Paul's Passing Thoughts

Derek Webb’s (Caedmon’s Call) Misunderstanding of Calvinism Prevents Him From Being a Saved Atheist

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 27, 2018

ppt-jpeg4“Webb, like many others, is another victim of Protestant steroidal cognitive dissonance.”

“More than likely, Webb is less enslaved to sin because he is now only under one law instead of two.”

This I can tell you: as one in the church for 30 years, this is what I saw; no one in the church can articulate the new birth. From the beginning, I understood what the new birth meant and assumed everyone else did as well. However, understanding of the new birth among Protestants is necessarily confused because of what they believe about the resurrection of Christ, viz, that it confirmed His perfect law-keeping. Hence, not only is punishment for sin substituted by faith alone, but our works in sanctification are substituted as well because what we do in our Christian life falls short of perfect law-keeping. Therefore, we are saved by believing in His death on the cross and His life of perfect law-keeping, and we keep ourselves saved by believing in his death alone for our justification, and His perfect life of law-keeping for our sanctification. This is the official bonafide Protestant doctrine of Double Imputation. It is founded on the idea that perfect law-keeping is the standard of justification.

This leads to the morass of confusion known as “church.” Double Imputation is not a cure for sin, it’s an accelerant for sin leading  many to deny a faith that they think is Christianity. On another level, many who don’t deny church (which is not Christianity), but had their marriage destroyed by church (unbeknownst by them), will seek to remarry someone else who also had their marriage destroyed by church.

This post is about Derek Webb of Caedmon’s call which was one of the most popular Christian music bands of this era. Webb was the lead singer and a huge inspiration to Churchians at large. Like many others, it would seem that Calvinism ultimately led to Webb walking away from what he deems to be Christianity. Before we continue, this post here, and these videos here, here, and here, are main sources for this post.

Though these sources are excellent renditions of  Webb’s present journey, a major thesis emerges that is not addressed in these sources: Webb, as a devoted Calvinist Churchian, found himself powerless to do life well according to a good conscience. In fact, Webb states, he is happier and better able to overcome sin as an atheist. This statement on no wise surprises us (those involved with TANC Ministries) and I will explain as we go on, but first, let me finish the major thesis.

Webb’s reasoning is something like this: since he had no power over sin as a “Christian,” that must mean that he wasn’t chosen by God. Though he probably knows that Churchianity is strictly “confessional,” and probably acknowledges that intellectually, his conscience never gave him assurance of salvation because of what was going on in his life. Where was the power of God in his life to overcome sin? Not surprisingly, though the sources supplied for this post are good ones, this fundamental question is not adequately addressed. Why? Because Protestants are utterly confused in regard to the biblical new birth.

Though Calvin and Luther both advocated for a continual remembrance of water baptism to cure doubt of salvation, in real life, because of the way we are wired by God, it doesn’t fly; said another way, that dog don’t hunt. Nevertheless, while Webb’s reasoning is sound, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Protestantism in general and Calvinism specifically.

Let’s start with addressing what I just got finished writing because I hope it raised some red flags for those who think they know what Protestantism is. Webb is right; Calvinism is “Christianity,” but true Christianity isn’t church, so he is half-right on that point. This is irrefutable fact: Calvin and Luther believed that water baptism accomplishes two things: it initiates you into church membership and church is God’s preordained appointed authority over salvation on earth.

Secondly, water baptism carries with it the power of washing away sins initially upon entering into church membership, but also carries with it a future perpetuation of cleansing even though the act of water baptism only happens once. Calvin and Luther both pointed to the necessity of being under the condemnation of the law in order to advance sanctification. Justification begins the salvation process, and sanctification is the progression of justification by “continuing in the gospel.” Hence, a guilty conscience is all the better for progressing your salvation forward in sanctification. Sorrow over sin is not a bad thing, but a continual reminder of your need for Christ and fodder for returning to your original salvation.

What I am saying here is that Webb left the church because of something he misunderstands about Calvinism. He has election right, or we could say he has Calvinistic justification right, but he misunderstands Calvinistic/Lutheran sanctification. In essence, what he misses, is the fact that the act of water baptism saves you, and Calvin and Luther both instructed doubting “Christians” to remember their original water baptism into church membership and its ongoing cleansing power as long as you are a church member in good standing. Preface: if you think the Baptists corrected this view of baptism you are misinformed. With that said, let us not deny that there is NO Protestantism without Calvin and Luther. And, while EVERY Churchian proclaims that Luther’s 95 Theses was the launching of the Protestant Reformation, much of what I am declaring here is in that document. Webb, like many others, is another victim of Protestant steroidal cognitive dissonance. Furthermore, I painstakingly document what I am stating in this post in “It’s Not About Election” which can be read for free here.

Which brings me to my next point. In the primary video that inspired this post, there is a testimony by a young lady who left “Christianity” because of what Paul states in Romans 9. She eventually concluded that the God of “Christianity” is a monster because He damns vessels that He created to be damned for His glory. And if you have a problem with that, “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” Said young lady is not up with this, and we can understand why.

But she makes the same mistake that Webb made among many other mistaken understandings about Protestantism. According to the main thesis of “It’s Not About Election,” the idea that biblical election regards the choosing of individuals is not the gospel in and of itself, but a residual element that flows from Protestantism’s defective view of justification. Indeed, church has made election the gospel. So, justification is interpreted by election rather than election being interpreted by justification. That’s a bad idea. Also, FEW Protestants understand the Reformation’s Bibliology. That is, the doctrine of understanding the Bible.

Protestantism is founded on the historical-redemptive hermeneutic. What’s that? It’s not only a means of interpreting the Bible, it is the primary Protestant means of interpreting reality. So, according to Protestantism, reality is what we call a “metaphysical narrative.” This is a very ancient concept found in the oldest religions such as Hinduism. It’s the idea that some god, or god’s, wrote themselves a story for their own glory. Therefore, of course God is sovereign in all things because everything that exists and happens is a prewritten script. If you will, observe everything that happens in your life and around the world today with as much detail as you can including what you decide to wear and eat.

All part of the script.

Yes, reality is a “redemptive grand narrative” that glorifies God. Yes, history is “His story.” If one pays attention, you see and hear this concept in the church constantly though few realize that the reference to “story” is not merely in a manner of speaking. This bring us to the real Protestant use of the Bible: it is a tool for returning daily to the same gospel that saved us. The historical accounts in the Bible are prototypes of our own lives that show us what “Jesus has done, not anything we do.” In essence, the Bible is for the sole purpose of showing us our sin and what we cannot do to bring about condemnation which serves to “drive us back to the cross” for more Jesus and more salvation. Webb misunderstands, in true Protestant soteriology, guilt of ongoing sin is needed to move the salvation process forward and is a good thing, not an indication that he was not chosen to begin with.

Accordingly, Webb also misunderstands the formal Protestant doctrine of Mortification and Vivification. As a Churchian is convicted of sin and mourns accordingly, and returns to the cross for another cleansing that flows from the power of one’s original baptism (Mortification), the “Christian” is resurrected once again adding to his/her’s progression of justification. This results in a joyful gratification for one’s original salvation (Vivification). As stated by many well known Protestant scholars such as Dr. Michael Horton, this is Protestant sanctification: it is a “reliving of our original baptism.” This progresses the Protestant’s salvation towards “Final Justification.” The Bible is a tool for aiding our self-condemnation to better facilitate a return to the cross for more justification based on Christ’s double substitution for justification and sanctification both. That’s Protestantism…period.

But Webb has something else wrong as well. Under Calvinism, his water baptism saved him by virtue of the fact that he got wet in a church, his mourning over sin was, in fact, proof that he is chosen because it verified that he “still needs a doctor,” and the church is a “hospital for sinners,” and furthermore, such a profession to the elders of the church, if good Calvinists, which I am sure they were, would bring assurance from the opinions of the elders that he was saved (chosen) which is all that matters.

This is Calvin’s “Power of the Keys” doctrine. Bottom line: if the elders say you are saved, you are saved because the church has been given authority over God’s salvation on earth. Whatever the elders “bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever they loose of earth will be loosed in heaven,” viz, salvation. How thorough is this authority? Saint Augustine, the Doctor of Grace for both Catholicism and Protestantism (let that one sink in for awhile), stated that even if men are compelled to faithfulness by threat of death, they are saved because they are under the authority of the church. As documented by this ministry, many who attempt to leave some churches stay because they are threatened with the public humiliation of church discipline. By virtue of the fact that they stay in church membership, they are deemed saved by the church elders and therefore are saved. In essence, and as articulated in “The Church Lie and the Biblical Alternative” which can also be read for free here, this enables anyone to choose God’s choosing, or stated another way, elect God’s election. So, the young lady in the video and Webb are really getting upset over nothing and becoming atheists for no good reason when they are deemed elect by virtue of church authority alone.

Therefore, God is not so bad after all, you are only predestined for damnation if you don’t choose to be elected by “submitting yourself to the authority of the church and its godly men.” This ministry has documented these facts in excess, but for giggles you can watch John Piper and Kevin DeYoung talk about elder-based assurance here.

As well pointed out by the author of the post cited, Calvin did believe in a temporary election. In addition to the part of the Calvin Institutes cited, Calvin further clarified his position on temporary election in another part of the Calvin Institutes. By the way, many Calvinist scholars are unaware of this as revealed when I confronted John Piper about it face to face. Calvin categorized election according to the non-elect (those who never go to church), the called (those temporarily illumined/elected) and those who persevere (stay faithful to church until their death). Calvin and Luther both believed that church membership is intrinsically related to salvation and the only place where the progression of salvation can take place. We often hear church scholars talk about the “means of grace” found in the church. This really means: the means of salvation. Logically, we may conclude that if there is a temporary election, and clearly, Calvin held to such, there is no way for a Calvinist to have assurance of salvation in direct contradiction to why the apostle John wrote his first letter. However, we may also logically conclude that a Protestant can keep themselves saved by staying in church. Is this why CJ Mahaney preached a sermon on “keeping ourselves in the love of God” by “preaching the gospel to ourselves”?  (9:15 mark). I think so, but other well known Protestants would add that this must be accompanied by participating in the “ordinary means of grace” found only in the church.

How does all of this jive with Webb’s insistence that he is not as enslaved to sin as he was under “Christianity.” That’s an easy one. Protestantism, clearly, keeps its confessors under law. The Bible is clear on the results of that: when one is under law, sin is able to use the law to provoke people to sin. There are ONLY two people groups in the world: under law and those under grace. The Bible states that when a person is under law, condemnation empowers sin, “the power of sin is the law.” Remember, Calvin’s/Luther’s soteriology requires condemnation to fuel sanctification which is the progression of justification. However, under grace does not mean that you are not under a law.

The resurrection does not confirm that Jesus kept the law perfectly, it established a resurrection (and recreation) for those who believe on Christ. To begin with, why would Jesus establish a righteousness by the law when He came to establish a righteousness APART FROM THE LAW? In addition, if the law that condemns cannot give life according to Galatians chapter 3, why would Christ come to establish righteousness through law-keeping? According to the logical conclusions of the same chapter, this would make the law a fourth member of the Trinity. In fact, Protestant scholars such as RC Sproul state that Jesus gained His righteousness through perfect law-keeping. Though it is utterly shocking that he got away with saying it, that IS Protestant orthodoxy.

So what’s going on here? Although I grasped the literality of the new birth while I was still in church, I didn’t understand how the new birth changes our relationship to the law. This boils down to a single perspective on the law that denies the new birth. This boils down to one law for justification and sanctification both. This results in total disaster. The new birth radically changes our relationship to the law; those who are not justified by the new birth are under the law’s condemnation which is the power of sin. Christ died on the cross and was resurrected by the Spirit to establish the baptism of the Spirit which is the new birth. We literally die with Christ, and the old us is no more, and we are literally resurrected with Christ as a new creation. The old us that was under the condemnation of the law is literally dead, and therefore, sin is stripped of its power to enslave. We are then resurrected with Christ and our relationship to the law has changed: it can no longer condemn us, but is our wisdom for loving God and others. Moreover, we may now use the law to love God and others aggressively with NO fear of condemnation.

Christ didn’t come to fulfill the law that condemns, He came to end it (Romans 10:4), and where there is no law, there is NO SIN: Romans 3:19, 20,  4:15, 5:13, 7:6,8, 10:4, 1Timothy 1:9, Galatians 2:19, Colossians 2:14. This is the basis for our assurance based on 1John chapter 3…there is no law that can judge us. This is where we find justification by new birth as opposed to Protestantism’s justification by faith alone that keeps “believers” under the condemnation of the law. Why else would we need to stay at the foot of the cross? At any rate, sin is empowered by its ability to use the law to condemn. When condemnation is gone from the law, sin’s ability to enslave is taken away. We are now free to serve the law of the Spirit of life.

This is by no means a legal loophole of some sort; the new birth also changes our heart. And what makes us righteous is God’s seed within us resulting from a heart that loves His truth (Psalm 119 and 2Thessilonians 2:10). Under the Spirit’s second use of the law Romans 8:2), we learn how to keep our bodies under submission and love God and others as ourselves. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” True believers are NOT “sinners saved by grace” because the old us that was under law literally died with Christ. It is better said, and more biblical, that Christians fail to love because of weakness, but yet possess a willing spirit because God’s seed is in us; we are His literal offspring. It is interesting to note that the Protestant Reformation denied “infused grace” or an internal salvation as a major tenet of things denied. Consequently, almost every well known leading evangelical of our day signed The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration which in part states: “We deny that we are justified by the righteousness of Christ infused into us or by any righteousness that is thought to inhere within us.”

This shocking statement should speak for itself, especially regarding its brazen contradiction to 1John chapter 3. The document was signed by, John Ankerberg, Kay Arthur, Tony Evans, Jerry Falwell, Bill Hybels, David Jeremiah, D. James Kennedy, Max Lucado, Woodrow Kroll, Tim & Beverly LaHaye, Erwin Lutzer, Bill McCartney, Luis Palau, Pat Robertson, Ronald Sider, Charles Stanley, John Stott, Joseph Stowell, Chuck Swindoll, Bruce Wilkinson, Ravi Zacharias, Jack Hayford, Steven Strang, John MacArthur Jr., RC Sproul, Charles Colson, Bill Bright, and JI Packer.

One struggles to find reason to say anything more on the point. But of course, this is Martin Luther’s alien righteousness that we all assumed speaks of righteousness for justification. No, this also pertains to sanctification.

As an aside, this is a better and biblical refutation of  Limited Atonement. Did Christ die to end the law? Yes. Who is under law at one time in their life? EVERYONE. So, who did Christ die for? Answer: EVERYONE. More in line with the subject of this post, we can get back to Webb and Total Depravity.

Romans makes it clear that everyone born into the world is not only born under law, but born with the works of God’s law on their heart with the conscience either excusing or accusing them in regard to their actions. Though unsaved, people born under the law have this eternal conflict between their consciences and what we might call the golden rule (the works of the law) because sin is also able to use anything good, especially a law, to create sinful desires against it. This conflict makes Total Depravity an unlikely truth. However, those functioning under Protestant soteriology are experiencing a double portion of law which will make them utterly helpless and hapless against the temptation of sin. More than likely, Webb is less enslaved to sin because he is now only under one law instead of two.

Webb jumped ship for one reason and one reason only, he misunderstands Protestantism, but he is right, Calvinism IS Protestantism. However, enslavement to sin is no indication that you aren’t God’s elect, to the contrary, a deeper and deeper awareness of sin is proof of your need for more and more salvation, which according to Protestantism is faith’s very objective.

He need not feel alone in his journey, the real father of the movement that shipwrecked his “faith” (New Calvinism), also became an atheist (Robert Brinsmead). Brinsmead is primarily responsible for returning the church to authentic Protestant soteriology beginning in 1970. The notion that John Piper is the father of New Calvinism is a rewriting of contemporary church history and an outright deliberate lie.

My hope for Webb and many others is that they give faith in God another chance; this time, a true family relationship that is faith working through love, and not a mere “legal declaration” overseen by an institution that is selling salvation.



2 Responses

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  1. Glenn said, on October 28, 2018 at 10:10 AM

    Hi Paul,

    This is a great article! I have one question for you: when is “The Church Lie and the Biblical Alternative” going to be published as a paper book? I have been looking for it regularly on Amazon and it hasn’t appeared yet. If you are self publishing please let me know how to get a copy.

    I definitely need to study what you have written about the church. I am getting tired of hearing that I need to be “under the authority” of a pastor per the book of Hebrews. I don’t believe that’s true and neither do you.

    Thank you!


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on October 28, 2018 at 11:31 PM

      Hi Glenn,
      Amazon has become a real problem child. We sell on Shopify now. Here is the link,, but we have a long way to go in regard to posting all of our publications. Yes, we have several hundred perfect bind copies in the works, and have a couple of spiral bound copies still in stock. The first shipment is probably 4 weeks out, but if you don’t want to wait, send your mailing address to and we will send you a free spiral bound copy.


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