Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Lamb’s Wife, Part 1 by Andy Young

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 25, 2017

andy-profile-1Originally published November 17, 2014

A few weeks ago my family sat down together and watched Fiddler on the Roof.  It is a rather long movie for young children to sit through (there were several “potty breaks”), but the little ones enjoyed the songs, and the older ones gained an appreciation for the historical context.  One scene in particular depicts a traditional Jewish wedding.  Please take a moment and watch the brief clip below:

Traditionally, Jewish weddings were arranged between the fathers of the proposed couple.  Keep in mind, there are many details here that I am leaving out because I am trying to be brief.  After the parents have come to an agreement to the marriage, the couple is considered “espoused”.  This is a formal legal contract into which the couple has entered, and for all intents and purposes, the couple is considered “married” even though the marriage has not yet been consummated.  This espousal period can last for up to a year.  During this time, the man returns home to make preparations for his bride, and the bride-to-be prepares herself for becoming a wife.  Her fidelity to her bridegroom is on display during this period as well.

On the actual wedding day, the bridegroom leads a procession of his friends through the streets of the village to go and meet the bride. This usually occurs between sunset and midnight. There is much pomp and celebration that occurs along the way, and as the procession continues, people exit their homes, bringing a torch or lamp along with them to help light the way, and so the “wedding party” grows larger and larger as more and more “guests” join in celebration with the bridegroom. The bridegroom then receives his bride, and the two, along with the entire party of friends and guests return to the bridegroom’s house where the wedding ceremony occurs with a grand feast and celebration following.

One of the major tenets of Protestant/Reformed/Catholic orthodoxy is that the “church” is the “bride of Christ”.  This doctrine can be traced as far back as Augustine.  But while originally a Catholic doctrine, evangelicals and fundamentalists still cling to this teaching to this day.  You cannot go into any institutional church of any denomination where you won’t hear this taught or not find it in its “statement of faith”.  However, what they fail to conveniently mention is that the phrase “bride of Christ” is found nowhere in the Bible.  Let me repeat that – the phrase “bride of Christ” is found NOWHERE in the Bible!

This brings me to the point of this article: the doctrine of the “church” being the “bride of Christ” is a FALSE doctrine.  Why is that?  Because the Bible tells us who the Bride is specifically, and it is not the church!  A plain grammatical interpretation of Revelation 21 reveals exactly who the Bride is.

Revelation 21:2, 9-10

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, ‘Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God…”

Here in plain terms, the Bride is clearly and explicitly shown to be the New Jerusalem.   The angel says, “I will show you the Bride”, and he shows John, not a body of people, but the New Jerusalem.  The remaining verses of chapter 21 go on to give in great detail a description of what this city looks like.  Notice that nothing is said about the inhabitants of the city.  The focus of the chapter is the actual city itself.  Not only does the angel tell John that this city is the Bride, but in case there was any doubt, he reinforces that fact by stating plainly that this city is the “Lamb’s wife”.   So while the Bible never uses the expression, “bride of Christ”, it does use the terms “the Bride, the Lamb’s wife”.  But that title is clearly given to the New Jerusalem and not the “church”.

Moreover, even the nation of Israel is not referred to as the “bride”.  So if the “church” is not the “bride”, and Israel is not the “bride”, there where exactly does the church and Israel fit in to all of this?  Again, scripture tells us plainly.  Elements of the Jewish wedding tradition are clearly visualized when Jesus described the “Kingdom of Heaven” in the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22), and the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25).  Let’s begin with the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22.

Matthew 22:1-10

“And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.’ ”

It should be fairly obvious that, as Jesus points out right at the beginning, this parable is used to describe a particular aspect of the Kingdom.  In this parable, He is using the metaphor of the traditional Jewish wedding, with the wedding feast being the focus.  Of course, this would have been a familiar metaphor to His audience since they were all Jews.

The theme of this parable revolves around two particular groups of people.  The first group is made of those who already had invitations to participate in the wedding feast.  These were the King’s special invited guests.  They received their invitations first.  One would think that since these people have been given such a special invitation from the King that they would not hesitate to respond.  But notice what happens.  On the day of the feast, none of them show up.  They reject the gracious invitation.  They view it with an attitude of indifference and make all kinds of excuses why they cannot attend.  Some even killed the servants who were sent to them to tell them that everything was ready for them to attend the feast.

This first group is a description of national Israel.  This is the very nation whose God was Jehovah, but who rejected every prophet that God sent unto them to bring them unto Himself.  Stephen accused them in Acts 7:52 when he said, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers?” accusing them of killing Jesus, their Messiah.  And for this God judged them with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  And in His wrath, God will pour out His judgment upon national Israel during the period of the Great Tribulation.

But there is a second group mentioned in this parable.  Since the King made all these preparations, it was his desire to have the feast furnished with guests.  So he instructed his servants to go out and issue an invitation to anyone, as many as they could find.  This second group represents the nations of the world, or the Gentiles, those whom God would redeem by the blood of the Lamb out of “every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” (Revelation 5:9, 14:6)  I think it is important to note that this second group would also include repentant individuals from the first group, or converted Jews.

Nevertheless, the point to take from all of this is that neither of the two groups in this parable are the bride.  They are guests, and this is important.  What we have is a body of individuals that make up the “church”, or using the correct Biblical term, the εκκλησια (“ekklaysia”), the “called out” (invited) assembly that makes up the Body of Christ.  In this parable they are not the bride, but they are clearly the guests at the wedding.

Take a look at the second parable in Matthew 25.

Matthew 25:1-13

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

Now the point to make here with this parable is not to determine who the foolish virgins represent and who the wise virgins represent.  The point is to show that all of these “virgins” represent those who would go out to join the procession of the wedding party as the bridegroom goes to meet his bride and return with her to his father’s house for the wedding feast.  Refer to the video clip at the beginning of this article and you will notice all of the people who accompany the groom on his way to pick up his bride.  As the procession goes through the streets of the village, more and more people come out of their houses carrying a candle or “lamp” and join the procession.  Notice that this happens at “midnight” or more literally, sunset, as portrayed in the video clip.  The young girls in the parable are not going to the wedding to marry the bridegroom.  The bridegroom already has a bride.  The young girls are simply guests at the wedding.

This is not the first instance that scripture posits this notion of wedding guests.  Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19, and Luke 5:34 use the term “children of the bridechamber”, referring to Jesus’ disciples – those who were called by Christ to follow Him.  That would include not only the twelve, but all those who would be saved by faith in Christ, the “ekklaysia”.  In John 3:29, John the Baptist referred to himself and any others “which standeth and heareth Him as a “friend of the bridegroom”.

So in terms of the picture of a traditional Jewish wedding, all believers, members of the Body of Christ, are referred to as “guests” and “friends of the bridegroom”, but they are NOT the bride.  They go out joyfully with the Bridegroom as He goes to receive His Bride.  But clearly from a scriptural standpoint, the wedding guests cannot be the Bride.

Now there are questions that remain.  For example, how can Christ “marry” a city?  And if the “church” is not the Bride, then what about all those New Testament passages that seem to refer to the “church” in “spousal” terms?  These are all valid questions, and I will seek to address them in part 2.

Andy

Josh Duggar: The Protestant Gospel Strikes Again

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 22, 2017

19-kids-counting

Originally published May 22, 2015

Yawn. Here we go again. The Catholics no longer have the market on sexual child abuse cornered…for some time now. Pray tell, how much longer are all of the clichés going to cover for this stuff until people finally realize that there is a serious fundamental problem underneath the hood of the Protestant magical yellow bus supposedly going to heaven.

May I suggest a false gospel?

How many children will be sacrificed for the sake of evangelicals saving face? I understand that Westerners don’t want to admit that we fell prey to the same en masse religious deceptions found in the East, but the price of children is way too high for the redemption of Western pride. Besides, Germany trashed the notion during the 40s anyway.

Dear discernment bloggers: in case you haven’t noticed, you cannot save the Protestant church. You are now merely gossip peddlers; nothing more or less. And enough with your whiney open forums: truth is found as promised by Christ in His word, not your pooling of ignorant uninformed opinions leading to more and more confusion.

It’s time to stop and question everything, and the answers are egregiously simplistic. It’s time for the solution.

The first century Christians met in homes for mutual edification because that is the intended model; always was, always will be. The “church” was NEVER meant to be any kind of institution. The Protestant gospel was designed for institutional purposes. The five word gospel, “Christ died for our sins,” was derived from spiritual caste presuppositions and an institutional mindset.

Catholics like Protestants because they both share the same metaphysical presuppositions concerning mankind and a call for oligarchy. Hence, the few will always be sacrificed for the collective good. Name one victim who has found justice in the church. Where is this victim? Where is Christ’s one in ninety-nine? You search in vain. That’s because in the Protestant five word gospel, “victim” is a misnomer.

What’s your first clue? Regardless of the fact that Josh Duggar confessed to child molestation in 2006, he was appointed as executive director of the Family Research Council. They knew. Everyone knew. James Dobson probably knew. Sigh. You really think it’s about families? Really? Are you that naive?

Again, the fundamental problem is egregiously simple: the Gospel of Jesus Christ is more than five words. Christ died so the old us could also die. The old us should be dead. But it isn’t, so we continually return to the death of Christ to seek forgiveness for our total depravity. By focusing on our total depravity, grace abounds, and those who know how sinful they are—are actually more qualified to be Christian leaders. And because of that, the Duggars are among the Grace Philosopher Kings, and the American Christian peasantry still doesn’t understand these things.  Well, Josh must resign and once again Christianity has lost a great leader because of the Pharisees. In essence, this is the same worn-out Protestant response being proffered in the press by the Duggers.

Also missing from the Protestant five word gospel is our resurrection with Christ. Instead of emphasizing the holiness of new creaturehood, we rejoice in the evil that supposedly manifests Christ’s living, not a “righteous living of our own.” We have not died with Christ, nor have we been resurrected with Him. This is a gospel that is totally off the biblical reservation.

Gee whiz, it’s testimony to the fact that there is a lot more grace work to be done in the church—boy howdy—God’s people still do not understand grace. Poor Josh must resign because there are still way too many Pharisees in the church.

When are God’s people going to stop falling for all of this? When are the discernment bloggers going to beat their keyboards into tools for solutions instead of brushes for whitewashing the tombs of dead people? It’s not a few bad apples, it’s the whole Protestant basket.

And when are Christians going to see the five word gospel for what it is? When is the investment made in error going to look like dung in comparison to the children who have been made to stumble?

paul

You Be The Judge

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 17, 2017

Was Jesus talking about the Pharisees and other Jewish religious leaders, or reformed/protestant pastors and elders?

~ Andy

“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” ~ Matthew 23:4-7

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Why Home Fellowships Can Help Abused Women and the Institutional Church Cannot

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 15, 2017

HF Potters House (2)

Originally published March 31, 2015

In our vision for a return to the way Judeo-Christian assemblies were done for about the first 300 years, let’s look at why home fellowships can help abused women and the institutional church cannot.

I would like to use this article as a catalyst for argumentation. The article was posted (author is not clearly stated) by Anna Wood who co-authored a book with Jeff Crippen, a Reformed pastor. The book can be found here.

The post is titled, What domestic abuse victims need from the church. My contention is that abused women cannot get what they need from “the church” as demonstrated over and over and over again. In fact, clearly, as also demonstrated over and over and over again as well, the institutional church adds to the abuse and becomes a co-abuser.

Why is this? The article offers a perspective from which to answer. This issue also speaks to the differences between home fellowships and the institutional church, hereafter “the church.” In an institution, it is easy to sign on the dotted line, give at the office, and pretend. Pastors can bark from Calvin’s Geneva pulpit all they want to; all folks have to say is, “Hey, I am a member in good standing, and as often heard, humble and incompetent—it’s not my gift and I am not qualified.” Likewise, in said article, the author’s call to “get involved” is going nowhere in the church in case anyone hasn’t noticed.

To the contrary, home fellowships are comprised of people who are sick of playing church, are weary of being mere spectators, and are not looking to walk into an arena with hungry lions, but know it could lead to that. They are also confident in the Spirit-filled laity and recognize where 500 years of academic popeism has brought us. In addition, they have a literal view of reality versus the functional dualism that drives orthodoxy. What am I saying? I am saying that home fellowships have a radically different worldview than orthodoxy and this will lead to aggressive participation in all kinds of needs.

Let me further this point by using the article at hand:

Statistics say that one out of four women in the United States experience domestic abuse of some form in their lifetime. Men can also be victims of domestic abuse. When those who have suffered are members of the Lord’s church, the faithful among them have an obligation to help them. And, if we know of someone in the community who is being abused, I also believe we have an obligation to help if we can. When, for whatever reason, we shy away from this obligation, either through ignorance or willful refusal to get involved, we lay waste to the Gospel we claim to believe. Christians are called to defend the oppressed yet when it comes to domestic violence, so few do.

What abuse victims need from their fellow Christians is pretty simple and straightforward. We need you to be Jesus to us. Do what He would do, say what He would say, were He the One ministering to us. Isn’t that what we all need from each other, anyway? Christians are called to stand in the place of Christ here on the earth and be His representative and do the works He would do. To fail in this is to fail in serving Christ.

Whoa, what a minute here! This is entirely unrealistic because of the message constantly drilled into the heads of Protestants. We are “all just sinners saved by grace.” We are, according to one prominent evangelical, “enemies of God.” According to yet another, “we hate God.” On the one hand, it is constantly drilled into the heads of those in the church that “when you are dead, you can do nothing,” but on the other hand we really think that parishioners shouldn’t think twice about getting involved in a domestic abuse situation?

First of all, getting involved in domestic violence is not “pretty simple.” Actually, it can get you killed by someone who doesn’t much appreciate your intervention. Moreover, getting the facts and evaluating the situation biblically is far from simple. Now couple that with the constant total depravity of the saints mantra heard in the church and it is little wonder that few will get involved in domestic abuse needs. The completely upside down worldview of the church makes laity involvement in domestic abuse nothing more than a pipe dream.

And, “Christians are called to defend the oppressed yet when it comes to domestic violence, so few do.” This complaint is not only a mere symptom, but is not even a symptom of the real problem. Congregants not only fail to defend the oppressed, they either turn a blind eye or defend the defender of the abusers—the church. Ever heard of SGM? Ever heard of ABWE? Ever heard of the SBC? In case you haven’t noticed, they are not only still in business, but business is booming! Why? Because regardless of what happens in the church, it is the only ticket to heaven. “What? so billions of people should go to hell because some bad things happen in the church that is made up of sinners? Well, get a grip—where there are people, there is sin!” That is in quotations because this is exactly what we hear in response to a “cry for justice.”

So far, if you are keeping notes, we have two reasons the church cannot help abused women: 1. The total depravity of the saints resulting in a few “experts” attempting to minister to a massive throng 2. Salvation is found in the institution, and therefore the institution will be defended at all cost. Better that a few suffer by themselves rather than all of humanity being sent to hell.

Before we move on to the next points, a little more clarification: why does the church defend abusers? It starts with its worldview. Without going into a lot of detail, we must first recognize that Calvin and Luther are the church’s heroes, and then recognize what their “theology of the cross” was all about. This is a philosophy that interprets all reality via the suffering of the cross. As Luther stated, “all wisdom is hidden in suffering.” Luther, as well as Calvin, split reality into two epistemologies: the cross story and the glory story. Only preordained leaders can lead the great unwashed masses in the cross story—only the preordained can save humanity from the story of man, or the glory story. As Al Mohler once said, “pastors are preordained to save God’s people from ignorance.”

fake-church-sign-first-baptistHowever, theologians of the cross and the spiritual peasantry have something in common: we are all just sinners saved by grace. So, everything going on in the material realm is fairly insignificant—it’s just the same old sin and dance anyway. But by the same token, theologians of the cross are preordained of God and invaluable. And besides, many are icons of the institution that keep the money rolling in. Sure, you can reject this theory and opt for another one, but in the process you will drive yourself nuts trying to figure out why ABWE defended and protected Donn Ketcham until the bitter end.

Need another example among myriads? What about Jack Hyles? The guy was a mafia don dressed in Bible verses and is still a spiritual hero among many Baptists. David Hyles, Jack’s son, was also a well-respected pastor in the church who had affairs with at least 19 women and is a suspect in an unsolved murder. Yet, to the best of my knowledge to date, David Hyles is still invited to speak at Baptist conferences/churches and receives robust ovations. Jack Hyles remained in the pulpit until his death in 2001 and was succeeded by his son in law Jack Schaap who is presently in prison for statutory rape. Jack Hyles is notorious for his quip, “If you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen” and is still revered among many Baptists as the best preacher since the apostle Paul.

The article continues with its list of things abuse victims need from “the church.” But the thesis of this article is that the church is not only unable to supply these things, but becomes a co-abuser. In contrast, the original Christian model for fellowship is well able to help and more likely to do just that.

First on the list is “The Pure Gospel.”

The church long ago got away from the pure gospel. We water it down, mix it up and serve it with a side of fun. No wonder it doesn’t save. It can’t save. It’s poison. We need preachers dedicated to the truth of God’s Word who are willing to stand up and preach that truth without changing it one iota. We need Christians who long after righteousness. When we have that–the pure Gospel preached and lived–we’ll see more Christians helping abuse victims and we’ll see less abusers masquerading as Christians.

Uh, ok, not sure how to add to this. It’s a stunning admission while calling on the same church to do something about the problem it has created. We don’t need “preachers” to do anything. Preachers have been preaching long and hard for thousands of years and the results are evident. We need God’s people to stand up and get back to the first works of home fellowship. The laity waiting on the experts is long traveled and worthless. More of what is beginning to happen needs to happen more and more. Ordinary Spirit-filled Christians are meeting together around the word and fellowship, and seeking God’s face in this whole matter about how church is traditionally practiced. And the fact that the church is grounded in a false gospel is something I addressed in another article posted today and Friday.

Without addressing every single point in the article other than those mentioned already, let me move on to this one:

Someone to care for their needs

Do you know what keeps a lot of abused women and children with their abusers? The lack of money to leave. If a woman is trying to get herself and her children to safety, don’t spend time telling her why she’s wrong, what you think about her decision or trying to talk her out of it. She knows what it’s like to live in abuse and you don’t. Even if she stays, chances are great that she and her children need something or maybe a lot of things. Financial abuse often accompanies other types of abuse. Instead of lecturing, get busy serving and help them.

According to the first-century model, a home fellowship network would be several small groups meeting in several homes in the same geographical area. And because of freedom from massive infrastructure cost and “tithing” versus New Testament giving based on NEED only funds and resources to help the abused would be ample. In fact, I could share an example from our very own home fellowship. We have a young lady living with us, and other people connected to our fellowship contribute financially to her needs. She is fully supported independently from anybody who might be a problem in her life. And when people live with you, trust me, you know the facts and you do a lot of listening. She will be completely self-reliant this month after living with us for about two years.

In regard to a different kind of abuse, a home fellowship network that I know of in Africa operates in the following way: the network assimilates street orphans from Nairobi into their fellowships. There is a leader from the network, equipped with the latest information about funds and availability that goes into Nairobi searching for orphans, and upon finding some, brings them back to the fellowship network where they will have a home, food, protection, and education. Let’s say that our home fellowships are connected with theirs; many of these children could be brought stateside and assimilated into fellowship here as well.

In addition to being freed from the bondage of infrastructure expense, the authority of the church’s clergy is suffocating. Clergy, more times than not, are control freaks obsessed with keeping the herd calm. They are spiritual cowboys constantly concerned with the herd being spooked. This speaks to the rest of the concerns in the post being considered here. More times than not, the laity are kept in the dark concerning the needs of those abused. There is a wall of confidentiality between the church’s “trained” counselors and the parishioners who fund the whole mess. When red flags are raised in regard to how certain situations are handled, we are told that “we should trust the elders who are closest to the situation and know all of the details.” This continually proves to be a recipe for disaster, and elders are granted NO such authority via the Scriptures.

Small groups in private homes offer intimate support and confidentiality from the other home fellowships. It is a perfect balance of intimate care and financial support if needed. All of the different gifts and experiences of Christ’s body are brought to bear on the situation.

Also, we must remember that the home fellowship movement is comprised of people from all walks of life: policemen, mental health professionals, etc., etc. These people or their areas of expertise are not separated from any situation by the professional clergy for inappropriate reasons.

paul

Calvinism and the Problem with Perfection

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 8, 2017

PPT HandleOriginally published November 7, 2013

Augustine, Luther, and Calvin were first and foremost Platonists. They integrated the Bible with Platonism. Plato’s theory of forms posits the idea of two worlds; the mutable material world of illusion where reality can only be partially known, and another world where the immutable objective true forms exist. This material world is a shadow world; everything is shadows of the true forms. Therefore, man can only interpret and experience this world subjectively. The tendency is to interpret reality by observing the shadows. To the degree that mankind thinks the material world is reality according to the five senses, subjectivity and chaos will abound.

Therefore, Plato’s ethic was to improve the subjective experience of this life by accessing the true forms through ideas and mathematics—things that transcend the five senses (he believed math was an unchangeable rule and therefore not part of the shadow world). He believed that those who have the capability and willingness to bring more understanding of the objective into the subjective to be an elite minority. These were Plato’s philosopher kings whom he thought should rule society in order to decrease chaos as much as possible. Without philosopher kings, the world would be awash in a sea of subjectivity, everyone living by their own subjective presuppositions based on the shadows of this world. Hence, the arch enemy of the Platonic ideal is individualism.

Plato’s world of true objective forms was his trinity of the true, good, and beautiful. Experiencing the pure form of goodness in this world is impossible—only a shadow of good can be experienced subjectively. Plato’s social engineering has a doctrine, and to the degree that doctrine is applied, a higher quality of subjective existence occurs.

The Reformers put a slightly different twist on this construct. There is no doctrine to apply, only an orthodoxy that focuses on seeing and experiencing. Their version of Plato’s philosopher kings are pastors who possess the power of the keys. Orthodoxy is mediated truth determined by “Divines,” and passed down to the masses for the purpose of experiencing the objective power of the gospel subjectively. The Reformers made the true forms “the gospel,” and reality itself the gospel, ie., the work and personhood of Jesus Christ in particular.

Therefore, in the same way Plato envisioned a society that experiences the power of the true forms subjectively through ideas and immutable disciplines like mathematics, the Reformers sought a heightened subjective experience through a deeper and deeper knowledge of their own true, good, and beautiful—the gospel. And more specifically, instead of the gateway of understanding being reason, ideas, and immutable disciplines, they made the gospel itself the interpretive prism. So: life, history, the Bible, ie., everything, is a tool for experiencing true reality (the gospel) in a higher quality subjectivity. The Bible and all life events are a gospel hermeneutic. Salvation itself is the interpretive prism. All of reality is about redemption. Salvation itself is the universal hermeneutic.

But both constructs have this in common: Pure goodness and perfection cannot exist objectively in the material world. This is where Calvinism and Platonism kiss. The Bible only agrees with this if it is a “gospel narrative.” But if it is God’s full orbed philosophical statement to all men to be interpreted grammatically and exegetically, contradictions abound. To wit, if man possesses goodness and the ability to interpret reality objectively, Platonism and its Reformed children are found wanting. If Reformation orthodoxy is not evaluated biblically with the very theses of its own orthodoxy as a hermeneutic, even more wantonness is found.

The Apostles rejected Platonism because they believed goodness and perfection could indeed be found in this material world. There is no question of the quality of goodness inside of man that enables mankind to interpret reality objectively, the quantity of goodness notwithstanding.  In contrast, a dominate theme in the Calvin Institutes is the idea that no person lost or saved can perform a good work. Like Plato’s geometric hermeneutics, the Reformers believed the Law lends understanding to man’s inability to do good because eternal perfection is the standard. The best of man’s works are tainted with sin to some degree, and therefore imperfect. Even if man could perform one perfect work, one sin makes mankind a violator of the whole law. The Reformers were adamant that no person could do any good work whether saved or lost.

Why all the fuss over this point? Why was Calvin dogmatic about this idea to the point of annoyance? Because he was first and foremost a Platonist. The idea that a pure form of good could be found within mankind was metaphysical heresy. Because such contradicts every page of the Bible, the Reformers’ Platonist theology was made the hermeneutic as well. Instead of the interpretation method producing the theology, they made the theology the method of interpretation. If all of reality is redemptive, it must be interpreted the same way.

For the Platonist, the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh poses a huge problem. He is the truth. He came to the material world in a material body. Platonism  became Gnosticism and wreaked havoc on the 1st century church. Notice how the first sentences of 1John are a direct pushback against the Gnosticism of that day:

1John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Christ is the true, good, and beautiful, and He was touched, felt, seen, heard, and understood. Game over. This is the paramount melding of Plato’s two worlds resulting in a plenary decimation of his philosophy. Nevertheless, Calvin et al got around that by keeping mankind in a subjective realm while making the material world a gospel hermeneutic. Reality still cannot be understood unless it is interpreted by the gospel—everything else is shadows.

Martin Luther took Plato’s two worlds and made them two stories: our own subjective story, a self  “glory story” that leads to a labyrinth of subjectivism, or the “cross story” which is the objective gospel. Luther made Plato’s two worlds two stories, but still, they are two realms: one objective and one subjective. In the final analysis mankind is still incompetent, and void of any good whether saved or lost.

Whether the Reformed gospel or Platonism, the infusion of objective goodness is the heresy. Man cannot have any righteousness in and of himself, whether lost or saved. The pushback against this idea can be seen throughout the New Testament. A few examples follow:

1John 2:4 – Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

1John 2:20 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

1John 2:26 – I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1John 2:29 – If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

1John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Christians can know goodness, and perform righteousness objectively. This speaks to the quality of the righteousness when it is performed—it is perfect and acceptable to God. We are not limited to a mere subjective experience in regard to righteousness. When we are resurrected, the quantity thereafter will be 100%, but our present righteousness is acceptable to God when it is performed by us. If it is accepted by God, it is perfect.

Even the unregenerate know good, and can perform it. The works of the law are written on their hearts, and their consciences either accuse or excuse them (Romans 2:12-15). Though enslaved to unrighteousness, they are free to perform righteousness (Romans 6:20). The very goodness of God can be understood from observing creation as well (Romans 1:20).

The only way the Reformers can make all goodness outside of man is to make the Bible a salvation hermeneutic. It is the only way they could integrate the Bible with their Platonist philosophy.

paul

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