Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Potter’s House: Calvinism’s View of the Law Driven by Platonist Metaphysics

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 27, 2013

Two Man 517

 

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We Are Declared Righteous, and We Are Righteous 

I had planned to continue in Romans 10 and 11 tonight as we are looking at those two chapters as one unit beginning in 10:1 and ending at 11:26 with a doxology following. But a combination of events has prompted me to share something very important tonight. Lord willing, we will finish our study on justification from the book of Romans within the next two weeks and begin studying more in the area of sanctification, or Christian living.

Last week, I wrote an article announcing that the Potter’s House is now an organized church. I have also been very busy because of the upcoming conference—so busy that I almost didn’t recognize the craziness that was going on. Paul’s Passing Thoughts blog is not a blog that usually evokes a lot of comments, but out of nowhere, it seemed that Calvinist crackpots where converging on the blog from every direction. I finally stopped to take a look at what was going on. That post in particular drew more than 60 comments (with an additional 30 related comments posted on other articles) in a couple of days with no end in sight—I finally closed the comments down.

But with the research Susan has been doing for the conference in the back of my mind, a particular comment on the blog hit me right between the eyes—truly a light bulb moment. It just made it all come together for me and supplied a clear vision moving forward for the Potter’s House. First, let me display the Reformed illustration that will be the thesis of all three of my sessions at the conference:

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This is a Reformed illustration of the official Reformation gospel, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us. Here is what Susan’s research has made clear to me: this is nothing more or less than a Platonist construct; period. This is predicated on the idea that matter is inherently evil and only spirit is the true, good, and the beautiful which is Plato’s trinity. That’s what this is. Man, being part of the material world, cannot have grace or goodness within him. And I quote:

When the ground of justification moves from Christ outside of us to the work of Christ inside of us, the gospel (and the human soul) is imperiled. It is an upside down gospel.

~ John Piper

In our time we are awash in a “Sea of Subjectivism,” as one magazine put it over twenty years ago [see left man in illustration]. Let me explain. In 1972 a publication known as Present Truth published the results of a survey with a five-point questionnaire which dealt with the most basic issues between the medieval church and the Reformation. Polling showed 95 per cent of the “Jesus People” were decidedly medieval and anti-Reformation in their doctrinal thinking about the gospel. Among church-going Protestants they found ratings nearly as high.

~ John H. Armstrong

And here is an excerpt from the exact article Armstrong spoke of:

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Whether the Medieval church believed the new birth aided us in finishing our justification is not the point. The point is that sanctification does not finish justification and the two or totally separate, but more on that later. I now want to address the aforementioned comment on Paul’s Passing Thoughts blog:

Perhaps you could give me an example of a Calvinist teaching that matter is evil in and of itself. What you say about law is true regarding Calvinists and Paul’s teaching except that Calvinists do believe that Jesus satisfied the Law’s righteous requirements so that the believer stands justified before the Law.

And this was my answer to the comment:

You just stated it yourself. Calvinists believe Jesus had to fulfill the law for us and not in us because we are of matter and not Spirit. Paul taught that the new birth enabled the righteous requirements of the law to be fulfilled in us in sanctification–and the law is abolished in regard to justification.

Of course, this is a direct reference to Matthew 5:17;

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

THIS IS IT RIGHT HERE. The Calvinist interpretation of this passage equals the same as the two-man illustration. This has to be interpreted as Christ fulfilling the law for us while not abolishing it for justification. Abolishment pertains to justification; i.e., Christ didn’t come to abolish the law in regard to justification, and fulfillment is completely of Christ for that purpose. Because of the fundamental idea that the true, the good, and the beautiful cannot be united with evil and create good, this MUST be their view of law. It is of necessity within that construct.

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But this is where interpreting the Bible in context of justification and sanctification is absolutely critical. Is Matthew 5:17 regarding justification or sanctification? Unless this distinction is made, the Bible contradicts itself. How so? Because in fact, the apostle Paul stated that Christ came to “end” the law:

Romans 10:4 – For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

When one believes, they are no longer “under the law” ….for justification. In regard to justification, the law is abolished—it is no longer a standard for our justification:

Romans 3:19 – Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

Romans 5:13 – for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

So what was Christ saying when He said He didn’t come to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it? He was talking about sanctification which by the way is the subject of the Sermon on the Mount. Justification by faith alone is nowhere to found in that sermon. The sermon is about how the Christian builds their life on a rock. So, in what way did Christ say He was going to fulfill the law? Let’s see:

Romans 8:3 – For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Christ came and died on the cross to release us from the law so that the law could be fulfilled in us….for sanctification. Another way of looking at this is that he came and died on the cross to destroy the works of the devil in us:

1John 3:8 – Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Living a life of sin denies the very reason Christ went the cross. Ephesians gives us a good example of how this is applied:

Ephesians 4:19 – They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

By practicing righteousness (put on) we please God, love Christ, and fulfill the righteousness of the law in His service. By putting off the old us we serve Christ by destroying the works of the devil. But if obeying the law perfectly to maintain our just standing is the case, we are obviously out of the loop. Moreover, it combines the good with mortality which is anathema in the Platonist construct. Hence, in Calvinism, the law must remain as a standard to maintain a just standing. That makes righteousness within mortality impossible. This is the crux of the issue. True righteousness operating in imperfection is a metaphysical impossibility to the Platonist. But God has accomplished it by putting to death the mortal body we dwell in, abolishing the law for our justification, imputing our sin to Christ, and imputing His righteousness to us apart from the law. The old us died with Christ and cannot be judged, and the righteous seed of God dwells within us.

Let’s examine some of the answers to this that I received by Calvinists on the blog:

No, I was asking for an example of a Calvinist teaching that matter is evil in and of itself. Where does any Calvinist teach that Jesus had to fulfill the law for us because we are matter and not spirit? Now I even have questions about your statement that Paul taught that law is abolished in regard to justification. Where does he ever say the law is abolished in regard to justification?

In regard to the latter, we have answered that question. Paul stated plainly that we are justified APART from the law in many places. In regard to the former, it is like a wife-beater demanding to be shown in the Bible where it states specifically that he cannot beat his wife. It’s ludicrous. The principle can be seen in Calvinism’s “T” in T.U.L.I.P: total depravity. Look, I could once again cite the Calvin Institutes to make this point, but I think the following tweet from Tullian Tchividjian should suffice:

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This mentality mimics Calvin precisely. Hence, my answer:

Calvin rejected the idea that any saint has ever done one righteous deed that pleased God (CI 3.14.9-11). Was he speaking of flesh or spirit? And if both are depraved, why would it make a difference?

I got this in reply:

Even those who believe in total depravity (whether in a regenerate or unregenerate state—most Calvinists would not subscribe to the idea that believers continue to be totally depraved in the same sense as are the unregenerate) do not believe the body is evil in and of itself.

And my reply:

In regard to you: we are all totally depraved, but not in the same way, and it doesn’t mean our bodies are inherently evil. Right. Typical Calvinist double speaking nonsense–you will not be wasting any more of my time. Post if you will, and get your jollies doing it–but they will not see the light of day here.

No matter what verbiage Calvinists use and what they seem to say, they must be brought back to the two-man illustration to give an account. In our day, the New Calvinist problem is a return of the exact same Gnosticism (which came from Platonism) that wreaked havoc on the first century church. This can be seen throughout the New Testament. New Calvinists like Paul David Tripp and CJ Mahaney call Christians, “enemies of God,” “God ignoring,” “we hate God,” etc., while the apostles stated the exact opposite:

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

The book of 1John is peppered with rebuttals that reflect a contention against the exact same things that the New Calvinists teach in our day. That is because John was contending against Gnosticism and that’s what the New Calvinists are. This will be clearly demonstrated at this year’s conference historically, doctrinally, and practically.

Therefore, the clear vision for the Potter’s House moving forward is a strong assertion that we are not only declared righteous, we are righteous. Our primary goals are aggressive sanctification in all areas of life, emphasis on doctrinal and theological training, and making disciples by teaching them all that the Lord commanded.

Because only truth sanctifies.

3 Responses

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on May 27, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.

    Like

  2. BD said, on May 27, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    Hi Paul,
    “Therefore, the clear vision for the Potter’s House moving forward is a strong assertion that we are not only declared righteous, we are righteous.”

    I think this is a worthy goal, and sorely needed in our day. This kind of clarity around the issue of justification and sanctification con do nothing but help those who are in bondage. Well said.

    The opposite of clarity is what I experienced this weekend first hand. I was having coffee with a local pastor who I love very much and who has helped me a great deal, and he told me in no uncertain terms that he has to hide his Calvinism from his congregation, and that he is careful to do so. So what we talked about last week is true, at least in this case; Calvinists often come in by stealth, and keep their true doctrine under wraps by design. The people he is ministering to are unaware what he is teaching. Slowly he is turning the congregation into a “reformed” Bible church. If it is so wonderful and right and true, why the need to hide?

    Anyway, God bless you on your efforts. Love & grace to you and all who gather in your house,
    BD

    Like

    • paulspassingthoughts said, on May 27, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      BD,

      Thanks, I continue to screen several comments by Calvinists who want to set another reality as criteria for the debate; ie, direct citations from the Calvin Institutes are not citations. Whatever–I am done wasting my time with them.

      Like


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