Paul's Passing Thoughts

The “Cross Story” and Sanctified Rape in the Church

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

Originally published January 31, 2013

ppt-jpeg4“Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think; this is their worldview.”

 “Don’t misunderstand: the problem of  ‘victim mentality’  is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary.”

 Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story.”

Martin Luther had more on his mind than silly Popes when he nailed his 95 Theses to the front door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. That protest launched the Reformation, but six months later Luther presented the systematic theology of the Reformation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation laid the foundation, and John Calvin later articulated and applied its basic principles to the full spectrum of life in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

The Cross Story and the Glory Story

Luther’s cross story, or theology of the cross is the crux of the Heidelberg Disputation and introduced in the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes:

Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.

That’s Luther’s theology of the cross: a deeper and deeper knowledge of our putrid humanity as set against God’s holiness. And NOTHING in-between. All of creation, all events, and all reality contribute to deeper knowledge of one of these two, and then both as a deeper knowledge of each gives more understanding to the other; knowledge of both, and the experience of both. Hence, every blessing, including our good works which are done by the Holy Spirit to begin with, lends more understanding of God’s glory. Every evil event, sin, and tragedy lends deeper understanding in regard to our total depravity and worthlessness. But of course your mother is dying of cancer; I am amazed that God would give anyone as many years as He has given her. Who are we to think we deserve even one year of life? And what a wonderful opportunity for her to suffer the way Jesus suffered for us!

This is the cross story. See the illustration below. This is a contemporary depiction from that camp—this is their assessment:

gospelgrid1

Anything else at all that gives any credit to humanity—Christian or non-Christian is the “glory story.” That would be our glory specifically, and not Christ’s. To the degree that humanity is considered, the glory of Christ is “ECLIPSED.” This is the theses of a book written by John MacArthur associate Rick Holland: Uneclipsing The Son. Everything is perceived as speaking through one of these two perspectives. ANYTHING coming from what is perceived as the “glory story” is summarily dismissed. Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think. This is their worldview.

In one of the former Resolved Conferences sponsored by John MacArthur and Holland, in one of his messages, Holland extols a letter written to Puritan Christopher Love by his wife as he awaited execution. Holland forgot to mention to those listening that Love was executed for espionage against the English government while letting the audience assume he was executed for loftier spiritual-like reasons. The following is excerpts from the letter:

O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations. I desire freely to give thee up into thy Father’s hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ…. I dare not speak to thee, nor have a thought within my own heart of my own unspeakable loss, but wholly keep my eye fixed upon thy inexpressible and inconceivable gain. Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory…. Thou dost but leave earth for heaven and changest a prison for a palace. And if natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that the spirit of grace that is within thee will quell them, knowing that all things here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above. I know thou keepest thine eye fixed on the hope of glory, which makes thy feet trample on the loss of earth.

Justice? That implies that humanity has some sort of value. That implies that life itself  has some sort of value. That implies that humanity should be protected through threat of punishment. That’s the glory story. Therefore, Calvin stated the following:

Those who, as in the presence of God, inquire seriously into the true standard of righteousness, will certainly find that all the works of men, if estimated by their own worth, are nothing but vileness and pollution, that what is commonly deemed justice is with God mere iniquity; what is deemed integrity is pollution; what is deemed glory is ignominy (CI 3.12.4).

Death by Biblical Counseling

The church must face up to a sobering reality in our day. The vast majority of biblical counseling that goes on in our day is based on this construct—you will be counseled from the perspective of the cross story, and anything that smacks of the glory story will be snubbed. You are not a victim. There is no such thing as a victim. Christ was the only true victim in all of history. Don’t misunderstand: the problem of “victim mentality” is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary. “Victim” is part of the glory story; Christ as the only victim is the cross story. I am not a victim. That’s impossible because my sin nailed Christ to the cross. Thank you oh Lord that I was raped. Thank you for this opportunity to suffer for you. Thank you for the strength to forgive the one who raped me in the same way you forgave me. What a wonderful opportunity to show forth your gospel!

Hence, when the leaders of a Reformed church came to inform parents that a young man in that church had molested their toddler, this was the opening statement:

Today, we have before us an opportunity to forgive.

The parents were then counseled to not contact the authorities. Those who do are often brought up on church discipline. Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story. And be not deceived: this is the logic that drives Reformed organizations that are supposed to be mediators in the church; specifically, Peacemaker Ministries and G.R.A.C.E. A major player in the Biblical Counseling Movement is Paul David Tripp. In 2006, he wrote a book that articulates the horizontal application of Luther’s theology of the cross: “How people Change.” Of course, the title is a lie; if he really believed people change, that would be the glory story. Notice also that it is, “How People Change” and not, “How Christians Change.” That’s because this bunch see no difference in the transforming power of the new birth and ordinary Christ-rejecting people.

In the book, Tripp, like all who propagate Luther’s theology of the cross, posits the Bible as a “big picture” narrative of our redemptive life. The Bible is a mere tool for one thing only: leading us more and more into the cross story and away from the glory story. This is accomplished by using the Bible to enter into the cross narrative and thereby seeing our preordained part in the “big picture” narrative of redemptive history. Though Tripp is not forthright about it in the book, this is known as the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic. By seeing our life through the cross story, we are empowered to live life for God’s glory. This is done by seeing ALL circumstances in life (Heat) as preordained in order to show our sinfulness (Thorns) and God’s goodness (Fruit) for the purposes of having a deeper understanding of both resulting in spiritual wellbeing. In other words, all of life’s circumstances are designed to give us a deeper understanding of the cross story: God’s holiness, and our sinfulness. I have taken his primary visual illustration from the book and drawn lines to the cross story illustration to demonstrate the relationship (click on image to enlarge):

Scott Illustration

Understanding this lends insight to Tripp citations on the Peacekeepers Ministries website:

Paul Trip wrote a great post over at The Gospel Coalition blog all about the need for pastors to pursue a culture of forgiveness in their ministry. Pastors (and anyone serving Christ) have a choice:

“You can choose for disappointment to become distance, for affection to become dislike, and for a ministry partnership to morph into a search for an escape. You can taste the sad harvest of relational détente that so many church staffs live in, or you can plant better seeds and celebrate a much better harvest. The harvest of forgiveness, rooted in God’s forgiveness of you, is the kind of ministry relationship everyone wants.”

Then he describes three ways forgiveness can shape your ministry. I’ve listed them, but you can read how he explains them in detail.

“1. Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection.

2. Forgiveness produces patience.

3. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in relationships grows.”

He closes with this exhortation:

“So we learn to make war, but no longer with one another. Together we battle the one Enemy who is after us and our ministries. As we do this, we all become thankful that grace has freed us from the war with one another that we used to be so good at making.”

And concerning another author, they also stated:

Last week, Steve Cornell at The Gospel Coalition blog posted some really great insight into the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. They also offered up some excellent and biblically sound steps in dealing with a situation where an offending party is hesitant to reconcile.

Here he summarizes a key distinction:

“It’s possible to forgive someone without offering immediate reconciliation. It’s possible for forgiveness to occur in the context of one’s relationship with God apart from contact with her offender. But reconciliation is focused on restoring broken relationships. And where trust is deeply broken, restoration is a process—sometimes, a lengthy one”…. His ten guidelines for those hesitant to reconcile are rooted in scripture and, I think, incredibly helpful.

1. Be honest about your motives.

2. Be humble in your attitude.

3. Be prayerful about the one who hurt you.

4. Be willing to admit ways you might have contributed to the problem.

5. Be honest with the offender.

6. Be objective about your hesitancy.

7. Be clear about the guidelines for restoration.

8. Be alert to Satan’s schemes.

9. Be mindful of God’s control.

10. Be realistic about the process.

Notice the overall blurring of distinction between the offended and offender with the subject of forgiveness.

The Cross-centered Anti-justice Pandemic is No longer Exclusively a Reformed Thing

Apart from Calvinism, the redemptive historical cross-centered approach is crossing denominational lines en masse. We at TANC see doctrines that were born of Luther’s theology of the cross in non-Reformed circles constantly; specifically, heart theology (deep repentance), exclusive interpretation of the Scriptures through a redemptive prism, Gospel Sanctification, and John Piper’s Christian hedonism. And we also see the same results. It is not beyond the pale for a pastor who has raped a parishioner to be the one counseling the victim sinner. You know, the “sinner saved by grace.”

God is a God of justice, and throughout the Scriptures He demands that we be people of justice. He demands that we come to the defense of the victim. I close with fitting words from church historian John Immel:

And this is the challenge. This is the challenge that I have as a man who is passionate about thinking: to inspire people to engage in complex ideas that drive tyranny. So here’s my challenge to those who are listening.

Do not be seduced into believing that righteousness is retreat from the world.

Do not be seduced into believing that spirituality is defined by weakness and that timid caution for fear of committing potential error is a reason to be quiet.

Do not be intimidated by vague, hazy threats of failure.

Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality. I’m going to say that again to you. This is good. Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality.

Do not mistake the simple nature of God’s love for a justification for simple-mindedness.

Do not deceive yourself with the polite notion that you are above the fray, that your right to believe is sufficient to the cause of righteousness. There is no more stunning conceit.

Do not pretend that your unwillingness to argue is the validation of truth.

Know this: Virtue in a vacuum is like the proverbial sound in the forest–irrelevant without a witness. Character is no private deed. To retreat is nothing more than a man closing his eyes and shutting his mouth to injustice.

Virtues are not estimates to be lofted gently against evil.

Virtues are not to be withheld from view in the name of grace.

Virtues are not to be politely swallowed in humble realization that we are all just sinners anyway.

Love is not a moral blank check against the endless tide of indulgent action.

Love is not blind to the cause and effect of reality.

Love is not indifference to plunder and injustice and servitude.

The time is now, you men of private virtue, to emerge from your fortress of solitude and demonstrate that you are worthy of a life that bears your name. The time is now, you men of private virtue, to answer Mick Jagger and all the nihilists that insist we are living on the edge and we cannot help but fall. It is time for you men of private virtue to take up the cause of human existence and think.

~TANC 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny: John Immel; session 1, “Assumptions + Logic = Action.”

paul

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2 Responses

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  1. John said, on December 18, 2016 at 1:11 PM

    Tripp is evil, in my opinion. May I say that? I mean, may I say it again? And the ACBC abomination is just the same. Ditto.

    Like


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