Paul's Passing Thoughts

No “Perfect” Church Premise Denies New Birth Reality

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 7, 2016

I patently reject the premise of this meme that believers are metaphysically the same as the unregenerate. The Bible states unequivocally that believers are the literal offspring of God via the New Birth! This means that believers are indeed “perfect” because they are righteous just as the Father is righteous!

And since the assembly (“church”) is the Body of Christ made up of individual believers who are “perfect”, then it stands to reason that the Body of Christ is “perfect” as well.

But notice the implication that the “church” is a place or an institution and not a Body.  Furthermore, that any evil found in the institutional church should get a pass, because after all, we’re all just totally depraved sinners.  As the meme suggests, believers therefore require the perfect obedience of Christ to “cover” present sin in our lives.  Overall, it is just one more example of Protestantism’s denial of the New Birth as real change.

perfect church

4 Responses

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  1. Ken said, on April 13, 2016 at 5:47 AM

    Your argument reminds me of something my wife always says. If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. Whilst not falling for sinless perfection, you cannot carry on as a professed believer and not be changed, live as though nothing has happened.If you do, nothing has happened!

    She gets irritated when evangelicals or churchgoers say this is ‘only the words in a book’, and act as if we can never attain any real level of sanctification, or as it is usually expressed, ‘don’t expect the church to be perfect’. True as far as it goes, but it is usually an excuse for the toleration of all sorts of wrong behaviour. These are words in a book, but they are God’s words, not someone’s opinion of how they wish things could be!

    In my more Reformed days, the one petal of the tulip I felt was the most important contribution of Calvinism was total depravity. Without this, you can drift into a wrong diagnosis of the human condition, and offer a skewed gospel. We really are dead in trespasses and sins. That said, I understand total depravity to mean no aspect of our lives, including our thinking, has not been tainted with sin. It does not mean we are all as bad as we could be (patently false), nor that unbelievers are not capable of doing anything good/only ever do bad. Above all, and this is where the new creation in Christ comes in, it does not continue after conversion. Total depravity is met with total salvation. It is so great a salvation it can deal with our sin.

    I’ve seen the idea we are/remain total depraved after conversion quite a bit, for example over at your friends at WW (pragmatically at least), and not only is the idea false, it doesn’t seem to me to be an accurate reflection of old-time reformed theology itself, even if you are not minded to agree with all or much of this theology.


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on April 13, 2016 at 6:27 AM

      The idea that the new birth is only an ability to perceive and not act, and that “believers” remain totally depraved is the cornerstone of authentic Reformation doctrine. And, is the basis of caste that has always dominated world philosophy. Hence, it must be embodied in an institution with authority structure rather than a cooperative body of gifts. This is the book of Acts verses church. I have been encouraged to take note of what is going on with this year’s T4G and the protest/demonstration there by SNAP. Few get it; why are MacArthur et al so totally indifferent to CJ Mahaney’s evil? Few understand the philosophical foundations of the Reformation.


      • Ken said, on April 13, 2016 at 7:48 AM

        I think MacArthur is indifferent to C J and the things he is accused of covering up because the critics of C J – and I mean across the board here – are mostly so venomous and/or hypocritical that they render a genuine evaluation of Mahaney’s behaviour incredible. The critics are being ‘gutless enablers’ of covering abuse in such a way that those who need to hear won’t listen.

        Apart from that, you are taking me back to 1970’s and 80’s evangelical charismatics, who wanted to get away from denominational deadness, the church as an institution, and get back to the idea of the body, a living organism rather than a structure. You may well have problems (as I do) with what the word charismatic now conjures up, but I wonder if some of the cessationalist argument is rooted in preserving the institution rather than understanding the bible. To have body ministry, the man at the front (being a human construct not required by the NT writers) has to give way.

        This idea of body ministry came under spiritual attack in the form of the shephering movement, which sought to re-introduce the very authority structures so many ordinary believers wanted to escape from.


      • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on April 13, 2016 at 9:03 PM

        I think that perspective has some merit.


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