Paul's Passing Thoughts

What is The Goofy Church Speak All About?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 14, 2018

This is a partial screen shot of a link I was sent today:

shaped livesWe hear a lot of odd verbiage in church like “Pastor of Spiritual Formation” etc., etc. that invokes the RCA dog response, “Er?” Does one go to seminary to get equipped to “shape” someone’s life? What does that mean?

RCA dog

I am in the middle of a project right now so I am looking for quick and short ways to respond to links I get. I think this post from the past nails it pretty well.

Originally Posted in 2011: 

“The ‘Gospel’ Coalition” Series, Part 13: Dr. John Street Joins the Noun Coalition

Just yesterday, when I was introduced to the new gospel upstart organization in our everything gospel church culture, I was verbless. Somebody sent me a link to the upstart’s Facebook page (the “Biblical Counseling Coalition”) which posted this statement: “Sanctification is the art of getting used to our full salvation: justification, regeneration, redemption, reconciliation.”

Rush Limbaugh often says “Words mean things,” but [do] they really? After all, I did some investigation and this new coalition is overseen by the spiritual brain-trust of our day. So, when the apostle Paul described sanctification as “abstain[ing]” (1Thess 4:3), “running” by obedience (Gal 5:7), also through obedience: “work[ing] out….with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12), beating our bodies into subjection, discipline, running a race, and for a prize (1Cor 9:24-27); surely, we peasants of this contemporary dark age must be misunderstanding him because that’s a lot of verb-iage. Since Michael Horton says the purpose of corporate worship is for reviving our valley of dead bones by contemplating the gospel, should we forget all that stuff in Hebrews about encouraging each other unto good works? Should we rather relax and say, “Hey bro, how are you coming along in the art of getting use to you salvation?”

Inquiring minds, what’s left of them, want to know. Because one of the board members of this coalition is David Powlison, we could have a clue. In an interview with Nine Marks, Powlison said that the church forgets stuff, but when it is rediscovered by CCEF’s Research and Development Dept., it has to be reevaluated in a contemporary historical context. Hmmmm. Powlison also believes that a thorough search must be made of all past and present philosophies, literature, history, etc., just in case God has shown other people stuff that he hasn’t shown the church, or has shown the church in the past, but was forgotten, because the church forgets stuff. At this year’s TGC (The Gospel Coalition) 2011 conference, Powlison will be conducting a seminar on “Recent Advancements in Biblical Counseling.” So, for all of you that draw propositional truth from interpreting the verb, noun, subject, preposition, etc. structure of sentences in the Bible, you may not want to miss that seminar if you really want to able to take the word and help people.

Yet another clue may come from another board member of the BCC, Paul David Tripp. He believes that biblical verbs must be seen in their “gospel context.” In other words, all verbs in the Bible pertain to Jesus. In “How People Change,” Tripp says that the art of getting use to our sanctification is “resting and feeding” on Christ. In the same book, Tripp also writes, like Michael Horton in “Christless Christianity” (or, “Verb Christianity”), that Christians are dead, and as Tripp states it in HPC: “When you are dead, you can’t do anything.” Tripp also mentions in the same book that Christ is not a cognitive concept that we apply to life, but he is a “person.” Got that? No cognitive concepts, just the personal pronoun.

But another board member that caught my eye on the list was Dr. John D. Street who has actually counseled me in the past. I have been reluctant to write in regard to him previously because I am privy to the fact that he used to employ lots of verbs in counseling that applied to the counselee, and I didn’t want to get him into trouble. In fact, I was a perfect candidate for this new form of counseling when I came to him many years ago. I remember coming to one of our appointments and proudly proclaiming: “I have read my Bible and prayed for—four hours!” Now how do you like that for contemplative spirituality?! His answer? “I’m not going to tell you not to do that, but the power is in the doing.” Ouch! I can just imagine the look of horrific angst on Powlison’s face.

Back then, I think Street might have got this idea from the old way of interpreting the Bible. “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” “But” is a coordinating conjunction which indicates contrast in this sentence; so being interpreted, don’t do the previous verses—hearing only, and not doing. But that exact contrast that James warns us of is the mantra of the new biblical counseling movement. I was recently sent a webinar conducted by a NANC Fellow who was clearly propagating a hearing only model of change that left the results up to being “amazed by the gospel.” Apparently, James didn’t get the memo. He presents hearing and doing as two components that work together to bring about—at the very least, blessings. The blessings occur where? Well, if we answer that question by finding the preposition, the blessings are “in” the “doing.” Also note that James does not present the gospel as the primary motivator, but rather blessings.

There is no misunderstanding about how this false approach to counseling fleshes itself out in real life. I was a longtime member and former elder at Clearcreek Chapel, the church John Street founded in Springboro, Ohio. The church is presently endorsed by both CCEF and NANC, and is a NANC training center. Two members on the upstart BCC board, Robert Jones and Paul Tripp, speak there often. My information regarding this doctrine includes hundreds of hours of discussion with the Clearcreek elders, who again, are highly respected in biblical counseling circles. The pastor of the church, Russ Kennedy, has said, “Any separation of justification and sanctification is an abomination.” Obviously, this can only leave sanctification by justification as the dynamic for change. This can also be seen in the statement regarding sanctification as something we “get used to” as opposed to what the apostle Paul taught. Though the movement is hideously covert, if one pays attention, their noun-iage exposes them from time to time.

The former Clearcreek elder who was in charge of counseling at Clearcreek once announced from the pulpit (at Clearcreek) that he learned to read his Bible in “a whole new way” from Chad Bresson, Clearcreek elder and author of “Vossed World,” a blog that promotes the belief that the Spirit only illuminates the word of God in a gospel context. Bresson also believes the postmodern concept that because truth is in a person, it cannot be propositional or cognitive / objective, which is why the Bible is strictly a narrative and not for instruction. Presumably, this is why Dan Turner, another elder / counselor at Clearcreek, sometimes (if not all the time) draws diagrams of people’s lives and shows them where they are at in the diagram / picture / gospel narrative as a way of avoiding an instructive paradigm. I once heard Turner explain how a marriage was miraculously transformed before his eyes after showing them the glory of the gospel from the Scriptures. Turner also told me that I was like the Pharisees because I believed that Scripture should often be used to determine objective truth. No surprise then that the elders at Clearcreek were never heard (while I was there) saying, “How do we do that?” But were rather heard saying—often, “What does that look like.” In fact, we were taught that the “how” word was indicative of a heart problem, and the use of that word in a question to an elder resulted in a repeating of the word (how) back to the inquisitor in question form to correct the parishioner.

Will the BBC be able to help people with a counseling model based solely on nouns? I doubt it. Will John Street get kicked-off the BCC board for taking James literally? Or has he repented of such Phariseeism? Perhaps he now says: “I’m not going to tell you not to obey, but the power is in the contemplation.” I hope he hasn’t, but if not, what does that look like? “[Run] John, [run]!”


One Response

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  1. John said, on July 15, 2018 at 8:45 AM

    The ACBC, Heath Lambert’s “always reforming” joke, is the most dangerous lot of them all. What a bunch of [insert your favorite noun]. They take anything, including “ex-sex workers” to be trained and then to wreck all in their way. Want marital advice from a sex worker (a prostitute/stripper)? Yes, I do have a name, and the ACBC can sing the Star Spangled Banner in Hebrew and through its Deformed navel…I ain’t tellin. Oh, it’s so good to have inside info on something as evil as the ACBC.

    Oh, this song has just popped into my mind; fancy that.


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