Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, Part 7: Martin Luther’s Unveiling of the Bondage of the Will

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 14, 2015

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Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio.com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 7 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, Martin Luther’s Unveiling of the Bondage of the Will.”

Greetings from the Potters House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalog can be found at tancpublishing.com.

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Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

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Tonight, we continue in our sentence by sentence evaluation of the HD [Heidelberg Disputation] after addressing some asides in parts five and six. We hear a lot about Martin Luther’s bondage of the will. Tonight, we are looking at the very conception of Luther’s beliefs on the human will. What we are going to find is that Luther’s explanation of human will derived from his position of mortal and venial sin.

Simply stated, if one believes that every act they perform is mortal sin, even their good works, their life is forgivable. Man must not believe he can do a good work. Let’s use theses 11 and 12 to segue into thesis 13 which is the first unveiling of Luther’s bondage of the will.

Thesis 11: Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work.

This is clear from Thesis 4. For it is impossible to trust in God unless one has despaired in all creatures and knows that nothing can profit one without God. Since there is no person who has this pure hope, as we said above, and since we still place some confidence in the creature, it is clear that we must, because of impurity in all things, fear the judgment of God. Thus arrogance must be avoided, not only in the work, but in the inclination also, that is, it must displease us still to have confidence in the creature.

Here is something that I haven’t talked about enough in this series: the Reformers were masters of doublespeak. So far, it is obvious that Luther disavowed any value in regard to human life. Yet, in some sentences, he sort of makes it sound like that the issue is life without God. This isn’t the case at all; this is a strict dichotomy between 100% evil and 100% good with nothing in-between.

In contrast, God makes new creatures of mortal men. This flies in the face of Reformed ideology and all of the theology that flows from it. Note that, like all good Gnostics, Luther saw impurity in “all things.” And of course, that includes mankind.

Hence, as stated in this thesis by Luther, man must not have any confidence in self. In other words, God’s creation of man has no inherent ability. The natural ability to do anything is the glory story. Anything that brings glory to man diminishes God. Listen, as one example, the Puritans didn’t dress like they did for no good reason. To wear something with a little color or style would have been the glory story. By the way, do you want to help people? Know this: EVERYTHING people do they do for a reason. Logic drives action. If you want to help people, find the logic behind the action.

So, Reformed ideology splits reality into a strict either/or dichotomy; it’s either the glory story or the cross story. The glory story, or the story of man, can only bring about arrogance.

Let’s pause here to look at the foundational ideology of the Reformation which deals primarily with metaphysics. Like I said, everything people believe and do flows from their logic, so what is the logic that all of this stuff flows from? This is a very simplified version, but it really boils down to this: God does everything that He does because of His self-love. And because God loves Himself, He created evil as a contrast to His holiness. In other words, evil helps to define His holiness by contrast.

This leads to the essence of state of being, or metaphysics, or why things are, or their state of being, according to the metaphysical narrative. What’s a metaphysical narrative? Simply stated: state of being is a story written by God. Everything that is happening in the world today, right down to what people decide to wear, is predetermined by God in His historical prewritten narrative.

All of this benefits God’s self-love. Everything is for His glory. And according to this story, man thinking that he has freedom of choice on any level is evil, and what is he doing? Right, he is writing his own story. If you think that it was your decision to wear what you wore today, you are writing your own glory story. Either you are writing your own life story, or God is writing your life story. You are either god writing your own reality, or God is writing your realty.

Of course you don’t have freedom of the will—that would be writing your own reality—that would be making yourself God. We can also stop here and talk about how the Bible fits into this. The Bible becomes a prototype or model for interpreting reality according to God’s story which is primarily about redemption. The Bible is therefore a tool for interpreting reality according to the cross story, or God’s prewritten metaphysical narrative. And folks, this is everywhere. This way of using the Bible saturates the institutional church.

An example, one of myriads, is the Bible Mesh study material. Listen carefully to what these guys are saying in this promo for the study:

Notice the constant theme of Bible as story, and everything in the Bible being about Christ; ie., redemption. Notice that the Bible is also “your story” and this study enables you to put yourself in the story. You have heard me talk often about the redemptive historical method of interpreting the Bible and this is what it is. They make the Bible a tool for interpreting all of reality according to Martin Luther’s cross story metaphysics. And frankly, 90% of the evangelicals occupying the pulpit in the institutional church take this approach to the Bible.

Thesis 12: In the sight of God sins are then truly venial when they are feared by men to be mortal.

This becomes sufficiently clear from what has been said. For as much as we accuse ourselves, so much God pardons us, according to the verse, »Confess your misdeed so that you will be justified« (cf. Isa. 43:26), and according to another (Ps. 141:4), »Incline not my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds«.

So, if you look at two slides on the program slide show, you see two contemporary illustrations published by the Reformed camp that explain where we have come to this point. The two man chart explains the metaphysics,

the-fetus-of-cog2Cross Chart WB

and the cross chart explains the application as stated in this thesis by Luther: “For as much as we accuse ourselves, so much God pardons us…” His use of Isaiah 43:26 pretty much puts it in a nutshell: confession of sin leads to ongoing justification which can only be found in the institutional church. If we believe man has no will to choose good, and that everything we do is sin, we qualify to be forgiven for purposes of ongoing justification. It’s not complicated.

Thesis 13: Free will, after the fall, exists in name only, and as long as it does what it is able to do, it commits a mortal sin.

The first part is clear, for the will is captive and subject to sin. Not that it is nothing, but that it is not free except to do evil. According to John 8:34,36, »Every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.« »So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.« Hence St. Augustine says in his book ›The Spirit and the Letter‹: »Free will without grace has the power to do nothing but sin«; and in the second book of ›Against Julian‹, »You call the will free, but in fact it is an enslaved will,« and in many other places.

The second part is clear from what has been said above and from the verse in Hos. 13:9, »Israel, you are bringing misfortune upon yourself, for your salvation is alone with me,« and from similar passages.

Again, we will take note of something Luther was accustomed to in his doublespeak. Though he quotes Augustine saying that the will can do nothing but sin without grace, we know that Luther also believed that the will can do nothing but sin WITH grace. This is just another example of his doublespeak. This seems to be very indicative of Reformed teachers; they sow seeds of doubt that they are stating outrageous ideas, but after a space of time the outrageous, tempered by a contradictory statement, will be accepted through repetition. The doublespeak is a red herring until you are fully indoctrinated.

Luther is stating here that the will is “not free except to do evil.”

Thesis 14: Free will, after the fall, has power to do good only in a passive capacity, but it can always do evil in an active capacity.

An illustration will make the meaning of this thesis clear. Just as a dead man can do something toward life only in his original capacity (in vitam solum subiective), so can he do something toward death in an active manner while he lives. Free will, however, is dead, as demonstrated by the dead whom the Lord has raised up, as the holy teachers of the church say. St. Augustine, moreover, proves this same thesis in his various writings against the Pelagians.

Here is where we will employ some help from one of the leading Reformed scholars on Luther’s theology of the cross. This is from Gerhard O. Forde’s “On Being a Theologian of the Cross” which is a commentary on the HD.

Theses 14 and 15 are an attempt to define a little more closely what sort of ability may be ascribed to the will. If, as we have seen in thesis 13, the will is not nothing and is not forced or determined, and if, as we might say, we are not puppets, how then may the power of the will be described?

Pause.

Stop right there. This is the Reformed, “But of course we are not puppets, so how do we explain this?” But the only logical conclusion to Reformed ideology is that we are in fact puppets. In classic Reformed teaching protocol, the brainwashing technique is to deny the logical conclusion while hoping that you will function according to the very logical conclusion and goal that they are seeking.

Listen, according to their very own redemptive-historical hermeneutic, we are nothing but characters in a narrative. No, no, no, we are not puppets, rather, we are mere characters in a metaphysical narrative who are penciled in. And we have a choice, and this is a paraphrase, “…join the plot of the divine drama that includes your story, or attempt to be your own god and write your own glory story.” That’s it. That’s it in a nutshell.

I have been learning a lot from Susan about Jonathan Edwards, and she has so much data already accumulated that I don’t know whether she is going to be able to find this or not, but she was sharing with me about Edwards’ view of the will. Basically, he believed that before a person performs an action, God puts the thought, idea, will, and decision to act in one’s mind beforehand. This kind of goes hand and hand with Edwards’ belief that God is recreating reality at every moment. So, in essence, everything you do is a recreation of reality when it gets right down to it.

So this is how this works: the Reformed will continue to deny that we are puppets while teaching all of the elements of puppeteering. If you teach all of the elements constantly while never speaking of the logical conclusions, people will eventually function according to the logical conclusions which is what they are after. Functionality is the goal—not understanding. Reformation ideology is vehemently opposed to reason and understanding.

Here is another example: the official Reformed doctrine of already not yet. So classic. Sure, sure, you are already saved, of course you are! But not yet. So you think: “Well, sure, our salvation will be fully realized when we are resurrected. That makes total sense.” Well guess what? You just bought into progressive justification. See how this works? Salvation doesn’t have a beginning and an end. It’s a conception. Conception is a onetime final event that completes its work in an instant. You didn’t exist, now you do—end of story.

Let’s continue with Forde’s quotation.

If the claim is that we are to “do what is in us,” then the question quite naturally follows: What then is in us? What sort of capacity do we have?

Pause. Stop right there. Let me shortly answer that question according to 1John chapter 3 before we move on: God’s seed. God’s DNA. We are literally born of God and have His seed IN us. We are new creatures born of God.

To get at the question Luther here uses a distinction current in his day between what our translation has called a “passive capacity” and an “active capacity.” What does that mean? In its passive capacity the will can do good when it is acted upon from without but not on its own, not in an active capacity. A commonly used physical analogy is water. Water has a passive capacity to be heated, but it can’t heat itself. It has no active capacity to do that.

The example Luther uses in his proof is even more to the point because it deals with death and life. On the one hand, corpses could be said to have a passive capacity for life because they can be raised from the dead. But not, of course, on their own power, not in an active capacity, not even in the slightest. Not even by doing their best! The capacity they have is strictly passive. They can be raised, but only by divine power. On the other hand, it is of course true that while a people live they have the active capacity to do something about life and death. They can take life, either their own or some other, but they can’t create or give life. Yet, that only demonstrates that, after the fall, will in its active capacity can only do evil. Since will after the fall is dead and bound to do deadly sin, it can be rescued only from without, as indicated by the fact that it could not bring life out of death but could only be commanded from without by our Lord.

Thus, the fact that even after the fall the will is not nothing means that there is something there. What is it? It is a strictly passive capacity, not an active one. That means that it can be changed but it will not change itself. To be changed, it will have to be accessed “from without.” But it will take radical action. It will take death and resurrection. So we are again pointed toward the cross.

Here, we have plunged the depths of Martin Luther’s bondage of the will. Man is dead, and death is defined as the waters of mortal sin. The waters of mortal sin are not only what man dwells in, he is those waters. He is passively dead. The only active works he can do is dead works. The material realm is man’s glory story of death. He ebb and flows between dwelling in death and experiencing resurrection resulting from him being acted upon from the outside. Being acted upon is completely determined by God’s decision and good pleasure. The long and short of being saved is merely giving testimony to this fact and seeing it for what it is. Saving faith is giving testimony to what you see only, and not anything that you do.

To think you are not dead is mortal sin that cannot be qualified for forgiveness. And again, do see what these guys do? No, no, we are not puppets, right? A question: what do we know about puppets? Well, we know that they are dead. We know that they cannot do anything until they are acted upon, right? This Gerald Forde guy is just like all of the Reformed; he will deny that he is saying that we are mere puppets, and then will describe our Christian existence as puppetry.

This is what annoys me so deeply about people who listen to these yahoos because, “they say some good things.” Why would anybody spend any time investing in this intellectual dishonesty?

So, what is the biblical view of the will? Romans chapter 6. Before one is saved, they are enslaved to sinful desires and free to do good works. Slavery indicates the type of wages that the slave gets—only wages for death. Unsaved people are also indifferent to the law that they will be ultimately judged by. They do not love God’s law. But, they definitely have a free will to follow their God-given conscience and receive rewards for doing so. A person who lives a good common sense life will of course suffer fewer calamities than the foolish. But in the end, this only means less condemnation.

The saved person also has a free will. They are enslaved to righteousness, but unfortunately free to commit sin. However, they do not receive wages of death because they are no longer under the condemnation of the law. They can only receive wages for life. They are no longer indifferent to the law, but love God’s law and its truth. The chart below may help:

romans-6

The new birth is a reversal of sin and slavery resulting in a change of direction. No one sins perfectly, and no one loves perfectly. It’s a direction, not perfection. But if you look at the Reformed cross chart again, neither is it a downward direction of sinful perfection resulting in making the cross bigger.

That’s the end of our lesson tonight—let’s go to the phones.

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2 Responses

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  1. David said, on July 27, 2015 at 9:50 AM

    Mr. Dohse,

    I have been following you for some time. I have been contemplating some time how to share my story. Not sure if this the most effective venue because I am secretly hoping for some continued dialogue. You see, I came out of a church that engaged in deep double-speak. It was “gospel-centered,” associated with Mahaney, pushed Piper, and had the likes of D.A. Carson among its visiting dignitaries–most of the pastoral staff received their Master’s and Doctorates’ at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, were tenured there, etc. As for myself, my under-grad is in theology–I am the product of this ridiculous modern cacophony of modern soteriology that masquerades as truth.

    Reading your material is painful. But I thank God for it.

    In the 4 years that I attended (beginning in 2008–when we left kith and kin to join this church because of their vision for planting churches) I lost who I was or thought I should be. I was groomed for leadership, began to question their doctrinal positions (and as a result really lost my own identity because I wasn’t as “sure” as these guys were–and had the temerity to express that), was counseled for a year, was restored after “repenting”, asked to join a church plant, then began to question doctrinal statements again, labelled a heretic, collapsed emotionally, ultimately lost my marriage.

    I haven’t a clue how to begin again. I am literally homeless. My income is non-existent. But I know truth when I encounter it. As I read your blog, I say constantly, “Oh my God! I lived this!” And I know the truth of what your answers are. They resonate deeply within me as I am learning to read scripture again, having to de-program and question everything I have believed and seek to re-enter the lives of my four children who still attend this “church” with their mother.

    So many more people are being awakened to the deceit of the cultish institutions. In the last several months I have encountered so many of my own friends who have been, or are on the same path. We are trying to start home fellowships, refuse to darken the doors of a church again, and are trying to make a difference in our neighborhoods.

    In many ways this is a “thank you” as much as it a cry for help. I don’t know what my next steps are. Currently I am writing about my experience in order to engage the process of deprogramming what I have believed. And I feel God has saved me for a purpose–mostly to do what you do: help people to think for themselves. My friends and I are trying to live this stuff out and it is difficult because the New-Evagelicalism/Pentecostalism jargon keeps creeping into our conversations about life and God and we all have a revulsion of it. Now I am just rambling….

    Thank you again.

    Regards,
    David

    Like

    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on July 27, 2015 at 11:11 AM

      David,

      Keep stepping in the way of truth, the path of truth will become clearer and clearer as you colabor with the Spirit according to truth. His word is truth, and we are only sanctified by truth (John 17:17). You have begun your journey, all is well, and it will only get better. Be patient and wait on the Lord as you labor in His ways. Take joy in the journey, and the reward that awaits our faithful service of love to God and others. There is no condemnation towards us; we are free to love God and others. God loves our questions and seeking, and delights to give us wisdom liberally without criticism. The Spirit’s power will be unleashed without measure as we learn God’s truth and apply it to our lives. Let the world see God’s wisdom in action by our service to him–our “logical” service (Romans 12:1).

      Your testimony is timely as you will see when I post yesterdays’s Potter’s House, and the post I am presently writing. Testimonials like your’s are also timely because of some things that are going on at this year’s 2015 TANC conference. Associates of this ministry will be coming, and Susan and I will be discussing a home fellowship vision with them.

      The home fellowship movement will happen with the Spirit’s blessings and help because it’s the truth. Truth can only be detained for so long. I don’t know where you are located, but if someone from your group including yourself can make it to the conference, we can share what we have learned about all of this and haven’t had time to publish. We have 2 rooms left here at the Potter’s House for the conference and will be supplying meals as well. We are also hoping someone from the Northern Colorado group (Alex and Co.) will come also. I am in the middle of writing a book on the subject, and my sessions at this year’s conference will also be dealing with these subjects.

      Stay in touch.

      mail@ttanc.com or paul@ttanc.com

      paul

      Like


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