Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Blog for TANC Ministries

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

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The Crux: Husbands Must Reassume Their leadership Role Apart From Any Institution; Especially The Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on September 19, 2017

ppt-jpeg4Originally published September 19, 2016

For some time Susan and I have been counseling in several marriage situations that seem hopeless. We want to be involved in these situations to help as much as we can while trying to learn how these marriages can be healed. And after many months of struggling with these situations, I believe the lightbulb has finally come on.

I have come to believe that good marriages are a product of functioning within God’s design for things. It is interesting to note what the definition of mental health is: the ability to cope with life. Period. This is why family is so important: families are organized units that help people cope with life. When a family is functioning like it should, it is a mighty stalwart as set against life. Love, resolve, peace, happiness, security, help, encouragement, wisdom, experience, and perseverance is found in the milieu of life through the family unit.

Life goes much better when things are used according to their purposes; no skilled surgeon uses a Bowie knife for anything regarding a patient, he uses special surgical tools.

In focusing on what Susan and I do know in all of this, we have emphasized marrying right to begin with. In regard to the woman, that means marrying a leader.

Let me now just pull the whole elephant out of the barn for you to see instead of feeding him to you a piece at a time like a Protestant hack. A good marriage requires the husband to be a leader; a bad marriage can be made good by the husband becoming a leader. A wife may think her husband is cute, handsome, funny, and sexy, and she may even love him, but if he isn’t a leader, she will not respect him and the marriage will eventually go south.

Now it is necessary to define what a leader is. A leader is an independent thinker. A husband leader is a thoughtful person who can think for himself. A leader is not indifferent to how the world works. The world demands this of him whether he knows it or not. There is no choice in the matter. Would you like an example?

So you are just a beer drinking, take it as it comes, live and let live, football-watching Joe, right? You work hard; bring home a check every week, and watching football on the weekend is your rest and escape from weekly duty, right? But as always, hardcore reality catches up with the way we like things; ideology, politics if you will, is now part of football. As a leader, if you are one, you will finally recognize the fact that the world will not allow you to hide from ideology. You can enter the arena of ideas now, or you can eventually be run over by the chariots—your call. You can fancy yourself as a good-old-boy that just goes with the flow all you want, but the flow will eventually drown you. The mindless always end up on a deathbed padded with a mattress of regret…always.

This is a world driven by ideology. If you are a lazy thinker who fancies himself as being along for the ride of life—life will eventually throw you off the bus and run you over. Then you will run to a professional thinker who you must trust because you have no foundational thinking of your own in which to gauge what you are being told.

I would be tempted right now to think of a movie I once saw. A young thoughtless man followed his adventurous desires and rode with some outlaws. He and those he was riding with were shot by some not-so-politically-correct lawmen who rode up on the suffering boy lying on the ground, fatally wounded. One lawman looked upon the youngster, and seeing the fear in his eyes said, “Take your medicine boy.” If you are a lazy thinker, you will indeed take your medicine someday. Lazy thinkers let others think for them and end up wherever the thinkers want them to be. This is why people who need counseling hardly ever know how they ended up where they are at. And I would be tempted to gloat over the aforementioned movie motif, but as a recovering Protestant I am also guilty of letting others think for me.

Secondly, a leader is not a boss. Secondly, a leader is not a boss. Secondly, a leader is not a boss. As a husband, you have no authority. Leadership and authority are mutually exclusive. You think you have authority because you are a lazy thinker and others told you to think that. If you do have authority, you don’t need to be a leader; your wife merely does what you tell her to do for any or no reason whatsoever. Note that authority produces lazy thinking; you don’t need a good reason to demand anything in particular, it just suits your desires at the time.

Leadership and authority are mutually exclusive. And lazy thinkers will either be guided by desire or thinking. Desire always fills the void where thinking is absent.

“But, but, but, if no one is in charge, chaos will ensue!” See what I mean? Where did you get that idea thou lazy thinker? You were taught that by people who want to control you. A cursory independent research will prove that wrong.

Note: this is a discussion separate from the necessity of civil law and the proper administration of it according to God’s purposes.

Thirdly, your authority is your own conscience. Your conscience is who you are, and it is your duty to study life, and thereby inform your conscience according to truth resulting in an earned, truthful self-esteem. Before this statement makes you run to the little boy’s room, know this: somebody is going to inform your conscience which will dictate your behavior; that will be you, or others. Pick one; you have no third choice.

Fourthly, your wife has a right to her own conscience. Your wife should also be a thinker, but as a husband who leads, you are an overseer that makes sure healthy thinking is in process. You are joint-heirs of life, you are part of a family role that faces life TOGETHER, and as ONE flesh.

Be a leader who thinks and applies wisdom to your life, and your wife will respect you. If you have farmed out thinking to other authorities and have set that example for your wife, she will only respect you to the degree that you obey those authorities.

Take your medicine boy.

Listen, Susan and I hear this constantly from church wives: “I don’t respect him because he doesn’t respect the elders.” And this is regardless of anything the elders do. Why? Because they are in authority which requires no reason to do anything other than what they want to do. Worse yet, the husband’s usual objection is that they have usurped his supposed authority. Good luck with that because they are the supposed experts. Don’t play the authority game—you will lose that card game every time if you call their hand. Indeed, if you want to play the authority game, by all means, keep your mouth shut and put your temple tax in the plate. You will at least have a peaceful marriage. It’s a lie, but at least it will be peaceful.

And, the fact that the wife respects/obeys authority over reason is indicative of the husband’s abject failure as a leader. You farmed out the thinking to experts, now they have the marriage they want you to have whatever that might be. By the way, this also applies to the children; somebody is going to seek to lead them someplace by some kind of ideology. This is simply how the world works. As the leader you can be on top of that or asleep at the switch. If you are asleep at the switch, you might get lucky, or you might find your child in their bedroom closet dead because they misused the affixation thrill seeking technique.

In these seemingly hopeless church marriages, the hope lies in the husband assuming his role as a leader before God. This may include the defunding of the wife’s ability to follow others as pseudo authoritarians who demand the husband’s capitulation. You don’t pay for things you don’t believe in. That’s not grace and mercy; that’s stupidity.

Thriving marriages require husband leaders who know their wives and love them according to knowledge and wisdom resulting in wives that respect their husbands. The wife should contribute to figuring out life; it’s the husband’s role to make sure the figuring out is ongoing. I guess if there is one area where I have succeeded as a husband, as Susan will tell you, I constantly encourage her to think for herself according to her own pursuit of truth. A leader strives to make sure his wife and children take personal ownership of what they believe and that being a work built with their own labor.

It’s truth that sets us free.

This starts with knowledge deliberately neglected via Protestant orthodoxy which is based on authority and not leadership. It’s a knowledge that knows how the world works. Jesus calls for individuals to SEEK, not a blind following after the traditions of men cloaked in authority.

The way to heal these marriages is for the husband to become a properly defined leader; more than likely, the wife will like what she sees and follow. His life now makes more sense and works better. This also applies to husbands in general, but even more so with Christian husbands.

paul

 

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The Equivocation of Sin

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

Equivocation – noun;

  1. The use of ambiguous language to conceal the truth or to avoid committing oneself; prevarication.
  2. Using an ambiguous term in more than one sense, thus making an argument misleading.

Protestantism is a fraud because it plays upon the presumptions of the unsuspecting laity by allowing them to assume the normative definition of words while gradually indoctrinating them to a redefinition of terms. In this year’s TANC Conference, Paul Dohse gave a list of over 45 terms (and I think the list is up to 47 now and still growing) that Protestantism has redefined. This redefinition of terms is accomplished using various logical fallacies, the most seductive of which is equivocation.

To best understand the use of equivocation, consider the following example:

The Cleveland Browns are always looking for good players for their team.
Yo-Yo Ma is an excellent cello player.
Therefore, the Cleveland Browns should try to get Yo-Yo Ma to play for them.

I’m sure there are many in Cleveland who would say that the Browns couldn’t do much worse if they did sign Yo-Yo Ma to play for them. Now this may seem like a silly example, but the reason it seems silly is because the problem is obvious: it assumes a single definition of the word “player”. There is no regard given for context or perspective. In reality, the word “player” can have several meanings, and that meaning is defined by its usage.

In the first statement the word “player” is used to describe someone who plays sports. We know this because the Cleveland Browns are a professional football team (of course one could argue if the Cleveland Brows actually play anything that resembles football). In the second statement the meaning of the word changes to describe someone who plays a musical instrument. Same word, but two different meanings. The fallacy of equivocation occurs in the concluding statement because a single definition is assumed.

Context and usage define meaning.

Consider this example:

Anyone who is a Christian is a member of Christ’s church.
Joe is a member of his local Protestant church.
Therefore, Joe is a Christian because he a member of the church.

This example is probably a little more confusing, but that is what makes it a better example of the use of equivocation. The obvious question one should ask is which “church” do you mean? The definition of the word “church” is made ambiguous because of the switching of context and usage. Are we talking about “church” being the Body of Christ or do we mean the local institutional place of assembling?

Protestant pastors and elders want to have it both ways, and so their use of language is purposefully confusing. In one breath, they will declare that “the church is a body and not a building.” In the next breath they will suggest that if you are a Christian then you must be a member of a local church. Such a subtle conflicting of terms will eventually indoctrinate the laity to the underlying truth of what they really mean; that church membership equals salvation. While no one would consciously acknowledge that, such a reality works itself out in practice and behavior.

If you really want to understand just how confused the Protestant laity is, then consider how your typical Protestant understands the meaning of the word sin.

The penalty for sin is death.
Man is saved from the penalty of death through faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin.
Christians still sin
Therefore, Christians still need forgiveness of sin.
Therefore, Christians need to live daily by “faith alone.”

Protestantism sees the word “sin” and maintains a single definition of it throughout scripture. What are the implications of that?

  • Sin = condemnation (death)
  • Since Christians still sin and need forgiveness, they are still under condemnation.
  • Nothing really changes for the Christian. He is still the same as an unbeliever.
  • Christians’ lives are characterized by constant fear of condemnation and lack of assurance.

So what exactly is sin anyway? Protestantism would define it this way:

Sin – noun

  1. A transgression of God’s Law
  2. “Falling short” of God’s standard of “perfection”

It is worth noting that there is not necessarily anything wrong with such a definition. In fact a Biblical case can be made for defining sin in this way with regard to those who are unbelievers. It is true that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, for by one man sin entered the world, and with sin came death. But the problem is that this is not the limit to the Biblical understanding of sin. We must also consider that the Bible teaches that sin is:

  1. Personified as an Entity that seeks to control others through condemnation
  2. A violation of one’s own conscience
  3. Anything not done in faith (not being fully persuaded by reason)
  4. A failure to show love

To maintain a correct grammatical understanding, sin as a noun is also used as a verb. A person then “committing sin” can be said:

Sin – verb

  1. to transgress God’s Law
  2. to “fall short” of God’s standard of “perfection”
  3. to seek to control others through condemnation
  4. to violate one’s own conscience
  5. to engage in some behavior without faith (without being fully persuaded)
  6. to fail to show love

It should also be noted that all of these definitions of sin may be applied to one who is unsaved. The world is full of unsaved people who understand the difference between right and wrong and can choose to act in accordance to their conscience. The world is full of unsaved people who know how to show love to another but from time to time will not do so. But the problem for the unsaved person is not because he fails to obey the law perfectly. The problem is that because he is under law, such transgressions bring condemnation.

However, because Protestantism limits the meaning of sin to a single definition, sin can only be understood in the context of condemnation. Therefore, when the Protestant sees the word “sin” in the Bible with regard to the one who is saved, there can be only one conclusion, and that is that believers still need on-going forgiveness of sin because they are still under condemnation.

This cannot be the case because the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” ~ Romans 8:1-2

Why is there no condemnation for the believer? Because when a person is born again, the law is ended for him. He is no longer “under law”. The old man who was under law dies and in his place is reborn a new creature who is the literal offspring of the Father.

“For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” ~ Romans 5:13

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin!” ~ Romans 6:6-7

Paul understood that sin can only condemn where there is a law that condemns. Sin for the believer has a different meaning.

Sin – noun

  1. A transgression of God’s Law
  2. “Falling short” of God’s standard of “perfection”
  3. The personification of an Entity that seeks to control others through condemnation
  4. A violation of one’s own conscience
  5. Anything not done in faith (not being fully persuaded by reason)
  6. A failure to show love

Notice that the first two definitions of sin no longer apply to the one who is Born Again.  Because the believer is no longer under law, any definition of sin can no longer include any meaning that implies condemnation because there is no law that can be used to condemn him. Therefore, sin for the believer cannot be defined as a transgression of God’s Law (that law was ended). Neither can it be defined as falling short of God’s standard of perfection because the believer is righteous as a state of being as a result of the New Birth.

However, because the new creature still resides in a body of flesh that is “weak” (not evil!), the personification of Sin as an Entity still tries to tempt the believer and have control over him. Such temptation can still lead believers to violate their own sense of right and wrong (conscience). Believers may still be doubtful about the liberty they have to engage in behaviors that aren’t wrong in and of themselves. (Think of the example of meats offered to idols that Paul used in 1 Corinthians 8. Such a behavior would be a violation of conscience). Believers can, and often do, fail to show love to God and others as they ought to.

Please notice – while the Bible might use the word “sin” to describe these behaviors, none of them bring condemnation to the believer!!! They might bring about Fatherly chastisement through the natural consequences of one’s actions, but Fatherly chastisement is not the same as condemnation. Fatherly chastisement does not alter or nullify one’s righteous state of being.  This is because the law which condemns was ended!

I have often stated that any time someone asks me if I sinned today that my usual response is “No.” But since we need to be sure there is no equivocation when it comes to understanding the word “sin”, perhaps we need to employ a new strategy.

Protestant: “There is no one who is righteous. Believer’s are only declared righteous because they are covered in Christ’s righteousness.”

Me: “The Bible says that anyone who is born of God does not commit sin and he cannot sin.”

Protestant: “Did you sin today?”

Me: “How do you define sin?”

Protestant: “You know, sin. Not obeying God’s Law.”

Me: “So your definition of sin means to not obey the law. My righteousness has nothing to do with whether or not I obey the law. I am not under law because the law was ended for me when I was born again. So since the law is ended and there is no law to condemn me then, no, I did not sin today according to your definition.”

In fact, when talking about defining sin and the law, we can take this strategy one step further.

Protestant: “Sin is transgressing the law; falling short of God’s standard of perfection.”

Me: “Which law are you talking about? The Law of Sin and Death or the Law of the Spirit of Life?”

Protestant: “Ummm…uh…well…huh?”

Me: “If you mean the Law of Sin and Death, then that law no longer rules over me. I am free from it. It cannot condemn me. The Law of the Spirit of Life does not condemn. It is our means to show love to God and others. Therefore, ‘sin’ for the believer is defined as a failure to show love, NOT condemnation.”

You see, it is really the same law, but the same law has two functions. Which function depends on if you are “under law” or “under grace”. For the one “under law” – the unbeliever – it is the Law of Sin and Death which can only condemn. For the one “under grace” – the one who is born again – it is the Law of the Spirit of Life which cannot condemn and is a means to show love to God and others. Therefore, a failure to keep the Law of the Spirit of Life is not “sin” as defined by Protestantism.

With a single perspective on sin and law, the equivocation of Protestantism keeps the laity perpetually confused, which only serves to foster continuous doubt and fear. The only way the laity is going to shake off this cloud of confusion is to start asking simple questions and reject the long-standing assumptions in which they find themselves entrenched.

~ Andy

Woe to the Pastors!

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

Sin, Reality, Politics, Religion, and Fairness

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 10, 2017

ppt-jpeg4How should we interpret the wacky world we live in? One example: regardless of clear historical evidence that our economy thrives under lower taxes, Democrats are hell-bent on raising taxes. But why?

Another example: life was just fine in the 80’s and 90’s when everyone thought racism was behind us. Then, during the historical exclamation point on this; ie., the election of President Barack Obama, racism came back with a vengeance. Seemingly, that makes no sense at all.

Now, everything is about race. So, as someone who didn’t hear anything about race for 20 years and thought little about it, neither did I give it a second thought while watching the women’s U.S. Open Tournament until I was remined that “everyone in the finals are women of color, and this is historic.” Uh, ok, whatever, I was just enjoying the tournament and never gave race a thought because you know, it’s tennis.

In addition, we can examine how people who have benefited greatly from Americanism are anti-American. Huh? Seriously, I have been scratching my head on this since I was a 6-year-old sitting in front of a black and white TV set watching the Huntley-Brinkley report back when news was really news. From a commonsense perspective, liberals have been driving me nuts for almost 60 years.

Then the hub of what explains all of this madness was revealed to me while reading the Bible:

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:6,7).

Herein, among other places in the Bible, we are introduced to “sin.” We find that sin is “crouching” like a predator waiting for the right moment to subdue prey. And for us, what is that moment? When we do something wrong.

Also note the essence of sin: a desire…to control. And what does sin use to control us? Guilt. Shame. Condemnation. It goes something like this: “Look what you just did. We can now add that to the list of your failures and awful things you have done. You are a bad person and very unwise; therefore, you need to let someone who is worthy rule over you.”

God’s exhortation to Cain follows: you must not let sin control you; you must control sin, and you must not give sin a beachhead by giving into sinful desires. If you do what is right, you will be “accepted” and not condemned. The footnote to this is Christ’s death on the cross to end the law’s ability to condemn. When the ability to condemn was taken away, sin was stripped of its power. Yes, NO law to condemn you is very good news. By believing on Christ, you eliminate the possibility of standing before any judge that has a law in which to convict you. The apostle Paul stated it this way: “Where there is no law, there is no sin.” Christ came to end condemnation and strip sin of its power to condemn and control.

The new birth not only changes the jurisdiction of the law for the believer, it changes the believer’s attitude towards the law. Once indifferent to the law, the believer loves the law. Therefore, the believer does not use the new identity to indulge in sinful desires because condemnation has been ended; that is counterintuitive for the new creature in Christ.

Sin isn’t all about bad stuff people do; most of what sin is about concerns the control issue. Sin is the grandmaster of enslavement and freedom’s greatest enemy. People serve sin by controlling others and robbing them of their freedom. Sin is the heart and soul of tyranny. And from it all types of slavery and bondage flow. Sin inclines one to control everything and everyone in their environment, and this applies to every stratum of reality from government to a parent reading their child a bedtime story. The control discussion has a place in every human behavior. In one example among myriad, being in a position to decide if someone lives or dies is the ultimate control experience.

In regard to Western culture, the definition of sin as applied to societal models is mostly defined by Socrates. He believed that sin is defined by ignorance. People sin because they are unknowledgeable. This is why prisons in our day focus on education as the centerpiece of rehabilitation. Socrates believed that all knowledge is intuitive in everyone and is drawn out through dialogue, that is, moral knowledge that makes one a moral citizen. This is what got him killed because that ideology levels the playing field; remember that 90% of the culture in that day were slaves to some degree or another.

His primary understudy, Plato, adopted a more Eastern approach of caste. In other words, a caste system that separated those who could comprehend reality and those who cannot. Plato believed that the perfect society is mirrored by the soul of man; those who know (philosopher kings), those who know that there are knowers and those who don’t know, and the health of any given society is dependent on serfs submitting to those who know (the warrior class), and of course, those who can’t know or comprehend reality. In the soul of every person these three elements are intuitive, but one is dominant in each person determining what class they belong to in the caste-system pecking order. A person’s class is determined by lineage and lineage is determined by predestination. The fruit falls not far from the tree; this is why the Puritans forbade upward mobility and deemed upward mobility as not honoring one’s mother and father according to the ten commandments.

Aristotle, Plato’s understudy, returned to Socrates’ model of knowledge. It is still a caste system, but is based on upward mobility. One’s position in society can be earned through formal education. However, don’t miss this; in Aristotle’s caste system, those who obtain upward mobility should rule over those who don’t. This is why expertism plagues our present society. “Educated” people can propagate the most absurd notions and many will buy into them because the propagators have a string of titles after their name. Nevertheless, it is striking to note that this half-right view of reality that didn’t go far enough, and is still half pregnant with tyranny led to the Enlightenment era which led to the birth of the greatest nation in human history…America.

But along with the Enlightenment era came the concept of Capitalism and free markets. This enables the common man to beat the Aristotelian caste system…

…and that ain’t fair.

“I was in school for eight years and paid $150,000 for a Doctorate degree and that welder makes as much money as I do. This means our economic system is unfair. He’s an uneducated beer drinking hillbilly and probably the product of inbreeding, and I am of the upper crust of society. Something needs to be done about this.”

This is why people who benefit from American Capitalism are against it; they have to share their status with serfs and other unworthys. It just ain’t fair. And, remember, money empowers people. This is the crux of the issue; Capitalism levels the playing field and disregards caste, but because of sin, people love caste—caste is a control mechanism. This is why high taxation is in vogue; it takes away more money from the individual because money empowers.

Look about us in our politically correct society, it is saturated with guilt, guilt, and more guilt, and shame, shame, and more shame. The list is endless beginning with, “white privilege.” Why is racism making a comeback? Because sin seeks to control through condemnation. This is where politics and religion kiss. The two were partners in tyranny before the advent of Americanism.

Perhaps an unintended result of Americanism was Capitalism which truly frees the individual to bring what they want to the table. It makes the individual the only judge over the sum and substance of one’s own life with the sole purpose of government being the protector of this endeavor.

In the final analysis, it draws a line in the sand of reality. On one side, you have predestination, caste, bondage, death, tyranny, total depravity, collectivism, socialism, and condemnation. On the other side, you have freewill, freedom, life, ability, the image of God, cooperation, individualism, and I dare say…

…true fairness.

paul

It’s All About the “O” – Mohler, DeYoung, Lucas: We Own You

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on September 10, 2017

ppt-jpeg4Originally posted September 15, 2012

Join an authentic Reformed Protestant Church if you will, but let it be known: they now own you. Newsflash for the husbands: Calvinist elders believe they have the ultimate say and authority in your home. And another thing: the gospel they hold to rejects synergism in sanctification as works salvation. So, guess what? If your wife buys into that, you are now in what they call a mixed marriage. You are now dangerously close to divorce court as the divorce rate in these churches has skyrocketed.

At the TANC 2012 conference, in his third session, author John Immel nailed it—it boils down to who owns man: in the Christian realm, does Christ own you or Reformed elders? In the secular realm, does man own man or does government own man? Recently, our President stated that government owns man. Recently, in a trilogy of articles by three Reformed  pastors published by Ligonier Ministries, it was stated that the church owns Christians, and I will give you three wild guesses as to who represents the authority of the church. That would be the elders.

So it’s all about the “O.” It’s all about “ownership.”

As we shall see, these articles plainly state the Reformed tradition that came from Catholic tyranny. The Reformers never repented of the same underlying presuppositions concerning man’s need to be owned by enlightened philosopher kings. The Reformation was merely a fight for control over the mutton with the Reformers seeing themselves as the moral philosopher kings as opposed to the Romish ones. Their doctrine was just a different take on how the totally depraved are saved from themselves. But both doctrines reflect the inability of man to participate in sanctification.

The three articles posted were: Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Albert Mohler; Where and How Do We Draw the Line? by Kevin DeYoung; and, Who Draws the Line? by Sean Michael Lucas. All linked together for your indoctrination convenience.

Al Mohler states in his ownership treatise that Christians have “no right” to leave one church for another because of preferences. Emphasis by underline added:

Swami Albert Mohler

Swami Albert Mohler

Far too many church members have become church shoppers. The biblical concept of ecclesiology has given way to a form of consumerism in which individuals shop around for the church that seems most to their liking at that moment. The issue can concern worship and music, relationships, teaching, or any number of other things. The pattern is the same, however – people feel free to leave one congregation for another for virtually any reason, or no reason at all.

Church shopping violates the integrity of the church and the meaning of church membership. When members leave for insufficient reason, the fellowship of the church is broken, its witness is weakened, and the peace and unity of the congregation are sacrificed. Tragically, a superficial understanding of church membership undermines our witness to the gospel of Christ.

There is no excuse for this phenomenon. We have no right to leave a church over preferences about music, personal taste, or even programming that does not meet expectations.  These controversies or concerns should prompt the faithful Christian to consider how he might be of assistance in finding and forging a better way, rather than working to find an excuse to leave.

Where to begin? First of all, while many authentic Reformed Protestant churches will bring you up on church discipline for leaving because of “unbiblical” reasons, those reasons vary from church to church. So, not only do the reasons for leaving vary among parishioners, but so does what constitutes proper “biblical…. ecclesiology” in regard to departure varies as well. Mohler states in the same post that doctrine is a valid reason to leave a church, but yet, one of the more prominent leaders of the Reformed movement (CJ Mahaney), who is strongly endorsed by Mohler, states that doctrine is not a valid reason to leave a church. CJ Mahaney substantiated that Reformed position and clearly indicated what authentic Protestant theologians are willing to do to enforce that position when he blackmailed the cofounder of SGM, Larry Tomczak:

Transcript of Phone Conversation between C.J., Doris and Larry Tomczak on October 3, 1997 pp. 10-11:

C.J.: Doctrine is an unacceptable reason for leaving P.D.I.

Larry: C.J., I’m not in sync with any of the T.U.L.I.P., so whether you agree or not, doctrine is one of the major reasons I believe it is God’s will to leave P.D.I. and it does need to be included in any statement put forth.

C.J.: If you do that, then it will be necessary for us to give a more detailed explanation of your sins [ie, beyond the sin of leaving for doctrinal reasons].

Larry: Justin’s name has been floated out there when there’s statements like revealing more details about my sin. What are you getting at?

C.J.: Justin’s name isn’t just floated out there – I’m stating it!

Larry: C.J. how can you do that after you encouraged Justin to confess everything; get it all out. Then when he did, you reassured him “You have my word, it will never leave this room. Even our wives won’t be told.”

I repeatedly reassured him, “C.J. is a man of his word. You needn’t worry.” Now you’re talking of publically sharing the sins of his youth?!

C.J.: My statement was made in the context of that evening. If I knew then what you were going to do, I would have re-evaluated what I communicated.

Doris: C.J., are you aware that you are blackmailing Larry? You’ll make no mention of Justin’s sins, which he confessed and was forgiven of months ago, if Larry agrees with your statement, but you feel you have to warn the folks and go national with Justin’s sins if Larry pushes the doctrinal button? C.J., you are blackmailing Larry to say what you want!―Shame on you, C.J.! As a man of God and a father, shame on you!

This will send shock waves throughout the teens in P.D.I. and make many pastors’ teens vow, “I‘ll never confess my secret sins to C.J. or any of the team, seeing that they‘ll go public with my sins if my dad doesn‘t toe the line.”―C.J., you will reap whatever judgment you make on Justin. You have a young son coming up. Another reason for my personally wanting to leave P.D.I. and never come back is this ungodly tactic of resorting to blackmail and intimidation of people!

C.J.: I can‘t speak for the team, but I want them to witness this. We’ll arrange a conference call next week with the team.

Doris: I want Justin to be part of that call. It’s his life that’s at stake.

C.J.: Fine.

(SGM Wikileaks, part 3, p.139. Online source)

Of course, this example and many others makes Mohler’s concern with the “integrity” of the church—laughable. But nevertheless, Mohler’s post and the other two are clear as to what common ground Protestant elders have on the “biblical concept of ecclesiology.”

sean-lucasBesides the fact that parishioners “have no right” to leave a church based on preference, what do Protestants fundamentally agree on in this regard? That brings us to the article by Sean Michael Lucas :

Because the church has authority to declare doctrine, it is the church that has authority to draw doctrinal lines and serve as the final judge on doctrinal issues. Scripture teaches us that the church serves as the “pillar and buttress of the truth.”

So, even in cases where Protestants believe that doctrine is an acceptable reason for leaving a church, guess who decides what true doctrine is? “But Paul, he is speaking of doctrine being determined by the church as a whole, not just the elders.” Really? Lucas continues:

In our age, this understanding—that the church has Jesus’ authority to serve as the final judge on doctrinal matters— rubs us wrong for three reasons. First, it rubs us wrong because we are pronounced individualists. This is especially the case for contemporary American Christians, who have a built-in “democratic” bias to believe that the Bible’s theology is accessible to all well-meaning, thoughtful Christians. Because theological truth is democratically available to all, such individuals can stand toe to toe with ministerial “experts” or ecclesiastical courts and reject their authority.

Creeped out yet? Well, if you are a blogger, it gets better:

Perhaps it is this individualistic, democratic perspective that has led to the rise of websites and blogs in which theology is done in public by a range of folks who may or may not be appropriately trained and ordained for a public teaching role. While the Internet has served as a “free press” that has provided important watchdog functions for various organizations, there are two downsides of the new media, which ironically move in opposite directions. On the one side, the new media (blogs, websites, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter) allow everyone to be his own theologian and judge of doctrinal matters. But because everyone is shouting and judging, the ironic other side is that those who are the most well known and have the biggest blogs gain the most market share and actually become the doctrinal arbiters of our electronic age. In this new media world, the idea that the church as a corporate body actually has authority to declare doctrine and judge on doctrinal issues is anathema.

Lucas continues to articulate the Reformed tradition that holds to the plenary authority of elders supposedly granted to them by Christ:

For some of us, again reflecting our individualism, such understanding of the church unnecessarily limits voices and perspectives that might be helpful in conversation. But restricting access to debates and judgments about theology to those who have been set apart as elders in Christ’s church and who have gathered for the purpose of study, prayer, and declaration actually ensures a more thoughtful process and a surer understanding of Christ’s Word than a pell-mell, democratic, individualistic free-for-all. Not only do we trust that a multiplicity of voices is represented by the eldership, but, above all, we trust that the single voice of the Spirit of Jesus will be heard in our midst.

So, bottom line: the priesthood of believers is a “pell-mell, democratic, individualistic free-for-all.” Still not creeped out? Then consider how they answer the question in regard to elder error:

Of course, such slow and deliberate processes do not guarantee a biblically appropriate result. After all, the Westminster Confession of Faith tells us that “all synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred” (WCF 31.3). Sometimes, entire denominations err significantly as they prayerfully consider Scripture and judge doctrine. Such error, however, does not negate Jesus’ own delegation of authority to the church and set the stage for a free-for-all.

This brings us to another issue that DeYoung propogates in his post: since Reformed elders have all authority, their creeds and confessions are authoritative and not just commentaries. Hence, they declared in the aforementioned confession cited by Lucas that even though they may be in error, they still have all authority. Whatever happened to the Apostle Paul’s appeal to only follow him as he followed Christ?

DeYoung:

deyoungThose who wrote the ancient creeds, such as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Chalcedonian Definition, were not infallible, but these creeds have served as effective guardrails, keeping God’s people on the path of truth. It would take extraordinary new insight or extraordinary hubris to jettison these ancient formulas. They provide faithful summaries of the most important doctrines of the faith. That’s why the Heidelberg Catechism refers us to the Apostles’ Creed, “a creed beyond doubt, and confessed through the world,” when it asks, “What then must a Christian believe?” (Q&A 22–23).

FYI: If you see something in your own Bible reading that contradicts a Reformed creed or confession, you are partaking in visions of grandeur.

This is the crux of the matter, the question of authority. It is almost crazy that Christians don’t have this issue resolved in their mind before they join a church. You could be in a church that is subtly indoctrinating your family with the idea that they are owned by the government; in this case, church polity.

Let there be no doubt about it, Reformed elders are drooling over the idea of another Geneva theocracy with all the trimmings. And someone shared with me just the other day how this shows itself in real life. “Mike” is a local contractor in the Xenia, Ohio area. He is close friends with a farmer in the area who lives next door to a man and his family that attend an authentic Reformed Protestant church.

One day, his new Protestant neighbor came over to inform him that he needed to stop working on Sunday because it is the Lord’s Day, and the noise of his machinery was disturbing their day of rest. Mike’s friend told him, in a manner of speaking, to hang it on his beak. Mike believes what transpired after that came from the neighbor’s belief that he was a superior person to his friend, and that his friend should have honored the neighbors request by virtue of who he is.

The neighbor has clout in the community, and to make a long story short—found many ways to make Mike’s friend miserable through legal wrangling about property line issues; according to my understanding, 8” worth. It was clear that Mike’s friend was going to be harassed until he submitted to this man’s perceived biblical authority.

Protestants have serious authority issues, and you don’t have to necessarily join in official membership to be considered under their authority. A contributor to Mark Dever’s  9 Marks blog stated that anyone who comes in the front door of a church proclaiming Christ as Lord is under the authority of that church.

It’s time for Christians to nail down the “O.” Who owns you? Are you aware of who owns you (or at least thinks so)? And are you ok with that?

paul

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