Paul's Passing Thoughts

ABWE Scandal Has Too Much Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 16, 2011

The present-day church is saturated with the gospel, and that’s not good news. It’s not good news for the church because the church doesn’t need more and more justification; we are already justified in full because we believe in what Christ did for us on the cross. The gospel is for the lost, not the church. We are ministers of the gospel. Our message is, “Be reconciled to God!” (2Corinthians 5:18-21). We are already reconciled, this would seem evident. Have Christians become so mindless that they have actually bought into  the idea that the saved still need salvation?

We are justified in full. It is a onetime declaration by God. It’s done. In fact, it is so done that we were already considered to be glorified before the Earth was even created (Ephesians 1:4, Romans 8:30). How much more done can you get? Nothing that happens in sanctification can change that declaration. But today’s Christianity is saturated with a doctrine that teaches that justification must be maintained by good works. To be specific, it’s salvation by antinomian good works. Let me explain.

If justification must be maintained by good works, the works would have to be perfect, right? That excludes us. So who must do the good works to maintain the justification? Right. Jesus obeys for us. They deceptively call this “justification by faith alone,” while deliberately omitting the rest of what they believe: justification and sanctification are the same thing. They believe sanctification maintains our standing with God until glorification. They deceptively call this “progressive sanctification” when it is really progressive justification. Therefore, any effort on our part to keep the law would supposedly be an attempt to maintain justification. That’s where this doctrine becomes antinomian.

Who’s “they”? They are the New Calvinists and they are everywhere. And they are in the process of drowning the ABWE scandal (concerning the former Bangladesh  missionary children [FAMC]) with the gospel. They will keep feeding this issue with “gospel” until it goes away and the raping of children will continue in the name of the gospel. As illustrated in chapter 14 of The Truth About New Calvinism, this is exactly what went on in the world’s largest Baptist church for years. The victims were shamed for wanting justice because of reasons like the following: “We are all sinners saved by grace.” “Justice? That just means you’re self-righteous.” “We are all totally depraved and in need of daily salvation. Besides, if this ministry folds just because sinners sin, the message of the gospel will be silenced.” “Real Christians forgive the way Christ forgave them, and move on with their lives. That’s the gospel.” “You’re a glutton, and brother Bob likes little boys; so what? We all need the gospel everyday just as much as we did the day we were saved.” “What happened is irrelevant; we aren’t here to be the gospel, we are here to preach the gospel. It’s not about what we do; it’s about what Jesus has done.” Sound familiar?

According to the New Calvinists, the answer to everything is the supposed practical application of New Calvinism which is Gospel Contemplationism. By contemplating the gospel and coming to a deeper and deeper appreciation/understanding of what Christ did for us, and continues to do for us, “gospel transformation” takes place. In their book, this is what all parties need in order to make this go away in the name of Jesus. More gospel for Donn Ketchum and more gospel for the FAMC. A deeper understanding of the gospel would lead Ketchum to repentance and lead the FAMC to forgive, and all would be well. In my own personal situation, I was told by New Calvinists that my continual effort to hold them accountable for what they did to my family was proof that I didn’t really understand the gospel. I was also told that I valued myself more than “a whole ministry.” Others who stood with me were threatened. One church told my son-in-law that they would ruin his ministry and his name if he stood with me.

In light of the Penn State allegations and the comparison to the ABWE scandal, the articles that have been held up as revelatory and edifying make my point. Each had its own thesis regarding the symptom, but all concluded with the same solution: the gospel. The first article was from pastor Daniel Darling. His thesis was that insular communities are the cause of such behavior. Then he concluded with these thoughts:

So what’s the cure? For churches and Christian organizations, the gospel is the only medicine. Our sinful condition and helpless state before God, our need of the redemption of the Cross, and our dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit should all serve as a constant reminder that nobody is above the worst kinds of sins.

So in these situations the only cure for churches is more salvation? More redemption? Do you believe that? I hope not. The Bible is very specific in regard to what the church is to do in these situations, and more salvation is not included. Here is how Darling concluded:

We should pray for the gospel to penetrate that campus during this dark hour. This is more than a story. There are souls at stake. And, yet those of us who live thousands of miles removed from Penn State should pray that God would use this to sharpen our leadership in creating open, authentic, gospel-saturated communities of faith.

Gospel saturation? Is that the answer? No.

The second post was from the Practical Theology for Women blog. The author’s thesis in this second post was that Christians often overemphasize authority over advocacy. The solution? Again, the gospel:

If the gospel is truly our foundation in Christian ministry, we have hope for redemption and transformation when we choose humble responses that seek to correct our mistakes. Humble repentance, not defensiveness, is the absolute key to dealing with past failures, and meditation on God’s strong admonition to do justice for the oppressed is key for the future.

Notice the emphasis on Christians seeking more redemption. She also alludes to the New Calvinist/Gospel Contemplationism tenet of deep repentance which I will not delve into here. In another post, she further defines how she perceives the gospel:

Be wary of the “gospel-centered” teacher whose gospel ends at penal substitution, for they have nothing for life after salvation except pulling yourself up by the bootstraps. The gospel becomes the source of OBLIGATION instead of the source of EQUIPPING. You’re exhorted to stop gossiping or sleeping around or overeating because it makes the gospel look bad. That’s gospel obligation that misses completely the value and power of imputed righteousness. The true gospel doesn’t obligate you to do good. No, it EQUIPS you to do good. There is a profound difference. That battle with your weight, the temptation to gossip, anger with your children—the gospel equips you to do battle with sin with the very same power that raised Christ from the dead. You have a lavish spiritual bank account, and this is integral to the very good news of all Christ’s life and death has accomplished for you.

Notice that sanctification is either all pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps or all of Christ. The fact that it is both is excluded.

The Third post was from Tim Henderson who I believe is a chaplain for Campus Crusade for Christ at Penn State. His Thesis was that lack of true love was the cause of what happened there. The cure? Again, the gospel:

He loved radically, gave himself away. Not just figuratively, but literally.  He laid down his life as a sacrifice on the cross to protect us from the punishment our sins deserve.  He loves you just as much as he loves himself.

To the extent that this penetrates your heart [the gospel] it will transform you and make you love better. It will give you not just the affection of love, but the courage of love. A love that moves to protect. That moves into danger.  A love that doesn’t measure obligation, but that suffers so that the beloved won’t.

Also notice that Henderson excludes obligation (or duty)  from being an element of love or at least a catalyst for love in some situations. True love is a narrow concept that comes only from contemplating the gospel. And in all three of these articles, accountability and justice is excluded and replaced with everybody, perpetrators and victims alike, embracing the shame of it all as common sinners saved by grace. This is not the biblical prescription for dealing with these situations.

In our day, there are two major schools of thought concerning sanctification, and the difference can be best defined by a longtime persecutor of Jay Adams, David Powlison. These two men represent the two schools of thought in our day. During a lecture at John Piper’s church, Powlison said the following:

This might be quite a controversy, but I think it’s worth putting in. Adams had a tendency to make the cross be for conversion. And the Holy Spirit was for sanctification.  And actually even came out and attacked my mentor, Jack Miller, my pastor that I’ve been speaking of through the day, for saying that Christians should preach the gospel to themselves. I think Jay was wrong on that.

In all of this, the FAMC will be hearing many voices. They would do well to determine which camp the voices are coming from. Each camp will yield radically different solutions to their endeavor.

paul

20 Responses

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  1. gracewriterrandy said, on November 27, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    Heather,

    I was just saying I had missed the words “Jesus doesn’t have a clue” in any text of Scripture. There is no doubt you are right that Jesus’ enemies said some similar things to him on more than one occasion.

    The reason I said Paul doesn’t have a clue is that he has lumped me with people I don’t know, have never read, and often don’t agree with. He has also put Ernie Reisinger into the NCT camp, where he clearly did not belong. In spite of my protestations to the contrary, He has refused to acknowledge that he was not right. Jesus’ enemies hated him because he told the truth. That is clearly not the case here.

    Like

  2. Heather Ingram said, on November 28, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    “…That is clearly not the case here.”

    Debatable….

    Like

  3. paulspassingthoughts said, on March 26, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    Reblogged this on Paul's Passing Thoughts.

    Like

  4. Bridget said, on March 27, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Gracewriterandy –

    Why did you respond so gracelessly to Aaron about Paul?

    Why do you bring up a person, Ernest R., who was not even mentioned in this article, and then procede to harass Paul about someone he didn’t reference here?

    Why do you seem concerned about one man, not even referenced here, and not concerned about “the least of these” WHO are the issue?

    I have no clue who you are or what you are about, but the little bit I have been exposed to you seems very graceless.

    Many people (look at SGM and Mars Hill abuse sites) see exactly what Paul is talking about.

    Jesus went about “doing” good and called us to do the same. Many NC don’t talk about santification at all anymore – just look at the cross and remember what Christ has accomplished. This is not a bad thing, until it becomes the ONLY thing. We are called TO DO good works! Now, if you are constantly told that you are totally depraved and your works are as filthy rags, then what is the point of doing anything? We might as well sit around and think (contemplate) on the cross? The doctrine is producing stench (yes, strong words).

    Don’t you think there is something wrong in the Church when the world’s laws protect women and children better than the Church does? This is what happens when the Church are not doers, but hearers only.

    Like

    • paulspassingthoughts said, on March 27, 2012 at 3:24 PM

      Bridget,

      Amen. I can’t think of one thing that I can add.

      Like


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