Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Protestant Road to Salvation; Gaining Salvation with More and More Salvation by Using the Bible to be Brought Down to Hell

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 1, 2015

Church 2The Heidelberg Disputation Series: Theses 15-18.

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Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio.com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, part 10 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, Thesis 15 ff. The Protestant Road to Salvation; Gaining Salvation with More Salvation by Using the Bible to be Brought Down to Hell 

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Tonight, we continue in our sentence by sentence evaluation of the HD (Heidelberg Disputation) starting with thesis 15. Yes, tonight, we really get into the meat of the Protestant gospel, and it ain’t pretty.

Due to the fact that I can’t decide where to stick this with a fork first tonight, let’s begin by reading the 15th thesis:

Thesis 15: Nor could free will remain in a state of innocence, much less do good, in an active capacity, but only in its passive capacity (subiectiva potentia).

The Master of the Sentences (Peter Lombard), quoting Augustine, states, »By these testimonies it is obviously demonstrated that man received a righteous nature and a good will when he was created, and also the help by means of which he could prevail. Otherwise it would appear as though he had not fallen because of his own fault.« He speaks of the active capacity (potentia activa), which is obviously contrary to Augustine’s opinion in his book ›Concerning Reprimand and Grace‹ (De Correptione et Gratia), where the latter puts it in this way: »He received the ability to act, if he so willed, but he did not have the will by means of which he could act.« By »ability to act« he understands the original capacity (potentia subiectiva), and by »will by means of which he could,« the active capacity (potentia activa).

The second part (of the thesis), however, is sufficiently clear from the same reference to the Master.

We discussed the two primary elements of Martin Luther’s bondage of the will in part 7. They are active will and passive will. Man has no active will, his will is passive. It’s like water; it just sits there until it is acted upon by something from the outside. In Luther’s bondage of the will construct, man is dead as a passive being. We normally think of death as a termination of life, but according to Luther, death is a realm where works can be performed, but they are dead works.

As often pontificated by the Reformed, their favorite illustration in regard to this is the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11. Supposedly, this is illustrative of sanctification (the Christian life). From there, the Reformed put metaphysical feet on it in various and sundry philosophical ways, but the major premise is the same.

A caution when studying Reformed ideology/philosophy: separate the major premises from the various applications or you will drive yourself nuts. The major premises such as the total inability of mankind are consistent, but the so-called life applications are not. Let me give an example.

Some of the Reformed believe that man is not active in any regard as far as the will. Everything that happens is because God acted upon man. Others believe man has a free will to do dead works in the material realm, but all manifestations of good works are the result of God acting upon man’s passive will. So, one view sees all human events as a result of God’s active will while others see the distinction in only good or evil acts. Man is passive in regard to good works, but has an active will in regard to all things evil.

Hence, it’s fine to go about your business and live life as it comes just so you believe that everything you do is evil. That qualifies you to be forgiven on Sunday. In the other application, you have no active will at all, but ALL things are preordained by God for His glory. Your goal is only to SEE and EXPERIENCE what God is doing. In the final analysis, these varying applications are not going to cause much of a rift in Reformed circles; the tie that binds is the total inability of man.

But here is another tie that binds: the idea that God created evil for His own glory. Most Protestants think that Protestants believe that Adam and Eve were sinless/holy/pure before the fall and they are just dead wrong in that idea, no pun intended. Authentic Protestant soteriology holds to the idea that Adam and Eve were created with passive wills as clearly stated by Luther in the thesis at hand. Either they had a propensity to do evil and God acted to prevent it until the appointed time, or God actively incited their fall as well.

It can be demonstrated clearly that the creation of evil by God is a Reformed mainstay, but the various philosophical applications make it possible for the Reformed to play all kinds of metaphysical shell games in order to keep people confused and controlled.

As stated before, the Reformation was first and foremost about philosophy and NOT theology. Clearly, the Reformation was about the integration of Dualism with the Bible. One aspect of Dualism insists that nothing can exist without a counterpart to define it. Without darkness, there can be no light, etc. When we get to thesis 28, we will see that Luther’s counterpart to love is evil. Since God is love, the only logical conclusion, other than the fact that Jonathan Edwards and many others have stated it directly, is that God Himself cannot exist without evil because He is the defining counterpart. Some suggest that God existed, but for all practical purposes was nonexistent until He created evil. This is nothing new. This is a resurgence of the exact same Platonist/Neo-Platonist/Gnostic doctrines that plagued the first century church. Take note of what James was pushing back against in that day:

James 1:13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Of course, the Reformed deny that they teach such things; specifically, that God created evil for His own glory, and dance around the fact with their shell-game communication skills. An example is the following excerpt from an article written by John MacArthur:

Evil originates not from God but from the fallen creature. I agree with John Calvin, who wrote,

. . . the Lord had declared that “everything that he had made . . . was exceedingly good” [Gen. 1:31]. Whence, then comes this wickedness to man, that he should fall away from his God? Lest we should think it comes from creation, God had put His stamp of approval on what had come forth from himself. By his own evil intention, then, man corrupted the pure nature he had received from the Lord; and by his fall drew all his posterity with him into destruction. Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity-which is closer to us-rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination. [Institutes, 3:23:8]

~ Is God Responsible for Evil? Grace to You catalogue #A189.

Ok, so it originates from the creature and not God as if that has nothing to do with how God created man. The only alternative is the idea that God created man in His holy image, and with a free will, but don’t hold your breath and wait for them to ever agree to that.

Note Calvin’s language very carefully. It wasn’t one, then another individual deceived by the serpent; it was a propensity inherent in the kind. Also, in the same section of 3.23.8, Calvin attributes the fall to God’s predestination for His glory. It is unclear if Calvin would have agreed with Luther’s bondage of the will via man’s passive will, but Calvin clearly believed that man was created with a level of integrity that could not obtain full fellowship with god even if man had not fallen:

Even If man had remained in his integrity, still his condition was too base for him to attain to God. How much less could he have raised himself so far, after having been plunged by his ruin into death and hell, after staining himself with so many defilements nay, even stinking in his corruption and all overwhelmed with misery?

~The Calvin Institutes 2.12.1. Henry Beveridge translation varies slightly.

Shockingly, the Henry Beveridge translation has it that man’s condition was too base to attain to God “without a Mediator” note capital “M.” Clearly, Calvin is saying that man needed a mediator before the fall.

Thesis 16: The person who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him adds sin to sin so that he becomes doubly guilty.

On the basis of what has been said, the following is clear: While a person is doing what is in him, he sins and seeks himself in everything. But if he should suppose that through sin he would become worthy of or prepared for grace, he would add haughty arrogance to his sin and not believe that sin is sin and evil is evil, which is an exceedingly great sin. As Jer. 2:13 says, »For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water,« that is, through sin they are far from me and yet they presume to do good by their own ability.

Now you ask: What then shall we do? Shall we go our way with indifference because we can do nothing but sin? I would reply: By no means. But, having heard this, fall down and pray for grace and place your hope in Christ in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection. For this reason we are so instructed-for this reason the law makes us aware of sin so that, having recognized our sin, we may seek and receive grace. Thus God »gives grace to the humble« (1 Pet. 5:5), and »whoever humbles himself will be exalted« (Matt. 23:12). The law humbles, grace exalts. The law effects fear and wrath, grace effects hope and mercy. Through the law comes knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20), through knowledge of sin, however, comes humility, and through humility grace is acquired. Thus an action which is alien to God’s nature (opus alienum dei) results in a deed belonging to his very nature (opus proprium): he makes a person a sinner so that he may make him righteous.

This thesis is a good summary of the Reformation gospel. Man remains unchanged accept for the ability to see how evil he is and his continued need for the same gospel that saved him. Any notion that there is anything in man that could choose God is double sin and hewing out cisterns for himself that cannot hold water.

Also assumed in the rhetoric is efficacious good works to maintain the law as a standard for justification.

Luther then states what “saved” sinning lost people are to do since they can do nothing but sin. One is to focus on their sin as a way to see a continued need for salvation resulting in more grace…for salvation and continued justification. Instead of being indifferent to sin, embrace it as a means of seeing your need for continued “grace,” herein a more nuanced word than outright “justification” or “salvation.” Again, this nuancing of words incessant with the Reformed began right here in the HD. Following is a contemporary example:

In the following video trailer from the 2011 Resolved Conference, Al Mohler states that the only purpose of the law in the life of a believer is to show us our ongoing need for salvation. Of course, he doesn’t word it that way. He states that believers have an ongoing need for Christ (which no Christian would refute), but note carefully: he is speaking in context of our initial salvation. So, instead of saying plainly that Christians need to be continually saved, or continually justified, he replaces that wording with “Christ.” However, again, the context is clearly salvation. He is saying that we need Christ in the same way that we needed Him for salvation.

Mohler is also saying that the law has the same relationship/purpose to unbelievers as it does believers: to show us our need for Christ. So, obviously, this is in contrast to any ability on the part of the believer to keep it. All the law can do is show NEED. Need for what? Well, what’s the context? Mohler also presents an either/or choice in regard to the law: it either shows us our need for Christ (again, what need specifically?), or we are using it to “rescue ourselves from sin.” Hmmm, what does it mean to “rescue ourselves from sin”? I believe Mohler deliberately uses the word “rescue” instead of “save” in order to add nuance to his point. “Rescue” is less direct, and could refer to a believer trying to overcome sin on his own. This is the same reason he replaces “salvation” with “Christ” in his prior point. It’s deliberate deception. Excluded is any mentioning that the law can be used by the believer to please God and glorify Him in all we do by “observing all that I have commanded.”

~Paul’s Passing Thoughts.com: Why Al Mohler is a Heretic; April 10, 2012

Thesis 17: Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of Christ.

This is clear from what has been said, for, according to the gospel, the kingdom of heaven is given to children and the humble (Mark 10:14,16), and Christ loves them. They cannot be humble who do not recognize that they are damnable whose sin smells to high heaven. Sin is recognized only through the law. It is apparent that not despair, but rather hope, is preached when we are told that we are sinners. Such preaching concerning sin is a preparation for grace, or it is rather the recognition of sin and faith in such preaching. Yearning for grace wells up when recognition of sin has arisen. A sick person seeks the physician when he recognizes the seriousness of his illness. Therefore one does not give cause for despair or death by telling a sick person about the danger of his illness, but, in effect, one urges him to seek a medical cure. To say that we are nothing and constantly sin when we do the best we can does not mean that we cause people to despair (unless we are fools); rather, we make them concerned about the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ok, so not much commentary needed here—this is pretty plain. As believers we are still sick, and hey, telling someone that they need a doctor continually is not bad news, but good news. All of the Christian life is seeking to be concerned about “grace.” Again, that means salvation. As we have discussed many times before, “grace” is a biblical word that has broad meaning including, for the most part, “help.” Though Luther calls any assertion that this would instill despair in people “foolish,” historical facts beg to differ.

Thesis 18: It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.

The law wills that man despair of his own ability, for it »leads him into hell« and »makes him a poor man« and shows him that he is a sinner in all his works, as the Apostle does in Rom. 2 and 3:9, where he says, »I have already charged that all men are under the power of sin.« However, he who acts simply in accordance with his ability and believes that he is thereby doing something good does not seem worthless to himself, nor does he despair of his own strength. Indeed, he is so presumptuous that he strives for grace in reliance on his own strength.

Here we have it again. The sole use of the Bible is to show us our worthlessness so as to be brought down to hell in order to prepare ourselves to receive more salvation/justification. As Dr. Michael Horton has said, the sole Purpose of the Bible is to “drive us to despair of self-righteousness.” This is, of course, the mortification part of the Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification.

With that, let’s go to the phones.

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