Paul's Passing Thoughts

Calvinism and the Cultural Spoon Feeding of Control and Tyranny

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 22, 2015

potionI inadvertently stumbled upon the fact that Mark Dever’s 9Marks blog has pulled down their post on John Calvin’s power of the keys. The article was an accurate rendition of the Reformed doctrine, but apparently not nuanced enough. One of the classic marks of cultism is truth on the installment plan or a bite at a time. You don’t actually show the pie in all its glory, you feed the pie to folks in truism-size bites until they become the pie without realizing it. It matters little to Calvinists if you understand how you are controlled, just so you are controlled.

Said another way, you never see the bottle of Christocentric potion, you only open wide and let Mark Dever et al spoon-feed it to you. So, as a service to inquiring minds that want to know, I dug up an article that I wrote about the overly overt Calvinist article. Enjoy.

9Marks Keys

Leeman’s article supplies the Cliff Notes to his book and explains something that I have seen among New Calvinist groups for a long time: they believe elders have the authority to determine/declare the salvation of a person. Whether they are right or wrong is irrelevant, God will honor it. I have seen firsthand how this teaching enables New Calvinist leaders to control parishioners. You see, I only write articles like “New Calvinism and Hotel California” to keep my sanity, but there is more truth to it than I like to admit. Unless you want to lose your salvation, you’re not leaving a New Calvinist church unless they say you can. And contending against their doctrine, well, that’s not for the faint of heart.

Leeman states the following in the article:

If the sinner still does not repent, round 4 ensues, which involves removing the individual from the covenant community—treating him like an outsider. Sometimes this is called “church discipline” or “excommunication.”

Jesus then invokes the keys of the kingdom again: whatever the church binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever the church looses on earth will be loosed in heaven. And Jesus is not addressing the apostles or the universal church here. He’s envisioning a local church. The local church, it appears, has been given the apostolic keys of the kingdom. As a result…

The local church has heaven’s authority for declaring who on earth is a kingdom citizen and therefore represents heaven.

And….

Jesus has authorized the local church to stand in front of a confessor, to consider the confessor’s confession, to consider his or her life, and to announce an official judgment on heaven’s behalf. Is that the right confession? Is this a true confessor? It’s just like Jesus did with Peter.

And, when do new Calvinists have the authority to do this? According to Leeman:

Matthew 18, which is filled with even more earth and heaven talk than Matthew 16, presents a crystal clear picture of this authority in the context of church discipline. But the ability to remove someone from membership presupposes an overarching authority to assess a person’s gospel words and deeds and to render a judgment. This authority begins the moment a person shows up in the church building doors claiming, like Peter did, that Jesus is the Christ.

In case you missed it: “This authority begins the moment a person shows up in the church building doors claiming, like Peter did, that Jesus is the Christ.” Told ya. In a New Calvinist church, they think they have authority over you whether you’re a member or not.

And what if they are wrong about their declaration? According to Leeman:

Will the local church exercise the keys perfectly? No. It will make mistakes just like every other authority established by Jesus makes mistakes. As such, the local church will be an imperfect representation of Christ’s end-time gathering. But the fact that it makes mistakes, just like presidents and parents do, does not mean it’s without an authoritative mandate.

Oh well, stuff happens, right?

Leeman ends the piece, like all New Calvinists do with a back door of escape in case somebody who matters calls them out on such outrageous teachings:

Does all this mean that what a local church does on earth actually changes a person’s status in heaven? No, the church’s job is like an ambassador’s or an embassy’s. Remember what I said about visiting the U.S. Embassy in Brussels when my passport expired. The embassy didn’t make me a citizen, it formally affirmed it in a way I could not myself. So with a local church.

This statement completely contradicts everything he said prior. If Christ binds it in heaven, WHY WOULD IT NOT CHANGE THE STAUS OF THE BELIEVER? Is it bound or not?

Of course, the message he wants parishioners to get is the authority part and the supposed fact that an elder declaration concerning a person’s salvation carries some hefty weight. But his contradiction makes my point. In Matthew 18, there is no such authority even being discussed, that’s why Leeman necessarily contradicts himself. By the time you get to the fourth step, several people are involved in what’s usually a messy situation. Several different scenarios could be in the mix here. Why did Jesus go from telling it to the whole church to discussing two or three people? I believe that Jesus is saying that heaven will honor the ones in the situation that are conducting themselves truthfully—even if it is only two people. I don’t think Jesus is assuming that church discipline always goes well.

Regardless of how weak you think that argument is, clearly, the salvific status of the person is not in view here. Only fellowship status is in view; they are to be treated “like” an unbeliever, NOT DECALRED AN UNBELIEVER. How do we know this? Because in the situation at Corinth regarding the guy that committed a sexual sin of the baser sort, Paul assumes that he is a believer, even in the midst of his excommunication:

1 Corinthians 5:5

Hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

If one examines the Scriptures carefully, there is really no such thing as “church discipline” to begin with. There is self-discipline and the Lord’s discipline. We change a believer’s fellowship status so that the Lord will discipline them, but the church does not do the discipline. This point is much more than mere semantics and keeps so-called “church discipline” in proper perspective. There is much woe in the church because many elders think they do the discipline and not the Lord.

paul

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2 Responses

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  1. […] want to comment on an article that was brought up at PPT in this post Calvinism and the Cultural Spoon Feeding of Control and Tyranny.  There an article by Jonathan Leeman that used to exist on the 9marks webpage is mentioned.  The […]

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  2. lydia said, on January 25, 2015 at 2:53 PM

    “The church does not now and never has had this kind of authority”

    But their “truth” is what is considered “orthodoxy” from tradition. Therefore their hero’s had this sort of authority, historically. Calvin and other Reformers, Puritans, etc.

    Their “religion” is what they claim is orthodoxy from tradition. Has nothing to do with Christ at all. They are little insecure boys who need authority over others.

    Wonder why it got taken down? Could it be their position is getting torn apart on too many blogs?

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