Paul's Passing Thoughts

Who is Right, John Calvin or the Calvinists? An Open Letter to Phil Johnson

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 7, 2018

Dear Phil,

Recently in a Twitter conversation, you stated,

Phil Johnson

Truly, I am not trying to confuse people, but only trying to help Calvinists to understand what Calvin taught because there seems to be a lot of confusion among Calvinists about that. Aside from the fact that there are one, two, three, four, and five-point Calvinists, even the five-pointers are in disagreement about what constitutes justification. Also, please consider that you guys, as God’s soteriological authorities on earth, and “ordained by God to save His people from ignorance,” have had over 500 years to figure this out. That is, the gospel. I am just a humble pilgrim who has actually read the Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion, which John Piper has said is too long to read. So, hey, I am just trying to do the work here.

In a conversation with John Piper, he said that he was dedicated to the whole Calvinist scheme including final justification. But when I started talking about things that are in the Calvin Institutes; specifically, Calvin’s temporary election construct, Piper then asserted that he only holds to the five points of Calvinism. However, the five points are predicated on Calvin’s three classifications of elect; one of them being the temporary elect (the called) versus the permanent elect (those who persevere). The temporary class, according to Calvin, are also temporarily illumined. Do you see what I mean here? I just want to help.

At some Shepherds Conference, I think 2009, your boss ambushed everyone with the idea that stuff like Amillennialism is inconsistent with Calvin’s election. If Israel is elected, how could sin disqualify them in regard to anything? This caused a pretty big kerfuffle among the Calvinists, but actually, the idea of Israel being temporarily elected fits perfectly with Calvin’s five points. See, even your boss is confused, and as I said, I really just want to help.

I should make it clear that I am not the least bit confused about what salvation is. It is a desire to be recreated in the likeness of our Father and calling on the Lord and His Spirit to baptize us in the Lord’s death and resurrection. This not only changes our relationship to the law, but makes us righteous and justified as a state of being. The new birth does not merely impart an ability to perceive our deserved condemnation that no longer exists, it changes our true status from “sinner” to one of holiness. We are not only declared just, we are just. If God’s seed is IN us, and it is, if we are saved, we are sealed by the Spirit until the day of redemption. By the way, redemption is not the saving of the soul which is finished and completed by the new birth.

Hence, our relationship to sin and law is changed, and we are literally holy as our Father is holy. This is an irrevocable one-time event. One cannot be unborn. Our assurance stands in the fact that there is no longer any law to condemn us, and our sins are ended, not merely covered. This is justification by new birth, a justification APART from the law, and not justification by faith alone because someone kept the law in our stead. Who keeps/kept the law is not the point, a justification APART from the law is the point. The law of sin and death cannot give life even if someone kept it perfectly. Furthermore, Jesus did not ratify a covenant that was already ratified by promise hundreds of years before the law. Nevertheless, we are not saying there is no law in grace, we are saying it is a different relationship to the law distinguished between the old man that died with Christ and the new man resurrected with Christ. This is the Spirit’s two uses of the law that did not require Christ to keep the law of sin and death perfectly. Nor do real Christians need a covering from it presently.

Obviously, if some are temporarily elected, assurance is impossible, unless we discuss Calvin’s power of the keys. Whatever elders bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you guys loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. So, if you guys like someone, and think him or her saved, according to Calvin, they are saved. And frankly, according to you as well and stated often. This is the significance of church discipline; if you excommunicate someone, their salvation is taken away. Supposedly. If you deny someone the Lord’s Table, you are denying the “means of grace” (the means of salvation). My point here? One can elect God’s election by being faithful to the church. That’s why you guys make salvation synonymous with church membership. But again, the best way, if not the only way, for a Protestant to be assured of salvation is to choose God’s election through faithfulness to the church and being an elder lackey. John Piper and Kevin DeYoung endorsed this idea in a video they did together.

Also, regarding church membership, let’s not forget what Calvin and Luther both taught about water baptism by a “lawful minister of the gospel.” Water baptism is what makes you a legitimate church member where only the “means of grace” (salvation) can be obtained. Not only that, water baptism, according to Calvin and Luther, has a perpetual cleansing effect as long as one remains faithful to the church, viz, that being defined by obeying the dictates of the church elders. Phil, you are totally in the right business, and the massive infrastructure of the church certainly indicates that. Nothing sells like eternal salvation albeit institutional salvation.

Calvinists also disagree on whether or not there is a “final justification,” because that would make justification a “process,” and you believe that only the new birth (salvation) is a process. Apparently, it is a really long labor process. This is where we must ask, “Is Calvin, or the Calvinists right?” Or, which Calvinists are right about Calvin? If it is acceptable that Calvinists differ to this degree, does that mean Calvinists don’t have to be right about anything? I hope not, because after all, the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, said that Calvinism is not merely a nickname, but the very gospel itself. Whoa!

So, since Calvinism is the gospel, I suggest we go by what Calvin actually wrote, which many Calvinists like John Piper don’t read because it’s too much reading. He complained to me that the Calvin Institutes are over 1000 pages if I remember correctly. I wonder what John Piper’s collective writings would be?

On this differing between elements of salvation, which I apparently don’t understand, Calvin  wrote the following: there are two justifications that differ, which you apparently don’t understand, but that’s ok because Calvinists differ on a bunch of stuff…they even differ with Calvin.

First, we note the title of the most prominent work Calvin  did on Justification: “The Beginning of Justification. In what Sense Progressive.” Note that justification has a “beginning.” Even your boss said, “If sanctification is included in justification, the justification is a process, not an event. That makes justification progressive, not complete.” But Calvin stated that justification has a beginning, which necessarily demands a finishing or an end, and then states that it is, in fact, progressive. Now, just in case someone wants to trifle about the difference between a process and a progression, note that your boss links the two words in his statement. While the accusation I hear often is: “You are just quibbling over semantics,” let’s remember that I am doing so as a result of being accused of conflating theological terms in order to deliberately confuse people.

I need to pause here to clarify why this issue with justification is a big deal. CLEARLY, the Protestant Reformation advocated a salvation that is progressive and keeps so-called believers under the law of sin and death, what YOU call “the righteous demands of the law,” with salvation being a covering of sin and not an ending of sin resulting in a denial of the biblical new birth. In order to cover for that, a distinction is made between justification and salvation while making sanctification a salvation process. Hence, mindless terminally that justification and sanctification are “distinct, but never separate.” This enables the church to give a wink and a node to once-saved-always- saved to prevent the herd from being spooked. The real endgame is institutional salvation by being faithful to church regardless of its rotten fruits and steroidal cognitive dissonance.

Perhaps Calvin was more straightforward in regard to progressive justification because in his day church was not a choice and Augustine believed that people were saved by church even if compelled by the sword. Now that people are free to choose, are Calvin’s original teachings thrown into confusion by the necessity of nuance to hide what the Protestant hierarchy really believes?

But in furthering the point at hand, you are not only wrong about Calvin’s distinction between sanctification and justification, but seem unaware that he made a distinction in justification with another type of justification. Calvin taught that there is a beginning justification, that is, a legal declaration, but also a PROCESS that justifies the works that flow from sanctification. Supposedly, justification is a legal declaration, but also, each work that flows from sanctification must be declared righteous as well.

But now since after such great progress, he is still said to be justified by faith, it thence easily appears that the saints are justified freely even unto death. I confess, indeed, that after the faithful are born again by the Spirit of God, the method of justifying differs, in some respect, from the former. For God reconciles to himself those who are born only of the flesh, and who are destitute of all good; and since he finds nothing in them except a dreadful mass of evils, he counts them just, by imputation. But those to whom he has imparted the Spirit of holiness and righteousness, he embraces with his gifts. Nevertheless, in order that their good works may please God, it is necessary that these works themselves should be justified by gratuitous imputation; but some evil is always inherent in them. Meanwhile, however, this is a settled point, that men are justified before God by believing not by working; while they obtain grace by faith, because they are unable to deserve a reward by works (Commentary on Gen. 15:7).

 Said another way, the Protestant doctrine of Double Imputation is a process that requires a beginning justification (beginning justification), a progressive imputation of justified works (sanctification), and final justification where believers will stand in one final judgement under the law. If they lived by faith alone well enough; ie., John Calvin’s Sabbath Sanctification, the two imputations will result in the so-called believer being justified in full at the “final tribunal” or in other words “final justification.” Regarding the “Golden Chain of Salvation,” based on Romans 8:29,30, the late RC Sproul even described it as a justification process.

Maybe I should give you guys more credit. Perhaps you do know exactly what Calvin taught and while using him as an authority, you know that his unedited teachings would not fly among generations of Christians allowed to read the Bible for themselves. Nevertheless, in my endeavor to think the better of you, I will assume that you are merely confused and make good money for being so.

Paul Dohse

7 Responses

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  1. johnimmel said, on August 7, 2018 at 3:53 PM

    You are expecting waaaaaaaayyyyyy to much out of these people. And you are giving them waaaaaaaay to much benefit of the doubt. They are self professed evil men. There is no virtue in granting evil moral absolution for its ignorance or its intent. The only thing that suffers in a bargain with evil is the virtuous. I say take them at their word: they are evil. And as such should be roundly and endlessly condemned for their evil.

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  2. John said, on August 7, 2018 at 5:07 PM

    The best piece I’ve read all week. Listen, Calvin is to true Christianity (the born-again variety) as Satan is to true love.

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  3. soulcareministries529746634 said, on August 7, 2018 at 9:55 PM

    Very well put Paul. I completely agree with you. False doctrine form Calvin to ensure salvation is through the institution of church where you must obey, submit, follow, believe, embrace and pay weekly to keep the progression going year in year out. Of course you would face isolation and intimidation if you see the light and disagree. Been there, saw the light, been visited by the church police force and thus they have no power over me because I dont go to the temple anymore. What a pleasant experience.

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    • John said, on August 8, 2018 at 5:30 AM

      Soulcareministries,

      Ditto! In my case, it was the Gestapo, followed by a lovely Calvinist curse that went something like this: “You need us otherwise you’re going to hit a wall and won’t survive. You have no right to leave.” And I wasn’t even a member. How’s that for impudence? No worries; I did send them on their merry way to hell.

      I agree with John Immel, and I’ve said it numerous times: “They (Calvinists/Calvinism/Reformed Nonsense) are evil; end of story.”

      Like

  4. Lydia said, on August 14, 2018 at 8:44 PM

    “ I say take them at their word: they are evil. And as such should be roundly and endlessly condemned for their evil.”

    Lol. I used to tell them this all the time. I mean seriously, if we are all worms then so is the pastor so why would I listen to him? (Boy they hate logic) of course I was supposed to buy into some sort of special anointing but could the pastor prove he wasn’t being deceived as a reprobate? Lololol. And around we go. After all, actions, in the end, mean nothing in the Reformed world if we take what they teach at face value.

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    • soulcareministries529746634 said, on August 15, 2018 at 6:49 AM

      Yes worm was words they used on me along with fat lazy chip eating slug Christians who can obey and submit to the Pastors authority. Then there accusation of being church white ants and tools of Satan. Culminating with the special title of proud deciever! I decided to wear that badge just to annoy them. Charming isnt. O well like a true parasite such a belief system will eventually destroy the institutional hoast.Best be out of it following Christ to where He wants us to be ie not there with.

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