Paul's Passing Thoughts

Piper, Carson, Keller: The Only Cure For Pornography is Gospel Contemplation

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 1, 2011

This video clarifies the fact that there is a line in the sand. The church cannot continue to pretend that both philosophies will help Christians—that’s not true. Also, New Calvinists cannot continue to call the biblical prescription “legalism” unfettered and without contention. How Christians live is at stake.

I was struck by a post written by Jay Adams the other day. The idea that being filled with the Spirit is the Spirit being at work in all areas / categories of our life because one area effects another. This of course requires us to learn what the Bible instructs in regard to those areas and applying it to our lives. This is what builds a life that will withstand the storm (Matthew 7: 24-27). And furthermore, how to think, do, and pray in regard to all areas as well.

His example was a guy who has a problem with alcohol who fell off the wagon. He got into a fight with his wife and then, as a result, went to the local watering hole and got drunk with his buddies. We would not tell him to just stop drinking. His relationship with his wife, how he responds to challenges and choices (in this case: lost friends verses saved friends) all played a part in the transgression. All areas of our life contribute to how we think and what we do. This isn’t just a matter of obedience; I think alignment with God’s word in all areas of life is the way of peace and joy. Moreover, Christ promised the Holy Spirit will help us, counsel us, illuminate us, and empower us to accomplish God’s will. We can do all things through Him who strengthens us, but note who is also doing—we must do our part, and it won’t always be easy.  To look at this concept as “living by a list,” “a bunch of do’s and don’ts,” “moralism,” “legalism,” or “Phariseeism” is a lie from the pit of hell and will lead to a life of misery.

In the following video, Piper, Carson, and Keller teach that the key to overcoming pornography is contemplation on the gospel. If we come to grips with how horrible our sin is and what Christ had to do about it, and what He did do about it, we will realize how much Christ loves us on the one hand, and learn to loath the sin on the other. Keller also mentions that realizing how much Christ loves us (because of the cross) will lead to us not hating ourselves which he notes as a major contributor to sin. Of course, the Bible states the opposite: a primarily source of sin comes from loving ourselves more than we love others.

Furthermore, the biblical prescription for learning to hate sin is not contemplation on the gospel, but rather investment. We learn to hate something by not investing in it, but instead investing in something else. People unwittingly learn to hate their spouses in this way. Lack of investment verses other things and a dwelling on their negative aspects only which is not truthful thinking to begin with.

Yes, after Piper advocates spiritual contemplation and Keller adds to the error by adding self esteem psycho-babble, Carson mentions accountability, but be not deceived and listen carefully—he is saying that accountability is only a temporary stopgap until gospel contemplation kicks in. In other words, practical measures as instructed by Scripture are not curative, only gospel contemplation is. In the end, they all agree that accountability lingers close to legalism, and the absolute necessity that those holding one accountable are also gospel centered.

The following video clarifies the fact that there is a line in the sand. The church cannot continue to pretend that both philosophies will help Christians—that’s not true. Also, New Calvinists cannot continue to call the biblical prescription “legalism” unfettered and without contention. How Christians live is at stake.

5 Responses

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  1. said, on September 1, 2011 at 11:40 AM


    I don’t agree with self-esteem psycho-babble either, but would you not agree that sin has left a void in the soul that only a proper relationship to God can fill? If that void continues, people are going to try to fill it with something–Think Augustine. He certainly wasn’t a new Calvinist. These guys aren’t saying we have no responsibility to “pluck out the right eye” if necessary. All they seem to be saying is that we never truly see the heinousness of our sins until we view it in the light of the cross. An old hymn writer penned these words a couple of centuries ago [I am fairly sure he wasn’t a “New Calvinist.”]

    My sins, O how black they appear,
    When in that dear bosom they meet!
    Those sins were the nail and the spear
    That wounded his hands and his feet.

    ‘Twas justice that wreathed for his head
    The thorns that encircled it round;
    Thy temples, Immanuel, bled,
    That mine might with glory be crowned.

    Jesus died not only for the pre-conversion sins of believers but for all our sins. Every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse. Sin does not take on a different character because committed by a believer. This does not mean we continue totally depraved as believers. We now have the Spirit given ability to say “NO” to sin. Still, even that ability was purchased for us at the cross.


  2. Bill said, on September 2, 2011 at 3:41 PM


    I’m as merciless as you are. I like your statement:

    “To look at this concept as “living by a list,” “a bunch of do’s and don’ts,” “moralism,” “legalism,” or “Phariseeism” is a lie from the pit of hell and will lead to a life of misery.”

    Yeah! And they really bring me to the boiling point when they try to associate themselves with the Reformers. Those Charletans, writings by the Reformers abound in the Christian moral responsibilities. How are the New Calvinists like Calvin? Was Geneva cleaned up by mere mental assent and contemplation of the gospel? No way! So often the Scriptural warning is: “Don’t let anybody deceive you,” and the context concerns our lifestyle responsibility. New Calvinists consistently ignore this stuff and never teach it. It’s like taking the commands of Christ, throwing it back at Him and saying “It’s not what I’ve done, it’s what you’ve done,” “I can do nothing.”
    How insulting can you get! How arrogant!

    It’s a good thing you’ve got Susan to calm you down. Me, I’m going to go kick the dog. My wife’s just like I am.

    Arkansas Bill


    • pauldohse said, on September 3, 2011 at 8:28 AM


      Is the dog ok?

      > —–Original Message—– >


  3. theomusicologist said, on October 26, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    Well, I guess that the internet is a place where a free-for-all of opinions can take place. As this video cannot be viewed anymore, I will have to work without it. It is interesting that you say that it is wrong to say that self-hate leads to sin – because you believe that according to the Bible, a primary source of sin comes from loving self more than others.

    I am not sure that if I was a Christian (or a seeker) with deep-rooted personal psychological issues, I would want to be near your brand of Christianity – it might well drive me over the edge. One of your respondents above accuses Piper, Carson and Keller of being insulting and arrogant. This is sadly unfortunate, because self-absorption takes many forms, and guilt actually afflicts those who have a sin concept far more than many of those who don’t. Self-love is one of the most lethally misused concepts in the Christian world – many people are just astonishingly selfish and work very hard to promote and preserve their own self-interests at the expense of others. But more people than some might think have no real self-love, but by constantly reflecting on their sins and mistakes they end up focussing on self rather than on the gospel.

    You appear to be suggesting that focussing on the correct (Biblical) actions is enough to stave off the entrapments of the enemy. You do not acknowledge that one can do the correct actions as externally perceived and still be a raging bag of mass confusion on the inside. You do not seem to be willing to accept that no amount of right action can actually bring a human heart to the place where they yield such devastating addictions as narcotic abuse, pornography, unregulated temper and more – and that is heartbreaking.

    Food is another major addiction, and one that is rampant in the Church. It has become an acceptable vice. I am still fighting it, and every pseudo-legalistic means of beating it has never lasted permanently. I have reached the place where I am learning how to reflect on the fact that I am made in the image of God, and that even though I am not a majorly obese person and you might never know how much of a problem I have emotionally with food because while a little on the large side, I am miles away from being an object of pity because of my weight – and that is my point. Emotional strongholds are not broken by ACTIONS alone – they are broken as one takes up the advice in Ephesians 6:10-18 and puts on the WHOLE armour of God with the help of God. The first part of the armour is the girdle (or belt) of truth – and we know from John 8: 32 that the truth alone will set us free.

    You seem to think that reading this text with a lower-case ‘t’ is enough. Well, I am here today to say to you respectfully that you could not be more wrong. The truth in John 8:32 is the same truth in John 14:6 – and that truth is JESUS CHRIST.

    Contemplation of the gospel would include that little-known opus called the ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ The standard of behaviour set by the Christ of the gospel cannot be separated from the gospel itself. I know what it is to beat many, many sins for many years and feel pride because my external performance was superior to many other Christians whose talk about ‘grace’ seemed cheap and lightweight at times. Now I know that God could have found a way to force me to eat less (the fact that more of us are not sick due to our unhealthy eating habits is a testament to the grace of God) – but in realising that Jesus did not die a horrible death just for me to hurt myself by socially-acceptable overeating, I confront a God of love who wants to woo rather than compel (to borrow Philip Yancey’s phrase).

    Maybe you are serious and sincere in your thinking that these men’s essential thesis is eroneous. This is your right. But as a very serious member of a very Bible-believing church, I have seen nothing in your post to persuade me that you have any more light than anyone else – which includes them.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on October 26, 2011 at 10:04 PM

      Their doctrine was devised by a Seventh-day Adventist who is now an atheist. It is also an antinomian doctrine. My four years of research was compiled in the book that can be found here:


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