Paul's Passing Thoughts

“Trusting Jesus” In 2017 For Your Daily Re-Salvation

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 29, 2019

Originally published January 2, 2017

The institutional church has very little to offer people in the way of hope and assurance. Its orthodoxy takes away a believer’s means of showing love to God and others – obedience to the law. By making perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness, its single perspective on law keeps believers “under law” and in a constant state of fear due to condemnation. But the Bible says that there is no fear in love because perfect (mature) love casts out fear.

We have before us today yet one more example of the orthodoxy of authentic Protestantism to consider. This example happens to come from my former church, Calvary Bible Church in Columbus, OH. One of the current members snapped this image of a power point slide presented during this past Sunday’s sermon.

calvary-fodder-hebrew-12-application

This slide comes at the “application” part at the end of a sermon which used Hebrews 12:1-2 as a text.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2

Here are the four points of application for consideration:

  1. Trusting Jesus keeps us from looking to self
  2. Trusting Jesus requires trust in all He is for us
  3. Trusting Jesus is needed most when others hurt us
  4. Trusting Jesus is key to not growing weary or losing heart in life

Before I even get into addressing the points of application, a brief exegesis and word study of the passage is required.

It is important to understand that the chapter divisions in our Bibles are not there in the original texts. They were added much later as a means to aid in finding certain passages. The unfortunate result is that sometimes the chapter divisions have a tendency to break up the context. Chapter 12 of Hebrews is the concluding application of chapter 11, sometimes known as the “Hall of Faith”. The “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in verse 1 is a reference to all the saints mentioned in chapter 11, some by name, some collectively.

I want to quickly call your attention to the verbs in verse 1. I have marked them in bold.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”

This is a very poorly translated verse in both the King James and all modern English translations. While there are five verb forms in this verse, only one verb is part of the main clause and shows the action. It is the word “run”. In the Greek the word is τρεχω (trek-oh). We get our English word “trek” from this, referring to a course or trip or voyage in which we may engage.

While this verb is in the present tense, it is also in the subjunctive mood, which normally indicates a hypothetical possibility. But in this case, since we are not dealing with a conditional statement, this implies a command, more specifically, something we ought to be doing. It is used as a means of exhorting others to join in on a particular course of action. With this in mind, there is only one main clause in verse 1:

“wherefore, …we ought to engage in our course of life”

This is the reasonable conclusion the writer of Hebrews draws from the testimony of all the saints mentioned in chapter 11.

The other four verb forms are actually used as participles. A participle is a verb that is used as an adjective or adverb. In English, participles most often end in “ing”. A participle can either describe how an action is performed or it further describes the state of a noun or subject. Knowing then that the other verbs in verse 1 are participles, the verse would better read this way (notice the participles are emphasized in bold).

“Wherefore, we, having this vast cloud of witnesses encompassing us, and having put off every impediment – the sin nemesis – we ought to, through endurance, engage in our course of life lying before us.”

Some things should be obvious in this verse. Foremost is the implication that WE are the ones running our race of life. The command is to US to engage the undertaking of our lives, and we are exhorted to do it with endurance. But also, the grammatical structure gives us the “why”. It is because:

  1. We have a group of spectators “watching” us. These are the faithful saints who have gone on before us who have given us an example of how WE are then expected to conduct our lives.
  1. We have the ABILITY to run this race of life with certainty because we have already laid off everything that would hinder us. It is not something we need to do continuously. The aorist (past) tense of the participle (“having put off”) indicates it is something that we have already done. Because of our new birth the law is ended, the old man is dead, and sin no longer has any power over us. Sin can no longer restrict us from running as fast as we want to.

Verse 2 gives us further instruction as to “how” or “what” we should do as we run our life race. It begins with the phrase “looking unto Jesus”, but that does not indicate that we “trust Jesus” to run the race for us or even to help us run. The word in the Greek is αφοραω (ah-for-AH-oh). It literally means to perceive from a distance, but the implication means to consider attentively.

Another expression that needs to be examined is “the author and finisher of our faith”. First off, the word “our” is not found in the Greek text, neither is it implied. “Author” is the Greek word αρχηγον (arch-AY-gon), and it means “chief leader”. Jesus is not the “author” of faith as if He was the originator of it. Consider the context of the passage. In the great cloud of witnesses just mentioned in chapter 11, among all of those in that great “hall of faith”, Jesus is the Chief Leader of faith. This means that Jesus is included among all of the saints listed in chapter 11. The author of Hebrews is exhorting us to consider Jesus’ own example of faith.

Furthermore, a close look at the grammar of verse 2 reveals that the verse is not saying that our faith originates and ends with Jesus. Instead, these are two separate aspects of who Jesus is with regard to faith itself. The word translated “finisher” is the word τελειωτης (tel-ee-oh-TACE). It comes from the word “teleos” which means “maturity” or “completeness”. Jesus is the one who made “faith” complete.

If you consider that the audience of Hebrews is Jews, this aspect of Jesus completing faith takes on considerable significance. Remember that God made the promise of a “seed” to Abraham. The apostle Paul also wrote in Galatians about the law being a guardian until “faith” came. With this in mind it is fairly easy to see that Jesus was the promised “seed” and the “faith” that came to end the law. I believe this is the reference the writer of Hebrews is making when he says that Jesus is the “completer” of faith, because Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham, the “faith” that came to end the law and make the new birth possible.

So in verse two, as we run our life race, we are to give attentive consideration to the Chief Faith Leader; the Faith Completer; Jesus! Not only is “faith” completed because Jesus is that promised seed, but we are to consider His example of faith. The rest of the verse cites Jesus’ own example of faith.

“…giving attentive consideration to the Chief Leader and Completer of faith – Jesus – who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So now that we understand the correct grammatical-historical context of the passage, let us once again consider the points of application suggested to us by the pastor of Calvary Bible Church.

  1. Trusting Jesus keeps us from looking to self
  2. Trusting Jesus requires trust in all He is for us
  3. Trusting Jesus is needed most when others hurt us
  4. Trusting Jesus is key to not growing weary or losing heart in life

Please notice that the passage in Hebrews has nothing to do whatsoever about trust or trusting Jesus. This should be blatantly obvious. How does one make the leap from a context having to do with great examples of faith for us to emulate to one of “trusting Jesus”? If one uses a redemptive-historical hermeneutic, it’s fairly easy. Every verse has to be taken in its proper “gospel context”.

Authentic Protestantism is a false gospel of progressive justification. Believers are merely declared righteous while remaining totally depraved and in a constant need of re-salvation and forgiveness for “present sin”.  So then:

  • A believer then must continually “trust Jesus” for daily salvation instead of looking to himself.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” to do good works through him rather than trying to do any good works himself.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” to be his righteousness for him since the believer is only declared righteous.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” by recognizing his own sinfulness, depravity, and need for constant forgiveness rather than dwell on how other people have wronged him.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” by continuing to live by “faith alone” and persevering in the off chance that maybe he is one of the elect who endures to final justification.

Of course, if at any time you fail to somehow keep “trusting Jesus,” your very salvation may be at stake.

Sure sounds like an encouraging New Year’s message to me. Good luck with that.

~ Andy

Heidelberg Disputation Archives Page

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 17, 2019

Calvinism “Leans” Left – guest writer, John Immel

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 17, 2019

The following question was posted in a Facebook group that I follow:

This is a great question. Here is my answer. Calvinism isn’t a leftward LEAN. It IS at the core Leftist ideology.

Here is what I mean. In modern parlance being politically LEFT means being statist/collectivist or totalitarian/tribalist or Man is morally subordinate to the state for the benefit of the body politic.

Being politically right means governing in accord with the American constitution- that Man is a free moral agent who can pursue his life, liberty and happiness; and the government’s singular function is to protect the individual. The American constitution sets up a secular state independent of any religious orthodoxy- men are free to believe what they want without a political theological litmus test.

Statist/Collectivism has been the dominant philosophical framework in recorded history. Without going into a lengthy discussion of the evolution of western political thought (e.g. the Pythagorean Soul/Body dichotomy. You can read the extended discussions here),  the culmination of Statist doctrine is Plato’s Republic. He set up a clear delineation between the fleshly, morally depraved masses and the soul-enlightened Philosopher Kings, men who were not subject to the depravity of fleshly existence and (somehow) uniquely qualified to rule over all men. Plato pontificated that the Philosopher Kings would be benevolent dictators, but the reality is Plato’s kings have always been despots.

Fast forwarding a few hundred years, and Augustine grafts three centuries of disorganized, vague intellectual Christian traditions into Plato’s despotic framework. It proved a powerful combination- this statist framework dominates the whole of the Dark and Middle Ages with only a couple deviations where Aristotle was rediscovered and rational independence was the leading political principle.

Enter the Enlightenment and the Reformation. Saint Thomas Aquinas rediscovers Aristotle (circa 1250) and does an exceptional job revisioning Christianity in Aristotelian terms which lead to the very rational independence and political freedom mentioned above. And this freedom is what Martin Luther found so unacceptable.

Let’s back up a tick. The modern legend is that Luther sought to champion intellectual freedom against an entrenched, immoral Papacy that was advancing an erroneous doctrinal definition of grace. The Reformation battle cry becomes the “5 Solas.” And the leading “Sola” is “Scripture Alone” which people are led to believe means individuals are empowered to read the bible for themselves, and this self directed bible reading is the foundation of correct Bible interpretation. Alakazam! Poof! No more Popes telling us what to think.

This is total fiction.

Luther was fully antagonistic of independent reason and political freedom. He NEVER believed the “laity” and the right of interpretation. Unfortunately Protestant history is a revisionist history that has erroneously taught that the Reformation was an individualist/independent thinking movement. The truth is Luther’s “reforming” effort was to unseat Aristotle’s influence on what he saw as a wayward Catholic “free thinking” leadership and a demand to return it to the “orthodoxy” of Augustine.

Forget reading Luther’s 95 theses. That is merely window dressing to his real dispute. I highly recommend reading the Heidelberg Disputation, particularly the later parts that typically don’t get published. If memory serves, points 16 through 25 are all about Plato vs Aristotle; the superiority of Plato and the evil of Aristotle.

You have to work to find it because revisionist historians don’t like the details available for public consumption, but the pro Plato/anti Aristotle is at the core of Luther’s “reformation.”

And so it goes to Calvin and his Institutes of Christian Religion. Do a fast review of how many times he references and applauds Plato and condemns all free thinking Aristotealian ideas. Make no mistake, Calvin’s ICR was a formal effort to close all of Augustine’s theological loopholes that implied independence and freedom and set up the justification for a totalitarian Christian state. Even a casual review of Protestant history illustrates that the totalitarian theory and the mystic depot practice lined up . . .

Until the Enlightenment and post-constitutional America. There are many steps to synthesize here, but for brevity, Thomas Jefferson successfully distills John Lock’s Enlightenment political theory into the greatest political achievement in human history- a document that totally liberated man from the crushing power of Government in general and theocratic tyranny in particular.

The effort to separate church and state was specifically designed to prevent the Massachusetts Theocracy (aka Puritan theocracy aka Calvinist theocracy) from ever rising anywhere in the colonies.
And by doing this, the American constitution severed the cords that had forever bound Calvinism with government force.

But the theocratic/Statist aspirations are at the root of Protestant Orthodoxy. And this is why, generations later you see contemporary Calvinist true believers advocating unapologetic statist public policy. This is why the “LEAN” left. But as I said it isn’t a lean. They are men who take Calvins synthesis seriously and seek to enact the political vision that subordinates all men to church authority. And the only way they can ever achieve that is to set up a totalitarian state that compels compliance; modern “leftist” ideology. Socialism, Communism, and Fascism are merely the secularized version of the same philosophical premise- individuals must be subordinate to the collective. It is the flip side of the same coin. They advocate the same political outcomes because they share the same premise.

Make no mistake, the current leftist political trend in the Calvinist movements is not an aberration or the error of a few stray thinkers. On the contrary it is the effort to be consistent with Calvin’s synthesis.

~ John Immel

Church “Family”?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 30, 2019

Since my family left the institutional church for good 5 years ago, there have been many times my wife or I have encountered people from those old churches, and invariably at some point in the conversation they will say, “Hey, we really miss you guys!” or, “We really miss your family!”

Really? You miss us? Does your phone not work? Did you lose our number? I don’t seem to recall getting an invitation over to your house lately.  If we really mean that much to you, how come you have never reached out to us since we left?

When someone from the institutional church tells you they “miss you”, what they really mean is we miss you at church.

~ Andy

How to Debate A Calvinist: Part 1 – By John Immel

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 2, 2019

The following is part one of a five-part series.
Taken from John Immel’s first session at the 2017 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny
~ Edited by Andy Young

Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five

“Have you read Calvin’s Institutes today?”

(Watch original session video here)

I must confess, I really struggled this year with what I wanted to talk about. My brain bounced off about a dozen things. I originally thought I was going to dig deeper into the impact of John Locke on American civil government, American religion, the American Revolution. But at the end of the day it didn’t really catch and sustain my attention too much.

Then I thought I might actually discuss death and life and exegete the first four chapters of the book of Genesis. And that didn’t really stick with me very long. And I toyed with a half a dozen other things that just don’t bear mentioning.

Then about two or three months ago I was reading an interaction on Paul’s Passing Thoughts between Paul Dohse and a guy by the name of “GraceWriterRandy”. Now, trust me, this conference is not about GraceWriterRandy, but he is a fantastic anecdote. And so I decided to go ahead and talk about what he did and how that applies generally.

So here is what I noticed. And what so caught my attention was that Randy presumed to set the tone for the entire conversation, and frankly it didn’t matter what part of the conversation. He decided that he was going to dictate the moral and intellectual terms across the board. He reserved the right to make the discussion as narrow or as broad as he wanted.

And then what really bothered me is that everybody accepted the premise. Everybody tended to follow along. So if Randy reframed the conversation, everybody accepted the shift. If Randy argued scripture, everybody started stacking up scriptures. If Randy shifted to moral criticism, everybody started lobbing moral accusations. If Randy challenged a definition, everybody started parsing meanings.

And this is when I realized that I actually had my topic of conversation: Arguments with Calvinists, and trying to unravel the roots of their arguments.

And this is why no one ever gets anywhere in a debate with a Calvinist, because they let the Calvinist shape the direction of the conversation. People rarely ever challenge the Calvinist root assumptions. They let the Calvinist decide that it is their sole right to define all things moral, spiritual, and intellectual. And the foundation of all their arguments is the myth of their [Calvinists’] own authority and their entitlement to dictated force.

So I came up with a brief algebra of historic “Christian” authority:

The Algebra of Authority

Catholic Algebra:
Absolute Truth = Apostolic Authority + Scripture = Error Free Doctrine + Apostolic Succession = Papal Authority = Orthodoxy = Government Force

I want you to notice that the fulcrum of Catholic doctrine is Apostolic Authority PLUS Scripture. Everything else, how they get their doctrinal interpretations, is a direct product of this. Catholics had decided long ago that the reason that “Scripture Alone” got so much traction is because the Catholic church, specifically Papal Authority, decided that it was their job to interpret what it said. But at the end of the day, Orthodoxy is what determines Government Force. In other words, the Pope has the right to compel you to what you think.

Here’s what happened when Protestantism showed up:

Protestant Algebra:
Absolute Truth = Scriptural Authority = Predestined Elders = Error Free Doctrine + Ecclesiastical Force = Orthodoxy

It is very important that you see the relationship here. Predestined Elders inherit the implications of their own Absolute Truth. The function of Predestined Elders in the Protestant world is to compel you to think whatever it is they think they have the right to compel you to think.

This is crucial for you to understand: Authority = Force

Any time somebody says, “I am an authority,” what they are really saying is, “I have the right to force you to do something.” There is nothing elegant about it.

So then how do you debate a Calvinist?

The answer is: You challenge the roots.

This is why I insist, particularly with regard to GraceWriterRandy, no one ever successfully challenges the roots of the assertion.

I have been talking about my web of tyranny now for the last six years. This is my contribution to the world of philosophy. I have identified what I believe are the five fundamental pillars of tyranny. It doesn’t matter what the ultimate end game is, all tyrannies have these five sub-categories or arguments: Dictated Good, Universal Guilt, Abolition of Ambition, Collective Conformity, and Incompetent Masses. The function of all these sub-categories is designed to create “Utopia,” or an alternate reality.

The reason I have rendered this as a web is because it is not specifically linear. In other words, there is not specifically a logical progression of one to the other. Instead there is a dynamic tension between all five, so all of the arguments act in harmony with all of the others to compel you down the path of this alternate reality; the right to determine some other realm of thinking.

What we have never really discussed is how the arguments fit into the web. On occasion over the last few years I have made reference to when an argument sits, but I want to have an overarching view. I want to start subdividing some of the arguments that you will hear. I’ve tried to pick archetypes of the arguments, and we will try to unravel them in later sessions.

If we are going to successfully debate Calvinist, we have to get good at identifying the foundational assumptions, because:

The Gospel According to John Immel, chapter 3:1-3

  1. All people act logically from their assumptions.
  2. It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas or insane the rationale. They will act until that logic is fulfilled.
  3. Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, if you find the assumptions, you will find the cause.

Frankly, I don’t think we can have any better object lesson of this truth played out in our civil discourse than the logical assumption of a group of people tearing down historic monuments over wars that were fought long ago over offenses that are entirely manufactured. They are in actuality fulfilling a body of logic that produces some action.

Ideas are what drive human action. There is body of ideas, and a fundamental integration of those ideas, that produces your actions in any given day. This integration is called Philosophy.

Disciplines of Philosophy

– Metaphysics

– Epistemology

– Ethics

– Politics

– Aesthetics (art)

The roots are your metaphysical assumptions; whatever you accept about the nature of existence. Once you actually establish your foundation of metaphysical assumptions, you move to epistemology. That is what you believe your mind can understand. Once you identify what your mind can and cannot know, you move on to ethics. These are the moral judgments that you have about your actions; what is good and what is evil. This is how we define how we interact with other people through politics. Once man is able to establish these first four disciplines, he is able to refresh his existence with artistic expression. His art is a reflection of his most deeply held values.


The Orthodoxy Happy Dance

You might begin to talk to a Calvinist by presenting to him what Luther or Calvin said regarding a certain doctrine, and all is well and good until the Calvinist encounters something he doesn’t like. At this point he might respond by saying, “Well, Calvin might have believed that, but it was really the Synod of Dort that came up with this thing called T.U.L.I.P.” At this point they have made the Synod of Dort their authority over Calvin and Luther.

So then you proceed to point out a fallacy in T.U.L.I.P or the Synod of Dort, and now they might cite the Westminster Confession as being the final authority on the matter, rejecting the Synod of Dort. Notice what they are able to do. At any point in the argument that they don’t happen to like a given intellectual conclusion, no matter where it starts, they get to dance around between any given authority that suits them at any particular moment.

Take a look at the video below. This is an excerpt from a breakout session at the 2016 Cross for the Nations Conference in Indianapolis, IN. In this clip, you will hear John Piper make a reference to being committed to “the whole Calvinistic scheme.” Watch then, as Paul Dohse challenges Piper on the matter of election, Piper proceeds to engage in this orthodoxy happy dance.

Did you catch it? What you just saw Piper do is exactly what Calvinist do with impunity. They want the right to pick any given authority as their intellectual forbearers and then disown those intellectual forbearers whenever it suits their purpose. And this is why I call it the Orthodoxy Happy Dance, because orthodoxy at the end is this amorphous concept to which they get to appeal. They make an appeal to something that has no functional definition. At the end of the day, the real root of what they are advocating is their right to their own authority.

Notice that when pressed on the Calvin Institutes, Piper immediately became a Biblicist. What you will eventually realize, if you care to pay attention, is that Calvinists don’t read the Calvin Institutes ever. They read a few select excerpt here and there and then pretend that it is their intellectual pedigree, which they then believe gives them the license to tell you what to think. You peg them down on what they think and then they just jump to some other source of intellectual pedigree.

This sort of intellectual two-step is a direct violation of Aristotle’s Law of Identity; that A is A. Something cannot be “A” and “not A” at the same time. But with Calvinists, orthodoxy can be anything they want it to be. They have no intellectual integrity. They are not committed to anything specific. This is why every time you start debating Calvinists your conversations go nowhere.

Any time you have such a conversation, what you must do is make them responsible for their intellectual pedigree. If at any point they want to reject any point of Calvinism, they are rejecting the roots of orthodoxy. You will see this comment consistently:

“Calvinists don’t believe everything that John Calvin said…The Bible says blah, blah, blah…”

This is a glittering gem of colossal ignorance. It kills me every time I see it. I guarantee if you read anybody’s blog and you take somebody to task you will get a similar response. Pay attention to this. This is the formulation. They will identify themselves as Calvinists, and then they will pretend that they don’t believe what Calvin said. Suddenly they are independent thinkers and Biblicists. This is a gambit to what they believe they control – Biblical interpretation.

The next time you hear this line of logic, what you must say is, “So, you reject John Calvin’s ideas? Excellent! We agree on something. In your copy of Calvin’s Institutes, show me specifically to what you object.” This must be the only answer you will accept, but here is the thing; they will never do it. They will want to play their gambit of Biblical interpretation because they believe they own it.

Your rebuttal when they go back to the Bible, you say, “So, you are really saying that Calvin’s ideas are not in the Bible, right?” If they have to constantly run back to the Bible, then that means they cannot find those ideas in the Calvin’s Institutes. The moment they concede that point, then the next question you ask is, “So that means that Calvin’s teachings are unbiblical, right? That would make him a heretic, right?”   Follow this progression of questioning, and don’t let them leave this point! They must commit to what they are advocating.

You want to make sure they can never escape either an acceptance of Calvin or a rejection of Calvin. They must either accept that there is a synonymous relationship between Calvin and the Bible or there is not one. The moment you drive that wedge they are stuck. They use Calvin to establish their historic pedigree – “I have authority because I believe what all these other historic thinkers think.” Yet at the same time they want to turn around and claim intellectual autonomy whenever they choose. So which is it; historical authority or your own intellectual authority? That is the fulcrum of the debate.

If the truth is defined as “authority,” then there is no such thing as “I think…” The assumption is Authority = No Doctrinal Error; that the only way you can hedge against doctrinal error is to have authority. So the reason they argue “authority” is because they insist that they are the ones who get it all right. But the moment you confront them with something that isn’t right, they want to renounce the very thing that gives them authority. This is what you can never let them get away with.

The real argument here is that they have abandoned the right to the Aristotelian Law of Identity. They are constantly trying to say that “A” can be “B” and “B” can be “A”. They want to have a “both/and” reality.

  • Both final authority and error-filled humans.
  • Both defender of orthodoxy and an individual thinker denouncing Calvin’s doctrine.
  • Both herald of God’s mystic revelation and defender of “objective” truth.
  • Both lowly unoriginal mind slave and epitome of rational judgment.
  • Both champion of God’s hard truth and pitiful victim of undeserved criticism.

The way to defeat Calvinists is to deny them their authority and hammer away at reality. Reality is their enemy. The reason they engage in the Orthodoxy Happy Dance is because the moment they are confronted with the specifics of history they are toast.

But be forewarned:

  • Try to rebuff a Calvinist’s right to define all things and they pretend that no is their equal.
  • Try to reject a Calvinist’s monopoly on moral virtue, and they snarl that no man is righteous.
  • Try to refuse to let a Calvinist define reality, and they resort to force.

…To be continued


Click here for part two
Click here for part three
Click here for part four
Click here for part five