your pastor to go to the 2012 Resolved Conference. Do that, great idea.
Who they are and what they endorse:
Transcript of Phone Conversation between C.J., [Mahaney] Doris and Larry Tomczak on October 3, 1997 [pp. 10-11]
Doctrine is an unacceptable reason for leaving P.D.I. [now SGM].
C.J., I‘m not in sync with any of the T.U.L.I.P., so whether you agree or not, doctrine is one of the major reasons I believe it is God‘s will to leave P.D.I. and it does need to be included in any statement put forth.
If you do that, then it will be necessary for us to give a more detailed explanation of your sins.
Justin‘s name has been floated out there when there‘s statements like “revealing more details about my sin.” What are you getting at?
Justin‘s name isn‘t just “floated out there” – I‘m stating it!
C.J. how can you do that after you encouraged Justin to confess everything; get it all out. Then when he did, you reassured him, “You have my word, it will never leave this room. Even our wives won‘t be told.” I repeatedly reassured him: “C.J. is a man of his word. You needn‘t worry.” Now you‘re talking of publically sharing the sins of his youth?!
My statement was made in the context of that evening. If I knew then what you were going to do, I would have re-evaluated what I communicated.
C.J., are you aware that you are blackmailing Larry? You‘ll make no mention of Justin‘s sins, which he confessed and was forgiven of months ago, if Larry agrees with your statement, but you feel you have to warn the folks and go national with Justin‘s sins if Larry pushes the doctrinal button? C.J., you are blackmailing Larry to say what you want!
Shame on you, C.J.! As a man of God and a father, shame on you!
This will send shock waves throughout the teens in P.D.I. and make many pastor’s teens vow, “I‘ll never confess my secret sins to C.J. or any of the team, seeing that they‘ll go public with my sins if my dad doesn‘t toe the line.”
C.J., you will reap whatever judgment you make on Justin. You have a young son coming up. Another reason for my personally wanting to leave P.D.I. and never come back is this ungodly tactic of resorting to blackmail and intimidation of people!
I can‘t speak for the team, but I want them to witness this. We‘ll arrange a conference call next week with the team.
I want Justin to be part of that call. It‘s his life that‘s at stake.‖
C.J. never spoke with us [Larry and Doris] again. He was not a participant in the critical phone meetings that followed.
Once a rabid respecter of John MacArthur, I now have absolutely no respect for him. I am keeping some of his books in my library for reference purposes, but that’s about it. And as one who actively promoted financing/support for Christians to attend his college, I now consider him a danger to the wellbeing of Christianity in general. I have watched his decline (due to bad company with the likes of mega-heretic John Piper) for some time, but his willingness to support and associate with CJ Mahaney reveals the true heart of John MacArthur Jr.
I am almost finished reading “Blight In The Vineyard” by John Immel, and I’m looking forward to writing a review on it, and I’m taking this review very seriously as I believe this book is one of the most relevant books of our day. I have made the book required reading for all in the Dohse household. Immel, among the other hefty services rendered to the church in said book, provides Cliff Notes (in a manner of speaking) for SGM Wikileaks.
I have gone to Wikileaks and read, primarily because Reformed despots say it is gossip to do so (and thereby doing my duty), but have really been unable to ascertain any great evil on the part of CJ Mahaney because of the massiveness of the documents. Well, Immel clears that all up by pointing out a few atrocities and the page numbers. The only one I had to see follows: the transcript of a recorded conversation between CJ Mahaney and SGM cofounder Larry Tomczak. CJ Mahaney, according to the transcript by anybody’s measure, is trying to blackmail Tomczak who left SGM for doctrinal reasons (Calvinism).
Ok, look, what happened to Tomczac plays out over, and over, and over again in churches daily because of the new resurgence of Geneva style true-blue Calvinism. Aka, New Calvinism. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “Calvinism is the Gospel.” Therefore, as CJ said to Larry, “Doctrine is an unacceptable reason for leaving P.D.I” (People of Destiny International—later renamed SGM). If I only had a nickel for every time we see this played out here at TANK/PPT. It goes like this:
- The elders are informed someone is leaving for doctrinal issues.
- They are immediately confronted with “unrepentant, longstanding sin” in their lives. Like Calvin, they believe (out of necessity for control) that ANY sin is fodder for church discipline.
- They are placed in a church discipline “process” that includes counseling. When you have shown forth “fruits meet for repentance” as judged by fruit inspecting elders, you are released from the counseling (ie., you convert to Gospel Sanctification).
- If you try to leave the church without being released from “counseling,” the assembly is told that you are jumping ship in the middle of the Matthew 18 process. The congregation usually assumes the victim was confronted with an issue or dispute, and left before the offended party could come back with witnesses. The anti-gospel (synonymous with anti-Calvinism per Spurgeon) individual is then excommunicated which totally discredits him/her from blowing the whistle or challenging the doctrine of God’s anointed.
Apparently, in Tomczak’s case, that wasn’t going to fly, so CJ threatened to reveal sins committed by Tomczak’s (at the time a minor) son. Tomczak’s wife, who was on the line, called Mahaney out in regard to the fact that it was pure, unadulterated blackmail. Also consider that the son had confessed the sin and was granted forgiveness thereof. Unbelievably, when CJ is reminded of that, he tells the Tomcsaks that he wouldn’t have promised to keep the forgiven sins confidential if he knew at the time that they were going to leave for doctrinal reasons.
Immel also points out (according to Wikileaks documents) that Mahaney and SGM cronies had their attorneys review a proposal for revealing the sin/sins publically. Their attorneys strongly advised against it because Georgia law protects the rights of minors in such cases. But in a brilliant observation, Immel asks what would have happened if the church and the state of Georgia were the same! (as propagated by the Reformers for the necessary control of the totally depraved zombie sheep). Game over. Tomcsak submits or SGM reveals the information.
And this is the crux. Because Reformed leaders of the John Calvin Geneva Theocracy club cannot evoke the state to enforce their authority (not yet, anyway), they all stick together. MacArthur, Dever, Mohler, Piper et al, see a huge lack of respect in the church for the authority that they think they should have among God’s people. How they choose to save the totally depraved zombie sheep from themselves is none of our business. They have no time to be concerned with the necessary fallout that accompanies the John Calvin gospel of the enlightened ones leading the totally depraved through the fabricated spiritual minefield they call sanctification.
This explains why the cries of abused sheep fall on the deaf ears of other leaders, time, and time again. I have become convinced of this unequivocally. Nevertheless, and while one also wonders what else might be in the Wikileaks documents, MacArthur’s willingness to associate with CJ Mahaney is deplorable. But this is who John MacArthur really is. My God fearing grandmother said it well, and often: “Birds of the feather flock together.”
MacArthur; 2012 Resolved Conference; Feminism; John Huss; and Mac’s Continued New Calvinesque Demise
“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander; if Huss is an authority for promoting Christocentrisity in all reality, then he also ought to be an authority for ordaining women in the church.”
As I learn more and more about the New Calvinist movement, and Reformed history in general, I have to believe that the blogosphere drives New Calvinists blogkers. More on that later. New Calvinism is a return to hardcore Reformed philosophy. In 1970, the real Reformation gospel was rediscovered and systematized by the Australian Forum. The Forum was one of several recovery movements that rediscovered the Reformation gospel since the 17th century. Why does this gospel tend to disappear from time to time? Because it’s not the truth (it’s progressive justification), and it is always accompanied by spiritual tyranny. In fact, the Pilgrims fled to the New World to escape the Augustinian Church of England. You see, among many other issues, the Pilgrims disagreed with it being against the law to not attend C of E “worship” services. However, the Church of England was a little more merciful than New Calvinist Mark Dever—they would merely have the government fine you for not going to church; Mark Dever excommunicated 256 of his church members for nonattendance, an act that launched him into New Calvinist folklore and his present thriving popularity among New Calvinists.
The movement has continued to build on the original foundations of Reformed tradition, even persecuting Old Calvinists that have been sanctified over time by spiritual common sense. New Calvinists continue to promote their neo-reformation by pointing to all things old: creeds; counsels; confessions; catechisms (shorter and longer); and especially dead men of legendary status. Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Owen, Edwards, Spurgeon, etc., and the subject of this year’s 2012 Resolved Conference, John Huss, who will be promoted into New Calvinist iconic canonism by John MacArthur at this year’s Resolved Conference (sponsored by MacArthur’s church). From here, it just gets too rich.
I watched the promotional video clip on Resolved.org ( http://vimeo.com/iamresolved/re12theme ). Four years ago, I would have taken what MacArthur says in the clip at face value because of my former respect/trust for him. But he is a New Calvinist now, and this clip will be used to demonstrate how New Calvinism is making a fool of John MacArthur in the eyes of what used to be a stalwart of the faith. If not for the internet and the blogosphere, God’s people would helpless against the New Calvinist propaganda machine. Back in the day, if you were reading the Calvin Institutes and wanted more information on Augustine because Calvin quotes him in what seems like every other sentence, you were pretty much out of luck. But not in our day. Trust me, Al Gore didn’t invent the internet—God did.
So, since I no longer trust MacArthur, I simply googled “John Huss,” and what Robert Brinsmead said to me the other day in an email immediately came to mind; this is a paraphrase: “I wrote a treatise on Ellen White’s theology that only highlighted the positive points, but that’s what everybody else does with Luther’s writings.” Amen, and this is what the New Calvinists do to build their Reformation motif (at least Brinsmead is honest about it) that drives their propaganda machine; except in this case with Huss, it’s fodder for good humor.
In the clip, MacArthur claims that Huss was burned at the stake for preaching “three things”: every believer is part of the church; the Bible as sole authority; but primarily, Huss’ contention that Christ was the head of his church, and not the pope. Oh really? Of course, the third “thing” is to make the case for New Calvinism’s belief that only Christ is significant in regard to redemptive history. But again, this is a prime example of how New Calvinists put dead men between us and our Bibles, and then distort history to make their case for progressive justification.
Huss was burned at the stake for many other “things” other than the three that MacArthur mentioned in the clip, and one of them is greatly illumined by the lamp of hypocrisy if you consider this year’s Shepherd’s Conference (also sponsored by MacArthur’s church). One of the featured speakers was Voddie Baucham who is a high profile figure in the Patriarchy movement. Baucham was all the rage at the conference which produced endless Twitter posts singing his praises. New Calvinists are also responsible for the Danvers Statement sponsored by The Counsel on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. MacArthur himself has said: “God cannot be on display in a church where a woman is preaching.” This quote is from his series that contended against speaking in tongues. Oh, did I mention that the “Reformed Charismatic” CJ Mahaney will be featured at the Resolved Conference this year?
This brings us back to all of the much ado about Huss at this year’s Resolved Conference. Other than the “three things” MacArthur mentions, Huss was tricked into attending a counsel at Prague to discuss his many “radical” teachings:
He became a proponent of the ideas of the English reformer and theologian John Wycliffe. Huss like Wycliffe denounced the immorality of clergy, the sale of indulgences, accumulation of wealth by the clergy and the church and saw the Bible as the final authority in ecclesiastical matters. He was a proponent of the laity taking communion in both kinds, that is to say the bread and the wine, at a time when only the clergy received communion in both kinds. He translated the Bible into the language of the people and said “Women were made in the image of God and should fear no man” setting the stage for women to preach at Hussite services and participate in governing councils, not to mention fight beside their men in battle. It was the teaching and writing about his radical ideas that brought the attention of the Pope to Jan Hus [emphasis mine (Online source: http://historyreconsidered.net/The_Hussites.html)%5D.
Oh my. Huss was an advocate of feminism. On the one hand, Huss was executed for the crux of the Reformation (supposedly), but on the other hand, God was not on display in the churches of his followers because women were preaching there. Which is it Mac? I’m sorry, you can’t have it both ways—the blogosphere will not allow it. Let me add some additional references to this point:
Hus was influenced by Wyclif, but he went further than the Englishman ever did. Like Wyclif, much of what Hus wanted was a kind of return to basics: an end to abuses in the clergy, an emphasis on simple Christianity of the sort practiced by the Apostles. He went further in advocating unfettered preaching, and he explicitly refused to recognize a special status for the clergy. He came close to the Donatist heresy in claiming that Christians should listen only to priests who lived virtuous lives. He condemned the upper clergy as corrupt parasites and denied the pope any special powers in the secular world. He acknowledged the apostolic succession, but said only virtuous men were true popes and in any case their authority was strictly spiritual. Like Wyclif, when the Church appeared unwilling to reform itself, Hus argued that it was the duty of the Christian prince to undertake the reform and to use the coercive powers of the state if necessary. The reformed Church should be placed under the dominion of the prince.
Hus advocated both a Czech and a German Bible. He believed the common man could read the word of God without priestly intervention. He published a New Testament and Psalms in 1406 in Czech, followed by a complete Bible in 1413-1414.
It’s interesting to note that in 1412 Hus published a tract entitled “Recognizing the true way to salvation” in which he chose a woman to represent humanity in general. He told women they were made in the image of God and that they should act with dignity and courage and should fear no man. Among the Hussites, women preached and wrote. But after 1421, men again dominated the movement. I do not know the details of why this change occurred [emphasis added (Dr. E.L. Skip Knox, Boise State University; online source: http://europeanhistory.boisestate.edu/latemiddleages/heresy/13.shtml)%5D.
This can also be verified by the fact that Huss was primarily influenced by Wycliffe, and the Lollard Movement spawned by him was populated with women preachers. Why is it ok to prop the Reformers up as authorities by picking and choosing from their teachings only that which helps one’s agenda? Why not leave dead men out of the equation and do what MacArthur used to do: point to the Scriptures as our authority—not dead Reformers. Why can’t the Resolved Conference Have a Scriptural theme instead of a man theme? This is the credibility problem you run into when men are your primary authority. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander; if Huss is an authority for promoting Christocentrisity in all reality, then he also ought to be an authority for ordaining women in the church. But of course, the fruit of such hypocrisy does not fall far from the tree of those he associates with: http://solasisters.blogspot.com/2012/02/john-piper-comments-about-reverend.html .
Something else about this promotional clip makes me wonder. MacArthur presents Huss as a gospel preacher turning the World upside down with the whole the pen is mightier than the sword scenario. I wonder if Mac is going to mention that Huss had a standing military army? Huss set the pace for the following Reformation mentality:
Like Wyclif, when the Church appeared unwilling to reform itself, Hus argued that it was the duty of the Christian prince to undertake the reform and to use the coercive powers of the state if necessary. The reformed Church should be placed under the dominion of the prince (Ibid).
The Hussite army had one of the most feared military leaders in all of human history, Johann Ziska, and he invented one of the most effective military weapons of all time which was named after Huss. A picture of it follows. After Huss was executed, The Hussites kicked some serious Catholic butt and took names.
Say, that picture will look awesome on those high-tech screens at the Resolved Conference, don’t you think? In general, the Reformers followed the philosophy of Plato that government powers are needed to keep the totally depraved (and their uncontrollable instincts) contained. And if you read the email I get, you would know that present-day New Calvinists use everything but a Hussite wagon to keep their totally depraved zombies in line.
MacArthur needs to bail from this movement, ask the church for forgiveness, and salvage what’s left of his legacy. That is, if it’s not already too late. Meanwhile, the more bloggers the better. Let the earth be full of them. Let them be ever fruitful and multiply. Let every word that comes from the mouths of New Calvinists be googled. But, of course, all truth is God’s truth unless it comes from the internet—the other internet—not the Geneva internet.
Many are totally confused by MacArthur’s recent behavior, especially his association with embattled CJ Mahaney. Once again in 2012, as in every year since 2005, MacArthur will once again stand under the bright lights of the Resolved Rock Concert Conference and lend full Reformation credibility to one of the premier heretics of our day. His scathing assessment of Charismatic theology in Charismatic Chaos notwithstanding (Mahaney is a “Reformed Charismatic”), MacArthur has been recently found comfortable in his hypocrisy; which includes giving John Piper a pass on excluding repentance from his presentation of the gospel while rebuking others for doing the same.
MacArthur has clearly bought into the many problematic teachings of New Calvinism including the backdoor devaluing of the Father and the Holy Spirit in context of “emphasis.” In the forward to Rick Holland’s book, Uneclipsing The Son, MacArthur puts forth the same idea in said book: an equal emphasis on the other members of the Trinity in regard to salvation hinders sanctification. Emphasis is a hermeneutic; unlike horseshoes and hand grenades, there are no points for being close to Christ—He is everything, and “focusing” on anything else is to reject Christ completely and hinder sanctification.
All perplexing, until you realize that this is what Calvin, Luther, and Augustine believed. “Christ alone” in the Five Solas really means, Christ alone. Apparently, in MacArthur’s mind, these three giants of the faith are too big to fail, regardless of what Scripture teaches. Therefore, he has jumped on the New Calvinist bandwagon with both feet because they are a true representation of Reformation theology (at least in regard to Calvin, Luther, and Augustine).
And to me, this clears up everything. However, the Reformers were mere men, and all men look small when their wisdom is compared to “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Even the apostle Paul constantly pleaded that he would be held to the standard of Scripture. At this year’s Resolved Conference, much will be made of these “great” men and what they said. Conspicuously missing will be the litany of quotations by these men that are an outrageous contradiction to the plain sense of Scripture.
Voddie Baucham is presently all the rage at the 2012 Shepherds Conference. Who does the vetting over there? Oh, I forgot, Voddie is a New Calvinist.
Another New Calvinist Lie via Chad Bresson: We Aren’t Postmodern and the Emergent Church is Bad and We are Good
I guess it goes along with being antinomian; New Calvinists constantly lie about many things. In fact, I wonder if they ever tell the truth about anything. New Calvinism dominates the present evangelical landscape because their theological framework invented by a Seventh-Day Adventist (who is now an atheist) is a powerful concept that sells. Robert Brinsmead claimed that he discovered the lost gospel of the Reformation and Reformed folks saw what the supposed finding was doing to the SDA: reforming it. Brinsmead’s Awakening movement via his centrality of the objective gospel (COGOUS) doctrine was turning the SDA upside down. The results were therefore evident, and it had a Reformed label, so the masses have been jumping on the new reformation bandwagon ever since. Many of the elements that make this doctrine attractive to our present culture will be discussed in the second volume of The Truth About New Calvinism.
New Calvinists avoid historical dots that could connect them back to Brinsmead like the Bubonic Plague, and one way of doing that is pretending like you oppose certain dots. Therefore, The dots that they disparage the most are New Covenant Theology (NCT) and the Emergent Church (EU). New Calvinists such as DA Carson stay aloof from NCT, but support it behind the scenes. Brinsmead was a close friend with the father of NCT, Jon Zens, and Brinsmead contributed significantly to the formation of the doctrine. Therefore, pigs will fly before any NCT guys will be invited to one of the big New Calvinist dances, but Carson regularly speaks at NCT conferences.
Likewise, Sonship Theology which was founded on Brinsmead’s COGOUS intermarried with the EC family, so the EC, like Jon Zens, is only one step removed from Brinsmead and his theological think tank that launched present-day New Calvinism: the Australian Form. The Forum may have also influenced the EC which originated in Australia/UK in 1992 and arrived in the US around 1998. Even though New Calvinists such as John Piper associate with EC proponents like Mark Driscoll on a continual basis, and both groups function by the same doctrine (COGOUS, also known as Gospel Sanctification), New Calvinists continually fustigate the EC. The Piper/Driscoll relationship is condoned because Driscoll is supposedly a different kind of Emergent species (http://wp.me/pmd7S-16r).
One New Calvinist “church” that partakes in this deception at every opportunity is Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio. A staff elder, Chad Bresson, wrote an article on his blog (a blog dedicated to NCT ) entitled, “The Word of God is an objective, propositional revelation because the resurrection is of such” (Vossed World blog: archives; July 19, 2006). Bresson begins the post with the following:
A supporter of the emergent church posted over at Steve Camp’s blog the following comments:
1. Revelation does not refer to the Bible, it is rather God’s activity in history.
2. Revelation is dynamic and personal, not static propositional.
3. Scripture is a meta-narrative, and by this nature is not a propositional document for us
to pin down all the rules to obey and doctrines to believe.
4. Passages are not always easily discerned for God’s desired message for the Church.
5. Texts may simply indicate direction, not neat and orderly systematic doctrine.
All of these points are either outright false or are only partly true. They represent what is of major concern to many who have observed the development of the emerging church.
These five tenets of EC interpretation, for all practical purposes, are the like hermeneutics of New Calvinism despite Bresson’s disingenuous harpings. Bresson, usually accustomed to linguistic drones of ten-thousand words or more, writes a paragraph or two for each proposition that disputes propositional truth, and I will rebut his deceptive rebuttal of his theological kissing-cousin’s comment. Bresson begins by addressing the first tenet:
God[‘s] activity in history through Christ *resulted in* the Bible. The Bible is God’s *written* revelation to man, and thus the sixty six books of the Bible given to us by the Holy Spirit constitute the plenary (inspired equally in all parts) Word of God (1 Corinthians 2:7-14; 2 Peter 1:20-21). The Word of God is an objective, propositional revelation (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 2:13), verbally inspired in every word (2 Timothy 3:16), absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible, and God breathed. They are fully self-authenticating, not relying on any external proof for their claims. Since all of Scripture is spoken by God, all of Scripture must be “unlying,” just as God himself is: there can be no untruthfulness in Scripture (2 Sam. 7:28; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). Because God is the Bible’s author, we are to accept its authority and submit ourselves to it in faith (2 Pet. 1:19,21, 2 Tim. 3:16, 1 John 5:9, 1 Thess. 2:13).
As I will demonstrate, New Calvinists end up in the same place as the EC on this issue. And remember, the staple doctrine of New Calvinism and the EU is one and the same: Gospel Sanctification. This is plainly irrefutable. The EU is most prevalent in American church culture through Acts 29 and World Harvest Missions which were both spawned by the father of Sonship Theology, Dr. John “Jack” Miller. Dr. Miller originally coined the New Calvinist slogans, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day,” and its accompaniment, “The same gospel that saves you also sanctifies you.” The former understudies of Dr. Miller and the gatekeepers of Sonship theology after Miller’s passing, David Powlison and Tim Keller, are major figures in the New Calvinist clan.
Regardless of how orthodox Bresson’s opening statement is, his fingers are crossed behind his back with the first ten words: “God[‘s] activity in history through Christ *resulted in* the Bible.” Though the more fringe elements of the EC may think specific revelation can be found outside of the Bible, note that Bresson also states that the Bible is primarily a historical document about Christ. Specifically, a meta-narrative about the gospel, and the gospel only for meditation purposes. All of the rest affirming the accuracy of the Bible is regarding its accuracy for that purpose only. The pastor/teacher of Clearcreek states the following on this point:
May we be transformed by seeing the glory of Christ all through the Bible. The transforming power of beholding Christ emerges from the pages of the whole Bible. We are transformed from glory to glory as we see Him there. Want to grow and change? Want to reflect Christ to others? Gaze on Him in the pages of your Bible (Russ Kennedy: The Fading Glory, 2Corinthians 2:14-3:18).
Furthermore, Bresson posted an excerpt from Robert Brinsmead on his blog to make the point that the Holy Spirit only illumines when the Scriptures are seen through the prism of the gospel and used for that purpose alone (Vossed World blog: archives; July 17, 2008).
Bresson continues to use orthodoxy to deceive:
God’s Word is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness, because Christ, THE WORD, is sufficient (Eph. 1:3, 23; Deut. 8:3/Matthew 4:4/John 6:48-51; John 1:14,16). Because THE WORD is life himself (John 11:25, 14:6; Colossians 1:15-20), The Word is living and active in discerning and judging the actions and thoughts of men (Hebrews 4:12). Christ, as THE WORD, is Wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:30), which is *why* the word is sufficient for all of life (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 2:6, 3:18; Colossians 3:16). Christ’s sufficiency for all of life is best summed up by the covenantal promise/fulfillment: Christ is our God and we are His people (Revelation 21:3,7). As THE WORD, Christ himself is the grace that is sufficient for us (2 Cor. 12:7-10; John 1:14, 16, 17).
After all of the unarguable truth and citation of Scriptures, Bresson once again has his fingers crossed behind his back with the last thirteen words: “As THE WORD, Christ himself is the grace that is sufficient for us.” Hence, Bresson parrots the same EC hermeneutic he claims to be refuting. Note tenet number two: “Revelation is dynamic and personal, not static propositional.” In fact, on the aforementioned post where he cites a long excerpt from a Brinsmead article, Bresson made the following comment:
John 1:1 tells us that Christ incarnated the very Word of God. Thus, the text… the Word… is both witness to and emanates from THE WORD. I should add that John 1:1 is also telling us that Christ *was* the very Word of God from the beginning. So… to draw a distinction between text and Person is a false dichotomy.
Exactly, and the EC crowd agrees, stating that the word is a person and not for the reason of determining propositional truth. I like to state it a different way for clarification; it’s about who Jesus is (or his “personhood”), and not about what He SAYS. Christ warned against such a mentality in Luke 11:26, 27. Clearcreek’s close relationship with Paul David Tripp should also be weighed in this discussion as well. Tripp, who has close ties to Clearcreek and speaks there often, stated the following on page 27 of How people Changed (2006):
Jesus comes to transform our entire being, not just our mind. He comes as a person, not as a cognitive concept that we insert into a new formula for life.
As noted in another post (http://wp.me/pmd7S-hc) here on PPT, Dr. Carol K. Tharp accuses Tripp of having a kinship to the emergent church because of his teachings in Broken Down House:
In these assertions, Tripp reveals his kinship with the emergent church. A belief held in common by emergent church leaders is their “eschatology of hope.” For example, Tony Jones says, “God’s promised future is good, and it awaits us, beckoning us forward … in a tractor beam of redemption and recreation … so we might as well cooperate.” Emergents Stanley Grenz and John R. Franke declare, “As God’s image bearers, we have a divinely given mandate to participate in God’s work of constructing a world in the present that reflects God’s own eschatological will for creation.”‘ Elsewhere, emergent church advocate Doug Pagitt claims, “When we employ creativity to make this world better, we participate with God in the re-creation of the world.”
In regard to tenet number three, Bresson embarks on the following diatribe:
All the words in Scripture are God’s words. To disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God. The essence of the authority of Scripture is its ability to compel us to believe and to obey it and to make such belief and obedience equivalent to believing and obeying God himself. The word of God contained in the Holy Scriptures is the only rule of knowledge, faith, and obedience, concerning the worship of God, and is the only rule in which is contained the whole duty of man. The Scriptures have plainly recorded whatever is needful for us to know, believe, and practice. God’s word is the only rule of holiness and obedience for all saints, at all times, in all places to be observed (Col. 2:23; Matt 15:6,9; John 5:39, 2 Tim. 3:15,16,17; Isa. 8:20; Gal. 1:8,9; Acts 3:22,23).
In Bresson’s supposed rebuttal, he admits that the Scriptures are a meta-narrative, but argues that the narrative yields objective truth to be obeyed: see above and following:
While the scriptures inherently contain meta-narrative, the various narrative forms, using various Jewish literary genre, are themselves propositional in nature and scope…. And, because there is a common meta-narrative inherent to the whole of scripture (the redemptive story pointing forward to and fulfilled in Christ), it necessarily follows that there is a logical analogy to the whole of scripture which is to be exegeted and preached.
In other words, the concept is objective (the narrative is true and objective), but obviously yields subjective results because one has to interpret every verse of Scripture in a way that shows forth the gospel. But New Calvinists think that this approach is acceptable as long as the point made is a valid gospel outcome. The EC believes that both the narrative and the outcomes are subjective; New Calvinists claim that objective truth is possible while torturing every verse for a gospel outcome, which is highly doubtful. In other words, the results from both camps are the same: subjective.
In addition, the “obedience” Bresson refers to is New Calvinist “new obedience” (Christ obeys for us or obedience is the mere yielding to the evil realm or the gospel realm) which teaches against what Bresson seems to be saying. Where would I even begin to document New Calvinist teachers in regard to their devaluing of obedience as stated by tenet three? “Scripture is a meta-narrative, and by this nature is not a propositional document for us to pin down all the rules to obey and doctrines to believe.” Consider what the New Calvinists themselves write along these same lines:
DA Carson: “In this broken world, it is not easy to promote holiness without succumbing to mere moralism; it is not easy to fight worldliness without giving in to a life that is constrained by mere rules.”
John Piper: “So the key to living the Christian life – the key to bearing fruit for God – the key to a Christ-exalting life of love and sacrifice – is to die to the law and be joined not to a list of rules, but to a Person, to the risen Christ. The pathway to love is the path of a personal, Spirit-dependent, all-satisfying relationship with the risen Christ, not the resolve to keep the commandments.”
Tullian Tchividjian: “A taste of wild grace is the best catalyst for real work in our lives: not guilt, not fear, not another list of rules.”
Lastly, Bresson mentions another New Calvinist substitution for orthodox obedience that I haven’t fully put my mind around—this whole idea of Christians putting ourselves in, or participating in the gospel narrative: “These historical contexts presume an original audience with whom we participate in the same redemptive story.” Again, postmodern emergents (EC) take the same approach with a slightly different application. Note what John MacArthur writes in The Truth War: Quoting Brian McLaren, another proponent of the Emerging Church:
Getting it right’ is beside the point: the point is ‘being and doing good’ as followers of Jesus in our unique time and place, fitting in with the ongoing story of God’s saving love for planet Earth.’ All of that is an exemplary statement of the typical postmodern perspective. But the thing to notice here is that in McLaren’s system, orthodoxy is really all about practice, not about true beliefs (page 36).
So, on the one hand (New Calvinism), we supposedly put ourselves in the gospel narrative in a passive endeavor to manifest a redeemed realm. On the other hand (EU), we put ourselves in the subjective narrative as a form of obedience. What’s the difference? The bottom line: New Calvinists use an objective means of interpretation that leads to subjective, if not mystical results, though they lamely argue that the results are objective because only objective results can come from seeing the gospel in every verse of the Bible. The emergents are at least honest about the means and the results being subjective.
And honesty in and of itself is a good thing; those who follow you at least know what they are following. But the New Calvinist cartel will continue in pretending to be orthodox while confusing the issue by contending against other camps that really believe the same things.
Truth is a delightful thing. Jesus said it sets us free, and it is the only thing that truly sanctifies (John 17:17). And when you bait an animal, you use its preferred food. Nothing wrong with the food, the food is good, but in this case the food is being used to bait the animal into an unfortunate demise. For the animal that is. Its death will supply a tasty meal for the hunter or a prized trophy above his mantle to display his hunting savvy.
Eve was a superior being, and the serpent clearly baited her with some truth. It was true; she wasn’t going to die—physically. And it was true; if she ate of the tree, her eyes would be opened, but not for the better. Satan stated specifically that her “eyes” would be opened, and the Holy Spirit used that exact same illustration to describe what happened when Adam and Eve ate the fruit.
The serpent also used some other truth to bait Adam and Eve. He understood the dynamic behind what it would take to bring about the fall. Notice: their eyes were not opened until Adam ate. The serpent didn’t go to Eve first because Adam was created as a smarter being; it’s more likely that Satan didn’t want to exclude Eve from the fall. Apparently, Adam was standing there the whole time observing the conversation, which I find perplexing, but I have to believe that the absence of immediate ill effect on Eve contributed to his decision to eat as well. Hence, another element of truth that the serpent excluded: when Eve’s eyes would be opened. Truth plus error (God’s motives for not wanting them to eat which also had an element of truth), and exclusion of the whole truth resulted in incomprehensible misery and suffering being foisted upon mankind. Satan excluded the whole truth about the results of their eyes being opened, partially misrepresented God’s motives, and excluded mention of when it would happen.
And the kingdom of darkness has not changed their mode of operation. Why in the world would they? The mode of operation that deceived two intellectually superior beings worked wonderfully; why change what works?
In fact, it works so well that in our day we have a hoard of pastors that are the heroes of death. Death has never looked better since Eve gazed upon the fruit hanging from the tree. I would like for you to think with me for a moment. Think about the long list of “premier teachers” of our day, as if they are hanging on trees everywhere. Go into any Christian bookstore of our day and thoughtfully observe. Now read your Bible; something doesn’t add up. The first century church was saturated with false teachers, and then we have the apostle Paul stating that the “latter days” would be “perilous” compared to their day!
That message doesn’t make the cheeseburger easy to swallow—even with a cold beer. It doesn’t make for pleasant conversation when meeting Christian friends at Applebees. Truth is looking and sounding good, coming from the pulpits via well-dressed, hip academics. Some even have sexy European accents. And regarding our pesky consciences tapping us on the shoulder regarding the cult of personality, these stalwarts of the faith assure us that they hate such, while continuing to wear it. They have thus spoken—all is well, move on to the “new Reformation” at hand. But their message is death in the same way that Satan preached to Eve in the garden. This ministry has noticed what seems to be an inordinate number of femitruthers in our day when compared to the men shining the shoes of the who’s who of today’s pulpiteers. I guess you can fool them once, but well, you know the rest.
With the same MO used in the garden, the hordes of New Calvinist pulpiteers in our day deceive the masses on a roadway to death. They use truth, and partial truth, and we now have a Christian subculture living on a steady diet of Esther Price recipes. Like in the garden, death comes by truth left out; death comes by the lack of the whole counsel of God’s word. In essence, let me employ the name of a desert you can get at Applebees: “death by chocolate.” Feed your children nothing but chocolate for a couple of months, and then observe what you have. But in turn, while observing the pitiful sight, ask them if they are happy. Assuredly they will tell you that they are for fear that you will change their diet. Such is the New Calvinist subculture of our day.
And what exactly is that diet? Well, but of course, the name of the diet must sound good. How about, “gospel-driven”? Or, “gospel-centered”? Or better yet, “Christ-centered”? Who would argue with that recipe? Yum, yum. But dare I ask the forbidden question of our day? “What’s in it?” Well, I have been called mentally ill lately by chocolate-fed-children because of my assessment of the recipe, so let me tell you what the New Calvinists themselves say is in the recipe. Fair enough? In fact, I will use the following illustration from a New Calvinist organization:
Primarily, the recipe has exposition of how great God is, “Yum, yum!” Hey, as Christians, we could listen to that every day and all day long, right? Secondly, the recipe will involve humbling us by reminding us of how much we fail God and are utterly unable to please Him with our own efforts . “You mean, the pressure is off me?” “No expectations?” Yes, in fact, to have expectations of living by a standard is works salvation, we must “get used to our salvation” by living a “gospel-centered life in the shadow of the cross.” Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!!!
And the promised results of the recipe are to die for: it makes the cross bigger. Wow! Who would argue with that? Make the cross bigger and us smaller, yum, yum. New Calvinists say that the implications for marriage alone are over the top:
“Hey honey, I have some great news!”
“There are no longer any expectations in our marriage! You’re totally depraved, and I’m totally depraved, and change is a pipe dream. There is no longer any need to create tension in our marriage through expectations and efforts to please each other. We have a new goal for our marriage—to make the cross bigger by focusing on how sinful we are and exulting God’s greatness at church.”
‘But what about our testimony?’
“Oh yes dear, that’s very important, but we are called to preach the gospel, not be the gospel.”
‘So, what do we do?’
“Focus on the greatness of God and our own wickedness. That will result in spiritual formation. In other words, it’s not about what we do, but what Jesus has done. We can’t make ourselves better in the flesh, and we can’t make ourselves any better than what Jesus has already imputed to us. So we need to rest and feed on Jesus and let Him make the cross bigger in our lives.”
‘Wow! No wonder those New Calvinist couples always look so happy together on their blogs!’”
Christians should certainly focus on God’s greatness as can be inexhaustibly exegeted from the Scriptures; therefore, there is no lack of material that can be expounded on thereof by the likes of John Piper. Like the preaching of Satan in the garden, New Calvinist preaching has plenty of truth that Christians never get tired of hearing, especially from the lips of interesting characters. But what is missing can kill you, and what is missing is the whole counsel of God. That is why the apostle Paul went from house to house day and night teaching the WHOLE counsel of God—the life of the church depended on it.
And secondly. Like the deadly sermon in the garden, there is partial truth. Yes, Christians still sin, but we are not sinners. The difference between “sin” and “sinners” is very subtle, like the difference between the first death and the second death. Both are death, but the differences in the two are between the temporary and eternal. Satan told Eve she wasn’t going to die, that was the truth, he just didn’t expound on the complete subject.
Thirdly, like the sermon in the garden, a certain result is promised that is the proverbial snapping of the trap. We are led away from the whole counsel of God with the tastier portions including the promise that it will make the cross bigger. This leads to sin, weakness, and a DE-escalation of discernment. And eventually, death. As glorious as the cross is, man does not live by the cross alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God. People only truly live by the whole counsel of God. To the extent that we live by the whole counsel of God, we are free.
A teacher that I used to deeply respect recently stated that the Christian life is always “sweet, never bittersweet.” You know, like chocolate. But the pure milk that we grow by is the whole counsel of God, the counsel that the apostle Paul expounded on day and night and from house to house. Pure milk is not only void of poison, it is not void of any ingredient that facilitates growth. It is the whole counsel of God, and not death by chocolate.
Sent by email on 2/13/2012:
Greetings. I hope this email finds you well my friend. I saw your article about “aggressive Calvinism” (aka New Calvinism) and how they are partaking in hostile takeovers of Southern Baptist churches. Your complaint is that they are not upfront going in about what their theology is. Their less than full disclosure doesn’t include the fact that what they believe has the name “Calvinist” in it for fear that they would be rejected out of hand. Poor souls are therefore deceived into attaining a pastor who is a New Calvinist, and in the same kind of situation, is why Hillary Clinton looks so good to us right now after the real Barak Obama has been revealed. I can tell you about a Presbyterian church in Alabama who would love to have a real Calvinist running the show right now.
As stated in my addendum (“The Southern Baptist Connection”) to The Truth About New Calvinism, this organized, hostile takeover has been in full swing since the early 80’s. Al Mohler and company probably distance themselves from Founders Ministries because they are only one step removed from the connection to The Australian Forum. New Calvinism is based on the doctrine that came from the Forum, which believed they had recovered the original Reformation gospel. It is my contention that a former Presbyterian and founder of Founders Ministries became a Southern Baptist for the sole purpose of bringing this “new reformation” into the SBC. Covertly, using the name of a famous Southern Baptist who would have been horrified by their doctrine.
New Calvinism is ecumenical because all that matters is an acclamation to the Forum’s, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us. Everything else is secondary because real and lasting transformation only comes from Gospel Contemplationism anyway. Supposedly. Certainly, I do not have to make a case for this as the inclusion of everything but the kitchen sink is apparent in T4G, and the Together for the Gospel crowd.
Though they pretend to oppose the emergent church movement, they approach the Scriptures in the exact same way: the Scriptures are a historical gospel narrative that we put our life story into. New Calvinists believe that is mostly done through contemplation—emergent folks believe that is done primarily through taking action and participating in the narrative, often bringing a charge of works salvation from the other side because it is working in the narrative verses contemplating it. But both believe that the Scriptures are an exclusive personal narrative about Christ, and therefore, drawing propositional truth/cognitive principles from it for purposes of life application is an inappropriate use of the Scriptures. In a shocking display of diss-discernment, MacArthur masterfully articulates this complaint against the emergent church while at the same time describing the same approach that his newfound New Calvinist pals hold to (The Truth War pages 13-22; also see How People Change by Paul David Tripp, page 27).
In fact, MacArthur targets John H. Armstrong specifically on those pages in Truth War, who was also one of the movers and shakers in the movement that created Founders Ministries! Come now Peter, look at Acts 29’s involvement with Southern Baptist churches. It’s not only emergent, but was spawned by the spiritual children of Dr. John “Jack” Miller, the father of Sonship Theology that is founded on the Forum’s doctrine.
Which brings me to the name change being proposed in SBC circles. That spells certain death for the SBC—it is part of the plan. Removing “Baptist” from our name paves the way for Charismatics, Emergents, Seventh-day Adventists, you name it to be involved in the everyday activities of the SBC. Let me put it in perspective for you Peter: imagine Mark Driscoll as president of the SBC and CJ Mahaney as president of Southern Seminary.
Peter, it’s gut-check time for Southern Baptist. I have a meeting with my pastor this afternoon. Should our church continue to contribute to the Cooperative Fund which is well on its way to being taken over by spiritual misfits?
Not in my book.
“I just noticed today that J. Mac is not going to be at T4G next year! What gives? Could it be related to the Rick Warren/John Piper issue?”
Bless your heart Damon, but no, MacArthur wouldn’t pass on an opportunity to hang out with Piper for anything. My theory is the following: MacArthur is being punished for writing the book, “Slave.”
The book explores how the word “slave” has been mistranslated over the years to give more of an idea of employee rather than bond slave. In the book, MacArthur departs from his past method of teaching; ie., presenting the information, and then applying it to our walk (practical application). The book is primarily, if not totally what, and not what now? Like the good New Calvinist that he is, MacArthur supplied an excellent, what all of that looks like, with virtually no life application. He also quotes several of his New Calvinist buddies, including NCT hack Douglas Moo, and John Piper more than once.
I haven’t done the math, but if somebody wants to, you might do a invites prior to Slave verses invites after Slave. Even though Mac didn’t break the rules in Slave, the very name of the book implies a robust role for Christians in sanctification, and the New Calvinist crowd will not tolerate that. Just a side note: Piper’s objection to Lordship-like terminology is well documented.
Just my theory.
Request free PDF file with 95 Thesis on one sheet (firstname.lastname@example.org). Also looks great in black and white. See actual pdf copy here. File can be downloaded.
As I mentioned in a previous post, MacArthur’s willingness to associate with CJ Mahaney and even teach with him at the upcoming Resolved Conference is a clear indication that he is completely off the orthodox reservation. Let’s just face it, our beloved Mac is now willing to be a party to such madness as “The Scream of the Damned” that occurred at the 2009 Resolved conference. Game over. Such foolishness would have invoked horror in the Mac of old. And appearing with Mahaney speaks volumes, as attested to the fact that unnamed New Calvinists called for James MacDonald to cancel an appearance by TD Jakes at his church. Hanging out with people, like words, mean things.
I will pause here to give you a hint: all that matters is adherence to COGOUS. Past that, anything goes. If one “has the gospel right,” all other bets are off.
I really enjoy many of Susan’s idiosyncrasies. As she walked past my computer this morning, and saw what I was viewing, she quipped, “That’s not true.” I was viewing a promo that I received by email concerning John MacArthur’s two latest books. Large pictures of both covers were on the PC screen. I couldn’t help but smile and ask, “What isn’t true dear?” She replied, “Worship isn’t our ultimate priority, obedience is.”
Is this not true? I have a wife who takes the meaning of words seriously, and that’s huge. What does the word “ultimate” mean? And is worship the “ultimate” priority for Christians? Well, it’s not the primary reason Christ said that he was going to send us a “Helper.” Read John 14. The dominate theme of that chapter is the fact that Christ was going to leave them and send the Holy Spirit. And for what reason primarily? To worship? No, to help them obey. Christ reiterates that fact several times in that same chapter. And of course, who is not aware of the prophet’s words to King Saul, “Obedience is better than sacrifice”?
On several occasions, MacArthur has made it clear that he has fully bought into the gospel contemplationism > gratitude > obedience sanctification paradigm that he got from hanging out with John Piper and Michael Horton. And of course, this means that he is now a great danger to the well-being of Christians. Osteen isn’t a great threat, he’s obvious and even admits he’s “not a theologian.” On the contrary, MacArthur is a respected theologian who now propagates Quietist error. The cover of this book hints at the aforementioned paradigm that he now advocates.
The second book title hints towards his new hermeneutic. From the hardcore grammatical-historical motto “Unleashing God’s Word One Verse at a Time” to “ “Unleashing God’s Word One Day at a Time.” New Calvinists everywhere are probably just giddy over this. Bully for you Mac, you have your reward, from men who peddle God’s word via adolescent dramas such as “The Scream of the Damned.” I have been told by New Calvinists face to face how that hermeneutic works: keep reading till you see Jesus or something about Jesus and His works—not anything you would do. The Word is not a cognitive concept we apply to life, it’s a person. Whatever.
Is this an unbalanced criticism of Mac? Has he fully articulated his new method which doesn’t take this extreme approach to Scripture? Is his approach different from everyone who he is hanging out with these days? Where? Sorry, he is well paid to communicate clearly—it’s on him.
I have never been much for getting into the more bizarre aspects of New Calvinism, but we know that errant theology leads to life getting stranger and stranger. This post is about well-known Christians and their determination to associate with bizarre sects of New Calvinism. Without a doubt, the best example is my old stomping grounds, Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio.
Clearcreek is still a training center for the National Association of Nouthetic Counselers and is on NANC’s national referral list. The Chapel is frequented by guest speakers such as Robert Jones, Paul David Tripp, Stuart Scott, and Lou Priolo. Apparently, Martha Peace has an ongoing teaching arrangement with Clearcreek as well. PPT has sent most of these folks letters asking them to not grant Clearcreek credibility in this way, but to no avail. Scott’s basic response was, “Not my problem.”
So, what doesn’t matter to these folks? Primarily, it doesn’t matter that one of Clearcreek Chapel’s staff elders (over adult education) is Chad Bresson, a former Christian radio personality. Bresson is one of the charter members of the Earth Stove Society which is a fringe group that promotes New Covenant Theology. Bresson authors the blog, Vossed World which is dedicated to the Bible Theology of Geerhardus Vos.
Vos has a cult following from this group. Literally. NCT fringe groups lead yearly pilgrimages to Vos’ gravesite in Pennsylvania to pay homage to Vos. Bresson led such a pilgrimage last year that was nothing short of a worship service. Bresson himself stood before Vos’ headstone and wept while reading from books written by Vos. Shockingly, Bresson posted the affair on his Facebook page and the information was forwarded to PPT.
Just last week, I had the following encounter with an advocate of NCT and acquaintance of Bresson’s in the PPT comment section of a post:
My dear anti-Pneumian friend, we are heading there in a few weeks for our winter Pilgrimage . . . we will be sure to light a prayer candle or two for you at his shrine as we offer up prayers on our special new covenant Rosary to our beloved patron Saint Geerhardus. May he grant to you out of his treasury of grace to be spared some time in purgatory. Until then, walk in the power of the Spirit and be filled with the joy and wonder of the Gospel!
I would be inclined to think you are kidding, but I know Bresson all too well, so, I think you are serious about this. If Vos shows up, take good notes and I will let you write a guest piece here.
Also troubling is Bresson’s outright denial of a literal, instructive approach to Scripture. Bresson believes the Holy Spirit only illumines the word when it is approached as a gospel narrative for purposes of Gospel Contemplationism. Any use of the Bible for instructive purposes is to use the Bible in the same way that the Pharisees used the Torah (Vossed World blog: “The Word of God is a Person,” 7/17/2008 archives). As the foremost respected theologian at Clearcreek Chapel, the idea that every single verse in the Bible must be read as concerning Christ and the gospel can be seen in the following post by another Chapel teacher: Clearcreek Chapel Biblical Theological Study Center blog: “Interpreting the Unfolding Drama the Way Jesus Did,” student archives 2/19/2011, by Max Strange. Online source: http://clearcreekbtsc.blogspot.com).
The Clearcreek elders are so bent on not implementing instruction in counseling that on at least one occasion, according to a former counselee I talked to, they will draw pictures of the person’s life on a piece of paper and illustrate were the counselee is located in the picture. I witnessed a testimony firsthand in which a Clearcreek elder said a marriage was miraculously transformed before his eyes by merely showing forth the gospel from the Scriptures in the first counseling session. When I confronted the elders about it, the response was, “Oh, that’s just Dan.”
Even by NANC standards, the fact that NANC associates with them and refers people there who have deep problems is unconscionable.
Another example is New Calvinist Mark Driscoll who has been a keynote speaker at such events like CCEF’s 2009 national conference at the behest of David Powlison. The following video in which he claims to see visions is self-explanatory:
Truly, New Calvinists like John Piper and CJ Mahaney must get together and giggle about what they can actually get away with. The following video documents their strange “The Scream of the Damned” concoction. This actually took place at the 2009 resolved conference sponsored by John MacArthur’s church. The fact that Grace Community Church would host such nonsense speaks for itself. Following are quotes concerning the message and then the 2009 resolved promo trailer:
CJ spoke of our Savior’s cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” And though I have contemplated that amazing cry often, never did it hit me as hard as in CJ’s message, when he referred to it as “the scream of the Damned.”
Then there was break and music and announcements, and John Piper stood up to bring his message. Several of us had prayed in a back room that God would anoint John, and pick right up where He left off in the previous message, and wow, did He. John referred repeatedly to the “scream of the Damned,” and then moved into Romans 8.
A flood of tears came as God preached the message to me yet again. That Deity would be Damned. That the God who is called upon righteously by the saints and angels in heaven to damn people, and called upon habitually by unbelievers flippantly and unrighteously to damn people, would in fact damn his Son, would (from the Son’s willingness to drink the cup) damn himself…for us. That it could be said of the Beloved One, “God damned Him,” and that He screamed the scream of the Damned….it was too much for me. It is too much for me this moment. And in the ages to come it will continue to be too much for me.
~ Randy Acorn
Everything exists to magnify the worth of the scream of the damned. That’s the point of the universe. What we will do forever in heaven is magnify the worth of the scream of the damned. Calvary will not be forgotten. It is the most-horrible, most sinful, most agonizing event that ever was – it will be the center of heaven forever. Hell exists, cross exists, sin exists, heaven exists, you exist, universe exists, in order to magnify the worth of the scream of the damned. What is the apex of the revelation of the grace of God? And the answer is the scream of the damned on the cross.
~ John Piper from his sermon on “The Screamed of the Damned.”
I’m past it now. Most of my spiritual heroes have fallen. I am now ready for the rest of them to fall if they do— the few that are left, which include the dead. It’s a good test for one’s faith—do we follow men or Christ?
They cross my path now and then—those who are going through what I have gone through. Some are in the denial stage—others in the disillusionment stage that will draw them closer to Christ and give them more resolve for the truth. They will be ok; after all, every Christian is born again with a little bit of Noah in them.
Have you ever thought about what it must have been like for Noah? He was one of the few Christians left on the face of the Earth, and beyond him, only family members. Noah was a follower of God and didn’t follow the crowd, and in this case, the “crowd” was the whole world. And remember, we may assume that religion and false teachings were very much a part of that landscape as well. Peter also states that Noah was a “herald of righteousness.”
In our day when evangelism is at an all-time low and compromise at an all-time high, more Noahs are needed, especially since Christ said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Of course, in our day, many cannot draw encouragement or solace from the life of Noah because after all—whether or not those events are true is neither here nor there—what those narratives say about the gospel is the point. It’s not about Noah, it’s about Jesus.
Neo-evangelicalism’s First Major Trophy: Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse
I have been writing lately about Neo-evangelicalism. Its connection with Neo-orthodoxy and New Calvinism will be discussed in volume two of The Truth About New Calvinism. Basically. NE rejected the idea of separation to maintain doctrinal purity. At some point, Dr. Barnhouse succumbed to how uncomfortable things become when you stand for the truth. His capitulation triggered a tsunami of disillusionment and denial. As recorded by Christian Author MJ Stanford:
CRUSHING COMPROMISE: In November of 1954 Dr. Barnhouse completely capitulated to his denomination, and especially to his Philadelphia Presbytery. Christians throughout the world were astounded by this seemingly sudden surrender. The Philadelphia Bulletin for November 12, 1954, reported:
“A 22-year-old breach between the Presbytery of Philadelphia and Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse has been healed by the latter’s recent appearance before the Presbytery expressing the desire for closer fellowship with the alienated group. Presbytery immediately responded in an open-armed gesture of welcome…. Dr. Barnhouse said, “I have come to realize that some of my personal relationships have suffered because of these past differences, and I now recognize that this has been a mistake. For my part I want to work in much closer fellowship with you in the Presbytery.”
Can you imagine those same words coming from the mouth of Noah?:
I have come to realize that some of my personal relationships have suffered because of these past differences, and I now recognize that this has been a mistake. For my part I want to work in much closer fellowship with you in the Presbytery.
Thereafter, Barnhouse’s compromise is credited with greasing the wheels of the Progressive Adventist movement and Neo-Pentecostalism/Oneness Theology:
SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM ACCEPTED: It was in 1956 that Dr. Barnhouse’s ecumenical love-stance included cultic compromise. At that time he and Dr. Walter Martin entered into “sweet fellowship” with masters of deceit–the leaders of Seventh-Day Adventism! As a result there appeared an astounding series of articles in Eternity, beginning in September, 1956.
While not agreeing with some of their “screwy doctrines,” of as he put it, he insisted that “they are as orthodox on the great fundamentals of the Person and work of Christ as anybody in the world could be.” (I for one, then, am out of this world!) In these fateful and disquieting disquisitions Dr. Barnhouse went all out in an effort to convince Christians that Seventh-Day Adventists were safe and sound evangelicals and should be accepted into full fellowship.
This irresponsible sponsorship brought forth a storm of protest all over the world, with thousands writing in repudiation of the sheep-stealing and doctrinally deviant cult. Dr. Barnhouse was untouched. As a friend of his used to say of him, “He was dogmatic about any subject even when he was totally wrong.”
SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM ACCEPTS : The wily Adventists were quick to take advantage of Dr. Barnhouse and his pandoric patronage. As early as October 2, 1956, the Adventist monthly, Signs of the Times, came forth with an editorial entitled, “Adventists Vindicated.” “Vindicated” before the vindication was even published!
Their statement contained this telling sentence: “As to the effect of Dr. Barnhouse’s courageous reappraisal of Seventh-Day Adventism, we are convinced that it will not only create a sensation in evangelical circles, but it will lead thousands to restudy the ‘message’ which Seventh-Day Adventists feel called to give to the world in these last days.”
QUESTIONABLE “QUESTIONS ON DOCTRINE” : Just a few months later, early in 1957, the SDA denomination published an official 700-page volume entitled, Seventh-Day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine. The primary purpose of this tome was to convince evangelicals, hand-in-hand with Dr. Barnhouse and Dr. Walter Martin, that theirs was an evangelical body.
PREPOSTEROUS PENTECOSTAL PERCENTAGE: 1957 also witnessed Dr. Barnhouse and Dr. Martin entering into “close fellowship” with the Pentecostalists. Eternity for April, 1958, reported the visit with the leaders of the Assemblies of God at their headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, stating, “We found total disagreement of two percent of our doctrines, and absolute agreement of 95 to 98 percent.” Again, believers were strongly exhorted to enter into fellowship with this anti-security, tongues and healing group.
It was at this time that the Pentecostal plague was beginning to break loose and infect the larger denominations. The Barnhouse-Martin open door policy substantially contributed to the present-day charismatic errors that are rending the Body of Christ.
Here the promoters of oneness gave their blessing to the most divisive and dangerous element of all! An ex-Pentecostal leader stated, “The denominations that are accepting and tolerating the Neo-pentecostals also exhibit tendencies toward Neo-orthodoxy, Neo-evangelicalism, and Neo-morality.” To this day, Dr. Walter Martin frequents the Pentecostal platforms of the country.
Hero Gone Bad: John MacArthur Jr.
The present-day compromise of John MacArthur Jr. is reminiscent of Barnhouse. MacArthur has no shame in regard to who he gives credibility to. MacArthur was corrupted via his friendships and associations with the likes of John Piper and Michael Horton. Though elders are to be beyond reproach, for seven straight years including this one, he will appear on stage with serial sheep abuser and hypocrite extraordinaire, CJ Mahaney. MacArthur came completely out of the closet when he wrote the Forward to Uneclipsing the Son, written by New Calvinist Rick Holland. In the Forward, JM plainly rejects the significant role of the Father and the Holy Spirit in salvation and sanctification.
Biblical Counselors Gone Bad: The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors
Peaking in the early 90’s, this organization could not have found warehouses big enough to archive the stories of changed lives for God’s glory. Through training in this program, I myself was able to prevent a suicide with the Lord’s help. In 1992, a NANC training center in Ohio saw twelve solid conversions to Jesus Christ in one year. Unfortunately, NANC allowed the infiltration of other “biblical” counseling organizations via teaching and board members. Today, NANC is responsible for leading thousands down a path of destruction. Former stalwart members such as Lou Priolo and Martha Peace now drink the kool-aid of New Calvinism and serve it to thousands daily by books and speaking engagements.
Disillusioned Followers of the Always Bad John Piper
A reason for Piper heroship is extremely wanting. He was initially educated in humanistic Philosophy before attending the epicenter of Neo-evangelicalism: Fuller Seminary. Fuller Seminary frequently hosted the likes of Karl Barth during the time that Piper was a student there. The same year that he graduated from Fuller, he went to Germany to study under Neo-orthodox theologians. Though Piper’s pedigree is suspect to say the least, his popularity is unprecedented. Many of Piper’s followers are clearly in the denial stage; chief among them, the former Christian recording artist Steve Camp. Camp has written several articles on his blog that vent his perplexity regarding Piper’s behavior—peppered with statements like, has anybody seen the real John Piper lately? Steven, Steven, Steven, face it—John Piper was never real. Camp also wrote a lengthy article concerning a bizarre concoction by Piper and CJ Mahaney known as “The Scream of the Damned.” Apparently, it taught that Christ was condemned to hell as part of the atonement. One wonders if Piper and Mahaney themselves are amazed at what they get away with.
Christians need to remember that a love for the truth is a particular part of the salvation gift ( 2Thess. 2:10). When it gets right down to it, every Christian has the stuff Noah had—even if they are the last ones on earth to stand for the truth. It’s there, you will find it if you want to. Others have followed in the way of Noah. During the time of Constantine, a notable teacher stood against the onslaught of Arianism and was forced into exile. His name was Athanasius. Someone once said to Athanasius that the whole world was against his uncompromising stand; to which he replied, “Then I am against the world.” This is where the saying Athanasius contra mundum (“Athanasius against the world”) comes from.
He was like Noah. When it gets right down to it, we all are. Compromise only delivers a truce tormented by a nagging conscience. It’s not worth it.
There they go again, the supposed stalwarts of the faith attacking soft targets to prove to themselves and everyone else that they are brave defenders of the faith once delivered by Robert Brinsmead and the Australian Forum. It’s truly enough to gag a maggot. Their usual target is Joel Osteen who is at least partially created by the New Calvinists themselves—a backlash from people starving for some practical application and sick of hearing how totally depraved we are. His prosperity gospel is unacceptable, but not completely void of spiritual common sense like New Calvinism which makes him the lesser of the two evils.
Apparently, Jakes is into Oneness Pentecostalism which teaches that the Trinity primarily finds its identity in Christ and devalues the distinctions between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Unnamed notable members of the heretical Gospel Coalition attempted to bully James MacDonald into cancelling an appearance by Jakes at MacDonald’s church. MacDonald refused and resigned from The Gospel Coalition board of which he was a charter member.
But what’s the difference? The Forum rejected the significance of the Trinity and emphasized Christ over the Father and Holy Spirit, and this same mentality is constantly seen among New Calvinists. John Piper often states that, “God entered history through Christ.” He also continually refers to “the imputed righteousness of Christ” as the bases of our justification. This is a blatant contradiction to Scripture which always refers to our imputed righteousness as coming from God the Father. John MacArthur is far less ambiguous, stating the following in the forward of a book written by New Calvinist Kool-aid drinker Rick Holland:
This book is an insightful, convicting reminder that no one and nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts….They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). That is the only blueprint for church ministry that has any sanction from Scripture….The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock.
The Father of John Kerry theology continues to rack up the contradictions as his legacy wanes. To whom much is given, much is required, and MacArthur has already sold truth for a bowl of New Calvinist fame. At the upcoming 2012 Resolved Conference, he will take his place with the other gods of New Calvinism under the high-tech light show and above a sea of worshippers who can wave arms with the best of them.
He must be there, he can’t help himself, even though he will appear on stage with CJ Mahaney who represents what MacArthur used to call “Chaos” in the Christian life. But now MacArthur has seen the lights; things that used to cause chaos in the Christian life are now “secondary issues” because Mahaney majors on the doctrine contrived by a Seventh-day Adventist who is now an atheist: the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us. But what of MacArthur’s supposed conviction that elders should be above reproach in light of Mahaney’s serial abuse of power? Answer: as Dever and Mohler insinuate; collateral damage is to be expected when you are on the cutting edge of a new Reformation that is the rediscovery of the “scandalous gospel.” No, no, there is really no scandal at SGM, the only scandal is Mahaney’s martyrdom for the scandalous gospel.
MacArthur has always had discernment issues. In the 80’s, disciples of the heretical Larry Crabb were running his counseling program at Grace Community Church while he arrogantly dismissed concerns from those who lacked titles after their names. This despite Crabb’s horrendous dissing of Scripture in the book “Outside In” which on one page compared Bible reading to masturbation. MacArthur’s lack of discernment can also be seen in his understudies who continually praise and swoon over brazen antinomian John Piper on the Pyromaniacs blog. The primary author of the blog, Phil Johnson, once stated, “I love John Piper,” and noted that Piper was only preceded by MacArthur in regard to whom he read most. Another contributor to the blog, the insufferable Frank Turk, stated, “To know Piper is to understand Piper.” This is the disgusting New Calvinist mentality that you are obligated to read everything a New Calvinist has ever written in order to be qualified to judge their doctrine.
I have already noted the contradictions in New Calvinist teachings and the MacArthur book, Saved Without a Doubt here: http://wp.me/pmd7S-NH. The book was recently republished and it is the only book written by him that I would now recommend to anybody. My review of Slave is here http://wp.me/pmd7S-sD, and though this book is an excellent insight into the use of slave terminology in the Bible, the book lacked the usual practical application to kingdom living which has been a hallmark of his writings in the past while bolstering the credibility of various New Calvinists. Then there was The Truth War which bemoaned the Postmodern approach to Scripture (http://wp.me/pmd7S-1aY) while New Calvinism takes the exact same approach to the Bible.
This brings me to MacArthur’s book, Reckless Faith, which bemoans neo-orthodoxy. Here is MacArthur’s definition of neo-orthodoxy from pages 25-29):
Neo-orthodoxy is the term used to identify an existentialist variety of Christianity. Because it denies the essential objective basis of truth—the absolute truth and authority of Scripture—neo-orthodoxy must be understood as pseudo-Christianity. Its heyday came in the middle of the twentieth century with the writings of Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Paul Tillich, and Reinhold Niebaur. Those men echoed the language and the thinking of [Soren] Kierkegaard, speaking of the primacy of “personal authenticity,” while downplaying or denying the significance of objective truth. Barth, the father of neo-orthodoxy, explicitly acknowledged his debt to Kierkegaard.
Neo-orthodoxy’s attitude toward Scripture is a microcosm of the entire existentialist philosophy: the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually. In neo-orthodoxy, that same subjectivism is imposed on all the doctrines of historic Christianity. Familiar terms are used, but are redefined or employed in such a way that is purposely vague—not to convey objective meaning, but to communicate a subjective symbolism. After all, any “truth” theological terms convey is unique to the person who exercises faith. What the Bible means becomes unimportant, What it means to me is the relevant issue. All of this resoundingly echoes Kierkegaard’s concept of “truth that is true for me.”
Thus while neo-orthodox theologians often sound as if they affirming traditional beliefs, their actual system differs radically from the historic understanding of the Christian faith. By denying the objectivity of truth, they relegate all theology to the realm of subjective relativism. It is a theology perfectly suited for the age in which we live. And that is precisely why it is so deadly…
Only problem is, a method of interpreting the Bible that likewise has an orthodox sound to it, Biblical Theology (the theme of the 2011 The Gospel Coalition Conference), is awash in neo-orthodoxy. Biblical Theology is the staple hermeneutic of New Calvinism. As stated in The Truth About New Calvinism on page 23:
The Biblical-Theological movement originated in Germany under the liberal teaching and writing of Johann Philipp Gabler (1753–1826), who emphasized the historical nature of the Bible over against an overly dogmatic reading of it.
Nearly a century later, Princeton Theological Seminary inaugurated its first professor of Biblical Theology, Geerhardus Vos (1862–1949). Vos was instrumental in taking the discipline of biblical theology in a more conservative direction, using it to vindicate the Reformed faith and historic Christianity over against theological liberalism.
Many consider Graeme Goldsworthy, one of the primary figures behind the Australian Forum which contrived New Calvinism’s core doctrine (the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us) to be the contemporary torchbearer for Vos. His magnum opus, The Goldsworthy Trilogy, is a staple resource among New Calvinists. But Biblical Theology’s long history is fraught with instances of being integrated with neo-orthodoxy. Modernism /Neo-orthodoxy was a massive European movement that opened the floodgates of liberalism and Christian mysticism. The brunt of the movement found its moorings in Germany. Its most intensive affront to churches in the US came during the sixties and was aided by neo-evangelicalism which advocated tolerance and anti-separation). According to Charles Woodbridge, Fuller Seminary was a major proponent for tolerance in regard to Modernism and neo-orthodoxy in, or about 1968 (Charles Woodbridge: The New Evangelicalism, p.23). John Piper graduated from Fuller in 1971, and in that same year went to the University of Munich, Germany to study under Leonhard Goppelt (Wikipedia), a liberal theologian under the category of Modernism (HT Spence: Crucial Truths for Crucial Days, Volume Three, p. 143).
An article by Gary Dorrien published by Return to Religion Online in lieu of his book, The Word as Truth Myth: Interpreting Modern Theology outlines the connection between Modernism/neo-evangelism and the BTM: Biblical Theology Movement. According to Dorrien:
No theological perspective has a commanding place or an especially impressive following these days. Various theologies compete for attention in a highly pluralized field, and no theology has made much of a public impact. One significant and inescapable development, however, has been the emergence of “postliberal” theology, a major attempt to revive the neo-orthodox ideal of a “third way” in theology.
For nearly as long as modern theology has existed, efforts have been made to locate a third way between conservatism and liberalism. The idea of a third way was intrinsic to mid-19th-century German “mediating theology,” which blended confessional, pietistic and liberal elements. Two generations later, neo-orthodoxy issued a more aggressive appeal for a third way. While insisting that he was not tempted by biblical literalism, Karl Barth began his dogmatics by describing the liberal tradition of Friedrich Schleiermacher and Adolf von Harnack as “the plain destruction of Protestant theology and the Protestant church.” Emil Brunner’s “theology of crisis” similarly maintained that in different ways Protestant liberal-ism and Protestant orthodoxy both betrayed the Reformation principles of the sovereignty and freedom of the Word of God. Reinhold Niebuhr took a different tack toward a similar end, arguing that fundamentalism was hopelessly wrong because it took Christian myths literally, while liberal Christianity was hopelessly wrong because it failed to take Christian myths seriously [emphasis mine].
Neo-orthodoxy was an umbrella term for various profoundly different theologies. It was embraced in the U.S. by thousands of pastors and theologians, who generally got their theology from Brunner and Niebuhr rather than from Barth. American neo-orthodoxy in the 1940s and 1950s typically meant a compound of Brunner’s dogmatics, Niebuhr’s theological ethics, and the scripture scholarship of the biblical theology movement [emphasis mine]. This movement, a reaction to the perceived sterility of earlier, purely analytic studies, emphasized the unifying themes of scripture and stressed the revelatory acts of God in history as described in the Bible.
Bottom line: The myth is truth. The BTM satisfied liberals in that dogmatic propositional truth is not the point, and satisfied conservatives by saying that Bible narratives relate factual truth. In essence, the same way a parable may be a true story or it may not be—that’s not the point, the point is the truth that it conveys. BTM supplied a third way between Modernism and Fundamentalism. Another source that speaks of neo-orthodoxy as being synonymous with BTM is Out of Egypt by Craig G. Bartholomew and Elaine Botha, particularly on page 4. Both sources say that apologists James Barr and Langdon Gilkey dealt BTM and neo-evangelism a death blow in 1961 through their writings.
Though further study is needed, it would appear that Biblical Theology, ie., Redemptive Historical hermeneutics or Christocentric hermeneutics, made a comeback when mixed with the Forums centrality of the objective gospel outside of us in 1970.
For more than two centuries, Modernism and neo-orthodoxy has written Christian recipes for every kind of mysticism, spiritual contemplationism, and philosophy known to man. And Biblical Theology unites all of them because supposedly, the myth is literal truth. Did the historical events in the Bible actually happen? Are the events to be interpreted literally? That’s not relevant; what is relevant is the truth about the gospel that it conveys to the individual. Ironically, MacArthur continued to bemoan the following effects of neo-orthodoxy in the aforementioned book:
[Contemplative Spirituality aka] Mysticism is perfectly suited for religious existentialism; indeed, it is the inevitable consequence. The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, of other purely subjective means. Objective truth becomes practically superfluous.
Mystical experiences are therefore self-authenticating; that is, they are not subject to any form of objective verification. They are unique to the person who experiences them. Since they do not arise from or depend upon any rational process, they are invulnerable to any refutation by rational means… Mysticism is therefore antithetical to discernment. It is an extreme form of reckless faith. Mysticism is the great melting pot into which neo-orthodoxy, the charismatic movement, anti-intellectual evangelicals, and even some segments of Roman Catholicism have been synthesized.
It has produced movements like the Third Wave (a neo-charismatic movement with excessive emphasis on signs, wonders and personal prophesies); Renovaré (an organization that blends teachings from monasticism, ancient [Roman] Catholic mysticism, Eastern Religion, and other mystical traditions); the spiritual warfare movement (which seeks to engage demonic powers in direct confrontation); and the modern prophesy movement (which encourages believers to seek private, extrabiblical revelation directly from God).
The influx of mysticism has also opened evangelicalism to New-Age concepts like subliminal thought-control, inner healing, communication with angels, channeling, dream analysis, positive confession, and a host of other therapies and practices coming directly from occult and Eastern religions. The face of evangelicalism has changed so dramatically in the past twenty years that what is called evangelicalism today is beginning to resemble what used to be called neo-orthodoxy. If anything, some segments of contemporary evangelicalism are even more subjective in their approach to truth than neo-orthodoxy ever was.
Somehow, MacArthur sees no correlation between spiritual contemplationism born of neo-orthodoxy and gospel contemplationism which is a hallmark of New Calvinism. The rest of what he describes in the above lengthy excerpt is woefully prevalent throughout the New Calvinism movement, especially the kind of mysticism propagated by one of the forefathers of New Calvinism, Tim Keller.
Though MacArthur shows no tolerance for those who deny a literal six days of creation in the book Think Biblically, writing that it undermines the gospel, he heaps praises on John Piper who stops short of confessing such, and admits that such a belief is not a requirement for eldership at his church ( http://wp.me/pmd7S-1b2 ). But this makes sense because in Piper’s mind, whether God created the earth in a literal six-day period is not the point; what that passage conveys about the gospel is the point. But in this approach of myth as literal truth, torturing such verses until they scream “gospel” is doomed to produce all kinds of subjective versions of the gospel. The prism may be objective: all verses are about the gospel, but how the creation event is interpreted as gospel will produce as many different results as those who interpret.
All of this is an astounding display of confused hypocrisy.
Missed in the entire fray about New Calvinism is the simple fact that its premise is a false gospel. Clearly, the core of New Calvinism is the Australian Forum’s centrality of the objective gospel outside of us (COGOUS). Not many will fuss over a view that true righteousness comes to us from the outside for justification, but the Forum then extended that same reality to sanctification as well. We are supposedly sanctified by a righteousness that is still completely outside of us and not part of us. Certainly, this should be evident via the constant bellowing by New Calvinists that believers are still totally depraved. Hence, like the Forum, New Calvinists like Michael Horton deny the significance of the new birth.
The fundamental flaw of New Calvinism, like 99% of all false gospels, starts with the idea that justification has to be maintained. In order for us to be proclaimed righteous, we have to actually be perfectly righteous in practical behavior and able to stand righteous before God at any time. But Christians will not stand at a judgment that determines righteousness, for we have already been declared such, and the full righteousness of God has been credited to our account. Sanctification is totally separate from justification and cannot take away from justification or add to it. Romans 8:30 makes this certain.
But the Forum, being primarily grounded in SDA theology, followed the idea that is indicative of all Jesus plus something else doctrines: sanctification is the link between justification and glorification; the two (just. and sanct.) cannot be separated. Starting with that premise, there can only be two outcomes: justification only deals with the past and we have to work our way to heaven via keeping the law (always mixed with traditions or the “commandments of men”) and ritual. Or, the understanding that if that’s the case, Jesus or the Holy Spirit must keep the law for us so perfection can always be offered to God “by faith.” Hence, we are able to stand righteous at the judgment because Christ or the Holy Spirit keeps the law for us. Ie., antinomianism. New Calvinism bought into the latter Forum package hook, line, and sinker.
How this pans out among New Calvinists in “practical application” varies, but a good example is David Powlison’s Dynamics of Biblical Change as articulated by Paul David Tripp in “How People Change”: we are sanctified the same way we are justified; as we partake in “deep repentance by faith” our hearts are emptied of idols that replace Christ and we experience a filling of Christ leading to manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In New Calvinism, sanctification is sort of a purgatory where we work out justification by faith alone. As long as our motive is to be sanctified the way we were justified, by faith alone, we are ok. Like Steve Green’s song, “That’s Where The Joy Comes From,” we are, “empty vessels waiting to be filled.” Like John Piper’s thesis in When I Don’t Desire God, obedience that comes from heaven is validated by joy, and we cannot do anything to obtain joy—it is a gift. We work out our salvation in the weeds and the tares and wait for joy to come (p.43). When we are confronted with a choice to obey and do not possess joy resulting from gospel contemplationism, go ahead and obey, but ask for forgiveness in doing so (ebook, Treating Delight as Duty is Controversial).
Again, according to many New Calvinists, sanctification is a sort of justification purgatory where we work out our salvation through subjective experience while focusing on the works of Christ only, and this is why justification should never be subordinated to sanctification. Yes, the “new birth” is true, but it is not objective like the gospel (justification) and should always be explained in a justification context.
New Calvinism is stayed on the concept that all righteousness remains outside of the believer. This was a Forum distinctive. Therefore, it would stand to reason that repentance on our part would not be included in the gospel message. A call for repentance AND faith insinuates a righteousness within the believer that would see the need for change. Regeneration is not the goal of the New Calvinist gospel—that encourages a focus on self and “navel watching” to the exclusion of recognizing the work of Christ and His glory. Sanctification is different because the goal there is to joyfully endeavor in discovering the depths of our wickedness. As we see and repent, more wickedness is revealed, more Holy Spirit manifestations occur, and the cross is made bigger by seeing more of Christ’s holiness and more of our wickedness. The only difference between a believer and unbeliever is believers see more of who they really are. See chart below published by a New Calvinist organization:
Therefore, two good examples of “the gospel” from two New Calvinists would be John Piper’s gospel “in a sentence” and CJ Mahaney’s gospel in five words. Mahaney often says that the gospel can be summed up in five words: Christ died for our sins. He also states: “Such news is specific: there is a defined ‘thatness’ to the gospel which sets forth the content of both our saving faith and our proclamation. It is objective, and not to be confused with our response.”
And regarding sanctification, Mahaney states:
The Bible tells us that, while there are many different callings and many possible areas of service in the kingdom of God, one transcendent truth should define our lives. One simple truth should motivate our work and affect every part of who we are.
Christ died for our sins.
It’s all about what Christ did, not anything we might do, like repentance as a result of new creaturehood. Likewise, here is what Piper states regarding the gospel:
What’s the gospel? I’ll put it in a sentence. The Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy. That’s the gospel.
In the following post http://wp.me/pmd7S-RP , I display four gospel video presentations by Piper in which the new birth and repentance are conspicuously missing. But yet, Piper worshipper John MacArthur continually fustigates others that don’t preach a gospel that includes repentance. The following video is one example:
AND A ONE-SENTENCE GOSPEL, AND A FIVE-WORD GOSPEL IS?
And, once again, like 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, MacArthur will appear on stage with Mahaney at the 2012 Resolved Conference sponsored by his church, Grace Community. And this after Mahaney was forced to step down from a ministry he founded for serial sheep abuse.
In light of this, I will think of MacArthur in the best possible light: a former stalwart of the faith is now a confused hypocrite. I guess that’s better than saying that he now advocates a false gospel. Even though he does, our former heroes die hard. But because of our love for the truth, die they will as those whom we follow. Even the apostle Paul instructed Christians to follow him “as I follow Christ.” And trust me, MacArthur is no apostle Paul. If Paul were invited to speak at a Resolved Conference, he would shrink back in horror at the rock concert like setting that seems to say that we need more than the excitement of the very words that come forth from God’s own mouth. And the location is also telling: Palm Springs. For sure that would have been Paul’s favorite place for ministry.
“In fact, what better example of Neo-evangelicalism is there in our day than the Resolved conferences? MacArthur has appeared on stage with Mahaney at every Resolved Conference since its conception in 2005, and shockingly, even after the recent controversies surrounding Mahaney, will appear with him again in 2012!”
I like to peruse used book stores and look at what was written in earlier years. I bought a book by Charles Woodbridge published in 1969 entitled “The New Evangelicalism.” Funny, I no more than put the book down after finishing it to check my email and saw that I was sent a link to an article written by a friend of Charles Spurgeon, Scottish pastor John Kennedy. An excerpt:
The essay here reprinted appeared in 1874 in the wake of an evangelistic campaign by Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey, whose 1873 tour wrought a revolution of sentiment in Scotland. Scottish pastors, wishing to think the best, and inattentive to the new trends of thought and practice, were caught up in the swell of excitement. Though Kennedy was temperamentally disinclined to controversy, he was constrained to raise his voice for a full-orbed proclamation of the biblical gospel.
What was the crux of Neo-evangelicalism according to Woodbridge? Separation verses infiltration. Supposedly, more people get saved if they don’t perceive divisions among Christians. Kennedy bemoaned the fact that Scottish pastors embraced Moody revivalism at face value. Supposedly, cooperation furthers the kingdom. Neo-evangelicalism called for a tolerance for anything that called itself “Christian.” The clear biblical mandate for utilizing God’s work in separation was dismissed for “love and unity” and a “humbleness that is teachable.”
The outcry against Neo-evangelicalism was ignored, paving a wide road for destructive doctrines like New Calvinism in our day. Tolerance for blatant error and New Calvinism certainly go hand in hand. Neo-evangelicalism has made stalwarts like John MacArthur little more than hypocrites. Of course, the prime example is the invitation to CJ Mahaney to speak at a Resolved Conference after writing “Charismatic Chaos.” John Piper worshipper Justin Taylor applauded the contradiction. In fact, what better example of Neo-evangelicalism is there in our day than the Resolved conferences? MacArthur has appeared on stage with Mahaney at every Resolved Conference since its conception in 2005, and shockingly, even after the recent controversies surrounding Mahaney, will appear with him again in 2012! What happened to MacArthur’s supposed conviction that elders are to be “beyond reproach”? And I emphasize “supposed” convictions.
Another mantra of our day that finds roots in Neo-evangelicalism is certainly, “All truth is God’s truth.” Supposedly, there is wisdom in turning over every flat rock laying upon the Earth to find some truth God might have hidden underneath. Every book list is a good list, just “eat the chicken and throw out the bones.” “Take off the shelf what is good and leave the rest there.” Of course, books written by Adolf Hitler, who said agreeable things, is conspicuously missing from the list. Presently, that is.
Woodridge aptly points out in the book that separation is the key to protecting the truth and leading violators to repentance (Romans 16:17). This is Christianity 101. Just last night, a pastor shared with me how the separation of an individual from their church membership led to his repentance and the salvation of his live-in girlfriend, with appropriate actions following. Go figure. In another case I recently heard about, an individual who was only shunned by a small segment of his extended Christian family ran into a life shattering circumstance. Guess who he went to for counsel? Right, the small segment. Something made him think they took truth seriously. The counsel resulted in him giving his life to the Lord.
Woodbridge pointed out that it is supposedly unity for the sake of the gospel. Same deal today. New Calvinists believe that all truth is secondary to what they call “the gospel” and not worth fighting over. In MacArthur’s mind, “chaos” in the lives of God’s people is acceptable because that’s a sanctification thing. He is now part of the, “Beholding as a way of becoming” crowd.
A reader sent me the latest post by Tullian Tchividjian. Go figure, he wasn’t able to pass on criticizing a concept that involves the possible use of verbs: New Year Resolutions. Susan and I had just finished working on a resolution of our own to begin the new year. We were not excited to partake in the endeavor. We knew it would reveal the necessity to make hard choices together. It was difficult not to focus on that rather than the glory that could be brought to God through the process. Afterward, while somewhat moody about the task, I checked my email, clicked on the link, and read it. So, hide the children.
Tullian Tchividjian is an icon among the Young, Reckless, and Rebellious that are presently tormenting the church. His followers are those who the apostle Paul said would come in the last days with itching ears—wanting to hear that the Christian life is a “mere natural flow.” According to Tchividjian, the acid test for determining if you are preaching the true gospel is to be accused of antinomianism. And while many of this bunch applauded the Queen of Anomia, Elyse Fitzpatrick, for stating that there is no such thing as antinomianism, others like New Calvinist/Super Yuppie Dane Ortlund claim that the apostle Paul was accused of being one; so hence, it is their goal as well. Even more detestable is the way that library theologians like John MacArthur lend credibility to these enemies of righteousness. In his ignorant ramblings about how the Young, Restless, and Reformed need to “grow up and keep reforming,” he is stupidly incredulous that antinomians are acting like antinomians.
And their arrogance is without boundary, having reverence for nothing but their own visions of grandeur. For example: yes, I realize that Dietrich Bonhoeffer had some issues in regard to orthodoxy, but I won’t even go there. Why? Because he left a cushy ministry in the States to take a stand against Nazism in Germany. He observed that like the pastors of this day, they wouldn’t take a stand in Germany, but rather emphasized the positive of what Hitler had to offer. Bonhoeffer was eventually hanged while naked with piano wire. But as ones who talk like those who have taken off their armor before putting it on and standing before the razor thin noose, they constantly rag on him for saying things like, “ One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons.” Another example that is almost equally disgusting is the book written by the pretentious and puerile Heath Lambert, passing judgment on the likes of Jay Adams. If the book is ever produced in audio, it would be an excellent complement to ventriloquist David Powlison.
And of course, Tchividjian wasted no time speaking for Susan and me regarding our New Year Resolution for the Lord. His message? Like all things that we try to do for the lord, it will fail. And gee whiz, isn’t it great that our acceptance before the Lord doesn’t depend on our performance?
I have some theological news for this vile antinomian and his fiend friend that sent him the quote that he thought was so special. That would be the friend who delights (like all New Calvinists) in bringing elderly saints up on bogus church discipline (I told you to hide the children. I am fed-up with this bunch and the cowards that cover for them). Here is the news flash: Susan and I don’t claim to be the brightest bulbs in the house, but we know at least this much; we cannot do anything to gain favor with God for purposes of justification. That’s impossible because He chose us to be completely justified before the Earth was created. Therefore, He also chose us, and the guaranteed result is glorification at a time of His choosing and good pleasure. Susan and I believe this with all of our hearts and it is the basis of this belief that gives us assurance of our salvation. But unlike these brute beasts, Susan and I have a King that we want to please for many reasons—reasons that He states, not mere men. We long to stand before Him and hear, “Well done, faithful servant.” And guess what? We actually believe He is talking about what we actually do. Excuuuuuse us for taking that literally and not embracing Tchividjian’s Gnostic-like approach to the Scriptures (also known as Redemptive Historical hermeneutics).
But what really torques me off about these men is their HOPELESS message. When I went to a biblical counselor some twenty-four years ago in the midst of a serious trial, I was a New Calvinist before New Calvinism was cool. I read Scripture and prayed for hours “seeking the Lord’s face.” In 1994, MacArthur explained what that means; in essence he said, “We don’t really mean like, you know, looking for a face in the Scriptures like something mystical. We mean like, you know, looking for Jesus in the Scriptures.” Ya, got it, except for the part about what Jesus SAYS, not what he looks like. MacArthur seems to have bought into the New Calvinist hermeneutic that is primarily concerned with who Jesus is as a “person.” It’s almost as if none of them can wait to meet Jesus face to face so they can ask him what His sign is and His favorite color. “Is fish really your favorite food? Or was it because that was the staple food of the day?” Oh to know who Jesus really is! The perfect complement is Francis Chan’s Jesus is my boyfriend theology. Meanwhile, Steve Camp and others have no clue where all of the Jesus is my boyfriend music comes from that they constantly lament. Antinomians acting like antinomians and those seeking to fall in love with Jesus singing Jesus is my boyfriend music, and no one is apparently able to connect the dots. What in the world is going on?
Thank goodness my counselor wasn’t Tchividjian . And thank goodness my counselor had not yet become the president of an evil empire. He told me that I could actually do something about my problem; specifically, what the Lord instructs. “Oh, you mean nothing’s happening because Jesus also wants me to do things? “ Profound.
This ministry is a witness to how New Calvinists counsel: “We are helpless creatures who have this treasure of Jesus in clay vessels. Embrace the pounding of the trial as it breaks apart these vessels of clay and allows the glory of Jesus to shine out!” Meanwhile, New Calvinists play on the results of an existing epidemic of our day: Christians functioning on biblical generalities and trying to do the right thing the wrong way. THAT IS WHY THEIR CHRISTIAN RESOLUTIONS FAIL, not for lack of a Tchividjian false gospel. Thank goodness I didn’t know him. It would have been one New Calvinist leading another into a ditch.
A reader alluded to the ecumenical aspect of New Calvinism based on the core doctrine of Gospel Sanctification, or COG (the centrality of the objective gospel) or COGUS (the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us). If you believe in COG, you’re in the tribe, and anything else, including things like snake handling, are fair game (“secondary issues”):
And I am picking up on something else with these guys after reading over at an SBC Reformed blog and other Reformed blogs: If you are deemed to have correct doctrine concerning this, you can get by with just about anything. It is one reason they totally ignore the antics of Driscoll and Mahaney. See, they have correct doctrine and that is more important than what they do. But one would think that correct doctrine would bring about doing the right things at some point.
Not by them, because they deny the new birth. And they clearly teach that we are still totally depraved. So, what is their version of spiritual growth? They do have one that would ordinary appear orthodox if you start throwing excerpts around. This is the weakest link in the near complete picture we have of the New Calvinist theological system and its life application. It’s called “spiritual formation.” Notice that many elders in Reformed churches are being referred to as “elder over spiritual formation.”
Basically, instead of us growing spiritually as persons (which would be supposedly “infusing grace into us and reversing justification and sanctification” [John Piper et al ]), The works of Christ are “formed within us” as we meditate on the gospel. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” right? In other words, their definition of the new birth is the living Christ being formed within spiritually dead believers. This is a constant theme throughout the book “How People Change” written by Powlison Kool-Aid drinkers Paul David Tripp and Timothy Lane.
This is bringing this ministry into a deep study of the postmodern Spiritual Contemplationism movement. There are many ministries out there that have been griping for some time that the likes of Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller are guilty of this. Of course, New Calvinism has enjoyed incremental criticism for years without a vetting of the full picture of who they really are. The second volume of TTANC will complete this part of the puzzle. They believe the new birth is a formation of Christ within spiritually dead believers via Gospel Contemplationism.
Incredibly, John MacArthur Jr. criticized the postmodern view of interpreting Scripture as a meta-narrative in “Truth War” while enthusiastically supporting New Calvinists that hold to that same view. The shameful embracing of New Calvinism by Grace to You ministries will be addressed in volume two as well.
….but tape it, don’t nail it. That way you will only be brought up on church discipline and not also arrested for vandalism. PDF available here: The 95 Theses Against New Calvinism
Have you ever noticed? The Scriptures NEVER call “obedience” works salvation. We are never told that people are trying to earn their way into heaven through “obedience.” Obedience, in the Scriptures, is ALWAYS associated with the truthful application of God’s word to our lives in how we think and what we do. It is the truthful application of our role in sanctification which is putting off the old self and putting on the new creature (Ephesians 4:20-24). In the Scriptures, truth is always assumed in obedience.
This is New Calvinism’s greatest deception, the idea that one can sincerely seek to apply God’s word to their lives in a truthful way, and at the same time do so to maintain a just standing before God without realizing they are doing so. This invokes a dependance on them, a don’t try sanctification at home mentality. Though they claim that obedience is motivated by fear within the evangelical community, their sanctification formula propagates a unfounded fear that obedience is nothing more than works salvation, in and of itself. The fact of the matter is that works salvation is always based on falsehood.
Unlike the Bible, New Calvinists don’t associate obedience with truth, a love for the truth, and faith. They separate the two, specifically by separating “law” and “gospel.” Law is obedience, whether practiced in truth or not, and gospel is truth. There are many examples of this, but here is the best one I have seen of late:
This is fundamentally no different than Islam! The Gospel offers us freedom from our sin-stained hearts and our obedience-stained garments and bids us rest in the finished work of Christ which is better than us being better!!!” (Jean F. Larroux, III, Green Grass of Grace Southwood blog).
Notice: obedience is obedience whether it is Christian or Islam. Truth isn’t the issue. But the apostle Paul clearly unites the two:
They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:19-24).
Obviously, Paul is calling on Christians to learn truth, and put off what we learn to put off, and put on what we learn that is to be put on. The Bible calls this, “obedience” when it is done as biblically prescribed. If I tell my son to take the trash out to the curb, but instead he leaves it halfway down the driveway, that’s not obedience. Unless you’re a New Calvinist. With them, truthful obedience is neither here nor there because it is impossible for Christians to accomplish anyway:
The bad news is far worse than making mistakes or failing to live up to the legalistic standards of fundamentalism. It is that the best efforts of the best Christians, on the best days, in the best frame of heart and mind, with the best motives fall short of the true righteousness and holiness that God requires [notice that there is no distinction between this sentence and the one prior (legalistic standards verses true righteousness)]. Our best efforts cannot satisfy God’s justice. Yet the good news is that God has satisfied his own justice and reconciled us to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son. God’s holy law can no longer condemn us because we are in Christ (Michael Horton, Christless Christianity p. 91).
It is also extremely important here to notice the crux of New Calvinist error in this statement; specifically, the supposed need to maintain justification: “….the best motives fall short of the true righteousness and holiness that God requires…. Our best efforts cannot satisfy God’s justice.” But in sanctification, God no longer requires a just standard to maintain salvation, that has already been accomplished as a finished work. God no longer “requires” perfection that maintains our just standing. Therefore, Christians don’t obey for the purpose of maintaining our just standard/standing; it is a finished work by Christ that needs no further maintenance. We obey for other reasons—to glorify God, to experience the reality of our new birth, to show others the abundant life, and to destroy evil works, to name just a few. And also, our God-given love for the truth compels us to apply it to our lives.
Therefore, New Calvinism fuses what shouldn’t be fused and separates what shouldn’t be separated, turning orthodoxy completely upside down. They fuse justification and sanctification, and separate obedience from truth, while fictitiously calling obedience “law” (whether Christian or Islamic), and encapsulating truth in the “gospel” which is supposedly distinct from “law.” But what would we know about the gospel apart from Scripture? Christ said man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Wouldn’t that include the law? Paul told Timothy that we are fully equipped for every good work by ALL Scripture. Wouldn’t that also include the law?
This fusing of what shouldn’t be fused and separating what shouldn’t be separated is the basis of their Gospel Contemplationism. Law (any effort to obey, whether according to the truth or not) is separate from gospel and impossible for us to obey perfectly in order to maintain a salvation that doesn’t need to be maintained to begin with. The formula? Contemplation on the truth that results in a “Christ formation” within totally depraved, dead jars of clay. Doubt that? reread Larroux’s quote; our hearts are sin stained as well as any obedience we may perform.
The truth: we are declared righteous and are righteous, though hindered by the flesh. Though our striving falls short of perfection, we know that can’t affect our righteous standing that has already been declared based on the finished work of Christ. And that cannot be revoked. As we strive, we also long for the day when we can obey our Lord perfectly without hindrance. So like Paul, we cry out, “who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Our striving creates that thirst, experiencing both the blessings of that truth and the failures that prevent the full experience. Peter states clearly that we are to strive for a “rich entry,“ not the beggarly entry that comes from let go and let God theology.
Cruising down the highway as a young man, I was feeling pretty good listening to my rock music on the awesome new technology that replaced 8-track tapes, cassettes. One of my preferred bands was Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and one of my favorite songs was “Taking Care Of Business.” Sure, I knew a particular statement in the lyrics made no sense at all; “We love to work at nothing all day,” but I really dug the song man, and at that time of my life, trust me, the tune was way more important than the truth.
Since I have been studying New Calvinism for nearly five years now, that song has constantly been triggered in my mind. As I was perusing Southwood’s blog this morning, stopping to read “Green Grass of Grace,” by Jean (pronounced “ Jon”) F. Larroux (don’t forget: “The Third” hereafter; “JL3”), I observed the opening sentence: “Grace is difficult. It is harder than trying harder.” Then it happened in my head:
“People see you having fun
Just a-lying in the sun
Tell them that you like it this way
It’s the work that we avoid
And we’re all self-employed
We love to work at nothing all day
And we be…
Taking care of business every day
Taking care of business every way
I’ve been taking care of business, it’s all mine
Taking care of business and working overtime.”
In another post, JL3 said, “I’m not arguing for NO EFFORT or WORK I am arguing for GREATER EFFORT and MORE DIFFICULT WORK, the work of humbling ourselves, being broken, repentant, prostrate before God, looking past our ‘symptomatic sins’ to their root causes and being faced with such horror over my depravity that I am left with no other options than Jesus” (not sure, but I think the comment was pulled down).
Tullian Tchividjian, JL3’s obvious mentor stated it this way in “The Tyranny of Accountability Groups”:
The bottom line is this, Christian: because of Christ’s work on your behalf, God does not dwell on your sin the way you do. So relax and rejoice…and you’ll actually start to get better. The irony, of course, is that it’s only when we stop obsessing over our own need to be holy and focus instead on the beauty of Christ’s holiness that we actually become more holy! Not to mention, we start to become a lot easier to live with!
Oh really? I would think that people who focus on Matthew 7:24 with the result of their life being built on a rock would be the ones easier to get along with. And of course, I am constantly told by New Calvinist hacks that for me to say that these kinds of statements insinuate that Jesus obeys for is “reading into their statements.” Whatever. We see four things in Tchividjian’s statement: 1; Christ has done the work of sanctification on our behalf (ie., sanctification’s work was part of the atonement). 2; Doing less results in being “better,” productivity for the sake of the kingdom is conspicuously absent—per the usual. 3; Holiness comes by focusing on Christ’s holiness and not our own, resulting in more holiness. And I am often accused of “reading things into their statements” regarding the “Gospel Contemplationism” charge. Again, whatever. 4; The either/or communication technique, It’s either Christ’s holiness or our holiness, it can’t be both.
We are allergic to resting in the finished work of Christ and the hardest ‘trophy’ to lay down is that trophy of obedience I have been working for my whole life. To make the shift from an life driven by fear to a life motivated by love is very, very painful.
Notice that the finished work of Christ pertains to both justification and sanctification. Accuse me of reading into to this if you will, but what else can be surmised? Also, we gain see the either/or hermeneutic: we are either motivated by love or fear, it can’t be something else—it’s either/or. But the contradictions in JL3’s posts are too massive to document; for example, the Scriptures are clear that at times, God does motivate us by fear. Like all New Calvinists, JL3 validates love as something that is always (as stated by, of all people, John MacArthur) “always sweet, never bitter-sweet.” This removes the self-sacrifice aspect of love through obedience. And it brings us back to Bachman-Turner Overdrive theology as well: they only worked hard at what they loved, which was doing nothing.
Most of us have obeyed because of fear of reprisal from God. To know that we are loved apart from our obedience or disobedience is a truth that is elusive. This is why it must be pounded into our souls week after week.
This is a bunch of boloney, and notice JL3’s New Calvinist us against them mentality. “Most” obey from fear? Anybody who does counseling knows that isn’t true—fear of God is never been more lacking in recent church history.
We have purposed to drive deep into those fields ripe with the green grass of the grace of God, not into the rocky crags of fundamentalism, legalism and pietism hoping that some nourishing shoot of grace will emerge every now and again. The sheep cannot be sustained on a sparse diet of occasional grace.
Either/or: it’s either grace, or rocky crags. Nuff said, like all New Calvinists, his whole realm of speech is fraught with deceptive communication techniques.
Everything in Christendom tells them to weave for themselves garments of obedience and performance to wear before the Great White Throne of Judgment as ‘jewels in their crown.’
This hearkens back to JL3’s ancestors of the Australian Forum (the cradle of New Calvinism) who mixed Reformed teachings with SDA investigative judgment theology. Christians fear no future judgment concerning our righteousness—the righteousness of God has already been accredited to our account in full.
This is fundamentally no different than Islam! The Gospel offers us freedom from our sin-stained hearts and our obedience-stained garments and bids us rest in the finished work of Christ which is better than us being better!!!’
So, obedience in Islam is no different than obedience in Christianity? Sure it is. Christian obedience is based on T-R-U-T-H. The fundamental difference between Christianity and all other religions is our God given love for truth (2Thess. 2:10), which translates into applying it to our life. Hence, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” You can’t separate love for the truth from wanting to learn more about it, and then making it part of you. We are promised blessings if we do that (James 1:25).
JL3’s New Calvinistic teachings also has another tone shared by Bachman-Turner theology: the song demeaned people who supposedly wasted their life by doing things they didn’t like to do. New Calvinists often refer to our striving to obey as “rats on a treadmill” etc. Like MacArthur, we are told by JL3 that we should strive for a life that is “sweet, never bittersweet.” The fact is rather this: in pursuing truth, it will often collide with life, and other times it will bring joy. But when the experience is “bittersweet,” that’s not works salvation, it’s called “self-sacrifice.”
The apostle John reminded us that the Lord’s commands are not “burdensome.” We need to be reminded of this, because his commands are truth, and we love the truth. Sometimes the truth is hard, and it calls for us to reject the tune in exchange for the truth. Whatever the tune may be, whether, “resting is better than being better,” or a “love to work at nothing all day.”