Paul's Passing Thoughts

No, No, No, Paul Washer Doesn’t Think You’re Lost Because of That, He Thinks you’re Lost Because You’re an Evangelical

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 18, 2011

I know this is all surreal, so let’s backup and take a look at what orthodox Christians believe. In what Dr. Harold L. Wilmington called “One of the best outlined, one-volume books on theology in print,” Floyd Barackman, a Reformed Baptist, writes the following on regeneration: “This concerns our being made spiritually alive and our having a new relationship with God” (Practical Christian Theology p.315). On justification, he writes:” Justification is the act of God whereby He acquits the gospel believer of the divine verdict of condemnation and declares him to be righteous. The unsaved person’s need for justification is seen in his condemnation by God and his lack of acceptable righteousness” (p.303).

While Barackman has plenty to say in the book about election (which he strongly advocates), he states the following regarding the practical application of regeneration: “Being members of God’s family and subjects of His kingdom (Jn. 1:12; Col. 1:13), we have the duty of learning His will and truth (Eph. 5:17; Ps. 1:1-3), walking in His will and fellowship (1Jn. 1:17), depending upon His provision and care (yet, He will not do for us what we can do for ourselves, 1Pet. 5:7; Mt. 6:8, 25-34), and yielding to His discipline (Heb. 121-15).

Dr. Jay E. Adams, who has received his share of criticism over the years, but has never been accused of being unorthodox as far as I know, writes the following in his critique of Sonship theology (GS’s mother) on page 35 of Biblical Sonship regarding regeneration: “Though the Spirit produces fruit, He does it through, and not apart from, human effort (which He initiates and sustains). This is clear from the fact that Christians themselves are commanded to become involved in the ‘pursuit of fruit’—the very same fruit that is said to be the fruit of the Spirit [let me add this to Jay’s statement: one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control]. This pursuit is real, involving biblical study and struggles with sin that issue in failures and successes.”

It is not my intention to write a book here, though one could, but I would also add some quotations from JC Ryle on this subject:

“But surely the Scriptures teach us that in following holiness the true Christian needs personal exertion and work as well as faith….in justification the word to address to man is believe–only believe; in sanctification [to set apart through regeneration] the word must be ‘watch, pray, and fight.’ What God has divided let us not mingle and confuse” (Scriptural Holiness: Introduction).

Bottom line: a colaboring with God and man in regeneration has been the orthadox view from the beginning: “….and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith” (1Thess. 3:2 ESV). “For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building” (1Cor. 3:9 ESV).

Now enter “New Calvinism,” driven primarily by Gospel Sanctification or Sonship theology. It teaches sanctification and regeneration by faith alone. And: holds that any belief of colaboring in regeneration is the same as colaboring in justification. Granted, working for our legal decree (justification) from God is a huge problem because in order for that to be true, God would have to agree with us that we have the same righteousness Christ has based on our own efforts. This, of course, is an absurd notion, and damning.

But let’s be clear: GS proponents believe that the orthodox view of  dependant colaboring in regeneration is synonymous with a colaboring  for justification which is works salvation and a false gospel. They also believe that we are regenerated by contemplating the same gospel that saved us, over, and over, again. In the same way that we were saved by faith and repentance alone, we can only be regenerated by faith and repentance alone like we were for justification. This basic belief leads to all kinds of questionable theology, like the total depravity of the saints. Think about it, if you need the gospel everyday just as much as you did when you were saved, you must be no better than you were in regard to spiritual life before salvation, right? In fact, advocates of GS often insinuate that we are resaved daily, or each time we repent. Michael Horton has said that we only receive spiritual life when we “experience the gospel afresh.” Listen to me please, this doctrine is a serious departure from orthodoxy; God’s people must arise and confront it. Again, Adams writes the following on page 36 of Biblical Sonship: “Plainly, the error of substituting justification for regeneration (quickening) is at the heart of the difficulty that Sonship [and Gospel Sanctification] presents to the Christian. It fails to explain what God has done for him in making him a new creation and how he may conform to the will of God.”

Now, regarding Paul Washer. It would seem that the main thrust of his preaching is against easy believe-ism—Christians who make a profession of faith and don’t repent of anything. It would seem as such, but that’s not true. Washer, a Baptist (Southern, I think), as I am also, doesn’t believe that even “15% of my Baptist brethren are saved.” But easy believe-ism is NOT really the issue with Washer as many suppose: his real issue echoes all the other GS advocates; their issue is the separation of justification and sanctification being a false gospel. Supposedly, that’s why the vast majority of evangelicals are lost. Hence, we have the arrogant mentality on display that men like Washer are on the cutting edge of a new, radical reformation—add nausea. This is the idea put forth by John Piper in the video, The Gospel in 6 Minutes.  Not to be outdone, Washer has a video out named The Gospel in 5 Minutes. The theme of both are the same; these men are modern-day Noahians preaching doom to the masses, gag. The fact that Michael Horton’s ministry is named, “Modern Reformation” is no accident as well.

I have written extensively in order to make my case for Piper and Horton, now I will state my case for Washer. In the statement of faith posted on the Heart Cry Missionary Society website of which Washer is the director, regarding regeneration, we read the following: “Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who makes alive those who are dead in trespasses and sins, enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God’s free and special grace alone.”

Note that this statement clearly says that regeneration is God’s work “alone.” Also note that the ongoing work of  regeneration is for salvation: “savingly.” Furthermore, in Washer’s Gospel 101, he states the following:

“In this simple phrase, we find a truth that must be rediscovered by all of us. The Gospel is not merely an introductory message to Christianity. It is “the” message of Christianity, and it is not only the means of salvation, but also the means of continued sanctification in the life of the most mature believer.”

Uh, need I say more? Therefore, many things that Washer says that could be taken different ways must be interpreted through his theology. For instance, he says in The Gospel in 5 Minutes that Christians must continue in “faith and repentance.” If you didn’t know his theology, you would think: “Yes I agree, true Christians will continue to demonstrate the fruit of faith in God and the practice of 1John 1:9 (as well as other things that I am sure he would include, that statement is just a thumbnail sketch of perseverance).”  But in fact, he is talking about faith and repentance only as a way of yielding to the Spirit for purposes of Christ obeying for us. Remember, he said regeneration is a work of  God “ALONE.” Right? However, one might keep in mind that Christ clearly made a distinction between 1John 1:9 repentance and repentance unto salvation (John 13: 8-11).

Washer’s passion and his missionary works do not impress me; it is a zeal that is not according to knowledge. He plainly teaches a false doctrine and should be rejected by Christians at large.

paul

16 Responses

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  1. Anonymous said, on March 18, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Paul- Thanks for your blog! I’ve been studying it for two months and it has helped me understand The Gospel Coalition, New Calvinism, T4G, oops, T4GS, some ‘Christian’ counseling, and lots of doctrine. But today I’m confused. Maybe it’s me but I’ve always thought of Regeneration as synonymous with The New Birth, and happening at the same time as Justification. But in the Adams quote and elsewhere in this post, Regeneration seems to be associated with ongoing Sanctification. (And is it just me, or do I almost never hear the term “Born Again” anymore?) Maybe I need to read the post again. I often reread. You don’t repeat yourself – I like that. Thanks again, Paul.

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    • pauldohse said, on March 19, 2011 at 5:05 AM

      Jan?,

      Thanks much. Join the club, I always thought of regeneration that way myself until recently; it does have more to do with sanctification. You’re also right: “born again” is going out of style due to the growing belief in “the total depravity of the saints.” My missionary-son-in-law and I recently debated a follower of John Piper on that issue. The new birth poses difficulties for the GS/Sonship doctrine. It is astounding to see long-time, Christians (many have been close friends of mine for years) following this absurd doctrine.

      paul

      > —–Original Message—– >

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  2. JC said, on March 19, 2011 at 5:37 AM

    Paul,

    Hi, and thanks for your concern for the body of Christ. You seem like a man willing to follow the evidence trail to the truth. It seems that the epitome of what your against (which has been kind of hard for me to grasp thus far) is fairly summed up in this article by Tullian Tchividjian, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2011/03/18/the-gospel-everyday-2/

    Am I correct in my assumption that Tullian’s post is a fair summary of what you’re against? And would you do a post responding to the post above explaining what’s wrong, in your view, with the arguments he states?

    Again, I must always commend a man willing to fight for the faith once for all delivered, so thank you.

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    • pauldohse said, on March 19, 2011 at 8:39 AM

      JC,

      Yes, that same article was sent to me several months ago. What TT is propagating is also known as “Sonship Theology.” The contemporary version has only been around since approx. 1980. I have written several articles that address one of the paragraphs in that article. The doctrine opposes human effort in the sanctification and teaches that Christ actively obeys in our place. Of course, “the imputed active obedience of Christ” is taught by default (always exclude A while heavily emphasizing B so the natural result will be C without ever talking about C) because otherwise it would be rejected out of hand. I will post some links in the next comment box later as I’m not on the site right now, but Matt has a good comment on a portion of that article right here on this comment thread for the “No, No, No,” post. I would concur with much of what Matt has to say here. paul

      > —–Original Message—– >

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  3. Matt said, on March 19, 2011 at 7:29 AM

    JC,

    There are some good articles on this blog, many with extensive quotes of Tchividian’s doctrine. I watched a few of his sermons in a series on Job in December and I noticed something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. I had an ‘aha’ moment when I read this article and it started to make sense:

    https://paulspassingthoughts.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/jerry-bridges-proffers-gospel-driven-bondage/

    Tullians teaching is far from orthodox. He tells us that when he says that he has come to believe something that the “vast majority” of professing Christians don’t believe:

    “As I’ve said before, I once assumed (along with the vast majority of professing Christians) that the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, while afterward we advance to deeper theological waters. But I’ve come to realize that once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel, but to move them more deeply into it. The gospel, in other words, isn’t just the power of God to save you; it’s the power of God to grow you once you’re saved. After all, the only antidote to sin is the gospel—and since Christians remain sinners even after they’re converted, the gospel must be the medicine a Christian takes every day.”

    I think that this emphasis on ‘the gospel’ has lead to a misinterpretation of certain passages of scripture. Since Tullian believes in ‘total depravity’, and he sees ‘the gospel’ throughout scripture, he implies that we are powerless to obey, and diminishes any emphasis on our personal responsibility to be obedient to commands in scripture. It creates confusion, and quenches the spirit.

    We do move on to deeper theological waters, but that does not mean the gospel of Christ Jesus is diminished in any way. As we submit to God, die to self, trust in the Bible, and put our hope and faith in Christ we grow in maturity.

    Hebrews 6:1, 5:14, 2 Tim 2:15, 3:15-17, John 4:32-34, Matt 5:48

    I hope this helps,
    Matt

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    • pauldohse said, on March 19, 2011 at 8:15 AM

      Thanks for this Matt–I can’t add anything to your theological points except: EXACTLY!

      > —–Original Message—– >

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  4. Matt said, on March 21, 2011 at 6:26 AM

    Paul,
    I don’t think it was the same article. The one JC referred to was posted to TT’s blog on 3-18-2011. Although many of his posts are very similar. He loves to quote himself: “As I’ve said before…”

    TT causes concern for me because of his associations in addition to his teachings. He was a part of John Piper’s 2010 Desiring God conference with Rick Warren. TT goes on tour promoting his version of ‘the gospel’ and teams up with folks like Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, and Tim Keller (who wrote the forward to TT’s 2010 book, Unfashionable). Driscoll and Keller are proponents of contemplative spirituality, and Chandler has referred to himself as a ‘Reformed Charismatic’.

    It’s not hard to understand how the associations of celebrity pastors may cause “little ones to stumble”. Piper attacked the biblical doctrine of separation when he released a youtube video defending his decision to invite Warren to his conference. Tchvidian’s judge not philosophy is on display in posts like this one:

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2007/09/23/i-like-rick-warren/?comments#comments

    He says:
    “In fact, because of the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Knox, etc) firm belief that “all truth is God’s truth” we should glory in truth wherever it is found–yes even when it is found in books written by Rick Warren!”.
    He then dances around any concerns his readers have in the comments section.

    Romans 16:17, 2 John 1:9-11

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  5. paulspassingthoughts said, on March 21, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Matt,
    It is clear that the movement has gone ecumenical. If you endorse their version of the gospel–that’s all that matters. Besides, they believe the Bible is a gospel narrative to be contemplated for purposes of spiritual growth, and not for instruction or propositional truth. Their view of truth is very postmodern. They also believe that the Spirit only sanctifies when the Bible is seen from the perspective of the gospel. When the Bible is used for instruction, that’s law. When the Bible is used to contemplate the gospel, that’s Spirit/gospel. THEREFORE, YOU WOULD EXPECT that particular elements of truth, or ideas drawn from the text, would be devalued and replaced with ideas like: “All truth is God’s truth.”
    paul

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  6. Bill said, on August 29, 2011 at 12:49 AM

    Paul,

    I’m not sure you clearly understand this topic. Paul Washer and Mike Horton would agree with Philippians 2:12 and 2:13

    12Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.(Philippians 2:12 and 2:13)

    So basically what the apostle Paul says is that it is God that works in us both to will and to produce good works. All credit is given to God and none to man for our good works. What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Corinthians 1:7). God apportions spiritual gifts to each individual as he wills (1 Corinthians 12:11).

    I believe the scripture above clearly proves that sanctification is God’s work 100% and not man’s. God not only justifies the believer but he also sanctifies him, and God does not justify whom he does not sanctify at the same time. Now sanctification is a lifelong process but it commences at the moment of salvation when we are justified. John Calvin referred to Union with Christ (Romans 6) and made it clear that it is achieved through faith when we repent of our sin and trust Christ for the remission of sins, as a result of this we get two distinct benefits justification and sanctification. Michael Horton and Paul Washer would agree with this theology, which is biblical. So both justification and sanctification proceed from faith (when we are united with Christ through faith). Faith in the gospel is the root of both justification and sanctification, though they are separate they both come from faith in Jesus Christ. Michael Horton and Paul Washer got it right.

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    • pauldohse said, on August 29, 2011 at 5:58 AM

      The other Bill,

      Bill,

      I understand the issue exactly how you have stated it. You however, have addressed it forthrightly without doublespeak and nuance. Now, in light of your comment, what do you think of the following comment–I would appreciate your evaluation:

      ““Sanctification is cooperative. There are two partners involved in the work. I must work and God will work. If ever the extra-biblical maxim, “God helps those who help themselves,” had any truth, it is at this point. We are not called to sit back and let God do all the work. We are called to work, and to work hard. To work something out with fear and trembling is to work with devout and conscientious rigor. It is to work with care, with a profound concern with the end result”

      Thanks Bill,

      paul

      > —–Original Message—– >

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  7. Bill said, on August 30, 2011 at 1:33 AM

    Hi Paul, my main comment is that the kind of cooperation defined in those comments is not truly representative of the sanctification process outlined in scripture.

    1) “there are two partners involved in the work” – This makes it sounds as if God and man are equal partners and this is certainly not the case.
    2) “I must work and God will work” This statement is inaccurate and actually makes it sound as if man’s good works drive god’s works. when in fact it is the other way around. It contradicts Philippians 2:12 and 2:13 which I quoted in my previous post. So the truth is that I work because God works in me, God is the driver of my good works. God will not work because I work, quite the opposite I work because God has worked in me. Man is absolutely incapable of producing any good spiritual works on his own, so God must work first so that man can produce good works.
    3) “God helps those that help themselves” This statement also like the previous one I just addressed puts the cart before the horse. Man is absolutely incapable of helping himself without God’s help first. So those that help themselves have first been helped by God. God acts first, He helps first before man can help himself.

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    • pauldohse said, on August 30, 2011 at 5:40 AM

      Interesting.

      1. So, even as new creatures, God always has to work first. So we always have to wait on God, right?

      2. So, how does that work? How do we wait on God to work first?

      3. How do we separate our work from his work? How do we know the difference?

      > —–Original Message—– >

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  8. Bill said, on August 30, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    Hi Paul, I’ll give it a try to answer your questions as best I can.

    We have to work and obey as we are commanded. I’m not suggesting to wait on God before we obey or produce good works. The christian as Luther mentioned on his treatise on christian freedom ( the freedom of the christian ) can’t wait to produce good works, he’s always active, and seeks to obey God’s law. By the way Horton and Washer would agree with this. But the reason the christian is able to produce good works (though still polluted by sin) to some extent is because he’s been born again by faith in Jesus Christ. Faith as Luther says makes the tree good, and a good tree can only produce good fruit. But good fruit comes only from a good tree, just like good works proceed only from faith. Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). So it is the gospel and faith in Jesus Christ that are the fuel for any good works. This is all that Paul Washer, Mike Horton, John Calvin, and Martin Luther taught. It’s also what the bible teaches. With regard to your question how do we separate our work from his work, let us say that any good works are the fruit of the spirit. John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.”

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    • pauldohse said, on August 30, 2011 at 4:26 PM

      The other Bill not from Arkansas, Bill, “So it is the gospel and faith in Jesus Christ that are the fuel for any good works.”

      I disagree. Our Christian walk is not fueled by justification (ie., “the gospel and faith in Jesus Christ”). The fuel for our walk with God utilizes many different disciplines. And justification is a legal declaration that occurs one time and is finished. In order to fully experience the reality of that declaration and its guarantee that we will be glorified, we must appropriate the gifts we have been given, which are vast. Therefore, to not search the Scriptures for those resources and disciplines, but to only search the Scriptures looking for deeper meaning to our justification is an absolute recipe for disaster. The Holy Spirit is our “helper.” What does that mean? It means we are enabled. The good works we do are our works, and we will be rewarded accordingly. I think the parable of the talents makes that clear. Boasting is still excluded because our resources are a gift from God.

      paul

      > —–Original Message—– >

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  9. Bill said, on August 30, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    Well, we’ll agree to disagree. I have personally experienced the gospel, when I trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins temptations lost their power, I was able to forgive others, not get angry as I used to etc. I know from personal experience that the gospel sanctified, I have felt its power. A true christian knows how the gospel, believing the good news sanctifies. The new birth is achieved through faith in Jesus Christ, by believing the good news. Good works follow from believing the gospel, for the christian faith never fails to produce good works.

    Here’s John Bunyan on what happened to him and how he was sanctified the moment he believed the good news, sanctification is a result of believing the gospel, the gospel is it’s fuel as John Bunyan’s (and mine) salvation experience testifies:

    John Bunyan:

    One day as I was passing into the field…this sentence fell upon my
    soul. Thy righteousness is in heaven. And me thought, withal, I saw
    with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I
    say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was
    doing, God could not say of me, he wants [=lacks] my righteousness,
    for that was just [in front of] him. I also saw, moreover, that it
    was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better,
    nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my
    righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, “The same yesterday, today
    and, and forever.” …

    Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my
    afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from
    that time those dreadful scriptures of God [e.g. Hebrews 12:16 –17]
    left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing for the grace
    and love of God.

    This is the believing sinner’s great hope—to see his righteousness
    firmly, securely resting at the right hand of God the Father in the
    person and finished work of Jesus Christ His Son. To have such a
    faith-directed vision is to be set free.

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  10. paulspassingthoughts said, on February 18, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    Reblogged this on Paul's Passing Thoughts.

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