Paul's Passing Thoughts

To Julie Roys: The Church is NOT Savable and NEVER Was

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 8, 2021

Discernment blogging exploded in 2009. This is because the New Calvinism movement began in 1970 and was a covert movement that started making waves in the church circa 2007. The movement was finally labeled in 2008 as the “New Calvinism” movement” and was written about in major publications due to the controversy it was creating in evangelical churches. The movement has all but completely taken over the evangelical church. The movement has also successfully rewritten contemporary church history in order to cover its tracks.

The movement has always been a blessing because it is a return to authentic Protestantism, and Americanism had completely confused the true soteriology of the Protestant reformation. Actually, Americanism embraced a more biblical view of salvation that emphasized the new birth. That is, a new birth that makes believers righteous as a state of being, and not just a “legal declaration.” If you are truly saved, you are not merely declared righteous, you are righteous. John Calvin and Martin Luther believed no such thing.

Secondly, the American church was really big on OSAS, or “once saved always saved.” No, no, the Protestant reformation did NOT hold to OSAS and associated it with the idea that the gospel is “inside of the believer.” Hence, a trending term in the movement was “the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us.” The short version follows: it’s a rejection of the biblical new birth, which John Calvin and Martin Luther rejected with severe prejudice.

American evangelicalism had come to believe that justification is a one-time and for all-time event for the individual through the new birth. Clearly, authentic Protestantism holds to a progressive justification that can only take place through church membership. New Calvinists started infiltrating churches and subtly teaching these soteriological principles and causing controversy accordingly. However, objections were met with a new emphasis on so-called “church discipline,” which resulted in members being expelled from church membership. Here is the bottom line: few Protestants even know what Protestantism is. But, it is church, which is the whole problem.

I hardly write about these issues like I used to as I have been focusing mostly on a nursing career, and trust me, nursing is better church than any church out there. But, a recent article I stumbled upon has compelled me to once again write about church stuff. The article exposes the following: John MacArthur Jr., the blue chip of evangelical preachers, is living large while also preaching against “prosperity” preachers. And golly gee, that’s hypocrisy. Oh my! We can’t have that in the church!

The article is written by a Julie Roys who does an impressive job of exposing bad stuff going on in the church. Never mind Jesus saying a tree is known by its fruit because that couldn’t apply to church because its church. Like all discernment blogs, the purpose is stated on her front page: “Reporting the Truth. Restoring the Church.” It’s a pipe dream and a fool’s errand rolled up into one depending on what your definition of “restoring” is.

Let’s just poke the subject anywhere and watch the foolishness that comes oozing out. The focus is always behavior. The way we restore the church is to get rid of all the bad behavior; in this case, hypocrisy. Yet, in every church, on every Sunday, and in every message, what do we hear? “We are all sinners saved by grace.” “The world is not attracted to our ‘having it all together,’ but they are attracted to our confession that we are a train wreck.” Blah, blah, blah. This “confession” is totally consistent with Protestant soteriology, but some pretense of behavior has to be maintained in order to sell church to the many who are confused about what church is. Dr. Albert Mohler, at a recent SBC convention, even bragged that SBC leadership had successfully reformed the convention with “confessionalism.” What’s that? Our confession, that we have no righteousness of our own, but only the righteousness of Jesus. Yes, that is real Protestantism. It denies that a like righteousness of God is infused into the believer making him or her righteous as a state of being. To say that you have been transformed into a new person BY the righteousness of God because he has given birth to a new you, is also saying that you have a “righteousness of your own.” See the slight of hand there? It denies the new birth and makes salvation a mere declaration about Jesus’ righteousness that your sins are covered with IF you remain in the church’s good graces. Jesus isn’t the “first fruits,” he is the only fruit. Pastors like John MacArthur even call salvation an “atonement” which means our sins are only covered and not ended. Church is a continued covering for sin and efficacious for remaining saved.

The American evangelical church never believed that, and saw church as a fellowship for growing spiritually and a societal force for good. And for many years it was, due to being confused about true Protestantism which was ALL about justification through obedience to the church and defined sanctification as the progression of salvation. Hence, in the American church post American Revolution, there was still an inferior emphasis on sanctification. The emphasis was clearly on salvation, and sanctification was a vague generality. So, the church, unfortunately, was primed for a return to authentic Protestantism. It failed to strike a proper balance between justification and sanctification. I remember myself, back in the day, saying to people as a pastor unwhittingly, “sanctification is the growing part of salvation.” Um, salvation doesn’t grow. Justification is not progressive.

OSAS doesn’t do much for authority, and lack of authority doesn’t do much for power or money. When the last of the apostles died, the issue of apostolic succession arose. This is the idea that Christ is not the only head, and elders (bishops) are not mere members of the body, but the apostles were additional heads of the body and bishops are their successors. However, the apostles, and for that matter Christ himself, never led by authority, but persuasion. When authority is present, leadership is completely unnecessary. I don’t have to persuade or lead by example; you simply do what I say because I said so. It is truth as authority. Truth is truth because the authority says it’s truth; end of discussion. Indeed, church, which doesn’t even show up in history until the fourth century, is a demarcation between the leadership of Christ’s assembly and the church’s self-proclaimed authority. Church is by definition an institution as opposed to God’s literal family functioning as a body. You cannot separate institutional authority from church. It is an authority over salvation that makes the church, that is, all churches, additional mediators other than Christ. In fact, it is indisputable that the Protestant church was formed in the midst of a church-state and for the express purpose of church-state, and denied people within its territories the same civil liberties denied by the Catholic Church.

Worse yet, the whole hot mess is an industry. Some discernment bloggers make a decent living writing about the incessant drama taking place in the church on a daily basis. So much for Paul instructing us to live “quiet and peaceable lives” focusing on loving God and others. Like the ongoing spat between Roys and MacArthur’s Grace to You religious empire, the discernment wars are fraught with a morass of theological debate and civil lawsuits interrupted only by the latest moral failure of a popular church leader. Of late, we now know the Catholic Church did not ever have a monopoly on pedophilia.

Despite the incessant weekly bad press concerning the church, how can there still be a church on every city block or country mile sustaining a $500,000 a year budget if not more? The answer is easy: authority as truth, and that authority also being over salvation on earth as an additional mediator between God and people. They say sex sells, but nothing sells like salvation, especially when you can have your salvation and sex scandals to boot.

Is Roys trying to reform the church as a way to make money, or does she honestly think the church is savable? I can’t say, but I can tell you the onslaught of discernment blogging since 2009 has done nothing to reform the church; it has only gotten worse. And ironically, according to Martin Luther’s Theology of the Cross, such revelations glorify God because it shows us our greater need for salvation which makes the cross bigger rather than smaller. Yes, denying our total depravity denies our deep need for the cross. It diminishes Christ’s great sacrifice. This shows the utter confusion of Protestants or at least their lack of communication regarding the real goal: Is the revealing of the church’s dirty laundry making the cross smaller, or bigger according to Protestantism? Is the reform a reduction of bad behavior via exposure, or reform by making the cross bigger? The former has completely failed, and the church seems to be confused about Martin Luther’s approval of the latter to Glorify God.

The church is both confused and unsavable. And it has been since it’s miserable beginning.





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