Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Blog for TANC Ministries

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 19, 2016

Woe Unto You!

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 15, 2017

The Assumption of Church Authority

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 15, 2017

Originally published August 15, 2016

The word “assumption” can have at least two meanings. It can mean to take on or take over for oneself as a responsibility. It can also refer to a starting point of an argument; a premise from which a logical conclusion is drawn. In the case of “church authority”, both definitions are applicable.

Protestants must be aware of the assumption, the beginning premise, held by the “church leadership”, the logical conclusions of which produce the resulting behavior observed by so many who come to this ministry seeking answers. Those in so-called “church leadership” have an assumption (self-appointed) of authority based on a faulty assumption (premise).

As a result there are some questions that must be asked:

  1. Is it reasonable to assume that elders and pastors, being fallible men (because after all doesn’t “total depravity” apply to them as well?), could ever possibly be in error regarding doctrine and Biblical interpretation?
  2. If the answer is yes, then what mechanism is there in place, either from Scripture itself or a “church’s” own documented governing principles, to be able to determine if the leadership is in error, thereby making their claim to authority void?
  3. Maybe the same question only stated another way, if a discerning church member were honestly persuaded by his own personal study and illumination of the Holy Spirit that a pastor or elder was in error and promoting false doctrine, and the elder/pastor refuses to hear him, what recourse does that church member have (aside from leaving the church)? (The assumption here being that the member loves his church so much that he is concerned for the spiritual well-being of the church in general and the pastor, elders, and the rest of the laity in particular).
  4. If, on the off chance that an elder or pastor ever conceded the fact that the possibility exists that he himself could be in error concerning doctrine or Biblical interpretation, how would he know that? How would an elder or pastor know if he was wrong? (Of course that begs the question, would he ever admit to it?)

degreeThe answers to these questions should be obvious because this is the assumption: the leadership is assumed to never be wrong because they are the authority! The basis for their self-appointed authority is rooted in the simple notion that they know something that you and I don’t know – the knowledge that man cannot know real truth.  If you ever make the “mistake” of presuming that you know something, that only reinforces the reality of your own depravity and disqualifies you from taking action for good.  It is what testifies to your need for their authority to compel you to good action (“good” as defined by them of course).  Their basis for authority IS authority.

This of course is a logical fallacy. Nevertheless, an elder or pastor will ALWAYS defer to some other authority. His answers regarding doctrine and interpretation are never going to be based on sound reason from his own personal study. He will always make an appeal to the authority that instructed him (i.e. seminary, et al).

The only real difference between you or me and the elder/pastor is the amount of money spent on certification training. The man standing behind the pulpit paid good money for nothing more than a piece of paper that tells him that he knows that man cannot know.  But the Bible clearly states that all authority rests with Christ. The elder/pastor gets his authority from a framed document hanging on a wall in his office.

Whenever the basis for truth is an appeal to authority, there is no need for persuasion or reasoned debate. Only force and coercion.

~ Andy

New Finding: Truth the Root Cause of the Isolation Plague

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 14, 2017

Originally published August 20, 2012

Unfortunately, the Noah thing isn’t just a bedtime story; it really happened. Noah was a victim of the Isolation Plague. He was a righteous man upon the Earth, and if any of his family members had spiritual elevators that went near the top floor, the Holy Spirit makes little mention of it.

We now join the Noah family as they sit down for dinner before the deluge event:

Son: “Mr. Grumpbucket  will be in as soon as he finishes fitting the last piece of gopher board on the lower deck. He said we could start without him.”

Other son: “Oh, I’m surprised he found a board that was good enough!”

Daughter-in-law in a sarcastic tone: “Would starting without him be theologically correct?”

Mrs. Noah: “Ask him during the family devotions tonight; surely, as the only righteous man on earth, he would know!”

Whole family: “LOL!”

Truth. It’s such a troublemaker that nobody wants to be its friend. Yet, for some reason, It has such a good reputation that people will readily claim to be its friend, but actually hanging out with Truth is way, way too hard. Everybody “loves” Truth, but if you invite it to any kind of party, everything will be ruined. And it always ruins your credibility with others and wreaks havoc on your life. Examples:

Hi, my name is Noah, I’m the only righteous man on Earth. Ya, that one will endear you to a bunch of folks.

Hi, my name is Mary, I’m pregnant, but have never been with a man. Suuuuure  Mary, whatever you say.

Hi, my name is Jesus, I’m God.  That went over in Judea like a lead balloon.

Hi, my name is the Apostle Paul, “have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Uh, Paul, ya think?

Remember Rodney King’s famous question? “Can’t we all just get along?” NO, not with Truth being around. So, the best thing to do is invite Truth to the party because of his wonderful reputation (“Look, Truth is here, this clearly demonstrates who we are because Truth is willing to fellowship with us”), and proceed to totally ignore him. Engaging Truth in any kind of conversation will ruin everything. Hanging around with Truth leads to being isolated. It’s kind of like a sports team mascot. It symbolizes a desired strength of the team, but if you bring an alligator, bear, leopard, or bird to the party you would most certainly cage it or put it on a leash. “Hey, relationships are important, but you have to set boundaries.” Amen. And not setting boundaries on Truth can wreak havoc on our comfort zone via the Isolation Plague.

Church is just one big party today, and the party is hot. I mean, smokin’! We have the coffee shop in the lobby, the hip décor, hip teachers, hip people, big screen TV, hip music, and a bookstore full of glossy writings from spiritual giants who seem to be in abundance. In our area, mega-churches with awe inspiring buildings and multimedia production are everywhere. And when stinking Truth shows up, and starts running his big mouth, the party might have to be stopped in order to think about something. God forbid!

You hear Truth’s latest complaint?  The vast majority of churches in our day have bought into progressive justification. It denies the new birth, and has Gnosticism for its application. And by the way, it’s the exact same thing that the Reformers believed. So what? Well, other than the fact that it is a false gospel, it teaches that we have no righteousness of our own for sanctification, and that Christ’s righteousness is an alien righteousness that remains completely outside of us.

So what? Well, the so what? is the fact that at some point, this doctrine will ruin your marriage, and basically ruin the lives of your children. You do the math—what eventually happens when people buy into the idea that they have NO righteousness in themselves? And per the contention that I received at a Baptist church that Susan and I visited this morning (which is going through a classic New Calvinist takeover):

“Are you saying that as Christians we still don’t need grace, and that the gospel is not the power of our sanctification?”  ‘That’s exactly what I am saying. The gospel is not the source of our sanctification—regeneration is. You are teaching progressive justification.’ “No, we are not.” ‘Excuse me, how is The same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us not progressive justification? Not to mention the whole We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day. It is clearly progressive justification.’”

There is only one place you can go with this doctrine; Gnosticism, and hence, the morning worship service message was full of it. For someone like me who has studied Gnosticism, it wasn’t even ambiguous. And here is the crux: the idea that we have no righteousness that is ours will always, and has always, led to spiritual abuse and cultish groups. This present-day party, complete with all of the aforementioned party favors, is the New Calvinist movement. The present zenith it enjoys has a contemporary birth of 1970. Truth, the big mouth, has been asking (as usual) a very troubling question of late: “Where has this gospel been all of our lives.” Here is the answer to Truth’s interpretive question: because of its underlying presupposition of all righteousness being completely outside of us, the ensuing cultism causes the movement to die a social death. When it makes a comeback because of its strong initial appeal, the presupposition eventually yields the deadly results all over again. However, the movement has a lot of staying power because of  the following Gnostic tenet: This is the way to “the good,” and the good we experience has been predetermined by the spirit realm. Therefore, practical results cannot pass judgment on the process.

In now what is yesterday, as I resume my work on this article, the guy preaching in the morning service said as much. He strongly insinuated that “worldly wisdom” was a pragmatic endeavor that seeks positive results for selfish reasons. Instead, Christians should seek spiritual wisdom through praise and worship and trust God’s preordained results for whatever they are. Conspicuously missing in the sermon were elements that connect “worldly wisdom” to spiritual wisdom such as, common sense, and the works of the law written on the hearts of every person born into the world. The criteria that separated the two realms in his message was clearly pragmatism verses praise and worship, and he cited James to proof text. However, James’ criteria that separates worldly wisdom from spiritual wisdom is not pragmatism verses trusting preordained results of praise and worship, but rather disobedience to God’s full philosophical statement pertaining to life and godliness contained in the Scriptures. Hear me well, this is the very core of Gnosticism: a strict dualism between the spiritual and the material with the purest form of good connecting directly with the spiritual (in this case, through praise and worship).

And it answers the questions as to why these churches are experiencing the growth that they are:

  1.  It’s easy and fun. Come to the party, enjoy the hip music and fun people. Have your senses stimulated by the high dollar multimedia production, and Jesus will do the rest.

  2. Bring people here because the power of the gospel is in people seeing God glorified/praised corporately. Then the pastor will share a gospel story about Jesus that will further His fame. Then, we keep doing the gospel until God fully redeems the Earth and us. It is just a big party till he returns.

  3. CONTROL. Once they get them there, control kicks in. For anybody who is on top of this issue, yesterday’s morning message at said church was the epitome of brainwashing for the purpose of controlling people.  This is not rocket science—if we have no goodness within ourselves, we can’t trust our own judgment about anything. We must entrust ourselves to the philosopher kings.

Accordingly, this doctrine is everywhere. They have a formula that works, and works well. And frankly, I am beginning to feel pressure to join a church that is the least of the evil, and just bear up in regard to the rest. It puts me in a position, like many other husbands/fathers, where I have to tell my family that there is nothing out there. Most families don’t want to believe that or hear it which is understandable.  Truly, I cannot even imagine what it was like for Noah. Yet, this is exactly how Christ and the Apostles said it would be in the last days. Paul made it clear to Timothy that professing Christians would not “endure” or “tolerate” sound doctrine in the last days. Christ even said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man.” This simply does not match up with mega-churches being on every corner. And as far as just getting along and finding the lesser New Calvinist error and tolerating the rest—honorable, but trust me, it can cost you your family. I have a choice: choose isolation or expose my family to an environment where it is constantly drubbed into their minds that they have no righteousness or worth. This is poison to the soul.

This is the temptation, to relieve some of the isolation. Everyone is doing that also. Ministries that understand the issue and stand against it; nevertheless, relieve some of the isolation by fellowshipping and colaboring with New Calvinism Light.  But in the book that is God’s full philosophical statement on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics for “life and godliness,” and not simply a gospel narrative, we are told that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.” And there you have it; we wouldn’t know that truth for wisdom to be applied to life if the Bible is merely a gospel narrative. And this is the New Calvinist ziggurat—to separate us from the mind of Christ that we are to seek with all of OUR heart, mind and soul, and replace it with the New Calvinist temple of gospel contemplationism.  To refuse to do that is hard, and we will often be afflicted with the pain of isolation accordingly. So we set boundaries on our relationship with Truth:

“Hey Truth guy! I hear you are really hip—let’s hang. I want you to be my bro.” ‘Fine with me, but a lot of folks don’t think the way I do; therefore, I have no place to live, don’t know where the next paycheck is coming from, and the most powerful men in this country are conspiring to kill me.’ “Wooooooeeeeeee there bro-daddy! My relationships have boundaries—I can’t go for that.”

First, we are wired for fellowship; second, we don’t like to fight alone. Thirdly, standing for truth can, and often does, cause us to be misunderstood.  Fellowshipping with Truth while being its true friend, and not a fair-weather friend, is not for the weak hearted. But those who don’t believe that WE can do ALL things through Him who strengthens us on this wise flirt with a denial of the very Lord that bought us. Listen to what the Apostle Paul said on this wise:

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

In regard to your relationship with Truth,  how deep is your love? Note in Paul’s statement that salvation is part and parcel with truth; yet, a premium on truth in our day has never been lower while coinciding with massive mega-churches with 500,000 dollar budgets within every square mile of America.

In our efforts to not fight alone, fellowship alone, or just plain be alone, we feed the beast that will destroy our lives and deprive ourselves of “blessedness.” Or, we merely deprive ourselves of the full counsel of God that is so vital to our sanctification; ie., a narrow concept and reductionist gospel as opposed to the full philosophical statement of God for life and godliness. In yesterday’s aforementioned sermon, the pastor offered the beatitudes as a picture of those who gain spiritual wisdom through praise and worship:

  1. Humble: ie., you constantly endeavor to realize how worthless you are.

  2. Poor in spirit: ie., the way New Calvinist elders like their mutton; docile, and easy to manage.

  3. Peacemakers: ie., you don’t ask questions given to you by that troublemaker, Truth, who is not the same as Worship who always accepts God’s sovereign will while having fun to boot. And remember, sometimes it’s God’s will that the elders abuse people make mistakes.

In contrast, the beatitudes are plainly a picture of those who are battered because of their love for the truth, but are exhorted by God to know that this struggle is really the doorway to happiness regardless of how it looks or feels. The whole sermon was a bastardization of God’s truth from start to finish. And in my estimation, though that church’s hostile takeover is not fully consummated, it is already a New Calvinist cult. Per the usual, said teacher pontificated the idea that worship always leads to unity in contrast to biblical truth which plainly states that truth is what leads to unity. In fact, disunity in the Bible is always framed in context of error or false doctrine.  This is the biblical articulation of a “cult” or in biblical terminology, “sect, “ or “sectarian.” In the New Testament, the word is synonymous with “fractious.”  A “fractious man” in Scripture is one who causes divisions with false teaching. In the false prescript of yesterday’s message, “worship” =’s unity  as opposed to the “worldly” concept of objective data that leads to practical goals which are always for selfish gain. And by the way, what we have here is the mind of Christ regarding the reality of disunity and what makes it tick.

You who frequent new Calvinist churches: how often do you hear these principles taught if somebody happens to take a break from teaching about the same gospel that saved us? You don’t. Knowing this kind of “worldly” knowledge (or misuse of the Bible for practical living and thinking) makes it impossible to control you. A church polity (government) goes along with this that proclaims, “If we are in control, there will be peace and unity.”  This is the same catcry as New Calvinism’s kissing cousins of spiritual despotism. They are preordained by God to lead the saints in peace and unity through love and corporate worship, but if needed, the gallows slumber not. Restrained by the American government’s worldly wisdom for enlightened selfish purposes, New Calvinist elders substitute with dividing marriages, bogus church discipline, slander, break sessions posing as biblical counsel, false incrimination, bogus excommunication, and Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” They are nothing but the embodiment of Freddy Krueger dressed in the demeanor of Mr. Rogers.

All and All on this point, the ability of Christians to think with the mind of Christ is being replaced with gospel contemplationism for all of the aforementioned reasons.

But, living for truth does not have to embrace isolationism. Being successful in our fight against spiritual tyranny does not have to be experienced in isolation. It’s not always the case, but most often, we can have our cake and eat it also. We can grow and experience rich fellowship while not being a fair-weather friend to Truth. So, 2, 600 words into this post, I will now share what prompted it.

On the one hand, among many, I am considered, “toxic.” Among those closest to me, “a bull in a china shop.” And after yesterday, our household is beginning to look a little like the hypothetical Noahian household presented at the beginning of this post. And in the midst of this, a warning from a reader; in essence, you’re compromising.  In regard to PPT’s protocol of reposting everything  Bangladesh Missionary Kids, I reposted a post that they posted by someone who has taken up their cause. The reader pointed out that the author has strong New Calvinist ties. Rather than to finger me pointblank for compromise, the reader expressed confusion as to why I would do that when she thought I knew that New Calvinists were primarily responsible for the kind of abuse suffered by the MK’s to begin with.

I appreciate the veiled honesty with the nomenclature, “confusion,” but let’s state it as it is:

  1. The post wasn’t vetted: ie., sloppy journalism.

  2. It brings back to mind that I have backed off from the G.R.A.C.E. issue.

Regarding number 2, in  the ABWE Bangladesh Missionary Kids holocaust case,  G.R.A.C.E has been appointed to “investigate” the deplorable cover-up that is barely named among the unwise, worldly, pragmatic American citizenship that is a product of the evil Enlightenment era. Two things are very troublesome here: GARB, the primary abode of ABWE, is presently being overrun with New Calvinism from the top down, and G.R.A.C.E is of the same New Calvinist philosophical mindset—as their very name implies. If you know the facts of this atrocity, the MK’s would be better served by an organization named, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. To the contrary, this is like calling Colonial Sanders to negotiate a contract between the chickens and the food industry.  While many evangelicals applaud Penn State’s handling of the same kind of crime, do New Calvinists see that model response as worldly wisdom that seeks a pragmatic solution as opposed to  “showing forth the gospel”?  If G.R.A.C.E were to learn anything from Penn State would that be sharing God’s glory with another?

Have we not heard New Calvinists, over and over again, say that the concept of justice from the “worldly realm” is extreme because it is a pragmatic revenge that doesn’t consider that we all deserve hell? A judge who thinks he deserves hell just as much as the criminal will certainly swing the gavel lightly. I have written many articles about my concerns on this which caused stress between me and at least one MK. I have since backed off—holding out hope once again that these New Calvinists are New Calvinism Light and there could still be a good outcome. However, I think it is time for me to drive the stake further into the ground—a little leaven leavens the whole lump, or it doesn’t—it’s “A,” or it’s “B.”

It’s time for a full embracing of truth, and doing it in a way that enables us to enjoy all of the benefits that come with the relationship. If Paul meant to say that the issue was loving the “gospel” instead of the whole counsel of God which is many faceted in its full philosophical statement for life and godliness—he would have simply said so. If Christ’s primary mandate to the church was to observe the gospel rather than “all that I have commanded,” why would He not simply say so?

So what to do? First, stop compromising. We don’t need anybody for a friend other than Truth. It won’t always be pretty when we are hanging out with Truth, but He has promised that the outcome will always be good. Second, find a fellowship of those who will not compromise. They are out there—one wrote me. Third, support those who refuse to compromise. If monetarily, it’s not the $1.00 or the $5.00, it’s something that’s worth all of the gold in Fort Knox. It is a message that even Elijah needed. It’s the message that says….

….you are not alone.

paul

 

The Gospel According to John MacArthur’s Reformation Myth

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 14, 2017

Originally published September 8, 2012

Let me state something right out of the gate: the church has never been in a Dark Age. Christ said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). Imagine that. Peter wasn’t anybody—he was an everyday Joe—a blue-collar guy in that culture. Then one day God shows up personally and informs everybody that He would  oikodomhsw “be building His church,” or some translators, “I shall be home building”….mou (of me)….the ekklesian (out-called, not “church” which is not a biblical word) on Peter. You can trust me on this one: Jesus has been home building His out-called, and the construction project has never slowed down or stopped. The building project has always been on schedule and within budget—funded by the Blood. And Christ didn’t choose a John MacArthur Jr. of that day—He chose an ordinary Joe.

Right here, two pillars of the Reformation myth are found wanting. There has never been an out-called Dark Age, and Christ doesn’t primarily use renowned scholars like Martin Luther to get things done. Today’s “Reformed” “church” is built on the foundation of lofty creeds and confessions written by men of fleshly renown. The very name, “Reformed” is fundamentally false—our Lord’s building project has never needed a  “reformation”—especially at the hands of murdering mystic despots.

But two days ago, Susan and I had the rare privilege of sitting down with four men who exemplify what Christ is using to build His out-called. We held siege at the restaurant for three hours. These men so encouraged me that it is a wonder that the local police were not called accompanied by men in white attire. They bore four marks of God’s true out-called:

  1. Ordinary men.

  2. Thinkers who constantly wrestle with understanding.

  3. Wholly devoted to truth.

  4. Sold-out to the sufficiency of the Scriptures as their only authority.

Somewhere in the world since the day Christ showed up and walked into the everyday lives of twelve men, He has been slowly building His out-called. He has been building with those who possess the same spirit of Noah and is in-fact a fifth mark: they will stand alone if they have to. In the present day neo-Reformed blitzkrieg, it is, and will be two or three families who come out from among them, weeping with sorrow, often leaving the only church they have ever known while the door is held open for them by the young, petulant Reformers of our day that despise the sweat and blood that built the work that they have covertly sieged. As our brother Jude said of these brute beasts, they slip in “unawares” (v.4).

Basically, the problem is the same as when Christ showed up to found His out-called. The religion of the day was founded on the authority and institutions of self-important men. People where amazed that Christ didn’t check in with the academics before He launched His ministry, nor quoted the spiritual brainiacs of that day. Likewise, if Christ came today, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, and the insufferable likes of obnoxious men like Steve Lawson and Paul Washer would watch with incredulities as Christ would ignore them and make a b-line for the ghettos—choosing His workers and confidants from among them.

So how should I view an article sent to me by a reader that was written by John MacArthur regarding the Reformation motif of “Justification by faith.” First, as I am presently teaching my family, ALL ideas presented by men, and I believe that MacArthur fits into that category, will entail a litany of propositions that lead to a conclusion. Therefore,  let us examine and wrestle with the propositions presented by MacArthur in this article (Justification by Faith: online source: http://goo.gl/xJyFO).

Proposition 1: “The Reformation doctrine of justification by faith is, and has always been, the number one target of the enemy’s attack.”

The “Reformation doctrine”? Excuse me Mr. MacArthur (hereafter, JM), but we get our doctrine from the Bible, not the Reformers, who, as I have noted, are an oxymoron to begin with. In the first sentence of this article, JM sets up an authority between the out-called priests (that’s us) and the word of God. Therefore, his article is predicated on a proposition by men who are not original authors chosen by God— buyers beware. Hence, if we are discerning, JM has raised the propositional ante to a considerable level. By citing the preapproved authors of the Bible, additional consideration could have been avoided.

JM goes on to state that this doctrine, “….provides the foundation of the bridge that reconciles God and man — without that key doctrine, Christianity falls.” This should now incite interpretive questions for the proposition:

  1. Could the Reformers have been wrong?

  2. Even if they were right, is there a danger in making Reformed epistemology a standard of truth?

  3. Is the claim that the church stands or falls on this doctrine establishing Reformation doctrine as a significant authority? And if so, is this wise?

Proposition 2: “Social and political concerns have brought evangelicals and Catholics together in recent years to unite against the forces of secularism. Under the influence of ecumenism, it’s difficult for either group to remember what it was that divided them in the first place.

The pragmatists and ecumenicists are aided in their forgetfulness by new theological movements that redefine justification in more Catholic terms. Under the influence of liberalism and postmodernism, proponents of the New Perspective on Paul, the Emergent Church, and others have so confused and redefined the doctrine of justification that it has become shrouded in darkness once again

The Christian church today is in danger of returning to the Dark Ages. The seeker movement has Christianity turning in its Bibles; the ecumenical movement urges Christians to use worldly means to accomplish temporal ends; and current theological movements look through the lens of philosophy — Enlightenment rationalism and postmodern subjectivism — rather than Scripture. The departure from sola scriptura has led to the departure from sola fide — justification by faith alone.”

JM asserts that the Reformation was a marked contrast between Catholicism and the Reformers. Catholic influence is dragging the “church” back into a “Dark Age.” Regardless of the nomenclature of which he frames this proposition, he begins to articulate the Reformation motif in a way that is traditional, and packaged for fairly easy digestion—if you understand the premise of the motif, and we soon will.

The key here is this part of JM’s proposition: “….and current theological movements look through the lens of philosophy — Enlightenment rationalism and postmodern subjectivism — rather than Scripture.” First, throughout his post, JM uses the term “Reformation doctrine” and “Scripture” interchangeably. Hence, he is proposing that the two are synonymous—he is asking that you accept this proposition as fact. But what we want to focus on here as a gateway of understanding is the word “subjectivism” in his proposition. This is key to understanding my counter proposition:

  1. There was no difference in Reformation doctrine and Catholic doctrine.

  2. Subjective verses objective  is key to understanding the Reformed denial of the new birth that predicates its false gospel.

MacArthur begins to propagate the traditional Reformed dogma of subjective verses objective;  that is, as I have previously stated, the crux of their doctrine.

And is that biblical? Is Reformed doctrine biblical doctrine? Is the Reformed gospel the biblical gospel?

The History of the Reformation Motif / Myth

We will take an interlude on the way to our understanding to examine the very significant contemporary contribution to understanding Reformation doctrine by its own proponents and advocates. It is true that Reformation doctrine has experienced  times of low recognition followed by “rediscovery,” “resurgence,” and “revival” since the Sixteenth century. The last resurgence began in 1970. It was a rediscovery of authentic Reformed theology that launched the SDA Awakening Movement. Until then, the doctrine had never been framed in a subjective verses objective  model of understanding. “Subjectivism” was fingered as the root of all evil verses the, and here it is: objective gospel outside of us.  More specifically, “The Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us.” Hereafter, COGOUS.

This apt method of framing Reformation doctrine was the brainchild of SDA theologian Robert Brinsmead, who was joined by Anglican theologians Geoffrey Paxton and Graeme Goldsworthy, and later by Reformed Baptist Jon Zens. They attributed all contra Reformation beliefs and movements such as the Enlightenment era to “subjectivism.” JM shows his kinship to this contemporary understanding of Reformation theology via his propositions in said article, of which the sender asked, “Does this muddy the waters?” Answer: no, in-fact, it clarifies MacArthur’s participation in the endeavor to save the church from a supposed “Evangelical Dark Age.”

The theological think tank formed by this “core four” was known as the Australian Forum and their theological journal was Present Truth Magazine which was the most publicized theological journal in English speaking countries during the Seventies. They compiled a vast amount of documentation that clearly shows that the Reformation gospel of Luther and Calvin was the Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us. It contends that if the power of God is infused into the believer, it will enable him/her to, as the truism states, “know enough to be dangerous.”

Because the Reformers saw justification and sanctification as the same thing, they argued that any enablement infused into the believer would automatically contribute to the justification process which they saw as progressive. Please note: this is exactly what JM et al accuse the Catholics of, but as we shall see, they are both guilty of this same thing: the fusion of justification and sanctification together.

Hence, in contemporary lingo, the outcry of the Reformers against Rome was the “infusion of grace into the believer—making sanctification the ground of his/her justification.” In other words, all enablement and spiritual life must remain outside of the believer. All of the power of grace must remain ‘objective” by staying outside of the believer. This Reformed paradigm was brilliantly illustrated by the Australian Four, hereafter A4, by the following pictorial illustration:

Also let me demonstrate by another A4 pictorial that they believed justification was progressive:

I will later explain the application of the two-man chart  in this post. I can most certainly read your mind as you look at it: “How in the world does that work in real life?”

We will now further my contra proposition by substantiating some of my sub-propositions. Let’s first establish that one of the elder statesmen of the neo-Reformed movement, John Piper, and a close confidant of JM, agree with the AF’s contemporarily framed assessment of authentic Reformed doctrine, hereafter, ARD. Graeme Goldsworthy, one of the original A4, recently lectured at Southern Seminary on the Reformation. John Piper wrote an article on Goldsworthy’s lecture (Goldsworthy on Why the Reformation Was Necessary: Desiring God blog, June 25, 2009). Piper’s assessment of Goldsworthy’s lecture is a major smoking gun in regard to agreement on ARD:

In it [Goldsworthy’s lecture at Southern] it gave one of the clearest statements of why the Reformation was needed and what the problem was in the way the Roman Catholic church had conceived of the gospel….I would add that this ‘upside down’ gospel has not gone away—neither from Catholicism nor from Protestants….

This meant the reversal of the relationship of sanctification to justification. Infused grace, beginning with baptismal regeneration, internalized the Gospel and made sanctification the basis of justification. This is an upside down Gospel….

When the ground of justification moves from Christ outside of us to the work of Christ inside of us, the gospel (and the human soul) is imperiled. It is an upside down gospel [emphasis Piper’s—not this author].

Note, if you think about it, it is impossible to “reverse” justification and sanctification unless they are on the same plane. Nor can you turn a two-part object upside down unless both parts are attached—making either one the “ground” or otherwise. Hence, a careful observation of Piper’s use of words betrays his subtleness in regard to believing in the fusion of justification and sanctification together. Furthermore, Piper’s beef with Catholicism is not the fusion of justification and sanctification together per se, but rather the infusion of grace into the believer. The AF two-man illustration depicts Piper’s contention to a “T.” Note the exact same issue: Christ within, or Christ without. Just grasp that for now, and put the absurdity of it on the back burner—it will come together for you later.

Basically, if God’s grace/goodness is placed within the believer, he/she becomes enabled enough to become dangerous leading to all of the terrible things inside of the guy looking down. Everything must remain outside of the believer, leading to all of the good things listed on the right side of the chart which are listed outside of him. Don’t miss that. Today’s church owes Robert Brinsmead a tremendous debt of gratitude for publishing this chart.

A Major Key to Understanding: John H. Armstrong and SUBJECTIVISM

Now, let’s take yet another sub interlude to further my contra proposition. The following illustration shows how the AF made the objective/subjective / Christ within / Christ without the major crux of ARD:

A theologian named John H. Armstrong eludes to this exact survey in Present Truth to make a point in an article that he wrote (The Highway blog: Article of the Month;  Sola Fide: Does It really Matter?). Armstrong was the general editor of a combined work called The Coming Evangelical Crisis (1996 by Moody Bible Institute) that included the who’s who of the neo-Reformed movement: R. Kent Houghs; John MacArthur; RC Sproul; and heretics Michael S. Horton and Albert Mohler Jr. Armstrong stated the following in the aforementioned article:

The sixteenth-century rediscovery of Paul’s objective message of justification by faith [and sanctification also because justification is supposedly progressive] came upon the religious scene of that time with a force and passion that totally altered the course of human history. It ignited the greatest reformation and revival known since Pentecost.

Now, if the Fathers of the early church, so nearly removed in time from Paul, lost touch with the Pauline message, how much more is this true in succeeding generations? The powerful truth of righteousness by faith needs to be restated plainly, and understood clearly, by every new generation.

In our time we are awash in a “Sea of Subjectivism,” as one magazine put it over twenty years ago. Let me explain. In 1972 a publication known as Present Truth published the results of a survey with a five-point questionnaire which dealt with the most basic issues between the medieval church and the Reformation. Polling showed 95 per cent of the “Jesus People” were decidedly medieval and anti-Reformation in their doctrinal thinking about the gospel. Among church-going Protestants they found ratings nearly as high….

I do not believe that the importance of the doctrine of justification by faith can be overstated. We are once again in desperate need of recovery. Darkness has descended upon the evangelical world in North America and beyond, much as it had upon the established sixteenth-century church.

As JM said in our observation of the article at hand:

….the doctrine of justification….has become shrouded in darkness once again. The Christian church today is in danger of returning to the Dark Ages.

And,

Enlightenment rationalism and postmodern subjectivism — rather than Scripture. The departure from sola scriptura has led to the departure from sola fide — justification by faith alone.

JM, John Piper, Armstrong, Graeme Goldsworthy, and what they call the “Justification by faith” doctrine—all the same camp, and the same belief: The Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us.

How in the World Does COGOUS Work in Real Life?

As far as how this doctrine functions, there are two camps. But in both camps, the believer remains unchanged and totally depraved. The crux of COGOUS is that sanctification is a total work of God because it finishes justification. The doctrine then frames man’s role in regard to Gnostic ideas. In fact, the very first sentence of the Calvin Institutes is a Gnostic idea. Calvin claims therein that all knowledge is contained in the knowledge of ourselves and knowledge of God. Since we already know that Calvin believed in the total depravity of man, this is the knowledge of good and evil.

Calvin, right out of the gate, states that this is the core of all true wisdom. So, what you begin to see when reading the works of various Reformers of old and new, is the idea that change begins with wisdom, and as we see our own depravity in deeper and deeper ways, and the holiness of God in deeper and deeper ways (which the former facilitates as well), a transformation takes place. Not in us, of course, we are totally depraved—we therefore cannot change—we rather manifest a realm. As it was explained to me by a fairly well known Calvinist, there is a Spirit realm, and a flesh realm (not an old nature within us), and both put pressure on us if we are saved, and we either “yield” to one or the other realms at any given time. But again, we don’t change, we merely manifest a realm. Out of this comes terms like, “Pastor of Spiritual Formation,” and “heart formation,” or “spiritual transformation.” Notice that the “spiritual” is being transformed, not us. I am presently doing research to get a more refined understanding in regard to “what this looks like.” Apparently, an exercise of our own will to obey is creating our own reality instead of “His preordained story.”

A rough sketch follows: all reality points to Christ’s glory, and all reality is wrapped up in the gospel and interpreted by it (the first tenet of New Covenant Theology).  All history is “redemptive.” Therefore, all historical events, and events period, are preordained by God to show us wisdom; ie, the knowledge of the good (Christ), and the knowledge of the evil (our own depravity), and both point to God’s glory and “show forth the gospel.” So, all events in life are preordained by God to show us our own depravity, and His holiness. That’s the first way we gain wisdom of ourselves and God, and when we see it, our manifestation results in part of the grand gospel narrative preordained by God.

The second way that we manifest the gospel is through seeing historic events in the Bible that represent the same kind of events that happen in redemptive history. The Bible, in the same way that redemptive history does, gives us wisdom in regard to our own evil and God’s holiness, again resulting in redemptive historical manifestations. If we respond improperly to the redemptive historical event (whether good or bad), we reap “bad fruit” (ie., a bad manifestation) which lends further opportunity for deeper understanding of our own depravity and more glory for God. If we participate properly in the gospel story, we are assured peace and joy regardless of our circumstances (because we are in essence detached from reality in my view). Many Reformed  thinkers such as David Powlison and Paul David Tripp call this,

The big picture model is the story of every believer. God invites us to enter into the plot! (Paul D. Tripp: How People Change, p.94).

As I said before, there are two camps: one rejects any kind of work at all by Christ in us, but Tripp is of the other camp that teaches that we remain totally depraved,  but Christ does do a work in us, albeit His work in totality. Tripp states that as we gain deeper understanding of our own evil (deep repentance), our hearts are emptied of idols which then results in a filling of Christ resulting in spiritual formations or manifestations (Ibid, p. 28). Others believe that whatever we see in the Bible ( like a circumstance of Christ’s love) is imputed to us as we see it and understand it. Many of Reformed thought call this “such and such ( love or whatever) by proxy.”  It is also known as the “active obedience of Christ” or progressive imputation. Following is an illustration of some of these ideas presented here (Ibid, p.100):

But you can also see some of these concepts if you refer back to the two-man chart. The gospel man meditates on “Grace, Justification, Perfection, Security, immortality, Law,” but these things remain outside of him as manifestations of the objective gospel. But the Christ within man has these things inside of him because that is where his focus is (subjective). Following is another Reformed illustration of what we are talking about. Notice that the cross gets bigger—not us. We don’t grow—the cross does. The cross represents grace outside of us; so, the cross is seen as bigger (ie, God is glorified) while we don’t change. These manifestations make God look bigger while not being connected to anything recognized as us being new and improved. Michael Horton refers to this as “preaching the gospel instead of being the gospel.”

MacArthur often conveys ideas that do nothing in regard to separating himself from this absurd mysticism. In writing the Forward to the Gnostic masterpiece, Uneclipsing the Son  by former associate Rick Holland, JM states the following:

As believers gaze at the glory of their Lord—looking clearly, enduringly, and deeply into the majesty of His person and work—true sanctification takes place as the Holy Spirit takes that believer whose heart is fixed on Christ and elevates him from one level of glory to the next.  This is the ever-increasing reality of progressive sanctification; it happens not because believers wish it or want it or work for it in their own energy, but because the glory of Christ captures their hearts and minds.  We are transformed by that glory and we begin to reflect it more and more brightly the more clearly we see it.  That’s why the true heart and soul of every pastor’s duty is pointing the flock to Christ, the Great Shepherd.

Let’s now return to the article at hand and address the more relevant parts. In the section entitled, “Back to the Beginning,” JM sates the following:

In the 1500s a fastidious monk, who by his own testimony “hated God,” was studying Paul’s epistle to the Romans. He couldn’t get past the first half of Romans 1:17: “[In the gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” (KJV).

One simple, biblical truth changed that monk’s life — and ignited the Protestant Reformation. It was the realization that God’s righteousness could become the sinner’s righteousness — and that could happen through the means of faith alone. Martin Luther found the truth in the same verse he had stumbled over, Romans 1:17: “Therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith” (KJV, emphasis added).

JM then fails to mention that Luther believed that this justification passage also applies to sanctification. Then JM sates the following under the next heading, Declared Righteous: What Actually Changes?:

In its theological sense, justification is a forensic, or purely legal, term. It describes what God declares about the believer, not what He does to change the believer. In fact, justification effects no actual change whatsoever in the sinner’s nature or character. Justification is a divine judicial edict. It changes our status only, but it carries ramifications that guarantee other changes will follow. Forensic decrees like this are fairly common in everyday life….

Similarly, when a jury foreman reads the verdict, the defendant is no longer “the accused.” Legally and officially he instantly becomes either guilty or innocent — depending on the verdict. Nothing in his actual nature changes, but if he is found not guilty he will walk out of court a free person in the eyes of the law, fully justified.

In biblical terms, justification is a divine verdict of “not guilty — fully righteous.” It is the reversal of God’s attitude toward the sinner. Whereas He formerly condemned, He now vindicates. Although the sinner once lived under God’s wrath, as a believer he or she is now under God’s blessing.

This all looks to be very solid theologically, but I want you to notice that JM fails to mention that Justification is a finished work. That’s key. And it’s key because of what he states next:

Justification is more than simple pardon; pardon alone would still leave the sinner without merit before God. So when God justifies He imputes divine righteousness to the sinner (Romans 4:22-25). Christ’s own infinite merit thus becomes the ground on which the believer stands before God (Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 3:9). So justification elevates the believer to a realm of full acceptance and divine privilege in Jesus Christ.

The problem here is the implication that a pardon is not enough, and that our “standing” must be maintained lest we find ourselves “without merit”…. “before God.”  This is problematic because any kind of standard that would maintain merit before God for justification is voided (Romans 7;1-4). There is simply no merit or standard left for a Christian to be judged by in regard to justification.

But the smoking gun that convicts MacArthur in fusing justification and sanctification together in this same article follows under “How Justification and Sanctification Differ.” JM starts out well with this statement:

Justification is distinct from sanctification because in justification God does not make the sinner righteous; He declares that person righteous (Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16). Notice how justification and sanctification are distinct from one another:

After stating this, JM, evokes the classic neo-Reformed double-speak sleight of hand for fusing justification and sanctification together without appearing to do so:

Those two must be distinguished but can never be separated. God does not justify whom He does not sanctify, and He does not sanctify whom He does not justify. Both are essential elements of salvation.

JM also clearly states that progressive sanctification is part of the same “salvation” process that justification is also a part of ; hence, they supposedly can’t be separated. But the Bible authors only speak of sanctification as salvation in a manner of speaking because there are three sanctifications: positional (1Cor. 6:11), progressive/practical (2 Cor. 7:11, 2 Peter ch. 1),  and complete (1 Cor. 6:11[those who are sanctified positionally are glorified as well]), but only one justification that is a onetime legal declaration (Romans 8:30).

Furthermore, JM’s use of the distinct but never separate sleight of hand is the exact same mantra constantly used by many in the neo-Reformed crowd:

Though justification and sanctification cannot be separated they must be distinguished.

~ Ernest Reisinger

It would also stand to reason therefore that MacArthur, like all of the neo-Reformed, would not see any role for the believer in sanctification other than gospel contemplationism.  This can be confirmed by reviewing the previous excerpt from Holland’s  book.

Classic Reformed Kettles Calling the Pot Black

We now observe a trait by JM that was never true about him before he went over to the dark side—blatant contradictions that assume the utter stupidity of his followers. He follows the neo-Reformed protocol for drawing the line of distinction between the Reformers and Rome in this way:

Roman Catholicism blends its doctrines of sanctification and justification.

So, the two cannot be “separate,” but they can be blended? But what JM states next brings us full circle to what we observed in John Piper’s article on the Goldsworthy lecture at Southern:

Catholic theology views justification as an infusion of grace that makes the sinner righteous. In Catholic theology, then, the ground of justification is something made good within the sinner — not the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Please note JM’s either/or interpretive prism, (a neo-Reformed distinctive) that eliminates the possibility that the believer is empowered by the Spirit internally for something that is separate from justification; namely, kingdom living. Notice that the issue is specifically “something good” inside the believer verses the “imputed righteousness of Christ.”  Obviously, JM rejects the idea that it can be both, and whatever it is, it must point back to justification if it is something “good” inside of the believer.

Rome’s motive for fusing the two together is beside the point, both the Reformers and Rome believe the two cannot be separated. Hence, for Rome it was easy: Christ forgives all of your past sins, but now you must do certain things to complete your justification because salvation is linear with both justification and sanctification on the same plane. Likewise, the Reformers believe in the same linear gospel, but pardon it by making everything that needs to be done to complete justification—totally of Christ alone. This requires us to remain totally depraved in the process and utilizes Gnosticism for whatever application can be surmised. Frankly, this is the first time that I have seen writings from JM that totally remove all doubt that he has bought into this doctrine , hook, line, and sinker.

JM continues:

If sanctification is included in justification, the justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete. Our standing before God is then based on subjective experience, not secured by an objective declaration. Justification can therefore be experienced and then lost. Assurance of salvation in this life becomes practically impossible because security can’t be guaranteed. The ground of justification ultimately is the sinner’s own continuing present virtue, not Christ’s perfect righteousness and His atoning work.

The contradictions here are mindboggling. Again,  “If sanctification is included in justification….” Is somehow different from, “… . but can never be separated.”  Like all in this camp, JM complains about those who combine the two, while at the same time stating that they cannot be separated.

But perhaps the whole issue should be narrowed down to the most glaring contradiction in all of this.  While MacArthur states that justification and sanctification cannot be separated,  but are distinct,  like all neo-Calvinists, he then complains that Rome “blends” the two. According to the standard New Calvinist MO, the cardinal sin in regard to this blending is “progressive justification.”  Note once again the following excerpt in this post by JM:

If sanctification is included in justification, then justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete.

But MacArthur is a Calvinist, and progressive justification is exactly what John Calvin propagated.  Again, they accuse Rome of exactly what they are guilty of themselves. In fact, Calvin entitled chapter 14 of the the third book of the Calvin Institutes, “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive.” Calvin then makes the same case throughout the rest of the chapter that all New Calvinists constantly make–that a believer must continually return to justification for their sanctification. Seeing these kinds of blatant neo-Reformed contradictions in his teaching is truly sad to watch.

What is it going to take to overcome this kind of error in the church? Christians who think, and love truth enough to wrestle with it long and hard. That’s going to be a small percentage of Christians as thinking is also not in vogue.

Nevertheless, they are out there—Christ said they would be in increasing numbers as He continues to build His out-called ones.

Addendum:

But perhaps the whole issue should be narrowed down to the most glaring contradiction in all of this.  While MacArthur states that justification and sanctification cannot be separated, but are distinct, like all neo-Calvinists, he then complains that Rome “blends” the two.  According to the standard New Calvinist MO, the cardinal sin in regard to this blending is “progressive justification.”  Note once again the following excerpt in this post by JM:

If sanctification is included in justification, then justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete.

But MacArthur is a Calvinist, and progressive justification is exactly what John Calvin propagated.  Again, they accuse Rome of exactly what they are guilty of themselves. Calvin entitled chapter 14 of the third book of the Calvin Institutes, “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive.” Calvin then makes the same case throughout the rest of the chapter that all New Calvinists constantly make–that a believer must continually return to justification for their sanctification. Seeing these kinds of blatant neo-Reformed contradictions in MacArthur’s teaching is truly sad to watch when one considers what he once was.

paul

TANC 2017: The Church in General and Protestantism/Catholicism in Particular Stand Condemned Already

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 13, 2017

1111-2-001At this year’s conference my talks will focus on the meaning of key words. One of the key problems with church is its singular definition of many key words. Primarily in the case of Protestantism, these singular definitions cause massive confusion and debate rather than ministry.

This warm-up to the conference is about the word, “judgment.” Due to the church’s Dualism philosophy, definitions of words will be greatly restricted; singular definitions of words is a hallmark of Dualism.

So the debate rages in the church; what’s the balance between judging someone and practicing discernment? Per the usual, the argument will never end because there is no true definition of judgment available to underpin the discussion. The following is only one of many ways the confusion manifests itself: Yes, if you realize Deacon Dan is a rapist, you are discerning, but if you make an issue of it, you’re judging. And so it goes.

What is the biblical definition of “judgment”? You first have to understand the biblical definition of “condemnation.” To condemn someone strips them of hope in obtaining eternal life. That’s what condemnation is. According to the Bible, only God has the authority to condemn based on what people believe.

When Christ said something like, “do not judge lest you be judged,” He was referring to condemnation; He was referring to someone usurping God’s authority in the eternal condemnation of others. Throughout the scriptures, this kind of condemnation of others is defined as explicitly satanic. In contrast, when we judge someone in regard to discernment and the application of wise actions accordingly, this is judgment according to discernment (and even love), and not judgment in regard to condemnation.

This is why the church, whether Protestant or Catholic and the stripes thereof stand judged (condemned) already; because they judge (they condemn). In other words, they claim God’s authority to condemn others eternally, and they are therefore judged accordingly. Only God Himself has that authority.

With Catholicism, this is common knowledge while Protestants will usually protest the assertion this way: “Our church doesn’t believe we have that authority!” Hmmmmm, really? Full stop: in case you are unaware, a Baptist is a Protestant. That’s the first point. Second point: pray tell, when did it ever happen that a Buddhist was allowed to join a Baptist church because said Buddhist “doesn’t believe everything Buddha believed”?

Third point: the authority supposedly granted to the Protestant church to proclaim someone saved or unsaved is documented orthodoxy with historical precedent etched in stone. And according to the clear dictates of Scripture, patently satanic.

When we call someone out and hold them accountable, we are not judging them in a condemning way; we are probably loving them, and love can be hard at times. Understanding the true definition of judgment in light of discernment AND condemnation makes the issue crystal clear, and…

…the ability to do more ministry with more afforded time and wisdom according to truth.

Because only truth sanctifies (John 17:17),

Paul M. Dohse

2017.ttanc.com

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