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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

Addendum: Dear Church Pastor…

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 20, 2019

A follow-up to a previous post which contains the extended e-mail exchange between Paul Dohse and a pastor of a church somewhere in Central Ohio.

Mr. Dohse,

I am aware of you because on two occasions, your, “Do you believe a true gospel? A Gospel Test” tracts have been placed in our church literature rack (and men’s restroom) without our approval. In both cases, I have removed them. I don’t know if you or someone associated with you is placing these tracts, but I have a few questions:

(1) Why would someone place tracts in a church without the permission of that church’s leadership?

(2) I am unclear what the goal of the tract is. I went to, and I found it to be confusing to even me (I was seminary trained).

Please give me a call at 111-111-1111 x ext.1111. If you’d rather not talk, that’s fine. In that case, please just stop placing tracts in our church without approval.

In Him,

[A Church Pastor]

Dear Church Pastor,

The “3 Questions” tract is widely distributed by our ministry and I have no idea who placed them in your church. However, it seems likely to me that it is someone who attends your church in some capacity. Thank you for the offer to talk, but I prefer written correspondence in this case.

You pose question one as if common decency was somehow violated, but I am not surprised by that. Though your parishioners pay for your salary and the maintaining of your institutional infrastructure, you are incredulous that anyone would distribute information without the permission of leadership. This, of course, is indicative of the hierarchical, top-down, truth-as-authority caste system that is church. While parishioners pay your salary, and probably paid for your seminary degree as well, you have the authority to take away their eternal salvation if they don’t obey God’s anointed, or as Al Mohler stated it, those “preordained by God to save his people from ignorance.”

Of course, I think all of that is laughable and am delighted to find out some attending church dare to think for themselves. Thank you for the note of encouragement.

Secondly, I am not surprised the tract confuses you. In no way does your seminary degree cast doubt on the clarity of justification by new birth as opposed to justification by faith, but rather brings about an expectation of confusion. Many examples could be given regarding your ignorance about salvation (an ignorance that you are paid well for), but I will only cite one. On your website, you state: “The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy. That’s the gospel.”

Yet, while stating that there is NOW NO condemnation, you state in other places on the website that “Christians” are still in need of the gospel daily. That’s because justification by faith is a progressive justification that calls for a perpetual returning to the gospel for “present sin.” Obviously, if there is present sin, there is present condemnation. Obviously, if Christians still need to be saved, they are presently under condemnation. It is apparent that the leadership of your church follows John Piper who states in no uncertain terms that Christians continue to need salvation. And, of course, this necessarily requires the “ordinary means of grace” that can only be obtained through church membership.

It is one thing to believe a false gospel, but it is something else altogether to be leading many others in the false gospel of justification by faith as well. Not only is your own blood on your hands, but that of all of your parishioners. You would do well to reexamine the tract and make every effort to understand it.

If you have any questions concerning the gospel, by all means feel free to call.

Paul Dohse

Update as of 2/20/2019:

Mr. Dohse,

It’s funny.  Virtually everything in your email is wrong.
If you want to have a constructive conversation about the gospel, I’m game.  Here is how I play…

  1. Let’s define our terms as we go so we can be efficient and communicate well
  2. Something cannot be both true and not true at the same time (editor’s note: pay attention to this point.)
  3. The plain reading of God’s Word in its context rules
  4. The less-clear passages are explained by the more-clear passages

Fair enough?  When is a good time to call you?[A Church Pastor]

Dear Church Pastor,

Before we proceed please answer the following question: are you a Protestant in the Reformed tradition, and what Confessions or other documents accurately profess church orthodoxy and the biblical gospel?


Mr. Dohse,

  1. I am a Protestant
  2. By nature of being a Protestant, I am not Roman Catholic, so to the degree I am not Roman Catholic, I am Reformed, but not part of any Reformed tradition
  3. I am technically a Dispensationalist
  4. The only document that accurately professes anything on my end is the Bible and our church constitution, bylaws, and statement of faith.

Your ‘justification by new birth’ statements are novel to me.  The concept and actual words, “justification by faith” occur in God’s Word.  I’m sure we will get to that in due time.

[A Church Pastor]

Dear Church Pastor,

So, there are many problems here out of the gate. For one, there are no fundamental differences in the Roman Catholic Church and Protestantism. Beside the fact that Luther and Calvin never left the Catholic Church, BOTH Catholicism and Protestantism hold to progressive justification, and both claim authority over salvation on earth by God’s proxy. It took me literally 5 minutes to find your position on that as stated in the sermon you preached on 5/7/17.  In that message, you even quote Jonathan Leeman of 9Marks who has a very hardcore position on church authority. Bottom line: the church is God’s authority over salvation on earth. In that message, you state unequivocally that the only way to enter God’s kingdom is through church baptism and submitting to the church’s authority. This is a Protestant/Reformed position to a “T.”

In regard to salvation via church authority, Catholicism and Protestantism bare no differences. Also, I don’t play the Protestantism versus degrees-of-being-Reformed game any more than the various points of Calvinism game. Protestantism came from the R-E-F-O-R-M-A-T-I-O-N. You will not find escape from your error by making a distinction between the two. You, and your leadership follow and cite those who are of the hardcore Reformed tradition constantly. To present a pretense of distance between you and that tradition is dishonest. In regard to your parishioners, you believe you have authority over their salvation. Again, I find such a notion not only outrageously arrogant, but laughable. But, I suppose it is good work if you can get it, and a pretty big power trip to boot.

Aristotle has identified your contradiction

Secondly, while offering your church’s statement of faith and order as a point of discussion and also saying that something can’t be true and false at the same time, your church’s statement of faith is full of things that are both “true” and false. For example, a Christian is not under condemnation, but still needs daily salvation. You are either under condemnation and still need the gospel or saved with no further need of the gospel. Both cannot be true. More than likely, most of your parishioners don’t really understand what the Protestant gospel is.

According to the Protestant gospel of justification by faith, justification is strictly a “forensic declaration” while in fact, the “believer” does remain condemned. Sure, there is no condemnation executed on your parishioners as long as they stay under your authority. But technically, according to the justification by faith gospel, they are still under condemnation. Hence, also according to your church’s statement of faith, they retain a “sin nature.” Obviously, your church follows John Piper. I have Piper on record saying that the gospel doesn’t “get you saved,” but rather, the gospel must be used to obtain “final justification.” When I confronted Piper publicly about the idea that people can be presently saved while yet needing a final justification, he indicated that both are true and that it is “complicated.” So, what’s all this emphasis by you about things not being both true and false at the same time? Pardon me, but this isn’t my first rodeo with you guys.

No, not interested in talking to you over the phone privately, but willing to debate you publicly at your church, or on a public media setting. What a wonderful opportunity for you to defend the justification by faith gospel. What do you say?

Paul Dohse

Mr. Dohse,

When people read your literature, hear your talks, and buy into your way of thinking, how do they end up living?  Do they just stop going to church, reject the Bible, love God and go to heaven when they die?

I’m very curious.
[A Church Pastor]

Dear Church Pastor,

I’m not selling anything in the same way church is selling salvation. So, people who listen to what we have to say are not “buying into” anything. Nor do people pay us a temple tax commonly referred to as ”tithing.” In most cases, people who find us find a clarification for what they already knew but didn’t know how to articulate it. Interesting how you make love for God’s truth via the Bible synonymous with going to church. Sorry, that’s not reality; one can love God and His truth while rejecting church totally because church is a lie. That’s why I, along with another author, wrote The Church Lie and the Biblical Alternative.

The better question is how people who trust the church for their salvation live. Do you read the papers or listen to the news? Chapter 7 of our book explains in detail why there is so much evil in the church, you might want to read it. Actually, those who partake in the Home Fellowship Movement are faithful to the word of God and godly living. Their only authority is Christ, the ONE head of the body. In the end, they alone as individuals are accountable to God according to their own conscience and what they understand about His word. Therefore, why would they submit to mere men when they alone are responsible for the sum and substance of their own lives before God?

Paul Dohse

Mr. Dohse,

After watching some of your videos, I’ve noted that one of your techniques is to say something shocking, then backtrack and explain. So, when you say, “church is a lie” (fair to say a shocking statement), do you mean that the word ‘church’ is a lie (as opposed to the word ‘ekklesia’, which is an English transliteration of the Greek word), or do you mean that the concept itself is a lie (like believers are not supposed to gather regularly)? Perhaps you mean to say that the church as it is currently thought about in 2019 is a lie. Could you clarify? Clearly there are passages in 1 Timothy and Titus that speak of the qualifications of elders and deacons, right? There are clear passage that command the elders to shepherd the flock and the flock to submit to their leaders. I don’t know what you’re talking about a ‘tithe’. That’s OT Israel. The NT standard is to give whatever the Lord lays on your heart (2 Cor 8).

In Him,
[A Church Pastor]

Dear Church Pastor,
I reject the Churchian presuppositions that form the basis of your questions; one specifically, that “church” equals the biblical mandate to gather together. Furthermore, as discussed in the first chapter of the book, there is no valid reason whatsoever to replace “ekklesia” with “church.” The word “church” denotes a formal place with institutional cogitations while ekklesia is a group of people called out from one identity to another for a specific purpose. Where they meet could take place anywhere; location has no part in the primary definition. In contrast, church is a formal place where certain things take place according to, supposedly, a God ordained mandate. Church, by definition, is a salvific institution.

There is only one location that collaborates with a secondary definition of ekklesia; a private home, or a “household of faith.” Ekklesia is made up of God’s literal family, God’s ambassadors in this foreign land, and a nation of holy priests. It is also a body that functions like a literal body and not a caste system. Meeting in homes as God’s literal family is not merely a mode of operation, but is a statement concerning what we believe about the gospel and a literal new birth that is way more than a “forensic (legal) declaration” and speaks to a totally new state of being. Another major demarcation of a biblical new birth is the true believer’s relationship to the law. In Protestantism, that relationship does not change, as often staed by pastors and the who’s who of church, “Christians” are still “under the righteous demands of the law.” Think about that one for awhile. As stated in the book, when one stops to think about it, church error concerning soteriology is shockingly elementary. You could start with a “legal declaration” supposedly being a righteousness “apart from the law.”

Moreover, the ekklesia meets to encourage one another unto good works, not to remain covered by the imputed righteousness of Christ obtained at church through the sacramental “means of grace.” By the way, Catholic much? Protestantism teaches a double substitution for sin and works because its subjects remain under the righteous demands of the law. This is the “objective gospel experienced subjectively.” In other words, Churchians only experience the imputed righteousness of Christ and remain justified by “working hard” at the “ordinary means of grace” found only in the church. We insist that the gift of righteousness, like all gifts, is now owned by the believer which does not mean that God’s righteousness originated with us. The new birth makes us truly righteous as a state of being. Yes, we do have a “righteousness of our own” because we accepted the free gift of God and do not claim that we can rebirth ourselves. Our goal is to be more like our Father, not an endeavor to realize how far we are from God through “gospel preaching” to make the cross bigger. How dumbed-down are Churchians? Someone like RC Sproul can state that Christ obtained His righteousness through perfect law-keeping and no one even blinks. That’s absolutely amazing.

We reject justification by sanctification with prejudice. The purpose of sanctification is to learn how to control our weaknesses through the wisdom of God’s word and to fulfill the law through our loving actions towards God and others. We are free to aggressively love God and others with no fear of condemnation. We do not partake in a so-called, “lifestyle of repentance,” but rather a lifestyle of love. We do not ask, “Did you sin today?” but rather, “Did you love today?” And by the way, you can’t sin while you are loving anyway, and love “covers a multitude of sin.” Chastisement by our loving Father is another subject I will not address here, but said chastisement is due to a failure to love, not a failure to fulfill the law through obedience to church sacraments.

No, neither elder nor deacon are authoritative, salvific, institutional offices but gifts like all other gifts given to the body, and they function like a body functions. No, just because Christ is a shepherd, it doesn’t mean elders are sub-shepherds with his same authority by proxy. Members of the body (not a church) who don’t have a special gift of teaching are to be persuaded by those who do IF they are teaching truth which is to be confirmed by the individual believer (Galatians 1:8). In regard to the rest, I think the introduction to the book on the back cover is instructive:

Everything you thought church is—it isn’t. The belief that church is the body of Christ, the true gospel, the assembly of Christ, God’s people, the elect of God, the kingdom of God, a light for God in a dark world, the bride of Christ, the love of God, and guided by the Bible are given assumptions that go without saying…until now.

In fact, church hijacked Christianity long ago. In “The Church Lie,” Paul Dohse and Andrew Young deconstruct ten major presuppositions that define church.

Today’s church has no real doctrinal or historical connection to the New Testament assembly of Christ. Church doesn’t appear in history for more than 300 years after the birth of Christ’s assembly at Pentecost.

So, what does the real assembly look like? And how do we return to its true gospel and family mode of operation? And what should we expect if we do?

Update: Added 2/20/2019 8:10 PM

Mr. Dohse,

I really think we agree on more than we disagree, but your bombastic style seems to assume we stand apart rather than seeking to find where we are together.

Hypothetical question: If your teaching were to wander into error, who would be allowed to correct that? A fellow believer? An elder? Just curious. I wonder if, since you are under not authority by Christ, you will need to wait until glorification to be corrected or can other believers come to you? If you and the other believer disagrees on what the Bible says, who settles the matter among those you with whom you fellowship? Without elders, won’t there be ecclesiastical anarchy?

In Him,
[A Church Pastor]

Dear Church Pastor,

Um, the goal here is not to find agreement for the sake of agreement. Again, note how you take liberty with presuppositions, viz, I am under no authority at all because I believe the ekklesia is a body with members who only answer to the one head, Christ. Again, what does Paul appeal to in Galatians 1:8? If, in the opinion of the individual, Paul, or even an angel from heaven preaches contrary to the gospel they originally received, they were to consider him or anyone else accursed. The individual alone judges, and the individual alone stands before Christ to give an account. Unity is based on agreement around the ONE mind of Christ.

Home fellowships are determined by those who fellowship together. If there are disagreements that are strong enough to warrant separation, you cease to fellowship with that fellowship. It’s not complicated. No drama, no financial infrastructure to fight over, no power trips or power struggles. You encourage those who strongly disagree to start their own home fellowship and bid them God’s speed. It’s persuasion and leadership, not authority. If it’s authority, leadership and persuasion aren’t needed; you tell people what to do, and they do it just because you said to do it. And, in particular, it’s truth because you say it’s the truth. Point in case: how can James MacDonald do and say what he does and still preside over 8 mega-churches? Answer: truth as authority, that is, whatever the big dogs state as truth.

Ecclesiastical anarchy without authoritative elders? Do you keep up with what’s trending in the church? How’s that workin’ for you? So, once upon a time, I built a house from the ground up along with some friends of mine. Nobody was in charge; no one was boss, and the house went up just fine. It’s called a “cooperative effort.” The presumption that a house can’t be built without someone being in charge speaks to a false presupposition regarding mankind which is a subject I am not going to delve into here, but just think, “total depravity.”

Fact is, neither the apostles nor Christ applied authority during their ministries but rather persuasion and leadership. The Bereans judged Paul on their own assessment of the Scriptures. Paul himself told the ekklesia to only follow him as they perceived that he followed Christ. And here is the V8 moment: at what church council did Christ appear and appoint the church as his salvific authority on earth? And by the way, Luther, Calvin, and any other Protestant reformer worth their salt believed that elders have authority to forgive sin. That’s black and white Protestant orthodoxy. And again I ask, “Catholic much?” When you start paying attention to this stuff, what you hear is shocking, like the time John MacArthur agreed to ask God to forgive a person on their behalf while they were present. He also has stated that salvation can only be obtained by a person placing themselves “under the authority of godly men.” He then posed the following question: “Does that mean I have to do what the elders say?” to which he answers, “yes.” And obviously, any person who wants this authority only needs to purchase it at any given seminary.

Again, we profess that the notion is laughable.

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