Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Disaster of Sacrifice as the Ultimate Moral Standard – Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 18, 2017

The following is part two of a four-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s second session at the 2016 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part oneClick here for part three
(Links to the archived files are found below)

I left us with a cliffhanger – Augustine’s flaw in his doctrine.

I’m not going to tell you what that is in this session!

I know, I’m a mean speaker. But before we can get to Augustine’s flaw, I have to dig into this right here, as represented by the chart at the right. I discussed this at length last year at TANC 2015, and effectively I’ve been already talking about this in some fashion for the last five years. This is the order of hierarchy within philosophy.

Now when I say “philosophy,” I really want you to start thinking in terms of here is how man integrates his mind. The foundation is metaphysics. The next level up is epistemology; how man knows what he knows. Notice how epistemology is the largest area of study in the whole construct, because it deals with how man integrates his world. From that understanding we arrive at action in accord with “good.” This is ethics. And so the question we really need to ask is what is ethics? What is human moral action? Since we’re talking about sacrifice as the highest moral ideal, we need to get into this question – what is sacrifice?

Let me ask you this. When someone demands that you sacrifice for the “greater good”, or the local church, what exactly are they asking you to do? Perhaps some of you may answer:

  • Give money
  • Give what you have produced
  • Give of your time
  • Give of your efforts

Here is the real root of what they are asking – sacrifice is the destruction of something. What is being destroyed?

Something of value!

When they ask you to sacrifice to the local church they ask you to give money. That money really represents your personal heartbeats, your personal intellectual efforts, your personal physical efforts. Human production is distilled into money, and that becomes a medium of exchange. So when somebody says they want you to sacrifice, they are asking you to get rid of it on your own behalf, to destroy value.

So the next question is, what are values?

Values are that which one acts to gain or keep.

So let’s break this down. There are two conditions for the concept of values to be possible.   First of all, values presupposes a value-er; an entity or being to whom the object is of value. This means that value requires a certain kind of entity; a being capable of generating action toward a goal or an end. This is very important, particularly in light of what I talked about last year regarding determinism. In a determinist world there can be no such concept as value because a determined entity has to self-oriented/goal-oriented action.   A determined entity cannot have values.

Second of all, in order for the concept of values to be possible, values presupposes an alternative. This means that different outcomes are possible and that the entity’s actions make the difference. As an entity, whatever outcome I bring upon myself is directly related to my actions. A thing is outside the concept of values if action is irrelevant. If you are guaranteed to have or not to have something regardless of action toward or away from that thing, then it cannot be a value.

So the next logical question is what entities fulfill these requirements? The answer is, living organisms; the only beings capable of goal-directed action. Living organisms are confronted with a fundamental alternative.  A living organism must act in accord with its nature to sustain its life. A living organism is not a passive reactor to its environment. A living organism is driven by a singular goal; the perpetuation of its life. By contrast, inanimate matter does not. It exists regardless of its action; it takes no action. Material matter might change form, buts its existence is perpetual independent of any action.

So value implies alternative, and here is the fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence; life or death. This alternative can only apply to living beings. The existence of inanimate matter is un-conditional. The existence of living beings is conditional, specifically on their pursuit of values to sustain their life. Life requires a specific course of action because living organisms are constantly confronted with life or death.

Ponder that for a moment because this is crucial to what comes next.

A living entity must take action in accord with its nature to survive, therefore life is a certain kind of motion. Death by contrast is stillness. Death is the state where action stops. To achieve death, just stop moving; stop eating, drinking, anything. You’ll get death just as fast as you possibly can.

Next question: How do living beings sustain their life? They seek to acquire things that are valuable. Only entities that must act to acquire specific things to sustain their existence can be said to hold values. Water is valuable because it is a component of life. Air is valuable because it is a component of life. Food is valuable because it is a component of life. Living things seek things out because those things sustain life.

Life makes the concept Value possible

The progression goes like this:

                Life → Values → GOOD

  • That which furthers an organism’s life is the GOOD.
  • That which undermines life is the EVIL.

All living organisms act towards their goals. Most organisms take their actions based on instinct. Man by contrast is a being of volitional conceptual consciousness. Man has no built-in standard of values. He is not guided by instincts. He has no automatic code of survival. Indeed, he has no automatic sense of self-preservation. Babies would die almost immediately if not cared for. How much of parenting is dedicated just to keep kids from killing themselves? Man does not come out of the womb ready to engage the world in which he lives. He needs a very specific set of ideas to make that happen.

Also notice that man does not automatically value life as such. Probably one of the greatest examples of this is Islam. Islam is based on the predicate assumption that men will destroy themselves in the name of Allah. And you can find that same mindset applied to Calvin’s doctrine. How many people in churches are willing to destroy their own lives in service to these higher concepts? They don’t specifically value their lives as such.

It is crucial to understand that learning to love and value life as such, and human life in particular as well as your own life, is an achievement. It is a philosophical achievement that has a very specific set of ideas in place. So man must choose to value life in general, and to be successful he must value his life in particular. So for man to live he must identify the correct values and then choose to follow those values.

And so here is man’s root need for morality. Morality is the proper code of values to sustain human life. Man needs ethics to live. He needs to have way to put what he knows into action to know how to successfully live. This is a crucial development in human history. We have already addressed the fact that historically man has not understood this point. It took Western culture almost 1,700 years to even get within a hint of this concept.

Man requires that he chooses his values to live, which means he chooses between moral action and immoral action. Moral action is that which sustains and facilitates his life. Immoral action is that which is going to kill him. Now those actions have context and much more development behind them, but the point is to understand why man needs a moral code.

Man’s Life/Man’s Character

Life → Values → GOOD → Morality → Ethics → Character

Morality is the standard that facilitates life. Ethics is the moral code. And when a man persists in consistently taking value-driven actions, that is what shapes his character.

And with this in mind you can begin to understand why Augustine and Calvin’s doctrines are so fundamentally hostile to human existence. You can begin to grasp why I have said at every TANC session that Calvinism is the single-most disastrous body of doctrine ever perpetrated on man. The single abiding standard in Calvin’s doctrine is the death of human existence. Calvin’s repudiation of human value is absolute. This is why sacrifice, continued and on-going sacrifice, is so central to Calvin’s doctrine. Calvin hates man’s existence as such and has created a full philosophical statement to facilitate man’s destruction.

So now we can answer the question that I asked at the beginning; what is sacrifice? Sacrifice is the destruction of values. And this should be a big “Ah Hah!” moment:

  • To demand sacrifice is to demand non-existence
  • To demand sacrifice is to demand death

Having said all that, I close this segment with these two questions:

How is there any benevolence in sacrifice?
And how have human being been so duped into believing there is virtue in death?

…To be continued

John Immel 2016 Session 2 Archive Video (YouTube)  Audio Only (mp3)

15 Responses

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  1. John said, on July 18, 2017 at 9:36 AM

    In the Calvinist cult I was in (the one that was taken over by a MacArthur clone and from his detestable seminary to boot), the word “sacrifice” came up so many times that I thought of naming a band or a cookie after it.


    • johnimmel said, on July 18, 2017 at 10:29 AM

      BTW . . . someday maybe Paul will tell everyone why I insist we shouldn’t refer to Calvinism as a cult . . . even though he insists on calling them a “super” cult. LOL


      • John said, on July 18, 2017 at 11:11 AM

        John Immel, by all means, if there’s a worse description for that thing than “cult,” let me have it, so I can use it. Mass-“something” will also do. I am right open for a suggestion.
        Great piece, by the way. It made me think again, just when I thought it was safe to feed the birds or look at them, individually.


      • johnimmel said, on July 18, 2017 at 12:51 PM

        Hey John,

        OK, so in your reply is the root of the issue. You want to find an really, really, really bad adjective to describe Calvinism. The loose logic being if those opposing Calvinism can find the best biggest moral condemnation others will wise up and flee . . . hence Paul D’s determination to add the adjective “super” to cult. But ultimately the adjective undermines the moral condemnation.

        Cult . . . in most peoples minds, beyond meaning really really bad = fringe, aberration, coookkie, or extreme.

        When you say cult people really hear: “Jim Jones passing out Cool Aid” or “Hare Krishna’s shaving their head, beating drums and chanting to the universe” or “Satan worshipers drawing pentagrams and summoning demons.”

        But the do NOT hear CJ Mahanny, John Piper, or Al Molher because they see these men as maybe a little over zealous, maybe a little misguided, maybe a 5 pointer but they are still dressed in a suit and tie and look average upper middle class. They meet these men and find them winsome and socially benign with no cloven hooves, pointed tails and pitchforks.

        And this is the problem: the adjective lets people of the intellectual hook. Adding “cult” to Calvinism marginalizes the root doctrines out of peoples experience or interest. So they can vaguely judge those “other guys” (the hazy undefined unwashed masses) as having “cultic” doctrine but the church they go to, where Piper is read every Sunday, has “pure” Christian doctrine. So the inner dialogue goes something like this: “Of course ‘those guys’ have cultic doctrine because they don’t have ‘main stream’ christian orthodoxy, but I believe all the right stuff so I’M not part of a cult because i don’t summon demons or drink cool aid.”

        But here is the point: Calvinism IS main stream Christianity. ANY doctrinal agreement with Calvin or Luther is to accept the premise of evil. It is ALL wrong so from pew sitter, to elder, to preacher . . . if they are participating in the doctrine they are morally and intellectually corrupt. They are evil Calvinists and that is a sufficient moral condemnation.

        Liked by 1 person

      • John said, on July 18, 2017 at 1:35 PM

        John Immel, and with your reply I agree 100 percent, and that’s what makes these evil Calvinists so cunning. The devil masquerades as an angel of light. Yes, I do realize that “cult” equals Marshall Applewhite and Jimmie Jones and his clones when people hear the word “cult.” The majority of people will never see MacArthur as a cult leader because he does not look the part, and he may even utter Jesus’ name or have a “holy” communion service or whatever; he may even smile and appear to be humble, oh so humble. Also, I’m thinking a bit of the backfire effect is at play too (when one’s beliefs are challenged by convincing and contradicting evidence but despite that, one’s own beliefs simply become stronger. But you know all this already).

        And I do realize that if we want to change people’s beliefs, we have to be patient, especially when it’s a sensitive topic that will influence one’s eternal home. But, as many, I am extremely frustrated with Calvinism and its evil (like most of us here, I have had personal dealings with this lot and have lost a lot). But thanks for the reply; it will help me in not calling (trying my damnedest) that movement a cult automatically, albeit a “super” one! LOL.

        Yes, calling it a c*** will put people off the truth and make them cling on to their evil setting/beliefs more. I see that.

        I am trying to come up with a new name for them, and at this stage, “morally, intellectually corrupt and evil” sounds good (thanks, John Immel); maybe I’ll shorten it sometime. But if I do refer to Calvinism/Reformed “theology” as a “cult,” please remember that it was written out of pure frustration. I simply cannot look at a tur* and call it something that once was in your body.

        Again, thanks for the reply. I get it.


      • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on July 18, 2017 at 1:43 PM

        morally, intellectually corrupt and evil”

        Hey I think we have a new acronym.
        They are Mice! LOL


      • johnimmel said, on July 18, 2017 at 1:56 PM

        Ok… that is hilarious


      • John said, on July 18, 2017 at 1:49 PM

        Andy. . . “MICE” sounds good. So it shall be, and every now and then I’ll explain what it stands for. You’re a genius (and it all started with J Immel). Here’s an example of how to use this acronym: Calvinists are MICE (morally, intellectually corrupt, and evil).
        Purrrrfect. We deserve milk.


  2. John said, on July 18, 2017 at 9:53 AM

    Let me add a second part to my comment. In any case, so everyone was sacrificing this and that. You know, you sacrifice Saturday mornings early to “pray” for men and to exchange diabolical Paul Washer DVDs and literature, MacArthur’s smile-while-you-lie stuff, the deceiver and blasphemer RC Sproul’s books, and all rubbish Reformed and Calvinist. And you “sacrifice” by preaching a gospel (usually at some gathering where no one was interested in these people’s ramblings) to people who are condemned already (in their own words…but just in case one of the elect walked past and did not know he/she (seldom she) was supposed to be elect or supposed to be walking there because it had all been decided . . . before time began. Yes, I know, it’s illogical and very stupid, but it was a “sacrifice.”

    Tithing was a sacrifice (and compulsory); attending church twice on a Sunday was compulsory (another sacrifice).

    I never took part in any of these silly “church” activities (“sacrifices”), and so one day one of the men (all muscled up and all that; hipster and all that; huge library and all that) said they were all being like Paul the Apostle, sacrificing and getting humiliated so that the rewards would be “huge.”

    So I told him my name is John . . . not Paul. He did not like it and went a Luther red. I still thank God every day that He led me and another out of that cult weeks before it became 100% evil and Calvinist. God is not stupid; people are. Many have left since and I praise the Lord for that.


  3. Republican mother said, on July 19, 2017 at 6:17 PM

    Nicknames I like to throw around for them are:

    The Christian Taliban

    The Christian Talmudists-see Paul’s bookstore video for the proof

    Those in need of fiber- on account of how their false dichotomies create so much constipation. I call it the “corn cob” look.

    Manachean Gnostics. As in “I’m sorry, I’m just not into manachean gnosticism, man”.

    My all-time favorite is the “world’s most hard-core LARPers”. This is short for live action role playing, which is what they do. They are trying to live like some preprogrammed NPC character in a video game.


    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on July 19, 2017 at 8:03 PM

      ok, “those in need of fiber” seriously made me LOL!
      Love it!


    • John said, on July 20, 2017 at 6:28 AM

      R Mother, I laughed so inappropriately loud at your comment that the apartment’s fire alarm went off. It was predestined to go off, anyway.


  4. lydia00 said, on July 21, 2017 at 12:23 PM

    “But here is the point: Calvinism IS main stream Christianity. ANY doctrinal agreement with Calvin or Luther is to accept the premise of evil. It is ALL wrong so from pew sitter, to elder, to preacher . . . if they are participating in the doctrine they are morally and intellectually corrupt. They are evil Calvinists and that is a sufficient moral condemnation.”

    Bingo. It IS mainstream so people don’t recognize it to the core. People have been telling me for the past 15 years that because I was Baptist I am a Calvinist or have Calvinistic beliefs. The problem was really that many Baptist were very big tent type of people and pretty much ignored doctrinal differences in lieu of the great commission. I was raised more in line with “No King but Jesus”, “no creed but scripture” , Priesthood of believer (no s added like Mohler did), soul competency and so forth. This stuff was drilled into our heads. No earthly mediators needed. The pastor was an employee not a guru, My parents would be appalled today at churches.

    I felt so much of it wrong in my bones early on even without being able to articulate then because it was authoritarian in nature. That was the red flag. That is what we were warned about when young. No one can come between you and Jesus Christ. You can come together but you had best know Him individually.

    I am extremely grateful for that upbringing. I see how hard it is for people to ditch determinism. Many Neo Cals become atheists or even universalists. Both deterministic. They can’t except the fact that not only are we in charge of ourselves but we are accountable for ourselves.

    I think this latest neo Cal resurgence has been good in some ways.

    Everyone in Christendom talking about it
    It went from discussing in the Academy to the peasants on social media analyzing it.
    It’s happening at a time when many resources for study are at our fingertips for free
    The resurgence was a purer form of Calvinism than what was practiced by the older mainstreamers after the Puritan descendants ditched it. Even though the resurgent did not promote infant baptism they really promoted the inherent authoritarianism and caste system of determinism. It was clear and very obvious.

    Now they are trying desperately to change the subject to social justice. You can only be deceptive, cruel and mean for so long and people catch on. Actually, the money is drying up.. This is exactly what happened with the descendants of the Puritans. They turned to Universalism in an attempt to over correct. The crew now are playing the divisive game of social justice warriors. So now if you don’t agree that you are a racist and don’t agree to open borders then you want to kill people. They are an exhausting lot. But I guess many will buy into it that they really really really care about people…



  5. lydia00 said, on July 21, 2017 at 12:27 PM


    Some of your names reminded me of Luther. He was the master….


    • John said, on July 24, 2017 at 4:53 PM

      It’s #Reformation500, Lydia. Show some respect to the great Luther . . . not.


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