Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Blog for TANC Ministries

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

The Cross Conference 2016 Inside Report

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 27, 2016

Clay Pots Can Know Truth

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 21, 2017

Originally published April 11, 2016

Even though my wife and I left the institutional church for good almost 2 years ago, there are still times where I must make the obligatory visit. Going in to visit family is one of those times. I am thankful that the church in which my wife grew up is not steeped in the vileness of Calvinism. Nevertheless, Protestant orthodoxy runs far and wide. Needless to say, as a graduate of the Christian school she attended for 13 years she has nurtured many close relationships with those who were her teachers and peers. So for us the visit is merely a social call and not for purposes of “worship”. Not being a particularly “social” person myself (I am an introvert by nature, and social events suck the life force out of me) I suffer the preaching while reminding myself that it will all be over soon.

Such was the case last weekend as I found myself once again sitting in an adult Sunday School class led by a layman of the church who is without a doubt kind-hearted and well-meaning, but who knows no other way to interpret the Scriptures than what he has been taught all his life. This particular class is right now making its way through the book of 2 Corinthians. The week we were there they were up to chapter 4. Take a look particularly at verses 6 and 7.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

If we are good Protestants, we will look at these verses and see that clearly, this passage is drawing a contrast between our weakness as fragile clay pots and the power of God, right? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And if you have been a reader of PPT for any time, what should be obvious to you are the Protestant talking points and root assumptions: man has no ability, even the saints; there is nothing good in us; we are just worthless clay pots; any good we do is simply Christ doing it through us.

Now don’t get me wrong here, aside from the assumptions of total inability and the idea of the subjectivity of objective good works being performed outside of us, we can acknowledge that God does help us through His spirit. That in and of itself would not necessarily be a wrong application to make, but in the context of this passage it is a novice approach at best. The importance of understanding scripture in the correct historical context cannot be over emphasized. And these were my exact thoughts as I sat there squirming in my pew. There is so much richness to this passage that is being lost simply because people are conditioned to faulty interpretive assumptions.

With what premise then should we begin? First, let us understand that the dominant philosophy of the 1st century was a Platonic gnosticism which was nothing more than yet one more manifestation of the dualism that had dominated all philosophy in man’s attempt to explain the world since perhaps the beginning of time (I suggest you read the transcripts from John Immel’s 2013 TANC Conference sessions if you think that’s an over-generalization).

For the most part, Gnosticism can be summed up like this. Spirit is good and flesh (the physical) is evil. Objective truth can only be found in the spiritual realm. Since man is part of the physical realm, he has no access to objective truth (the “gnosis”). The only way that man can know truth is for a select few to bring it to them. These select few are the Philosopher Kings. They are the pre-ordained ones who have been given the “gnosis” by the “divines”. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that these “mediators” then are the only ones who have the right to rule the masses by virtue of the fact that they are the only ones who can know truth. This is the root system of thought behind ALL tyrannical systems, both political AND religious, for centuries!

Having this as a basis for our study, let us now consider chapter 4 of 2 Corinthians. Verses 1 through 7 present an exercise in rhetoric though a series of contrasting hypothetical assumptions for the purpose of presenting an argument. Let’s look at verses 1 and 2.

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:1-2

This is our first clue that the apostle Paul is offering a refutation of Gnosticism. Key words include “hidden things” and “manifestation of truth”. Understand who the audience is. Paul’s letters to the assemblies were most often written in response to address some issues that had come to his attention. Remember, one tenet of Gnostic philosophy is that truth is hidden and cannot be known. It would appear as if there were false teachers who had brought this Gnostic teaching into the assemblies there in Corinth and were trying to blend it with Christianity. Notice Paul refers to the “hidden things of dishonesty”, “walking in craftiness”, and “handling the word of God dishonestly”. These are all trademarks of Gnosticism. These false teachers were twisting the word of God to fit their Gnostic orthodoxy, all the while stating that the reason it was true was because these things were “hidden” from the masses and only they were qualified to bring it to them, and they used scripture to support their views.

What is Paul’s contrasting argument?

“…commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God…”

He left truth up to their conscience. In other words, he expected his listeners to think. Paul said, I don’t want you people just to believe me because I say so. I don’t want you to believe me because I present myself as an authority. I expect you to use the faculties of reason and come to the conclusion on your own if what I preach is true or not.

 Verse 3 is a critical statement.

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:3

This is a profound statement regarding the gospel. God did not reveal himself through His word for the purpose of keeping it hidden, revealing it only to a select few. This is a direct assault on Gnosticism. Gnosticism taught that truth is hidden from the physical realm. But God said, no, I want you to know truth because you are lost and I want to you be reconciled to Me! That is the gospel- Be reconciled to God! That means that man CAN know truth and DOES have access to it. Paul said what we preach is not some hidden truth because that would be counter-productive. It would be antithetical to God’s purpose for the doctrine. That is what distinguishes what we preach from those Gnostic false teachers.

Verse 5 brings us to yet one more distinguishing characteristic of Gnosticism, and that is a narcissistic self-promotion.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:5

Remember, only a select few were ordained to have access to the “gnosis”. As a result, these individuals felt that they were superior to the ignorant masses, perceiving themselves as having the right to rule over them. If you want to get to heaven, if you want to have salvation, then you do what I say, or else. Notice how the truth then becomes subordinated to authority. Persuasion is not necessary where power is used. The focus shifts from the message to the one delivering it. But Paul said, I don’t come to you with any desire to promote myself. You don’t get to heaven by doing what I tell you to do. You were saved because you were born again when you believed in Jesus Christ!

And that brings us back to the passage we looked at first.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

This is perhaps the most scathing rebuke of Gnosticism. The fact that believers are referred to as “earthen vessels” is a testament to the metaphysical reality of the New Birth. Now granted, the word “earthen” in the Greek does mean a piece of pottery. But that just makes the argument all that more powerful. A clay pot is made from the “earth”. It is a part of the physical realm. To say that something that is part of the physical realm can know truth is a slap in the face to Gnosticism!

And what is the result of that? Paul uses the word translated “excellency”. In the Greek it is the word υπερβολη (hoo-per-bol-lay) from which we get our English word “hyperbole”. Hyperbole is using extremely outrageous statements to make a point. Paul says that the truth of the gospel sounds outrageous, but it can be known because it is reasonable because physical, frail clay pots have the ability to know it. This serves to demonstrate that its power comes directly from God and not from those who would place themselves as mediators between God and man.

Think about that for a moment. The power of the gospel is in its ability to persuade. It isn’t some self-appointed authority who demands compliance through the use of force. It is God who persuades through the preaching of His word. That means man has the ability to reason and understand it. This can lead a man to be persuaded that God is who He says he is. He can be persuaded to choose to forego his present life and put his faith in God and become a born again new creature who is the righteous offspring of God.   For the apostle Paul to declare that our REAL, righteous new-creaturehood is contained in earthly, physical containers is the antithesis of Gnosticism!

Andy

The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 21, 2017

Churchless Assurance

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 21, 2017

The following is a comment I posted today:

“Prior to being a Christian a life of fear and anxiety (condemnation, guilty conscience, fear of judgement, fear of death) led me into deep depression. After becoming a Christian, I was full of assurance and joy…then I went church hunting. What did I find there? Only reasons to doubt my salvation. Eventually I found myself back into deep depression.

Why? Same reason. Did the “biblical counseling” I received help? Sure it did because it focused on the absolute sovereignty of God and the goal of emptying myself of all value before God. Don’t worry, be happy, God is in total control. Eat and drink for tomorrow we die. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).

Recently, I went to a funeral for a longtime pastor/acquaintance of mine who was heavily involved in the biblical counseling movement. Before the funeral, I predicted to my wife Susan that the atmosphere was going to be very stoic and there wouldn’t be a WET eye in the place. I was absolutely spot-on; in fact, his very own son stood up in front of the hundreds of people who were there and proudly proclaimed that his father was a “wicked sinner.”

Bottom line: assurance of salvation comes from knowing that Christ ended the law’s condemnation, and justification is defined by having this treasure of the new birth in earthen vessels…not the perpetual imputation of Christ’s fulfillment of perfect-law keeping through faithfulness to the Protestant institutional church where weekly condemnation is the order of the day.”

paul

acbc-placard

The Protestant Fire Code, Not Home and Alone, Phone Books, The Screamers, Maslow, Soul Death, and Being Like The Father

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 21, 2017

ppt-jpeg4The Protestant Reformation ushered in another version of everything salvation. Life being about getting into heaven is a lot like being in a movie theater and someone yelling, “Fire.” Yes, life is characterized by panic in running for the exits while the less agile get trampled to death. While Protestants love everybody, you can be sure they will get the hell out of that theater at all cost. Fear and panic is an interesting study. When I was in the building industry we were not allowed to install dummy door knobs on doors that simply push-open from the inside; in the event of a fire, a panicked individual will try to turn the knob to no avail until they are overcome by smoke when a simple push could have saved their life. There may not be a more apt picture of Protestant orthodoxy.

Protestants talk a lot about focusing on good living; theologically dubbed, “sanctification.” Of course, that’s a lie. Regardless of the nuance and doublespeak, Protestantism is about sitting near the exit doors. John Calvin and Martin Luther both proclaimed in no uncertain terms that sanctification is driven by fear of spending eternity in hell. This Sunday everywhere in America Protestant parishioners will sit calmly in their pews under the pretense that everyone would parish in the event of a fire while waiting for everyone else to get out first. Yet, like the Catholics, there is no greater chance of your child being molested in any other venue while legal ramifications are least likely in the same. In no other venue are children more estranged from their parents, and in no other venue is divorce more likely. This is the result of life being about escaping the fire. If Deacon Dan is arrested for molesting your child because you filed criminal charges, that will give the church a bad name, people will not come to church, and therefore, because of you, people will go to hell. And besides, god is sovereign and nothing happens that isn’t his will to begin with. Ahmen.

Salvation is not a journey; it’s an identity that lives a life indicative of God’s family. God is not glorified by a salvation marathon, he is glorified by His literal children who are like Him. The “race of faith” is not about salvation; it’s about love. It’s not a race for the exit doors. Because Protestantism has always been about salvation alone and not new birth, there is no cult that is more ignorant about wise living and all learning entails a hundred different ways to get out of the theater alive. Therefore, the focus needs to be on family life with salvation being a settled issue. Once you are born into God’s family love is the focus, not salvation. You can’t be unborn, and relegating yourself to the futility of weekly ritual will not keep you born. The way in which the institutional church robs families of time together is another discussion, but indicative of what people really value.

Hence, the necessary exodus must be from institutional salvation to literal family meetings where families gather together; in homes. The focus must be wise living that exemplifies our Father. This is a call to a new focus on real sanctification. Come now, be honest, all you hear in church is “the gospel” this and “the gospel that” while there are no concrete answers to life’s real and deep problems. In fact, the focus of evangelical counseling is “living by the gospel.”

If you go to church, you are under fear and not love, period. Sorry.

After nine years of studying the doctrine of salvation apart from Protestantism’s mad dash for the fire escape, my life focus is now sanctification which is predicated on love and not fear. My job as a nurse aide is a valuable asset to learning about life from God’s perspective and applying what I learn accordingly. Unfortunately, people see skilled nursing facilities as primary care and that’s not the truth. No institution can provide complete primary care; what makes it work right is family. Without family, nursing homes are where people go to die.

As a nurse aide, I hear one constant drum beat from those I serve; not home, and alone. I see this now as clearly as I see the day; those two things combined equal the death spiral. Those who are not home and alone I serve as they slowly die. They always stop eating first, that’s the last leg of their institutional loneliness. Initially, you lie and say that you need to stock the hall supplies, but really you hide someplace and cry, you know, your first ones, then it just becomes part of the job. The new arrivals always ask for the phone book being from that older generation. They need a phone book because they want to call their family who surely don’t know they are lost in a strange place that is not home. It’s a pattern; the phone book, constantly talking about home, eating less and less, acting out during the holidays, not eating at all, and then death, but it all starts with the phone book.

At this point, I don’t fully understand home as a primary pillar of wellbeing, but this much I am sure of; humanity is wired for family and home. Institutions of no sort can replace that. Protestantism claims that you should place higher priority on your “church family” than your actual family. Yes, you are a good Christian if you put yourself under the “authority of godly men.” Gag. These people come to the nursing home at times different from the scheduled institutional “worship service.” Residents gather in the main hall while some preacher screams “fire” with stuffed suits standing behind as the lesser of God’s authority to “preach the gospel.” The hope is that some will believe and at least get enough gospel verbiage to gain heaven at the end of their purposeless existence.

I can give these screamers some credit; they are confused Protestants which is much better than the few that know what a Protestant is. Protestant orthodoxy calls for water baptism into church membership as the only way to receive ongoing forgiveness for “present sin.” I would much like to assist them in being better Protestants by offering to lower these people into a tub of water with a Hoyer lift and afterward they could sign a membership card, but I keep myself in enough trouble at the facility as it is.

In all of this, Abraham Maslow is better.

“Abraham Harold Maslow was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization.”

Self-actualization is purpose. Regardless of the mental or physical state of any resident you often see them seeking and practicing self-actualization. Whether requesting a towel and liquid to do some cleaning in the hallway, or expressing concern about the welling of other residents, they seek purpose. But be sure of this: I have seen the souls that are not home, alone, and without purpose slowly die as a result. No physical ailment is their demise; death of soul is their demise.

It is no surprise then that real ministry is about home and family, and not institutions or their authority. Institutions are for supporting the freedom of individual endeavors and the pursuit of happiness. Institutional authority never prevented any soul death. Claims by institutions that they can supply family wellbeing is an insult to collective commonsense and worthy of pitiless insult by school children.

The home fellowship movement will combine organization with the efficiency and wellbeing of real families. Home fellowship movements need to look no further than nursing homes for a vast ministry white unto harvest. They enter without the need to scream out the vomit of institutional authority, but rather offer purpose, fellowship, and a gospel that speaks softly of no condemnation.

Love has no limits because our Father represents a fatherhood that is only found where fathers are found…

…in the home, not temples built for the glory of men drunk with the desire to rule over others.

paul

Coffee Commentary With Susan Dohse

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 20, 2017