The serial spiritual abusers of our day all function by the same gospel. That gospel is Gospel Sanctification; or progressive justification. It teaches that justification is a finished work for justification (effected by Christ’s passive obedience to the cross), and also a progressive work for our sanctification (effected by Christ’s perfect obedience to the law and imputed to us for our sanctification). So, “double imputation” is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness for justification, and the imputation of His obedience for our sanctification. Instead of God’s righteousness being imputed to us and our sin being imputed to Christ, “double imputation” is redefined as Christ’s righteousness being imputed to us while His perfect obedience to the law is substituted for our obedience in sanctification. In other words, Christ’s obedience to the law while he was on earth was part of the atonement just as much as His dying on the cross.
Moreover, we stay in our sinful state because our sins have not been imputed to Christ, but rather His obedience has been imputed to our sanctification, or the progressive part of the legal declaration. Any belief on our part that we can do any kind of work that pleases God is paramount to works salvation. The new birth which enables us to colabor with the Spirit in sanctification is denied, and relegated to the manifestations of a realm.
How does this gospel lead to abuse? It is predicated on the idea that even the regenerate remain in their sinful state and are incapable of doing good or pleasing God. This idea is coupled with the belief that God has appointed men to rule over the spiritually ignorant masses, and should rightfully be able to compel by force if necessary. This fundamental principle is the root of all cults and spiritual despotism of every kind.
If this is not the logical conclusion, how then are the totally depraved to be led? You certainly can’t counsel the totally depraved, so when something is going on under the nomenclature of counseling, what is really going on?
In the present-day blogosphere spiritual abuse wars, many so-called advocates of anti-spiritual abuse hold to this same doctrine embraced by Mark Driscoll, and CJ Mahaney et al. Some even throw in the vigorous defense of women’s rights, but how far can that really go when the doctrine holds to the total inability to do anything pleasing to God? What dignity is retained for women in such a worldview?
This post is a primer. In later articles I will be more specific and name names, but many in our day that are being touted as the answer to the likes of spiritual despots like Mahaney and Driscoll in fact hold to the exact same gospel. Again, as stated in this other post, I think cumulative facts that lead to a proposition are confused with truth, and only a true gospel can ultimately set us free.
Much of today’s preaching and teaching is geared towards controlling people. In the following clip, though Driscoll seems to be calling out bad husbands, he subtly prefaces what he is saying with characteristics that are true of most husbands. Any loving husband that prays with his wife is never going to be satisfied with how often he does so. Driscoll doesn’t make any distinctions in the elements.
Also, wives/girlfriends get a pass as “the daughters of God.” If she is spiritually weak, guess whose fault that is? As far as husbands who are being cautious about joining Driscoll’s church, he calls them out also, and depicts them as “little boys.” He subtly suggests that they don’t want to be “under authority.” However, let me be clear: a husband is under Christ’s authority, not the authority of elders in any regard when it comes to the home. Paul makes that absolutely clear in Ephesians 5. The clear message in Reformed churches today is that elders have more authority in the home than the husband. I contend that any man who walks into a New Calvinist church in our day is putting his marriage in grave danger. And by the way, we have no evidence or reason to believe that Adam abused Eve.
“Let me suggest that Piper’s indifference to this behavior is spawned by his theology. Has that thought ever crossed anybodies mind?”
Well, I didn’t expect to be posting this topic this morning. I was perusing stuff from the 2010 Shepard’s Conference and saw something taught by a Mark MacArthur (Not John; who is he?). That really got my curiosity gong, so I googled the name. What I ended up seeing first was an article asking why John Piper invited Mark Driscoll to his 2008 Desiring God Conference. The answer was left open. It seems that nobody really knows the answer as to why; other than the explanation given by Piper himself, and that doesn’t seem to be good enough. But what shocked me was the discovery in the same article concerning a series John MacArthur did about a year ago in regard to Driscoll’s handling of the Song of Solomon. I was unaware of it, but it was surprisingly candid / scathing, and four parts long! The article also noted that MacArthur related his concerns to John Piper directly, and apparently, to no avail.
So why would John Piper associate with “Mark the cussing pastor,” and even invite him to speak at his Desiring God Conference? Well, we get a clue in another spectacle that occurred at the same conference, an interview with Paul David Tripp in which he relates having a cussing contest with his own children while in the family car. If you can still find the video, it has a lame disclaimer in the introduction claiming that Paul Tripp doesn’t condone cussing; he was only cussing, and encouraged his children to do so as well in order to make a point. The video even offended Steve Camp, who railed about it on his blog: http://stevenjcamp.blogspot.com/2008/09/paul-tripp-ing-likes-to-say-s-word-has.html
But whether it’s Mac, or Camp, or all of the people who comment, they seem perplexed by this behavior and Piper’s indifference to the issue. Camp closed his scathing commentary with this comment:
“Anyone seen the real John Piper lately? If you do, tell him that he is missed and that we want to hear him just preach the Word again and leave behind his fascination with this high-school, emerging, juvenile, lascivious mentality once for all.”
This is what’s frustrating to me: I have seen the real John Piper for a long time, and I am really just a dumb hillbilly from Portsmouth, Ohio. Let me suggest that Piper’s indifference to this behavior is spawned by his theology. Has that thought ever crossed anybodies mind? Piper has a problem with a Christian obligation to uphold the law. Christians are not listening to what he says in careful, studious, fashion. If Steve Camp would carefully examine the preaching from the John Piper who was supposedly missing while at his own conference, he will find a marvelous, masterful, exposition of God’s word; but strictly in vertical form. Piper’s teaching is all but completely void of instruction and practical application. His ability to proclaim the glory of God camouflages his plenary monergism, and his disdain for a synergistic approach to sanctification. As a matter of fact, like Paul David Tripp, he often cites Scripture that concerns our condition prior to salvation to make specific points about our walk with God as Christians. Like Tripp, he does not believe that we are anymore equipped to have a part in our sanctification than we were before justification. That is why Piper said in one sermon: “Never, never, never, never, separate the gospel from the sanctification process.” Do Christians really know what he is saying when he says those things?
Yes, yes, yes, I know, these guys believe in the upholding of the law; they just don’t believe that we can have a part in it, don’t miss that point. In the final analysis, it needs to be called what it is: antinomianism. You may not agree with me, but my premise certainly explains Piper’s indifference to the behavior of Mark Driscoll and Paul Tripp. John Piper has never been missing in my mind. And by the way, who is Mark MacArthur?