Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Heidelberg Disputation: Part 13; Theses 24, 25

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 26, 2015

Listen to the podcast or download audio file: The Heidelberg Disputation: Part 13; Theses 24, 25

Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, part 13 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation – Theses 24, 25.

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

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So, tonight is pretty major. It’s major because we are involved in a book project that I want to be wrapped up in time for our 2016 conference. I’m going to run the conference and have this book available. At this point, it looks like Sean Williams of OWP will be taking my place as far as speaking and I will be the MC and kinda running the show. But at any rate, the theses we will be covering tonight fit perfectly with the objective of the project. The theses we will be covering tonight really say it all.

Let me lay some groundwork. After eight years of grueling labor, TANC Ministries has kind of come full circle. It has answered the question: “What’s wrong with church?” The answer…here it is: a false gospel. But you say, “Come now Paul, not all churches preach a false gospel.” Oh really? Where do you get your information on that? Here is the problem with the American church: it was founded on a false gospel, and the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Over the years enough churchy people have read their Bibles for themselves and become confused enough to be saved, but for the most part, those groups function by the traditions of the original false gospel. They believe enough of the right things to be saved, barely, but practice the traditions of the original article. In other words, they do church according to the original traditions of the church fathers.

The fact that this false gospel depended very much on the institutionalization of God’s people by the 4th century is also major because that is known as, and labeled as, “church.” That presents an awesome opportunity because this label represents the institutionalization of the gospel. “Church” is properly defined as the institutional false gospel. The meeting together of God’s FAMILY for mutual encouragement and edification was never meant to be an institution. Why? Because the new birth is so critical to the true gospel and its family ties to God so literal, that it must be represented in true homes of everyday people in a true family setting. New birth means new family, and that family is the very family of God who is the literal Father that gave His only Son in order to bring many more sons and daughters to glory.

An institution has no lot in this affair because it is a family affair, and thus you now understand the gravity of a phrase we read often in the New Testament: “The household of faith,” or “The household of God.” That’s one literal household expressed in many households that are truly in God’s family. Hence, meeting in private homes is actually making a statement about the new birth and literal family inheritance. It’s a family not a stinking institution. Even churches that encompass saved groups function by the traditions of the ancient church and therefore suffer from chronic sanctification anemia. Church has always been predicated on progressive justification with little emphasis on sanctification or wise empowered Christian living. Come now…who gives no testimony that church is about nothing but the gospel week after week after week after week.

So this is where I am: when people contact our ministry for counseling, I have been telling them straight up: “Here is your problem; you’re a Protestant and you go to church.” So, to fill in the dead silence that invariable follows, I will say something like, “C’mon now, you have known for years that something was wrong with church, but you have never been able to put your finger on it. Well, here it is: it’s a false gospel.” Then you get to talking to these people who have been solid evangelicals for years and they don’t even know what the new birth is! And why is that? Because the institutional church denies the biblical definition of the new birth and replaces it with Martin Luther’s definition of the new birth as he states it in one of the very theses that we are looking at tonight.

Full stop. I didn’t make the rules. Who is it that lifts up Martin Luther and John Calvin as the gatekeepers of the supposed true gospel of the Reformation? Viz, justification by faith. Just this year at John MacArthur’s Shepherds’ Conference, who were the one’s lifted up as the heroes of the Protestant faith? Words mean things. I didn’t make the rules. And excuse me, but I must ask what the founders of the church said and taught as the founding doctrine. What they did isn’t my fault; the facts are the facts.

Now, I decided to do this project that seeks to boil everything down to the crux, and thank God that I have a bunch of people helping me, and we are really chewing the fat trying to figure out where to start with this project as far as the primary hypothesis. And, with John Immel’s help, this is going to be a serious publication—no playing around with self-published stuff, this is serious. And at this point, as far as the primary hypothesis, here is my two cents worth:

Church is the problem with church because it is founded on an errant worldview dressed in Bible verses. Justification by faith is the lamb costume disguising the Platonist wolf. Sola Scriptura is a lie; the Protestant Reformation was never about the Bible; it was a kerfuffle over metaphysics. How do we know this? Because as often taught, not by me, it’s not my fault, the 95 Theses launched the Reformation. But, and history is not my fault either, that was a moral disputation; the very founding doctrinal statement of the Reformation came a mere six months later in the form of Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order. Very little of what happens in church fails to find its foundations in this document because its central worldview and theory of being forms church soteriology (the doctrine of salvation).

And we see that explicitly in the theses examined tonight. But there is a rather significant obstacle that I am certain we will overcome, but nevertheless it is what it is. If the Protestant Reformation was really founded on a theory of being and reality, what we call metaphysics in the realm of philosophical study, and it was, and Luther then made the Bible fit that theory eisegetically, and he did, then we must necessarily bring people to an understanding of that worldview. Unfortunately, that must be first. But guess what? Martin Luther is going to help us with that, so let’s get to it.

Theses 24: Yet that wisdom is not of itself evil, nor is the law to be evaded; but without the theology of the cross man misuses the best in the worst manner.

Indeed »the law is holy« (Rom. 7:12), »every gift of God good« (1 Tim. 4:4), and »everything that is created exceedingly good«, as in Gen. 1:31. But, as stated above, he who has not been brought low, reduced to nothing through the cross and suffering, takes credit for works and wisdom and does not give credit to God. He thus misuses and defiles the gifts of God.

He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand.

So I ask, what is Martin Luther’s definition of the new birth in this thesis? It is a raising up with Christ as a result of a death. Next, what is that death, and how does it happen? Luther describes it as being brought low by the cross not to exclude any suffering that God may bring into our life through circumstances. At any rate, the goal as stated by Luther is self annihilation. Now, we must next ask, “Is this a onetime death, or several deaths? Answer: several deaths because while we suffer we are no longer doing “works” (plural) and in contrast God “works” (preset-continuance tense). So, this is an ongoing death process that excludes our works and replaces them with God’s:

For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him.

This obviously refers to an ongoing process after conversion. The so-called Christian focuses on death so that God will work in his/place so long as we are “suffering” or experiencing, “death at hand.” But what is that? How do we bring about death at hand? Let’s go back to some of the prior theses to see:

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 [more salvation]. 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 [more salvation] is acquired (Thesis 16).

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 [salvation] of our Lord Jesus Christ (Thesis 17).

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 (Thesis 18).

Therefore, the sole purpose of the Bible, according to this construct, is to bring one low in order to receive grace, or additional salvation. This also comes along with a resurrection experience. So, we seek to bring ourselves “into hell” through the use of the Bible (death) resulting in a positive resurrection experience (“whoever humbles himself will be exalted”). This takes place over and over again and is actually defined as the new birth as stated by Luther. The contemporary Reformed nomenclature is mortification and vivification. This is a formal Protestant doctrine that defines the new birth, and it originated right here in the HD. The new birth is NOT a onetime event that transforms us from darkness to light, but is a ritual that seeks to impart an increased salvation.

Thesis 25: He is not righteous who does much, but he who, without work, believes much in Christ.

For the righteousness of God is not acquired by means of acts frequently repeated, as Aristotle taught, but it is imparted by faith, for »He who through faith is righteous shall live« (Rom. 1:17), and »Man believes with his heart and so is justified« (Rom. 10:10). Therefore I wish to have the words »without work« understood in the following manner: Not that the righteous person does nothing, but that his works do not make him righteous, rather that his righteousness creates works. For grace and faith are infused without our works. After they have been imparted the works follow. Thus Rom. 3:20 states, »No human being will be justified in His sight by works of the law,« and, »For we hold that man is justified by faith apart from works of law« (Rom. 3:28). In other words, works contribute nothing to justification.

Therefore man knows that works which he does by such faith are not his but God’s. For this reason he does not seek to become justified or glorified through them, but seeks God. His justification by faith in Christ is sufficient to him. Christ is his wisdom, righteousness, etc., as 1 Cor 1:30 has it, that he himself may be Christ’s vessel and instrument (operatio seu instrumentum).

This isn’t much complicated. Starting in the 29th disputation, and throughout the rest of the Disputation until it ends at thesis 40, Luther puts forth his argument for Plato versus Aristotle. Why does he do this? Because starting in the 12th century, the Catholic Church began to be influenced by the integration of Aristotleism into theology as apposed to the Platonist principles that the Roman Catholic Church was founded on. So, by the time Luther is hanging around in 1518, this debate came to a head. Note,

He who wishes to philosophize by using Aristotle without danger to his soul must first become thoroughly foolish in Christ (thesis 29).

Aristotle wrongly finds fault with and derides the ideas of Plato, which actually are better than his own (thesis 36).

The mathematical order of material things is ingeniously maintained by Pythagoras, but more ingenious is the interaction of ideas maintained by Plato (thesis 37).

I just want you to think about this—this is the first and foundational doctrinal statement of the Reformation, and it is first and foremost a metaphysical debate. What is more obvious? This is why the HD gets little press in the church; because church cronies do not want you to know that. So I ask: how much discussion happens about the founding document of the Protestant church in the church? And why not? Here is the why: because they want to lie and say the Reformation was about the Bible…sola scriptura…that’s a big fat lie, and frankly, they know it.

Obviously, in Luther’s mind, the founder of the Protestant Reformation, the Bible must be interpreted through the right understanding of reality and the state of being. And we all know who he thinks is the judge of that. Remember? He stated it in the introduction to the HD. It’s Augustine who he cited as the apostle Paul’s interpreter. Viz, none of us can understand the apostle Paul without Augustine who by the way was a Catholic and never ceased from being a Catholic. Augustine, one of the original Doctors of the Catholic Church, was an avowed Neo-Platonist. In the 12th century, you have Saint Thomas Aquinas coming in and corrupting the Catholic Church as much as it could be corrupted relative to its wickedness with the philosophy of Aristotle. And by the way, this is conspicuous historical information that lacks the subtlety of somebody throwing a brick through a picture window. This controversy comes to a head in the 15th century and results in the Protestant Reformation…so-called.

So here is our dilemma concerning the new project, and this is unavoidable: in order for people to understand why the church teaches what they teach and why they do what they do, the worldview that created their orthodoxy must be understood. Whoever controls the definition of words controls realty, and whoever controls reality controls the world. Churchianity must not be allowed to co-opt the grammar or the history of which they have done both. There is no escape from the bondage of church without understanding the fundamentals of creation and its reality. And the church pundits know this, and this is why  Maximilien Robespierre well said,

The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.

Now you tell me that Protestants are not the most ill-informed people walking the earth. It’s so bad that Calvinists don’t even know what Calvin believed. Throughout church history when real Calvinists show up on the scene, you have these big controversies. In our present day, you have the argument as to whether New Calvinists or old Calvinists are truly Reformed. Why do people follow these confused scholars who don’t even know who they are? In the book, False Reformation, I painstakingly detail the Sonship Theology controversy of the 90’s that took place in the Presbyterian church. I show how Sonship was actually true Calvinism to a “T,” but caused a serious civil war in the Presbyterian church. But here is the problem: Christians just don’t have the theological wherewithal to decipher the differences and my friends that is by design.

So let’s get back to the crux of this thing. In this thesis, Luther states…

Therefore man knows that works which he does by such faith are not his but God’s. For this reason he does not seek to become justified or glorified through them, but seeks God. 

Obviously, as Christians, there is still a seeking for justification by faith alone that doesn’t involve any work that we do; it is really God doing the work and not us—it only seems like we are doing the work, but it is really God doing the work. Well, how does that work? This is where people get confused and assume nothing iffy is going on in the institutional church. Certainly, they are not saying that we really aren’t doing anything when obviously we are, but that in fact is the case.

The confusion comes in here: if a truly biblical prescription is followed in regard to living for God, there is absolutely no cause whatsoever for anybody to control you. If your salvation is complete, finished, final, and sealed, what do you need an institution for? If you are able to understand reality and make your own way in the world, what do we need oligarchy for? I had a real eyeopener today. I got caught up in a debate on Facebook with a couple of Catholics. Wow. Such an eyeopener. And by the way, oh my, to the “T” in regard to being EXACTLY like debating a Neo-Calvinist. And actually, my eyes are way more opened to how we might meet the objective of the new project. Here is what seems to be the grand crux of the matter: A; It starts with the idea that others are specially gifted to know truth you cannot know. I am not talking about facts, I am talking about ethics per se. B; Those people have been given authority by God to rule over you. C; This excludes individual reasoning, and makes facts totally irrelevant. Now let’s plug this into Luther; he hated reason, right?

This is a communication issue. You cannot help someone unless they believe they have an ability to reason. Catholics nor Protestants, for the most part, believe they have an ability to reason. How do I know? They say so all the time—that’s my first clue. Take today for instance in regard to the aforementioned FB episode:

Paul M. Dohse Sr. David Ingram, if the Catholic Church has become David Cowden’s authority, your reasoning according to the facts is futile. The Catholic Church, and in many cases the Protestant church, is a mediating authority predicated on the idea that specially gifted people understand things that the masses cannot understand. Except the Catholic Church is waaaayyyy more honest about that than most Protestants. I see that David Cowden has responded to you after I just got done typing this and guess what his question regards? Yep, “authority.” Until David understands that the individual is personally culpable before God and has been given the ability to understand truth apart from any other mediator than Christ, You are spinning your wheels. Notice that your citation of Catholic dogma is dismissed as a mere grammatical argument via copy and paste as if typing the words out with your own hands would have lent it virtue. Why is that? Because the meaning of words is not the issue, interpretive authority is the issue.

Debbie Alderman I absolutely trust the authority of the Church that has endured 2,000+ years, despite all the attacks on it, and I trust it way more than a denomination that branched off of Catholicism because they didn’t like what the Church taught. I’m not insulted by the fact that my knowledge pales in comparison to 2,000 years of theologians, church doctors, and scholars. There is nothing in Catholic Church teaching that contradicts Scripture. Did you read the post by David Anders?

Paul M. Dohse Sr. Debbie Alderman, no argument at all from me as you agree with my thesis in broad daylight. You don’t trust your “own knowledge” as set against ancient orthodoxy. This despite the indwelling of the Godhead bodily. Which, apparently, only enables you to agree with the Catholic Church. Bingo.

Paul M. Dohse Sr. By the way Debbie, there is an interesting dichotomy in the words that you use. All of the knowledge that you have is EITHER your “own” knowledge OR the Church’s knowledge. Examine your own words carefully, that’s what you stated. We call this Either/Or Epistemology. All knowledge fits into 2 categories only: good/evil.

Debbie Alderman Paul, the Catholic Church was started by Jesus Christ- and the apostles, popes, and church doctors carried on Jesus Christ’s mission.

Irene Studer Alderman Paul M. Dohse Sr. YOU believe in the authority of the Catholic Church- otherwise what you call scripture is nothing!

Paul M. Dohse Sr. Irene Studer Alderman, “YOU believe in the authority of the Catholic Church- otherwise what you call scripture is nothing!” Well said Irene–we agree on the premise. Your authority is the Pope, and not reason. When God said, “Come, let us reason together” He assumed the Pope would be present. Look, life is about choices–it’s between you and God.

Debbie Alderman Paul M. Dohse Sr.Yes, Jesus is the ONE sole mediator – but that doesn’t mean there can’t be other (lower, subordinate) mediators who, through grace, were sent forth to also mediate (intercede, teach, represent).

Paul M. Dohse Sr. Debbie, Look at what you just wrote: Jesus is the ONE mediator, but there are others as well. And authors somehow equal authority, and then their authority was passed on to the popes because a bunch of popes say so. Really? look Debbie, I am not your judge. Everyone one will give an account for their own choosing.

Again, this is an eyeopener big-time. When truth is married to authority, the facts don’t matter. The Protestant Reformation was founded on the authority of Plato’s Republic, and the theology followed. Next week, we will look at how we work without working, why that was important to the Protestant Reformation, and how it developed into progressive justification and it’s traditions.

Let’s go to the phones.

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