Paul's Passing Thoughts

Self-Esteem, Calvinism, and the Mass Graves of Human History

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on October 20, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally posted January 5, 2014

Of course, it is no surprise that God’s creation is most fascinating and teaches us many things about Him. Creation teaches us that God is good, and is a God of order…and good ideas:

“It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong. It’s nature’s way of telling you in a song… Something’s wrong, something’s wrong, something’s wrong.”  

Such is creation and its order; hence, Dr. Phil asks the rhetorical question: “How’s that working for you.” God created the Earth to work well when good ideas are implemented. This is the order of creation. God said to multiply and subdue the earth; ie., make it work well with good ideas. In that, God is glorified—good ideas and good results verify that God is a God of order and goodness.

Spiritual abuse in the church is the hot topic of our day. Discernment blogs exploded in 2008 without anyone stopping to ask why. In that same year, a massive covert church subculture was dubbed, “New Calvinism.” Now, a truth is emerging that no one wants to deal with: New Calvinism is a resurgence of the original article of the Reformation. And the discernment blogosphere is a sandbox where we play with toys representing a reality that we would think is hell on earth if we didn’t know better. It is the same difference between a child playing with a toy tank in the back yard versus a tank commander on the ground in Afghanistan. The blogosphere is playing with issues that are better understood by those who were tied to two horses running in opposite directions.

I am presently working through a recent post by church historian John Immel, a much valued friend of this ministry. If you want to partake in relevant “deep repentance,” read his materials and then surf the discernment blogs as well as your own former take on contemporary church history. For certain, I am not charitable enough with some and forget my own former ignorance as a Reformed pastor. I was primarily duped on the issue of self-esteem. Like all good Reformed pastors, I was a proponent of self-death. I was a proponent of ALL love being an outward focus. Like all good Reformed pastors, I despised Dr. James Dobson.

As the saying goes, a clock that doesn’t work is right twice a day. There is some rightness to the idea that others are important. Luther’s self-death will work and free you from the emotional investments of this world—it is VERY effective…and cowardly. As I work through John’s post, I find my red pen underlining and writing, “Luther-Heidelberg Disputation, Luther-HD, HD theses 28,” over and over again. Calvin expanded Luther’s treatise in the Calvin Institutes and presented it to Francis 1 as a political document, a fact never mentioned in our day. The masses thinking well of themselves has never been good news for many governments. Those who think themselves worthless are much easier to control. And when you have a fancy to kill them, they will report to the gallows with joy. Of course, due to their powerful faith in God. Ahhhmen.

Let’s talk Bible. I believe the Bible is God’s full-orbed metaphysical statement to mankind; specifically, to the individual. It is His metaphysics, epistemology, ethic, and politics. It is written to the individual. I am not dismissing the need for teachers, but be sure of this: the you need me to help you understand what God is really saying ploy was first used on Eve in the garden and is the mainstay employed by the kingdom of darkness till this day.

Simply stated, the Bible teaches that we are wired to value ourselves. Wisdom is deep and a matter of Biblical balance. No man is “totally depraved.” Biblically, we are instructed to love others as much as we already love ourselves. That’s not a bad thing; that is how God created us. God even wants us to use that fact to “treat others as you yourselves would want to be treated.” The apostle Paul stated that NO man has ever hated himself—so treat your wife accordingly.

A goal of hating ourselves, the essence of Calvinism and Reformed doctrine in particular, is just a really bad idea with the results following. And it’s NOT Biblical. And it leads to all kinds of goofy ideas that have filled mass graves for centuries. And self-esteem is something we earn—it is a truthful evaluation of ourselves. The apostle Paul wrote: “Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought.” The Bible calls for a truthful self-evaluation and assumes you are able to do so.

In fact, it gives us confidence that we can love others and help them. James Dobson still isn’t my cup of tea, but you will never find him presiding over a death panel. When I was a Reformed pastor, I despised James Dobson because I was in fact a dangerous person. My ideas were dangerous because I was of the Reformed tradition. Sure, nevertheless a good guy amongst that camp; I would have never manned the ovens at Auschwitz. I would have merely kept my silence and said, “But for the grace of God, there go I.”

What in the world prompted this post? Well, note carefully what a commenter wrote to me on another blog yesterday which is incredibly ironic given that I am still working thorough John’s article:

The problem is with the human heart. We think too highly of ourselves and not highly enough of those around us. Those with power tend to use it to dominate others. (Like males over females) Only through accurately understanding the Gospel can godly humility replace the ugliness of human pride. Boasting in oneself will then cease. We will begin to respect others enough to speak the truth in love and not in arrogance… I’m sorry PPT. I will try to be more careful in the future. However, by focusing on scapegoating Calvinism as the source of this problem (as you are doing), you miss the crucial point that because other groups are also guilty of this abuse, your premise is wrong. I get it that you hate Calvinism, but don’t let that bias blind you to the real cause: the prideful human heart that is not truly humbled by the Gospel. One must be convinced of and transformed by the Gospel in order to produce godly fruit. True humility cannot be faked. Boasting, arrogance, domination of others, are just a few characteristics of an unbelieving heart. It is dangerous to think that such deceitful pride can only affect others and never us.

Truly ironic. The commenter is anti-spiritual abuse, yet holds to the same self-worth = pride philosophy that is the crux of every “gospel” written to the likes of Francis 1. I close with a comment from another on the same stream:

We are missing each other, I think.

The question for me isn’t whether spiritual abuse can happen in any denomination or religion. It does. The REAL question is: Do certain doctrines attract abusers / evil perps? To say that since abuse happens across the board in all religions, so abuse could never be problematic to certain doctrines/religions is a logical fallacy.

The doctrine of total depravity teaches people they don’t have personal responsibility. It is God who orchestrates it all as the grand puppet-master. That is quite problematic, IMO.

Right. If you are worthless, if you haven’t been gifted by God, if you need someone else to interpret reality for you, it is the Staples easy-button of life. It is the easy road trodden by those that sing merrily on the way to the gallows…

…because we have so much faith in God.


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