Paul's Passing Thoughts

Calvinism: The Root of All Evil in the American Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 13, 2016

Originally published August 21, 2013

ppt-jpeg4“A devaluing of our own holiness for fear that it will eclipse the holiness of God, coupled with salvation being sought in the institutionalized…church, has led to the same indecencies seen in the mother of the Reformers; the Roman Catholic Church….Besides, the raped and spiritually abused should be thankful because what they deserve is hell anyway, right?”



Show me the Money.  

Why has New Calvinism taken the American church by storm? Because the American church was already primed for it. Before authentic Calvinism was rediscovered by a Seventh-Day Adventist in 1969, America was, and always has been half-pregnant with the Puritan form of Calvin’s Geneva.

Calvinism makes everything about justification while excluding sanctification for a very simple reason: control. If justification is a finished work, and all that is at stake is eternal rewards in heaven, the church would not be nearly the institution that it is today. Why is there big money in religion? Why is there a church every two miles in America with a 500,000 dollar annual budget? Why did 3,000,000 people show up on a beach to see the new Pope? Why does the Catholic Church have so much power? Because salvation is big business my friend. If salvation is found in an institution, it will all but rule the world.

Plain and simple: the Reformers taught that the same forgiveness for sin that saved you needs to be continually sought out to maintain salvation (justification), and that forgiveness can only be found in the Protestant church. Sola Fide indeed, there is no money in sanctification; the big bucks are in justification. From a worldly perspective, Christ had a horrible business plan:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

There is no money or power in making disciples; the money is in making saved people and requiring them to be faithful to the institution in order to stay saved. In business, we call that RMR (reoccurring monthly revenue).

A finished justification and focus on discipleship empowers the individual, not the institution. Who the Master is—is a settled issue and the focus is preparing for His return by making maximum use of the individual talents given by grace. But when keeping our justification is the focus, individual responsibility to the Master is relegated to the closets. Come now, let’s be honest, how many Christians in the American church even know what their spiritual gifts are? How often do we see church “services” where we “encourage each other unto good works” as opposed to being there to “receive more Jesus.”

The Parable of the Talents is teaching about a servant who sought to only give back to the Master what he had originally received. And that is exactly what the Reformers promoted. Calvin et al believed that sanctification replaced the Old Testament Sabbath. We will make it to heaven if we “rest” in our salvation.

Enter a conversation I had with a brother not but two days ago:

Ya know Paul, this New Calvinism stuff is supposedly so great, but I have been a member of this church for ten years now, and what? Maybe five people have been saved in that time.

Exactly. Let’s face another fact, people aren’t being saved, if anything, they are just being shuffled around or convinced they were never saved to begin with. The reason for this is simple: Christ said to let our good works shine before men so that our Father in heaven would be glorified. That concept was anathema to Calvin. The fact that sanctification is a Sabbath rest should speak for itself.

The double myth of Arminianism.

Arminianism is another Protestant myth. It centers on the election debate, a doctrine that Calvinists don’t even believe to begin with. The Arminian/Calvinist debate is a double myth. Start thinking for crying out loud, what power and control would there be in election?  There is no money in election either. Election portends a settled eternal destiny.  If there is election, what do we need the institutional church for? “Election” only gets you into the race for “final justification,” but the race must be run in the church so that you can get your perpetual forgiveness that keeps you in the race. My friend, always follow the money. Always.

While arguing for free will versus total depravity, Arminians have always functioned like Calvinists. Since the Pilgrims Puritans landed on our Eastern shores, we have had Calvinism Lager and Calvinism Light. Arminianism is closet Calvinism. Both devalue sanctification. Calvinism completely rejects sanctification as “subjective justification.”  Arminians give tacit recognition to sanctification while completely rejecting it by the way they function. The lager form proudly shows forth Calvin’s doctrine of ecclesiastical justification while Arminians live by John Calvin bumper stickers:

We are all just sinners saved by grace.

This is Calvin’s view of Christians remaining totally depraved while receiving justification in the present-continuance tense.

Just this week, I saw the following John Calvin bumper stickers posted by people who would vehemently deny that they are Calvinists:

Bumper sticker 1

This is based on Calvin’s Redemptive Historical hermeneutic and Luther’s Cross Story epistemology.  The idea is that the Bible was not written for the purpose of grammatical exegesis, but rather to contemplate the redemptive narrative only leading to subjective, perpetual justification that is necessary to achieve “final justification.”  Knowing the Bible factually is Luther’s Glory Story, knowing the Author is Luther’s Cross Story. In other words, every verse in the Bible is about justification and not wisdom for sanctification, the proverbial, “living by lists” and “do’s and don’ts.”

And….

Bumper sticker 2

Right, because sanctification is “subjective justification.” Any concern with our outward behavior is, as Calvinist hack Dr. Michael Horton states it, “trying to BE the gospel rather than preaching the gospel.” This fosters the very thing that makes Christianity contemptible to the world—preaching the gospel and not living it. It is the Sabbatical sanctification fostered by John Calvin himself and promoted by Arminians wholesale.

Calminianism  is the real reality.

Sanctification?

So ok, the Bible has much to say about justification by faith alone, but where is this standalone subject of sanctification that is a different matter of Christian living altogether?  One place among many would be 1Thessalonians 4:3ff:

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

Obviously, sanctification is all about KNOWing HOW to control our bodies. And even more obvious is the fact that justification has nothing to do with that at all. And also obvious is the fact that the two aforementioned Calminian  metaphysical bumber stickers totally reject this biblical definition. Let’s have another moment of honesty. How many Christians know more about controlling their body today than they did yesterday? And does that affect how the world sees us, and God?

Fusion and dichotomy.

Sanctification is a continued endeavor to learn more and more how to control our bodies from the Scriptures. Calvinism rejects that as the Glory Story. A focus on controlling our own bodies makes life about us and “eclipses the Son.”  It fuses justification and sanctification together while dichotomizing anthropology. The opposite should be true in regard to both categories. Calminianism is an upside down Christian life.

Anthropological concepts; i.e., what makes people tick, are deemed pragmatic and unspiritual. Rather than seeing these subjects as wisdom where Christians ought to be outdoing the world, they are rejected as “living by lists” and “living by do’s and don’ts.” I like what one pastor had to say about those truisms:

They are telling us the following: “Don’t live by do’s and Don’ts.”

A prime example is something that everyone is born with: a conscience. The only Psychiatrist in history that really had a track record of helping people was O. Hobart Mowrer. The main thrust of his therapy was an emphasis on keeping a clear conscience. He believed that most mental illness was caused by a guilty conscience. He cured people by insisting that they deal with unresolved issues of guilt. Mowrer, once the President of the APA along with a long list of distinguished awards and appointments, wrote The Crisis in Psychiatry and Religion. The book rejected the medical model of Psychology and fustigated Christianity for relegating the care of the “mentally ill” to Freudian Psychology. Mowrer was not a Christian.

Nevertheless, he is the one who most inspired the father of the contemporary biblical counseling movement, Dr. Jay E. Adams, who applied Mowrer’s practical approach to biblical counseling. Adams did this because he observed Mowrer’s astounding results while doing an internship with him in the summer of 1965.

This only makes sense. The apostle Paul instructed Christians to “keep a clear conscience before God.” The Bible has much to say about the subject of conscience. Christians should use the Bible to be wiser in all areas of human practicality and should excel at it far beyond those who live in the world. Let’s have another honesty moment: how many sermons do we hear on the importance of practicality in the Christian life?  Subjects such as, planning, accountability, etc. Unfortunately, these biblical subjects are dichotomized from the “spiritual” and deemed pragmatic.

At the same time, justification and sanctification are fused together in an effort to live out a Sabbatical sanctification; i.e., sanctification by faith alone. This is nothing new, James rejected the concept in his epistle to the 12 tribes of Israel that made up the apostolic church. It is also a Gnostic concept that sees the material as evil and only the spiritual as good. Therefore, since anthropology is part of the material realm, any practicality thereof cannot benefit the spiritual. Supposedly.

Another concept, along with conscience, is that of habituation. Through discipline, habit patterns can be formed that lead to change, ask anyone who has been in the military. People who inter the military come out as changed people. Because of our Protestant heritage and conditioning, these concepts seem grotesquely pragmatic.  But according to the Bible, we are to make use of them.

Sanctification is a many-faceted colaboring with the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit’s power is unleashed through wisdom and obedience (James 1:25). We must know assuredly that justification is a finished work, and absolutely nothing that we do in sanctification can affect it for better or worse. This is what purifies our motives in our love for Christ in sanctification. “If you love me, keep my commandments” has absolutely nothing to do with our justification. It’s for love only, not a working for justification. We are thankful for our justification, but that thankfulness doesn’t save us or keep us saved. Only Christ saves—the new creature now loves Christ because that’s who he/she is. Christ’s love made it possible for us to love Him in sanctification, but nothing in sanctification keeps us saved. Sanctification looks not for a “final justification,” but readies itself for the Master’s return and longs to hear the words, “Well done faithful servant!”

When I was a young boy, I often lived with my grandparents during the summer. My grandfather was a real-life John Wayne type. He worked as a construction foreman for a large company. And he was my hero. Before he left for work in the morning, I would sheepishly await for him to depart before beginning a flurry of tasks around their small farm. I would always have the tasks done well before his arrival home and waited at the end of the drive to hear his truck’s humming wheels come down State Route 125. I would then take him around the property and show him the finished tasks. His smile and compliments were my reward. These are tasks that I didn’t have to do; our love for each other was always something totally different from those tasks. I knew assuredly that he would love me whether I did those tasks or not because I was his grandson—his pride and joy. Some idea that the withholding of serving him in order to elevate the reality of his love for me would have been a ridiculous notion.

Justification and sanctification must be separate. Anthropology and the spiritual must be fused. Our bodies must be controlled and set apart for good works. This will lead to the showing forth of our good works and the glorification of the Father leading to salvation  for others, not sheep redistribution.

Spiritual abuse and disdain for justice.

A devaluing of our own holiness for fear that it will eclipse the holiness of God, coupled with salvation being sought in the institutionalized Calminian church, has led to the same indecencies seen in the mother of the Reformers; the Roman Catholic Church. Rome has never repented of its abject thirst for blood, and the fruit does not fall far from the tree.

The family split for the time being, but the Reformers never departed from Rome’s ecclesiastical justification found through absolution by church leaders. When this is the case, any vehicle going to heaven will suffice for heaven’s sake alone. The institution will never be threatened for the sake of the few. To the leaders, their existence and power is threatened, to the parishioners, their salvation is threatened. The institution must be preserved.

This is no new thing, in the minds of the Jewish leaders; Jesus Christ was sacrificed to preserve the Jewish religious system. If even Christ Himself was expendable in this mentality, what will be of the molested and raped? Besides, we are all just sinners saved by grace anyway, right? Is justice therefore anywhere on the radar screen in this discussion? Hardly. Besides, the raped and spiritually abused should be thankful because what they deserve is hell anyway, right?  Once this is understood, the landscape we see today in the American church should be no surprise whatsoever.

What is the answer?

The church is a sanctified body and not an institution for final justification.  We are in the business of making disciples and not keeping people justified by faith alone in sanctification. The sanctified body doesn’t justify, it is God who justifies. Men must stop worshiping at the altar of ecclesiastical justification. Justification is free to us and finished, sanctification isn’t. Sanctification is where we show our love to the savior as servants, not leaches. Evil men like Paul David Tripp who posit the idea that the Christian’s whole duty is to “rest and feed” and wait for “new and surprising fruit” because Christians only “experience” fruit and don’t participate in it must be rejected with extreme prejudice. Their evil seed was spawned in 1970, but they have been in firm control of the American church for 25 years while proclaiming each year a “resurgence.” What do we have to show for it?

It is time for men and women to recognize their calling, their new birth, their indwelling counselor, their gifts, and the authority of Christ and His word alone. There is NO traceable lineage back to the apostolic church like the genealogy documents burned by Titus. Murdering mystic despots have no claim on any authority of the church.

Godly authority is continued wherever a spirit-filled Christian picks up a Bible and obeys its words. A church is a sanctified, obedient fellowship, not a justified institution drunk with its own visions of grandeur.

paul

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