Paul's Passing Thoughts

Calvinist Catholicism, Denial of Sanctification, Denial of the New Birth, and Distortion of the Trinity Through “Emphasis”

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 9, 2014

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Originally published January 3, 2013

  “Those of Reformed theology are not under grace. How do we know that? Because they say Christians are still under the dominion of sin. And plainly, according to the Bible, that equals being under the law and not under grace.”

The mystery of why sanctification is so anemic today is no longer a mystery. Traditionally, this has been the case for a long time in the Western church because the fathers of the Reformation discounted sanctification all together. Sure, they used the term, but it was disingenuous then, and continues to be such with those who use the term today. Weak sanctification leads to very unexciting lives which are no incentive to share the “new life” with others. We share what we are excited about, and being no better than what we were before our “conversion” is neither good news nor worth sharing. It seems the only thing we have to share is, “We are more humble than you because we know that we are empty vessels waiting to be filled and maybe the Lord will fill us and maybe he won’t.” Such a message just doesn’t set the world on fire.

The more I learn, the more I am convinced that there is really no difference between Catholicism and Protestantism: both are “under the law.” One is Jesus plus ritual to complete your justification and the other is Jesus plus making sure you do nothing in your sanctification to complete your justification (because the “just” shall live by faith [ALONE]). And in both cases, being faithful to the authority of the church secures your salvation. Calvin believed that we stay saved through daily repentance for daily salvation, and that forgiveness can only be found in Reformed churches:

Secondly, this passage shows that the gratuitous pardon of sins is given us not only once, but that it is a benefit perpetually residing in the Church, and daily offered to the faithful. For the Apostle here addresses the faithful; as doubtless no man has ever been, nor ever will be, who can otherwise please God, since all are guilty before him; for however strong a desire there may be in us of acting rightly, we always go haltingly to God. Yet what is half done obtains no approval with God. In the meantime, by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God. Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 45: Catholic Epistles).

And, Calvin’s homeboy, Luther, believed that Reformed elders have the authority to forgive sins:

Confession consists of two parts. One is that we confess our sins. The other is that we receive the absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God himself and by no means doubt but firmly believe that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven (Timothy J. Wengert: A Contemporary Translation of Luther’s Small Catechism; Augsburg Fortress PUB 1994, p.49).

And on page 35….

Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give me and all believers in Christ eternal life.

The granting of eternal life is future, and is based on faithfulness to the established church. Look, I have been a pastor long enough to know that many Baptists associate their salvation with church membership. I have suggested cleaning up the roles in a few churches, and the response is always one that hints of this being synonymous with taking away one’s salvation. Where did they get that idea? Whether Catholic or Protestant, you can get your absolution in a booth or an alter call—there is no difference.

Calvinism, and the Reformed gospel in general, is “under the law.” In the Scriptures, being under the law equals being under the dominion of sin:

Romans 6:14—For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 2:12—For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

Romans 2:15—For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

Those of Reformed theology are not under grace. How do we know that? Because they say Christians are still under the dominion of sin. And plainly, according to the Bible, that equals being under the law and not under grace. Quotes from the Reformed that establish this are myriad, I will note one:

We are enemies of God. We are God ignoring. We are God defying. We hate God. (CJ Mahaney: Resolved Conference 2008).

Comments by Reformed pastor Matt Chandler speaking of Christians as being “wicked sinners” have apparently been scrubbed from the internet (see here, and here), but nonetheless are indicative of the Reformed position.

This simply equals nothing less than, from the biblical perspective, Christians remaining in an unregenerate state though they call it regeneration. And this, they in fact do:

Bavinck too, wrote in connection with the regenerating work of the Spirit: “The regenerate man is no whit different in substance from what He was before his regeneration” (G. C. Berkouwer: Faith and Sanctification, p. 87).

Unchanging regeneration: such oxymorons are not few in Reformed writings. And though they would deny it, sanctification and the new birth are rejected as a matter logical conclusion. There can be no sanctification or new creaturehood where we are still under the bondage and dominion of sin. This is antithetical to being under grace. The Reformed think tank that launched the present-day New Calvinist movement which is a resurgence of authentic Calvinism, wrote an article in their theological journal entitled, “The False Gospel of the New Birth.” The article can be read here.

The argument that is used is one of emphasis which is Gnostic epistemology: sure, stars are true, but they only shine because of the Sun. Sure, shadows are true, but they wouldn’t exist without the Sun either. Sure, flowers are true, but they wouldn’t be able to grow without the Sun as well. What we want to do is focus on what really gives life: the Sun. To emphasize stars, shadows, or flowers over the thing that actually supplies the life will diminish life to whatever degree that the “good thing” is emphasized over the “best thing.”

plato-sun

Beginning to get the picture? It enables them to acknowledge the truth of sanctification and the new birth while deemphasizing them into oblivion. Out of sight; out of mind. To say that the new birth and our ability in sanctification are deemphasized in today’s church is certainly an understatement.

Said think tank, The Australian Forum, used the same argument to emphasize Christ over the Father and the Holy Spirit as well. Christocentricity is very important to Reformed theology. The core four of this think tank was Geoffrey Paxton, Jon Zens, Graeme Goldsworthy, and Robert Brinsmead. In a book where Paxton documents the Reformed heritage of Seventh-Day Adventism, he stated the following:

Luther and Calvin did not simply stress Christ alone over against the Roman Catholic emphasis on works-righteousness. The Reformers also stressed Christ alone over against all—be they Roman Catholics or Protestants (29) — who would point to the inside of the believer as the place where justifying righteousness dwells. Christ alone means literally Christ alone, and not the believer. And for that matter, it does not even mean any other member of the Trinity! (The Shaking of Adventism: p. 41).

Likewise, the same argument is made in regard to sanctification:

The distinction between the two types of righteousness will make the final emphasis of the Reformation easier to understand. The Reformers contended that the believer is righteous in this life only by faith. In saying this, they were not denying either the necessity or the reality of sanctification in all true believers. Rather, they were asserting that in this life sanctification is never good enough to stand in the judgment. The believer must look only to the righteousness of faith (the righteousness of the God-man) for his acceptance with God.

The inadequacy of sanctificational renewal was an integral part of Reformation teaching. Its corollary was the Reformers’ steadfast gaze at the righteousness of faith—namely, the doing and dying of the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth. Though the believer fights against sin and seeks to be a faithful law-keeper, sin nevertheless remains until his dying day Luther put it forcefully:

Paul, good man that he was, longed to be without sin, but to it he was chained. I too, in common with many others, long to stand outside it, but this cannot be. We belch forth the vapours of sin; we fall into it, rise up again, buffet and torment ourselves night and day; but, since we are confined in this flesh, since we have to bear about with us everywhere this stinking sack, we cannot rid ourselves completely of it, or even knock it senseless. We make vigorous attempts to do so, but the old Adam retains his power until he is deposited in the grave. The Kingdom of God is a foreign country, so foreign that even the saints must pray: ‘Almighty God, I acknowledge my sin unto thee. Reckon not unto me my guiltiness, O Lord.’ There is no sinless Christian. If thou chancest upon such a man, he is no Christian, but an anti-Christ. Sin stands in the midst of the Kingdom of Christ, and wherever the Kingdom is, there is sin; for Christ has set sin in the House of David.

(Ibid pp. 46,47).

Hence, at least Reformed theology is consistent in regard to Christians being under the law and also still under sin’s dominion. We must live by faith alone because we will supposedly stand in a future judgment that will determine righteousness by a perfect keeping of the law. And it’s true, those under the law will stand in such a judgment. But will we? The heart of the Reformation posited the idea that if we live by faith alone in sanctification, Christ will stand in the judgment for us.

But we know well what James thought of sanctification by faith alone.

paul

 

One Response

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on September 11, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.

    Like


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