Paul's Passing Thoughts

Church: Utter Confusion in Broad Daylight About…of All Things, the Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 24, 2017

ppt-handle“John Immel addressed this at the TANC 2017 conference: the church has three standards of truth that are always right when one of the other ones are wrong. Scripture, teachers, and confessions/catechisms. When you think Piper is wrong…you point to the confessions. When you corner them on confessional errors, they point to Scripture, but remember… [the confessions supposedly interpret Scripture, and] …vary according to denominations.”

I just finished a four-day-on shift at the nursing facility the day before yesterday and was on the net in the morning catching up on things. Everywhere I clicked was an opportunity for an article; so, which should I choose? I was also on the phone with several people catching up on things. Here is what I am going to do; I am going to combine a phone call with an article I saw posted on Face Book. Regarding the phone call, my friend shared how she was asked by a family member if she was going to continue fellowship with that “cult in Ohio.” We may start there with the utter confusion of church psychosis. How do the churched define a cult? It is any religious organization that is not under some hierarchy of authority and is not institutionalized.

The word doesn’t show up in human history until the 17th century as a positive word meaning to “cultivate” as a religious group. The word comes into heavy negative use after the American Revolution and this is why: prior, the idea of “cult” was irrelevant because the church didn’t need to manipulate people to obtain their conformity; church was the law of the land. You submitted to the authority of the church, or you paid the price.

After the American Revolution’s separation of church and state, the church had to improvise with manipulation to get a following. As far as competition between denominations, anyone who disagreed with your particular brand of church might have been deemed a “cult,” but the term was primarily reserved for those who didn’t submit to the authority of a denomination. A denomination can be cultish in behavior, but will normally be excluded due to a minimal allowance of credibility for combining faith with authority.

Hence, this is the true definition of a cult: any church or religious organization claiming to have authority. Keep in mind, such a claim comes with the belief that said church is being deprived of its authority by the state. As the church is returning to its medieval roots at breakneck speed, you will see an increased anti-American sentiment in the church, especially among the Neo-Protestant/Neo-Calvinist/New Calvinism crowd. This anti-American sentiment is nuanced with, “We worship God, not a country,” blah, blah, blah, ad nauseam.

The real issue is the church’s implicit dominion theology. The church was patterned after the longstanding partnership between state force and religion. Supposedly, Christ brought God’s kingdom to earth and assigned the church with the task of taking dominion over it, and ordained governments to enforce the church’s orthodoxy. Prior to the church, the pagan-state followed the same pattern according to Plato’s “The Republic” which propagated the social engineering construct of philosopher king, warrior, and producer. In the end, according to the book of Revelation, this construct makes a comeback of biblical proportions, pun intended.

Churchians are also confused about what church is; they actually think Christ and the apostles started the church, and they actually think the word is in the Bible because some publishers put it in there. However, it is a very useful word because it delineates between true biblical worship and fellowship versus institutional religion that combines faith with authority. Leading evangelicals like John MacArthur Jr. promote the thinking that rejection of the church as an institution is a rebellious do-your-own-thing mindset.

Supposedly, individuals working together as a cooperative body striving to have one mind according to individual conscience will most certainly lead to chaos. This is why passages like Acts 6:1-7 confuse use; the whole idea that hundreds of Christians could agree on a course of action defies what we have been taught about individualism. A body doesn’t operate on authority; if my arm is paralyzed, my brain can tell my arm to move all day long and the arm will not obey. A body operates by mutual edification and every member contributing to homeostasis. Spiritual homeostasis is not obtained by authority, it is obtained by every member functioning according to their intended gift and its contribution to the rest of the body. When a believer is sitting under authority, the focus is away from personal calling and towards supporting institutional infrastructure.

In fact, everyone’s calling is supporting the church, and edification is even defined as such. Furthermore, members will wait for permission to serve and are clearly told they cannot discern their own gifts. Even if such ability is conceded, the notion must be validated by the elders. If you don’t believe that, try starting a Bible study in your own home and inviting members without elder approval.

The institutionalization of Christ’s body doesn’t occur until the 4th century. How church came about, and all but totally replaced true assemblies in private homes has been written about by this ministry here, and here. Even then, the institutionalization of Christ’s body was not referred to as “church.” The word does not appear in history until circa 7th century.

Though churchians throw around the words “cult” and “church,” like all other words they use, they have no idea what they are talking about or even what the words actually mean. Whether Catholicism or Protestantism and all things that flow from them, it is a plenary confusion.

But, you would at least think they are not confused about how to be saved and would be on the same page even if the orthodoxy is erroneous, right? Not. There is no clear consensus on how to be saved among the churched, and EVERY take and position is also errant. “But Paul, don’t they all agree that you have to be a church member to be saved?” Well, that’s not true, but can we at least give them credit for unity on that point? No. With that said, it (required church membership) is church orthodoxy in most cases, but few churchians even understand what their own orthodoxy is. In other words, in most cases, they will deny mandatory church membership for salvation.

It’s all a morass of confusion unparalleled by anything in human history. A pity, my friend, that you would be a cultist meeting in a cooperative home fellowship. We wouldn’t want any chaos goin’ on.

Now let’s get to the article. Oh. My. Goodness. Basically, you have the blue chip of church publications, The Aquila Report, disagreeing with a leading evangelical ministry (Desiring God) on how to be saved. But it’s much richer than that; they don’t even agree on what the definition of the word, “salvation” means. I kid you not.

Thank goodness, the church is an alternative to being one of them-there “lone rangers.” Thank goodness, according to Al Mohler, that God ordained church elders to “save His people from ignorance.” Am I here right now?

Before we get into churchians not even agreeing on what the word “salvation” means, let’s add one more caveat to their morass of confusion because the depth of this confusion makes it novelty-proof. The conclusion of the article is presented as the marque introduction:

“No matter how much we may like Calvin, Twisse, Edwards, Horton, or Piper, ultimately we don’t confess them. We confess the standards of our denominations.”

Then this editor for the AR proceeds to accuse John Piper of misrepresenting the way of salvation. But, yet, we like him? I see, well, anyway, get ready, because I am adding yet another level of confusion, because it’s fun. Are you keeping count? As we will see in the article, John Piper teaches a false gospel, but we like him, we also disagree on his definition of the word, “salvation,” and also how it’s applied, and as I will demonstrate, according to Protestant orthodoxy, they really agree with each other.

That’s right; they can’t agree to disagree, because they don’t even know they agree. Maybe someone should try to tell them, but would it add to the confusion?

Let’s plow ahead into the article and I will do my best to clarify their confusion because I don’t want you to be confused about their confusion.

“The debate over salvation by faith alone continues unabated [why? they have had over 1500 years to iron this out!]. As I wrote in my last article on the subject, at issue is whether and how good works can be considered necessary or part of salvation. From the recent Desiring God article, it’s apparent that I did not overstate things when I said that Piper was separating justification from salvation. The article, though not written by John Piper, references Piper’s article and states: ‘But what about being saved by faith alone? You’re not. You’re justified through faith alone. Final salvation comes through justification and sanctification — both initiated and sustained by God’s grace.'”

Church will always be confused about the relationship of works to salvation because church has a fundamental misunderstanding about what biblical law is and how the relationship of the law to the believer is changed by the literal new birth. It be that simple. We be talkin’ 2+2=4 theological math. Church doesn’t understand law, and is totally confused about what the new birth does to the law. Their concept of law requires arguing about how to get a square peg in a round hole. The result? Look at church, it is, what it is. So, of course, “The debate over salvation by faith alone continues unabated.” Why wouldn’t it? They start from the wrong premise about law.

Wait a minute! Have we stumbled upon a church agreement on something? Is there universal agreement on a wrong view of law? Pray tell.

First, we might as well nail down the fact that they are really in agreement here and are wrong about disagreeing. So knowledgeable they are; not even knowing when they agree with each other. Worse yet, the agreement is obvious. The editor doth protest that Desiring God says that good works are required for the finishing of salvation, then she cites a quotation by them stating that, well, good works aren’t part of finishing salvation. I know what you are asking; “What’s this ‘finishing salvation’ business?” More on that later. Let’s look at her citation:

“But what about being saved by faith alone? You’re not. You’re justified through faith alone. Final salvation comes through justification and sanctification — both initiated and sustained by God’s grace.”

Here is their disagreement on what salvation is—is salvation synonymous with justification, or not? The confusion comes because according to church, the answer is both “yes,” and “no.” And when two parties are both right in their wrongness, of course the debate will continue unabated. Confused about the confusion yet?

Let me clarify: the question that clarifies follows; who is doing the work? The AR editor seems to think DG is saying that the believer is doing the work, or “killing sin,” but that’s not what DG is saying at all. Read the citation carefully:

“Final salvation comes through justification and sanctification — both initiated and sustained by God’s grace.”

What DG is doing is making justification present, or the beginning of salvation, and sanctification the progression of salvation, and separating that from “final salvation.” But nobody is saved until the fat lady sings at the final judgement. But yet, note that DG is clearly saying that everything from the beginning to the end is “initiated and sustained” by God. This is the Protestant doctrine of Already, Not Yet, and Christ For Us, or Christ 100% for US, as applied to the doctrine of Double Imputation.

Again, the AR editor seems to think that DG is saying that the believer does the work, but that is not the case. Also, the AR editor seems to think that DG is separating justification from salvation, and that is kinda true, but it is more accurate to say that DG is making a distinction between beginning salvation (justification), the progression of salvation (sanctification), and final salvation (glorification). And the interpretive key follows: final salvation is determined by one of the 5 points of Calvinism, The Perseverance of the Saints (the “P” of TULIP) which is also predetermined by God in regard to individuals lest it be works salvation. If everything in salvation is initiated and sustained by God, of course, therefore, those who persevere must be a class of elect.

That begs the question: are those justified by faith (beginning salvation) considered to be part of the elect? Calvin said, “yes.” This is what Calvin referred to as the “called” class of elect, or for all practical purposes, the temporary elect. Even though John Piper denies that Calvin taught a temporary election, which totally throws assurance of any sort out the window, let’s think about this. If Piper confesses Christ 100% for Us in the whole process of salvation, and he does, and also confesses the “P” in TULIP, and he does, and also confesses that all confessing Christians do not persevere, and he does, how can he deny a temporary election? Well, he would say (and has so stated) that those who don’t persevere were never elected in the first place.

But please note: he then teaches assurance of salvation based on election. Huh? If there is no way of knowing who is going to persevere, and that is the final revealing of true election which is an initiation and sustaining by God, who can have assurance of salvation based on God’s election? The fact that Piper confesses Christ 100% for Us, and Double Imputation, and the “P” in TULIP, and assurance of salvation based on election, this attests to his true endorsement of temporary election either unwittingly or by deliberate deception and intentional doublespeak. Get a load of Piper: he will vehemently declare assurance of salvation and once saved always saved while holding the “if” sign behind his back. That is, if you are of the perseverance class of elect.
But in all of this, trust me, the AR editor is totally lost. Pun intended.

This editor then goes on and on in the article citing Reformed confessions that bolster her view that salvation… “As you will note, the teaching that salvation, from first to last, is by faith alone is clear in all of the Reformed confessions and catechisms.” And, “From the Westminster Confession of faith, notice that it says that saving faith means resting on Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life.”

Piper is saying the exact same thing; and note that both believe salvation to be a PROCESS and not a finished work in the life of the believer. All in all, and I have written about this extensively and will not further belabor it here, Calvin’s Sabbath Rest sanctification is the work and “killing sin” that DG ministries is referring to. This is the Reformed/Protestant doctrine of Mortification and Vivification. The so-called believer MUST partake in ongoing repentance of sin (mortification [of sin, or the killing of sin]) under the auspices of the institutional church in order to keep the salvation process going (vivification [increased glory towards glorification]), but Piper et al would not consider this to be a work contributing to salvation, and clearly, nether would the AR editor.

Yes, I know what you are thinking; “Wait a minute here, repentance is doing something—it’s a work.” Right, but remember our theme here: plenary confusion.

The AR editor concludes with this:

“Everything, no matter who said it, must be weighed against Scripture. And for confessional Christians, a good place to start is with our confessional standards. Confessional Christians, especially ordained leaders, believe and affirm that the confessional standards of their denomination contain “the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures” (PCA and OPC ordination questions). For this reason, it is important to know and to return to the confessional standards in any controversy.”

Hello, if Scripture is the standard, why not merely start and end there? A good place to “start” with Scripture is someplace else? Think about it, and this is astounding; millions of intelligent people actually give money to these people.

Nevertheless, this brings us back to the authority issue. The AR editor is saying that Scripture is the standard, she isn’t saying who can actually understand it. That’s where the confessions and catechisms come in, you know, those documents written by the “Westminster Divines.”

The AR editor continues in her conclusion:

“Piper does not hold to any of the Reformed confessions or catechisms. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a Christian or that he doesn’t teach useful things. But it does mean that we shouldn’t be surprised when he teaches something outside the confessional standards.”

Um, based on what she wrote, in essence, this would mean Piper rejects the Bible as well, no? Yet, it doesn’t mean he isn’t a Christian? But, actually, Piper holds totally to the Reformed confessions and catechisms. She has that totally wrong.

And lastly, she states:

“No matter how much we may like Calvin, Twisse, Edwards, Horton, or Piper, ultimately we don’t confess them. We confess the standards of our denominations. It really is that simple.”

John Immel addressed this at the TANC 2017 conference: the church has three standards of truth that are always right when one of the other ones are wrong. Scripture, teachers, and confessions/catechisms. When you think Piper is wrong and he really isn’t wrong according to church wrongness, you point to the confessions. When you corner them on confessional errors, they point to Scripture, but remember, a good place to start with Scripture is with the confessions which vary according to denominations. Ain’t we glad for the clarity?

And don’t forget this one as well: when you call out Protestantism, they are a Baptist, when you call them out on the London Baptist Confession, they are Biblicists, and so it goes. Again, all three are spot-on until one is exposed.

I could better the situation if they would let me. I would be more than happy to go to churches everywhere and teach them out of the Calvin Institutes, the writings of Luther, and the various and sundry confessions.

At least they would have unity around a common error and would be correct in their wrongness. Church is annoying enough without all of the confusion and chaos. For goodness sake, get an error and stick with it.


6 Responses

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  1. John said, on October 24, 2017 at 5:57 PM

    Good heavens! Their confusion is beyond laughable; it is ridiculously delicious. Then again, who is the father of chaos and confusion?

    The particular AR editor is a clown dancing around in her own head, looking for pieces to put together . . . but there’s nothing. What she is saying is something like this: To know the truth about baking bread, we should consult the baker, so jump in the car and let’s go skydiving.

    Your article is good news, Paul. I trust/pray/hope/believe that those inside this thing have the savvy to see the confusion and blatant contradictions that come from their leaders’ and “churches’ ” authorities: the rubbish that was written by men. May this Deformation day backfire like a constipated demon.


  2. Republican mother said, on October 25, 2017 at 7:38 AM

    Great post. I figured you were saving up for another one loaded with truths!


    • John said, on October 25, 2017 at 9:04 AM

      RM, I also thought Paul had gone AWOL to the nearest “church.”

      But, yeah, great truths . . . and what’s great is that that lot is nailing nails into their own coffin. Confusion can only pretend to stay on track for a limited time.


  3. Susan said, on October 25, 2017 at 10:58 PM

    Paul, you just don’t understand. It doesn’t matter what you believe and it doesn’t matter if what you believe is 180 degrees in opposition to what the church down the street believes. Logic and non-contradiction are meaningless. Critical thinking is meaningless. All truth is truth. You have your truth, and I have my truth. And we call all of it “Christian” because the word “Christian” means anything we want it to mean or say it means.

    As long as you go to church; as long as you have said the magic words of the sinner’s prayer; as long as you have a personal relationship with Jesus (or should I say, as long as you have a relationship with your personal Jesus); as long as you are part of an “orthodox group” (pastor included) and as you aptly point out, home fellowships do not count!; as long as you have a subjective emotional religious experience …..

    Well, then, don’t you know, it’s all good. When Christ returns, will He find faith on earth? Are we taking bets?


    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on October 26, 2017 at 9:34 AM

      “All truth is truth. You have your truth, and I have my truth.”

      That’s all well and good, and most people are content with that. It becomes a problem when someone with power comes along and says you are not allowed to your own version of the truth. You MUST accept MY truth or I will destroy you. Notice that this is far different from saying, well you can have your version of the truth, but here is why I believe your truth will result in a bad outcome for you. The first has to do with force of violence, the other has to do with persuasion by reason. In this country, the vast majority of people have not had to face the former to any large degree for over 200 years.

      This is why so many people are easily duped, because they have not been put in a place where the practical outworking of their ideas have been challenged. Or when they are challenged, they don’t deem it important enough to be bothered with. They just want to be left alone and go about their lives. These are also the same people who will find themselves marched to a pit with their hands tied behind their backs awaiting a bullet to the back of the head wondering how in the world they got there, because they were too lazy with their version of the truth.


      • Susan said, on October 26, 2017 at 11:15 AM

        Yes, Andy, that is exactly where this is headed. And that is exactly the conversation: “You MUST accept MY truth or I will destroy you.” I challenge people on the logical outworking of their ideas and the consequence is no further conversation. I don’t know if it is a matter of “embarrassment” or if it is a matter of “I don’t care what the logic or critical thinking is, I am going to believe x, y and z no matter what — reasonable or not.”

        The other problem is denial, as in, “that will never happen.” Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but there are an entire series of things I thought would never happen that have happened. And people are declining to have conversations about a whole lot of things which have varying levels of importance attached to them. Apathy and ignorance. I don’t mean just in the religious arena, but also in the political and social/ cultural context.


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