Religious Tyranny: A Case Study; Chapter Two, The Insurgency
As shared in Chapter one, Clearcreek Chapel was a church endowed with changing people because its ministry in general, including the pulpit ministry, was driven by Dr. Jay Adams’ biblical counseling construct. The framework focused on in-depth application of scriptural wisdom to life as opposed to merely living by “biblical generalities.” It rejected a medical model of sin and insisted on people “owning their sin” and taking responsibility for their failures. As we will see as this study progresses, the powerful living displayed at the Chapel during the 90’s was due to this model being partially correct in a biblical sense while maintaining too much fatal orthodoxy.
Said another way, until this time in church history, the church had a confused and tepid relationship with the concept of obedience, but the biblical counseling movement merely emphasized it more than it had ever been emphasized before. Of course, this is because Adams witnessed the cause and effect results demonstrated by Mowrer and applied it to biblical counseling while at the same time summarily dismissing Mowrer’s model as humanistic. As stated in the first chapter, we will be revisiting this major point with all zeal.
Protestantism has always had an uneasy and confused relationship with obedience because its most monstrous and evil nemesis, salvation by works, has its own application for obedience. As a result, obedience has always been seen as a possible Trojan horse whenever it presents itself in the church. The biblically intelligent obedience of Adams’ construct that was yielding change in the church was the elephant in the room. Everyone loved what was going on, but were privately uneasy when they heard, “The power is in the doing.” Adams, nor anyone else in the movement ever clarified why it was alright to believe that obedience is curative. How is obedience to the law for salvation not obedience to the law for salvation in Christian living? What’s the difference? How is obedience sanctified for Christian living? These questions were never answered because in reality most Protestants don’t even know enough to ask the question to begin with. One thing had not changed with the advent of the biblical counseling movement; the traditional Protestant confusion over the Holy Spirit’s role in the Christian’s life.
At this point in the study, we will unveil one of its major theses that begins to answer our stated interpretive questions: after the American Revolution, authentic Protestant orthodoxy became very confused. The fact is, the doctrine of the Protestant Reformation, at least according to the philosophy it was founded on, was extremely consistent and all ideological dots connected with a logical premise and conclusion. Yes, Reformation soteriology was a masterpiece of intellectual consistency. But moving forward post-Revolution, it became a mixture of original tenets and other ideas; hence, Protestantism became a morass of functionality that contradicted its intellectual proclamations. For example, many Protestants would become indignant in regard to the idea that people are saved by church membership, but the way “Christians” function in regard to that idea is altogether a different story.
In essence, freedom happened. In the same way that the Protestant Reformation made chaos of Catholic orthodoxy, the American Revolution made chaos of Protestant orthodoxy overseen by the Puritan theocracy that had ruled over the colonies. Post-Revolution and moving forward, Protestant orthodoxy became a paradoxical nightmare held together with specific talking points. These talking points sounded intelligent and pious, but if thought out to their logical conclusions—utterly mindless. The Adams biblical counseling revolution only fixed part of this problem with a stronger nod towards intelligent obedience. But as stated earlier, it was an uneasy coexistence. It was a revival with doubt running in the background.
Now we come to one of the more significant events in all of contemporary church history. In the exact same year that Jay Adams unleashed the biblical counseling movement, another movement was born and the significance of this other movement is historically profound. Though the history of how this movement came about will not be addressed in this study, its proposition and advent will be. The theological think tank that spawned this other movement was dubbed “The Australian Forum” and its primary thinkers were comprised of two Anglican theologians, a Seventh-day Adventist theologian, and a Reformed Baptist.
What was their proposition? Namely, that the true Protestant Reformation gospel had been lost. Furthermore, contemporary Calvinists were deemed guilty of swaying away from the true Reformed tradition, and evangelicalism wasn’t even in the gospel ballpark. This movement led to a worldwide insurgence known as the New Calvinist movement. It boasted, and still does, a return to the true Protestant gospel more than 500 years after the fact, and labeled all church as lost in a “sea of subjectivism” and falsehood.
And, in regard to what the Protestant Reformation was really about, they were, and are, exactly correct in that assertion.
This unequivocal fact stands as a monument for all time: the who’s who of contemporary church scholarship has all but admitted that it was wrong for more than 200 years, and the church was saved by a Seventh-day Adventist in 1970 although they like to leave out the Seventh-day Adventist part. This led to a massive covert insurgency movement within the church from 1970 to the present. In Sothern Baptist circles it has been decried as “aggressive Calvinism” and “high controlling churches.” But what is it really?
The Clearcreek Chapel story is a perfect microcosm of this worldwide church event because the insurgents of this movement who came to the Chapel were early foot soldiers of the movement. The Chapel study therefore gives us insight into the real Protestant gospel and its fallout when practiced in the milieu of life. It is the face of religious tyranny and cultism, and the Clearcreek Chapel story is the story of innumerable people and church events. It is the prototype of the New Calvinist meta-narrative. It is also instructive regarding the way home to true freedom in our beloved Christ.
But before we delve into the Chapel narrative further, what is the proof for this outrageous proposition? Contemporary church history is the proof; specifically, the Calvinist civil war.
Chapter Three: The Calvinist Civil War Named “Sonship”
Chapter Four: The Arrival of “Ravenous Wolves”