It’s not a huge stretch; after all, the former primary defendants are Calvinists, and even in light of the horrific accusations, CJ Mahaney continues to be supported by the Calvinist community at large via speaking engagements, and silence. I understand that Kevin DeYoung, who has been silent on the issue, was quick to announce the dismissal on Twitter. The case also exemplifies the hilarious notion that these are men of the Word. The Bible states that accusations against an elder should only be heard by two or three witnesses; in this case, there were eleven, and on the record. Yet, NO Calvinist anywhere will take note of the accusations. Besides, the Bible states clearly that elders are to be beyond reproach, and CJ is hardly that.
The contemporary Calvinist resurgence movement known as New Calvinism has been getting massive press on its spiritual abuse for about ten years now. How bad is it? There are now two organizations formed for the express purpose of keeping Reformed churches out of court, and paid for by the sheep through donations! I will make this as simple as possible by once again commenting on a popular Neo-Calvinist illustration, published by them—not me:
This illustration is Calvinist epistemology. This is a visual description of Calvin’s first sentence in 1.1.1 of the Calvin Institutes: wisdom is deducted by knowledge of God and man; i.e., the top and bottom trajectories. That makes the cross bigger. That’s a good thing, right? In Luther’s epistemology, this illustration is known as the Theology of the Cross or the Cross Story as opposed to the glory story. Any possible contribution of good by us makes the cross smaller. That’s a bad thing, right?
Now think about this epistemology as set against these horrific abuses. Do I really have to do the math on this? How are people with this worldview going to look at the subject of justice? If we deserve justice, our trajectory goes up and the cross gets smaller. What about the victims? If they were totally innocent in the situation the trajectory again goes up and the cross gets smaller. What about any pure outrage concerning the actions? Why outrage? That’s a deeper knowledge of how evil we are which makes the cross bigger.
And to a Calvinist, that’s a good thing.
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.
In our most recent conference update Susan and I spoke of how the New Calvinist movement is attempting to recreate Christian reality. As part of this campaign, their overt rewriting of church history staggers one’s imagination in regard to audacity. It goes something like this:
The church was in a dark age. And the Reformers saved mankind from Catholicism. Then the children of the Reformers came to America and established its religious roots. But American capitalism and individualism has become a god and is destroying the piety that the precious Puritans brought here from Europe.
Hardly. First, the “church,” more correctly, “assembly of Christ” which adds Christ to the unbroken concept of “assembly” in both Testaments continues to be built by Christ and no darkness has ever prevailed against it—not even temporarily. The whole Dark Ages thing and its relationship to the “church” is a Western perspective. The world is bigger than Western culture.
Secondly, the philosophy of Socrates and Plato continues to dominate Western thought and culture to this very day. From Plato’s Academy, and his magnum opus, The Republic, Western thought moved forward in two directions: secular and religious. In the secular, it took the form of communism. In the religious, the identical ideology formed the foundations of Catholicism and Protestantism. The Reformers were merely “moral” philosopher kings.
And Plato didn’t come up with anything original. The cradle of humanity only had two religions: Friends of God and Spiritual Caste. And when you are God’s friend, He copies you on everything because you are morally responsible for the sum and substance of your own life, “the life that bears your name” (John Immel: TANC 2012). God doesn’t have an elite minority that rules over the unenlightened masses on his behalf. If the enlightened philosopher kings tell us to sacrifice our firstborn to the sun god, we protest because we didn’t get the memo.
And though we are to serve others, the sum and substance of our life is not defined by our contribution to “the group.” The Bible tells us to bear our own burdens as much as we possibly can. Individualism is not a sin. The demonizing of individualism is where New Calvinism and Communism play together in Plato’s sandbox. Don’t take the words of others for it, study history for yourselves; European religion has always been in bed with Fascism and Communism. Their like ideology spawns their common lust to control the masses.
And together, they despise the children of the Enlightenment that saved the American colonies from the tyranny of European religion. The Salem witch trials were a miniscule remnant of the bad seed. No country has ever flourished like America nor done good to the world in the same degree. Europe has never been a friend to God’s elect nation, but Israel has never had a better friend than America. America has never been a Christian nation per se. But there is immense power in even implementing God-given common sense….
2013 TANC Conference Update: Conference Will Explore New Calvinism’s Relationship to Biblical Counseling
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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.
There is a slight problem with Calvinism. Calvin’s definition of a Christian is the Bible’s definition of a lost person. Calvin, the supposed genius that he was, therefore declared Christians everywhere to be lost. Brilliant.
It all starts with Calvin’s view of the Christian’s relationship to the law:
1. It is the standard for the Christian’s justification.
2. The law must be kept perfectly in order to be considered righteous presently.
3. Christians cannot please God through obedience to the law because we still sin.
Let’s establish these three points from the Calvin Institutes (3.14.9-11):
We thus see, that even saints cannot perform one work which, if judged on its own merits, is not deserving of condemnation.
Even were it possible for us to perform works absolutely pure, yet one sin is sufficient to efface and extinguish all remembrance of former righteousness, as the prophet says (Ezek. 18:24). With this James agrees, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all,” (James 2:10). And since this mortal life is never entirely free from the taint of sin, whatever righteousness we could acquire would ever and anon be corrupted, overwhelmed, and destroyed, by subsequent sins, so that it could not stand the scrutiny of God, or be imputed to us for righteousness. In short, whenever we treat of the righteousness of works, we must look not to the legal work but to the command. Therefore, when righteousness is sought by the Law, it is in vain to produce one or two single works; we must show an uninterrupted obedience.
God does not (as many foolishly imagine) impute that forgiveness of sins once for all, as righteousness; so that having obtained the pardon of our past life we may afterwards seek righteousness in the Law. This were only to mock and delude us by the entertainment of false hopes. For since perfection is altogether unattainable by us, so long as we are clothed with flesh, and the Law denounces death and judgment against all who have not yielded a perfect righteousness, there will always be ground to accuse and convict us unless the mercy of God interpose, and ever and anon absolve us by the constant remission of sins. Wherefore the statement which we set out is always true, if we are estimated by our own worthiness, in everything that we think or devise, with all our studies and endeavors we deserve death and destruction.
We must strongly insist on these two things: That no believer ever performed one work which, if tested by the strict judgment of God, could escape condemnation; and, moreover, that were this granted to be possible (though it is not), yet the act being vitiated and polluted by the sins of which it is certain that the author of it is guilty, it is deprived of its merit.
Clearly, Calvin believed Christians are still under the law and its requirement of perfection. Once our past sins are forgiven, the law requires a perfect keeping thereafter:
God does not (as many foolishly imagine) impute that forgiveness of sins once for all, as righteousness; so that having obtained the pardon of our past life we may afterwards seek righteousness in the Law.
Notice that Calvin dismisses a future forgiveness of sins once we are forgiven of “our past life.” Apparently, at the point of salvation, past sins are forgiven but from there forward a perfect keeping of the law is required in order to be considered righteous. Since this is not possible, a perpetual forgiveness of sins is required to maintain our just standing:
For since perfection is altogether unattainable by us, so long as we are clothed with flesh, and the Law denounces death and judgment against all who have not yielded a perfect righteousness, there will always be ground to accuse and convict us unless the mercy of God interpose, and ever and anon absolve us by the constant remission of sins.
Calvin taught a need for the perpetual remission of sin in order to remain just, and a perpetual imputation of Christ’s righteousness as well:
Therefore we must have this blessedness not once only, but must hold it fast during our whole lives. Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death—viz. ablution, satisfaction, expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered (Ibid.)
Calvin believed that faith alone in sanctification, the same way we were saved, keeps this process of perpetual justification going. He posed the opposition as those who believed that the new birth enabled the Christian to participate in completing justification, and since the completion would not be a perfect keeping of the law, that it was a false approach:
They admit that the sinner, freely delivered from condemnation, obtains justification, and that by forgiveness of sins; but under the term justification they comprehend he renovation by which the Spirit forms us anew to the obedience of the Law; and in describing the righteousness of the regenerate man, maintain that being once reconciled to God by means of Christ, he is afterwards deemed righteous by his good works, and is accepted in consideration of them (Ibid).
Until this day, the Reformed misrepresent the new birth as a work inside the believer that enables them to participate in the completion of justification because they only recognize a “golden chain of salvation” in which sanctification finishes justification. That is why authentic Calvinism insists on “Christ 100% for us [IN sanctification and justification both]” and any and all works of grace being completely outside of the believer. What about “faith”? Faith must focus on the gospel OUTSIDE of us or it is irrelevant. Any recognition that faith is inside of us leads to subjectivism. So, true faith is that which focuses on another object, or it’s not faith. Whether or not it is inside of us is irrelevant. In fact, God Himself should not be emphasized as much as Christ and His gospel lest we “rather mislead miserable souls by vain speculation, than direct them to the proper mark” (Institutes III.2.i).
The primary contradiction is that Christians are no longer under the law for justification. There is NO law standard that must be maintained for our just standing. That is how unbelievers are biblically framed. Again, Calvin frames believers in the same way that the Bible frames unbelievers:
Romans 3:19 – Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:21 – But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
Romans 3:28 – For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
Romans 4:15 – For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
Romans 5:13 – for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
Romans 7:6 – But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
Romans 7:8 – But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.
We see that a perfect keeping of the law is completely unnecessary for the Christian. Who keeps it or doesn’t keep it for our justification is completely irrelevant for the standard of the law does not exist in justification: “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.”
Furthermore, if we are still under the jurisdiction of the law for our justification, we are technically, according to the Bible, unregenerate and still enslaved to sin:
Romans 6:14 – For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Because we died with Christ, the old us that was under the law is like a spouse that died; we are no longer under that marriage law and the new us is free to marry another:
Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
We are no longer under the law for justification, and not of the nature that goes along with that: enslavement to sin. Nor are we any longer provoked to sin by the law, which is another characteristic of being under it:
Romans 7:5 – 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
Those under the law cannot obey the law, but in direct contradiction to Calvin, those under grace can obey and please God with obedience accordingly:
Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The law now informs our sanctification (ROM 3:21, GAL 4:21) and provokes us to obedience from our redeemed hearts:
Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Slaves to Righteousness
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[c] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Calvin’s soteriology is utterly anti-gospel and the antitheses of truth. It must be rejected with extreme prejudice. It makes a mockery of biblical common sense—describing the regenerate as unregenerate.
Busy and haunted. I received an email from a person in Denmark that is confused about all of the different positions on the gospel floating about today. Our commentary from the first eight chapters of Romans (compiled manuscripts from the Potter’s House) answer the questions in detail. Susan and I have received positive feedback regarding the book. At least one family is using it for their family devotions. So concerning the Denmark person, I offered to send the book and the offer was accepted. That was easy.
And haunting. I once talked to a Christian who was critical of an elder that she sought out for counsel. With an expression on her face somewhere between disgusted and hurt, she stated, “I came to him for help. Do you know what he did? He gave me a book!” Let there be no doubt about it: Christian books have gone way beyond teaching in our day, they are orthodoxy. And by the way, Neo-Calvinism all but completely owns Christian publishing. “Orthodoxy” is a Reformed term. It is the faith repackaged for the unenlightened masses by the preordained Reformed philosopher kings. For the most part, American Sunday Schools teach from Reformed writings and not the Bible. This is a complaint that this ministry hears constantly. These guys have effectively rewritten systematic theology and church history. They have created another standard of Christian reality altogether and speak from that reality as if there is no other reality.
And this is where the confusion comes in. But confusion is good. Confusion is very good. Concern that you are confused is even better. If you are letting other people think for you—you are not confused. Everything makes perfect sense to you even though it is completely illogical. Jesus warned us about letting other people think for us. He referred to it as the blind leading the blind. That rarely turns out well.
So, we may conclude that confused Christians who know they are confused, and are concerned about it, are the top of the crop among Christians in our day. They are the blue chip because they are thinking Christians. We must not merely hand them a book. Besides, others may have the same questions.
1. Who is a true Christian?!
Answer: Those who place all of their hope in God and believe in His way of being reconciled to Him. Remembering that God has promised to reward those who seek Him is also very helpful. Don’t be too concerned with your confusion at this time: He who has promised is faithful. In regard to your residual question, “Should I just then read the Bible and forget about every other theory and just rely on my Bible reading?” The short answer is, ABSOLUTLEY. I am not discarding the need for teachers, but they must bow to the authority of Scripture. The Bible must be your absolute authority for life and godliness.
2. What does a true Christian look like?
Answer: A true Christian doesn’t “look like” anything. That’s the wrong question coming from Reformed metaphysics where verbs are works salvation. The Hebrew writer framed the question this way: what do Christians DO? See Hebrews 11. Aggressive DOING in our Christian life reveals that we really believe that our salvation is a finished work that we cannot contribute to. Fear of doing in our Christian life reveals an attitude that our salvation must be maintained in some way by living a noun life instead of a verb life. Hence, “what does that look like” rather than “how do I do that?” “How do I please God” becomes, “What does that look like” because it really isn’t me doing it. If I am doing it, I am finishing my salvation in some way. Salvation is finished, and it can only be appropriated through faith alone. But the power imputed to us for Christian living must be appropriated through BOTH faith and obedience. In our Christian life, faith and obedience work together and enhance each other (James 2:22). Hence, assurance of salvation grows as our obedience and faith feed each other.
3. Is there such a thing as a wealthy (monetary terms) Christian?
Answer: Yes. Kingdom living is many faceted and full-orbed. God uses a variety of socio-economic types of people in His kingdom.
4. Does being a Christian mean having no money, no career ambitions.
Answer: Only if you are a follower of Martin Luther. We are free from the law and have incredible liberty to pursue the things we enjoy. However, though free from the law’s jurisdiction, we are “enslaved to righteousness.” The balance of liberty and what is pleasing to God is a complex issue, but that is why God gave us a miraculously designed and capable brain. Be patient and wait on the Lord as you prayerfully search the Scriptures for these answers. Even Daniel lived this way. He searched the Scriptures for answers. And many times, the answers we seek will determine the book where we look for the answers (Daniel 9:1,2).
5. How do I please God with my life? For example, how much Bible reading am I supposed to do? Should I wait for the Spirit to lead me? Can I continue reading romance novels or should I stop because Christians say it is wrong, yet I still want to read one?
Answer: No, as Christians, we NEVER wait to do anything that is within our power and abilities to do. To do otherwise is to rob blessings from our Christian life (James 1:25). Granted, we will continually rob ourselves of blessings because we are hindered by our mortality: “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” As Christians, we have new desires. But a remnant of the old sinful desires remain. HOWEVER, unlike when we were unsaved, their power to control us is broken because the old us died with Christ. HOWEVER, the old desires wage war against us through feelings, and the argument that we have to obey those desires can be pretty strong. But because of what we know from the Scriptures, those feelings are lying. The strength of the sinful desires’ argument is strengthened through disobedience.
Christians should listen to their conscience. The apostle Paul said to keep a clear conscience before God. However, as our conscience becomes more and more biblically trained, our consciences will give more freedom. Right now, if reading romance novels makes you feel guilty, I would encourage you to stop. Don’t violate your conscience. Don’t allow a desire to lead you into a watered down blessing that you cannot fully enjoy anyway. I know that there is a, well, for lack of a better way of stating it, “need” for Christian romance novels. Some of the content in the novels you are reading could be the issue. Christians are to “dwell” on what is honorable. That doesn’t exclude creative/interesting thoughts provoked by reading.
6. How do I know I am pleasing God from my heart and not as a result of my intellect?
Answer: Learn and do. ALL truthful obedience is from the redeemed heart. Obeying God when we don’t want to or don’t feel like it is the most self-sacrificial. If we have a desire not to obey a clear biblical imperative, it is probably a “desire of the flesh.” Often, when we obey when we don’t want to, we are merely refusing to obey a desire of the flesh. The Bible has much to say about obedience to desires (ROM 6:11,12). ALSO, this is a result of your biblical intellect which is a GOOD THING! I love you, but your thinking is fraught with Reformed morbid introspection that they want to use to control you. Stop reading John Piper.
7. Sanctification, justification, Grace being born again.. right now I am so confused by all of this I am doubting what I believe and whether I am on the right path or am I just lost and not aware.
Answer: I can tell you that you are not lost. Lost people don’t concern themselves with these things. You have great potential to please God because you are a thinker and not a mindless follower of men. A good example of the latter is your everyday Calvinist. There is hope for confused Calvinists. Here is Paul’s justification/sanctification construct in the book of Romans: the lost and saved fall under two categories:
1. Under the law. Definition;
A. Enslaved to sin and the obedience to sinful desires.
B. Provoked to sin by the law.
C. Will be judged by the law.
2. Under Grace. Definition;
A. Released from the law.
B. Enslaved to righteousness.
C. Provoked to please God by the law.
D. Will not be judged by the law.
E. Harassed by sinful desires.
Read Romans carefully line by line. Read it thoughtfully and prayerfully. Take the words at face value. I will mail the book today or tomorrow.
Stay the course. In all, stand immovable in the Lord Jesus Christ our beloved King.
The question has been posed to me thrice this week; twice in person and once by email: “If everybody is wrong, what is right? Can we even know truth if everybody is wrong?” I will answer the question with another one of the rhetorical sort: “Is there a better example of Protestant tradition than this question?”
Notice the link between “truth” and the pronoun, “everybody,” i.e., the most notable Protestant teachers of our day and the past. And with a few Catholics thrown in for good measure. This is classic Protestantism; while denying that truth is embodied in men, that is how we function because of orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is “truth” repackaged for the masses by the “Divines.”
So, let me properly rephrase the question in context: “If all of the Divines and those who cite them as authority are wrong, how can we know truth?” That would be primarily the Westminster Divines who directly and indirectly executed people for disagreeing with them. The Westminster Confession is the toast of Protestant orthodoxy.
But prior to this week’s threesome, another caveat has been added to this line of questioning as well: “So, you must be Catholic?” This is more Protestant tradition in our Western culture; you are either Catholic or Protestant. Supposedly, we were in a “Dark Age” under Catholicism and the Reformers started a “reformation.” Some historians even suggest that the Reformers were the historical segue to the Enlightenment Era which is an utterly absurd idea. The Reformers, like their Catholic mother, were vehemently opposed to free reasoning among the people—especially the common breed.
Furthermore, the Reformation credits most of its doctrinal construct to Augustine who was always a Catholic. Protestants are conditioned to be comfortable with these contradictions because of the value placed on the traditions of men. The ideology and spiritual caste mentality is the exact same which led to both having a linear gospel. By linear gospel I mean the idea that sanctification finishes justification. Catholicism, according to the Reformers, propagates the idea that the indwelling Holy Spirit aids the Christian in finishing justification. The Reformers believed that any work of grace inside the believer, even by Christ, made Christians participants in finishing justification because like the Catholic Church, they saw sanctification as links of a chain between justification and glorification.
Hence, the Reformers insisted that ALL grace must take place outside of the believer. The belief that any work of grace takes place inside the believer is, “making sanctification the ground of your justification.” This is why we are not EITHER Protestant OR Catholic: because both hold to a linear false gospel. The biblical gospel is a parallel gospel that radically separates justification and sanctification. Justification is a finished work completely separate from works and sanctification. In other words, sanctification can’t affect justification. This is what separates the biblical gospel from the Protestant/Catholic gospel.
Christ promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against His church. The truth of His word has always flourished somewhere in the world. And the propagation of truth has always been possible when a Spirit indwelled believer picks up a Bible and reads it with their own mind.
Paul warned Timothy that there would be a lot of people in our day who are wrong. Wrong people are not the measure of truth, nor can they contribute to it. Those who love truth more than the traditions of men must find like-minded groups. And if you can’t find one—start one.
I posted on an article referred to me yesterday written by Tullian Tchividjian. In the post Tchividjian praises his late father for his passive approach to raising Tullian which was dubbed “grace.” And apparently, as one of the premier heretics of our day, Tchividjian thinks he turned out well, thanks to his father’s grace-like rearing. An excerpt:
Years later he told me that he saw all those checks being cashed [checks that Little T-T stole from his father and forged], but he decided not to say anything about it at the time. It didn’t happen immediately (the fruits of grace are always in the future), but that demonstration of unconditional grace was the beginning of God doing a miraculous work in my heart and life. My dad’s literal “turning of the other cheek” gave me a picture of God’s unconditional love that I couldn’t shake…. Steve Brown once said, “Children will run from law and they’ll run from grace. The ones who run from law rarely come back. But the ones who run from grace always come back. Grace draws its own back home.” I ran from grace. It drew me home.
In yesterday’s post I addressed the fundamental misrepresentation of biblical law and grace in all of this. In this post I would like to address Tchividjian’s all-out assault on the plain sense of Scripture. But remember, Tchividjian is representative of New Calvinism and authentic Reformed doctrine in general. Tchividjian has a very strong grasp on what the Reformers believed and taught. And like T-T (pronounced “tee-tee”), they redefined many biblical concepts and realities in opposition to the common sense hermeneutic. In mysticism, common sense is for the common folk.
This isn’t particularly deep; God condemns the passive parenting T-T praises as commendable and supposedly based on grace versus law. As I addressed yesterday, there is no law in the grace of justification, but there is ample grace in the practice of law in sanctification. The fundamental heresy of Calvinism projects the grace of justification onto sanctification which makes law a part of justification. That’s the crux. Fear of law in sanctification reveals a belief that law is also the standard for justification. So, parents who fear law in parenting deprive their children of grace. If for no other reason, it cannot be denied that love is of grace and to deprive your children of discipline is to also deprive them of love:
Hebrews 12:7 – It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Moreover, one can read of the unspeakable tragedy that fell upon the house of Eli and all of Israel because of his passive parenting of his sons Hophni and Phinehas (starting in 1Samuel 2:12). God also accused Eli of honoring his sons above Him because he would not discipline them.
Again, T-T is representative of the authentic Reformed doctrine sweeping the American church and covertly taking over its institutions. Hindering the needed alternative is Protestant propaganda that the average Christian father is not “qualified” to lead his family and others.
But we must ask ourselves: “We can’t do better than this? Really? We don’t know that Eli’s example is a bad idea? Protestant pastors are on such a higher spiritual plane than we are that the obvious really isn’t true?”
In our day, if you can discern reality—you’re qualified.
“If children who have a proper view of salvation run to God, it will be from the condemnation of the law to the blessings of the law in sanctification, not grace apart from the law in both sanctification and justification.”
Tullian Tchivijian doesn’t understand the basics of salvation. This is revealed in a recent post in which he uses his late father’s demonstration of what Tullian calls “grace.” Like all New Calvinists, and for that matter, authentic Calvinists, law and grace are separated into a strict dichotomy. Because sanctification is seen as the horizontal maintenance and completion of vertical justification, the necessary separation of law and grace in justification is also extended to sanctification.
Unfortunately, this reveals an attitude about justification; specifically, that law is a standard for justification that must be maintained in sanctification. Since this is impossible for mortal Christians, law and grace must be kept separate in sanctification as it is in justification. It makes mortality and the new birth mutually exclusive because Christians still clothed in mortality don’t keep the law perfectly. Hence, according to New Calvinism, Christians must be sanctified apart from the law. That’s a huge problem because Christ stated in John 17:17 that God only sanctifies by the truth of His word. Exacerbating the problem is the confusion caused by traditional Protestant dichotomies concerning the Ten Commandments and God’s word. “Law” is a generic term for God’s full counsel contained in the Bible. This is very demonstrable, but I would mention Matthew 5:18 and 1Corithians 14:34. In both cases, more than the Ten Commandments are clearly in view.
The thesis of Tullian’s post is the idea that passive parenting demonstrates grace, while rules in parenting demonstrate law and the idea that children must earn favor with God for salvation. Tullian concludes the post with the idea that children will never return to law, but will always return to grace:
Years later he told me that he saw all those checks being cashed, but he decided not to say anything about it at the time. It didn’t happen immediately (the fruits of grace are always in the future), but that demonstration of unconditional grace was the beginning of God doing a miraculous work in my heart and life. My dad’s literal “turning of the other cheek” gave me a picture of God’s unconditional love that I couldn’t shake….
Steve Brown once said, “Children will run from law and they’ll run from grace. The ones who run from law rarely come back. But the ones who run from grace always come back. Grace draws its own back home.” I ran from grace. It drew me home.
This misrepresents law to our children in two ways. First, it denies children from experiencing the blessings of living life God’s way. This demonstrates the wisdom of God and the fact that He knows what He is talking about. Second, it implies that law and grace are mutually exclusive in justification and sanctification both. Instead of the gospel’s message concerning the different relationships to the law in justification and sanctification, it makes our relationship to the law the same in both. This is a major circumvention of the true gospel. There is no law in justification, and as unbelievers, that which is good (the law) provokes us to sin and threatens to be our judge in the end. But once born again, the law provokes us to righteousness (ROM 6:17-23, 8:3-8). “Grace” is not only unmerited salvation; it is the blessings of sanctification as well. But those blessings primarily come through the law (Matthew 7: 24, 25, James 1:25, Psalm 119). If children who have a proper view of salvation run to God, it will be from the condemnation of the law to the blessings of the law in sanctification, not grace apart from the law in both sanctification and justification.
An unmerited blessing apart from the law in sanctification shows clearly a belief that we did not receive righteousness apart from the law for our justification (ROM 3:21). “Under law” means we are enslaved to sin, provoked to sin by the law, and will be judged by the law. “Under grace” means we are enslaved to righteousness rather than sin, will not be judged by the law, and are provoked to righteousness by the law. Paul stated that his mind served the law (ROM 7:25).
Therefore, we are still under the law according to New Calvinism because law is separated from grace in sanctification. It is still a standard for justification. No relationship to the law has been exchanged from unregenerate to regenerate.
That’s why Calvinism is a false gospel. The saved are still “under the law.”
Protestantism is predicated on confusion. It is no friend of thinking people or critical thinkers. The foundations of Protestantism are elitist, caste, and fraught with mysticism and superstition. The Reformers were murdering bigots. Martin Luther could not be a pastor in any American church upon the reading of The Jews and Their Lies. His statements concerning women would raise some brows as well. The problem would be the “upon the reading” part.
For revival to take place in the American church Protestantism must be scraped completely and the church must return to an emphasis on the priesthood of believers. We must rethink all of the traditions of men that are the American church. It’s called, “orthodoxy.” We must become Bereans and take back the church—the God-breathed word must be our authority and pastors must bow to its authority or be rejected as leaders. We should submit to leaders who submit to the authority of the word. They do not have the authority to be wrong.
New Calvinism is a return to authentic Protestantism amidst anemic Protestant Light that has plagued the American church since the unfortunate arrival of the Pilgrims on America’s shores with their European Calvinistic Puritan virus. They never made it far inland for lack of curiosity and vision. Spiritual tyranny soon followed and has always been repackaged as heroism by the traditions of men. As good Protestant anti-thinkers, we deem their behaviors like a bad hair day. Quakers and women hanging at the end of a rope, their only crime being the desire for some clarification, must not be relevant; our Protestant philosopher kings pat our little heads and tell us so—all is well, nothing here, return to the Protestant merry-go-round and commendable idiocy. Because it is “humble.” Proof? How about Reformed/Calvinistic anti-spiritual abuse bloggers? Where do they think the abuse comes from? Again, like the Puritan issue, behavior is separated from their ideology like the two are mutually exclusive. This is the acceptance of tradition over sound thinking.
Authentic Calvinism is so viral in reasoning and behavior that even the overseers of our present mental leprosy are beginning to reject it. New Calvinists are being fired from religious positions of authority from coast to coast. However, in many cases, it is not known that they are New Calvinists, and in most cases they are dismissed because, “something doesn’t seem right, but we don’t know exactly what it is.” I suppose this is a good start. It’s better to fire people if you can articulate their specific faults, but nevertheless, something is better than nothing. The Feds couldn’t indict Al Capone on what he was really guilty of, so they changed the standards in order to indict him on something else. This is sort of the same thing.
A disclaimer: I know little of the Baptist stripe that supports Northland International University, but they are among the latest evangelical organizations to fire someone in a position of authority; in this case, a university president. The name of this president is Matt Olson, and a cursory observation of his blog reveals the fact that he is a New Calvinist. Literally ten seconds into surfing his blog, I locked in on a post that touts the idea that we can eclipse the majesty of Christ as seen by the world through an emphasis on obedience. So what’s the alternative? What exactly do we emphasize over obedience that doesn’t obscure the “personhood” of Christ? He doesn’t say, and nobody asks—it sounds spiritual—and he is a philosopher king. And so it goes.
Par for the course: the university is not stating specifically why he was terminated, but nevertheless, also par, people will continue to donate money to the college because it is not their place to know what the controversy is. Thou in authority has spoken. Let it be written—let it be done. Besides, the donors probably wouldn’t understand.
But I wonder if those in authority even understand. Frankly, I doubt it, and in many cases those who have the authority to take such action simply don’t know what is really going on while using confidentially as a pious cover to conceal that fact. But it’s a good start.
“Not sure what one could add to or take away from what we have just seen. I am reminded of Matt. 24 when Jesus says that because of lawlessness the hearts of many will grow cold. “Just do it” and laughter throughout the time is just beyond me. Heather was in tears. I wanted to throw up. Beyond disgusting.”
The key to understanding the cold-bloodedness that they observed is in their mention of Matthew 24:12, and the two key words are, BECAUSE, and, LAWLESSNESS. Christ said that “because” of “lawlessness,” love would “grow cold.” The source of this lawlessness is described by Jesus in the previous verse: “many false prophets.”
Now we would do well to examine what Christ meant by the word often translated “lawlessness” and “wickedness” in our English Bibles. These words posit the idea of bad behavior, but that’s not what the actual word that is used by Christ means at all. The word is “anomia.” The “a” is a negative article prefix that means “anti” and “nomia” or nomos, refers to God’s law specifically. The idea of sinful behavior is an entirely different word altogether. Among many used is “hamartia,” or “sin” and these two words are specifically contrasted in 1John 3:4. Sin is defined by any aberration of God’s standard.
In Matthew 24:12, as well as many other passages, an anti-Bible agenda is in view propagated by false prophets.
The world in general becomes cold-hearted by rejecting the law of God written on their hearts and administered by the conscience—either excusing or accusing their actions (ROM 2:15,16). The conscience can eventually be seared if continually violated and ignored (1TIM 4:2). Christians are to keep a clear conscience before God (Acts 24,16 1Peter 3:16, 1TIM 1:5, 3:9, 2TIM 1:3). Keeping a clear conscience before God is obviously behavior focused as judged by the Bible.
One of the monumental misnomers of all time is the idea of “legalism.” This term was formulated by false prophets who really want to steer us away from nomos. Misguided obedience has never been the church’s primary nemesis; it has always been anti-word of God. When the apostle Paul warned those who wanted to be justified by the law, “law,” is in a manner of speaking; Paul was referring to what false teachers purport to be the law, not an actual sincere love for truth and a desire to live by it. This is why James stated that anyone who wanted to be justified by the law had to keep all of it, not a standard of their own choosing (James 2:10). Supposed law-keeping is also often connected to salvation by mere ritual as well. This point cannot be better made than to cite what Paul wrote to the Galatians:
5:2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. 7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you.
We see here, clearly, that Paul was confronting a belief that being circumcised according to law excused them from a truthful obedience to the law. In other words, justification by law-keeping is ALWAYS a dumbed-down version of the law to make adherence for salvation feasible. Paul contrasts this with true obedience to the law in sanctification:
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
Justification by law-keeping is NEVER an endeavor to obey the truth; it is ALWAYS the replacement of God’s law with the traditions of men—making the law of God, “void.” The Pharisees, the supposed poster children for “legalism,” or “living by the law,” were not guilty of trying to obtain salvation by a sincere obedience to the truth, but rather replaced the law of God with their traditions and made that the standard for salvation (which has no law standard to begin with):
Matthew15:1 – Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.
Matthew 23:16 – “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
And what were the Pharisees full of “within”? “lawlessness” which is the word “anomia.” The English translation is “anti-law” or “antinomianism.” That’s what the Pharisees were full of within—not “legalism” which is a concept not found in the Bible anywhere by idea or word. There is obedience to truth or anti-truth—no in-between.
“Legalism” fosters the idea that Christians can unwittingly try to please God by obeying the truth as a way to earn their justification. The idea was hatched by the Reformers and is a Neo-Calvinist doctrinal mainstay in our day. The favorite illustration is the Pharisees who supposedly were really, really good at keeping the law and obeying the Bible in an attempt to earn their justification. This is a ploy to create confusion in regard to the law’s relationship to justification and sanctification. The Reformers created immense fear among Christians by making the law’s relationship to justification the same as sanctification. In justification, law has no jurisdiction in regard to the Christian. The Christian is transformed from a status where the law is the standard to be justified (and impossible) to a status where the law informs our sanctification totally separate from justification. So, the law is a standard for sanctification, but in regard to the Christian, the law no longer has jurisdiction over his/her salvation. In Calvinism, the law remains a standard for justification IN salvation that must be maintained until the final judgment.
Because man is created to do works, this makes sanctification very tricky with our eternal destiny hanging in the balance. Calvinists therefore assure Christians that if they live their Christian lives by faith alone—they are playing it safe. As one New Calvinist told me: “If I let Jesus do all the work, He can’t fault me for anything when I stand before Him.” Of course, living in a way that imputes the works of Christ to our Christian walk is very complicated, but be assured; New Calvinists will teach us how to “practice obedient faith” so we can arrive at the final judgment covered by “what Jesus has done, not anything we do”….in our Christian walk. This confounding of the law’s relationship to justification and sanctification makes the Christian walk a minefield with constant danger of “making sanctification the ground of our justification.” We must therefore seek out the Reformed for their secret formula for living the Christian life by faith alone. “Sola Fide” is for justification and sanctification both—that’s the dirty little secret. The Reformed couch the language in terms like “obedient faith.” The Reformers saw faith as a neutral conduit that God uses to impute the perpetual works of Christ to the believer. In other words, Christ’s atoning work is not yet finished for salvation: though accomplished in one period of time, it must be continually appropriated to maintain our just standing. The maintenance of our salvation is in view. Hence, we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day.”
But this brings us from fearful hearts to cold hearts. Reformed theology will heap its share of cold-hearted mentality on humanity “because of anomia.” It’s just more anomia dressed in religious garb. This brings my point back to the video that was posted. It is cold-heartedness on steroids regarding the abortion issue. Therefore, the following should make perfect sense to us:
According to the National Right to Life, the total number of abortions in the US is down-33% from its peak in 1980/81- and the greatest decrease is among adolescent girls and young women. Good News!
But if we look further into these statistics, we find disconcerting news for the Church: The abortion rates among professing Christians are commensurate with the rest of the population!
Approx. 560,000 for Protestants (43%)
Approx. 350,000 per year for Catholics (27%)
13% of abortions (approx. 170,000 per year) are performed on self-described “Born Again” or Evangelical Christians (Alan Guttmacher Institute and Physicians for Reproductive Choice, “An Overview of Abortion in the United States,” 2003 and 2008)
Even more disturbing is the fact that these percentages have NOT dropped, even though the number of abortions have in recent years!
These statistics reveal that actually MORE women who profess Christianity are having abortions.
This is what Reformed theology has always done to society. Despite the traditions of men that claim otherwise, the Reformation did not bring light to darkness, it brought more darkness. Post Reformation brought little more than chaos and turmoil to Europe—more than it had ever seen before. It brought tyranny to America in the form of the Salem witch trials, and its contemporary resurgence has resulted in an unprecedented level of abuses in the American church.
It is the epitome of a primary concern of Christ during His ministry: the replacement of the law by the traditions of men resulting in anomia. While waxing eloquent about the Pharisees, Neo-Calvinism is in fact a return to what plagued the apostolic church. To say that Calvinists vaunt the opinions of a litany of past Reformers as authority is an understatement of the most dramatic sort. Even Charles Spurgeon, “the prince of preachers” did little more than regurgitate Reformed tradition. Recently, one Reformed conference was based on the writings of twenty-five Reformed icons. The popular Resolved conferences hosted by John MacArthur highlighted the traditional teachings and legacies of Reformed men of years gone by.
With all of the harping about the Pharisees by Calvinists—they are the Pharisees, and they propagate the same kind of cold-heartedness with it.
Their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law.
Recognizing our responsibility to obey all the Scriptures and the need to distinguish ourselves from the world as a community of believers, all members shall affirm their commitment to please God in all areas of life by entering into this covenant:
Humbly depending on the Holy Spirit’s enabling and aiding us, and affirming The Truths We Treasure, we Covenant to Glorify God by striving:
To walk in obedience to the Scriptures by loving the Lord God with all our heart, all our souls, and all our minds;
To walk in harmony with our fellow Christians by loving them as we love ourselves;
To be faithful in our witnessing, to uphold our testimony, to defend the doctrines of the Word of God, and to expand the Kingdom of God;
To be faithful in edifying, exhorting, rebuking, discipling, encouraging, praying for, and meeting the needs of the Body of Christ;
To exercise our spiritual gifts to build up and to serve one another;
To be submissive to one another in Christian love;
To regularly attend the services of the church and not forsake the assembling of ourselves together;
To be submissive to the God-ordained elders as to those who give an account for our souls;
To give heed to the ministry of the Word;
To attend the ordinances of the church faithfully, approaching them in a serious, spiritual, and holy attitude;
To honor the Lord in our finances in all things including regular, proportionate giving to the church;
To be consistent in our own study of the Word;
To love our wives as Christ loved the church or to submit to our husbands and to teach and train our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;
To extend the Lordship of Christ into all areas of our lives;
To abstain from practices harmful to our physical bodies and injurious to our testimony;
To purpose that if we relocate we will, as soon as possible, unite with another church of like faith, where we can carry out the spirit of this Covenant and the principles of God’s Word. (Proverbs 13:24; 23:13; 29:15; Malachi 3:8-11; Acts 2:42, 47; Romans 8:3-4; 1 Corinthians 15; 16:2; 2 Corinthians 5:11-21; 12:13; Ephesians 4:11-14; 5:23-24; 6:1-4; Philippians 1:3-6; Colossians 4:2-4; 2 Timothy 3:16-4:4; Hebrews 10:24, 25; 13:17; James 2:12; 5:13-14; 1 Peter 2:5,9; 3:7; 1 John 2:19).
3. Requirements for Membership
Any person who desires to unite in membership with the Chapel must profess repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, submit to Him as Lord and Sovereign, be Biblically baptized following this profession, and must not be under Biblically administered church discipline. Having met these requirements, this person shall joyfully enter into this Covenant with this people, expressing willingness to follow the beliefs and practices of this community, and evidencing willingness to submit to its Elders.
4. Admission to Membership
The Elders shall be responsible to receive applicants into membership. This shall include reviewing the application, conducting an interview, and evaluating their standing when coming from another church. Upon determining that the applicants meet the requirements, the Elders shall present them to the church as members.
5. Categories of Membership
Resident Membership is for those active, participating members who comprise the majority of the Chapel. Associate Membership, having all the privileges and responsibilities of membership except that of voting, may be extended by the Elders to those who will be absent for an extended period of time, or who are at the Chapel for a short period of time and wish to minister while maintaining membership in their home churches.
6. Congregational Voting Privilege
To be eligible to vote at congregational meetings, one must be a resident member on the day of the vote, at least sixteen (16) years of age, in attendance at the meeting and not have forfeited their voting privilege by being placed on the inactive list or being subject to discipline. The Chapel may permit absentee ballots in exceptional circumstances as requested of and granted by the Elders on a case-by-case basis.
7. Removal from Membership
Membership will end by physical death, transfer of membership to churches holding to Biblical doctrine, or by the process of corrective discipline ending in
“The gospel is a call to those under the law to be born again under grace. Those under the law are enslaved to sin, provoked to sin by the law, and will be judged by the law. Those under grace are no longer in bondage to sin, are now provoked to righteousness by the law, and will not be judged by the law. Hawkins, like all New Calvinists, insists that we not live by the very law that provokes us to righteousness.”
I have always enjoyed the comedy of the tremendously gifted Tim Hawkins and never made it a point to find out what he believes about the gospel. If a good comedian who doesn’t need smut to make people laugh sticks to comedy, what he believes about the gospel is between him and God.
But if he is going to use his act to spread a false gospel, that is a whole other matter, and unfortunately, that’s the case. Frankly, I don’t care if Hawkins has to be like most in our day that chase after every wind of doctrine as long as he keeps it to himself; but unfortunately, he doesn’t. In the following video he promotes the New Calvinist progressive justification that dominates the present-day church. Hawkins makes several statements while presenting the gospel in the following clip (end of post) that are blatant scriptural contradictions.
Hawkins presented the gospel to a Christian audience in the clear stated context of sanctification, or worded another way: our Christian walk. He began by saying that God always works first in our lives; i.e., everything we do is first initiated by God. Of course, that’s not true. Throughout the Bible God states that he will act if we do certain things first. In New Calvinist circles, the following is in vogue: teaching that Christians do works that they are unaware are in the Bible because it is Christ doing the work and not us. Even John Macarthur has been teaching this recently.
Hawkins followed by saying that being a Christian means resting in what Christ has done, and he prefaced several like remarks with, “that’s the gospel.” Is that true? Our Christian walk is resting in what Jesus has done, and that’s the gospel? Many citations from the Bible that refute this notion could be stated—here are a few:
1Thessalonians 4:9 – Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,
Romans 12:10 – Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
1Peter 1:5 – For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This “rest” concept can certainly be applied to justification, but like all New Calvinists Hawkins applies it to sanctification as well. Christians not knowing the difference is a huge problem in our day. After promoting the idea that Christians should rest in their Christian walk, Hawkins verbalized the familiar New Calvinist truism that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. No, our sins were imputed to Christ, and the Father’s righteousness was imputed to us. That’s the gospel, that’s biblical double imputation, not the New Calvinist’s version of double imputation where Christ’s obedience is imputed to our sanctification as part of the atonement.
Then Hawkins espoused the all-familiar New Calvinist “Jesus didn’t come so you can get your act together and be a good person—the gospel and Christianity is not about behavior modification.” Really, do I have to cite Scripture references to refute this idea? Is that where we are in all of this? Such statements are not rejected out of hand by Christians in our day? And why isn’t Christianity supposedly about behavior modification IN SANCTIFICATION? Because that would be the same as behavior modification IN JUSTIFICATION. See the problem? This is the crux; the fusion of justification and sanctification requiring a sanctification by faith alone. Works in sanctification is the same as works in justification. It’s maintaining your justification in sanctification by “resting.” Unfortunately, these anti-gospel ideas brought applause from the audience. We truly live in perilous times.
But where Hawkins drives the New Calvinist spear through the heart of the true gospel is in the following statement:
It’s about life transformation. He didn’t come to make bad people good he came to make dead people alive….You’re living by the law—you’re living by works and it’s killing you.
This is a fundamental rejection of the law’s relationship to the gospel. It makes the relationship of the law to justification the same as its relationship to sanctification. This must necessarily exclude works of the law in sanctification. Such exclusion of the law in sanctification shows us what one really believes about justification: it’s not a finished work and needs to be maintained by OUR passivity in sanctification which is supposedly not a work—regardless of its REQUIRMENT to maintain the continued imputation of Christ’s works to our sanctification in order to maintain justification. Many New Calvinists refer to this as the “saving works” (note the plural rather than the singular act of going to the cross) of Christ. James and the apostle Paul warn that this is grievous error and a false gospel. It shows this comedian’s basic lack of understanding in regard to the gospel.
The gospel is a call to those under the law to be born again under grace. Those under the law are enslaved to sin, provoked to sin by the law, and will be judged by the law. Those under grace are no longer in bondage to sin, are now provoked to righteousness by the law, and will not be judged by the law. Hawkins, like all New Calvinists, insists that we not live by the very law that provokes us to righteousness.
In his New Calvinist ignorance of the true gospel, Hawkins continued his treatise by adding the idea that God uses the law to “crush US” and show us our continual need for a savior….to which I will add, IN SANCTIFICATION. Hence, justification is perpetual. Hawkins then stated that Christ came to “fulfill the law FOR US” in sanctification. Not true. When Christ said in His Sermon on the Mount that He came to fulfill the law, how He intends to do that is clarified by the apostle Paul:
Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Thessalonians 3:8 - Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
Like all New Calvinists Hawkins defines Christians as unregenerate, as those unable to keep the law, and even if we could keep it, the standard is the same as before we were “released from the law (ROM 7:6)” as a standard for justification: perfection. Therefore, per New Calvinism, Christians are still under the law (and therefore defined as biblically unregenerate) because the old man that must meet the perfection of the law’s standard for those not under grace is still alive (ROM 7:1-3). They did not die with Christ and the penalty for all sin that died also with Christ. Instead of perfection being the GOAL in sanctification, it is the STANDARD for progressive justification; therefore, Christ must keep the law for us in sanctification. Again, this reveals what is really believed about justification by Calvinists: it’s an UNFINISHED work.
Hawkins completed his treatise by promoting the New Calvinist way to have assurance of salvation; i.e. look at what Christ states about our position in the Bible and not our behavior. Really? Again, do I have to give biblical citations here? Is our state really that bad to where I would have to point out biblical citations to refute this idea?
New Calvinists continually point to the agreed upon train wreck that is American Christianity and claim to have the cure in authentic Calvinism. But wait a minute here: they have had majority control of the House for ten years now—something isn’t adding up.
Like the blood lollipops with a knife blade as a stick that Eskimos use to kill wolves, the New Calvinists tell us to keep licking. It’s a trick that works so well on wolves that they are now using it on the sheep. They present the law to Christians in the exact same way that it is to be presented to the unregenerate. That’s why we supposedly need the gospel of the cross every day. Therefore, Tim Hawkins is no longer funny. Though his comedy is a wonderful work in Jesus’ name—he uses it to propagate works of anomia.
I consider Alex Guggenheim, the author of The Pedestrian Christian blog a good friend of this ministry. Every now and then, I find time to swing by and read his stuff. Wish I could do that more often, but this ministry is growing and I am doing the work of several people.
As Susan and I learn more and more about the Protestant tradition, the list of things to write about and the consideration of approaches is very long, so we have to work by priority. Low on the list is the tsunami of illogical functioning and reasoning by many discernment bloggers. However, after reading Alex’s report concerning the treatment he received over at Wartburg Watch, I am motivated to point some things out. Is this because I like Alex and am therefore offended by the treatment he received? Probably, but nevertheless, the point is worthy of a temporary jettison to the top of the list.
I will get to what happened to Alex specifically in a bit, but in order to lay some groundwork first, I will cite a paragraph from his account:
The Wartburg Watch blog, as I have observed, inaugurated itself with an emphasis on Neo-Calvinism, ecclesiastical malfeasance of many sorts but particularly with sexual misconduct or abuse and patriarchalism/complementarism excesses or even its existence. Something needed in general, though I certainly do not subscribe to all of their criticisms or theological persuasions.
And apparently, because of what happened to Alex, and what I have seen likewise among many discernment bloggers, there are good New Calvinists and naughty New Calvinists. I believe “Deb and Dee,” the Wartburg authors, call them the “Calvinistas.” New Calvinism is a doctrine; specifically, the false doctrine of progressive justification. This is just the FACT of the matter. Anybody who propagates New Calvinism is a heretic, plain and simple. I have been researching this doctrine for almost six years now, and as will be demonstrated in our upcoming June conference, there is absolutely nothing about this doctrine that is true. It denies the new birth, rejects the Trinity, rejects sanctification, and is vehemently anti-Semitic.
While referring to New Calvinists as “Calvinistas,” Wartburg strongly endorses and networks with none other than Wade Burleson. Burleson is a strong advocate of Jon Zens who is one of the forefathers of the present-day New Calvinist movement. Burleson propagates progressive justification in its purest form along with the accompanied belief that the Bible is a mystical gospel meta-narrative. What his preaching seems to project is of no concern of mine; the quality of the milk is determined by the cow. Furthermore, according to Burleson, he is enamored by the Puritans while posing himself as an understanding advocate for the spiritually abused. Wartburg, affirming such accordingly, sponsors an e-church that features his preaching live on every Sunday. Anyone who knows the history of Puritanism would find this ironic.
In discernment blogging, there is an illogical disconnecting between doctrine and behavior as if the two are totally unrelated. If you applied the same logic to Nazism, there would be good Nazis and bad Nazis because some Nazis where good Lutherans who didn’t work the ovens at the concentration camps. It is generally recognized that not every Nazi behaved badly, but that the ideology is the problem. Leave it to Christians to abandon common sense on that wise. I use the Nazi example because New Calvinists, though often dressed in the demeanor of Mr. Rogers, and their female counterparts that of Mary Poppins, are among the most vicious and heartless homosapiens walking the face of the earth. Trust me, if they had the marriage between themselves and the state that they seek, the behavior would be no different than it was in Geneva. This is a certainty. As it presently stands, they improvise through other means.
The thing that really gets me is the anti-spiritual abuse bloggers who hold to Reformed theology and even call themselves Calvinists. This is where the Nazi example is apt. This utterly disconnects history from reality and Christ’s declaration of, “By their fruits you will know them.”
Alex keyboarded into one of these illogical endeavors over at Wartburg. They were actually pitting the supposed virtue of New Calvinist Thabiti Anyabwile against the supposed racism of New Calvinist Doug Wilson. As an aside, let me mention that John Piper endorses Doug Wilson and Anyabwile endorses Piper but Anyabwile doesn’t endorse Wilson but Piper does because Wilson “has the gospel right” and he also endorses Anyabwile and so it goes. Somewhere in all of the discussion, the obvious is missed: Wilson is the one with the most virtue because he is consistent. The South was practically an unofficial Presbyterian theocracy during the Civil War. The theological endorsement of slavery during that time by the Presbyterian Church is confirmed by a cursory observation of American history. And Anyabwile is a Calvinist. And the Prebyterian church was founded on Calvinism, and yet, Anyabwile is taking on Wilson for merely connecting with their (singular) historical roots. And by the way, Wilson’s assessment overall is not far from the mark.
But apparently, this absurd contradiction is ok because Anyabwile is (according to Dee during her scolding of Alex), “walking while black.” I have news for Wartburg, Calvinism has a large share in two world Holidays: Martin Luther King Day, and the International Religious Freedom Day. Their share in the former is hefty, and their share in the latter is 100% as that holiday was founded after Calvinistic Puritans hung three Quakers in Boston for “walking while Quaker.” What is up with all of this? Why do Neo-Calvinists get a pass on their history while Nazi’s don’t—the connection between Nazism and Reformed theology another conversation notwithstanding to boot?
Alex Guggenheim is too damn nice: calling Anyabwile theologically “sophomoric” is like describing Jeffrey Damher as one over-curious about culinary issues. Anyabwile is a walking hypocritical heretic and his color has nothing to do with anything. I firmly believe that New Calvinists laugh about getting the church tangled up in these worthless discussions.
Wartburg did get something partially right in the article that Alex commented on, but it unfortunately adds to their grossly misinformed promotion of Anyabwile:
I disagree with Wilson in the matter. Slavery almost always involves racism since it is the forced servitude of people groups. The South’s slaves were black. Slavery results in the perception that said group is inferior and deserves to be enslaved. This attitude, after the Civil War, resulted in the separation of whites from blacks. “Separate but equal” was anything but equal and it took the Civil Rights movement to expose the ugliness of this entrenched view of the superiority of the white race.
The proper term is CASTE SYSTEM. And NO, it is NOT fundamentally racist. Racism is a result of the root: spiritual caste systems. Caste is not fundamentally racist—it is fundamentally spiritual. A dear friend of this ministry, church historian John Immel would argue that it is fundamentally ideological and philosophical. He would contend that theological doctrine is the result of the ideology. Well, I would agree because theological error is separate from the Bible anyway and a mere human ideology by default. Either way, racism is a mere residual consequence of the core problem.
And Calvinism is a spiritual caste spectacle. It is predicated on preordained enlightened mediators ruling over the unenlightened masses on behalf of God, whether perceived as a cosmic force or a person. This concept is the bedrock of ancient Paganism which gave birth to Hinduism, was integrated into Socratism by Plato, became Neo-Platonism and gave birth to Gnosticism and the Nicolaitanism (translated: “power over the laity”) that plagued the first century church, was adopted by Augustine and Gregory, and passed on intellectually to their mentorees Luther and Calvin. And the results are always the same. Nazism was a horrific brew of Hinduism and Augustinianism, and Calvinistic fruit does not fall far from that tree. The aforementioned spiritual caste system drives Calvinism and the Neo-Calvinistic movement of our day in particular. Patriarchy, racism, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., are all results of that fundamental ideology.
We are the laity; and Calvinistic elders, according to Al Mohler (a popular target of Wartburg), are “appointed” to save us from, “ignorance.” And our response is to act like we need it while whining about the spiritual abuse that always comes with it. For the most part, New Calvinists do not take discernment bloggers seriously for the following reason: like dumb fish that swim after every breadcrumb thrown over the bridge by children, we will chase every red herring thrown out the window by New Calvinists.
Like the racism issue.
John Piper once stated in an interview that Protestants are not ready for the hard truth of the Reformed authentic gospel. And what is that truth? It is the “truth” that salvation doesn’t change us. They say, “We are transformed into Christ’s image, and “We are sanctified” etc., but they believe no such thing and for our sake lie about it because we are not “ready” for the “hard truth.” This is why the present-day Reformed counseling culture led by the likes of David Powlison is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on Christianity. Christians go to counseling because they think we can change with God’s help and for His glory, and the anticipation of happiness. Powlison has built an empire on allowing Christians to believe that initially like we allow our children to believe in Santa Clause. That way, he can draw them in and “help” them with his superior spiritual knowledge.
What is that knowledge? It is the “centrality of the objective gospel outside of us.” John Piper states it plainly: if any work of grace happens in us at all, it makes sanctification the ground of our justification. I document all of this in much detail in chapter four of The Truth About New Calvinism. Below is a picture that illustrates this. It was published by a Reformed think tank that Graeme Goldsworthy was involved in. Like the following pictures, you can click on it for a larger picture:
Let’s look at other Reformed illustrations that show clearly that they deliberately deceive by pretending they believe that Christians change. REMEMBER, these are their illustrations, NOT mine:
In the first chart, we only grow by the same two things that saved us: knowledge of our sin, and knowledge of God’s holiness. This is why we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” But, in this chart, what is growing? Us? No, the cross. We don’t grow, the cross grows. Besides, if we grow, that circumvents the “growth” process right? If we get better, the other half of Reformed epistemology does not keep going down but becomes more level—making the cross smaller. No?
Look at the other chart that is really the same concept turned up instead of sideways. In the heart shape it claims transformation, but again, a second thought tells us that this couldn’t be what they are really thinking. If we get better, it destroys the Reformed metaphysical centrality of the objective gospel outside of us which is predicated on a deeper and deeper knowledge of how evil we are.
Furthermore, a good demonstration of the deliberate deception afoot is Paul David Tripp’s book, “How People Change.” They don’t believe we change, that’s a lie. Calvin’s total depravity also applies to the saints in Reformed theology. I document this in False Reformation. An illustration from Tripp’s book is integrated into the other illustrations by me to demonstrate this:
So then, what do these guys really believe about change? Well, it starts with gospel contemplationism which leads to “manifestations” of “the true and the good.” See the man in the first picture? See how he is meditating on all of the stuff outside of him? Through contemplationism, it is kinda like standing in the rain. The world sees the gospel, which in this illustration is the rain as a gospel “manifestation,” and as Christians we experience and feel the rain, but it has nothing to do with us or anything going on inside of us. For all practical purposes (in his general session address at the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference), John MacArthur likened it to a manifestation of the wind. You feel it and see its effects, but it is a force that is completely outside of us. He attributed Nicodemus’ later obedience after conversion to a mere blowing of the wind and not anything that Nicodemus could be credited with. We are talking MANEFESTATIONS here and not anything we do. It is similar to the concept of birthing the spiritual realm into the material realm.
In other words, when it gets right down to it—it’s Eastern mysticism. It began with the ancient paganism that saturated early civilization and morphed into Hinduism. Then Plato integrated the philosophy of Socrates with Hinduism. From there, it became Gnosticism which has all of the caste elements of Hinduism, and not by accident. The Reformed connections to Eastern mysticism are really no big secret and well-known among church historians.
Cults all come from the cradle of society and its spiritual caste. That’s why cults are innumerable and predicated on CONTROL. A characteristic not absent from Calvinism by any stretch of the imagination. The Gnostic Nicolaitans wreaked havoc on the first century church and the word means “conquerors of the lay people.” The name Nicodemus comes from Nicolaitans, so before his conversion, Nicodemus was probably guilty of what MacArthur said he wasn’t guilty of,
being a Calvinist.
After nearly six years of research on the Reformation I have come to the conclusion that like all cults, its proponents deliberately deceive by changing the definition of familiar terms and using subtle verbiage. They condone this because they don’t think we are “ready” for the hard truth of the authentic Reformed gospel. John Piper said that outright during an interview while answering the question, “What would you say to the Pope if you had two minutes with him?”
A good example of this subtle deception is a recent article posted on SBC Voices. Here it is:
If you search through the blogosphere, you’ll see some who advocate Christians “preaching the gospel to ourselves” daily, and you’ll see others who are staunchly against “preaching the gospel to themselves.” I think some who speak against “preaching the gospel to ourselves” misunderstand and/or misrepresent what we mean. Here is why I preach the gospel to myself. Out of the gospel flows both justification (being declared righteous by Christ alone) and sanctification (the immediate positional adoption by Christ into God’s kingdom, and the progressive setting apart of our lives from the Devil’s kingdom into God’s kingdom). The gospel is the source of both, but the two are separate acts of the Spirit’s work in our lives. If you repent and have faith in Christ, trusting in His life, death, and resurrection for your salvation, you are immediately justified and sanctified, and you will be progressively sanctified as God works out salvation in you. Christ, the gospel, is the source of the Spirit’s work through faith alone.
This is a little less subtle than what followed in the same article, but the goal by the writer of said post is to sound biblical while trying to sell us Calvin’s progressive justification. The Devil is in the details. Like all cults, Calvinism distorts the Trinity by overemphasizing one member over the others. The Jehovah Witnesses overemphasize God the Father and destroy the role of Christ while others overemphasize the Spirit’s work to the exclusion of Christ and the Father. Calvinists overemphasize Christ and exclude the Father’s role in justification. Notice he states that Christ is THE gospel: “Christ, the gospel.” The definite article “the” is ever so subtle, and completely untrue. The Trinity is the gospel, not just Christ. Notice that he also states,
If you repent and have faith in Christ, trusting in His life, death, and resurrection for your salvation, you are immediately justified and sanctified, and you will be progressively sanctified as God works out salvation in you.
According to the post, we have to trust “in His life” as well as His death for our salvation. Did you catch that little subtle statement? That is the belief that Christ lived a perfect life on earth so that His obedience can be imputed to our sanctification while we are justified by His death. This comes from Calvin who believed that Christians are still under the jurisdiction of the law and it must be obeyed perfectly until we get to heaven where our final justification is verified. As long as we live by faith alone in sanctification, Christ’s perfect obedience is applied to our sanctification which prevents “making sanctification the ground of our justification,” a truism often uttered by John Piper.
This is where all of this living by the same gospel that saved us and preaching the gospel to ourselves comes into play. If we live by the same gospel (faith and repentance only) that saved us in sanctification to prevent our sanctification from being the ground of our justification, the perfect obedience of Christ to the law will continue to be imputed to our Christian walk. This promotes the idea that it is alright for Christians to remain under the law as long as Christ keeps it for us. This is why they say justification is “distinct” from sanctification but “never separate” because Calvin saw sanctification as a process that completes justification. That’s a VERY problematic gospel. Note:
Christ, the gospel, is the source of the Spirit’s work through faith alone.
The Spirit’s work? Is he talking about the Spirit’s work in justification or sanctification? Yes, because they believe they are both the same. And here is the kicker: if you don’t live your Christian life by faith alone (the same gospel that saved you) resulting in Christ’s obedience being imputed to your sanctification, you lose both justification and sanctification. So, you have to keep your salvation by living by faith alone in sanctification. Remember, you have to trust in Christ’s life, not just His death and resurrection. Note the following statement by New Calvinist Michael Horton:
Where we land on these issues is perhaps the most significant factor in how we approach our own faith and practice and communicate it to the world. If not only the unregenerate but the regenerate are always dependent at every moment on the free grace of God disclosed in the gospel, then nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ’s flock but the Spirit working through the gospel. When this happens (not just once, but every time we encounter the gospel afresh), the Spirit progressively transforms us into Christ’s image. Start with Christ (that is, the gospel) and you get sanctification in the bargain; begin with Christ and move on to something else, and you lose both.
Much more could be said, but I think you get the picture. The author of the post furthers his position by referring his readers to seven elements pertaining to the same subject by a Rick Phillips. Phillips is much more subtle, but his first element reads as follows:
1. Justification and Sanctification are twin benefits that flow from union with Christ through faith. Christ is himself the center of the gospel, and through faith we are saved in union with him (Acts 16:31; Eph. 1:3). Justification and Sanctification are distinct benefits flowing through union with Christ by faith alone.
Regardless of whatever else these guys say, this is the bottom line: if we remain in union with Christ by faith alone, justification and sanctification continue to flow by “faith alone.” What did James say about that? John Piper:
We are kept by the power of God through faith [emphasis mine].
It’s works salvation by living by faith alone in sanctification; i.e., the same antinomianism they claim to refute. Because we are supposedly still under the law, Christ must keep it for us so His perfect obedience to the law will cover us at the judgment day. But the only obedience of Christ that is part of the atonement is His obedience to the cross—we don’t need obedience to a law that we were justified apart from. We are now enslaved to the law and its righteousness, but it can’t judge our justification. It has no jurisdiction over our justification, period.
The Devil is in the details.
“Is there a more apt description of American Christians? Ones who fully intend to only give back to God what He has initially granted. To do otherwise would be to ‘add to our salvation.’ We must live by some formula that posits the idea that Jesus does everything ‘through us.’ This is a very complicated formula given all the biblical imperatives we see in the Bible, but don’t worry, our Protestant nannies will grant us forgiveness if we obey them lest we add thinking to our list of works salvation or anything we do ‘in our own efforts.’”
Christians are to be unified by truth, and the Bible, which supplies its own interpretive methods, states the following principles among many:
1. Unity is truth-centered.
2. God’s word is truth.
3. Christians are unified to the point of agreement on the one mind in Christ.
4. The Holy Spirit sanctifies with truth only, not errant ideas.
Bad ideas about God’s truth are the cause of most woes in the church. It is to the point in America that unbelievers do not even have to persecute us anymore, but rather leave us to ourselves. This ministry is here because we target the idea that we think has led to the lion’s share of woes in the American church: Calvinism.
Calvinism is a bad idea because it has an unbiblical view of Man. Calvin, like his mentors, integrated Grecian philosophical presuppositions about man with the Bible and came up with total depravity—which also includes Christians as well. So, when we do something great, it’s not us doing it, it’s God doing it through us. And in the end, Christ will judge himself accordingly. When He states, “Well done faithful servant,” the verse must be interpreted in its “gospel context.” And remember, Calvin was a Protestant which doesn’t mean we are not Catholics. It means we are Catholics who protested priestly bad behavior. The core four of the Reformation, Augustine, Gregory, Luther, and Calvin agreed with Catholicism on its basic presuppositions concerning man which came from the same ancient pagan philosophy, but thought the doctrinal approach should be somewhat different and demanded moral despotism. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree; whether Arminian or Calvinistic, we believe Jesus will judge Himself in the end. And the fact that the apostle Paul insisted that servants in the church be honored must also be seen in its “gospel context.”
The fact that this philosophy is in the hands of youth via New Calvinism has turbocharged the problem. Hence, we read the following from the New York Times:
What may have been the most significant contest this season took place more than four months ago in Iowa between a small college and an even smaller one. It pitted Grinnell against Faith Baptist, and by the time it was over, Grinnell’s Jack Taylor had scored an N.C.A.A. record of 138 points.
. . . He poured in those 138 points, playing virtually the entire 40-minute game, while Grinnell was routing Faith Baptist, 179-104. . . .
Grinnell’s coaches, in other words, kept their star guard on the floor and shooting, and kept up their full-court defensive pressure, against an opposing team they were leading by 50, then 60, then 70 points. A college that prides itself on its values — rigorous academic standards, commitment to the common good, historical involvement in the abolition and Social Gospel movements — inflicted a defeat so absolute that it borders on public humiliation.
Sporting tradition has always made allowances so the vanquished can save face. Youth leagues have a “slaughter rule” to halt lopsided games. Football quarterbacks with a big lead hand off the ball rather than passing it. Basketball teams run down the clock instead of running up the score. Coaches pull the starters and send in the bench warmers. Very little mitigation of that sort happened last November at Grinnell.
And beyond the question of athletic ethics, the rout has taken on an overtly religious cast. Jack Taylor, an evangelical Christian, attributed his achievement to divine intervention.
In an interview with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Web site, in which he alluded to a parable about talents in Matthew 25, Mr. Taylor said of God: “He definitely multiplied my talents that night. His fingerprints were all over that game.” . . .
If Grinnell has gone through much soul-searching, it doesn’t sound like it. From the athletic director and coaches to the ethicist in its philosophy department, the college community continues to point to the 179-104 game against a school less than one-fifth its size as a wholly admirable effort. . . .
“What strikes me in this story about Grinnell is that you have the unapologetic, brazen appeal to ‘Jesus’ right alongside the unrepentant quest to make a name for the school, the team and the player,” said Amy Laura Hall, an ethics professor at Duke Divinity School who is writing a book about muscular Christianity. “Would the story have even come across our radar if the coach had consciously pulled the player out, and kept the score more sportsmanlike, and missed the chance for a moment of fame, on principle? I wish that were the story to cover, this week after Easter, but it isn’t.”
It all starts with a flawed presupposition which leads to said interpretation of Matthew 25:14-30. God doesn’t entrust us with talents that are to be attended by our own efforts, but rather, God increases our talents at times of His choosing, like in a basketball game, and the only way we can know that He has done this is by what happens. No doubt, with everything going on in the world God wanted to glorify Himself via a college basketball game. Good American Christians everywhere give God the glory for doing our laundry, washing our car, and going to fetch the mail. Conveniently, pesky standards are not to be expected from anybody.
And ironically, God’s agitation with this attitude is the point of the very parable. The “wicked,” “lazy” servant feared what God’s response would be to his own efforts. “But Paul: that was just an excuse.” Right, that’s one of my points; such theology is often an excuse to be lazy and irresponsible in spiritual matters. It is a free ticket to not take responsibility for the sum and substance of our own life, the Life that, and I love this, “bears our own name” (John Immel). But don’t miss this: the master was agitated that the servant’s goal was to return to him only what he had received and nothing more.
Is there a more apt description of American Christians? Ones who fully intend to only give back to God what He has initially granted. To do otherwise would be to “add to our salvation.” We must live by some formula that posits the idea that Jesus does everything “through us.” This is a very complicated formula given all the biblical imperatives we see in the Bible, but don’t worry, our Protestant nannies will grant us forgiveness if we obey them lest we add thinking to our list of works salvation or anything we do “in our own efforts.”
The point of the parable is that certain attitudes come part and parcel with salvation versus those of the unregenerate. That’s the point. Here is how Christ concludes the parable:
And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This parable has eternal ramifications. It is not teaching that we can earn our salvation, but rather teaches an attitude of service that comes with salvation and totally separate from its finished work. The wicked servant feared that his work would be judged by a standard that was impossible to obtain, and he feared losing any of the master’s original investment. But apparently, the other servants didn’t have this same fear. The clear difference between the servants is fear of a future judgment. The other servants eagerly anticipated the masters return to see how pleased he would be with their investments on His behalf; the latter servant feared a standard he thought he couldn’t live up to.
This is the grave danger of fusing justification with sanctification, and I see the application of this parable written all over such doctrines that confuse the finished work of salvation with the Christian life. Like Calvinism in particular. Biblical salvation changes the Christian’s relationship to the law—the law provokes him/her to serve rather than provoking them to sin. In unbiblical salvation, the law is an unkeepable standard that cannot be used to please the master. In this parable, the master had an unattainable standard that the wicked servant feared, so he played it safe and made sure He returned to the master what was only granted.
Christians should take a really hard look at any doctrine that fosters the same attitude of this wicked servant, or for that matter, anything that comes close to it. What does it say about the gospel that we really believe and the type of heart that comes with it?
“Two ways: 1. self-rule 2. ‘Relying on the death and resurrection’ in sanctification towards a ONE final judgment to determine if you successfully lived by faith alone in sanctification. Of course, living by faith alone in a sanctification heavily endowed with commands is very tricky business. But don’t worry; elder rule versus ‘self-rule’ will lead us safely home.
That’s what that supposed gospel presentation is about.”
The following is my replacement:
PDF file: Two Ways Copy
Greetings. The “33 series .com” is just another version of gospel contemplationism for men. The New Calvinism movement has completely emasculated Christian men spiritually. You are not [making a mountain out of a molehill], this false doctrine will eventually lay waste to the American church. The present movement is a resurrection from its prior death. TANC publishing is presently researching the resurgences since Calvin’s Geneva theocracy. Lord willing, the history will be documented in volume two of “The Truth About New Calvinism.”
God’s people eventually catch on to the fact that this doctrine is based on perpetual re-salvation through sanctification by faith alone and the continued implementation of the same repentance that saved us. Staying at the foot of the cross eventually leads to children in adult bodies devouring each other. The tyranny of this movement can only control the chaos for so long. I would say the movement is presently at its peak and will start declining to the social death that is always its end.
Protestantism came from this movement that is long on gospel contemplationism and short on intelligent obedience leading to a house built on a rock, so when these movements die, the weak sanctification that emerges lays the groundwork for the next resurgence. Our goal is to equip Christians with the knowledge that has been kept from them by Protestant academia; ie, an understanding of biblical covenants, law and gospel, justification and sanctification, and how the full counsel of God fits together and operates in real life. We all possess the illuminating Holy Spirit and are in the information age to boot; it is time for real Christian men to be the Bereans that they are called to be. This movement has produced a generation of pathetic, mindless, cowardly husbands. Susan and I counsel women who might as well be part of a Reformed elders harem. It is amazing how a murdering mystic despot that lived so many years ago can destroy so many marriages in our day.
What would Paul Dohse do? Let the dead bury their dead. In our day, if you can see the problem, you are called to do something about it. Don’t confront the situation, it won’t go anywhere. Christians in our day do not have the theological wherewithal nor the necessary love for the truth to deal with this problem. You will stand alone, and depending on what stage of sectarian takeover the church is in, you may be brought up on church disciple. It’s not worth it; come out from among them. You need to equip yourself and start a home fellowship. That’s what Susan and I have done and have learned more about God in the past six months than our combined 80 years as Christians. We stand ready to support and network with any who take this direction.
This movement needs to do more than just die this time around, it needs to be replaced. That’s our mission, and your prayers would be appreciated.
Paul M. Dohse
Mailed 4/13/2013 by certified letter:
I am writing to you openly concerning the fact that you now preach Calvin’s false gospel of progressive justification. As an avid follower of your teachings over the years, and one greatly helped by them in the past, I now implore you to repent of preaching another gospel. I am provoked to write this letter after listening to your general session address at this year’s Shepherds’ Conference.
Sadly, for the most part, the message was a shameless pandering to the Calvinist audience with the same worn-out Neo-Calvinist protocol; e.g., us against evangelicalism, redefinition of the plain sense of Scripture to undermine the interpretive abilities of the laity, etc., etc. Per the usual in these settings, you also insinuated that this movement has a “fresh” take on evangelism and understanding the Scriptures in a “deeper” way.
On the one hand, you expounded on the importance of evangelism and the idea that it is the church’s primary purpose for being here, and then on the other hand propagated the idea via John 3:3 that God is going to do what He is going to do regardless of anything we do. And you also proffered the idea that it is wrong to call unbelievers to do anything in our gospel presentation other than believe, and that was only forthcoming at the very end and stated once.
Primarily presented was the idea that we proclaim the new birth and inform individuals that there is nothing they can do to obtain it. They are simply to “ask” and hope God had decided to save them before creation. In your third party presentation of the question, what can we tell them to do? you are clear: ask only and hope for the best. Shockingly, you also suggested that Reformed elders can “ask” for others as mediators (your personal experience shared about the young man suffering with aids).
Other than the fact that you have harshly criticized Rick Warren for not including repentance in his gospel messages and your hypocrisy is therefore staggering, this idea contradicts a mass of other biblical texts. One of many would be Paul’s description of his ministry that implored people to be reconciled to God. In other instances Paul simply called for repentance. The Calvinist you proudly proclaimed yourself to be in the same message has transformed your prior teachings into confusing messages that raise more questions than are answered.
But these are all symptoms of the basic problem: your false gospel. In one article written by you, the following was stated:
“If sanctification is included in justification, then justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete” (emphasis added).
But yet the fourteenth chapter of Calvin’s Institutes is entitled: “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive?” So, what’s our first clue? Indicative of your Calvinist theology that a child could even dismiss is the simple fact that Paul categorized the lost and the saved in Romans as “under the law” versus “under grace.” Calvin taught that Christians are still under the law. This is plain from his writings in ICR 3.14.9-11 in which he states that Christians cannot please God in sanctification because their works are judged by the law as a continued standard for justification. Calvin makes it clear that no “believer” has ever earned merit with God because their works are judged by the law (first sentence of 3.14.11). In 3.14.10, he even cites James 2:10, a verse that concerns those under the law, to make his case.
As I think you would know, Paul makes it clear in Romans that being under the law is synonymous with being enslaved to sin, unable to keep the law, and destined to a future judgment by law. Under grace is synonymous with having a mind enslaved to the law and free to do righteous acts, and declared righteous apart from the law. But in fact, Calvin’s total depravity also applies to the saints and deems them still enslaved to sin. You often cite Calvin’s concept of total depravity, but when are you going to start being honest and also mention you believe, as Calvin, that it applies to Christians as well?
Calvin stated in no uncertain terms in 3.14.11 that Christ’s “reconciliation with God” is “perpetual” and “not promulgated” in the beginning only. This is because the same forgiveness that saved us needs to be continually applied to our lives according to Calvin:
“For since perfection is altogether unattainable by us [which is not the point because we are under grace and not law], so long as we are clothed with flesh, and the Law denounces death and judgment against all who have not yielded a perfect righteousness, there will always be ground to accuse and convict us unless the mercy of God interpose, and ever and anon absolve us by the constant remission of sins” (3.14.10).
Hence, there is not one complete “washing,” but according to Calvin, a perpetual washing is needed (see JN 13 and 1COR 6:11).
This doctrine always dies a social death and needs to be resurrected again after carnage from the previous “Resurgence” is forgotten. The present movement was resurrected by Robert Brinsmead in 1970. Coming forth from its sectarian womb, it has divided countless families and churches. The seminary you are president of pumps out hundreds of sectarian Calvinists on a yearly basis. One of your graduates split a church two blocks from where we live.
This is your shameful legacy unless you repent.
Paul M. Dohse
There is no new thing under the sun. When Christ came and began His ministry with the proclamation of the kingdom gospel, Israel was steeped in the traditions of men. And Christ didn’t call it “legalism,” He called it antinomianism. Whether Arminian or Calvinist, both came from that same stock. They claim to be different, but both celebrate their parents as heroes of the faith: the Pilgrims. The unregenerate even get in on the act during the holiday season of Thanks Giving and Christmas.
But the Pilgrims were Puritans. And the Puritans were rabid Calvinists. They brought with them the first Bible to ever see American soil: the Geneva Bible which included Calvin’s play by play commentary. They came to start a theocracy modeled after Calvin’s Geneva, and succeeded. And what followed was the same heartless brutality they brought with them from Europe. The Pilgrims were merciless tyrants and were put out of business because they hung too many Quakers for disagreeing with them. Like Calvin and Luther, they were endowed with superstition and mysticism clothed in European orthodoxy.
The reverence of Puritans as spiritual giants and pioneers is pure myth. They were communistic, and lacked the rugged individualism that founded this nation. Regardless of the vast, unmolested resources they found when they arrived here, Indians had to teach them how to survive. The Puritans were not innovators, and invented little to overcome the environment they found themselves in. Their presuppositions concerning man and mystical approach to life did not serve them well. These same presuppositions run deep and wide in the American church.
But what about Calvinism versus Arminianism and the election issue? There is no disagreement there either. Calvin didn’t believe in election. The assumed absurdity of the statement testifies to the traditions of men that saturate the American church. Calvin believed that we are sanctified the same way we were saved, by faith and repentance alone. He also believed that this saving duo of faith and repentance were necessarily perpetual, and could only be received in the formal church institution. Luther believed this as well. You keep your salvation by being faithful to the local church, or “new covenant.” One must remain “faithful to the covenant” by seeking perpetual reconciliation in the church. So-called election is being elected to be in the covenant, but then you have to keep yourself in the covenant. You run the “race of faith” by “faith alone” in order to stay justified in sanctification.
God then sorts out who was able to do that at a single, last judgment. Hence, Augustine, a forefather of the Reformation, believed that eternal life wasn’t determined until the final judgment. I document these assertions in “False Reformation” and the mini-booklet “New Calvinism for Dummies” (tancpublishing.com). However, this may be helpful as well: http://paulspassingthoughts.com/2012/10/31/mutable-justification-not-shocking-just-reformed/
The fact that Reformed theology rejects election can also be seen in Supersessionism. This is the belief that though the nation of Israel was elected, they lost their election because they didn’t stay faithful to the covenant. So, once elected doesn’t necessarily mean always elected. Though Revelation makes it clear that God will dwell with man ON EARTH for eternity, the American emphasis is eternity in heaven. Why? Because God tabernacling with man on earth =’s Israel. That’s why. The very purpose of election cannot be denied as stated by Paul in Romans 9—anything at all that we do is separated from justification. Therefore, Calvinists deny the purpose of election.
Arminians are no different because they come from the same stock. They also deny election, and seek comfort in church membership. I can’t even tell you how many Southern Baptists that I have visited who trust in their church membership for salvation. To suggest they be removed from the church roles because they have not attended in several years is tantamount to removing them from the book of life. This is a common mentality in Baptist churches and I have witnessed it first hand on many occasions. Also throw in the obvious overemphasis on salvation in Arminian Baptist churches because like their Calvinist counterparts, the same gospel that saved you also sanctifies you.
Because of the traditions of men, we are all Calvinists. And we are so steeped in tradition that we don’t even know it. There is no new thing under the sun.
There has been a lot going on in the societal realm lately and I haven’t had time to write about it, but the topic of this post pretty well covers it. Idol worship is always formal. Even when parents of ancient paganism sacrificed their children to the Gods, it was according to orthodoxy. The average Joe never devises his own gods and the prescribed worship—he’s not qualified, it is always devised by the religious experts ruling the day. Hence, parents didn’t just sacrifice their children by some flippant self-devised method; it was done according to proper worship.
Historically, there are only two religions; Cult and Word. Cult is the idea that enlightened human mediators rule the unenlightened masses on behalf of God. The truth that they supposedly get directly from God in order to guide the masses is called “orthodoxy.” Orthodoxy has its own metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. The unenlightened masses sometimes have a choice as to what cult they may choose. Do I believe my infant should be boiled alive in oil to appease the gods, or stabbed through the heart by the High Priest? In contrast, a government will sometimes dictate the cult through the combination of force and faith.
In ancient times, God walked past all of the cults and spoke to his chosen subjects face to face. There were two authorities; one of your own choosing (if you had a choice), and God. Those who chose God are documented in the Bible, and the same also describes the personal interaction that God had with them. In ancient times, cults got a little out of control. Orthodoxy resulted in God being sorry that He created man, so He paid Noah a visit and told Him to build a boat. Not long after the flood waters went away, man once again gravitated to orthodoxy at the Tower of Babble.
Over time, and for His own reasons, God has changed His methods for communicating with His servants. But He has always promised that those seeking His truth would find it. This doesn’t include those seeking orthodoxy of their own desire. Neither does it include those who seek freedom from faith and force so they can choose orthodoxy suited to their own lusts. Those who flee worship with boiling oil for worship with the knife are not heroes. Not in God’s eyes anyway—God is in the truth business.
Orthodoxy and truth. Those are our choices. God’s eyes go to and fro throughout the earth constantly seeking those who worship Him according to spirit and what? TRUTH (JN 4:24). The one who Christ called “the rock” implores us to grow spiritually by feeding on the PURE milk of the what? WORD (1Peter 2:2). Pure milk is available, and God has made it available to all. He uses leaders, but their authority is bound up in His word as judged by the congregation of the saints. The saints follow leaders as they follow Christ.
One of the things we learn from the pure milk that is not mixed with orthodoxy is that lying about the truth is not love. Truisms and spiritual sound bites are the orthodoxy of the American church. They are cult orthodoxy. American pastors invent them to bring God’s truth down to a level where unenlightened congregants can understand it. The inability of the congregant is assumed and feared if not assumed. Even congregants that know something are believed to be equipped with enough knowledge to be dangerous like a loaded gun in the hands of a child. Therefore, orthodoxy proffers the virtue of “childlike faith” as opposed to hard thinking with the brains that God apparently gave the masses accidently.
“We are all just sinners saved by grace.” “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.” And also popular contemporary “Christian” music: “Jesus, Friend of Sinners.” Is Jesus a friend of sinners? Jesus stated that His FRIENDS pattern their lives according to righteousness, not sin. A “sinner” patterns their life after the orthodoxy of choice, and that can be hedonism as well as any other religion. Who is Mark Hall to redefine who Christ says His friends are?
Only the truth sets us free. If you are a pastor who doesn’t challenge American orthodoxy in the form of spiritual sound bites, you are not a pastor; you are just another everyday cultist bent on having a manageable dumbed-down congregation. You comfort with instruction from the manual published by the Hemlock Society and your “love” is woefully misguided.
Fundamentals of American Christianity, Calvinism, Covenants, and Election: The Potter’s House: 4/7/2013
Chart illustration for discussion at 00:45:31
If you are much like me as an average American Christian, you are pretty foggy on God’s overall plan for mankind involving Old Testament and New Testament tenets. Perhaps due to laziness, we accept broad generalizations concerning the differences between the testaments. For example, “Old Testament saints were saved by keeping the law—we are saved by grace,” “God gave the law to show us we can’t keep it—to drive us to resting in Christ alone,” etc.
There is no doubt that it takes diligent study to understand redemptive covenants, election, and sanctification paradigms. The complexities of these issues have not been taught in the American church. Why? Our American Christian heritage comes from the Puritans who arrived on our Eastern shores from Europe. They were Calvinistic, and part and parcel with European Calvinism comes theocracy and orthodoxy. Like ducks searching for bodies of water, European Calvinism will eventually head in this direction. There are no exceptions, and it is only a matter of time. If Calvinism is ultimately deprived of theocracy and orthodoxy, particularity the Puritan breed, it will die. Lesser forms of pure Calvinism can survive well on orthodoxy alone, but the more pure forms like Puritanism will die without theocracy. Hence, Puritanism today is merely folklore propagandized with spiritual sound bites.
What is orthodoxy? It’s the antithesis of Acts 17:11. It assumes a spiritual caste system where some are preordained to understand things that the average saint cannot understand. The average Christian searching the Scriptures to determine if a pastor is teaching truth was, and still is an unacceptable construct in European Calvinism. It is thought to prideful, unsubmissive, and a rejection of God-appointed authority. Orthodoxy is what the spiritually enlightened prepare for the unenlightened in creeds, confessions, and counsels. One advertisement I saw for a seminary announced that it was “confessional.” What does that mean? It means that it teaches and holds to historic confessions of faith. These confessions have authority, and were written by the, for example, “Westminster Divines.” Problem is, this passes a traditional interpretation from generation to generation on an assumptive basis; i.e., to rethink orthodoxy would be arrogantly reinventing the spiritual wheel. This is our heritage, and why we don’t know much. Creeds, confessions, and counsels do not deliver in-depth analysis on the aforementioned issues; primarily, they tell us how to think.
Therefore, the Potter’s House is a journey, and there is no looking back. We have learned astounding things from the book of Romans that Susan and I have never been taught in our combined eighty years of being Christians. But most importantly, what we have learned are building blocks that are keys to understanding more of God’s counsel. I think it is time in our study to look at some of these fundamental building blocks. Some speak directly to the chapter we are in. But first, let’s review some former ones:
1. The “gospel” is the good news of God’s full counsel for life and godliness. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the gospel of “first importance” or “first order of importance.” “Word,” Scripture,” Gospel,” “holy writ,” etc., are all used interchangeably throughout the Bible.
2. Paul categorizes all people into two categories: under law, and under grace. Those under the law are enslaved to sin, provoked to sin by the law, and will be judged by the law. Those under grace are enslaved to righteousness, provoked to do good by the law, and will not be judged by the law.
3. The importance of angels in administering God’s covenants.
4. Salvation is Trinitarian, not Christocentric.
5. A major key to understanding the book of Revelation is Exodus 19-24.
6. The Bible interprets itself and identifies its own methods of interpretation.
7. The law is completely separate from justification, but informs our sanctification.
8. The difference between justification, definitive sanctification, progressive sanctification, and final sanctification.
9. The difference between salvation and justification.
10. Why Christians are truly righteous in the here and now.
11. Why Christians still struggle with sin.
12. The difference between our redeemed hearts and our mortality.
13. Motivation to share the gospel and better ways to do it.
14. Divine Anthropology: what makes mankind tick?
Other things are becoming clearer in our study concerning election and covenants which brings us closer to the issues at hand in chapter nine. I will save election for last because once that is discussed it will be all anybody is thinking about. I would like to use Ephesians 2:11-16 for our first point:
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
This passage makes separation from the covenants of promise synonymous with being alienated from God. There is also more than one covenant of promise.
“Covenants” is in the plural. So, we don’t want to think of Old Testament Covenants as being replaced by the New, but rather we want to think of all of these covenants as building on each other. Also, the covenants will have future elements, abolished elements, and elements that are being phased out with time. Paul states what part of the Mount Sinai Book of the Covenant was “abolished,” the ordinances regarding sin offerings since Christ fulfilled the propitiation for sin (vv. 14, 15).
To be separated from Christ is also likened to being separated from the “commonwealth” of Israel (v. 12). This speaks to Israel as a nation. As we discussed last week, this doesn’t mean that all of national Israel will be saved. They were an elect nation with elect people, but not all in the nation are elected individually. Allegorically, some are descendants of Hagar and others are from Sarah. This symbolizes slavery to sin versus heirs of the promise. Paul wanted to make sure the Gentiles at Rome understood that rebellion within Israel didn’t mean that God had revoked His promises to Israel as a nation.
As yet, none of the covenants have been abolished. Again, some elements are yet future, some are fading away, and some elements have been abolished. Even the New Covenant has such elements. Jeremiah 31 states that the law of God will be written on everyone’s heart and there will be no need to teach anybody about the Lord. Obviously, that is future. We read the following in 1Corintians 13:8-10;
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
Prophesies, tongues, and knowledge are all under the New Covenant (past, present), and when the perfect comes knowledge will pass away. Nobody will have need to be taught as Jeremiah predicted. That’s future. The “perfect” is what Peter said we are ultimately looking for: the new heavens and new earth:
1Peter 3:13 – But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
The “promise” is another name for the Abrahamic covenant which, as we looked at last week, included the Gentiles from the beginning.
Another truth about the Old Covenant is that it was a will. It was like the inheritance that your parents leave you in their will. The inheritance is eternal life, and Christ, the testator, had to die for the will to be executed:
Hebrews 9:15 – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.
And like any will, the inheritance is promised. In this sense, sin was bound up or imputed to the covenant until Christ came:
Galatians 3:15 – To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.
Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
These are building blocks; neither do I have a full understanding about how all of this works together, but apparently sins were imputed to the covenat/will until Christ died. To be saved in the Old Testament was to acknowledge that you were an heir of salvation through Christ. So, Old Testament saints would have definitely been looking for the coming of Christ. Soon after Christ died, the Gentiles received the good news that they were part of the inheritance as well.
Furthermore, outside of the covenant there is a principle of reaping and sowing as well as a principle of reaping and sowing in the covenant as well. This is abundantly clear as Paul cites the Old Covenant in regard to blessings in this life:
Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Hence, promises of spiritual wellbeing through obedience are an undeniable part of the Old Covenant and most definitely still in effect presently. There is a lot going on in these covenants and confusion in our day is not lacking. Nevertheless, the Scripture explains all of this in further detail, but it takes diligent study to show ourselves approved. The following chart may be helpful in encouraging you to study these things for yourself.
Lastly, the relationship between covenants and election. I get my share of grief over my present understanding of election. I take a paradoxical position. Election is 100% true and is crucial for keeping justification and sanctification separate as well as eternal security. Paul, as we saw last week, states the purpose of election is no uncertain terms: to exclude works from justification. On the other hand, I believe free will is also 100% true. I believe this because it is what I see in the Scriptures. It comes with special privilege as well: I get accused of being both a Calvinist and Arminian. But Calvinists don’t believe in election, that’s a myth. For example, though Israel was clearly elected by God (DEUT 7:6-8), most of them hold to Supersessionism. That’s the belief that God replaced Israel with the church because they violated their covenant with God. This is a denial of election. The promise is not contingent on anything we do. It’s not conditional. Blessings and cursing/reaping and sowing is conditional, but not election. This same Reformed take on Israel applies to the individual as well: we are elected to participate in the race, but must be faithful to the church in order to not be disqualified from the race of faith. Calvinists don’t believe in election. As if their doctrine wasn’t goofy enough already—you can add that: the supposed sultans of election don’t even hold to it.
Besides, this paradox can be seen in real life. We implore people with all passion to be reconciled to God, especially Arminians. Yet, Arminians always credit God with saving the person. Few Arminians will ever be heard crediting themselves or the redeemed person for his/her salvation. Nor have I ever heard an Arminian pray to God that anyone would save themselves.
In additon, to satisfy my John Locke Christian friends, its science. Susan and I have a friend who is in the process of writing a book on God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. I will share a small portion of his manuscript to make my point:
Of course, it must be admitted that finite mankind has a limited capacity for understanding the workings of our Infinite Creator. Consequently, one practical way to resolve this challenge to our faith is to face up to the reality of our finite ability to understand God’s workings. In this approach, it is necessary to accept by faith those things that seem beyond any rational understanding. For many, this may be a satisfactory solution to the dilemma. In fact, a similar approach is sometimes followed in the field of science. Consider, for example, the physics of light where two seemingly contradictory theories are used side-by-side to explain its different properties. The wave theory is used to understand the oscillation aspects of light (e.g., Polaroid sunglasses), while at the same time the particle theory is employed to explain other applications (e.g., photoelectric solar panels). Although these two theories are totally incompatible, each provides useful information in certain technical applications. To date, scientists simply use the appropriate theory as needed for a particular design problem. There is no worry about whether light actually exists as a wave, or as a particle, just because it is not yet fully understood. This same approach may be taken in the spiritual realm and is probably the best stance to take in dealing with the apparent contradiction between individual free will and God’s total sovereignty.
As an avid reader of the Bible since my conversion in 1983, I began to take this position in 1986 and have not abandoned it yet. The apostles and others evangelized like it depended on them, but yet made strong statements regarding the sovereignty of God in salvation.
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Those of you who have been a part of PPT since its beginning in 2009 are aware of who X-Ray the Idol Hunter is. She is kind of the Big Foot of New Calvinism. Her possible existence surfaced in 2010 during John Piper’s sabbatical. Piper said he was taking the sabbatical because he had observed several “species of pride” in his soul. According to other statements he made, he had consulted Tim Keller and Paul David Tripp on how to peel away several different levels of idolatry in order to find these “species.” Piper never identified the different species with biblical nomenclature.
Piper shared these things prior to beginning his sabbatical which had a predetermined length of eight months. The question soon became the following: how did Piper know that the eradication of these “species,” and all of the peeling away of many levels of idolatry in the soul, would take exactly eight months? If the species where wreaking enough havoc on his soul to cause him to step down for eight months, one must assume that eliminating these creatures would be efficacious.
Well, sure enough, Piper returned to the ministry eight months later. That’s when the rumors started. Obviously, Piper had an ace in the hole. It is doubtful that Sonship theology, the primary doctrine that promotes idol hunting in the heart would have been enough to guarantee such a victory. The doctrine was concocted by Dr. John “Jack” Miller in the 80’s and articulated by David Powlison and Paul David Tripp. David Powlison oversees a research and development team at Westminster Seminary that endeavors to come up with better and better ways to hunt down idols in the heart. Miller was able to identify twenty-five species of idols to get the ball rolling.
Powlison and Tripp devised what they call “X-Ray questions” that help people detect these idols which manifest themselves in our desires. All and all, Powlison has devised around 135 such questions. The questions reveal desires, and the desire leads to the species.
But after the return of Piper, people started asking questions, and strange manifestations began to be noticed at New Calvinist conferences where Piper, Powlison, Keller, and Tripp appeared. Powlison and Keller are self-proclaimed mentorees of John Miller. One such manifestation was seen on a conference website and appears below:
Furthermore, the following spears were found at yet another conference:
Putting it in a way that David Powlison would, X-Ray is kinda, perhaps, like a parody, but then again, kinda not to demonstrate the mindless New Calvinist following of mysticism on the issue of change. As Jay E. Adams well noted in his treatise against Sonship theology, idol hunting seems to be a kissing cousin to species of demons that supposedly cause Christians to sin. Hence, a different demon for each sin, and as Piper noted just prior to his last sabbatical, Tim Keller informs us that some levels of idol hunting are only obtained by fasting and prayer. Yet, someone had to know that the extraction of the “species” that were hounding Piper would only take exactly eight months to extract. PPT was sent a top secret picture of X-Ray, and we neither vouch for this picture nor deny it. Like Big Foot, the jury is kinda still out:
With Powlison, Keller, Tripp, and Piper all coming to this year’s Gospel Coalition conference in Orlando, a manifestation of X-Ray is very possible. As Powlison brings the latest findings from Westminster’s research and development team on idol hunting, it only makes sense that X-Ray would want to be briefed.
“And such were [past tense] some of you.”
~The Apostle Paul
“You must be born again.”
~ The Lord Jesus Christ
I decided to stroll back over to the article that was referred to me the other day on Justin Taylor’s blog. Another reader made a comment about comments over there, so I found myself led by morbid curiosity. Taylor is promoting an upcoming article by heretic David Powlison that supposedly explains how we kinda live by the same gospel that saved us, but then again we kinda don’t. The crux is that the all-knowing Powlison assures us that all is well. Even though his pontifications create three questions for everyone he vaguely answers, we can’t resist trusting his Mr. Rogers demeanor. As an aside, let me mention that I was surprised to see a positive comment from Jason Hood who once denounced, “sanctification by justification.”
I decided to chime in, and shockingly, the comments posted. The screen shot follows:
Clearly, and not surprisingly, a sanctification endowed with a hankering to be justified by works as the essence of sin is what’s being propagated here. Of course, this turns sound gospel doctrine completely on its head. And they might answer my questions, but because I know what these guys really believe, I don’t see a place for them to go with this.
Since the apostle Paul said that seeking to be justified by works cuts us off from Christ, at what point in sanctification are we cut off or not cut off? Taylor states that this temptation will always be present in sanctification, so what constitutes its conception? And if we repent of whatever that is, does that mean we are resaved, or never saved prior, or is there a grace period for figuring out our error, or what? Moreover, the question that eventually got me excommunicated from Clearcreek Chapel: “How do we distinguish between our ‘own efforts’ in sanctification and other efforts?” “And how do we know when it is our “own” or the, we can only surmise, GOOD EFFORTS in sanctification?” “And what are the consequences of trying to please God in ‘our own efforts’ in sanctification?” They can’t answer these questions honestly without exposing who they really are.
Bottom line: they believe what we do in sanctification can affect the finished work of God’s calling to eternal life. That’s a huuuuuuge problem. According to Taylor, and frankly, he got it from Calvin, we are constantly tempted to aid God in a finished work that was finished before the earth was created with the results guaranteed (ROM 8:29,30).
And that’s the rub: Calvin didn’t believe that justification is finished. Why? Because Calvin believed that law is the standard of justification. Calvin believed that a perfect keeping of the law had to be maintained in sanctification for us to remain justified. Therefore, he believed the death of Christ to be “perpetual.” He couldn’t reconcile the imperfection of the saints in sanctification with any other interpretation of justification. He defined the righteousness of God imputed to us, by the law. As a philosophical matter, one must ask if the Bible fully defines the righteousness of God that was imputed to us to begin with.
At any rate, Calvin rejected the imputation of God’s righteousness APART from the law (ROM 3:21). The law is still around to maintain justification and define it. A just standing is fed and maintained by a constant, perfect obedience to the law. The law is NOT SEPARATE, it is perfectively obeyed by Christ “for us” IN SANCTIFCATION. This is what these filthy lying heretics will not plainly state. If they were honest about it, the gig would be up. I contend that the law need not be upheld by anybody FOR JUSTIFICATION.
We are not “under” it for justification. If it has to be maintained, we are still under it. Who keeps it is beside the point. We are under grace and informed by the law for sanctification, and now desire the law of truth while despising the mortality that keeps us from obeying the law perfectly as a matter of pleasing our Father—not the maintenance of justification. Besides, efforts at self-justification NEVER involve biblical truth but the traditions of men. Calvin propagated the idea that a sincere endeavor to obey the truth of Scripture could be an effort to justify ourselves. In contrast, self-justification NEVER walks hand in hand with a love for the truth. However, New Calvinists are very much about that idea in order to keep the faithful in fear that without them they will unwittingly end up trying to justify themselves by seeking to love the Lord through truthful obedience. It’s a control fetish that they inherited from their Platonist father Augustine.
And particularly, Taylor can’t answer the last question. Are we enslaved to this sin of self-justification in sanctification? If he says “yes,” that contradicts the clear sense of Scripture. If he says “no,” that contradicts his master, CJ Mahaney.
“This is why the American church is chocked full of spiritual despots and pedophiles; we only preach Calvin and Luther’s half-gospel of one resurrection and deny the primary purpose of the second, that resurrected saints would fulfill the law of God and destroy the works of the devil for the glory of God in this life.”
My wife Susan likes music and people. I love Christ, but don’t much care for contemporary Christian music that makes Him a Brahman and not the Lord and King of the forthcoming new heavens and new earth. We Americans love our mystical Jesus. We make much of Him so we can know little of Him. He is so high above us that to claim to know anything save Him crucified is arrogance. It’s Tal Bachman theology; he knew a girl that was so high above him, “Like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, or Aphrodite,” that, “She comes to speak to me I freeze immediately,” and, “What could a guy like me ever really offer?”
The more subjective a god is, the more we can make it a god of our own making. Many will stand before Christ’s eyes of fire in the judgment and claim Him so wonderful that they couldn’t have known anything about Him that is objective. After all, only the gospel is objective and anything we think we know is subjective at best. Dishwalla, in their song, “Tell me all Your Thoughts on God,” present us as children who can’t really know God, but the song surmises that God is a woman. But that’s ok, after all, we are merely children who, “count only blue cars and skip the cracks in the street. And ask many questions like children often do.” The world has this gig down better than Christians; we are nothing compared to whatever the higher power is, so who is the higher power to find fault? Don’t worry, she won’t, all will end well.
Oh, but like Susan, I like people too, it was one of the conditions of our marriage contract. We compromised on the music. Since the Potter’s House is a very humble upstart, and the wonderment of the Easter holiday was upon us, off we went to a morning cantata service to experience American Easternism. And because I am a mere worm like all others that attended, I won’t name the Southern Baptist church located in Xenia, Ohio that we attended. Besides, the point here is that this service was undoubtedly representative of the vast majority of Easter Sunday services taking place in the evangelical church.
The lie that is sucking the life out of the American church started early and was repeated often throughout the service; Jesus Christ is alive and we are dead. One who was leading music pontificated that Jesus was resurrected to confirm that God was pleased with the sacrifice. What he couldn’t say would get someone thrown out of the church in our day: Christ was resurrected to give us life in the here and now; the same power that raised Him from the dead (EPH 1:18-20). This is why the American church is chocked full of spiritual despots and pedophiles, we only preach Calvin and Luther’s half-gospel of one resurrection and deny the primary purpose of the second, that resurrected saints would fulfill the law of God and destroy the works of the devil for the glory of God in this life (ROM 8:3,4, 1JN 3:8, JN 14:12). As a man thinks in his heart so is he, if he thinks he is a worm, he will act like one.
After an hour of everything life of Jesus and our depravity music, the pastor delivered a mini-treatise that was the usual Heidelberg Confession construct: all wisdom and true theology is a deeper and deeper knowledge of our evil as set against the holiness of Christ. He said we are “broken people in a broken world” and unable to do anything with pure motives. This is not how the Bible describes Christians at all. We are described as being resurrected WITH Christ and in high places with Him. We are described as “more than conquerors.” And the Bible does not even describe the unregenerate as incapable of impure motives because they were born with the works of the law written on their heart. They will not be justified by that, but it doesn’t render them incapable of doing good works. Yes, works they do in order to be justified are filthy rags, but that is not a sweeping metaphysical indictment of mankind in general.
Then he added the caveat that there is no real purpose in this life. And believe me, that’s how the American church lives. What purpose could there be if only Christ was resurrected and we are dead? And the practical application? As stated, “We overcome with the joy of our salvation.” Really? This aped the song that we also sang earlier: “We overcome by the blood and our testimony.” Stated another way by the Neo-Calvinists of our day running the church: “We shouldn’t be the gospel, we should only preach the gospel.” While New Calvinists bemoan the idea that the world is mostly unevangelized, I assure them that the gospel of preaching only is well known throughout the world and God is blasphemed accordingly.
Susan and I are beginning to note a trend in these churches as we visit some that we were previously acquainted with in the past: They are dead. The worship is half-hearted. It’s like, “Are we having fun worship yet?” But what do we expect? We are dead, right? I know that the theses is that by making much of Christ and little of us that worshipful manifestations will take place, but joyful skeletons singing aloud in praise is a pipe dream that Calvinists will never realize. They are sucking what life was left of the church after Billy Graham’s first gospel wave. Dr. Kevorkian is presiding over the terminal ill patient that is the American church: a reputation for being alive, but really dead, and proud of it.
Unfortunately, Susan and I had watched the epic Star Wars movie late into the night before. By the end of all of this, a part of the movie seized my mind: Darth Vader; “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” As I focused on the pastor finishing his skeletal rendition of the resurrection, I observed my hand raised up in a grasping configuration. I looked to Susan for help, but found little on her frowning face as she commented, “I have a problem with the suggestion that God [the Father] was resurrected.” But when you reduce Christianity to a narrow objective door, you enter into a reality of subjective monstrosity. Anything goes from there. Dishwalla followers see no need to change venue; counting blue cars and going to church is all the same.
Christ never commanded us to celebrate His resurrection via a special day on the calendar. It’s optional. But if we are going to do it, don’t make it a lie and a half-gospel—celebrate not only what Christ did, but His purposes as well. He came to give us purpose in the here and now as well as eternally. Easter is not only about the resurrected Christ Himself, but what he sought to do in us being resurrected WITH him as new creatures.
The half-gospel of total depravity is a lie and a false gospel. And let those who preach it be accursed.
“Reformation epistemology must exclude any improvement or grace inside of us; otherwise, by their own definition, reality cannot be known.”
“This brings us to the fact that Reformers, both old and new, seek to create a completely different reality of thought and metaphysics in order to control their followers. They also rewrite church history to match this created reality of their own making.
What John Piper really believes represents the basic principles of the Reformation gospel. The Reformation has always been endowed with those who can sell snow to the Eskimos. The official name of their doctrine sounds so theologically cutting edge: the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us. One thinks: “Right, the gospel should be central, no? And, we were not saved by any kind of knowledge that was within us; of course we were informed by the all-knowing God! Salvation wasn’t something that originated within us!” This is something that the Reformers, past and present, are absolute masters of: drawing people in by using terminology that plays on their assumptions. Hence, “total depravity” is assumed to only apply to the unregenerate. Hence, “justification by faith alone” is assumed to apply to, well, justification alone, when it really applies to both justification and sanctification. Luther and Calvin didn’t see this as disingenuous because they believed the two are the same anyway. Hence, “Scripture alone” assumes applicable knowledge rather than Christocentric contemplationism. But that’s the first one: assumptive terminology; terminology that plays on the assumptions of others.
John Piper has been very careful to stay aloof from the progressive Adventist movement that rediscovered Luther’s “justification by faith alone” gospel and spawned the present-day New Calvinist tsunami. The leader of that movement started a Reformed think tank to systemize the doctrine for contemporary consumption. He was joined by Graeme Goldsworthy who wrote several articles for the think tank’s theological journal in the seventies. But when Goldsworthy was invited to Southern Seminary to lecture, Piper couldn’t help himself; someone who really understood the heart of Reformation theology lecturing at Southern approached orgasmic reality.
TANC Publishing, our own anti-Reformation think tank has known since 2010 what this gospel is, in its least common denominator, but were perplexed concerning the big picture. We understood elements and cause/effect, but in essence, our thoughts were: “How in the world does this work in real life?” We came to believe that said think tank, The Australian Forum, had created an image that captured the big picture of the Reformation gospel, but what in the world could the picture really mean? (Click to enlarge if necessary):
As you can see, anything going on within the believer yields bad results. We called this illustration the “fetus” because we knew it captured the essence of the Reformation gospel, but again, what does it mean in real life? How are we changed by God if nothing happens inside of us? This brings us to the day in 2009 when John Piper couldn’t help himself. He wrote an article on his Desiring God blog that concurred with Goldsworthy on why the Reformation was needed. Supposedly, the Reformation was needed because Rome infused the works of Christ inside of the believer. Because Rome and the Reformers both saw justification as a continuous “chain” from eternity past to “final justification,” any “work” by the believer , whether done by Christ within us, or otherwise, makes us participants in justification. Rome is/was ok with this, the Reformers were not. This author uses almost the whole fourth chapter of The Truth About New Calvinism to document Piper’s commentary on this.
So, regardless of the entire “inside of us” lingo used by Piper et al, they don’t believe there is any grace inside us. Christ doesn’t do work inside of us; if He did, that would “make sanctification the ground of our justification.” Again, because sanctification is the middle links in the chain from eternal justification to so-called final justification. If we are involved in the links at all, we are a part of our own justification and are making “sanctification the ground of our justification.” It all must be a work of God by faith alone. I delve into this matter in detail in Sessions two and three of the 2012 TANC Conference, and in False Reformation published this year.
However, we contend that if salvation is a “chain,” EVERYTHING we do in sanctification is a work. Whether thinking, praying, or meditation, we are still involved in the links. Calvinism makes distinctions between what is a work in sanctification and what isn’t a work in sanctification and thereby classifies passive activities as faith and not works. WORKS ARE WORKS, AND ARE NOT DEFINED BY DEGREE OF PASSIVITY. This is why justification and sanctification must be separate.
Once Calvinism categorizes what is of faith in the Christian life and what is of works, these same conduits are used to live by faith alone which equals all of grace staying COMPLETLEY outside of us. Look back at the illustration—it is what it is. However, their thesis is crippled by the idea that thinking is not a work. Nevertheless, we will begin with Luther and Calvin’s dualist approach to understanding wisdom and use it to reveal how contemporary Calvinists use deliberate deception in propagating this false gospel.
Luther and Calvin believed that all reality was understood by a deeper and deeper understanding of God’s holiness as set against a deeper and deeper understanding of our sinfulness. And this is how people are saved as well: by faith (in whom God is) and repentance (from how evil we are). Neither of these change, the key is a deeper understanding on our part in regard to both. When this continues to happen, the works of Christ are continually imputed to us throughout our Christian life in the same way we were saved; i.e., justification by faith because “sanctification” is really the progression of justification. The works of Christ are imputed to us as we “see” them in the Bible. This is indisputable as illustrated by THEIR OWN chart published by a New Calvinist organization (Click to enlarge if necessary).
Therefore, New Calvinists communicate within the context of this dualism: the cross story, or your story. It’s either all you, or all God in sanctification. It is either the Cross Chart illustration or a chart that notes some goodness/grace within you. We call this the Either/Or hermeneutic. New Calvinist preaching /teaching well rarely present a metaphysical balance/middle ground/alternative perspective accordingly. The messages will always, in some way, merely contrast total depravity and God’s holiness.
In regard to believing that justification and sanctification are one and the same, we call this the Missing Transition communication technique. In teaching and preaching, New Calvinists continually transition between elements of justification and sanctification without a transition in subject as if they believe the two are one and the same. And that’s exactly what they believe. This has the effect of Christians functioning as if there is no sanctification due to the proverbial out of sight—out of mind consequence. While rejecting the idea of no sanctification when verbalized, that’s how they function because their mental data lacks sanctification wisdom. And be sure of it: this is by design.
New Calvinists also employ terminology that leads followers into assuming that their doctrine is normal. An example is, “heart change.” The heart speaks of that which is inside of us, right? The following New Calvinist illustration, again, THEIR OWN, illustrates that this is deception (Click to enlarge if necessary):
If we can do no work other than seeing our own depravity more and more, how does the heart on the other side of the chart pertain to us? If we change, would that not prevent us from understanding reality because there is less and less of our own depravity to see? Reformation epistemology must exclude any improvement or grace inside of us; otherwise, by their own definition, reality cannot be known. Obviously, “heart” does not pertain to our “heart” per se. It’s assumptive terminology. It plays on the known assumptions of others.
This brings us to the fact that Reformers, both old and new, seek to create a completely different reality of thought and metaphysics in order to control their followers. They also rewrite church history to match this created reality of their own making. Since reality is Christocentric, and all life must be found in the knowledge of the “Sun,” to the degree that we emphasize anything else other than the life-giving rays of the “Sun” (Son), we diminish true life.
This enables New Calvinists to posit all things true, such as the new birth, “in us” terminology, and the other members of the Trinity while pointing to the whole issue of “emphasis.” Sure, all of those other things apart from Christ are certainly TRUE, but they are forms or shadows of reality (Christ) and to the degree that we focus on them apart from Christ we diminish the life-giving rays. Those things are “good things, but not the best thing.” They are “the fruit, not the root.” “Oh yes, the Holy Spirit’s sanctification is a wonderful truth! But it is a good thing, not the best thing. It is the fruit, not the root.” So, the more you deemphasize the “good thing” for the “best thing,” the better. And obviously, those things are eventually eliminated.
Obviously, the only place left to go from here for New Calvinists is Eastern mysticism. John Piper and other New Calvinists like Tim Keller are not even subtle about their beliefs in such. Neither was the primary forefather of the Reformation, St. Augustine. TANC is presently hard at work unpacking the specific connections between the two and how they function with Reformed theology, especially in regard to realms, manifestations, and spatial birthing. Susan will be bringing an astounding report to the Conference this June. In one of her sessions, she discusses how Augustine thought the Bible was the completion of Platonism.
Let’s conclude with a list of the six communication techniques used by New Calvinists:
1. Assumptive terminology: plays on the known assumptions of others.
2. Either/Or hermeneutic: interprets all wisdom through good and evil.
3. Missing Transition: excludes subject transitions as a way to subtly deny difference.
4. Metaphysical Redefinition of works and non-works.
5. Emphasis: reduces horizontal reality to one life source.
My Grandmother was of a vein of Freewill Baptists that believed in Jesus plus perpetual salvific repentance for salvation. They based this on 1John 1:9; “If” you are faithful in confessing known sin, you are forgiven and washed from unknown sin as well. According to this brand of gospel, when one believes on Christ, all their past sins are forgiven, but ongoing sin must be confessed to maintain salvation. Basically, it’s Jesus plus praying your way into heaven. Fortunately, I believe my Grandmother eventually rejected that approach to salvation.
Works salvation can be very subtle. It is anything that requires something of us in sanctification to maintain justification. That’s key: the crux of the issue is the fusion of justification and sanctification. When the two are fused, even doing nothing in sanctification to maintain our justification is works salvation because we are doing something in sanctification for justification even if doing something is doing nothing. Unless the two are completely separate, justification depends on something we do or don’t do in sanctification. Hence, even doing nothing is a work. It’s abstaining from works to maintain our salvation.
That’s what makes this Freewill Baptist doctrine a false gospel—something is required by us in sanctification to maintain justification because the two are still connected. Now, Freewill Baptist, as the very name implies, are Arminians, not Calvinistic. They differ on election, but not salvation. And trust me, the salvation gig is what matters, not the election gig.
I can now hear the cat cries from Calvinists because they are being compared to Freewill Baptists. But they are no different in regard to the gospel because the relationship of sanctification to justification is what matters and NOT election. Nobody is going to hell for their views on election/freewill, but taking part in the maintaining of God’s call is a different matter altogether. And Calvinists believe nothing different on that wise than the Freewill Baptists.
The Freewill Baptist, the aforementioned strain, believes that the same repentance that saved you also sanctifies you all the way to heaven. It’s a perpetual salvific repentance. It’s a perpetual “washing.” Thing is, Christ made it clear that this washing only takes place one time (John ch. 13). Calvinists believe that the same gospel that saved you also sanctifies you; e.g., “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” But specifically, they also believe that daily forgiveness must be sought in order to maintain our salvation. Here is what Calvin wrote:
Secondly, this passage shows that the gratuitous pardon of sins is given us not only once, but that it is a benefit perpetually residing in the Church, and daily offered to the faithful. For the Apostle here addresses the faithful; as doubtless no man has ever been, nor ever will be, who can otherwise please God, since all are guilty before him; for however strong a desire there may be in us of acting rightly, we always go haltingly to God. Yet what is half done obtains no approval with God. In the meantime, by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God. Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God (Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 45: Catholic Epistles).
Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death (CI 3.14.11).
In regard to the gospel, there is no difference between Freewill Baptists and Calvinists, and that’s why the freewill/election debate makes no difference as well.
We live in a unique era marked in its beginning by Christ paying the penalty for our sin (HEB 1:2). We are in the last days. We know that because it’s post cross. We live in this specific era which is also biblically described as a time of unprecedented deception (MATT 24:3,4; 2THESS 2:10-12).
Therefore, we must be careful to use specific biblical words in our communication of the truth. Those who define the language win the argument. Redefining the meaning of words to deceive is literally the oldest trick in the book; e.g., Satan redefined what God meant by death. “Surely, you will not die.” Depending on your definition of death, that was true—Eve didn’t die on the spot.
“Legalism” is a word that is not in the Bible anywhere. The concept/term was made popular by Martin Luther’s interpretation of law and grace. The term, “legalism” lends strong foundation to authentic Reformed doctrine. If you use the term, you are being a good Calvinist whether you know it or not. The Reformers were anti-sanctification because it suggests enablement and some room for self-esteem. The Bible does not call us to eradicate all concept of self for the sole purpose of the group, it calls us to evaluate ourselves truthfully (ROM 12:3). That’s why there is a severe lack of sanctification in the church today—we are all just good Protestants.
So, legalism is in, but the word for the primary nemeses of righteousness throughout the ages is out: “anomia.” The English word is, “antinomianism.” It means, anti (a) – law (nomia). And I assure you that manmade law in not in view. Ignorantly, Christians deem the word as just another 50-cent theological term even though it appears throughout the New Testament and defines the core of human woes. While anomia is ignored, a word that doesn’t even exist in the Bible is thrown around more often than we change cloths.
Because the ramifications of anomia pushback against Luther’s law/gospel theology, the word is translated in English Bibles as “wickedness” and “lawlessness” giving the idea of general bad behavior. The real idea is anti-truth, anti-God’s full counsel, anti-God’s wisdom, anti-sanctification, anti-kingdom living, anti-clear conscience, anti-life, anti-goodness, etc., etc. Christ points to it as the primary cause of lovelessness and cold-heartedness (MATT 24:12; PS 119:70). John indicts it as the very definition of sin (1JN 3:4).
Perhaps the greatest deception in all of this is the Reformed motif that the Pharisees are the poster children for “legalism.” Supposedly, they strived to keep God’s law as a way of earning His favor for both justification and sanctification of which are the same to the Reformers. The opposite is true; the Pharisees were full of anomia and voided the law with their anti-truth (MATT 15:1-9; 23:23-28). The Pharisees were not “legalists,” that’s a lie, they were antinomians.
Nothing cripples sanctification more than the Reformed idea that Christians can sincerely seek to obey God by following their born again new desire for the law and thereby unwittingly partaking in works righteousness. There is no more detestable evil under the sun because it causes a conflict between the new desire God has put in our hearts (ROM 7:25; PS 119:1ff.) and instruction that propagates a relaxed view of the law (MATT 5:19). Throughout the New Testament, two different Greek words are used to define our old desires verses our new desires (1TIM 3:1; GAL 5:16-19) infused into us by God. This is why Calvinism has crippled the American church. They propagate a doctrine that sets us against the very desire that God has put in our new hearts.
Satan did not come to Eve in the garden as a “legalist.” He came to her as an antinomian. In regard to the time of the end, the apostle Paul refers to the antichrist as the man of anomia at least four times in his letter to the Thessalonians. From the beginning, and through the middle embodied in the likes of Baalam’s error and Korah’s rebellion, and culminating in the end, the doctrine of anomia is the primary beast that devours the souls of men. But yet, New Calvinist queen Elyse Fitzpatrick likens anomia to the Loch Ness Monster, and is celebrated accordingly for her supposed biblical insight.
It’s time to eradicate “legalism” from our Christian vocabulary and replace it with a description of the New Calvinist breed of beasts among us: Antinomians.
The Reformers do evoke some awe in their ability to create a doctrine that is works salvation by being antinomian in sanctification. Basically, you have to be an antinomian to keep your salvation. And if you aren’t an antinomian, you are not saved. This is why many Calvinists say that if you are not accused of being antinomian—you are probably not preaching the gospel. This is a completely upside gospel, and revival in the American church will never be possible until we see this doctrine for what it is and begin to implement alternatives.
A good place to start in understanding Calvin’s all-out assault on biblical truth is his definition of righteousness. As with most of the Reformers, he defined righteousness as a perfect keeping of the law. Sounds very logical, but once we are drawn into that definition and accept its premise—we are in grave danger of being led astray. Let’s begin by reading some citations from the Calvin Institutes on this point:
But in order that a sense of guilt may urge us [Christians] to seek for pardon, it is of importance to know how our being instructed in the Moral Law renders us more inexcusable [the need for perpetual pardon]. If it is true, that a perfect righteousness is set before us in the Law, it follows, that the complete observance of it is perfect righteousness in the sight of God; that is, a righteousness by which a man may be deemed and [*]pronounced righteous at the divine tribunal. Wherefore Moses, after promulgating the Law, hesitates not to call heaven and earth to witness, that he had set life and death, good and evil, before the people. Nor can it be denied, that the reward of eternal salvation, as promised by the Lord, awaits the perfect obedience of the Law…(CI 2.7.3).
Therefore, if we look merely to the Law, the result must be despondency, confusion, and despair, seeing that by it we are all cursed and condemned, while we are kept far away from the blessedness which it holds forth to its observers. Is the Lord, then, you will ask, only sporting with us? Is it not the next thing to mockery, to hold out the hope of happiness, to invite and exhort us to it, to declare that it is set before us, while all the while the entrance to it is precluded and quite shut up? I answer, Although the promises, in so far as they are conditional, depend on a perfect obedience of the Law, which is nowhere to be found, they have not, however, been given in vain (CI: 2.7.4).
To declare that we are deemed righteous, solely because the obedience of Christ is imputed to us as if it where our own, is just to place our righteousness in the obedience of Christ…. And so indeed it is; for in order to appear in the presence of God [*]for salvation [**to stand in a future judgment to determine salvation], we must send forth that fragrant odour, having our vices covered and buried by his perfection. (CI: 3.11.23).
For the meaning is—As by the sin of Adam we were alienated from God and doomed to destruction, so by the obedience of Christ we are restored to his favour as if we were righteous (CI: 2.17.3).
We see from these quotations with emphasis added that a perfect keeping of the law is the definition of righteousness. This would be true if Christians did not remain in their mortal bodies for a time, but biblically, imperfect obedience in sanctification does not exclude the truth that we are presently righteous in the truest sense. Therefore, Calvin’s definition of righteousness is fundamentally flawed and the problems caused thereof can be seen in these same citations.
First, note that the law must be kept perfectly by Christ in order for us to be “pronounced righteous” at “the divine tribunal.” And: “for in order to appear in the presence of God for salvation.” And what must we do to procure the perfect obedience of Christ to fulfill the law?
But in order that a sense of guilt may urge us [Christians] to seek for pardon, it is of importance to know how our being instructed in the Moral Law renders us more inexcusable [the need for perpetual pardon].
In Calvinism, the purpose of the law is to drive the Christian to guilt for the purpose of seeking “pardon.” This pardon, for the Christian, is perpetual because it “renders us more inexcusable.” What kind of pardon? Pardon for the same salvation that we originally received. Not forgiveness in sanctification to restore intimacy with Christ and the Father, but forgiveness for salvation. Calvin makes this clear:
Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death….(CI: 3.14.11).
So, as the law of God shows us our continual need for pardon, we seek pardon for salvation not just once, but perpetually. This continually satisfies the righteous demand of the law which is perfection. In a future judgment, we must present “that fragrant odour, having our vices covered and buried by his perfection.”
What work must we do to keep our salvation? We must use the Bible to see our continual need for pardon and seek continual re-salvation. As the New Calvinist mantra of our day states: “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” Robert Brinsmead, the father of present-day New Calvinism, stated it this way:
After a man hears the conditions of acceptance with God and eternal life, and is made sensible of his inability to meet those conditions, the Word of God comes to him in the gospel. He hears that Christ stood in his place and kept the law of God for him. By dying on the cross, Christ satisfied all the law’s demands. The Holy Spirit gives the sinner faith to accept the righteousness of Jesus. Standing now before the law which says, “I demand a life of perfect conformity to the commandments,” the believing sinner cries in triumph, “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as He did . . . ” (Luther). The law is well pleased with Jesus’ doing and dying, which the sinner brings in the hand of faith. Justice is fully satisfied, and God can truly say: “This man has fulfilled the law. He is justified.”
We say again, only those are justified who bring to God a life of perfect obedience to the law of God. This is what faith does—it brings to God the obedience of Jesus Christ. By faith the law is fulfilled and the sinner is justified.
On the other hand, the law is dishonored by the man who presumes to bring to it his own life of obedience. The fact that he thinks the law will be satisfied with his “rotten stubble and straw” (Luther) shows what a low estimate he has of the holiness of God and what a high estimate he has of his own righteousness. Only in Jesus Christ is there an obedience with which the law is well pleased. Because faith brings only what Jesus has done, it is the highest honor that can be paid to the law (Rom. 3:31). (As cited in The Truth About New Calvinism: Paul M. Dohse Sr.; pp. 101,102).
Therefore, in Calvinism, the Christian life is a continual re-salvation by faith alone as we see our sinfulness in the Bible. The goal is to use the law we cannot keep to reveal our corruption more and more which drives us to repentance. When we repent, Christ’s perfect obedience to the law is presented to the Father and our justification is maintained. This is the gospel of Calvinism. It is working by faith alone to maintain our salvation by acknowledging that we cannot keep the law; for all practical purposes, antinomianism. What are the differences between “I can’t keep the law,” “I won’t keep the law,” or “I don’t have to keep the law”? Calvinism’s version of antinomianism is the idea that an antinomian believes that the law doesn’t have to be kept. They piously object that it must be kept while not mentioning that we can’t keep it—Christ must keep it for us.
Righteousness is not defined by a perfect keeping of the law. The very Reformed definition of righteousness is egregiously flawed. It’s works salvation. If it is true, we are not justified APART FROM THE LAW:
Romans 3:19 – Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—
Abraham was justified apart from the law—the law didn’t come until 430 years later (GAL 3:17,18). He was declared righteous because he believed God. Hence, GOD’S righteousness APART from the law has been manifested. If Christ had to keep the law perfectly for our righteousness—that’s NOT apart from the law, and moreover, Abraham could not have been justified. “But Christ’s perfect obedience was imputed to Abraham when He died on the cross.” Then what is the point that Paul is making in Galatians? Why make a point in regard to when the law came? In addition, Christ had not yet obeyed the law perfectly when Abraham did the following:
James 2:20 – Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
The Reformed always make it a point to state that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. This is important to them (although the Bible always refers to it as the righteousness of God) because it imputes the perfect obedience of Christ (His life when He came as a man) to us so that the law is fulfilled for our salvation. But again, the Scriptures state:
Galatians 3:11 – Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Galatians 2:16 – yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
If Christ lived a perfect life on earth to fulfill the law so that it could be imputed to us for righteousness—THAT’S NOT RIGHTOUSNESS APART FROM THE LAW. Though Christ kept it for us, it is still righteousness based on the law.
Hence, a proper definition of righteousness is, believing in God, not perfect obedience to the law. The law has no stake at all in righteousness that justifies. It informs our righteousness, but it does not affect it:
Romans 3:21 – But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—
Galatians 4:21 – Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?
But if Christ had to keep the law for us, we are not declared righteous apart from the law, and we are still under it albeit fulfilled by Christ. We are either under law or under grace (Romans 6:14). The Bible never states that we are still under the law and covered by grace—it’s either one or the other. If we need the gospel of first importance just as much as we did when we were saved (a popular truism in our day), then we are still under the law which is a biblical idiom for the unsaved.
We are righteous because we have God’s seed within us via the new birth and it was attained by faith alone. Perfect law keeping is not the standard, but a DIRECTION of righteousness resulting from a born again believer fighting the remnant of sin that remains in his mortal body:
1John 3:7 – Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
The righteous believer has a mind that serves the law, but is hindered by the remnant of sin left in mortality:
Romans 7:25 – Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Note “I myself,” and “you, yourselves” in the following citation:
Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
Where perfection is commanded in the Bible, the goal is being referenced, not a standard for remaining justified that has to be perpetually implemented through re-salvation. Calvinism denies that we are presently righteous, and therefore denies the biblical new birth. Jesus said we “must be born again.” To redefine the new birth is to posit another gospel. Calvinism keeps Christians under the law and propagates a gospel of perpetual re-salvation to maintain a satisfaction to the law culminating in a judgment to determine if we did so satisfactory. Therefore, assurance of salvation is on shaky ground. It also circumvents our ability to love the Lord by keeping His commandments because the standard is perfection.
It all starts with an unbiblical definition of righteousness, and results in a completely corrupted gospel.
“If you haven’t received ‘proper training’ don’t try to counsel; you will do more harm than good.” Really? And many laymen buy it: “I don’t try to counsel people; if I told them the wrong thing I could do more harm than good.” How? Have you looked around at the mess called American Christianity in this country? After more than thirty years of an unprecedented biblical counseling movement spearheaded by David Powlison’s “research and development” center at Westminster Seminary, the American church has never been more unimpressive and disrespected. It’s so bad that there are at least three organizations that try to broker reconciliation in order to keep churches out of civil and criminal courts, and it is my understanding that business is booming. The country is saturated with “trained” biblical counselors and training centers, albeit mostly in upper income areas—to the tune of just under 100% according to our research. NANC and CCEF counselors are virtually nonexistent in lower income areas.
Moreover, NANC and CCEF (these two organizations comprise 90% of contemporary biblical counseling) are predicated on progressive justification. This is a gospel that posits the idea that people don’t change. In 1970, the father of the biblical counseling movement, Dr. Jay E. Adams, founded the movement on the idea that Christians can change and are competent to counsel each other. Though the results where dramatic, heretic David Powlison hijacked the movement with Westminster’s version of progressive justification, Sonship Theology. It is perplexing to me that many counselors who saw the results of Adams’ revival now refer to the movement in its present form as a “second generation” biblical counseling that is more “mature.” But where are the results? We now “need” Peacemaker Ministries and G.R.AC.E more than ever.
An example of that is Powlison comrade Pastor Mark Driscoll who claims to see visions regarding those that he counsels. Trust me, we can do better. And the time is ripe because we cannot possibly do worse. Granted, not all are inept, but where ineptness lacks, cowardliness and cronyism fills the void. Said another way; for the most part, they are either heretics or cowards. While the cowards don’t hold to the false gospel of progressive justification, they stand by silent as thousands of people are referred to these counselors daily. Plainly, the gospel really doesn’t matter. Plainly, they lack a deep love for the truth. While they sell their souls to the god of peer acceptance, they preach to others about not having idols in their heart.
Since the Scriptures teach that the average parishioner is competent to counsel, and the clergy have had their chance and completely blown it, the laity needs to get back to “encouraging one another unto good works.” Let’s start there. We are able. Here is what the apostle Paul said about our ability to counsel one another:
Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
In contrast, the spiritual brain trust of our day teach that we are still totally depraved, and for some reason, people are perplexed that the totally depraved are acting like they are totally depraved. This has been pounded in the heads of American Christians for almost forty years now. The present-day biblical counseling movement is completely indifferent to this reality because, “It’s not about us being better, it’s about what Jesus has done—not anything we do.” Contrary to this, Paul stated that we are “full of goodness” and able to instruct on one another. It’s all there, when you were saved, you didn’t get a portion of the Holy Spirit—you got all of Him. You have His mind. You have His wisdom. You have His love. You have His goodness. You must appropriate it. That’s our role: learn and apply.
1. You are able.
2. You must learn and apply.
You must trust God’s word as being sufficient. You must never waver from that:
Psalm 1:1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
We have two kinds of counsel here and the results. Where is the third option? Where is the pure milk cut with something as good as Scripture? (1Peter 2:2). Where is the alternative foundation in Matthew 7:24-27? Why is the word “alone” in Matthew 4:4? What great counselor of the day did Jesus cite apart from Scripture? If you have resolute confidence in the word of God—you can help people.
4. You won’t have all of the answers readily available in the beginning. It’s a process. You will lay the foundation, and then work together in the new way. This is discipleship. This is a vessel for building deep friendships. Here is what James stated in regard to this:
James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
There can be no thought that there is another way other than God’s word. This is double mindedness. This is hedging your bets. As you pray together, there must be confidence that God shows the way, and that it is the only acceptable way. No answer to prayer for wisdom in the situation should be expected without complete confidence in God’s word. All the other ways are instability in “all his [different] ways.” There are not alternate paths to God’s way.
5. You must know that the trial will end:
James 4:4 – And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…. 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
6. You must know that your friend will benefit from the trial, or be separated from the faith. Here is where formal counseling is a great evil in our day. An appointment is made with the uppity pastor’s “counseling secretary.” Your session will be an hour, and then you are sent home till next week’s appointment. Few in the congregation, if any, will be involved in the situation. They aren’t “experts.” They aren’t “trained.” But by and large, the “experts” don’t really take God’s word seriously.
Any Christian who is in a trial is in grave danger of being separated from the faith. While God wants to use the trial to mature you (James 1:3 – for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness), the kingdom of darkness wants to use it to separate you from the faith: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). This doesn’t mean we can lose our salvation, but it means that we could end up on a path with an uncertain eternal future:
2Peter 1:9 – For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Our goal is a rich entry, not one shrouded with doubt and fear concerning an uncertain eternity. This will cripple us in our faith. Before Peter’s trial of denying Christ after He was taken into custody, Christ told him that Satan had sought permission from God to separate Peter from the faith (a Job-like event). Trials will either make you a stronger Christian, or separate you from the faith. The words “trial” and “temptation” are therefore used interchangeably in the Scriptures. Hence, one should not be confused by what James stated in context:
James 1:13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
7. You must know that your friend will desire to get out of the trial quickly, and even though God’s wisdom often ends a trial quickly, and circumvents some trials altogether, the world’s way of ending a trial will be crouching at the door:
“…. let steadfastness have its full effect” (James 1:4).
You must stand with your friend against the world’s shortcuts in the midst. Why does it take an expert to understand these things? The last thing a Christian in trial needs is a professional motif with an uppity secretary, a bunch of formal paperwork, and contemporary décor. They need real friends full of goodness. They need real friends who know what’s at stake. This is where true discipleship is set on fire. This is where the rubber of love meets the road.
8. You must not be surprised at the trial type. Christians can find themselves in any kind of trial:
“….when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2).
1Peter 4:12 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
9. You must not doubt God. The most astounding trials must not be allowed to shake our confidence in God’s purposes and trust in His wisdom to resolve the trial. We must consider doubt an affront to God’s power, promises, and purposes. We must not have a form of godliness while denying the power thereof.
10. You must joyfully anticipate the deepening of relationship between all involved and God:
“….Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (Ibid).
Go. Go to your friend. Work together with them in encouragement. Discuss what you know, and pray together for wisdom in the rest. Wait on God together. Obey together. Cry together. Trust together, and defend God’s sufficiency together. Study the word together. Make a friendship deeper, and look forward to the day when you can comfort others with the comfort you have been comforted by. These are deep waters. This is where Christ comes in power. This is no place for outsiders.
This is no place for bloviated academics propagating a false gospel.
“This is because Western culture has never adequately exposed Reformed theology for what it really is. As long as Protestantism clings to the Reformation myth, it will never completely break free from its bondage to anemic sanctification.”
“If Burleson wants to be an advocate for the spiritually abused he should denounce his Reformed gospel of spiritual tyranny. While he may help some people heal from abuse, he will go back to his pulpit and produce twice as many abusers.”
Last night at our evening Bible study we discussed election. Not election for justification (salvation), but election in sanctification (our Christian life). This is the Reformed idea that God sovereignly elects all of our good works in our Christian life in the same way that he elects some to be saved and passes over others. This leaves them to the choice that is inevitable if God doesn’t intervene; man will never choose God on his own. In the same way concerning sanctification, man is still totally depraved, and unless God intervenes will only do works that are filthy rags before God. In salvation, God only changes man’s position, not his nature. Therefore, in sanctification, God imputes His own good works to our life via intervention and leaves us to our own total depravity in the rest. Choice in justification; works in sanctification; God completely sovereign in both.
Though the application of this is somewhat complex, it boils down to the Reformation’s definition of double imputation: Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us positionally by His death, and the perfect obedience He demonstrated in His life is imputed to our sanctification as a way to keep our justification intact until glorification. Hence, to not believe in sanctified sovereignly elected works in our Christian life is paramount to works salvation. “The same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us.” Sanctification must be a continual revisiting of salvation by faith alone in order to maintain our justification. This is the very heart of Calvinism. Yes, we do something in sanctification: we continually revisit our need for the gospel, and as we do that, the works of Christ are imputed to us by faith alone in sanctification. This is the theses of the Reformation’s magnum opus, Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order, and articulated by John Calvin in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. This opposes Biblicism which sees double imputation as our sins imputed to Christ and God’s righteousness imputed to us and sanctification being an entirely different consideration.
We discussed how this authentic doctrine of the Reformation has wreaked havoc on the church. When God is seen as completely sovereign in sanctification, ideological conclusions are then drawn from what actually happens in real life. Rape is God’s will, and the perpetrator is seen as one who is acting out expected behavior where God has not intervened. “But for the grace of God, there go I.” We have all said it. No? All of grace in salvation—all of grace in sanctification. The only difference between you and a rapist is grace; therefore, who are you to judge? Even if you are the victim. Luther and Calvin thought righteous indignation a joke, and Calvin called justice, “mere iniquity.” Luther’s theology of the cross deemed suffering as the most valuable asset of the Reformation’s inner-nihilist theology:
He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand (Heidelberg Disputation: Theses 24).
Note that this constant seeking after suffering and self-deprivation leads to being “raised up” in the Christian life. This constant seeking after death leads to joyful rebirths when Christ’s obedience is imputed to us. This is the basis of John Piper’s Christian Hedonism which also implements Theses 28 of the Disputation. As you can see, it’s what they call the new birth. The new birth is something that continually reoccurs in salvation when Christ’s obedience is imputed to us.
The indifference towards suffering that this theology breeds cannot be overstated. It is such that Calvin’s beseechment of the Geneva counsel to have a detractor beheaded rather than burned with green wood is a supposed act of compassion that is Reformed folklore. And be absolutely positive of this: the roots of authentic Calvinism are %99.99 responsible for the spiritual tyranny in the contemporary church—especially among New Calvinists.
This is why I have a problem with Pastor Wade Burleson being postured as a spiritual abuse advocate. I realize that he is a well-known pastor and therefore a valuable advocate for a cause, but promoting him as a defender of the spiritually abused separates logic from consequences. It encourages a hypothetical idea that because all Nazis didn’t execute Jews, Nazism doesn’t necessarily lead to the persecution of Jews. Right, not in all cases, but for every person Burleson helps his doctrine will produce twice the indifference and abuse in other people. Many members of the present-day Nazi party are seemingly quality people who could be utilized in good causes, but the possibility is remote because Western culture has been properly educated in regard to Nazi ideology. Such is not the case with Reformed theology. While a Nazi might make a good carpenter you would likely not hire one as an advocate for the Anti-Defamation League. There are Nazis who would do a fine job in that role but the ideology would do more harm than good in the long run.
We also discussed how authentic Calvinism dies a social death from time to time because of the tyranny that it produces and then experiences resurgence paved by the weak sanctification left in its wake. This is because Western culture has never adequately exposed Reformed theology for what it really is. As long as Protestantism clings to the Reformation myth, it will never completely break free from its bondage to anemic sanctification.
Burleson strongly endorses one of the core four individuals who helped found the present-day New Calvinist movement, Jon Zens:
One of my favorite theologians is Jon Zens. Jon edits the quarterly periodical called Searching Together, formerly known as the Baptist Reformation Review. Jon is thoroughly biblical, imminently concerned with the Scriptures …. The best $10.00 you will ever spend is the yearly subscription to Searching Together (http://www.wadeburleson.org/2010/09/searching-together-edited-by-jon-zens.html).
Zens, who has also been known as an advocate for the spiritually abused, was a key contributor to the Reformed think tank that launched present-day New Calvinism (The Australian Forum) of which some Burleson promoters refer to as the “Calvinistas.” It’s not meant as a compliment. But yet, Burleson’s theology is one and the same with them:
Those who have read Grace and Truth to You for any amount of time know that this author is persuaded the Bible teaches that the eternal rewards of Christians are those rewards–and only those rewards–which are earned by Christ. It is Christ’s obedience to the will and law of the Father that obtains for God’s adopted children our inheritance. It is Christ’s perfect obedience which brings to sinners the Father’s enduring favor and guarantees for us our position as co-heirs with Christ (http://www.wadeburleson.org/2011/11/therefore-knowing-terror-of-lord-we.html).
Those who have faith in Christ will never appear at any future judgment of God, or be rewarded for their good behavior. Our sins were judged at the cross, and the behavior for which we are rewarded is Christ’s behavior (Ibid).
Obviously, other than the previous points made, Burleson’s statement proclaiming Zens as “thoroughly biblical” and his outright rejection of 1COR 3:10-15 and 2COR 5:9-10 are troubling to say the least. Burleson also holds strongly to the exact same method of interpretation that makes elected works in sanctification possible among the “Calvinistas.” That would be the Bible as gospel meta narrative approach. It uses the Bible as a tool for gospel contemplationism which results in the works of Christ being imputed to our sanctification when we “make our story His story.” Luther got the concept from Pope Gregory the Great who believed that meditating on Christ’s works in the Scriptures endears us to Him romantically and thus inspires joyful obedience. It’s all the same rotten mysticism propagated today by John Piper and Francis Chan. It’s a mystical (actually Gnostic) approach to the Bible that makes elected works in sanctification possible.
As a cute way of propagating this nonsense, Burleson has named his para-church ministry “Istoria Ministries Blog.” His blog subheading noted that istoria is a Greek word that combines the idea of history and story:
Istoria is a Greek word that can be translated as both story and history. Istoria Ministries, led by Wade and Rachelle Burleson, helps people experience the life transforming power of Jesus Christ so that their story may become part of His story.
This ministry called him out on the fact that the word istoria does not appear anywhere in the Scriptures which led him to change the subheading a couple of days later. He then changed the subheading to a citation (GAL 1:18) that is the only place in the Bible where the word appears. Only thing is, even then, it’s not “istoria,” it’s “historeo”:
g2477. ιστορεω historeo; from a derivative of 1492; to be knowing (learned), i. e. (by implication) to visit for information (interview):— see.
This citation has nothing to do with his original point of naming his ministry as such. It’s simply the only reference he could find that proves that the word is in the Bible. Kinda, as I said, even then the word is not “istoria.” Istoria is a more contemporary Greek word that in fact can be used as “history” or “story.” But the earliest use of the word seems to be circa 1300, and is most prevalent in referring to the “story paintings” of medieval times. It’s just a lame, almost adolescent attempt to argue for this approach to the Bible.
If Burleson wants to be an advocate for the spiritually abused he should denounce his Reformed gospel of spiritual tyranny. While he may help some people heal from abuse, he will go back to his pulpit and produce twice as many abusers.
“But our ongoing Potter’s House studies in the book of Romans reveals something else even more incredulous: The song is a self-described depiction, according to the apostle Paul, of the unregenerate response to the law.”
One of the more popular songs in our New Calvinist nation is “More Like Falling in Love” by antinomian heartthrob Jason Gray. Like all anti-law proponents of our day, he has been allowed to own the dialogue which usually results in winning the argument. In his own bio about the song, he states the following:
Is it weird to anyone else that we’ve made salvation a matter of who has the best information?
Notice how Gray trades the word “truth” for “information.” Switch the words in his sentence, reread, and he is exposed for the wretch that he is. When heretics are allowed to own the dialogue, they can write their own metaphysics. Here are the lyrics to the song:
“More Like Falling In Love”
Give me rules
I will break them
Show me lines
I will cross them
I need more than
A truth to believe
I need a truth that lives
Moves and breathes
To sweep me off my feet, it’s gotta be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It’s like I’m falling, oh
It’s like I’m falling in love
Give me words
I’ll misuse them
I’ll misplace them
‘Cause all religion
Ever made of me
Was just a sinner
With a stone tied to my feet
It never set me free, it’s gotta be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It’s like I’m falling, oh
It’s like I’m falling in
Love, love, love
Deeper and deeper, it was
Love that made me a believer
In more than a name
A faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought
The change in me
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It’s like I’m falling, oh
It’s like I’m falling
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It’s like I’m falling, oh
It’s like I’m falling in love
It’s like I’m falling
(Falling in love)
It’s like I’m falling
Much could be contested here once you get past the initial shock of the song’s brazen ant-truth stance, especially the idea that love-feelings verify authentic truth. But our ongoing Potter’s House studies in the book of Romans reveals something else even more incredulous: The song is a self-described depiction, according to the apostle Paul, of the unregenerate response to the law. In the song, Gray posits the idea that the law merely provokes sin. For the lost person that’s true:
Romans 4:15 – For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
Romans 7:7 – What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
Notice Paul is speaking in the past tense. Before he was saved, the sin that he was enslaved to utilized the law to provoke sinful reactions. And like Jason Gray states in his song,
Give me rules
I will break them
Show me lines
I will cross them….
Give me words
I’ll misuse them [right, like switching “truth” with “information”]
I’ll misplace them
Throughout Romans, Paul describes this state as being “under the law” as opposed to being “under grace”:
Romans 6:14 – For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
You are either “under law” or “under grace.” When you are under law, sin has “dominion over you,” κυριευω (kyrieuo) has both the idea of lordship and control. Paul further explains in Romans 8:7-9:
7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
Again, exactly as Gray proudly boasts:
Give me rules
I will break them
Show me lines
I will cross them….
Give me words
I’ll misuse them
I’ll misplace them
However, when one is “under grace,” their minds are enslaved to the law:
Romans 7:25 – Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
The word for “serve” is “δουλευω (douleuo), a verb form of doulos which is a bond slave. Hence, as believers, our minds are enslaved to the law though we don’t keep it perfectly. Nevertheless, the law is now inclined to incite us to obedience rather than disobedience. Paul states it this way in Romans 8:3-4:
3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
Furthermore, when we don’t seek to love God by learning and doing, we become ignorant in regard to the law and the likes of Jason Gray can propagate this New Calvinist antinomianism unfettered. And again, the dialogue is not challenged as well. Paul stated,
Romans 6:17 – But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
But Jason Gray states:
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
“Allegiance”? Paul called it a commitment to a “standard of teaching.” We are now slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification (ROM 6:18-19).
That’s New Calvinism: singing praises to Jesus as they draw nearer and nearer to a day of reckoning where they will give an account for their false gospel.
Nobody wants to be humiliated publically in a Sunday morning church service in front of hundreds of people. Especially if it is a church where you have been a member for several years, and in many cases, the center of where the majority of your closest friends gather on a regular basis. Not to mention strangers who may be there visiting. Your employer may be a member there, and family members who still trust the leadership may be members there as well.
This is why you are staying put in a church you want to leave. After you informed the elders that you were leaving they placed you under “redemptive church discipline.” This is in-house counseling that deals with “longstanding patterns of sin.” What patterns of sin? Anything that the elders think is such—that’s what. You may have also done something very stupid: entered into formal counseling at said church and revealed intimate details about yourself. Ouch, that is now information that could become public during your excommunication day.
You are now officially a hostage. If you leave you will be excommunicated and humiliated publicly. You are probably in this position because you know something about the leadership that is damaging or you have challenged them doctrinally. You are also not one who is usually excluded from this process: those with power, influence, and money. Your resources are limited. You are in a very bad spot. Walking away could cost you your job, all the friends that you have, and at least some of your family. You are not alone. I contend that thousands of Christians are being held hostage at New Calvinist churches in this way. They are playing along until an opportunity provides itself for a way out. If it ever does.
Let me continue to emphasize that Christians need to wise up and prevent themselves from getting into these situations. If you are the type that is willing to look the other way on everything don’t worry about it, but if you have an inclination to care about the truth, you need to be discerning. Because you are on your own and other churches will not stand with you (if any do, it would be a first), don’t join any church. It’s not necessary. You can be faithful to an assembly and not be a member. If they won’t let you serve in certain areas because you are not a member, so be it. The Scriptures are (I think deliberately) ambiguous regarding formal church membership. Even though many New Calvinist churches think they have authority over you whether you are a member or not—not being a formal member affords some protection. Actually, a lot of protection. In our day, don’t join any church formally—just don’t do it.
And if you do, for crying out loud, do not sign a church covenant. I am going to say this as lovingly as I can: in our day, if you sign a church covenant you are just plain stupid. I love you, but you are stupid. Not only that, in most New Calvinist churches, you are not allowed to leave membership for “unbiblical reasons.” And I will give you three wild guesses as to who determines what is “unbiblical.” If you are a member of a New Calvinist church “in good standing” (i.e., you don’t ask questions) and want to leave for doctrinal reasons, do so carefully. This ministry has, and continues to counsel people who want to leave these churches with as little drama as possible and it’s not easy. If you are in a church that strongly emphasizes formal membership—flee and don’t look back.
Back to those who find themselves in the belly of the beast. You have bitten off the whole enchilada. You are a member. You signed a church covenant. Much of your life is invested in the church. They have counseling records on you, etc.
First, don’t attempt to plead your case biblically; you’re wasting your time, these people play by their own rules. I should repeat that: don’t attempt to plead your case biblically; you’re wasting your time, these people play by their own rules. Do keep detailed records. Communicate as much as you can by email and ask lots of questions. Tape-record all meetings (check laws in your state) and ask lots of questions. Here’s why: In most states what they are doing is a criminal act. In most states it is against the law to control somebody’s free will of moral actions with threats of reputation loss or financial loss. In the milieu of the mess, get them on record saying they will do this if you do that. Get them on record saying that you are not free to take your family and leave. Get their response on record regarding your concerns that you will lose your job, your family, your reputation, etc. Get them on record stating that they have the authority to void your salvation. Here is how the law reads in Ohio:
(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;
While gathering information, if at all possible, obtain an attorney that will work with you in the situation and contact the elders of said church when you leave post preference. Advise the church that you will be present with your attorney during the excommunication. In most cases the elders will back off and allow you to leave with your family quietly. I have seen this work quite well in lesser degrees of application.
If you can’t afford an attorney, gather good information that violates the coercion laws in your state and then contact the local police. If the church follows through with the excommunication, file criminal charges against the elders.
For further questions regarding this issue, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pirate Christian Radio:
Yes, the gospel that SBC dimwits think they can colabor with denies the new birth in no uncertain terms. This isn’t rocket science: if the gospel that is good for the goose is also good for the gander; this assumes that no change takes place inside of the believer. And in case you haven’t read the papers lately that’s exactly what Christians are acting like.”
I think I have taken my last trip to SBC Today .com and SBC Voices .com. I have been referred over there a number of times to observe truth tone deafness on steroids. A heretic is running our flagship seminary, but the big news is that Tim Tebow cancelled his speaking engagement at FBCD. The big hero this time in the ongoing drama of SBC folklore (in our own pitiful minds) is Dr. Jeffress, who like all other SBC notables has never called out another leader for the same scandalous filth that is going on in most denominations. He will call out homosexuals, but the rape cover-ups in the SBC are a taboo subject. We call out the sins of the world, but to call out our own sin is “gossip.” All of these guys just really make me want to puke. Because they are sorry excuses for leadership—we are a joke in the eyes of the world and rightfully so.
Other articles posit the supposed strength of Calvinists and non-Calvinists working together in the SBC. So, the likes of David Platt will gladly play along while believing that synergistic sanctification is a false gospel and works salvation. This is a simple thing, Jerry Vines needs to call Al Mohler on the phone and ask him if synergistic sanctification is works salvation. I think the answer would surprise him if Mohler has a rare moment of truth telling. Of course, if Vines decides to do something about it, he then has to explain how he missed this all along and focused on symptoms rather than the issue of Calvin’s false gospel. I have been a lay pastor since 1986, and I missed it. Why? Because I was clueless, that’s why. More studied than a lot of Christians, I had a very poor understanding of justification, sanctification, and covenants, and still have a lot to learn. What’s so hard about that? Just admit it! What’s the big deal?
All of this conversation in the SBC about getting along with Calvinists could just as well include the Jehovah Witnesses or the Moonies. There is no difference; a false gospel is a false gospel and a cult is a cult. Calvinism was the epitome of a cult in Calvin’s Geneva and still is. You could slip a playing card in-between Calvin’s Geneva and Jonestown save the fact that Jonestown wanted to go out with a bang. But more to the point let’s talk about Calvin’s false gospel—the gospel that SBC yesomites say we should work together with.
In today’s church words don’t mean things because if they did we would have to do something about it. And we are mostly business as usual loving spiritual slugs. That’s what we need more than anything in the church today: leaders who take words seriously and will act accordingly. They will be easy to spot. When the sun is out during the day they will be walking around rather than sunning themselves on flat rocks like the majority. So, let’s talk about words.
“We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” Really? Does this raise any red flags? No. It is so, so indicative of how mindless Christians are in our day. “Wow, that sounds pretty cool. More fish anybody?” Come now, let’s be honest; do we really believe that we have been appointed stewards of God’s life-giving word? Is that how we function? A name that has come up in this ministry a lot this week is Miles McKee. He states a lot of things on his Facebook page that brings hearty kudos from many because their eyes immediately gravitate to the word, “gospel” in the sentence. “Oh there it is! The word gospel! Amen brother!” But let’s look at his statements more closely. Here is the subline of his Facebook page:
Preaching Christ crucified to the saved and lost alike. The goal is to pack this web site with rich gospel goodies.
Yes, and that is exactly what Christian children in adult bodies seek in our day, “rich gospel goodies.” Yum, yum, yum. We can’t take the word of God and help people in real trouble; we are too busy feeding on our gospel goodies. Note the picture below—that’s us. It is also how the world sees us, and rightfully so.
But note that we are supposed to be preaching Christ crucified to Christians. This doesn’t raise any red flags. Note that the same message preached to unbelievers is also fundamental to the message Christians still need to hear daily. Still no red flags. Particularly alarming should be the idea that Christ’s crucifixion is perpetual in the Christian life. That’s what Calvin believed. He believed the atonement is perpetual. He believed Christ’s death is continually reapplied to the Christian’s life by faith alone until we reach heaven. We are then judged according to whether or not we continually appropriated Christ’s death in our life by faith alone until that day. It’s keeping our salvation by staying at the foot of the cross. We are saved by faith alone, and at any given time that we are not living our Christian life by faith alone we lose our salvation (or they say we were not really saved to begin with). That’s why we preach the same gospel to the saved as well as the unsaved.
It would therefore seem that the new birth would have to be redefined, and you would be right about that. This doctrine necessitates the denial of the new birth. Hence, McKee also states the following:
Contrary to much of today’s evangelical preaching, we must state that the message of New Birth is not the gospel.
Regardless of the fact that Christ’s own gospel presentation to Nicodemus was, “You must be born again,” this doesn’t raise any red flags either. The mindlessness truly boggles the imagination. Graeme Goldsworthy, the foremost hermeneutical authority recognized by Calvinists in our day footnoted (with full agreement) an article written by Anglican Geoffrey Paxton entitled, “The False Gospel of the New Birth.” Yes, the gospel that SBC dimwits think they can colabor with denies the new birth in no uncertain terms. This isn’t rocket science: if the gospel that is good for the goose is also good for the gander; this assumes that no change takes place inside of the believer. And in case you haven’t read the papers lately that’s exactly what Christians are acting like.
Moreover, Calvinists think the evangelical new birth gospel is works salvation: “It would be better to die a heathen than to live a religious life and die without Christ” (McKee). And trust me, synergistic sanctification is the “religious life” being spoken of here.
The Calvinist gospel, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us, is a perfect storm of deception that perfectly facilitates the confounding of salvific terms—I get that. But yet, I see a prevailing arrogance among Christians that since we are so smart, deception will always be evident to us. We are so good at doing Christianity we don’t need practice or diligent study. Our claim that faith is pure and simple is a cloak of arrogance that covers for our bankrupt spirituality and the brunt of jokes among the heathen. If there is a God, where is His representation upon the earth? “Well, we don’t attempt to be the gospel with our own works, we only preach the gospel.” And to that the heathen say,
I will take this opportunity to wish Julie Anne Smith a happy anniversary. I received an email stating that she opened her blogshop one year ago today. She sent me a tweet from The Gospel According to Calvin blog (TGC). As Charles Surgeon said,
There is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.
Wow. Really? Progressive justification is the gospel? Don’t think so. Otherwise known as The Gospel Coalition, the tweet promoted a new book. Books written by New Calvinists are the neo-orthodoxy of the day. And there are people in the world who insist that Hitler was really a good guy. They are called Neo-Nazis. Today, we have Neo-Calvinists. It’s really time for the laity to fish or cut bait; how much longer are we going to continue to allow the philosopher kings to treat us like idiots? After reading the link that Julie sent me, it begs the question: How stupid do these guys think we are?
For some time they have been trying to rewrite Reformed history. That’s what the Resolved conferences were all about. And now there is a new book out attempting to cover Calvin’s bloody tracks leading from the Geneva theocracy. TGC is promoting the work via a review by heretic Michael Horton who like Tim Keller, constantly gets a pass on promoting naked mysticism.
Calvin believed the Reformers were given a mandate by God to rule the world; hence, the out-of-control tyranny in the American church. I will keep saying it: I lay the present-day spiritual abuse tsunami at the feet of Calvinism. The arrogance that follows their delusional vision is seen in how stupid they think the average parishioner is, and Horton’s review is a typical example. He states the following in the review:
Manetsch sets the context by noting the early reformation of the Genevan church reduced the city’s clerics (including monks and nuns) from 500 to 15, turning the convent and two monasteries into a public hospital and school. He observes the Ecclesiastical Ordinances, drafted by Calvin in 1541, established a rotation of ministers in all the churches to avoid the impression the ministers were preachers, not pastors…. Few historical figures have suffered more in terms of rumors passing for fact. It’s long been observed by specialists (Roman Catholic as well as Protestant) that Calvin was far from the Ayatollah one typically finds in the paragraph devoted to him in high school textbooks. Manetsch dispels these rumors with close attention to primary sources.
Does Horton really think that we are not going to consult the Googleberg press on this? Literally fifteen seconds later, here is what I was reading from Calvin’s Ecclesiastical Ordinances written for Geneva:
Here follows the third order, or elders
Their duty is to supervise every person’s conduct. In friendly fashion they should warn backsliders and those of disorderly life. After that, where necessary, they should report to the Company [of pastors] who will arrange for fraternal correction…As our Church is now arranged, it would be most suitable to have two elected from the ‘council of 24′, four from the ‘council of 60,’ and six from the ‘council of 200′. They should be men of good repute and conduct…They should be chosen from each quarter of the city so that they can keep an eye on the whole of it.
And let there be no doubt about it: this is the vision that the New Calvinists have for the American church. As Southern Baptists, we call it, “aggressive Calvinism.”
I just call it Calvinism. Shorter, more to the point, and truer.
My little exchange with pastor Tom Chantry here at PPT has prompted me to make a point that I have been thinking about for three years. I know my use of the “philosopher king” nomenclature is seen as satire, but it really isn’t These guys think they have authority over all of us. They really do. I could cite data galore, but I will instead mention the Calvinist pastor from Bellefontaine, Ohio who tried to place me under church discipline as a process possibly ending with me being declared an unbeliever. I have never talked to this guy in my life until he called me to….”I am trying to gain a brother here.” This is just fact: Reformed elders think heaven will honor their declarations and remove names from the book of life. Calvin and Luther believed elders have that kind of authority, and their offspring are all too eager to believe them. Though I don’t know for certain, I think my name has been removed from the book of life by Reformed elders on three occasions.
And like the Bellefontaine case, these guys think they interpret reality for us. I was instructed to repent of what I saw, because this philosopher king proclaimed that I really didn’t see it. This resulted in a visit to my home by three local pastors who pushed his agenda, albeit two of them didn’t really get what was going on. But the message was basically the same: I didn’t really see what I saw because they said so.
And worse, they think many take this idea seriously. And worse yet, I think they are right. These guys come to PPT and declare me unknowing, and that is the end of the discussion among their Kool-Aid drinking followers. When members of their church come to PPT and see that the philosopher king has passed judgment on me regardless of the facts—end of discussion. In spite of the damning data in regard to CJ Mahaney, a group of philosopher kings declared him fit for ministry—end of discussion. Hence, victims of his spiritual despotism can only watch as he enjoys rock star status among followers that Jim Jones would have died to have for himself. More correctly, some watch, others have dragged this sorry excuse for a pastor into court. American pastors have become so bloviated with this idea that secular courts are now the only recourse for Christians to expose unspeakable evil in the church. It is clear: church discipline is only for congregants and not elders. The pastorate refuses to rebuke renegade pastors publically as they are commanded to do by Scripture. Instead, they go a step further and cover for them.
I was once a fire system inspector for a private firm in Indiana. I was primarily assigned to homes for the mentally disabled. It was a very interesting job. It was a job that preached many sermons to me throughout the week. I remember that I was once grumbling to myself on the way to an inspection about my life in general. After I saw the residents of that home, I never grumbled about my imperfect circumstances again. That is a sermon that is fresh in my mind till this day. Then there was who I will call “Purity.” After a while I had my own names for the residents. These names reminded me of what God was teaching me through their lives. She was a sixteen-year-old that had the mind of someone around six-years-old. She was fascinated that I have a daughter that is a missionary in Puerto Rico. She followed me around as I was doing my work trying to find out everything she could about my daughter. Till this day, I wonder if there is a more sincere soul walking upon the earth. She was a sermon about the beauty of righteousness—a sermon I will never forget. Then there were the gatekeepers. They wheeled around and acted like they were asleep while the staff changed the codes on the entry/exit doors. They then enjoyed giving vendors and inspectors the codes so they didn’t have to mess around with all the red tape at the administration office. A wonderful service! And “Anna” who appeared to be merely mumbling in her bed, but closer observance revealed a person in constant prayer.
But my favorite was the king. He really thought he was a king. The staff also aided him in his endeavor to be a hard-working king. They bought him a crown and a cape. He would go from room to room with a legal pad and write new laws and then verbally proclaim them. Well, this was pretty cool. I got permission from the company to take him out to lunch. The plan was Burger King of course, but unfortunately, the opportunity never presented itself after I obtained permission.
I’m thankful for the king. He enables me to think lightly sometimes of the Calvinists who also really think they are kings. But they have no excuse and I don’t like them because unlike the king, they are abusive spiritual despots. He went from room to room proclaiming good laws that he thought would help people. He wasn’t really interested in controlling people. He wasn’t interested in power.
He is a good sermon for the Calvinists because if you are only a king in your own mind—at least be a good one.
The spiritual infomommas over at The Wartburg Watch blog propagate the idea that the internet is the modern-day Gutenberg press, and I agree 100%. During Medieval times when the concerns of people at large were totally disregarded by the elite few, the people had no knowledge and no voice. Civilization has a natural balance; those in power are greatly outnumbered by those who aren’t in power. Lack of knowledge and lack of communication has always been the strongest army against the masses. Armies help, but they do much better against other armies. Wars against the masses are hard to define and messy. History teaches us that wars against countries endowed with loyal citizens are almost impossible to win in the long run. That’s why nationalism is strongly emphasized if a leadership is smart.
The spiritual peasantry of our day has been denied a voice by the Protestant philosopher kings. Though emasculated by the Enlightenment era, Protestantism’s Geneva Light began brewing its malt liquor in 1970, and since then, an incomprehensible crying out for justice has fallen on deaf ears. In essence, Protestant ideology rejects the concept of victim, and where there are no victims justice is not necessary. John Calvin scoffed at the idea of justice, calling it “mere iniquity.” Protestant fruit has never fallen far from the Catholic tree.
Perhaps this idea has never been better articulated by Alex Grenier, a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed against him by tyrannical clerics, who are also his parents:
There is no denying that injustice does occur. We petitioned the church, we petitioned the government [their hands are often tied for many reasons; e.g., church/state issues]—still no justice in our situation. Freedom of speech is often the last resort for victims.
Be sure to finish this post by listening to Alex’s short, but profound video on this issue.
And freedom of information works, because in the final analysis, the producers make things tick. As a business associate once told me: “Nothing happens in American business until a salesman sells something.” And spiritual tyrants can’t put on the feed bag without the agreement of their producers. And when the producers are getting hammered with unbecoming news, tyrants begin to live from paycheck to paycheck. Can we say, “James MacDonald”?
The present-day gargantuan internet pushback against the philosopher kings follows forty-three years of silence by the clergy in the face of unspeakable violence against the laity. It is a huge contingent with a one-two punch: doctrinal discernment and behavioral whitepapers. The controversy among them that makes me smile is the following: doctrinal discernment bloggers accuse the spiritual abuse bloggers of focusing too much on behavior and not the doctrine that causes the behavior. On the other hand, spiritual abuse bloggers accuse the discernment bloggers of focusing on doctrine only with little regard for the pain and suffering caused by the behavior. I love it. Together, they have become a powerful force.
But this has now gone far beyond blogging. Blogging has put feet to warfare in the civil courts. And warfare in the civil courts is forcing secular law enforcement to get involved. When victims cannot get justice within the church, and they go to the media, the media will usually shy away from the story because they have to substantiate all of the facts themselves. But with a lawsuit, the facts are substantiated in court, and that makes for easy reporting. When the abuses become headline news, this also makes it easy for law enforcement, and they also avoid the they are persecuting the church accusation. There are now several of these lawsuits afoot. I think these lawsuits will lead to the demise of the New Calvinist movement which is due for a historical social death anyway.
The clergy has no one to blame but themselves for this mess. Clergy doesn’t confront clergy. Very well, eventually, the laity will rise up and do the confronting. This is the way it has always been. It is the natural bent of reality.